OCG's Educational Philosophy

OCG is guided by a team of curriculum advisors from California State University Long Beach. Our advisors have helped to construct an innovative and highly effective approach to teaching Japanese. Our approach is based on the following elements:

Providing a Total Language Environment. Teaching Japanese as it is taught in Japan may not be the best way to teach children growing up in America. One obvious difference is that children in Japan are already immersed in the language in their everyday environment, and already close to fluent when they first enter school. But children here do not have the same level of immersion (even children being raised in a Japanese-speaking household spend most of their time in an English environment).

Thus, an effective curriculum must provide a rich learning environment in which students are exposed to all facets of the Japanese language. Our curriculum helps students acquire oral language as well as reading and writing skills at the same time. Above all, we avoid rote memorization of abstract lists of kanji and sentence patterns -- which is often a source of discouragement for students at other schools.


Creating Lifelong Learners of Japanese. Students learn the most when they are interested in their lessons -- that is, when class activities are interactive and with content that is meaningful to their lives. Our curriculum is theme-based, built around topics that children find interesting. Some of these themes include family life (both here and in Japan), school life, games and sports, food, health, and so on. These themes overlap with topics that students already know about or are interested in, which bolsters their confidence and thus makes learning easier.

Our classes are taught in a content-driven manner, in which teachers use the study of a certain topic as a vehicle for teaching vocabulary, kanji, and grammar. Students engage in a variety of activities, from reading and discussing topics, writing essays, giving presentations, and the like. By keeping the focus on content, we have found that students acquire their language skills naturally and more easily.

Our approach is also highly interactive, with an emphasis on hands-on activities, experiments, and class discussions. The curriculum also uses small group activities, including having children brainstorm or debate various topics. Even homework assignments are more appealing, for instance by having children "interview" their parents on that day's topic.

In sum, the curriculum designed by our Long Beach advisors is an innovative and well-developed approach. Our classes are no less challenging than elsewhere. The difference is that our curriculum is more FUN, making it more likely that our students will continue with their studies, in college and beyond -- and hopefully become lifelong learners of Japanese.


Creating Effective Curriculum Materials. All of the textbooks and materials that we use at OCG are consistent with our educational approach. We are in the process of creating our own textbook series for all of our classes.

One of our JHL textbook series, Ken-ken-pa was written for OCG by our Long Beach advisors. These books embody the "Long Beach approach," outlined above.

The Hop, Step, Jump series is the second year of our textbook series, written by OCG teachers under the guidance of our advisors.

Our JFL classes use material drawn from a textbook, Jan-ken-pon, co-written by our main advisor, Professor Hiroko Kataoka, and thus follows the same educational philosophy that OCG has adopted. Our teachers have adapted this textbook for our students.

Our upper level JFL classes and our Japanese for High School classes use Erin's Challenge: I Can Speak Japanese, written by the Japan Foundation, and Doraemon: Dokodemo Nihongo. Both were recommended by our advisors, as they fit our style of teaching.


Enhancing Teaching Effectiveness. Our Long Beach advisors are at our school every week, spending many hours observing our teachers and offering critiques and pointers. They serve as an invaluable resource, ensuring that our teachers thoroughly understand our curricular approach.

OCG also supports extra training for our teachers. All of our teachers attend the annual teacher training workshop sponsored by the California Association of Japanese Language Schools. Our teachers also participatedin regional and national workshops, including some workshops hosted by OCG and led by our advisors.

We know of no other school that pays this much attention to continual teacher training.


The Structure of OCG Classes

OCG classes are organized flexibly, which allows us to teach children of all backgrounds in the Japanese language.

Our youngest learners are taught in two age groups.  The Mikan Club is for children aged 3 and 4.  Our kindergarten class is for children aged 5 and 6.

Beginning in the 1st grade we divide our classes into separate tracks.  One track is for learners of Japanese as a Heritage Language (JHL), designed for students who regularly hear and speak Japanese in their home environments.

A second track is for learners of Japanese as a Foreign Language (JFL), which is designed for students with less background in Japanese. Some JFL students may speak and hear some Japanese at home, while others have limited exposure.

The difference between JHL and JFL students is a subtle one. Both tracks teach all of the core language skills, including listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The pace of the JHL classes may be faster, however, especially when it comes to kanji and writing.

OCG also offers High School Japanese for students who have only recently started learning the language. These courses focus on practical language skills. Most of our High School students can use our classes to receive foreign language credit at their local High Schools.

So far, OCG has reaffirmed its accreditation with the schools of the Irvine School District, Huntington Beach School District, and Garden Grove School District (unless your High School already teaches Japanese language courses).

For Our Youngest Learners

Mikan Club

Akiko Mullen


Mikan Club

Shoko Araki



Junko Itoh


Elementary School division

JHL (Japanese as a Heritage Language)


JFL (Japanese as a Foreign Language)

JHL 1-2

Hiromi Kishimizu


JFL 1-2

Izumi Han

JHL 3-4

Akane Suzuki


JFL 3-4

Ayako Nagai


JHL 5-6

Kumi Lipe


JFL 5-6

Noriho Uriu

Junior and Senior High School division

JHL (Japanese as a Heritage Language)


JFL (Japanese as a Foreign Language)

JHL Jr.High School

Miyoko Foutch


JFL Jr. High School

Yuko Abe

JHL Sr.High School

Miyoko Foutch


JFL Sr. High School

Tomoko Sakamoto

Japanese For High School Students

Japanese 1

Agnes Moon




Japanese for Adult Learners

Adult Beginner

Josh Nettles


Adult Intermediate

Josh Nettles

Our TAs and Substitute Teachers

Keiko Borg

Christina Do

Noriko Gibo

Kyoko Halverson

Atsuko Wattanasarn

Yumiko O'Brien

Noriko Sasaki

Keiko Yano









Cultural Classes


Brush Calligraphy



Flower Arranging

Sumiyo Ogawa
Noriko Gibo


OCG's class in oshūji (Japanese brush calligraphy) is taught after school on Saturdays, and last for one hour. This popular course is taught by our veteran teacher Tajima sensei. The class is held for an hour after class, and is open only to children already enrolled at OCG.


We offer a class in the art of flower arranging (Ikebana), taught by a highly ranked instructor of the Ikenobo school, Sumiyo Ogawa. The class is held every other Saturday from 9 am until 11 am. You may enroll even if you do not have a child at OCG.

Our Curriculum Advisors

Our curriculum coordinators are nationally-recognized experts in the field of teaching language to "heritage learners." Heritage learners occupy the middle ground between native Japanese children being raised in Japan, and American students who have no background or exposure to the language. The vast majority of OCG students, in both JHL and JFL classes, are heritage learners.

Our advisors have extensive experience in designing teaching methods and materials for Japanese learners from all backgrounds and at all levels. The three advisors form a very impressive team that has already revamped our curriculum and teaching approach, making our curriculum one of the most innovative and effective in the area.


Masako O. Douglas
OCG Curriculum Advisor

Professor, Asian and Asian-American Studies
California State University, Long Beach

Professor Douglas is an expert on language acquisition by young heritage learners, including oral development and acquisition of bi-literacy skills. She has experience in creating and implementing curriculum programs for JHL learners of all ages, from kindergarten through college. She is a founder and current coordinator of the JHL Special Interest Group of the Association of Teachers of Japanese, and a founder of the JHL Journal: Japanese Heritage Language Education.

Hiroko Kataoka
OCG Curriculum Advisor

Professor, Asian and Asian-American Studies
California State University, Long Beach

Professor Kataoka is an internationally renowned leader and innovator in the field of Japanese language education and pedagogy. She has taught Japanese language courses for some 35 years, and teacher training courses for over 20 years.

Among her numerous activities, Professor Kataoka has served as the Chief Academic Specialist for the Japan Foundation, has chaired the Japanese National Standards Task Force, and has been involved with the College Board's Advanced Placement (AP) test on Japanese Language and Culture. She has received numerous awards, including a citation for Leadership from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. In addition, Professor Kataoka is also a part of the OCG family: her son graduated from OCG in June 2010.


Kiyomi Chinen
OCG Curriculum Advisor

Associate Professor, Asian and Asian-American Studies
California State University, Long Beach

Professor Chinen is a specialist on Second Language Acquisition. Her main research interests include heritage language, social psychology, and immersion programs. She is on the editorial board of JHL Journal: Japanese Heritage Language Education.

Sachiko Iwami
OCG Curriculum Advisor

Iwami sensei has been trained at CSU Long Beach. Since 2011 she has helped to oversee each portion of the OCG curriculum, as needed. She is currently working with the JFL elementary school classes.




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