The Philippine Institute of Japanese Language & Culture
In mid-1992, encouraged by its Chairman, the former Philippine Ambassador to Japan, JOSE S. LAUREL III, the Philippines-Japan Friendship Foundation, Inc. (PJFF) established the PHILIPPINE INSTITUTE OF JAPANESE LANGUAGE & CULTURE FOUNDATION, INC. (PIJLC). Its purpose was clear and singular-to provide Filipinos with a full-time, intensive preparatory course on the Japanese language (Nihongo) designed to provide its students with the proficiency needed to qualify for admission into Japanese schools and universities. Himself a formerryugakusei (foreign student) to Japan Ambassador Laurel and fellow- former ryugakusei share a common experience: that Nihongo itself is a formidable barrier to learning and acquiring a Japanese education. At the core of this barrier is the usage of a system of Chinese characters (Kanji) numbering around 2,000 which all ryugakuseimust master in order to pursue an academic objective in Japan.
As non-ethnic Chinese, Filipinos studying in Japan variably suffer a great disadvantage vis-a-vis counterparts from other Asian countries where Chinese is the mother or predominant tongue- such as China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. The inability of even our brightest Filipino students to read and write Chinese characters translates into a unique, significant handicap for Filipino students in Japan.
The PIJLC basic course curriculum is therefore deliberately intensive and comprehensive. It attempts to stimulate Nihongo course offerings in Japan for non-Japanese where the students are subjected to Japan’s rigid discipline and study-work ethic within a ten-month program. The course involves significant memory work, endless practice drills, constant testing, reading and writing. The program is designed to meet the requirements for Level-2 proficiency according to the standards of the Japan Foundation.