Guide drafted for teaching Japanese to foreign residents

Kyodo News

A government subcommittee has drafted guidelines for the first time on teaching Japanese to foreign residents to make their daily life easier, officials said Thursday.

The draft guidelines compiled by the Cultural Affairs Council subcommittee lists examples of words and phrases that foreigners should be encouraged to learn for smooth communication in 10 main categories, including health care, travel and shopping.

The categories are broken down into 48 subdivisions under which recommended words and phrases are presented in real-life scenarios such as how to use trains and take different kinds of medicine.

The number of registered foreign residents in Japan stood at around 2.22 million at the end of 2008, according to the Cultural Affairs Agency and the Justice Ministry.

Many government officials who deal with language education believe it would be desirable for at least 1 million of the foreign residents to learn Japanese so they can live their lives smoothly.

However, there has never been an attempt to compile government standards on the extent to which foreign residents should learn the language.

“(The curriculum) would mean a great deal if it serves to demonstrate the government’s intention to support foreigners living in Japan for a long period,” said Takeshi Yoshitani, a professor at Tokyo Gakugei University who is in charge of the Center for Research in International Education.