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Supplemental social studies texts in Portuguese –
are
helping Brazilian children at Japanese elementary schools.

The city, centered on the auto industry, is home to many Brazilians and other non-Japanese nationals who account for about 4 percent of its population. As of March, the number of Brazilian children at the city’s elementary and junior high schools totaled 226.

For children who have poor command of Japanese, catching up with studies above the third-grade level poses many challenges because terms used in textbooks become increasingly difficult. This prompted many teachers to urge the city to publish Portuguese versions.

The supplemental readers for third- and fourth-graders are aimed at helping children in everyday situations, including shopping. Content for fifth-graders features the car industry and Japanese land in general, while those for sixth-graders feature politics and history, focusing on the Meiji Era (1868-1912).

Seven Japanese-Brazilian teachers spent about a year translating the excerpts from Japanese textbooks.

The translators say they have had trouble explaining historical concepts, including “shimin byodo” (equality of the social classes of samurai, farmer, craftsmen and merchant), which are nonexistent in Brazil.

“Aside from using them at school, the supplemental readers will also help parents understand contents of (Japanese) textbooks to help children study at home,” an Ota board of education official said.