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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

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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.

BATJ Seminar - Designing a Reading Activity based on the JF Standard: Assessing Japanese with JF Standard

On 29th November 2014, the Japan Foundation London in conjunction with the British Association for Teaching Japanese as a foreign language (BATJ) held a seminar on using JF Standard as an assessment tool in Japanese language education. This was led by Mayumi Mitsuya, Japanese Language Senior Specialist at Japanese Cultural Institute, the Japan Foundation Rome, and was attended by approximately 20 teachers.

In the first part of the seminar, Mitsuya-sensei  and the participants looked at different tests for assessing competence in accomplishing tasks, and examined what should assessed and by what criteria.  This was followed by a workshop in which participants considered simple exam questions for measuring competence in accomplishing tasks and created a rubric to assess them. Participants also discussed what kinds of assessment can be used in their own classes and what form this assessment can take.

All the participants found the seminar helpful to their teaching strategies. Some of their comments included:


(“I’m currently teaching with the Marugoto textbooks and needed to establish a form of assessment so this workshop was really useful. There were plenty of ideas that I feel I could use straight away.”)


(“I didn’t actually know much about JF Standard previously but now I feel that I really understand it. “)


(“It was really useful to be able to discuss the difference between language activities and assessing language competence based on examples of actual students’ work.”)

We would like to thank Mitsuya-sensei for her enlightening talk, and all our participants for coming and their enthusiastic contribution to the discussions.

Japanese lessons receive praise from Ofsted

Ofsted have reacted very positively after observing a Japanese language class at Madley Primary school in Herefordshire.  The school received the following comments in their Ofsted report:

“Pupils explore various religions and cultures, and have direct links with a range of schools around the world. This was typified by a lesson where pupils were being taught Japanese. Not only were they learning the language, but also aspects of Japanese customs and traditions. Such opportunities have resulted in pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development being a strength of the school.“

Madley Primary school started teaching Japanese this year after the headteacher, Lee Batstone, attended and was inspired by the Japan Conference for Schools, held at the Embassy of Japan in March 2014. The school started teaching a Japanese club and has maintained a link with a school in Japan for over a year. More recently Japanese has been linked into the curricular themes, and Japanese lessons have been introduced across Years 4 and 5. Mr Batstone also took part in the Japan Foundation’s recent  Japan Group Tour Programme for UK Head Teachers, which he described as a “phenomenal experience,” that “really cemented why I think Japanese is a good language to teach”.

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.

Japanese Plus Special: Friend or Foe? Understanding Japanese Thought and Culture through Yōkai

What exactly are yokai, the monsters and ghouls of Japanese folklore? How were they thought of, and what purpose did the stories about them serve? And what might they look like if transplanted into a different cultural context, such as the modern-day UK?  These were just some of the questions answered by this month’s Japanese Plus course for advanced Japanese learners, “Friend or Foe? Understanding Japanese Thought and Culture through Yokai”, which ran from the 4th to the 12th of November.

The course, attended by 39 participants in total over the course of two weeks, was led by the Japan Foundation’s Assistant Japanese Language Advisor, Mio Tsunematsu. In the first week, the etymology and history of Japanese yokai were elucidated, with numerous examples examined from both traditional folklore and modern sources such as anime and manga. Week 2 focused on the purpose served by yokai legends, as explanations for natural phenomena or vehicles for moral instruction. Participants were then invited to create and illustrate their own yokai, adapted to reflect life in modern Britain, with imaginative and often amusing results.

All participants responded very positively to the course, particularly to Tsunematsu-sensei’s teaching and the opportunity to come up with their own yokai. Darcy Perkins, a Japanese Plus veteran, commented,  I like the courses because I get to maintain my Japanese, learn new Japanese and also learn something new about traditional or modern Japan.”

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.

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.

Introduction to Flipped Learning for GCSE-level Japanese with Anne Rajakumar

Forty teachers learned how to successfully combine technology with innovative teaching methods on October 29th 2014, at the Introduction to Flipped Learning for GCSE-level Japanese seminar held by Anne Rajakumar at the Japan Foundation London.

Head of Japanese at Hockerill Anglo-European College, Anne-sensei has used the Japan Foundation’s Japanese Language Local Project Support Programme funding to create a series of short video tutorials which she uses in conjunction with her self-created workbooks, “Everything you ever wanted to know about the GCSE-level Japanese course.” These videos are used to teach Japanese via the “flipped learning” method:  Students learn vocabulary and grammatical patterns prior to using them in class through the videos, and can also consolidate their learning by watching the video after the relevant lesson. It is even possible for students to complete the Japanese GCSE course online if there is no specialist Japanese teacher available thanks to the videos.

In her presentation, Anne-sensei not only introduced her own videos and resources, but also explained how teachers can create their own multimedia resources for “flipped learning” and advised them on how best to use them with the students. She also demonstrated how effective the new “flipped learning” method has proved at her school, including video feedback from the students themselves.

Due to popular demand, Anne-sensei has created a website where her resources, including the videos, can be accessed for free:

Anne-sensei’s presentation was followed by introductions to other resources and support services available through the Japan Foundation, including the new JFL Japanese Scheme of Work for primary schools and  Japanese Taster Lesson Resource Activity Pack.

The seminar was well-received by all participants. Some of the comments made by participants at the end of the seminar include:

「わかりやすい説明で助かりました。」 (“The presentation was easy to understand and a great help”)

“Anne sensei’s generosity always impresses me & puts me to shame as I am not doing much”

Flipped learningGCSEだけではなく、他でも使いやすいと思います。勉強になりました。ありがとうございました。」
(“I think ‘flipped learning’ would be easy to apply to any teaching, not just for GCSE. Really useful – thank you very much!”)

We would like to thank Anne Rajakumar for giving such an inspiring presentation, as well as the staff and students of Hockerill Anglo-European School for supporting her activities, and of course all the participants who came to the Japan Foundation London for this event.

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!

Japan Foundation at Japan Matsuri 2014

Japan Matsuri returned to Trafalgar Square in London on Saturday 27th September 2014. 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 over 600 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) 言means “words,” and the kanji 舌 means “tongue.” What do you think their combination, 話, 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 four at random to send our Japan Foundation Goody Bag. Congratulations to the four winners M.F Stringfellow from Brighton, , and Melissa Schuh, Samantha Junak and Ashaar Shaikh all from London, who have now been sent their good bags!

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.

2014 Japanese Refresher Course for Teachers

From August 18th – 20th 2014, 13 intermediate and advanced speakers of Japanese came to the annual Japanese Refresher Course for Teachers  to refresh their Japanese before the start of the new school year. This year’s attendees were non-native Japanese language teachers from a wide range of teaching backgrounds, from private tutors to secondary school teachers.

This year’s  theme was 「学ぼう!教室活動のネタ」- "Tips for class activities." The aim of the course was to explore various classroom activities and ideas for teaching Japanese, while at the same time brushing up on the teachers’ own Japanese language ability. Lead by the Japan Foundation’s Japanese Language Advisors, Dr Seiji Fukushima, Ms Hiroko Tanaka and Ms Mio Tsunematsu, the course gave participants the opportunity to explore all different kinds of teaching methods.

The course began with a look at some of the useful resources available for teaching Japanese – Reading Tutor and OJAD – followed by an introduction to teaching Japanese onomatopoeia using manga. This was followed by sessions on teaching Japanese using kinaesthetic learning; employing movement, dance and songs in order to re-enforce learning. Finally, participants presented their own tips for teaching Japanese

All participants enjoyed not only exploring teaching methods, but also the opportunity to network and practice their Japanese with fellow Japanese teachers. Some of the comments we received from participants included:

Very useful practice. Excellent tips from JF staff, especially on grammar and very resourceful participants.
(Olga Saburova, Rochester Grammar School)

“Very good balance of activities: song/dance/manga/grammar etc, targeting a wide range of age groups and abilities.” (Forum Mithani, Westminster Kingsway College)

“Overall, this was an excellent course. I would recommend it to all teachers of Japanese.” (Robert Fox, Aston University)

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!

You can download files from the Refresher Course below

Download Attachment

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!

Japan Foundation at Hyper Japan 2014

A big thank you to the 2,000  visitors who came to the Japan Foundation’s stand at Hyper Japan on the 25th, 26th and 27th July 2014.

HYPER JAPAN is the UK's biggest celebration of Japanese culture, Japanese cuisine, and Japanese cool. The Japan Foundation London’s stand gave visitors a chance to find out more about Japanese arts and culture, and studying Japanese language.

One of the highlights of our stand was our Japan Quiz, which around 1,300 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) 言means “words,” and the kanji 舌 means “tongue.” What do you think their combination, 話, 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, only five people could win the Japan Foundation goody bag. The lucky five were Simon, Kristian and Edward from London,  Roshni from Middlesex and Lynn from Essex. Well done to them!

Don’t forget that the Japan Foundation will be at Alcon (Anime League’s Anime & Gaming convention at De Montford University) on September 6th and 7th, and at Japan Matsuri at Trafalgar Square on September 27th. We hope to see you there!

Introduction to NEW resources for primary Japanese Scheme of Work

On the 1st of August 2014, 12 primary teachers joined Japan Foundation staff for an introduction to both the Japan Foundation’s new Japanese Scheme of Work for Key Stage 2, and easy to follow resources that can be used alongside the Scheme of work. These teaching materials have been created by the Japan Foundation’s Chief Language Advisor Dr Seiji Fukushima, and have been tested with two classes of Year 3 pupils at Southfield Primary School. Participants were each given exclusive draft versions of the resources, and Dr Fukushima gave explanations about how he taught his class, and how his resources might be adapted for other primary Japanese classes. The resources themselves include worksheets, plans, activities, games etc.

Dr Fukushima explained the structure of the new Scheme of work, introduced the kind of activities he had tried at Southfield Primary School, and showed examples of student’s work, including a video with the children acting out animal-related vocabulary using the story of Ookii Kabu (The Enormous Turnip).

This was followed by an introduction of the Japan Foundation’s new taster package by Hiroko Tanaka, the Japan Foundation’s Japanese language advisor. This package includes lessons on some basic Japanese vocabulary, games and several culturally-related activities (which can be chosen depending on the time of year). Ms Tanaka demonstrated activities such as “fruit basket” (where students have to switch chairs depending on what vocabulary is called) and “tama-ire” (where participants have to throw balls into a basket, and then count how many they have managed to acquire.) Lastly attendees were told about the vast range of support, training and networking opportunities available to schools that teach Japanese.

One teacher, Laura Parfitt, told us that “It has been so useful to have the SOW and resources ready-made and with such clear lesson plans.” After the event, Catherine Rodrigues mentioned “I feel very motivated to go back to school and start teaching Japanese. Thank you for organising today!”

We hope this event gave the attendees everything they need to start teaching primary level Japanese from September. If you could not attend the event, but are interested in the new resources and taster package, they will be available to download from the Japan Foundation website soon.

Japanese for ALTs 2014 - Beginners’ Japanese class for JET participants

The Japan Foundation London held its second exclusive beginners’ Japanese class for participants of the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme, in which graduates from English-speaking countries go to Japan to teach English and promote cultural exchange.

The course took place over July 19th and 20th, and 17 JET participants in total took part. Led by the Japan Foundation’s new Assistant Japanese Language Advisor, Mio Tsunematsu, the course was based on Japan Foundation’s coursebook Marugoto: Japanese language and culture, in addition to material from the accompanying MARUGOTO+ website and Erin’s Challenge! I Can Speak Japanese. The Marugoto coursebook, which is based on JF Standard for Japanese Language Education  and emphasises learning Japanese for practical communication and cultural understanding, was very appropriate to the JET participants, who will soon find themselves in situations where they will need Japanese in order to accomplish basic tasks such as ordering food, meeting new people, and teaching Japanese school pupils. To keep the course effective and enjoyable, Tsunematsu-sensei incorporated many different activities into the lessons, including role-play, games and videos of Japanese life.

We were also very fortunate to be joined by fluent Japanese-speaking volunteers, who gave participants the opportunity to practice their newly-acquired Japanese and ask questions about Japanese language and culture.

 Some of the feedback from participants included:

 “Very useful, and good value. Having volunteers to speak to was really good as we could explore related vocab and phrases and learn more about Japan.”

“Practising with native speakers was very useful. It was also enjoyable to hear about the culture first-hand.”

“Very good, very happy, inexpensive and met some lovely Japanese people. Very happy!”

The participants will all be travelling out to Japan in August, and we wish them all the best of luck – ganbatte kudasai!

A big thank you to all the participants for coming, and an especially big thank you to the Japanese-speaking volunteers  - ARIGATOU GOZAIMASHITA!

Nihongo Cup Japanese Speech Contest for Secondary School Students 2014

The Nihongo Cup Japanese Speech Contest for secondary school students was held at the Embassy of Japan in London on June  21st 2014.

The 18 finalists, who had been selected from 205 applicants from 25 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 130 people!

Between each of the three categories of speeches, the audience had the opportunity to watch videos and presentations from the Federation of Abbey Schools and Netherton Junior and Infant School, two primary schools which teach Japanese language and culture. It was the first time primary schools have been involved in the Nihongo Cup and it was inspiring to see primary-level children show such enthusiasm for Japan at such a young age.

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 204 Nihongo Cup. In the end, Rianna Shah (Key Stage 4 and 5 Post-GCSE), Aisha Mariam (Key Stage 4 and 5 Pre-GCSE) and Hana Khan (Key Stage 3) were awarded first prize in each of their categories.

We asked some of the winners and other attendees about their thoughts and feelings about learning Japanese. 1st prize winner Aisha Mariam commented, “Japanese is a language I hold dear...Learning the language is something I really enjoy doing and would definitely recommend to everyone. I can’t stress enough how brilliant and exciting it is! It may seem strange to study right now, but with the growing influence of Japan around the world, in all ways, I can see it being a MFL in every school in England.”

Theodore Nze, 2nd prize winner of the Key Stage 3 category, said, ““I studied Japanese as it geared me up to more possibilities, and it makes it easier to communicate to other people. It has changed my life, how I act, how I speak, everything. I can safely say it’s the best thing that’s happened to me.”

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
Rianna Shah (North London Collegiate School) 
Speech title: “Food for Thought: Inspired by India”
2nd Prize: Dominic Oben (Whitgift School)
Speech title: “Let’s Study Kanji”
3rd Prize: Ridwana Uddin (Presdales School)
Speech title: “What I felt on the 5th

Other finalists:
Kirsten Bergfors (St Helen’s School)
Jane Liu (Wycliffe College)
William Sweetman (King Edward VII School)

Key Stage 4 and 5 Pre-GCSE Category
 Aisha Mariam (King Edward VII School)
Speech title: “Relating Pakistan and Japan”
2nd Prize: Cynthia Dewi (Tile Hill Wood School)
Speech title: “My Experience in England”
3rd Prize: Thomas William Davies (Writhlington School)
Speech title: “Let’s Learn Foreign Languages”

Other finalists:
Yuting Feng  (Wolfreton School)
Lucy Hawksley (Bexley Grammar School)
Byung Sup Song (Whitgift School)

Key Stage 3 Category (Speech theme: “My Dream”)
Hana Khan (Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls)
2nd Prize: Theodore Nze (Aylesbury Grammar School) 
3rd Prize: Taranpreet Kalra (Greenford High School)

Other finalists: 
Joshua Anthony (Dartford Grammar School)
Mark Potts (Campion School)
Symran Wedge (Queen Mary’s High School)

The event was organised by the Japanese Language Committee of the Association for Language Learning, in association with the Japan Foundation London and Embassy of Japan in the UK. We are very grateful to Japan Centre, JOBA, JSA (the Japanese Speech Awards), JP Books,  Lingualift, Oxford Brookes University, Ricoh UK Ltd, and Toshiba of Europe Limited for sponsoring the event and donating prizes, and also to Sumisho Computer Systems for their generous sponsorship, to the Embassy of Japan for hosting the event, and to Soho Japan for contributing to the evening reception.

Finally, don’t forget that schools teaching Japanese or doing any kind of Japan-related activities can enter our Japan Webpage Contest for Schools – click here for further details

News Archive

September 2014 Japan Foundation-JGap Seminar
Japan Group Tour Programme for UK Head Teachers 2014
Japanese Plus July 2014 - Japanese for Jobs
Yookoso, Tsunematsu-sensei!
Invitation to Tender
MARUGOTO Plus Global Homepage
Japanese Taster for Schools (JTS) Programme Volunteer Training Day June 2014
Learn & Teach Primary Japanese 2014 Report
Staff Changes at the JF London Japanese Language Department
The Ishinomaki Children’s Newspaper Translation Project May 2014
Teachers Seminar: Use It! Teaching Japanese with Marugoto
BATJ Seminar: Designing a Reading Activity based on the JF Standard
The Ninth Japanese Speech Contest for University Students Finals Day
Southfield Primary school in "恋するフォーチュンクッキー" dance
Japan Foundation/JGap Japanese language teachers' seminar: Teaching contextualisation and personalisation of elementary grammar within GCSE Japanese
Japanese Taster for Schools (JTS) Programme Volunteer Training Day February 2014
Japanese Plus: See Japan through Video Game Characters with Tomohiro Sasaki
Japanese Taster for Schools (JTS) Programme Volunteer Training Day at Newcastle University
Japanese from Scratch –Let’s eat Ramen!
Franco-Japanese language and culture programme
Japanese Taster for Schools (JTS) Programme Training Day November 2013
Japanese Plus: Business Japanese & Japanese Etiquette
Japanese identified as one of the “most vital” languages to the UK
Seminar - Japanese for Primary Schools
Book Launch: Let's Read Japanese ブルックス文庫
Sensei-tional – Japanese Teacher wins teacher of the year award
Japan Foundation at the 2013 Language Show Live
Japan Foundation at the Japan Matsuri 2013
1000 Words Campaign
Give it a go! NihonGo! – Workshop for primary –level teachers of Japanese
Japanese Taster for Schools (JTS) Programme Training Day September 2013
2013 Japanese Refresher Course for Teachers
Primary Japanese Campaign 2014 – Take part!
Japan Foundation to release official coursebooks in September!
Looking for a partner school to develop primary Scheme of Work and supplementary resources
Japanese for ALTs - Beginners’ Japanese class for JET participants
New Japanese language learning website launched by Japan Foundation: MARUGOTO+
The New Draft National Curriculum – Fantastic news for Japanese!
Nihongo Cup 2013
Japanese Plus: Happy Family Plan - Learn spoken Japanese through film
Ishinomaki Kodomo Shinbun English version is now live!
BATJ Seminar: Kanji and Kanji Vocabulary Learning based on JF Standards Can-do Statements
Japanese Taster for Schools (JTS) Programme Training Day May 2013
The Hakuho Japan Experience Program for Overseas Children
Japanese from Scratch: Shodo - An Introduction to Japanese Calligraphy
Japan Conference for Schools 2013
The Ishinomaki Childrens Newspaper Translation Project
Japanese Plus: An Introduction to Professional Japanese Interpreting
The Eighth Japanese Speech Contest for University Students Finals Day
Japanese Taster for Schools (JTS) Programme Training Day February 2013
Japanese Plus One-Evening Special: Add Colour to your Japanese
Mediation, Interculturality & Citizenship Education: The significance and potential of Japanese Language Education
Curriculum reform April 2013
ABC Awards Networking event
Enjoy Manga and Anime in Japanese!
Japanese Taster for Schools (JTS) Programme Training Day November 2012
Japanese Plus: An Introduction to Professional Japanese Translation
Japan Foundation at Hyper Japan 2012
Japanese Language Education - Department of Education Consultation
Japan Foundation Japanese language teachers' seminar - Grammar for Good Writing: Ways of Thinking and Teaching (Applied to GCSE)
Japan Foundation at the 2012 Language Show Live
Japanese in Anime & Manga: Workshop for Japanese Language Learners and Teachers
Japan Foundation at the Japan Matsuri 2012
Japanese Taster for Schools (JTS) Programme Training Day September 2012
Japanese from Scratch: Travel in Japan
Motto Yomu Chikara: Bridging the Gap from GCSE to AS Level Japanese
Japanese Plus: Japanese Dialects
Seminar - Intercultural Competence through Language Education
The Nihongo Cup 2012
Online Seminar about Teaching Japanese
Japanese Taster for Schools (JTS) Programme Training Day May 2012
Japanese from Scratch: Lets Eat Japanese Food
Japanese Plus: Read and Write Japanese Newspapers
Japan Webpage Contest for Schools Winners Announced
Can-do and Classroom Activities; Using Marugoto: Japanese language and culture, a teaching resource based on JF Standard for Japanese-language Education
The Seventh Japanese Speech Contest for University Students Finals Day
Japanese Taster for Schools (JTS) Programme Training Day February 2012
Talking Contemporary Japan Special: Japanese discussion with Director Katsumi Sakaguchi
Japanese Taster for Schools (JTS) Programme Training Day November 2011
Talking Contemporary Japan: Cross Cultural Communication
Japan Foundation at the 2011 Language Show Live
Seminar - Language Education Policies and the National Curriculum
Lingu@net Worldwide to include Japanese resources
Japan Conference for Schools, 2011
JLPT Information Sessions
New Name for StepOutNet Programme revealed at Training Day: Japanese Taster for Schools
2011 Japanese Refresher Course for Teachers
StepOutNet Training Day June 2011
Talking Contemporary Japan: Happy Family Plan
Nihongo Cup 2011
Reports from CEFR-JF Standard for Japanese Language Education Seminar from the Japan Cultural Institute in Paris
14th Nihongo Summit 2012 "Peace - Kizuna for One World"
Head Start 2011
Hakuho Foundation - Training Programme for Teachers
Japanese GCSE Course to begin at William Morris Sixth Form
StepOutNet Visit to Sandgate Primary School
StepOutNet Volunteer Training Day April 2011
Debating Time at Talking Contemporary Japan Foundation
Staff Changes at JF Language Centre
The Sixth Japanese Speech Contest for University Students
Getting a 'Taste of Japan' at Japan Foundation
Nihongo Dekimasu logo
Talking Contemporary Japan: Kokugo Learn Japanese that Japanese learn
CHIKARA October-November Workshop
Best-selling authors attract a crowd at the Japan Foundation London
Japanese Language Refresher Courses 2010
UK Japanese learners top in Europe!
Japanese Language Proficiency Test Now Available in Five Levels
Talking Contemporary Japan: 'Question Time at The Foundation. What do the Japanese really think.'
Nihongo Cup 2010
CHIKARA Update Workshop Part 4
Webpage Contest Winners Celebrate at the Embassy of Japan
Japan Webpage Contest Winners Announced
Talking Contemporary Japan: 'Getting Down to Business! - Language and Etiquette in Japanese Society'
Head Start 2010
New Japanese Language Websites Launched
The Fifth Japanese Speech Contest for University Students
CHIKARA Update Workshop Part 3
Talking Contemporary Japan: "Squabbling Spouses - Dramatic Comedy"
CHIKARA Update Workshop 2
Japan Conference for Schools October 2009
Japanese Language Refresher Courses
Japan's Past Meets the Present
Nihongo Cup 2009
Japanese language taster at Roding Valley High School
CHIKARA Update Workshop Part 1
Asset Languages Day for Teachers of Japanese
Japan Foundation Grant Programme Recipients
Talking Contemporary Japan - Investigating Japanese Mysteries
Japanese taster at Staines Prep School
The Fourth Japanese Speech Contest for University Students
Head Start 2009
Wren Academy Head Start Case Study
Japan Conference for Schools
Talking Contemporary Japan - Comedy
Japanese Language Refresher Course 2008
Japanese Takes Off at Priory School in East Sussex
Nihongo Cup 2008
Talking Contemporary Japan - Exploring Japan through Short Stories
Training Day for StepOutNet Members
StepOutNet Tasters at Primary School International Week
Continuing Professional Development Course for Japanese Language Teachers
The Third Japanese Speech Contest for University Students
'A Love for Languages' - East Sussex Primary Languages Conference
Survey on Japanese-Language Education Abroad 2006
Talking Contemporary Japan (Short Stories)
Japanese Tasters at European Day of Languages
UK Students Visit Japanese Sister School
2007 Annual Programme participants report back
Nihongo Cup 2007
East Leeds Oriental Culture and Language Conference "Kimono"
Roding Valley High School: Japan Cultural Event
Second StepOutNet Training Session
Happy Birthday JFLLC
Head Start 2007 "Japanese from Scratch"
Turning Japanese at the Lammas School
Why should you enter Nihongo Cup? Read about previous winner Harriet Russell's experience
High Flyers in Japanese;
Results of the Second Speech Contest for University Students
Lost in Translation? Student Tom Barrett proved that he certainly isn't

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