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Senseis’ Voices

Reflections on the Japan Foundation’s Teaching Methods Program – Language teaching methodology, school visits, cultural experiences and much more!  

Irene Wang sensei of Victoria visited Japan to participate in the in-country Teaching Methods Program, at The Japan Foundation Japanese Language Institute, Urawa. In this article Irene shares her experience and teaching ideas she obtained from the program. 

*Applications for the 2024 Japanese Teaching Methods Program for Teachers of the Japanese Language are being accepted until November 30, 2023. Please visit the website: Japanese Language Grants – Japan Foundation, Sydney ( for more information.

[Program content]   

I applied for the comprehensive teaching methods training programme and was fortunate to be invited to attend it in Japan for six weeks along with fellow colleagues from around the world. The programme consists of Japanese language teaching methodology, Japanese culture, cultural incursion, and excursion experiences. There was also an opportunity for an overnight homestay experience on one weekend.   

We had lectures from Monday to Friday and four presentations to deliver throughout the course. We also had a group cultural project which involved interviews and some field work. As for our incursion experience, we saw a great performance of wadaiko and then in turn, we also had a hands-on experience with the Japanese drums ourselves. We also had three excursions during our stay, one being a visit to a Japanese high school. On two other separate occasions, we visited Kawagoe in Saitama and a day out to Tokyo watching Noh-Kyogen. Although I teach Japanese at a Primary School, it was very informative to know and learn about high school settings and student life, which I can make similarities and draw differences between Japan and Australia and pass on the information to our interested senior students who are graduating primary school this year. In fact, I have already!   

Images of Tokimo:川越市マスコットキャラクターときものダウンロード/川越市 ( 

  [JF Standards, ARCS model and MARUGOTO textbooks]   

So, what else have I learnt? I learnt about the Japan Foundation Standards, theories of, and ways to teach reading, writing, speaking, listening, and grammar. In addition, we were introduced to, and given access to resources that we may not be aware of or have the time to search and explore in our busy daily lives back at home. We also shared teaching ideas amongst us and have also held a few ‘benkyoukai’ amongst ourselves during our breaks/ after lectures.   

We also did a textbook analysis which was very eye opening. The rationale and how Marugoto textbooks were written became clear afterwards. The study and understanding of the ARCS model helped me think more from learners’ perspectives, which in turn greatly assists us in choosing suitable textbooks for our learners and when designing our own units of work.   

 [Teaching Ideas based on MARUGOTO textbooks – extracts from our presentation]  

During the training programme, we were given time to reflect on our teaching back at home and create resources or upskill areas in need of improvements. We also had the opportunity to put our learning into practice when we did our cultural project on pocket money. With the help of our homeroom sensei and the wonderful staff at Japan Foundation in Urawa, we were able gather raw information via interview on the sensitive topic of pocket money. By examining Marugoto and using the ARCS model, we have designed the following unit for our cultural project.  


[Specific benefits from the program]   

On a professional level, I have indeed gained much which cannot be possible otherwise. In fact, a video letter exchange programme is being carried out amongst the Indonesian, Polish teachers and me since our return. On a personal level, I have also gained a lot. I have learned about other cultures and made friendships. I have also overcome my fear of public speaking after having delivered four presentations to all the amazing Sensei around the world.   

 My advice for applicants is to keep trying if you are not chosen the first round. My application was not successful the first time and second time I had to give up due to Covid and third time is the charm! For some, it was the fifth time!   

 I am indebted to the Japan Foundation for this wonderful opportunity, and I am very thankful to all the knowledgeable lecturers and friendly staff at the Japan Foundation in Saitama, not to mention the help and correspondence with staff at Japan Foundation, Sydney prior and after my trip. みなさん、ありがとうございました。

EDITOR’S NOTE: Applications for the 2024 Japanese Teaching Methods Program for Teachers of the Japanese Language are open until November 30, 2023. Please visit the website: Japanese Language Grants – Japan Foundation, Sydney ( for more information. 

Contributed by: Irene Wang, St Mary of the Cross Catholic Primary School, VIC 

September 2023


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