Kanji experiential learning: Integration of theory and practice in an online course (体験型学習パラダイムを利用したオンライン漢字コースの実践)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract / Description of output

Experiential Learning (EL) is widely known to benefit academic learning and to facilitate development of transferable personal and social skills. Some EL studies have reported a variety of EL elements. For example, six EL factors were reported in Cross & Hildmann (2020): Agency, Authenticity, Continuity, Emotional Engagement, Support and Reflection, and these are important for students’ learning and growth.

This paper describes an undergraduate online course ‘Kanji: A Linguistic and Cultural Introduction’ (hereafter kanji course) utilizing the EL paradigm. This Kanji course was designed with a mixed syllabus that integrate both content-related and skill-related topics, starting from my reflection (i.e., EL-continuity) on the traditional kanji teaching style that focuses on ‘writing correctly’. From the skill-related topics, I will report on the EL Kanji class, which integrates theory and practice, applying the concept of bi-moji (beautiful characters) as well as the above six EL factors. Classes were conducted in a flipped classroom format, namely a hybrid type of on-demand (asynchronous learning) and real-time classes. Teaching materials and lecture videos were available on LEARN (VLE = virtual learning environment), and the lecture contents were studied in advance, then the whole class met together in the live seminar for hands-on learning of skill-related topics.

In general, bi-moji instruction books coach how to write ‘well-formed characters’ alongside demonstrating what is an easy-to-read kanji shape, and emphasizing the balance in the whole sentence. Accordingly, we define bi-moji as ‘well-formed characters with easy-to-read functions.’ Teaching materials (i.e., EL-support) were created with an aim to make them easy for non-kanji-background learners to understand bi-moji writing tips. The course also involved a kanji hands-on task called ‘Let’s write bi-moji!’, providing a real-life link (i.e., EL-authenticity) for learners. In the live class, I demonstrated basic bi-moji elements with a brush-type pen, and a biro under a document camera.

From the analysis of students’ reflective reports (i.e., EL-reflection) about their bi-moji learning experience, we found that learning the skills to write with a visually acceptable kanji shape helped students with handwriting difficulties (e.g., bad handwriting, Dyspraxia) and they considered bi-moji writing as a method of problem-solving (i.e., EL-agency). This has motivated them in further kanji learning (i.e., EL-continuity). The outcome of the course evaluation was generally positive – e.g. "The organisation of the course has been adapted well to the hybrid teaching approach, so well in fact that it does not feel like that the current pandemic is a problem at all.”; “These three elements of the kanji course (reading, watching, and doing) have helped my learning significantly. They've given me new ways to learn, made the process more exciting, and have helped taken the fear away from learning kanji.” (i.e., EL- emotional involvement). Such learners’ voices can provide a useful tip for kanji teachers who seek fun-based kanji teaching methods to make writing in Japanese more rewarding.

Cross, A., & Hildmann, J. (2020). Developing and testing a theoretical framework for Experiential Learning. In Learning and Teaching Conference 2020.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Proceedings of The 25th Japanese Language Symposium in Europe 25-27 August, 2022
Place of PublicationGermany
PublisherAssociation of Japanese Language Teachers in Europe
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2023
EventThe 25th Japanese Language Education Symposium in Europe (AJE): 第 25 回 AJE ヨーロッパ日本語教育シンポジウム - Leiden University, Leiden, Netherlands
Duration: 25 Aug 202227 Aug 2022
Conference number: 25

Publication series

NameJapanese Language Education in Europe
ISSN (Print)1745-7165


SymposiumThe 25th Japanese Language Education Symposium in Europe (AJE)
Abbreviated titleRole of the Japanese Language Teachers in Meeting the Needs of Learners’ Diversification in Europe Making Best Use of the Accelerated Online Education
Internet address

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Kanji
  • experiential learning
  • language and culture


Dive into the research topics of 'Kanji experiential learning: Integration of theory and practice in an online course (体験型学習パラダイムを利用したオンライン漢字コースの実践)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • Beyond Kanji Teaching

    Yoko Sturt (Organiser)

    10 Aug 202218 Aug 2022

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesPublic Engagement – Public lecture/debate/seminar

Cite this