The CEFR and teaching Japanese as a foreign language
Keywords:Japanese, foreign-language teaching, JF Standard, self-assessment, Japanese Language Proficiency Test
Soon after the publication of the CEFR in 2001, the Association of Japanese Language Teachers in Europe (AJE) started a research project on the history of language teaching in Europe, carried out a survey of language policies in various European countries, and presented prospects for learning and teaching Japanese as a foreign language in Europe. The association recognizes the need to share the concepts and achievements of the CEFR.
The Japan Foundation (JF), partially influenced by the CEFR, set up the JF Standard for Japanese Language Education in 2010. This standard offers tools that teachers and students can use to plan their teaching/learning through self-assessment of their language ability levels. The JF is also publishing new types of textbooks for Japanese education, emphasizing cross-cultural understanding between peoples.
The Japanese Language Proficiency Test was revised in 2010 and is now ability-oriented; it is indirectly influenced by the CEFR.
The authors analyzed Japanese education at the University of Ljubljana in relation to the CEFR assessment levels. At the end of their undergraduate study, students reach approximately level B1/B2 of the CEFR, and at the end of the master’s course level C1. There are difficulties in assessing the current Japanese courses using the CEFR framework due to the specific character of Japanese, particularly in relation to the script, politeness and pragmatic strategies, and students’ familiarity with current events in Japan and background knowledge of Japanese society. Nevertheless, the CEFR framework offers concrete ideas and new points of view for planning language courses, even for non-European languages.
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