EL MONTE – El Monte High School (EMHS) students interested in Japanese language and culture are saying “konnichiwa” to the school’s new Japanese 101 dual enrollment college course. The afterschool class, which debuted in January, allows students to earn 4.5 units of transferable college credit through a partnership with Río Hondo College, which provides instruction at the high school.

Sixteen EMHS students were enrolled in the class this spring, which stresses oral and written proficiency of the Japanese language. Students learn the basics of Hiragana and Katakana script and are introduced to Kanji characters, while studying Japanese history, culture and civilization. Students will need to complete at least 27 hours of intensive individualized oral-aural practice to earn full credit.

“El Monte High strives to host dynamic and enriching college courses on our campus,” El Monte High’s College and Career Coordinator Wyatt Bernthal said. “Students enrolled in the class are learning about new cultures and expanding their world view, as well as receiving an opportunity to get a head start on their college education. It is very exciting because to my knowledge, this is the first time the school has offered a Japanese language course.”

EMHS added the course to its curriculum after being approached by Río Hondo College to launch a pilot foreign language high school program. An online student survey conducted by El Monte High counselors confirmed that interest in the course was high. EMHS is the first school to partner with Río Hondo College to offer the Japanese 101 course.

“My experience in Japanese 101 has been very good,” El Monte High rising senior Kevin Pham said. “It’s been beneficial for my cognitive development because not only am I learning a new language, but a new writing system too. It’s been a fun challenge. I’ve been able to learn a new language while adapting to a more traditional college schedule. We meet twice a week, for a longer duration than what I’m used to with my high school classes.”

El Monte High’s dual enrollment fall 2022 program will also offer an afterschool class in American Sign Language 101 and Mass Media/Modern Society on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Dual enrollment courses are available at all El Monte Union high schools, at no cost to students, and offer transferable credits which fulfill a student’s A-G requirements. Textbooks are provided for free.

“We are very excited to partner with Río Hondo College and provide additional options for students looking to get a head start on their higher education,” Superintendent Dr. Edward A. Zuniga said. “El Monte Union is constantly looking for new ways to engage our students in college-level courses and career pathways. Dual enrollment is an excellent way for students to prepare for the rigors of college.”


EMUHSD_JAPANESE 101_1: An El Monte High School student participates in an interactive classroom activity while enrolled in the school’s recently established Japanese 101 dual enrollment course.

EMUHSD_JAPANESE 101_2: El Monte High School students write notes as they follow along with the school’s Japanese 101 dual enrollment course curriculum.