GenkiJACS is proud to announce our foray into the virtual world. We will start the rental of free virtual reality headsets at our Fukuoka school. Students can borrow the latest Meta Quest 2 standalone VR system! For you, GenkiJACS preinstalled VR sets with both Japanese learning apps (Mondly and NounTown for now) and an embarrassing number of games (wink wink). This is the first step of what we hope to be a long and fruitful virtual reality journey. VR offers a new way of learning and practicing through direct experience. This can complement and supplement your lessons with a Japanese teacher. After we receive feedback from Fukuoka students, we plan to bring these Virtual reality systems to our Tokyo, Nagoya and Kyoto branches too. This summer, we hope to involve students as testers for an innovative VR Japanese study app currently under development.
Educational Technology at GenkiJACS
Teaching methods in general have stayed very stable for thousands of years. Since prehistoric man drew paintings on the walls of caves to show children how to stay safe. However, at GenkiJACS, we believe education is on the verge of a technological revolution that will change how people learn. And we are committed to being at the forefront of bringing the benefits of this revolution to our beloved students.
Current Technology Use at GenkiJACS
Genki has invested heavily in technologies with two main purposes:
- To improve our students’ Japanese learning, both in quality and in speed.
- To save our teachers and staff time, so they can devote more time to our students.
Smart Classroom System
All classrooms at our multiple Japanese school branches are outfitted with full HD projectors. It allows even difficult kanji to be read clearly. We also have high-quality speakers for listening exercises. Teachers run classes from the classroom’s iPad or a PC. It wirelessly displays contents on the whiteboard at the equivalent size of a 65-inch TV. The iPads and PCs connect to our digital content system, allowing teachers to access the same content in every classroom throughout our various locations across Japan. The whiteboard system allows teachers to add notations to slides or images both digitally, and with a whiteboard marker, for flexible teaching. The system also easily shares web pages, videos, Japanese study apps and other multimedia content with the class. Teachers can even record student conversations during class, and share them with everyone by broadcasting to the whiteboard.
Learning Management System
From 2022, we have begun using an online Learning Management System (LMS). It allows students to study at their own pace at school, home or anywhere else. Students can watch Japanese learning videos, work through exercises and drills, and take tests. You can basically do everything that doesn’t require a teacher in your own time. This allows your time with the teacher to focus on your specific needs. Eventually, this system will enable “flipped classrooms”, where students study before class, and the teacher checks their understanding in class. As of 2022, we use this system in a few classes only, but will expand it in the future.
Student Information System
The entire student process, from enquiry to graduation, is done through our student information system. It manages key data about students including academic performance, attendance, allergies, and many other things that don’t start with “a”. This high-security modern data management system that Genki invested a lot of time and money in developing means that staff always have access to relevant data about students. It saves you time and reduces the potential for mistakes, allowing us to help you better.
Our Roadmap for the Future
Perhaps because we are still quite a “young” school, GenkiJACS is very excited about the potential of future technologies to revolutionize language learning itself. Here are our guesses about the future of language learning and how it might affect you, and us. Note: This article was written in 2022, so we expect some of the predictions here will be laughably out of date in a few years. We’ll try to update it as our roadmap changes!
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Research in artificial intelligence is progressing at an exponential rate. It seems likely that in just 10-20 years, AI will be capable of providing 1-to-1 language lessons. This will be more cost-effectively than a teacher, and with a curriculum moulded to the specific needs of each student. It is likely that a teacher will still be necessary for some things. But potentially students would study with a personalized AI for 19 hours a week, then spend 1 hour with a teacher who makes sure that the student is following the right path. GenkiJACS plans to partner with leading AI companies to assist in the development of tools to realize this vision. This would truly be an upending of the traditional “one to many” classroom method. This personal attention would allow you to make the best use of your time, focusing on your specific needs while studying.
Virtual Reality (VR)
VR refers to systems that block out reality, replacing it with a virtual reality world (like this for example: Oculus). Current VR systems are fairly low resolution. But in 10-20 years it is likely that they will reach the resolution of the human eye. Combined with eye-tracking systems, this could create real-life-like virtual experiences. While nothing can replace actually experiencing a country like Japan, these systems are likely to allow “virtual travel”. This would be a much cheaper option for many people. For learning, VR systems will offer the ability to practice Japanese in real-life situations. You will chat with people from other countries much more naturally than today’s Zoom calls. GenkiJACS already leads the industry in investing early in VR technology. We will continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in using VR to improve the learning experience for our students. Combined with AI, this has the potential to create incredible learning experiences.
Augmented Reality (AR)
AR are systems that add information on top of the real world. For example, translating the signs in the world around you into your native language. Japanese kanji is often the hardest part of studying for many. This has the potential to simplify life in Japan. It is likely to contribute to a further reduction in the need to spend long periods of time memorizing thousands of kanji. Skype and other systems already offer automatically translated subtitles for your conversations. But future AR systems could expand this to the entire world. Allowing your AR glasses to show translated text whenever anyone talks to you. Or even automatically translating the audio you hear through your earphones. This system would reduce the need for casual visitors to Japan to learn the language first. But of course, people with a deep interest will still want to understand the language natively.
Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI)
This refers to a system that allows information to be sent and received by your brain directly, rather than through your senses. While this sounds like science fiction, it is currently in development by several large companies. It is expected to be commercialized within 20 years. Connecting one’s brain to a computer of course also means connecting it to the Internet. Allowing for potentially being able to receive any information in the world, or communicate brain to brain with others. This could theoretically eventually allow someone to understand a foreign language with no effort whatsoever. If someone speaks to you in Japanese, your BCI would automatically translate that to your native language. It would send the meaning of the sentence straight to your consciousness. If this stage is reached, it is likely that language schools themselves would not be needed anymore, or would become a luxury item.