Lack of enrollment will lead to cutting of Japanese as language course after 2012

December 8, 2010 — by Justine Huang and Vivian LeTran

Several students of the graduating class of 2012 are unique in one respect: These students will be the last to take Japanese at Saratoga High.

“I’m really sad that the Japanese [program] is ending, but I’m happy they promised to offer AP until I graduate,” said junior Heather Persson, who takes Japanese 3.

The end of the Japanese classes results from the requests for Japanese 1 dropping drastically, leading to Japanese 1 not being offered as a class.

The current Japanese classes being offered are Japanese 3 Honors and Japanese 4 AP.

“What has happened is that the enrollment has declined in students wanting to take Japanese,” said language department chair Arnaldo Rodriguex. “If you have a declining enrollment, it leads to reduction of the language, and in this case, elimination of the language, which is pretty unfortunate.”

Generally, it is the incoming freshmen who take Japanese 1, but with the low enrollment and a tight district budget, it becomes difficult to support lower enrollment classes such as Japanese

1. Furthermore, more students are inclined to take Spanish and French since they are offered at Redwood Middle School.

“The disadvantage we have with Japanese versus Spanish and French is that Japanese is not offered in the middle school,” said Rodriguex. “For [these languages] you start in the middle schools, you come to high school and continue here. Japanese is not offered in the middle school and kids have to start with level one.”

The drop in enrollment could be attributed to the majority of students taking Chinese as their language, rather than Japanese. Japanese was first offered in the school in the 1990s, while Chinese was offered in 2000.

Because so many students are Chinese or Taiwanese-American, enrollment in Chinese quickly rose, leading to a gradual drop in Japanese enrollment.

Current Japanese students have the chance to continue learning Japanese until the end of high school.

“It’s not fair that the incoming students don’t have the opportunity to take Japanese,” said Persson. “Maybe if [they] take the initiative and tell the school that they really want to take the language then maybe that kind of enthusiasm could get it reinstated.”

Japanese teacher Yuko Aoki currently teaches Japanese 3 Honors and Japanese 4 AP, as well as several P.E classes. She hopes to see out all the classes that she teaches.

“I am very much hoping the school will let me have Japanese AP next year, because this year’s Japanese 3 should have a last class of Japanese to go into,” said Aoki. “Two years from now, there won’t be any Japanese class, so I will be a full-time P.E teacher.”