What kind of teaching materials is Kumon Japanese H Kumon Japanese H is a teaching resource for tackling 'hard-to-read Japanese'.


Japanese (language)

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At what grade level are Kumon Japanese H teaching materials?

Kumon Japanese H is a teaching material at a level equivalent to the second year of junior high school. It is the standard level for junior high school students to be doing.

If you finish this material in grade 5, you can receive a trophy as a 'Highly Advanced Learner'. Many students who are preparing to take junior high school entrance examinations transfer from Kumon to cram schools for junior high school entrance examinations in around grade 4, but if they have progressed to this level, they have acquired enough ability to take advantage of the junior high school entrance examinations.

What kind of material is Kumon Japanese H?

Kumon Japanese H is divided into H I and H II. First, let's check the contents of H I.

Reading long sentences of about 1200 characters, you will develop the ability to grasp the connections between the various expressions in the text, and the function (role and function) and arrangement of each paragraph; encountering 50 H-grade Suisen books and haiku and tanka poetry, you will broaden your reading and vocabulary; and you will learn how to use the regular Kanji characters, haiku and tanka poetry. Study the regular Kanji characters using haiku and tanka to expand vocabulary.

A major feature of the course is the appearance of haiku and tanka. The number of reading comprehension questions based on recommended books has been reduced and the amount of writing in reading comprehension questions has also been reduced.

Let's continue to check the contents of the HII material.

Students learn the skill of summarising overlapping content, etc. by focusing on the relationship between words and phrases. Students develop the writing skills to summarise multiple answer sections by condensing based on word specifications and being aware of the relationship and development between words and sentences. Vocabulary is expanded through the study of regular Kanji characters. Grammar study and reading comprehension at the level of high school entrance examinations are also conducted based on the reading comprehension skills developed in the course.

The main focus of the H II material is on 'contractions'. Interestingly, at the end of the H materials, there are also questions for the high school entrance exam.

What are the key points of the H materials strategy?

The most important thing to look out for in the H materials is the appearance of 'characteristic Japanese'. What does this mean?

Even if it is the same Japanese language, it has its own characteristics for those who write and speak it, and in some cases, communication may not be possible even if it is Japanese. The most obvious example is dialect. The same word can have different nuances in the Kanto and Kansai regions, and there are situations where it is not even possible to understand a characteristic dialect, such as Tsugaru-ben. Japanese is a diverse language.

And it can be said that it is in H-learning materials that diversity comes to the fore.

The first thing you will notice is the appearance of haiku and tanka: haiku and tanka are covered in numbers 121 to 190 of the HI materials. Haiku and tanka use old words, and not many adults can intuitively understand their meaning. Other texts in the course material include slightly older literary works such as "Sanshojo" and "Dokutoru Mambo Ryoryu Ki", and science-related texts such as "Welcome to Anatomy Class" and "Dolphins Want to Know", which have their own special characteristics.

All of these texts can be read without problems by those who are familiar with them and do not use a lot of particularly difficult terminology, but they are unique in their structure and wording and require a slightly different reading style.

The concept of 'contraction' emerges from the G material, which requires a precise understanding of the content as well as the ability to write. However, the H materials are characterised by these invisible barriers that make them difficult to understand.

'Difficulty in reading' is diverse

This peculiarity makes it difficult to systematically address the 'difficulty of reading'. This is because peculiarities are more or less unique to each author and discipline.

For example, the uniqueness of a literary work may be completely different in nuance from the uniqueness of Osamu Dazai's work to that of Kenzaburo Oe. Even in science-related texts, there are different types of difficulty between mathematics, chemistry and physics. It is not practical to take countermeasures against each of the myriad types of reading difficulty.

There is only one solution in such cases. Instead of addressing each individual reading difficulty, focus on the experience of reading the difficult text itself.

If you just read a difficult text, you will stop at "I read it, but it didn't enter my head at all". However, once you have the experience of understanding some kind of difficult-to-read Japanese, you will realise that the Japanese language is actually diverse and that difficult-to-read texts sometimes contain information of great value.

This experience will help you when you are faced with other kinds of reading difficulties. This is a text that contains the same kind of reading difficulty as that time, and if you can read it, you can see that it might contain something interesting.

Are there areas where you have a passion for overcoming reading difficulties?

We talked about how experience comes into play when reading texts that are difficult to read. So how can you take the first step towards gaining that experience?

This comes down to your child's own curiosity. It means having one thing they love to do that they are passionate enough about to overcome the difficulty of reading.

Many of Kumon's problem texts are famous books. If read properly, they can have an impact on later life. However, the themes are general and the subject matter is not necessarily in line with each individual's interests. Even if the material is worth reading, it is useless if you cannot overcome the first obstacle and do not understand it.

The fact that you have read more difficult texts that are more in line with your child's interests beforehand is a big advantage.

The most obvious is that they like things like insects, dinosaurs or trains. If they have a yearning to go abroad, they may also benefit from reading texts in another language. If a parent reads books, they may try to read difficult books because of their fascination with adults.

Attempts to expose your child to a higher level of the world about an area of interest can be effective.

Experiences of overcoming reading difficulties can change the future.

It is also important to note that understanding 'difficult Japanese' is a great strength in the real world.

For science-related work, it is academic books and theses. If you work in the legal field, you can read articles and judicial precedents. If you are a programmer, there are official documents. Of course, it is not unusual in some fields for the source to be in a language other than Japanese, but this does not mean that you can understand it because it is in Japanese. No matter how much the performance of translation tools improves, there will always be difficulties in the content itself.

Most people get a headache just reading highly specialised texts. That is why being able to read and understand texts gives you a big advantage in the real world. This is not limited to professional jobs. Even if you are working with professionals, you will often get a second glance just because you can understand some technical talk.

Until the G materials, there was more of a nuance of basic academic skills. For example, the amount of writing increased to about 50 words in the G materials, but the ability to write a composition of about 50 words is something that everyone has once they become an adult. However, the ability cultivated in the H materials is different. The reading comprehension skills acquired here as a foundation will also boost your life after you have finished the university entrance examinations.

If a child is preparing for the junior high school entrance exam, he or she will probably quit Kumon around grade 4. I think that many of them set their sights on the F materials, which are the equivalent of grade 6. However, I would like them to go further and set their sights on the H materials.

Of course, this is not an easy task. However, the skills developed up to the G materials are skills that most people will eventually acquire. I think that it is in the H materials that you will be glad you did Kumon even afterwards.

In that sense, I would say that the H materials are a turning point.