Dunk Tank for Natsumatsuri (Japanese summer festival) at a Japanese Language School by Masako Douglas

created on Aug 11, 2016 modified on Aug 11, 2016 01:23


Students at a Japanese as a heritage language (JHL) school will make a proposal for their school’s Japanese summer festival, in which they persuade their teachers to allow them to  have an untraditional event Dunk Tank in their summer festival.

This project will be conducted in a high school course of a Japanese heritage language school  by the JHL students with Intermediate mid to Intermediate high proficiency. Growing up in a bilingual environment, JHL students develop linguistic competence in both English and Japanese. However due to a varied degree of exposure to and the use of Japanese (heritage language) at home, their Japanese language proficiency displays a wide-range while their English (dominant language) is fully developed over time. Similarly, JHL students develop Japanese cultural knowledge with a varied degree. In terms of intercultural competency, they are in an environment which potentially enables them to develop it based on their already acquired cultural knowledge at home if they receive an appropriate training at school.

This PBLL unit was created based on the following problem that actually occurred at a JHL school:

The Student Association consisting of high school level learners at a Japanese heritage language school, requested the school to have a Dunk Tank booth at their annual Japanese summer festival. They would like to do something different from regular and traditional booths that are common in Japanese summer festivals. Teachers opposed this idea for the reason that it is not a part of a Japanese traditional summer festival and they are concerned that younger children might think that the Dunk Tank is a part of a traditional Japanese festival. However, they did not want to reject the student's’ request, because the students, who usually learned passively, worked seriously for the first time to have their proposal passed.

This was not a right-wrong issue. Both sides had legitimate reasons, which however created a dilemma. This situation gives a genuine learning opportunity to acquire content knowledge, critical thinking skills and linguistic and cultural knowledge and competencies. The project aims at that students will: 

·       * construct (or reconstruct) their key knowledge and understanding of the Japanese summer festival by collecting various information from authentic videos and written texts, and from interviews with Japanese native speakers at their age and their teachers;

·      *  develop critical thinking skills through their inquiry by analyzing collected data and making and proving their hypotheses toward what a Japanese summer festival is;

·        *develop linguistic and socio-linguistic knowledge of vocabulary, grammar and discourse; and communicative competence while they learn the content and interact with native speakers in their interview;

·       * develop intercultural knowledge from the collected information and intercultural competence to flexibly view their culture;

·        *develop skills to persuade others with evidence;

·       * utilize technology effectively as needed;

·        *improve collaboration skills; and

·       * learn how to reflect on their learning.

 The product of this project is a proposal in which they persuade their teachers to allow to  have the Dunk Tank as an event in their school’s Japanese summer festival. They will present their proposal using technological tools they choose based on their needs.  

National Foreign Language Resource Center
Aug. 11, 2016
Masako Douglas

Language: Japanese

Subject Area(s): communities, traditions, society, entertainment, history, lifestyles

Instructional Context

Target Audience Description:
Teachers (Japanese native speakers), parents (Japanese native speakers and English native speakers), school board members (Japanese native speakers and English native speakers)

Audience Location:
Weekend Japanese language achool

Audience Role:
They plan a Japanese summer festival as an instructional activity

Product Description:
Students will make a presentation to persuade the audience to allow then to have a non-traditional event at the school's traditional Japanese summer festival. Students will decide the content to present, and technology tools for their presentation.

Product Target Culture:
Japanese summer festival

Heritage Learners:

Language Proficiency

ILR Scale Listening:

ACTFL Scale:
5 6

ILR Scale Speaking:

ILR Scale Writing:

ILR Scale Reading:

World Readiness Standards


Relating Cultural Practices to Perspectives
Relating Cultural Products to Perspectives

School and Global
Lifelong Learning

Language comparisons
Cultural comparisons

Acquiring Information and Diverse Perspectives


21st Century Skills

Information, Media, and Technology Skills
Media Literacy
Technology Literacy

Life and Career Skills
Flexibility and adaptability
Initiative and Self-Direction
Social and Cross Cultural Skills
Leadership and responsibility

Information, Media, and Technology Skills
Creativity and Innovation
Information Literacy

Project Sequence Overview

Preparing for the Project

1. Project Overview - Project overview includes: 1. A table of Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs), Success Skills, Associated-Tasks and Activities, Learner Reflection, and Assessment; 2. Product Information; 3. Technology tools to be used for the project more detail

Launching the Project

1. Driving Question - Driving question of the project: How can we create a successful campaign to convince our teachers and parents to allow to have a Dunk Tank booth in our school’s Japanese summer festival? more detail

2. Taks 1 - Task 1 has a set of Cultura activities to construct and reconstruct students' existing knowledge and cultural perspectives toward Japanese summer festivals. more detail

3. Task 2 - Task 2 has a set of activities to collect information on Japanese summer festivals from authentic materials (videos and written texts) to further develop students' knowledge and cultural perspectives toward Japanese summer festivals. more detail

4. Task 3 - Task 3 has a set of activities that help learners synthesize their findings and learn how to make an effective persuasion. This section also help learners to make an effective presentation utilizing technology. more detail

Managing the Project

1. Scaffolding for Learning - This section contains strategies for scaffolding for learning content and language. more detail


1. Formative and Summative Assessments - This section has a list of assessment tools. more detail

2. Learner Reflection - This section has a list of forms for learner reflection. more detail