A Nationally Recognized Model Program for Dual Language Japanese/English Education
What is the Japanese Immersion Program?
The Japanese Immersion Program began in 1989 with two kindergarten classes at Richmond Elementary School. Now a complete K-12 language immersion program with students starting at Richmond for kindergarten and staying through grade 5. Students move to Mt. Tabor Middle School for grades 6-8 and Grant High School for grades 9-12. At Richmond Elementary, students spend half their day learning in Japanese and the other half in English. Teachers provide lessons in literacy, math, science, social studies, music, and art in both languages.
After 5th grade students have the opportunity to travel through on a parent-sponsored trip organized by Oya No Kai. The chance to speak and hear Japanese brings their lessons to life. Students stay families in Japan, attend sister schools, visit historical landmarks, and participate in cultural and recreational activities with their hosts. For many, it is the experience of a lifetime.
In 8th grade, students go on a school-sponsored trip to Japan and take the lead by researching airfares, interviewing chaperones, and selecting gifts for city officials. Once in Japan, they complete field assignments and hands-on research on a topic of their choice. Upon their return they make a formal presentation of their travels to friends and families with a sense of pride and ownership of a job well done. High school students are required to complete a Community-Based Learning credit. This real-world experience might include studying or volunteering in Japan, interning with a local Japanese company or tutoring Japanese with elementary students.
Benefits of Our School
Richmond provides students with a warm and supportive learning environment and a bilingual curriculum that is stimulating, rigorous, and fun.
The self-esteem of our students grows as their speaking, reading, writing and listening fluency develops in Japanese and English.
Learning about another culture fosters diversity of thought among our students and nurtures a global view of the world.
Our students' innate passion for learning is enriched and encouraged by Richmond's highly skilled and committed staff.
Our history of strong achievement assures families that academic excellence is the norm. For example, in 2015 with the Smarter Balanced Assessment:
- 86% of 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students met or exceeded the Oregon benchmarks for English Language Arts
- 83% of 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students met or exceeded the Oregon benchmarks for Math
Experienced Teaching Teams
Our English and Japanese teachers work as partners to determine which part of the curriculum is best taught in each language. This complementary approach allows our students to make connections between their English and Japanese learning experiences and improve their fluency with each language.
Students can extend their Japanese language and cultural learning beyond the school day and year through classes in Taiko, calligraphy, and kendo; our Kurabu summer camp; annual 5th grade trip to Japan; hosting Japanese interns; and hosting visiting students from partner schools in Japan.
In 2001, teachers within the Japanese Magnet Program worked with a team of national linguistic experts to develop a comprehensive language curriculum for grades K-12. This well-planned and carefully implemented language curriculum ensures our students learn not just academic language but everyday, social language as well. Our language curriculum helps students develop their fluency with:
- Oral language (forms and functions, grammar and vocabulary)
- Written language (Kanji, Katakana and Hiragana)
- Cultural insight (Japanese cultural perspectives and practices)
Family Support and Involvement
The commitment and involvement of our families is something that really sets Richmond apart from ordinary schools.
- Parent/Teacher Association (PTA) promotes parent and staff cohesiveness and provides funds and enrichment opportunities across our classrooms.
- Richmond Foundation provides funding for core staff at Richmond.
- Richmond Site Council is a committee of parents and teachers charged with school improvement. They write the school improvement plan each spring and meet monthly to monitor the implementation.
- Oya No Kai is a non-profit organization to support and promote Japanese culture at Richmond. Oya No Kai, or "parent organization," provides funding for our Japanese teaching interns, our Japanese calligraphy teacher, Taiko drum classes and other Japanese music and art experiences. They also coordinate our annual 5th grade trip to Japan.
Awards and Recognition
- Richmond named an "Exceptional School" by the Oregon Department of Education for achievement in 2006 and 2007.
- Richmond receives the prestigious 2005 Award for Excellence in International Education by the Asia Society and the Goldman Sachs Foundation (2005)
- George Lucas Foundation produces a short film about the Japanese Magnet Program at Richmond (2003)
- Japanese Language Scholarship "Aurora" Foundation gives Challenge Grant to Richmond kindergarten teacher, Amy Grover (2001)
- Center for Applied Linguistics publishes the article "Japanese Immersion: A Successful Program in Portland, Oregon" by Douglas F. Gilzow (2001)
- Portland Schools Foundation awards the New Vision Grant for Richmond’s Mathematics Collaborative Project (2000-02)
- The Center for Applied Linguistics recognizes Richmond as one of seven model language immersion schools in the country in their report Lessons Learned: Model Early Foreign Language Programs (2000)
- Portland Schools Foundation awards Richmond the Local Impact Grant for the Basic Skill Support Project (1998)
- Excellence in Education award from the Portland Schools Foundation for Renee Ito-Staub, Richmond Principal (1997)
- Portland Schools Foundation awards Richmond the Local Impact Grant for the Academic Achievement Team (1997)
Why Should Your Child Learn Japanese?
Fluency in a second language will ...
- Enrich and enhance your child's cognitive development.
- Lead to greater achievement in reading, writing, social studies, science and mathematics in both languages.
- Help your child develop different learning styles and problem-solving and reasoning skills.
- Foster a sense of humanity and friendship across cultures.
- Increase your child's ability to adapt to different environments.
- Improve your child's understanding of and fluency with his or her native language.
- Increase your child's ability to be more flexible in their thinking.
- Open the door to other cultures and help your child increase his or her sensitivity to and understanding of the language, values, customs and traditions of others.
- Lead your child to discover and examine his or her personal values and civic responsibilities.
- Increase career and educational opportunities in many professions.
Adapted from the book Languages and Children: Making the Match (3rd edition), H. Curtain and C. Pesola, (2003).
How can I find out more?
If your child is preparing to enter kindergarten, contact:
Richmond Elementary School
2276 SE 41st Ave.
Portland, OR 97214