Language explorations at New International School

NewIS has begun an “exploratory” system at the secondary level, which gives the students several weekly choices during and after school, not for credit, but to be listed on their transcripts. Topics include culinary arts, the basics of Photoshop, advanced violin, calligraphy, animal husbandry, tae kwon do, learning to play the acoustic guitar, community service, bookmaking, woodworking, TEDX-youth, and “Topics in Language and Society.”

The “Topics …” exploratory is offered by the Head of School together with the Director of the Japanese Program. The first topic is kinship terms and their cultural implications. The students made their own family tree, indicating the kinship terms (for example, “older sister”) and tried to find out the cultural implications of differences. For example, in Japan, what are the implications of the older sister being called “older sister” and a younger sister by her name? And in Korea, why are the uncles and aunts on the mother’s side called by different terms than the uncles and aunts on the father’s side?

The final topic for this school year will be proverbs and sayings across languages. For example, finding as many proverbs as possible in different languages in which dogs are mentioned and looking at what they say about dogs as well as the culture. The challenge is to find situations where the proverbs are actually used, because simple translations reveal little. For example, there is a proverb in Japan that says if you feed a dog three times it will never forget its “on” (a Japanese concept related to obligation based on gratitude). A housewife sadly reported that her Japanese husband had used the proverb to reinforce his expectations — he quoted the proverb to her and then added “… but I have been feeding you for ten years …” implying that she had not been as loyal as he had expected.

Teachers, parents, students, and even people from outside of school may offer exploratories. Please phone 03-3980-1057 if interested.

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