September sees the launch of the first official publications from Oxford Brookes with a series of six graded reading levels called Let’s Read Japanese.
Designed with the help of students to be entertaining to read and eye-catching, each level includes a re-telling of famous, classic tales, Japanese legends and poems as well as some new stories.
Until now there have been very limited graded reading materials for Japanese learners and teachers. A departure from traditional textbooks, the series aims to appeal to the adult learner of Japanese, providing:
- A combination of entertaining stories, eye-catching design and original illustrations ensuring learners will want to read for pleasure
- Research-backed content, moving away from fixed, prescriptive vocabulary to ‘real world’ lists
- A focus on Japanese culture - a key area of interest for Japanese learners prior to their decision to learn the language - which goes beyond popular culture and representations of Japan in the media and raises awareness of other, less well-known aspects of Japanese culture
- The first series of Japanese graded readers linked to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
Dr Irène Hill, Project Manager and Programme Lead for Modern Languages at Oxford Brookes tells how the idea for the books originated: ‘It came from a PDR discussion between me and Japanese Lecturers Suzuko Anai and Keiko Ikeshiro. They told me that Japanese teachers had very limited reading material to use in class, as authentic material was too complex. Thus we had a gap in the market. All that was needed was funding for developing the idea and to produce the material!’
The project was supported by Brookes’ Research and Business Development Office, with funding from HEIF5 (Higher Education Innovation Funding).
Brookes’ small modern language team has a strong reputation for innovation and the teaching expertise necessary for creating graded reading material. The publishing process involved many specialists; from creative writers and illustrators carefully chosen to create high quality books appropriate for adult learners while introducing the language and culture of today's Japan, to local printers and distributors.
The official launch at the Annual Conference of Japanese Teachers in Europe in Madrid earlier this month was a great success, with 60 orders and many positive comments on the high standard of the design and the interesting nature of the stories.