By Elena Kamenetzky
The Kentucky Association of Japanese Language Teachers (KAJLT) seeks to serve the interests and needs of all Japanese teachers in Kentucky at all levels of instruction, in both public and private schools. KAJLT is a branch of the American Association of Teachers of Japanese, the largest national organization of Japanese language teachers, scholars and students in the United States.
Kentucky is home to more than 4,500 Japanese citizens, as well as more than 170 Japanese-owned businesses that employ over 43,000 Kentuckians. Kentucky is rich with opportunities for language teachers to make connections to Japan and for language students to leverage their Japanese proficiency into marketable job skills.
KAJLT works to connect geographically scattered Japanese classrooms as part of its mission to advocate for the growth of Japanese language programs, foster connections to the Japanese communities in Kentucky and recognize the achievements of the state’s students and teachers.
KAJLT uses an email newsletter to keep members informed about upcoming events, give accolades for both student and teacher achievements and disseminate information about everything from job opportunities to student teacher placements. The group’s annual events include an immersion dinner for teachers in the fall, a “nengajo” (Japanese New Year cards) art contest for students in the winter and the induction of students into the National Japanese Honor Society in the spring.
The KAJLT newsletter also encourages members to participate in events sponsored by other organizations, such as the Japan-America Society’s annual Kentucky Japanese Speech Contest and National Japan Bowl, and the Kentucky World Language Association’s State Language Showcase. The newsletter has dedicated space to recognize the achievements of students at these events, as well as sharing photos and videos from smaller school and community events organized by Japanese teachers across the state.
KAJLT offers an annual scholarship award for both a High School Japanese Language Student of the Year and a Post-Secondary Japanese Language Student of the Year. These awards recognize students who not only are dedicated to the study of Japanese language and culture, but who also have gone above and beyond expectations in terms of assisting fellow students or helping their language program grow.
Anyone with an interest in Japanese language teaching – whether a teacher, student or community member – is welcome to join KAJLT. For more information, contact current president, Elena Kamenetzky, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elena Kamenetzky is a Japanese teacher at Eastern High School (Jefferson County). She is the president of the Kentucky Association of Japanese Language Teachers and a board member for the Kentucky World Language Association.