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The Nagoya YWCA School of Japanese Language in Aichi Prefecture has added a “Bambina” course to its curriculum.

Targeted at foreign parents with preschool children, the lessons cover expressions useful for daily life with a focus on those helpful for looking after toddlers in Japan.

The Bambina course is unique in that it offers a child care service while the parents take lessons.

Many mothers of foreign nationality tend to stay at home once they have a child, but they can use this class to learn Japanese language and culture.

The school started the course last year, at the request of the Cultural Affairs Agency.

This year, 15 women including those from Vietnam, Thailand and Mongolia are taking the course, which runs from July to December. Of the 15, six made use of the day care service.

The classes focus on real situations the students might encounter in daily life, such as the process of visiting hospitals, from getting a checkup and collecting the medicine, or requesting the re-delivery of mail packages.

The Nagoya YWCA began offering language classes to foreign children in fiscal 2011, but unlike the kids, who can learn Japanese at school, mothers have fewer chances for study.

The agency saw the need for parents to learn Japanese as well so they could read newsletters from their children’s schools and communicate with teachers.

In Nagoya, volunteer groups had offered Japanese classes before, but a school that offers such a course in combination with day care is rare.

The Bambina course consists of 16 classes, each lasting 2½ hours. For the last 30 minutes, the children join their parents in activities such as playing with origami, making crafts using milk cartons or reading picture books.

“I couldn’t speak the language when I first came to Japan and didn’t know what to do when I got sick,” said Vietnamese Huynh Thi Trlic Ha, 29, who came to Japan four years ago. “I think my Japanese has improved a little since (joining the class),” she said.

The tuition is ¥4,800 for 16 classes, with extra charges for the day care service. “It’s a very affordable price,” she said.

Another student, Mongolian Myagmarjav Oyuntsatsral, said, “I can now read newsletters from my children’s kindergarten better than before.”

“The day care service allows me to focus on studying,” she said. The course will also be offered next year but the schedule and application method have not been determined.

For more information, contact Nagoya YWCA at 052 (961) 7707.

This section, appearing Saturdays, features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published Nov. 29.

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