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Japan Foundation at Japan Matsuri 2015

Japan Matsuri returned to Trafalgar Square in London on Saturday 19th September 2015. This popular annual festival brings members of the Japanese community and Londoners together to enjoy the many aspects of Japan with Japanese food, music, dance and other activities.

The Japan Foundation ran a stall at the festival providing information about studying Japanese in the UK, useful handouts about our support for schools and details about all of our upcoming events.  In addition, we held a Japan Quiz, which 700 people entered.

The answers to the quiz were as follows:

1. What colour is the Japanese flag?

a) Red and yellow     b) Red and white       c) Pink and white

ANSWER b) The Japanese flag is a red circle on a white background

2. What is the Japanese art of artistic paper folding called?

a) Origami             b) Kendo              c) Karaoke

ANSWER a) Origami literally means “folding paper”

3. The kanji (Japanese character) (hana) means “flower” and the kanji  (hi) means “fire.” What do you think their combination, 花火(hanabi) means?

a) Daisy   b) Explosion   c) Firework

ANSWER c) “Hanabi” means “firework” in Japanese.

Out of those who answered the quiz correctly, we picked three at random to send our Japan Foundation Goody Bag. Congratulations to the winners Holly from Hertfordshire, Ann from Hampshire and Sarah from Hertfordshire, who have now been sent their good bags!

Japan Foundation will also be at Bristol Anime Con on October 3rd, and the Language Show Live in London on October 16 - 18. We hope to see you there!

Primary Japanese Resource Sharing workshop

On the 8th of September, approximately 17 teachers came to the Institute of Education to share ideas about teaching Japanese in their primary schools and then hear about the new Japan Foundation Japanese Scheme of Work for Primary Schools. The event started with presentations from primary school teachers to share how they have used the scheme of work along with showing useful resources that they have tried in their classes.

First Catherine Duke, from Holbrook Primary School, in Trowbridge, introduced how to make animations with the children while they learn Japanese. She showed how her class had used an ipad and their own drawings to create an animation for “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” which the children had narrated in Japanese. Catherine also showed lots of other ways this could be adapted to use kamishibai or other stories in Japanese.

Then, Helen Morris, from Madley Primary School in Herefordshire, showed how she used and adapted the Japan Foundation’s scheme of work for her classes. Her lesson plans extended the scheme of work to include shopping dialogues. Her pupils acted out shopping for cute erasers using animal vocabulary, colours and prices and then researched about Japanese erasers online. It was great to see how her classes loved learning and performing dialogues, especially when they could vary the vocabulary themselves.

Next , Yoko Leedham shared her lesson plans and ideas for her Japanese Enrichment classes at St Osmund's school in Dorchester. Yoko teaches a set of 7 weeks of Japanese classes including activities ranging from teaching basic greetings to making hanko stamps, and writing their names using Japanese calligraphy.

This was followed by a talk by Dr Marina Sereda-Linley who spoke about differentiation in Primary Japanese Lessons, giving several examples of how it is possible to give slightly different activities to children within the same class, depending on their competencies. Dr Sereda-Linley gave lots of concrete examples of using materials with different levels of support and different levels of challenge. She showed how it is possible to present ideas through auditory, visual and kinesthetic means, to help children’s varied learning styles.

Lastly the Japan Foundation’s Chief Language Advisor, Makoto Netsu, introduced the new resources for the Japan Foundation Japanese Scheme of Work for Primary Schools. These teaching materials have been tested with two classes of Year 4 pupils at Southfield Primary School so  Mr Netsu gave explanations about how he has used them, and how they might be adapted for other primary Japanese classes. The resources themselves include worksheets, plans, activities, games etc.

One participant, Emily Mellor, commented “I feel very inspired to get started in school and have loads of ideas." Another mentioned  that “It was very interesting to see what other teachers are doing in their classes." The Japan Foundation would like to thank all the fantastic teachers that were willing to share their ideas. If you are interested in the ideas and resources shared during this event, some of them are available to download below. 

Download Attachment

A taste of Japanese at “Japanese from Scratch: All About Bento!”

24 people had a chance to learn all about bento – Japanese boxed meals – as well as some basic Japanese  at the Japan Foundation London’s Japanese from Scratch workshop for absolute beginners of Japanese language, which was held on September 8th and 9th.

Led by Mio Tsunematsu, Assistant Japanese Language Advisor at the Japan Foundation London, the workshop began with an introduction to the concept of bento in Japan, and the basics of what a good bento should contain. The introduction to bento also explored looking at what bento mean to Japanese people and the role bento play in Japanese culture.

This was followed by learning useful Japanese language, including vocabulary for common food found in bento and how to express likes and dislikes in Japanese. This vocabulary, and other useful words and phrases to do with eating in Japan, can be found in the Japan Foundation’s Marugoto A1 textbook and website.

Finally, participants enjoyed practising their new Japanese language skills by making partners their ideal bento using stickers!

Some of the comments from participants included:

“I enjoyed how interactive it was.”
“It’s been interesting and fun.”
“It was a great introduction to Japanese language and culture.”
“Everything was really nice! Thank you!”

We would like to thank all the participants for coming, and hope that this session has inspired them to learn more about Japanese and Japan!

You can view more photos from the event on our Facebook page here.

Suggested free resources for learning Japanese writing

Whether you are about to start a Japanese degree course and need to learn the kana (the two basic Japanese scripts of hiragana and katakana) in advance, or are simply studying Japanese on your own and need a little help, here’s some helpful free resources that can give you  hand in learning hiragana and katakana.

  • Marugoto Plus (A1) – This has a fantastic Basic Training section for learning how to read and write hiragana and katakana. You can hear their pronunciation, see animations for how they are written, and even test yourself.

  • Hiragana Memory Hint - Study hiragana the fun way using mnemonic pictures with this fun app from the Japan Foundation Japanese Language Institute Kansai! It includes mnemonic memory hints, quizzes and a hiragana table in which you can listen to how each hiragana is pronounced. It can be downloaded for free from iTunes, Google Play and Amazon.

  • “Everything you ever wanted to know about the GCSE-Level Japanese Course” – Unit 1 – Pages 2-28 are all about how to read and write hiragana  and katakana, and even include in-text links to the relevant tutorials on YouTube that will teach you how to write the kana, including very helpful mnemonics!  This document is part of , which has a lot of other very useful resources for beginner learners of Japanese.

  • Nihongo ena – Beginner Kana Sites – The Nihongo e na  Web Portal has a large list of carefully selected websites that can help you to learn the kana (hiragana and katakana) from scratch, complete with screenshots and descriptions so you can select the best resources for you

  • Japan Foundation London’s Writing Resource Section – This section of our Japanese language teaching & learning resources page includes printable practise mats to help you learn how to write the kana, hiragana and katakana charts, and even a downloadable free “hand written” Japanese font so you can make your own learning resources!

2015 Refresher Course for Teachers of Japanese

From July 28th to July 30th, 15 intermediate and advanced speakers of Japanese came to the annual Japanese Refresher Course for Teachers to refresh their Japanese to get ready for the new school year. This year’s attendees were non-native Japanese language teachers from a wide range of teaching backgrounds, including private tutors as well and primary and secondary school teachers.

The theme for this course was 「日本の最新事情」- "The Latest from Japan." This was a chance for participants to update their knowledge about Japanese society and culture, while brushing up their Japanese language ability.  Lead by the Japan Foundation’s Japanese Language Advisors, Mr Makoto Netsu, Ms Hiroko Tanaka and Ms Mio Tsunematsu, the course gave participants the opportunity to explore various classroom activities and ideas for teaching Japanese.

The course began with a look at some Japanese TV adverts, showing how these can be used to teach Japanese and spark interest in students. This was followed with a video from the Japan Foundation’s Marugoto Plus website and collaborative reading (appropriate for various levels) about the changing roles of Japanese families. Next there was an introduction to some recent Japanese apps that provide an insight into Japanese culture. These included “Henshin camera” app that allows people to take interesting photos of themselves, an “amazing choir” app that makes your singing voice sound like a whole choir, “naki pita” app which is designed to play sounds to help stop babies from crying and a “sumimasen” app that will call out sumimasen in various different ways when someone is too shy to call out themselves. Finally, participants presented their own lesson plans for teaching Japanese using ideas related to one of these topics.

All participants enjoyed learning about new trends in Japan and exploring teaching methods. Several teachers also mentioned that it was great to have the opportunity to network and practice their Japanese with fellow Japanese teachers. Some of the comments we received from participants included:

-        “The Refresher is always a much needed “injection” of new ideas for the Japanese classroom! ありがとうございます!(Thank you!) ” Kornelia Mund
-        “I really enjoyed the CM and technology sessions. Mainly, it was great to meet other non-Japanese Japanese teachers.”
-        “It was very good for networking and lesson planning ideas.” Jordan Cascoe

You can see photos of this event on the Japan Foundation’s facebook page. We would like to thank all participants for coming to the Refresher Course, and really hope to see them again at future events. お疲れ様でした!

Nihongo Cup Japanese Speech Contest for Secondary School Students 2015

The Nihongo Cup Japanese Speech Contest for secondary school students was held at Conway Hall in London on June  20th 2015, open to the public for the very first time.

The 18 finalists, who had been selected from 180 applicants from 20 different schools across the UK, all demonstrated great creativity, thoughtfulness and outstanding ability in Japanese in performing their speeches – not to mention extraordinary courage to present their ideas in a foreign language to an audience of 180 people!

Between each of the three categories of speeches, the audience had the opportunity to watch presentations from schools that had taken part in the Japan Webpage Contest for Schools 2014-15, including Greenford High School, Hockerill Anglo-European College, Holbrook Primary School, Newstead Wood School and Wycliffe College. Their presentations not only showcased their fantastic websites, but also the work they had been doing with Japanese and Japan within their school.

Due to the extremely high level of Japanese and the thought-provoking content of the speeches delivered by all finalists, the judges had extremely difficult decisions to make when choosing the final winners of the 2015 Nihongo Cup. In the end, Grace Oliver (Key Stage 4 and 5 Post-GCSE), Oliver Binns (Key Stage 4 and 5 Pre-GCSE) and heo Nze (Key Stage 3) were awarded first prize in each of their categories.

Many congratulations and a big thank-you to everyone who came together to make the day such a success. The full results of the contest are as follows:

Key Stage 4 and 5 Post-GCSE Category
Grace Oliver (Queenswood School, Year 12)
Speech title: “Japanese Music”
2nd Prize:  Chad Beaman (International Community School, Year 13)
Speech title: “Aikido”
3rd Prize:  Rachel McVeigh (Newstead Wood School, Year 12)
Speech title: 「Japan and Confucianism」

Other finalists:
Yu Yeen Fung (St Helen’s School)
Jane Liu (Wycliffe College)
Christina Vivian (Greenford High School)

Key Stage 4 and 5 Pre-GCSE Category
Oliver Binns (Aylesbury Grammar School, Year 11)
Speech title:  “How I imagined Japan to be like”
2nd Prize:  Krishan Emmanuel (Harrow School, Year 11)
Speech title: “My Experience at Mount Koya”
3rd Prize: Ho Ting Lok (Whitgift School, Year 12)
Speech title: “Promise of Gunpla”

Other finalists:
Dominic Hilyer (Campion School)
Taranpreet Kalra (Greenford High School)
Yuhua Feng (Wolfreton School & Sixth Form College)

Key Stage 3 Category (Speech theme: “My Favourite Person”)
Theo Nze (Aylesbury Grammar School, Year 8)
2nd Prize: Japji Gaba (Greenford High School, Year 9)
3rd Prize: Gabby Sherwood (Oxford High School, Year 9)

Other finalists: 
Anna Hayward (Queen Mary’s High School)
Luke Bassett (King Edward VII School)
Dan Bui (Dartford Grammar School)

Photos from the contest can be viewed on Facebook here.

The event was organised by the Japanese Language Committee of the Association for Language Learning, in association with the Japan Foundation London.

We are very grateful to Japan Centre, JOBA, JP Books, LinguaLift, Oxford Brookes University, Ricoh UK and Toshiba of Europe Limited donating prizes, to the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation and Sumisho Computer Systems for their generous sponsorship, and to the Embassy of Japan for their support.

Survey on Japanese-Language Education in the UK

This year the Japan Foundation London will carry out our Survey on Japanese Language Education in the UK. This is part of the Japan Foundation’s worldwide survey that takes place every three years and aims to find out about the state of Japanese language education around the world.

When the new school year starts in September, we will send details about this survey to every school and institution that we think teaches Japanese. If you know of any institutions that have recently started teaching Japanese, please do let us know, so that we can include them in this survey. We need to have an accurate idea about the state of Japanese language education in the UK. We hope this will enable us to find better ways to support both teachers and learners of Japanese.

I would like to thank you all very much in advance for your cooperation. 

Kenichi Yanagisawa
Director General
Japan Foundation London

Sushi, Stamps and Schemes of Work at Learn & Teach Primary Japanese

On May 27th and 28th, 14 teachers learned basic Japanese language skills through a wide range of fun and educational activities at Learn & Teach Primary Japanese, a course especially for primary school teachers learning Japanese from scratch as part of the Japan Foundation’s Primary Japanese Campaign.

The two-day course began at the Institute of Education in London, where teachers first learned some basic Japanese greetings and phrases for self-introductions. This was followed by a workshop in making Japanese hanko rubber stamps, taught by the Japan Foundation’s Assistant Japanese Language Advisor, Mio Tsunematsu. By learning about Japan’s hanko culture and in making their own, participants also learned the basics of the Japanese writing system. After lunch, the participants learned about the support available from the Japan Foundation for schools looking to start or further develop Japanese language provisions, and then found out more about travelling in Japan while learning Japanese language associated with visiting places.

On day 2, the participants came to Kuriya Keiko for a special workshop on making sushi. This began with learning Japanese vocabulary associated with food, taught by Makoto Netsu (Chief Japanese Language Advisor at the Japan Foundation London). The participants were then taught by Keiko Urakawa, proprietor and instructor at Kuriya Keiko, how to make different kinds of sushi. Despite most of the participants having never made sushi before, everyone created beautiful pieces of culinary art which they then ate for lunch!

After lunch, Netsu-sensei demonstrated how Japanese could be integrated into other parts of the curriculum, by teaching Japanese words and phrases associated with the topic of healthy eating. Much of this content can be found in Japan Foundation’s Japanese Scheme of Work for Primary Schools, which is free to download. Finally, everyone shared ideas about how they could integrate some of the activities and language skills they learned over the two days into their own lessons. All participants expressed that they had not only enjoyed the course but had learned a great deal as well – one participant said it was one of the best courses she had ever been on!

Some of the other feedback from participants included:

“Really friendly and well organised and delivered in a really friendly way.” (Chris Williams, Lavant C.E. Primary School)

“Excellent course, packed with useful information and very interesting activities.” (Elisavet Athanasiadou-Mangwana, St. Mary's School for Girls, Colchester)

“Cannot fault any part of the event/course.  Teaching and materials second to none.” (Christopher Weadick, Burleigh Primary School)

We would like to thank all our participants for taking the time out of their half-term break to come on the course, and to everyone at Kuriya Keiko for their brilliant sushi workshop!

If you are interested in introducing Japanese at your primary school, you can find out more about the Primary Japanese Campaign here.

Invitation to Tender - 2015

The Japan Foundation London would like to invite travel agents based in the UK to submit bids for the service of coordinating an organised group tour to Japan in this autumn. The necessarily procedures and specifications can be downloaded below.

Please be advised that all the relevant documents concerning this project are provided in Japanese as, due to the nature of the tour, we will require the successful travel agent to be able to communicate comfortably in Japanese. 

Download Attachment

Japanese Plus: Talk About Music in Japanese

Japanese language learners discovered how to express what their favourite songs mean to them at this year’s first Japanese Plus course for advanced learners of Japanese, which ran 1st – 9th April.

The course, attended by 28 participants in total over the course of two weeks, was led by the Japan Foundation’s Chief Japanese Language Advisor, Makoto Netsu. In the first week, Netsu-sensei taught useful vocabulary and grammar structures for describing music and the feelings it evokes, and encouraged participants to talk to one another about their favourite song and artist. The participants then had the opportunity to put their new Japanese to the test by introducing their favourite song and Facebook, and share their opinions about each other’s musical preferences. In the second session, the participants examined each other’s Facebook comments and learned about the many ways people can express their feelings and opinions on the internet, including “Net Slang.” Finally, all participants were encouraged to continue their studies at home, by joining Japanese online music communities and chatting to others in Japanese on the net.

Some of the comments participants gave about the course included:

“It was just the right level for me. I enjoyed talking to others in my group.”
“It was fun, and Netsu-sensei was entertaining and easy to understand.”
“These two classes were very enjoyable – I hope to participate again soon!”

We’d like to thank all participants for taking part in Japanese Plus, and we hope to see more people take part in our next course!

To learn more about Japanese Plus, please click here.

Everyone’s a Winner at the Japan Webpage Contest for Schools 2015 Award Ceremony

The Japan Webpage Contest for Schools 2014-15, which had taken place over the past six months, finally came to its conclusion at the Award Ceremony on March 28th at the Institute of Education in London.

Five schools had won prizes in the contest – Bexley Grammar School, Greenford High School, Hockerill Anglo-European College, Holbrook Primary School, and Prince Rock Primary School. The winner of the Gold Prize, taking home £1,000 worth of prizes, was Hockerill Anglo-European College for their website “Japanese at Hockerill” which the judges described as “a must-see website for all teachers and learners of Japanese.” Greenford High School were awarded the Silver Prize, worth £600, for “Admire Japan,” which appealed to the judges as “its attractive and easy-to-browse layout was combined with a wide breadth of excellent ideas and resources.”  Holbrook Primary School won the £200-value for the Bronze Prize for “Japan Year,” which impressed the judges with “its excellent use of multimedia, including fantastic performances of songs and videos in Japanese by the pupils.”

Prince Rock Primary School’s “Japanese Club”  and Bexley Grammar School’s “BGS Japanese Website” won the Primary and Secondary School Public Vote Awards, respectively.

Full details about the winning schools can be downloaded below. All websites that entered the competition can be viewed at the Japan Webpage Contest for Schools website,

After receiving the awards, each school had the opportunity to present their websites and their Japanese and Japan-related projects. It was wonderful to hear how much effort both staff and students had put into their work, and to see them present with such enthusiasm.

We would like to thank all schools and supporters for their participation in this contest, and hope that all the schools continue their excellent Japan-related projects and inspire others!

This contest was supported by the Association for Language Learning (ALL)the British CouncilGreat Britain Sasakawa FoundationJapan CentreJP Books and the Japan Society.

Photos from the event can be viewed on our Facebook page here

The event was also reported in the Wiltshire Times.

Download Attachment

Japan Conference for Schools 2015

On March 3rd 2015 over 60 participants joined the Japan Conference for Schools, held at the Embassy of Japan in London. Co-organised by the Embassy of Japan, the Japan Foundation and the Japan Society, the event was an opportunity for teachers to network and share practical ideas about projects for introducing Japanese into their schools or to enhance their existing Japan-related activities.

Participants were welcomed to the Embassy by Minister Hideki Asari, Director of the Japan Information and Cultural Centre (JICC). This was followed by a key note speech by Lorraine Cooper, Deputy Head at Maryland Primary School about her fascinating educational research project. She visited Japan with her Headteacher, Lorna Jackson, as part of their research into critical thinking skills. It was very interesting to hear about what they learnt from Japanese schools, and how they have adapted these ideas to change some policies in their East London school and in the wider educational community.

This thought-provoking key note speech was followed by two workshops. Attendees were able to choose from the following:
- Finding a place for Japan in the Geography curriculum
- Kamishibai – a traditional form of storytelling in Japan
- Flipped Learning – Introducing Anne Rajakuma’s brilliant resources and giving a taster of how they can be used in the classroom to improve exam results
- Origami workshop
Helen Morris told us it was “useful to actually have teaching materials(as well as ideas) from Kamishibai and geography workshops.” Another participant mentioned that “these were all very informative, I particularly found the flipped learning session and secondary teaching ideas session very useful as we can take the ideas away and put them into practice straight away.”

A Japanese lunch was then followed by two sessions of small panel discussions, where attendees could join groups and learn more on the topic they were most interested in. This year the topics were things such as school linking, sharing teaching ideas, teaching Japanese to dyslexic students and introducing the Japan Foundation’s Key Stage 2 Scheme of Work.

The event was closed with a few words from the Deputy Director of the Japan Foundation London, Tomoki Akazawa. This year the conference had a good mix of both primary and secondary schools, and was also a mix of schools that teach Japanese already, schools that are hoping to start as well as schools that run Japan related activities as clubs or as cross-curricular activities.

Katy Simpson from Dartford Grammar School commented “The conference has inspired me to be creative! The whole day was a fantastic opportunity to network and share knowledge and ideas on how to inspire our students.” Another participant mentioned the event was “Extremely informative with fantastic ideas for teaching Japanese. I was really surprised by the abundance of teaching materials and funding opportunities”.

Thank you to all the participants, speakers and the other organisers for making the conference such a success. We hope to see you again next year!

*Handouts from the conference are available to download below.*
**Photos supplied by the Embassy of Japan

Download Attachment

Japanese for Juniors – Learn Japanese through stamp-making!

On March 22nd 2015, 33 children and grown-ups came along to a special “Japanese for Juniors” workshop held at Conway Hall by the Japan Foundation London, in which they took on the challenge of learning about the Japanese language while creating their own Japanese hanko stamps!

The workshop instructor, Mio Tsunematsu, began with explaining the three different writing systems of Japanese (hiragana, katakana and kanji) and their origin. The participants learnt that many kanji are derived from pictures of the things they represent, and attempted a puzzle in which they had to match the picture with the right kanji. The children were then given a special Japanese toy, “moji-bakeru,” which are plastic kanji characters representing animal names that can be reconstructed into a model of the animals themselves!

After transforming their moji-bakeru, the participants then learned how to write their names in katakana characters, and finally set about creating hanko stamps by carving their katakana names into erasers. It was quite hard work, but when the children came to stamp their names with ink, the results were fantastic!

The children, parents and all other participants really enjoyed learning Japanese and making hanko. Some of their feedback included:

“We learnt a lot about the Japanese language and had a lot of fun.”
“Very hands-on and well-targeted to this age group.”
“I loved making the Japanese toys and making my own stamp. I really want Mio to come to my school and teach Japanese!”

We would like to thank everyone who came to our workshop – ARIGATOU GOZAIMASHITA!

You can view photos from the event on our Facebook page here.

Japanese Language Teachers’ Seminar: Make Your Own Japanese Teaching Resources with PowerPoint

Approximately 25 teachers of Japanese learned how to employ ICT in creating fun and effective teaching resources at the “Make Your Own Japanese Teaching Resources with PowerPoint” seminars held at Japan Foundation London on February 19th and 20th.

Led by Hisaka Bunting, teacher of GCSE and A-level Japanese at Newstead Wood School and teacher of Japanese at several other schools, the seminar demonstrated how teachers can use Microsoft PowerPoint to enhance beginner-level Japanese classes. Giving real life examples from her own classes, Bunting-sensei provided step-by-step instruction on making effective and entertaining presentations, games and activities with PowerPoint. Participants were not only able to make their own PowerPoint resources in the session, but also had the opportunity to share their resources with each other.

Some of the feedback received from the workshop included:

“Excellent workshop...JF staff really helped and the lecturer gave us brilliant resources.”  (Kazuko Gibson Koike)

“It was excellent, well-structured and fun.” (Angelica Kurtina)

We would like to thank Hisaka Bunting and all the participants for their contributions to the event.

The Tenth Japanese Speech Contest for University Students Finals Day

On February 28th 2015, the Finals Day of the Tenth Japanese Speech Contest for University Students was held at Regent’s University London, showcasing six individual speeches, five individual presentations and four group presentations by UK university students.

The day began with the Individual Presentation category finalists, all of whom are studying Japanese at post-beginner level. The presentations were all of a very high standard and it was very difficult for the judges to decide the winner. However, the first prize eventually went to Ying Liu, a 2nd year student from the University of Nottingham, for her powerful and moving presentation on “Homeless dogs in China.” In second place was Daren Sin, a 2nd year student at Imperial College London, for his fascinating speech entitled “Singlish: A language of Singapore.” Commenting on the reasons for choosing this subject, Daren said, “I ultimately chose to discuss about Singlish, because I thought it makes us unique from other cultures, like how I can easily identify Singaporeans in the UK from the way they speak!”

The Individual Presentation Category was followed by the Speech Category. All six finalists demonstrated not only exceptional Japanese ability, but also a great degree of insight and knowledge of their chosen subjects. After much deliberation, first prize was awarded to Ash Leigh Spreadbury, a 4th year student at the University of Sheffield, for his thought-provoking speech on “Globalisation and English Curriculum in Japan.” The second prize was awarded to Sakari Mesimäki, a 4th year student at the University of Cambridge, for his passionate speech on the theme of “Burikko vs. ’Career woman’ - How Japan’s culture of cute is getting in the way.” The third prize was awarded to Jason Peter Fernandes, who was also a finalist last year; this time, he spoke on the topic of “The portrayal of women in the Japanese media.”

On explaining why he decided to enter the contest, Sakari Mesimäki commented, “I enjoy all sorts of performing and have had some success with giving speeches before, so I thought I would give it a go. It's a good opportunity to practice Japanese too of course. And the prizes are amazing - that definitely motivated me to enter!”

This year’s Group Presentation Category gave beginner-level students the chance to give presentations on a topic of their choice. The four outstanding groups that made it through to Saturday’s finals were chosen from an initial 25 applications, and represented Imperial College London, SOAS University of London, the University of Nottingham and the University of Birmingham. They gave talks on “An Introduction to Malaysian Culture and Traditions,” “Tourism in different countries,” “Funeral customs – differences between the north and south of China,” and “The Cadbury family's Chocolate village.” These groups were not placed individually, but instead received special prizes based on their chosen topics.

Nikita Kamraj, who was part of one of the Group Presentation Category teams, said, “I found the whole experience incredibly enjoyable - from the initial preparation right up until the end of Finals Day. I had formed strong friendships with the all the members in my group, and whilst preparing for the contest was tiring at times, working together made it an overall fun (and less daunting!) experience. Finals day itself was an exhilarating experience, and it was great to see the support from both my past and present Japanese teachers.”

The full results of the contest can be downloaded below.

As a special treat to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Speech Contest, the audience were entertained by the traditional Japanese music and dancing of London Okinawa Sanshinkai – and some members of the audience even got up on stage to dance!

We would like to thank all participants, their teachers and supporters, the judges, audience members and BATJ for making the contest such a success. In addition, special thanks must go to the generous sponsors: Baker & McKenzie LLP, Bloomberg LP, Central Japan Railway Company, Gendai Travel Limited, The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, Japan Airlines, Japan Centre, JP Books, Oxford Brooks University, Regent’s University London, Ricoh UK Ltd and Toshiba of Europe Ltd.

We would like to encourage as many undergraduate students of Japanese language as possible to apply for next year’s contest! Finally, you may be interested in attending the Japan Webpage Contest for Schools 2014-15  Award Ceremony and Presentation Evening on March 28th

Download Attachment

Sayoonara Fukushima-sensei, Konnichiwa Netsu-sensei!

The Japan Foundation London were sad to say sayoonara to Senior Japanese Language Advisor Dr Seiji Fukushima, who transferred to Japan last month. Here is a message from Fukushima-sensei: 




"On the 7th of February, I returned to Japan after working for four years in London. I would like to thank everyone in the UK who aided and assisted me in so many ways over those four years.

During the latter half of my time here, I frequently visited a primary school in West London in order to create primary education materials. The primary pupils were tremendously frank, participating eagerly if the lesson was interesting, or starting to play amongst themselves if it was not. But when they were interested, their learning ability was truly amazing. I hope that more and more children at more and more primary schools discover their own capabilities, and learn about the wider world, through learning about Japanese language and culture. 

Thank you once again, everyone. Wherever you are in the world, I look forward to the day when we can meet again.”

Taking over from Fukushima-sensei, we are delighted to welcome Makoto Netsu. Here is a message from Netsu-sensei:


"My name is Makoto Netsu, and I arrived in London in January as the Japan Foundation’s new Chief Japanese Language Advisor, succeeding Seiji Fukushima. Previously, I have worked on teacher training programs at the Japanese-Language Institute, Urawa in Saitama city. I have also worked for the Japan Foundation at their offices in Sydney and Kuala Lumpur. My particular focus is on Japanese language education in primary and secondary schools, cross-curricular links between this and other subjects, ICT, and learning Japanese as a heritage language. I am very happy to be able to begin work with teachers in the UK. Thank you."

The potential of Japanese Language Education in Primary Schools – seminar

Dr Seiji Fukushima, the Chief Language Advisor for Japan Foundation London, has spent the last 4 years researching and teaching in London. For his final seminar in the UK, 58 attendees joined Dr Fukushima on the 20th of January 2015, to hear about the possibilities for Japanese language education in UK primary schools.

The seminar included information about the current MFL policies in the UK, and how Dr Fukushima has worked on a scheme of work to encourage children to learn Japanese in a way that integrates cultural education, intercultural citizenship education and cross-curricular education. The scheme of work was trialled at a primary school in West London. Dr Fukushima told participants about how he encouraged children to keep learning and to create positive attitudes towards learning itself, which is crucial for citizens in a knowledge-based society.

After the seminar Dr. Lid King, Director of the Languages Company, gave some comments about the seminar and then chaired a Q&A session.
Attendees gave some fantastic feedback about the event. Peter Downes said that “The material provided is excellent and the philosophy underpinning it is valid and helpful.” Another attendee, Christopher Weadick said, “I found the children’s portfolios and media examples of work most useful as it gave a good comparison for work completed by my own group (aged 8-10). Attending this event has given me the confidence to continue club activities in future.”

If you would like to download a copy of the Japanese Scheme of Work for primary schools please click here.

Japan Group Tour Programme for UK Head Teachers

As part of the Japan Foundation’s Primary Japanese Campaign to support and encourage primary schools teaching Japanese language, we took 19 headteachers to Japan from October 25th to November 1st 2014 to give them the chance to learn more about Japan and the Japanese education system.

The programme included a whole range of Japanese cultural experiences to help deepen the headteachers’ understanding of Japan. They saw Japan’s modern side with a visit to the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (known as Miraikan), spent some time near the giant robot-like gundam in Diver City, Tokyo and rode on Japan’s fastest train, the shinkansen. In Kyoto, they were able to experience Japan’s more traditional side, as they explored the areas around Kiyomizudera temple and Yasaka shrine on the East side of Kyoto.

The headteachers also spoke to the Deputy Assistant Vice-Minister, Mr Ken Okaniwa, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They also visited the British Council in Tokyo.  Lastly, they enjoyed inspiring seminars from Lori Henderson MBE, Executive Director of British Chamber of Commerce who spoke about business in Japan, as well as Professor Mark Langager of the International Christian University, who spoke about the Japanese education system.

The highlights of the programme were the visits to two Japanese schools, Fujimi Elementary School in Tokyo and Ooyake Elementary School in Kyoto. The UK headteachers had the chance to observe the Japanese education system first-hand, as they took part in English classes, observed a whole range of lessons, and spoke to the Japanese teachers. One headteacher said the following; “the two school visits were inspirational and it was delightful to meet such lovely staff. I now am keen to develop the project further to have a link school in Japan that we can work with.”

So far we have had fantastic feedback from the schools involved in this programme. One participant told us “I had some experiences which I will never forget and will talk about for years to come!” While another mentioned that was an “amazing experience, thank you!”

The Japan Foundation would like to thank all the headteachers for joining us, as well as ANA (All Nippon Airways Co. Ltd) and Mitsubishi Corporation International (Europe) Plc for their generous support for this Programme. If you would like to see some further photos from this trip, they are available on the Japan Foundation’s facebook page here.

Workshop - WJEC Japanese Language Units

On the 22nd October 2014, 16 teachers of Japanese attended a seminar to learn more about WJEC’s Japanese Language Units. These qualifications can enhance Japanese language lessons by giving pupils the opportunity to gain formal recognition for their learning. The WJEC Language Units are small bite-sized QCF (Qualifications and Credit Framework) qualifications which enable learners to demonstrate their competence and progress by producing evidence in the classroom, rather than taking exams. 

The workshop started with an overview about the support, funding and resources that are freely available for teachers of Japanese in the UK. This was followed by the introductory assessor training course from Claire Parry, the WJEC Vocational Qualifications Subject Officer.  Claire spoke about the qualifications, and explained how to adapt the context and focus of the evidence to fit in with any school’s curriculum. Lastly Tadashi Sakai, a Japanese teacher from Wolverhampton High School for Girls, introduced the resources that he has been using to teach Japanese for these qualifications. These resources were created with Funding from the Japan Foundation’s Local Project Support Programme, and will soon be available (for free) from the WJEC website.

If you were unable to join us for this event, but you are interested in using these qualifications to accredit the Japanese language learning at your school, Claire Parry will be running other sessions to introduce these qualifications in Birmingham on 5th February 2015 and in Plymouth on 21st April 2015. You can find out more information here.

French-Japanese Language and Culture Programme

The Institut Français, the Japan Foundation London and Network for Languages have created a new resource to support high-level language learning in the UK. This resource will help support students that study French at AS and A level in order to improve their oral communication in French while at the same time, widen students’ language skills to include basic Japanese. The resource can be used as part of a programme will include intensive day(s) dedicated to languages within the students’ curriculum.

We are now looking for schools that teach A-level French that might be interested in taking part in the programme. Their students will have the chance to improve their French, by using their French language skills as a tool to learn basic Japanese. Students will also be given the chance to explore both French and Japanese culture. Teachers do not need any proficiency in Japanese to take part in this project.

The resources are available to download below, or you can also find the on the culturetheque website from Institut français du Royaume-Uni. Please let us know what you think!

Download Attachment

Japan Foundation at the 2014 Language Show Live

A big thank you to everyone who visited the Japan Foundation’s stand at the Language Show Live on the 17th, 18th and 19th October at Olympia.

Held once a year, the Language Show is the UK's biggest event for language learners, teachers, linguists and anyone with a passion for languages.  The Japan Foundation’s stand gave visitors a chance to experience Japanese language and culture, including writing their name in Japanese.

On Friday, for the first time, the Japan Foundation held a presentation on kami-shibai (a traditional form of Japanese story-telling with pictures), and how this can be used effectively to teach not only Japanese, but any foreign language. This presentation used resources from the newly-developed Japanese Language Scheme of Work for Primary Schools, and Japanese Taster Lesson Sample Activity Pack.

On Saturday, we held a Japanese Language Taster session led by the Japan Foundation’s Assistant Japanese Language Advisor, Mio Tsunematsu. It was attended by enthusiastic language learners of all ages, who learned basic Japanese greetings and the writing system.

Finally, on Sunday, we were very lucky to be joined by Crispin Chambers, Head of Japanese at Tavistock College and winner of the Pearson National Teaching Award of Teacher of the Year in a Secondary School for his work in Japanese.  He held a seminar on encouraging students to study languages by introducing them to less common, non-European languages (such as Japanese).

Additionally, we held a Japan Quiz, which approximately 700 people entered. 

The answers to the quiz were as follows:

1. Japan is in which continent?  a) Europe       b) Asia      c) Oceania
Answer: b) Asia. Japan is in East Asia.

2. What Hollywood film was inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s classic Japanese film ‘Seven Samurai’?  a) The Magnificent Seven   b) King Kong   c) Jurassic Park
Answer: a) Seven Samurai. John Sturges’ 1960 movie The Magnificent Seven was inspired by Kurosawa’s 1954 movie, Shichinin no samurai, called “Seven Samurai” in English.

3. The kanji (Japanese character) means “words,” and the kanji  means “tongue.” What do you think their combination, , means? a) To taste   b) To read   c) To speak
Answer: c) To speak. 
The Japanese word to speak is “hanasu” (す).

4. What is Japan’s famous high-speed train, the Shinkansen, also known as? a) The Bullet-Train      b) The Maglev      c) The TGV
Answer: a) The Bullet-Train. 
The Maglev is the more recent “magnetic levitation” train, and the TGV is France’s high-speed rail service.

Out of those who answered the quiz correctly, we picked five at random to send our Japan Foundation Goody Bag. Congratulations to Luke O’Donovan, Michal Dzienio, Brigitte Barrett, David Bonnano and Honorata Radwanska who have all been sent Goody Bags!

We would like to thank Crispin Chambers and all our Japanese Taster for Schools volunteers who generously donated their time and expertise for the show.  Domo arigato gozaimashita!

Japan Foundation will also be attending the Language Show in 2015, on October 16th, 17th and 18th  at the Olympia, London. We hope to see you there!

Japanese Taster for Schools (JTS) Programme Volunteer Training Day September 2014

On September 12th 2014, 20 current and prospective volunteers attended a Training Day for the Japan Foundation’s Japanese Taster for Schools (JTS) Programme, in which native and fluent Japanese speakers conduct free Japanese taster sessions in UK schools.

After an overview for new volunteers about the Japan Foundation and the JTS programme itself, the participants heard a report from a volunteer who had held a recent Japanese language taster at the Charter School, a secondary school in London. This taster had proved to be challenging yet rewarding, and the participants found it really useful to hear about the volunteer’s real-life experiences.

This was followed by workshops by Hiroko Tanaka (Japanese Language Advisor and co-ordinator of JTS at the Japan Foundation), who introduced a number of enjoyable activities that volunteers could use in their own taster sessions. These included using the “Hiragana Rap” to learn the basic sounds of the Japanese language, playing matching pairs and board games to learn vocabulary, and the highly energetic game “Fruit Basket,” similar to “Musical Chairs” but great for practicing new Japanese words. Several of the activities introduced came from Japan Foundation’s own online resources, including Ready Steady NihonGO! ,  JFL Japanese Scheme of Work for primary schools and the draft version of the Japanese Taster Lesson Resource Activity Pack.

All the volunteers enjoyed the training day and said that they found it useful. Shraddha Payyapilly, who was attending the training day for the first time, said, “I have learnt about so many simple, easy and extremely effective techniques about teaching Japanese. I am extremely grateful and happy to be allowed as a part of this training day. Special thanks to Tanaka sensei. She is very motivating and kind.”

Yasue Gunji, another newcomer to the JTS Training Day, commented:


(“I really enjoyed learning about teaching Japanese taster sessions. The sessions where we got to move around were particularly fun. It was good to learn about the characteristics of British schools and how different age groups react to the tasters.”)

We would like to thank all participants for coming, especially our guest speaker!

If you are interested in taking part in the JTS programme as a volunteer, please click here for more information.

The Ishinomaki Children’s Newspaper - English translations now online

Ishinomaki is a city in Japan’s Miyagi Prefecture, and is one of the areas that suffered severe damage due to the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. As they began to rebuild, the children of Ishinomaki published Ishinomaki Hibi Kodomo Shinbun; a newspaper created by the children that reports the current activities in their city.

On May 10th 2014, the Japan Foundation London held a second translation event with the Ishinomaki Hibi Kodomo Shinbun; a newspaper created by Japanese schoolchildren that reports the current activities in their city. Ishinomaki is a city in Japan’s Miyagi Prefecture, and is one of the areas that suffered severe damage due to the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. The children created their newspaper one year after the disaster, and now, three years on from the tsunami, the children aim to tell Ishinomaki’s story to people all over the world. To bring this goal to fruition, 32 volunteers spent their Saturday morning translating articles from the newspaper into English. You can read a little more about the event here.

Now, the children are ready to tell Ishinomaki’s story to people all over the world. All the translated articles are available on the Ishinomaki Kodomo Shinbun website (click here to read more in English, or here for the Japanese website.) They also have a twitter feed, which you can follow here. We hope you will enjoy their articles in English. The Japanese versions of these article are not published online, however if you are interested in reading the latest copy of the Ishinomaki Hibi Kodomo Shinbun, there are still some copies available at the Japan Foundation London, just outside the library.

We would like once again to thank all volunteers for giving up their time on this project, and to the organisers and children at Ishinomaki for their very genki participation!

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