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Japanese, popular second language for Tongans

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Japanese, becoming a popular second language for Tongan

18 October, 2010. The Japanese language education in Tonga was first introduced in the 1980s in Vava'u High School in 1986. Today, it is carried out in six schools altogether in 2010 which includes Tonga High School, ‘Eua High School, Tupou College, Tonga College and Taufa'ahau Pilolevu College.

The increasing importance of teaching Japanese as a second language in secondary schools in addition to the English, French and Chinese Mandrin languages is evident in the language being an integral part of the curriculum, by been one of the subjects in the Tonga School Certificate (TSC) and the Pacific Senior Secondary Certificate (PSSC) examinations.

According to Ms Kuniko Kawanabe, the Japanese senior volunteer who is in charge of the Japanese Teachers' Association in Tonga (JTAT) office at Tonga's Curriculum Development Unit (CDU) in Nuku'alofa, she said, "This year we are revising Japanese language textbooks, new learning materials for secondary school students."

The Japanese International Cooperation Agency is engaging Mr. Shinnosuke Tsutsui, a former teacher at Tupou College (2008 - March 2010) who returned back to Tonga in August to work on the new textbook.

Mr. Tsutsui said that, "the Japanese language is a very easy language to learn, considering its similarities in phonetic and pronunciation to the Tongan language."

The number of Japanese language teachers and placements in Tonga included four JICA volunteer teachers at Tonga High School, Vava'u High School, ‘Eua High School and the Tonga Institute of Education (TIOE). At the same time, there are eight Tongans teaching the Japanese language at Tonga High School (3), Vava'u High School, ‘Eua High School, Tupou College, Tonga College and Taufa'ahau Pilolevu College.

Ms. Kawanabe said that, "the final goal is that very soon, teaching the Japanese language in Tonga would soon be carried out by Tongans for Tongans."

Every year, there are two competitions taking place which aim at encouraging students who learn the language to strive for excellence. They are the ‘Kana official approval Contest (Japanese Language Writing Competition) and the Japanese Speech contest (Japanese Language Speech contest)

The best Japanese Language student will be given an opportunity to visit Japan for two weeks. Today, a Tongan teaching the Japanese Language will also have a chance to visit Japan for 3-6 months training.

At the moment, there are two Tongan Japanese teachers that are in Japan to take training programs. They are Ms. Maria ‘Ofa (Tupou College) and Ms. Stephanie Afu (Tonga High School).

The new Japanese textbook is expected to be out in November, after Mr. Tsutsui returns to Japan.


Issued by the: Ministry of Information and Communications, Nuku'alofa, 2010.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 20 October 2010 16:35 )
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