What kind of teaching material is Kumon Japanese J It is a teaching material that makes you wonder whether you should quit Kumon unexpectedly!


Japanese (language)

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At what grade level are Kumon Japanese J teaching materials?

Kumon Japanese J is the equivalent of the first year of high school.

Kumon has a group called "J Friends" for students who have completed the J materials, and this material is a milestone. Also, if you have completed this material in the first year of junior high school, you can receive a trophy as a "Highly Advanced Learner".

What kind of material is Kumon Japanese J?

From Kumon Japanese A to I, each material was divided into I and II, and it was necessary to complete 400 printouts to advance one letter of the alphabet; from Kumon Japanese J onwards, there are no separate I and II materials, and each alphabet contains 200 printouts.

Now let's check the official information on the Kumon J materials.

They form the solid groundwork for a new learning phase: 'Critical reading based on material study'. Acquire the ability to accurately grasp the point of view and areas of reference of the author (critic) in relation to the source text. Cultivate the skill of summarising arguments, etc., while also accurately quoting source texts.

While the I materials up to the present-day texts were written in modern Japanese, the J materials contain material from the ancient Japanese texts. However, the explanations focus less on vocabulary and grammar of the ancient text and more on developing critical reading skills by considering the ancient text as a 'material text'.

The J materials have many elements that are considered surprising.

The most significant topic is that the genre of the texts has changed from modern to kobun.

Although kobun is the same Japanese as modern Japanese, it is not the kind of text that anyone who can read Japanese can read. No matter how much you like to read, it is unlikely that you will be able to read the original texts of The Tale of Genji or The Pillow Book. Even though the meanings of the words and the assumed knowledge are an extension of the modern world, there are quite big differences. If you have ever memorised words from ancient texts, you will have realised that it is a completely different language.

The texts in the J-texts are different and more difficult than those in the I-texts.

It is also important to note that there is no part where you have to memorise ancient vocabulary.

In most cases, Kumon is the first time that children studying J-materials have read a serious reading of kobun. When learning a new language, whether English or Japanese, it is standard practice to start with simple words and sentences and gradually increase the difficulty level. However, rather than starting with less difficult passages, the J-textbook takes the approach of presenting modern translations at the same time as the kobun.

Some believe that this is more specific to the study of kobun than to kobun. It is true that few students start learning the kobun by memorising words. However, in school classes, the approach is often to translate each sentence into the modern language. In the process of translation, vocabulary and grammar are explained, and reading comprehension and knowledge acquisition are progressed little by little. Since they are not completely different languages, it can be said that learning by actually reading is an orthodox learning method.

Kumon goes one step further from here, dealing with multiple paragraphs from the early material. It is very difficult to give children the opportunity to read a lot of ancient texts, and unlike modern books, it is unlikely that they will be interested in this field, but in the Kumon J materials, you can read a whole range of famous ancient texts. This amount of reading of ancient texts is a major characteristic of Kumon's ancient texts.

Kumon has students read a lot of ancient texts from the beginning of their studies.

So why is it possible for the Kumon Kokumon system to deal with a large number of texts from the very beginning of the study of the ancient Japanese language? The reason lies in the reading comprehension skills developed up to I material.

Apart from differences in vocabulary and grammar, there is another major barrier to reading ancient texts. That is cultural differences. Even if you could understand the meaning of the text, the environment in which people lived and the circumstances in which they were placed a thousand years ago are completely different from those of a thousand years ago. In an age when we can connect with people all over the world via mobile phones, there is no way that we can easily understand people who communicate their feelings through waka poetry.

Therefore, it is usually necessary to devote more energy to understanding the cultural background than to reading the text itself. In many cases, even in school lessons, more time will be spent on the background than on the meaning of the text itself. Many people have experienced that an hour's lesson can be over after just one page of text.

However, those who have studied the Kumon materials up to this point have become accustomed to such dissimilarities so far. Although the ancient texts themselves have never appeared in the Kumon materials so far, your child has nevertheless come this far by reading texts that have a unique 'difficulty' in reading each field, such as science and literature.

So the 'difficulty' of reading ancient texts, the act of reading texts written by people from different backgrounds, is something that has already been worked on extensively in the teaching materials up to this point. So it is not that it is 'easy', but reading and understanding these texts with difficulty is something that we have done before.

Be aware of the unexpectedness of the J materials and be prepared for it

Based on the above, the attitude that parents should take is not to make more fuss than necessary about the fact that they have started to work with ancient texts.

From the parents' point of view, they will be surprised by the fact that ancient texts have suddenly appeared. When a large amount of text is suddenly presented without memorising vocabulary and grammar, even parents from families who have continued with Kumon up to the J-learning materials can be surprisingly upset. Some parents may be tempted to give their children additional Kumon materials, thinking that this may suddenly be too much for them, and some may even have doubts about Kumon Japanese itself.

This is especially true if the parents are thinking of taking an entrance examination. After all, the examinations for junior high school and high school basically do not include ancient Japanese. It is also undeniable that ancient and Chinese literature is a field with few opportunities to be used in situations other than examinations. No matter how you do it, parents will be less motivated than when they were mainly focusing on modern texts. It is easy for them to move on to other learning materials when they are in no more of a hurry to move on.

However, it has been explained so far that children are not as similar as parents think they are. For children who have developed a tolerance to different texts, reading ancient texts may be difficult, but the difficulty itself is not unknown territory.

And the ancient and Chinese literature is one of the least burdensome subjects in university entrance examinations. They can be tricky subjects if you underestimate them because they are Japanese, or if you are not good at them, but once you get used to them, you can use them as a weapon at an early stage. In examinations, knowledge and comprehension of texts are often required, and the ability to think and apply oneself is not often required in the subject of kobun. Kumon emphasises the basics in all subjects, so it is a subject that is a good match.

The J materials deal with ancient texts, but the child has acquired the ability to cope with them. Recognising this, parents should watch their children's efforts so that they do not fall into doubt.