Are you struggling to fit the teaching of hiragana, katakana and kanji in class time? Do you find that some of your students memorise all the letters in a week whilst others drag out the process for years?
The key to managing the teaching of scripts is a student-centred levels system. When programming you can then simply hyperlink to the system to provide evidence of your differentiation. We have called our system the Hiragana Patch, Katakana Patch and the Kanji Patch. Each system is available for purchase for $50.
How Does It Work?
We have divided the learning of hiragana and katakana into 15 levels. Each level focuses on an aspect of the script. For example level 1 focuses on the a, k and s sounds; Level 7 the tentens that work with the k and s sounds; Level 10 the use of small tsu. We have created a work book for students that allows them to practice those letters and a set of flashcards to revise with. This system is also supported by matching lists on Education Perfect.
When the students are ready, they challenge themselves with the matching quiz for that level. The teacher prints off the quizzes and keeps them ready in a folder or filing cabinet. There are teacher marking guidelines to make the marking quick for the teacher or you could have peers mark the quiz for you, using the guidelines. The teacher just needs to keep a record of which levels the student has passed. Each quiz tests the students’ skills in both reading and writing the script. The pass mark for each level is 75%. Students are allowed to take the quizzes as many times as they need to. They should be encouraged to progress through the levels at the rate that best suits them. Failing a quiz should be seen as part of the process and teachers are encouraged to comment on really well-written letters, even if the student does not attain the required 75% to progress.
There are four versions of each quiz which test the same content but in different ways. These are labelled as quiz A, B, C and D. This means a teacher can allow a student to sit a level multiple times in a lesson if they wish, as the tests are not identical. A student only needs to pass one version of a level to progress to the next level.
Each quiz includes a growth mindset quote to help keep the students in a positive mindset as they challenge themselves. Deliberate growth mindset language has also been selected for the wording of the quizzes. You will notice at the end of the quiz, teachers tick whether the student is allowed to progress from one of two options :
- This student is ready to progress to level 2
- This student is ready to retry level 1 after further review and practice
The emphasis is on the student mastering the learning process and the content as a result. There are 3 certificates of progress that you may like to use as part of the system. These acknowledge a student’s achievement of 5 levels. The sample certificate is provided as a PDF and as a word document so that you can edit it to include your school logo and the name of the staff awarding the certificate etc.
What about kanji?
We have two Patches set up for the teaching of Kanji. These are called Kanji Patch Basic and Kanji Patch Extension 1. This system can work with any age group but the Kanji Patch Basic is particularly useful for Stage 4 entry level students or NSW Stage 6 Beginners Japanese course students. Each level of the Kanji Patch Basic focuses on mastering to read and write the selected kanji words for that level. The list covers basic kanji useful for all students. It specifically covers the NSW Stage 6 Beginners Kanji list in Kanji Patch Basic and the NSW Continuers Stage 6 Kanji if used in conjunction with Kanji Patch Extension 1. You can see the full list of kanji covered by both of these patches by searching Kanji Patch on Education Perfect.
This system also explains useful metalanguage such as furigana, okurigana, onyomi and kunyomi. This supports the teaching of the Australian Curriculum outcomes regarding language as a system.
What Research is Behind This Design?
Aside from the research on growth mindset, two other key findings were used to establish this system of learning. The first addresses the impact of allowing students multiple attempts at learning, and the second highlights the motivating influence of visible learning progress. This is particularly useful for educating boys.
Research finding 1 :
“Feedback is one of the crucial components of video games… Importantly, feedback encourages players to reflect on strategy and to re-evaluate their decision making. If players use an ability that proves ineffective, then they can change to a different strategy, utilizing more effective options. Such learning through failure and feedback is both an important aspect of learning theories and a hallmark of video games…
Players are allowed, repeatedly, to try again if they do not succeed, which is not common in classroom-based learning.”
Turkay,S., Hoffman,D.,Kinzer,C., Chantes,P & Vicari,C. (2014) Toward Understanding the Potential of Games for Learning: LearningTheory, Game Design Characteristics, and Situating Video Games in Classrooms, Computers in the Schools, 31:1-2, 2-22, DOI: 10.1080/07380569.2014.890879
Research finding 2 :
Boys complain it is difficult to see the extent they have improved due to a lack of progress indicators (Pavy 2006). Without such indicators of achievement, their motivation wanes.
Pavy, S.(2006) Boys Learning Languages Babel, v41 n1 p4-11, 38
I Like the Idea but it Sounds Like a Lot of Work To Prepare
Luckily for you all the work has been done! To place an order for the Hiragana Patch or Katakana Patch system, simply email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. The one off $50 fee will provide you with the student workbook, all 60 quizzes, teacher marking guidelines, the three certificate templates and a teacher’s tips page. These are all emailed to you as attachments.
You can download the following free sample pages to see if the Hiragana Patch or Katakana Patch is a resource that would suit your teaching context. Please feel free to email us at email@example.com if you have any questions about the system.