A newly formed language teachers’ network is determined to reverse the decline in Japanese language study, says co-chair, AUT School of Language and Culture senior lecturer Dallas Nesbitt.
Japanese Studies Aotearoa NZ (JSANZ) was launched at AUT University on 14 March and is chaired by Nesbitt and Dr Penny Shino from Massey University. Its executive committee includes representatives of all providers of tertiary education in Japanese language and culture, along with external stakeholders like the Japan Foundation.
“This network has three urgent goals: turning around the decline in numbers studying Japanese, improving the 'flow' of Japanese courses throughout the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors and advocating for the value of learning languages like Japanese,” says Nesbitt.
In its first year JSANZ will run the inaugural New Zealand Tertiary Japanese Speech Contest, work to highlight the career benefits of Japanese study, and collect information about Japanese tertiary courses that will assist prospective students and make it easier for academics to work collaboratively.
In her keynote speech at the launch the Head of AUT’s School of Language and Culture Associate Professor Sharon Harvey spoke about the decline of Japanese language study at the university level. Harvey emphasised the need for all educational sectors to work together to improve transitions between levels, particularly secondary and tertiary, noting that JSANZ will be a great help in achieving this goal.
“Students need to know exactly what their options are before they get to university. If they do not choose Japanese as a major it is important that students who have studied Japanese through to Year 13 still have Japanese easily available to them.”
“Japanese is such an important Asian and global language. And the New Zealand relationship with Japan is one of our most enduring bilateral relationships. We have been teaching Japanese in our schools and universities since the 1960s. To lose or diminish this capability after all the resources that have gone into the language over more than 50 years would be a travesty,” said Harvey.