Kansai International Academy Elementary School is the first school in the world to be accredited with the bilingual International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program in English and Japanese. Students learn in both English and Japanese in an advanced program that aims to nurture individuals with an international perspective.
What is important at our school is not to answer a set question correctly, but to know what is really going on in the world, to be interested in it, to research it, to think about it, and to act on it. Students learn about Japanese culture and history, as well as Haiku and calligraphy, to establish their identity as Japanese. In the upper grades, students can experience studying abroad in New Zealand and learn about the world firsthand.
Another major strength of the school is that all students are using iPads from Grade 1.
We focus on ICT and programming education to cultivate theoretical thinking and creativity, as well as drama, art, and music education to cultivate sensitivity and expression, and to develop the individuality of each child.
In addition, we have introduced a vertical " House System" to create an environment that encourages communication beyond the boundaries of age and class.
Japanese-English Translingual Education
There are many schools and English conversation schools that claim to be “bilingual”, but in many cases, they only end up helping students learn English as a second language.
However, at Kansai International Academy, we provide students with an environment where they can learn to speak English at the same level as they can speak in Japanese.
Rather than always dividing the time between English and Japanese, we have many classes where both languages are spoken freely.
Whether studying animal and plant ecosystems in G2 or politics and court systems in G5, the same content is covered in both languages so that students do not learn “English” but learn “in” English just as they would in Japanese
The Elementary School timetable is constructed by the homeroom teachers for each grade and class based on the number of hours of study within a set range to meet the requirements of the curriculum.
There are A Japanese teacher who speaks Japanese and an international teacher who speaks English in the class.
Depending on the class, some classes are conducted in Japanese only, some in English only, and some in both Japanese and English. In addition to developing language skills in each language, students are given the opportunity to switch from Japanese to English and from English to Japanese in the same class in order to achieve true bilingualism.
The color indicates the language used in the class. Subjects colored in yellow are conducted in English. The blue ones are held in Japanese. Some of the classes colored in pink are conducted in both languages or in different languages depending on the lesson content.
Kansai International Academy Kobe Campus has been accredited by the International Baccalaureate (IB) since April 2015, and is the only school that offers the PYP (Primary Years Programme) in Japanese and English(ages 3-12).
The International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme is a program of study for children aged 3 to 12 years old to acquire skills and concepts based on the IB philosophy. In inquiry learning, which is the foundation of IB education, students think, research, and discover new knowledge and concepts through a variety of experiences.The students will not only be taught one way by their teachers, but they will also learn beyond the subject boundaries and solve problems by utilizing their knowledge and skills.
In the process, they develop the knowledge, skills, concepts, attitudes, and behaviors necessary to live in the 21st century.
IB promotes transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary education that should lead to action.
The IB approach is not a two-dimensional curriculum that focuses on content, skills and process, but is a three-dimensional curriculum that focuses on concepts, content, skills, processes and critical thinking.
The conceptual approach and the focus on critical thinking should not only lead students to better understand the world, but also to take actions using their knowledge and skills to better their community.
Inquiry learning literally means to process the learning with children’s wonders and questions, their interests, the desire to know more about, and the feeling of ownership that understanding and taking action is important, as a driving force.
As much as the learning involves the children’s interests and inquiries, our programme of inquiry sets learning objectives as a curriculum.
Please refer to the KIA Programme of Inquiry for overview.
The IB PYP requires schools to learn 6 transdisciplinary themes throughout the year and through the entire PYP.
These 6 themes allow children to explore various topics and contents including skills and concepts connected with subject areas. The learning through Units of Inquiry can be described as exploring and investigating the world around us through the lens of higher concepts, practicing and using transdisciplinary skills.
Topics include, but not limited to, how this complicated society is structured, principles of the natural world, relationships between humans and other living things on the planet, cultures and beliefs and ways people express themselves, and differences and similarities among people and identities.
- Who We Are
- How We Express Ourselves
- How Organize Ourselves
- Where We Are in Place and Time
- How the world works
- Sharing the planet
These attributes are the characteristics that learners demonstrate as their actions and attitudes throughout their lives not only at school, but also in their daily lives. At KIA, these attributes are used in a form of learning goals for their classes and lessons, references for reflection and feedback. They are also embedded in the Programme of Inquiry as traits to develop as results of the learning.
For more information about the IB Learner Profile, please go to the IB Organization’s website.
Approach to Learning
IB encourages students to become lifelong learners through the Approaches to Learning which run from PYP to DP. In the ATLs, students acquire knowledge and skills through authentic experiences.
Mandatory curriculum for all students!
Our G5 students go to New Zealand for a 3-week study abroad experience every February.
They will stay with a host family and go to school in Thames, a small town about an hour away from Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand. Students will spend three weeks immersed in a live English environment, interacting with nature and experiencing different cultures.
Since they have to take care of themselves, they grow up mentally and come back to Japan with an independent look on their faces.
The elementary schools in Thames have a special focus on Maori language education, making the environment almost bilingual. The students who have returned to Japan will perform Maori songs and dances for the whole class.
Ensuring Academic Success
All of our classes are inquiry-based. Rather than focusing on conventional knowledge acquisition, our classes focus on the developmental application of knowledge through children’s active activities, activities to express their thoughts, and interactive activities with other children. Japanese university entrance exams are changing from a “knowledge-intensive” memorization-centered examination to one that tests academic skills in the true sense of the word – the ability to think, judge, and express oneself, and the ability to work independently and with a variety of people.
At the same time, we want our students to have a high level of academic and knowledge skills by the time they graduate from elementary school, along with the thinking skills and a variety of skills, abilities, and attitudes that are developed through inquiry-based learning, with an eye to getting into a high-ranking university, whether in Japan or abroad.
For example, in math, while promoting inquiry-based lessons, we are also working to strengthen the students’ math and application skills to prepare them for junior high school. In this way, in addition to nurturing academic skills in the regular classes, we also offer after-school “Self Study” and “Cram School (individualized instruction and developmental courses)” to follow and further strengthen children’s academic skills.
Self Study｜For all grades
After-school classes are held until 18:00. The children work on their own homework and assignments. Basically, this is a time for students to work on their homework and class assignments by themselves, but English and Japanese teachers will follow up with students individually if they need help with their studies.
(Individual tutorial classes and developmental classes)
We have a “Cram School” to support students who wish to go on to our secondary school and other private junior high schools. In order to meet the needs of our students, we offer both developmental classes (small group instruction) and individualized tutorial classes to meet their academic abilities and needs. On-campus cram school eliminates the time lost in commuting to the school and allows students to work with their homeroom teachers to improve their academic skills efficiently.
Individual tutorial classes only
Developmental classes (small group instruction)
Individualized tutorial classes (teacher: child = 1:2)