What is the JF Standard for Japanese-Language Education?

There are many methods of foreign language learning, and with the JF Standard for Japanese-Language Education (JF Standard) a way of Japanese language learning is proposed that places an emphasis on actual communication using listening, speaking, reading and writing. It is believed that ‘what you can actually do using Japanese in real-life situations’ (competence in accomplishing tasks) is important, rather than ‘how much knowledge you have of vocabulary, grammar, and so on’, and learning outcomes are set using Can-dos (sentences beginning with ‘I can ...’).

What’s important isn’t names of food and phrases like ‘I’ll have …’, but actually ‘being able to order food in a restaurant’, isn’t it?

That’s called ‘competence in accomplishing tasks’.
For people to understand each other, both culture and language are important, aren't they?

In addition, with the JF Standard, developing competence in understanding and respecting one another’s cultures (competence in intercultural understanding) is believed to be important. The JF Standard aims to develop this ‘competence in accomplishing tasks’ and ‘competence in intercultural understanding’, and is a tool that was developed in order to be practically of use in classrooms across the world. The idea is ‘Japanese language for mutual understanding’.

Detailed contents of the JF Standard for Japanese-Language Education can be found here

Use the JF Standard tree to decide learning objectives

The JF Standard displays language communication ability in one tree. The part where the branches spread out and the flowers blossom shows specific language activities, which are divided into the three activities: receptive, productive and interactive activities. Examples of these communicative activities are displayed using Can-dos (the flowers). The part where the roots are corresponds to knowledge related to Japanese language, such as characters, vocabulary and grammar, that supports the communicative activities. If you look at the JF Standard tree, you can clarify what communicative language activities are the learning objectives, and what communicative language competences support these.

My students say they would like to be able to order things in a restaurant.

OK, how about making the Can-do for that interactive activity a learning objective?
And how about looking at the part of the diagram where the roots are, and thinking about what kind of knowledge and abilities are needed to do that?

Understand Can-dos at the six levels

With the JF Standard, levels are considered using Can-dos that say to what extent you can do something rather than the amount of knowledge of vocabulary and grammar you have. The JF Standard is divided into six levels from A1 to C2. These six levels are the same as those used in the Council of Europe’s ※CEFR, so it is possible to consider levels using the same standards used for other foreign languages.

※Abbreviation of Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. A framework that is shared in language education and learning contexts around the world originating in Europe

See here for a detailed explanation of the CEFR

Examples of Can-dos at the six levels

There are 3 different frameworks for Can-dos. CEFR Can-dos are multipurpose, abstract descriptors. JF Can-dos are examples of practical language activities related to situations where you use Japanese. ‘MY Can-dos’ are original Can-dos created by users of the website. The figure below shows each of the six levels for the language activity ‘delivering a lecture or presentation’.

Even though it’s the same kind of activity, the things students can do are different depending on the level.

See here for a detailed explanation of the JF Standard for Japanese-Language Education

Teaching materials including Can-do objectives (teaching materials ‘with Can-dos’)

Can-dos as lesson objectives (Can-do objectives) are included in the following teaching materials on the ‘Minna no Kyozai’ Website:

  • ・JFS B2 Teaching Materials
  • ・JFS Reading Activities
  • ・JFS Lesson Plans
  • ・Kyokasho o Tsukuro Classroom Activities (only in parts)

If you have Can-do objectives, you can deliver lessons with clear learning objectives shared between teacher and learners that say ‘You will actually be able to do this!’

How to use Can-do objectives

Can-dos describe ‘what you can actually do using Japanese in a real situation’, rather than acquiring knowledge of sentence patterns, grammar, and so on. Before starting an activity, check the Can-do. It is OK to translate a Can-do into the first language of the learners or a lingua franca. After the activity has finished, if there is assessment (self assessment, assessment by the teacher, or peer assessment by the learners), make the focus of assessment whether learners have become able to do the Can-do objective, rather than knowledge of sentence patterns or vocabulary. There is a sample of an assessment grid and the procedure for a lesson with a Can-do objective in ‘JFS Lesson Plans’.

‘Related Can-dos’ and ‘Can-dos in the same category’

When considering the learning required in order to attain Can-dos and assessment, ‘Related Can-dos’ and ‘Can-dos in the same category’ will be useful. If you click the Can-do objective, you will be directed to the ‘Minna no Can-do’ website , and you will be able to see the ‘Related Can-dos’ and ‘Can-dos in the same category’ for that Can-do.

<Related Can-dos>

In ‘Related Can-dos’, Can-dos can be seen that show the abilities required in order to attain the Can-do objectives. It is useful for deciding assessment approach and criteria, and considering what kind of learning is required in order to attain the Can-do objectives. For example, look at the Can-do objective ‘Can write in short simple sentences a letter, e-mail, etc. to thank someone for their help or hospitality’. In ‘Related Can-dos’, you can find the following:

  • ・Has a sufficient vocabulary for the expression of basic communicative needs. (Competence Can-do)
  • ・Can recall and rehearse an appropriate set of phrases from his/her repertoire. (Strategy Can-do)
  • ・Can tell a story or describe something in a simple list of points. (Competence Can-do)

I see. When you write a thank you mail in short simple sentences, you need those kind of abilities, don’t you? It looks really useful for when you’re thinking about learning aims, and assessment approach and criteria.
<Can-dos in the same category>

Can-dos are divided into a range of categories, such as ‘addressing audiences’, ‘watching TV and film’, and ‘transactions to obtain goods and services’. Using ‘Can-dos in the same category’ you can view Can-dos in the same category divided by level. You can clearly understand a Can-do’s contents and level if you compare it to the Can-dos in the levels above and below.
For example, look at the Can-do objective ‘Can write in short simple sentences a letter, e-mail, etc. to thank someone for their help or hospitality’. The category this Can-do belongs to is ‘correspondence’. In ‘Can-dos in the same category’ you can see the following:

I see. Even though the objective is the same ‘writing an e-mail’, if I compare the Can-dos in the levels above and below, I can clearly understand what kind of thing is the objective at A2 level.

‘Minna no Can-do’ website

Using the ‘Minna no Can-do’ website it is possible to search, save, edit and share Can-dos. It is also possible to create original Can-dos that match the different locations of site users (MY Can-dos).

‘Minna no Can-do’ website