The Iliad

The Student News Site of Poway High School

The Student News Site of Poway High School

The Iliad

The Student News Site of Poway High School

The Iliad

Say “Kon’nichiwa” to the new 5.5 class

PHS offers Japanese as an on-campus extracurricular activity

   On a sunny Thursday afternoon at 3:50, a class of 13 gathered in N3-211, a classroom typically used for math lessons. An energetic teacher greets her students, “Kon’nichiwa!” Akane Shibaoka, a Japanese native from Saitama Prefecture – north of Tokyo – is teaching the new Japanese 5.5 class.

   “I teach Japanese culture and language. I want students to see, touch, and experience our products, rather than conveying them through words. I try to give them as much of an authentic experience as possible in my classes,” Shibaoka said. 

   The class is about the same length as a typical class period, but there is much content thrown into a single lesson. Each class consists of reviewing material from the previous lesson, learning about Japanese customs, food, games, songs, cultural phenomena, writing the Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji (the three types of Japanese characters), learning Japanese slang, and ends with a written reflection. 

   Shibaoka has been working in elementary schools around Poway Unified School District (PUSD) in a program called Global Language for Elementary School (GLES). She was introduced to the idea of teaching at the high school level by a team at the PUSD office. 

   Having learned about this class from her older brother, freshman Sunshine Sapin enjoys the energy Shibaoka brings to the class. “Ms. Akane really wants us to have fun while learning the language, and she really involves us through reading what’s on the board, dancing videos, learning about the music there, and culture,” Sapin said. 

   This class is only offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school, which means it is not accessible to everyone, as students may have after school practices or other extracurricular activities to attend. Shibaoka and Sapin both hope this becomes a class available for all students to take. 

   Shibaoka creates an immersive, energetic, and communal space with her students through each lesson. For freshman Kori Kurosaka, he has found an opportunity to connect with his Japanese heritage. 

   “My favorite part about the class is learning and immersing myself into Japanese culture with fellow Japanese students,” Kurosaka said. “I am Japanese… it would be beneficial and fun to learn the language and the culture so I can talk to my family.”

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