Education Feature: Aichi International School

Grades 1 to 6 and English Immersion Kindergarten Through Pre-K2 to K5 years

Aichi International School (AIS) is a unique school in the Tokai region offering an English and Japanese bilingual program through Grades 1 to 6, and English immersion kindergarten through Pre-K2 to K5 years. Our mission to foster “global citizens” who are equipped with the knowledge and integrity to function successfully, responsibly and effectively in an ever-evolving world has seen interest in our school grow as Nagoya City and Aichi Prefecture become more dynamic and cosmopolitan.

Since opening in 2006, we have welcomed in an amazing mix of students, teachers and parents from various cultures and backgrounds. In keeping with our school mission, we envision that not only our students, but also teachers and parents as role models are able to share and learn from each other, gaining greater understanding and appreciation of one’s own culture along with an open-minded approach towards those from other walks of life.

AIS was foundered with the aim of fostering Japanese children with native-level English and mother-tongue proficiency. Celebrating the identity of all students, however, non-Japanese families who understand the philosophy of AIS and feel our education programs would suit their child are also most welcome to join, and currently around 30 percent of students come from abroad. We believe in inspiring all of our students to make their mark in the world, confident and aware of their place as a global citizen growing up in the dynamic of Japan.

A typical day at AIS begins with a warm greeting from staff at the gate and their classmates and teacher in respective homerooms. With a full day ahead, young children appreciate the caring approach from our experienced and qualified staff. For elementary students, the schedule consists of seven periods of study; 70 percent of which are in English, and 30 percent in Japanese. To reinforce the importance of gaining English proficiency, students should only be speaking Japanese during Japanese class time. In low teacher-student ratio classes, students are inquisitive and eager to learn, taking upon themselves new and difficult challenges with a growth mind-set approach.

Also setting AIS students apart is their participation in our violin program. Under the instruction of a specialist teacher, elementary students gain an appreciation of music and an additional form of expression. Kindergarten students immerse themselves in an all-English environment for the entire day, learning through structured lessons and supervised free play. The curiosity of young children and their eagerness to learn knows no bounds at AIS, which is a trait we hope they retain for years to come. We often hear from kindergarten parents that their children wish they could come to AIS seven days a week!

AIS strives to provide quality education for the children of both Japanese and international families. We welcome your interest in our school and programs and inquiries to visit.

What is your school philosophy?

Aichi International School attaches great importance on fostering children during the elementary learning stage of one’s life, the most fundamental period for character building, to become globally minded citizens equipped with language ability that can be used around the world. In the 21st century, our children are growing up in a world where international relations are increasingly spreading beyond the bounds of race and borders; therefore, to be successful in the current age, the attributes of an international citizen are now indispensable.

What are the ages of children in your classes & how many are there?

Our school offers a total of ten classes, consisting of one class from pre-K2 (2-3 years) to grade 6 (11-12 years). Before grade school are four classes:

Jellyfish (2-3 years),
Turtle (3-4 years; Japanese nensho),
Dolphin (4-5 years; Japanese nenchu), Orca (5-6 years; Japanese nencho).
What is the maximum number of children per class?

Capacity is 12 students for all classes, except for the 2-3 year-old Jellyfish class which accommodates a maximum of six children. However, two elementary classes each year are allocated double rooms, which allow the capacity in those classes to be expanded to meet grades with high demand.

When does your school year start?

Our school year follows the Japanese school calendar, starting at the beginning of April and running through to mid-March. Vacation times are also similar, with the summer break from mid-July to the end of August, winter break from mid-December to early January, and spring break from mid-March to the beginning of April.

Do you accept children throughout the year?

We accept children at any time of the year depending on space availability.

Do you incorporate Japanese language learning as part of your curriculum?

Our elementary school is designed as an English-Japanese bilingual program, with the Japanese MEXT curriculum of study at its core. As such, in Japanese classes with Japanese teachers, students use the same textbooks and scope of study as children at local public schools. Classes taught in Japanese account for approximately 30% of the program. Non-Japanese children joining from grade one also take part in all Japanese classes, while those joining in later grades are offered support and encouraged to join according to their ability.

What is your goal for students who come to your school?

The school aim is for students to foster language skills which will allow them to succeed anywhere in the world. Based on this, we encourage students to take advantage of their bilingual academic ability and understanding of their own and other cultures to seek their own unique pathway upon graduation, whether it is in the Japanese education system, an international school in Japan, or at a school overseas.

What kinds of families send their children to your school and what is the main reason they give?

Japanese families seek natural English proficiency and peer-level understanding of different cultures for their children, while at the same time retaining their Japanese ability so as not to be disadvantaged at higher education levels. Many have expectations for their children to enter professions which will require future training and experience overseas.
Dual nationality families are looking for their children to foster the language skills and cultural mindset of both parents, while foreign families seek an academic program equivalent to their home country for the duration of their stay in Japan. Most choose AIS on the recommendation of past or current families.

When you think of the core competencies for student learning, what are the things you strive to instill in your students?
The mission of Aichi International School is to empower its learners to become global-minded citizens who are equipped with the knowledge and integrity to function successfully, responsibly and effectively in an ever-evolving global environment.
Why do you think students benefit from an international education?
Students attain academic skills based on global standards and foster creativity and adaptability through interaction with others from diverse backgrounds. Such attributes open the door to a greater range of opportunities for children to explore in the future, both at home and abroad.

What certifications does your school have?

Aichi International School has been accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) since 2014.

Where do your students tend to matriculate to once they complete your school?

The majority of Japanese students seek entry into private Japanese junior high schools, predominantly in the Nagoya area. Following the trend in larger cities, some schools are beginning to include English testing in entrance exams, which will be of an advantage for our students. We also have some students wishing to continue their education in English and seek admission to the middle school programs at local international schools. Students from dual nationality and foreign families usually transition to these international schools also.
What are your teachers like and what do you look for in a teacher?

All of our teaching staff are dedicated to early and primary education and hold applicable qualifications and teacher licenses from their respective home countries. They continually show enthusiasm and compassion towards children from all backgrounds, encouraging their students to perform to their best while at the same time being considerate to others. They also forge close bonds with parents to gain their trust and support towards their child’s education.
Besides subject knowledge, other important traits we require of our teachers are flexibility, creativity, and an eagerness to contribute within the school community.

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