Japanese Plus



Japanese Plus is a citywide afterschool Japanese language, culture, and career exposure program offered at no cost to students from DCPS and DC public charter high schools across the city. It was created and is managed by Globalize DC, a local nonprofit organization. Japanese Plus was launched in 2016, and has been made possible with support from the US-Japan Foundation, the Japan Foundation Los Angeles, and individual and corporate donors.

The Japanese Plus program runs each year from September through May, meeting two times a week – Wednesdays 4:30-6:30 pm and Saturdays 9 am-noon (except holidays), with optional additional activities. For the first four years, Columbia Heights Education Campus generously hosted our program in their school building at 16th & Irving Streets, NW. We will be identifying new meeting space in SY2022-23. Students who successfully complete the program have been eligible to earn either world language or elective high school credit for Japanese.

Three Years of Language, Culture, and Travel Programming

Japanese Plus offers a two-year language sequence – Level 1 and Level 2. Each full year program is aligned to ACTFL and DCPS world language standards, and provides students with a formal Japanese language class, augmented by real world cultural programming (with readings, discussions, classroom visitors, workshops, and field trips). Students share what they have learned and experienced in a Student Blog on this site, and through other projects and community-based activities. Japanese Plus students are challenged to step outside their comfort zones to use their language in authentic settings and experience the US-Japan world first hand, including:

  • hosting high school and university exchange students.
  • participating in the Japan Bowl, the national high school Japanese language and culture competition.
  • attending Japanese university information sessions.
  • staffing our own booth at the Sakura Matsuri at the National Cherry Blossom Festival.
  • traveling to Japan for free with the TOMODACHI US-Japan Youth Exchange Program and the KAKEHASHI Exchange Program. (We will be working to develop a new Japan experience for our next cohort of students.

Building on our experience with Japanese Plus, Globalize DC also introduced Japanese Level 1 as an in-school course for high school students at Columbia Heights Education Campus (Bell HS), our host school, in the spring semester 2018. This pilot program was made possible by a grant from the Japan Foundation Los Angeles. The success of this single course led to the school securing funding to launch its own Japanese language program – the first and only in-school Japanese language program in a DC public school in recent memory.

An Innovative Approach

With Japanese Plus, Globalize DC has created a new language education model – a free, citywide afterschool, for-credit, high school language course, for a language not available to public school students during the school day. We have worked with DC education officials to ensure that our language program meets or exceeds expectations for a regular language class, and to enable students to earn high school credit for their participation in Japanese Plus.

To this end, we have been working in support of a DC state-level policy that allows for competency-based credit for world language learning outside the traditional classroom. If you’re interested in learning more about this effort and how you can get involved, contact sally@globalizedc.org.

Funding and Partner Support

The Japanese Plus program is privately administered and privately funded. We are extremely grateful to the United States-Japan Foundation for the initial grant that allowed us to launch both our Japanese Plus program and our summer Japan in DC summer program. The Japan Foundation Los Angeles has also contributed to our Japanese Plus Program through their salary assistance grant. We continue to raise funds to enhance, expand, and sustain our Japan programs.

To make a tax-deductible gift to support our Japan programs, click HERE.

The Japanese Plus program also depends on a wide local and global network of community-minded organizations, institutions, and individuals with Japan-related expertise, resources, and connections to share with our students. We could not do this program without our partners, who are willing to share their knowledge and experiences with our students.

To learn how you can support the program, click on our Get Involved page.

Our Students

Japanese Plus students are selected through a competitive citywide application process. Criteria for selection include academic record, teacher recommendation, and most importantly, ability and commitment to fulfill the rigorous requirements of the program. Up to twenty-five (23) highly motivated students are recruited each year from DCPS and DC charter high schools across the city. Our students have represented Ballou, Banneker, BASIS DC, Bell, Capital City, Coolidge, DC International, Dunbar, Ellington, EL Haynes, Jackson-Reed, McKinley, Phelps, School Without Walls, and Washington Latin. Our initial cohort (SY2016-17) was labeled our Saru class, because their program was started during the Year of the Monkey (saru). Our second cohort, created in SY2018-19, is our Inu class, born in the Year of the Dog (inu). Our third cohort, created in SY2022-23, is our Tora class, born in the Year of the Tiger (tora).

To really get to know our students, we encourage you to read their posts in the Student Blog on this website, where they share their experiences, insights, and lessons learned from the program.

Our Teachers

For the SY2022-23 Japanese Plus Program:
Shoko Hamano
Takae Tsujioka
Sally Schwartz

Special appreciation to our first Japanese teacher who co-created and taught both Japanese Plus (2016-2020) and Japanese Tamago (2020-2021).
Yoko Eshita