Meisei Gakuen School for the Deaf – the only private bilingual / bicultural School for the Deaf in Japan

Meisei Gakuen (pronounced May Say) is a school for the Deaf established on April 2008. There are about 50 children between the ages of 3 and 15 studying from the kindergarten to the junior high school levels.

Being deaf is not a problem at all at Meisei because everyone uses sign language.

Through the medium of Japanese Sign Language (JSL) children communicate and learn everything. They also learn how to read and write in Japanese so they grow up to be bilingual in JSL and Japanese.

Meisei provides a rich sign language environment, so Deaf children learn just as hearing children learn in mainstream schools. There is no other school like this in Japan.

Meisei warmly welcomes Deaf children who want to learn in JSL and parents who wish to raise their children in a sign language environment.


JSL as the First Language

The language a child acquires first is referred to as the “mother tongue” or the “first language.”

In a natural environment, the first language a Deaf child acquires is a sign language. Unless the first language is established one can neither go on to learn a second language, nor is it possible to develop a healthy self identity. In the case of deaf children, they will not be able to acquire their first language, JSL, in full, if they are immersed only in the spoken language, which is totally unintelligible to them, and/or non-native signs. At Meisei Gaukuen, the emphasis is on a child’s acquisition of sign language as the first language.

To create an environment supporting students’ acquisition of sign language as the first language we have a number of Deaf native signers as teachers and advisors who provide consultation and utilize an official curriculum that includes a JSL language course. (Similar to a Japanese course for hearing students in Japan or an English course for students in the US.)


Bilingual education

Meisei Gakuen’s bilingual education supports the acquisition of two languages, JSL and Japanese. We teach Japanese in the written form only, therefore reading and writing (visual), not listening and speaking (aural-oral). Deaf children’s dominant language is sign language so they may initially lag behind in their second language Japanese; however a slow start in Japanese is not an issue. Eventually, their Japanese ability will grow on the solid foundation of their first language. This learning process has been proven time after time in our experience through the free school that eventually became Meisei Gakuen. Rather than hastily teaching children Japanese, it is more important to let them grow up in a language they can completely understand in a stress-free environment, as recommended by most specialists in bilingual education. Meisei has developed a curriculum with a concrete methodology that adheres to this bilingual education philosophy.

Please address enquiries to 

Location and address: 〒140-0003 東京都品川区八潮5-2-1 TEL.03-6380-6775 FAX.03-6380-6751 Access map

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