Alia College has been fortunate enough to have a native language speaker, Yuri Yoshida, as part of our Japanese faculty, for the entire life of the school. Yuri has been instrumental in the effort to continually strengthen ties between Japan and Australia.

Alia accepts Japanese student teachers, who have come from Japan to experience teaching Japanese as a second language in Australian schools. Besides adding another valuable element to Alia’s Japanese language program, Alian students find conversation with these student teachers a great source of fascination and inspiration.

Alia’s Japanese language program has a heavy emphasis on culture as well as language. Alia annually plays host to groups of around 25 Japanese high school students, from schools such as Kaichi High and Kasaoka High among others. During these stays of about two weeks, families of Alian students are invited to host a Japanese student. These are excellent opportunities for our Japanese learners to practise their speaking skills. We also take part in cultural exchange activities with the visitors such as Japanese cooking and trips to Philip Island to see the fairy penguins.

Students from Alia’s Japanese Class and from Kasaoka High School visit the Melbourne Zoo.

Alia College regularly organises students to participate in long term (three to ten month) home stay arrangements in Japan, usually with AIIU, after which, students come back with fluent Japanese, which dramatically boosts their VCE ATAR scores, and the whole trip is of course a priceless world experience.

Several students from Alia have obtained scholarships that have allowed them to study in Japan.

The following letter is from a past student who graduated in 2006:

My fascination with Japanese language and culture was first sparked when I started at Alia. The thing that first grabbed my attention was of course the fabulous food of Japan. I remember Yuri taking us to Japanese restaurants. I never knew such awesome food existed! Then Yuri taught us more about culture and I grew to love the idea of beautiful Kimono and Japanese Shinto Shrines and Buddhist Temples. I had to see them for myself; I decided to go on an exchange program Yuri had suggested to me.

I stayed in Tochigi Prefecture for 10 months with Japanese families, and it was sincerely the best learning experience I have had to date. I attended a Japanese school and made friends, my host families introduced daily Japanese life to me, and I was able to meet up with some of Alia’s past Japanese language student teachers. I was fortunate to see some of the most important memorials to Japans past, a few examples being the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Atom Bomb Museums, as well as countless temples and shrines. Besides my Japanese language ability improving beyond what I could’ve hoped, the most valuable thing I learnt from my experience was tolerance for other cultures and the importance of keeping friendly relations with Australia’s neighbours.

VCE Japanese is one of the highest marked up VCE Subjects, so on top of the indispensable experiences I gained from my exchange, I achieved a nice study score of 39 which was marked up to 48/50, the most significant contribution to my ENTER score!

I’m currently studying advanced Japanese as one of my majors in my Bachelor of Arts & Science course at Melbourne University, and Yuri continues to support me even now.