Study on the implementation of Multicultural system in the International School:  The case of Japanese International School, Vietnam

Study on the implementation of Multicultural system
in the International School:
The case of Japanese International School, Vietnam

Viet Anh Dao


I. Introduction
 a. Mission and Vision and influence to the Parents and Students
 b. School’s curriculum
II. Organizational Structure
 a. The Working relationship between the Principal, Director and Chief of Staff.
 b. Working relationship between Japanese teachers and Western teachers
III. Kindergarten
IV. Japanese International Program
 a. Curriculum
 b. Textbooks
V. Cambridge International Curriculum
 a. Curriculum
 b. Textbooks
VI. Events and school’s activities
VII. International Cooperation
VIII. The Problems

I. Introduction
 Japanese International School (JIS) is established in 2016 in Ha Noi, capital of Vietnam. JIS is a multi-grade school from kindergarten to high school following the Japan’s school model, and is an advanced educational model in Hanoi, following comprehensive education, focusing on compassionate, tolerance and inner depth students. Educating people with honesty, self-respect, kindness, independent thinking, working, group working ability, creativity to become elite citizens, international standardized students, and have capacity to become respected businessmen, scientists, and managers in the future


 JIS is the first school in Vietnam that employs such a format and style of education. With the Japanese curriculum as the first and the main curriculum, the school receives the warm welcome and big attention from the teachers and especially from the parents. This study aims to explain and analyze the structure of Japanese International School as well as review about the progress of the students inside and outside of class in both Cambridge program and Japanese program. After first few years of running, the schools and leadership face some cultural problems that arise due to misunderstanding of each other’s culture.
 Japanese International School’s Mission, Vision and influences to the Parents and Students
The mission of JIS is moral education. At JIS, students understand that “knowledge and good grade is important, but it is more important to be a good person.” Students are trained not only in term of knowledge but also morally educated throughout the year at JIS. And JIS’s vision is that: without knowledge students cannot work, but knowledge is not yet enough, we also need to understand the meaning of wisdom living. All creativeness, aspiration, and congenital trend (aptitude regions) of each student will be encouraged with enabling environment.
 The students and parents in Vietnam are familiar to the traditional style of teaching and testing system in Vietnam, which instead of focusing on the student’s morale and virtues but forcing the students to spend most of the time to study and preparing for examination.       Eventually, students are to forget the importance of Human being is to be a good person. So JIS reinstate the meaning of schooling to the parents, which was welcomed and well received by the parents. The mission and the vision of the school did meet up the expectation of the parents. More than that, the school expects to transfer the ideas and norms of Japanese based virtues to the parents and students in the long term in a new and globalizing society.

The school’s curriculums:
 1. Kindergarten: Kindergarten program is set up following the models in Japan. With teachers from Japan, kindergarten classrooms are set up in the same format and all the activities are led by Japanese teachers, with the focus on the student’s moral and values.
 2. Japanese International Program (JIP): JIP curriculum is ranging from kindergarten to Highschool. Students can learn and follow Japanese curriculum and they will be fluent in Japanese when they graduate Middle school. Students are also taught 6 lessons of English per week as a foreign language. However, subject such as History, Geography and Vietnamese are taught entirely in Vietnamese and base on Vietnamese curriculum.
 3. Cambridge International Program: CIP curriculum is ranging from kindergarten to Highschool. Students are able to learn and follow Cambridge curriculum from kindergarten. Students are also taught 6 lessons of Japanese per week as a foreign language. However, subject such as History, Geography and Vietnamese are taught entirely in Vietnamese and lesson plans are also based on the Vietnamese curriculum.
 JIS’s curriculum is unlike other international schools in Vietnam. JIS focuses on the facts that Vietnamese students should and need to learn Vietnamese history, geography, and Vietnamese literature. JIS admit students from kindergarten to Middle school in both Japanese curriculum and Cambridge curriculum due to the reason that JIS wants the students to not only learn the knowledge from the beginning, but allow them to absorb with the school’s culture, Japanese manner, and Japanese behavior. Students will have different path and with different goal and destinations in the future. However, the two programs share the commonality is the focus on the Moral education and Vietnamese subjects such as Geography, Vietnamese, and Vietnamese history.

II. Organizational Structure and The Unique Points
 Like many other schools, Japanese International School has quite similar organizational structure but at JIS, due to the nature of having two curriculums running parallel, there are some modifications. With the school’s board overseeing the operation of the school and make decisions, there is a Japanese Principal, who helps the school’s board to carry out the decisions and the missions and vision of the school. Japanese Principal will also directly be in charge of Japanese program and regularly observing Cambridge program’s operation and recruitment.
Principal’s main objective at JIS is to make sure that both programs are carried out smoothly, teachers and office staff are aware of the school’s values as well as shaping and bringing the best education to the students. Principal will only report to the school’s president and the school’s board so that they can be aware of the school’s situations and if there is any problem arising.

Vice Principal/ Director of Cambridge Program
 The next position in line is Vice Principal or Director of Cambridge program. For this position, British teachers are usually recruited as they are well aware of the Cambridge program and teacher’s recruitment. The position of Director of Cambridge program is also very sensitive because one of his/her responsibilities is to be able to connect and work well with Japanese teachers. More than that, it is his/her responsibility to make sure that Western teachers understand the moral and main values of the school. Only by understanding the reasons behind those moral and values, they can work smoothly with other Japanese teachers.

Head of Primary, Secondary and Highschool
 Working directly for Director of Japanese Program and Director of Cambridge program are head of Primary, head of Secondary and head of Highschool. Because JIS is a multigrade school so that there are certain levels that must be managed separately. With the Japanese program, heads of Primary, Secondary and Highschool are Japanese, and they are all required to have experience in the position that they hold. For Cambridge program, it is the British or American who holds the head positions in Primary, Secondary and Highschool. At JIS, the main responsibilities of the head of Primary, Secondary and Highschool are to coordinate the foreign teachers to work with Vietnamese teachers, making plan and preparing the necessary equipment for the school’s year, preparing exams, manage teaching qualities of the teachers, checking lessons plans, etc…

Chief of Staff
 Another managing position at JIS is Chief of Staff, who has the responsibility of managing all the office’s staff, which include admission department, administration department, finance department, human resources department, and quality assurance department. Chief of staff works closely with Principal and Cambridge director in assisting them recruiting foreign teachers and making sure that all the information running smoothly around the school. The staff in the office are Vietnamese and not so many people have had experience of working abroad or working with foreigners. So that it is one of many tasks of the chief of staff to train and assist the office staff to be able to work with foreign teachers.

The Working relationship between the Principal, Director and Chief of Staff.
 The three-position work together and report directly to the school’s board. At the moment, a Japanese teacher who is responsible for the Japanese Program, a British teacher to be in charge of Cambridge program and a Vietnamese in charge of Chief of staff position. Having three people from three different countries, there are many conflicts and misunderstanding that occur during the time of working together. This kind of difference among the leaders also has some impacts on the British teachers, Japanese teachers, and Vietnamese staff. The cooperation among three cultures facilitates the multiculturalism and allows the teachers to see and to understand more about the International environment.

Working relationship between Japanese teachers and Western teachers
 Besides the cooperation among the leadership, the cooperation between the Western teachers and Asian teachers is also important. JIS is quite an unique school where there are 2 dual curriculums, JIP and CIP operate at the same time and in the same school’s environment and Western teachers and Japanese teachers usually have to work together to host school’s events for the students from both sides. However, the working relationship does not always go smoothly due to the differences in Culture and working styles.


Kindergarten Program
 The kindergarten program at JIS is one of the special programs in Ha Noi, Vietnam. The kindergarten curriculum, facilities and all the teaching materials are imported from Japan. Students will have the opportunity to experience and learn from the Japanese’s culture and virtual.
 The Kindergarten program at JIS admits students from the age of 3 to 5 and with main focus on the training the students virtue and moral education in the Japanese standard. All the kindergarten classes will have a Japanese teacher, Vietnamese kindergarten teachers, and a translator. Japanese teacher will be the lead teacher, with the assistance from Vietnamese kindergarten teacher. The translator will help to translate necessary sentences and guidance from the Japanese teachers to the Vietnamese teacher and especially to the students. However, in the long term, students get used to the Japanese and after a year, they do not need the translation.
 Besides being able to learn to greet and be independence, students will learn and be able to speak Japanese after 3 years of learning at JIS’s kindergarten. It will be much for helpful for the students when they start to enroll in the Primary in Japanese’s curriculum.
 Kindergarten students also have 3-4 periods of English lesson every week by a Western teacher.

Japanese International Program
 Japanese International Program (JIP) is established as the core of Japanese International School. The program not only teaches students knowledge but also expects the students to learn manner, moral and basic virtual of Japanese. The moral education of Japanese is deeply embedded in the curriculum and in everyday activities. Students are to experience the Japanese culture in the classroom and outside of the classroom.

 The curriculum is being imported from Japan’s ministry of education however, there are some subjects that are being modified in order to fulfill the requirements from the ministry of education in Vietnam. The Japanese International Program will let the students to learn mostly in Japanese with Japanese teacher as the head teacher in the class. This creates a wonderful environment for the students to get familiar to speaking and speaking in Japanese daily.      Students can learn from their teachers the manner, virtues and the learning styles, which can help them a lot in the future. The difficulties for students in the first year is that they can hardly understand Japanese teachers and so that the translators are always present, which makes the study hard because the students would focus on the translator instead of Japanese teacher. Subjects that are taught in Japanese are: Math, Science, Physics, Home, Music…And subjects that are taught in Vietnamese are: Vietnamese, History and Geography. With the purpose of ensuring Vietnamese knowledge but still be able to learn Japanese and World’s culture and especially Japanese’s virtue.


 Japanese textbooks are all imported and in order to help some students, who are not yet advance in Japanese, to catch up with the classes JIS are allowed to translate the contents of the textbooks into Vietnamese.
 However, the difficulty for JIS, regarding the textbooks is that there is no formal textbook that can be used to teach Vietnamese students Japanese. In order to make up for it, JIS is using Minna no Nihongo and adjust and teach the students. However, Minna no Nihongo’s content is not so suitable for the students so that teachers are spending a lot of time to adjust the contents.


Moral education
 Moral education at JIS is very special because it is embedded directly to all activities of the students. JIS’s students will learn the basic classroom’s manner and basic Japanese virtues for students such as: standing up and bow when teachers enter the class, cleaning up the classroom, be in charge of lunch duty, be organized and treat other students and anyone with utmost respect, etc… At JIS, the moral education is attractive to the parents because it allows the students to train themselves and develop what cannot be developed in normal public school.

JIP’s Pathway
 The students at JIP will follow the structure of 6-3-3 from the Primary school to high school as in Japan. Different from Vietnam’s education system, which is 5-4-3, the system at JIS allows the students to study 6 years in Primary, 4 years in Secondary and 3 years in Highschool. During the 3 years of High school, students will have to prepare for graduation exam and EJU, which allow to the students to be able to get admitted to Universities in Japan.
 In order to prepare and receive graduation degree, students will have to have to participate in the graduation exam, which is organized by Vietnam’s Ministry of Education. Students will have to pass the exams in Math, Vietnamese, Physics, and a selected foreign language (usually in the case of JIS is Japanese).
 Students also have to prepare for the EJU exam, which is mainly for foreign students who want to study at Universities in Japan. Students at JIS are to prepare for the EJU from the 2nd of High school with teachers who specialize in teaching EJU to foreign students. So the pathway for the students of JIP is quite challenging and taking a lot of time of the students for preparation and training.


Cambridge International Program
 In 2017, Cambridge international program (will be called as CIP) at JIS was established as a second branch and was certified by Cambridge University, UK and it has been continuously improving and adjusting to become one of the most special programs in training student’s mannerism and morale in Hanoi, Vietnam. The number of students enrolling in the CIP are nearly 250 students. The parents, who have their children enrolled in CIP, set out different expectations from the school. Unlike many other Cambridge schools in Vietnam, the parents expect that their children will also learn good behavior, good manners, and ethical behaviors at school. The Cambridge program may allow students to be able to travel and study in England, American, Australia…but with CIP at JIS, students will be able to learn more than just knowledge and English but they will also be able develop themselves and be more discipline.

 The Cambridge curriculum is set up based on the main basic structure of Cambridge Assessment International Education. However, JIS develops the curriculum that suits the Japanese contexts, cultures, and ethos. At each stage, the curriculum is varied and offer different subjects that can be tailored in order to meet the student’s outcome in the future. In the Primary or key stage 1 and key stage 2 and 3 or lower secondary and higher secondary, students are taught math, science, Japanese, thinking skills, ICT and Physical education. All the classes are taught in English by British teacher and with no Vietnamese teaching assistant which, in the long term, will help the students’ language ability to improve quickly. Other subjects that are taught in Vietnamese are: Vietnamese History, Vietnamese, and Geography.


 Key stage 4 and 5, which students are from 15 years old to 18 years old, will allow students to focus on the subjects that are most relevant to what they want to study in university and take IGCSE and A level in those subjects.
 For example, at JIS, if students want to apply for university majoring in business, students will have to study math, science, and humanity classes from key stage 4. By the end of key stage 5, they will have to take A level certificate in Math, Science and Humanity subject in order to get accepted to university.

 The Cambridge pathway is divided into 4 main stages: Cambridge Primary, Lower Secondary, Upper Secondary, and Cambridge Advanced and in each stage, the curriculum is different and offer different outcomes as well as purposes.
 Cambridge pathway is somewhat different from JIP’s pathway, and it provides the students ranges of options that they can choose in the future. From the age of 5, students are to start from Cambridge Primary and continuously moving to the Cambridge Advanced. At each stage, students are required to take the exam to demonstrate the ability of the students.
 However, At Cambridge upper secondary and Advanced, students at JIS are required to take Cambridge IGCSE and Cambridge A level in order to apply and get accepted to universities in any Universities in UK and US.
 What makes JIS’s Cambridge pathway different from other schools is that JIS adds to the curriculum and stresses on the values of moral education. Providing the students the opportunities to learn the Western style of working but still abiding to the Asian values.

Events and School’s Activities
 At JIS, events and school’s activities are not simply just the activities and events, but they are those are the opportunities for the Western teachers to work with Asian teachers and students from both programs to work with each other. Those events and activities are chances for the students from both programs to exchange with each other and to be understanding for each other. Some activities and events that are regularly being hosted JIS are:
 1. Opening ceremony: This is one of the very first Japanese style events that students have the first experience with. Students from both CIP and JIP all join in and experience the Japanese atmosphere that is set up by Japanese teachers.
 2. Mochi Festival: Mochi festival is a Japanese traditional activity in the New Year. At JIS, student are able to experience making Mochi process from the first step to the last with the careful guidance from the teacher.
 3. Mid-autumn festival: Mid-autumn festival is both a Japanese and Vietnamese event. However, this event is usually formatted in Vietnamese style and students from both CIP and JIP will participate and enjoy the event together.
 4. Field trip to Japan: Field trip is a chance for the students who just graduate and finish Primary, Secondary and Highschool. At each stage, student will be able to travel to Japan for an exchange opportunity with Japanese school. During this field trip, students will learn more details about Japanese culture, manner and moral. More than that, they are able to communicate with Japanese students and experience a day at Japanese school. The field trip event is only limited to students of JIP.
 5. Sport Day: Sport Day is another interesting event that being hosted in the same format as in Japan. Students from both CIP and JIP will participate, work together and be united. The parents This is also one of many events that teachers from both CIP and JIP work with each other to create a joyful event.
 6. Christmas event: Christmas event is whole school event where teachers and students from both sides of CIP and JIP spend time to create a meaningful event. Students will also together perform on the stage on Christmas event.

 The 6 main events above are great opportunities for the students to get along with each other. More than that, those events allow the students to be more open and more internationalized. Western teachers working side by side with Asian teachers and they have the chances to understand other’s culture and promoting the Internationalization within the school.

International Cooperation
 JIS is currently having partnership with schools and universities in Japan, England, and United States of America. The partnership or the cooperation will allow the students from both schools to do exchange program, which benefits the student’s learning process and student’s outcome. Students at JIS can have more options when choosing the University or if the students want to have go study abroad, JIS can offer range of options and assist them with the application process. Comparing to other schools in Vietnam, JIS is the only school in Vietnam that cooperates with a big range of number of schools in Japan.
 Besides cooperating with Japan’s schools, JIS also is a partner and a qualified center of Cambridge University. Students attending Cambridge program at JIS can attain the certificates and use it as a pass to study abroad in US and England. Some of the partner schools of JIS are:

The Problems for JIS
 There are 2 problems that lie ahead JIS and even though it does not directly affect the student’s learning but it will definitely create much more difficulties for the students who want to learn and study Japanese program at JIS.
 1. High school’s graduation degree: For students learning Japanese International Program, the graduation degree at the end of high school year seems to be impossible to attain. Even though, students at JIS are learning and studying the same curriculum and textbook as the students in Japan, but Vietnamese students will not be able to receive the high school diploma from the Japanese Ministry of Education. Unable to get the high school diploma, they will have to participate in the Vietnam’s general graduation examination, which is very difficult and challenging for students who only learn Japanese’ curriculum for the past 12 years. More than that, in order to get into Japanese Universities, Vietnamese students will also have to learn and prepare for EJU examination, which also requires a lot of time and focus. The high school diploma problem is causing the students at JIP to focus on 2 exams in just one year course and causing parents to be hesitant in sending the students to study in Japanese Program.
 2. Japanese textbooks for foreign learners: In Japan, there are many textbooks and many publishers however, all the textbooks and teaching materials are for students, whose native language is Japanese. So for foreign students like Vietnamese, it is difficult for them to catch up with the contents in textbooks and what is being taught in class. With that reason, JIS decided to use Minna no Nihongo as the Japanese textbooks for the students from Primary to Middle school. However, the problem with the Minna no Nihongo is that those textbooks were originally written for adults, who want to pass the Japanese Proficiently Level, so the contents is very different from what they learn in other subjects.