A picture is worth a thousand words, especially when it comes to breaking down cultural stereotypes and crossing linguistic barriers. That’s the thinking behind a new curriculum for Japanese schoolchildren that uses picture books to help Japanese students learn about the United States. The curriculum was developed by EDC and Japan’s Iwate University, with funding from the Japan Foundation’s Center for Global Partnership.
The EDC team selected 15 picture books for lessons with students in first through third grades. “We chose books that convey the richness and variety of life in the United States and elements of U.S. culture, including ethnic groups, holidays, and famous people,” says EDC’s Alejandra Bonifaz. “We also wanted to show that the U.S. is more than big cities like New York or San Francisco.”
The curriculum supplies lessons and plot summaries in Japanese and English. It engages students in group reading, role playing, and small-group projects.
Working with EDC, Iwate University will design and deliver a training course for teachers, who will pilot-test activities in their classrooms during the first term of the school year.
Originally published on April 30, 2007