ABSTRACT This paper describes the development, implementation, and evaluation of the first year of a three-year pilot project to teach Japanese to all students in grades K through 5 at a Pittsburgh elementary school. Curriculum development followed ACTFL recommendations for proficiency-based instruction. End-of-year information was collected from learners, parents, the Japanese teacher, and other school teachers. Results of student oral interviews indicated the development of a range of proficiency along the novice continuum. Data from prochievement interviews, teacher, and independent observer ratings indicated that an earlier start may result in more uniform gains for the majority of learners. In addition, a strong positive correlation was found between children's awareness of parental encouragement for language study and their Japanese attainment. All parents sampled cited specific examples of what their children had learned and a majority expressed strong positive feelings about the class. Within this positive context, we noted nonetheless an indication by the teacher of perceived program marginalization within the larger framework of the school's offerings. This and other factors associated with program implementation and the children's attainment are topics for continuing investigation and documentation.