Japan weighs new qualification for Japanese language teachers

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A Japanese language teacher observes a test for foreign students at a Japanese language school in Sapporo in November 2021.

A government panel has proposed a national qualification for Japanese language teachers.

Presently, only private-sector certification is available to those who wish to teach, and there has been some concern over the quality of education being offered to students.

The expert panel of the Agency for Cultural Affairs recommended on Dec. 13 that aspirant Japanese language teachers pass two exams and receive schooling in teaching practices. The exams would check whether applicants have the necessary knowledge to teach Japanese to foreign learners.

Questions in the proposed exams would cover 50 different fields, including Japanese phonology, language policies and multicultural coexistence.

One exam would check basic knowledge and skills, while the other would assess whether applicants have the requisite soft skills and practical instruction capabilities to teach effectively.

Those who pass both exams would then study teaching practices, which would involve teaching students in-the-field. After successfully completing each process, applicants would receive the new qualification.

The proposed exams would be held at least once a year. The panel also suggested introducing computer-based testing for examinees.

Under the new system, the government would certify Japanese language schools that meet certain criteria relating to the educational curriculum and facility management. Only teachers with new qualification would be eligible to work at these certified schools.

If the government was to adopt the proposed system, it would only grant “resident status” visas to students who attend certified schools.

The government would likely use a multilingual website to promote such schools, and the schools would be allowed to use their certification mark when soliciting students.

The agency plans to submit a bill to revise related laws during the ordinary Diet session next year.