by Amanda Rollins, Japanese Language Program Coordinator
Iya Nemastil-sensei of Marysville High School in Ohio presides over a classroom stuffed to bursting with authentic Japanese stuff. Posters cover every inch of wall space, every desk has trinkets and toys, and even the window sill is overloaded with Japanese juice cans and snack boxes. Particularly eye-catching is a large, genuine map of the Kansai area transit system. Students who study in this room are surrounded by everyday objects found all over Japan, so even if their eyes stray during the lesson, they’ll find themselves reading common Japanese labels or studying cute Japanese designs.
Marysville High School’s Japanese program started in Fall 2014, so you may be wondering: How did she find so much great authentic realia in the middle of Ohio? Most of the material is from Iya-sensei’s own trips to Japan, but some of the things in her classroom (like a kanji poster, flashcards, and some graded readers on a bookshelf) were bought with funds from JFLA’s Teaching Material Purchase Grant. This grant awards schools up to $1000 toward the purchase of audio-visual materials, textbooks and other reference books, and sometimes even software for learners. For the past couple of years, JFLA has awarded this grant to more than 30 schools per year, and the next deadline is September 15, 2015. Keep your eye out for grant deadline reminders in BREEZE.
But the Teaching Material Purchase Grant is not the only way to get your hands on real Japanese items. Consider approaching your local Japan-America Society or Japan consulate for donations for your classroom. In addition, Iya-sensei’s “Erin-chan” posters and several “how to count” posters are also courtesy of the Japan Foundation – they can often be found in goodie bags given away by JFLA staff at teachers’ conferences. We look forward to see you at them!