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Marugoto Plus A1 is back!

We are pleased to announce that the Marugoto Plus A1 website is up and running again, after being down for a few weeks for maintenance purposes. 

Thank you everyone for your patience and we apologise for any inconvenience caused during the maintenance period.

JFL Japanese Scheme of Work for primary schools - Units 7-8

We are delighted to share the latest two units of the JFL Scheme of Work for primary schools, written by Mr Makoto Netsu, the Chief Language Advisor for the Japan Foundation London as well as Dr Seiji Fukushima, former Chief Language Advisor and Dr Norifumi Hida, a specialist in drama education. You can download these units below. These resources include lesson plans, interactive whiteboard files, activites and more!

Unit 7: Trip to Japan
Unit 8: Red Demon Cried (Japanese story)

We will add these resources to the JFL Japanese Scheme of Work for primary schools page in the new year in 2016.

Download Attachment

A Japan Adventure of a Lifetime on the Japanese-Language Programme for Outstanding Students of JF Japanese-Language Courses 2015

The Japan Foundation are delighted to say okaerinasai (welcome back!) to Kelvin Liu, the UK participant of the Japanese-Language Programme for Outstanding Students of JF Japanese-Language Courses 2015. In this programme, a participant of the Japan Foundation’s Marugoto Japanese Language & Culture  was selected to visit the Japan Foundation Japanese Language Institute, Kansai in Japan and to take part in activities to deepen their knowledge of Japanese language, society, and culture.

We interviewed Kelvin to find out what he thought about the programme and to hear all about his exciting experiences....


What did you like most about the Programme?

“The programme had exceeded all expectations by far. I was looked after from even before I flew from the UK to the minute of departure. My stay at Kansai Centre was great as the facilities at the centre was very good and all staff were very friendly and helpful. The location of the centre was conveniently sited, being next to Kansai Airport and within easy reach from Osaka. The location itself, Rinku Town was brilliant too as it offered a variety of shops and entertainment options. Each day was exceptionally great both during official hours as well as after hours. There was not a single day which I felt was average. Although this was mainly a study trip, there was still time in the evenings to do some of things I wanted to do like riding the Rinku Town Ferris wheel with others.

I was with 28 other participants from various countries and had the chance to practice speaking Japanese on a daily bases with someone who is also a learner. Although I was probably the weakest one in the group in terms of language ability being Elementary and not even done JLPT N5 and at times had difficulties understanding, nevertheless I still had great fun speaking the language and testing my language abilities to the limit. In the end, I made a lot of international friends and we still keep in contact via the Facebook group which I had created and through an instant messaging chat room. 

The time when the programme took place was ideal. Being in autumn, I had the exclusive opportunity to see for myself what momiji (the red autumn leaves) is all about and learn why Japanese people appreciate the season so much. Furthermore, the Osaka Orienteering task took place on the 31st October which conveniently placed me in the city to witness how Japanese people do Halloween, which is very different to what we see here. It was 100 times better and the costumes varied hugely from being super kawaii (cute) to super kowai (scary).

The day which particularly touched me was the day when we visited the elementary school. The children were very well behaved, friendly and "genki" (lively). I have only ever witnessed a Japanese school in anime and films of which school settings are very popular. This visit has allowed me to experience what a typical school day for a young Japanese person is and see how a school is ran. Next time I watch something, I can better understand the scene setting and surroundings.”

How did the Programme help you to learn about Japanese and Japan?

“I returned to the UK knowing much more about Japan than I had before I left. I learnt about school and the Japanese education system. I gained keeper knowledge about religions in Japan and its shrine/temple culture and how Japanese people worship their kami-sama (gods).

By undertaking the two cultural activities, I gained a deeper knowledge into ikebana (flower arranging) and sadou (tea ceremony), for example, I never realised that conducting a tea ceremony involves so much work and such there are three year courses available just to learn how to serve tea! In the two hours I was there, I must have only had a brief glimpse of the art of sadou.

I had definitely improved on my conversational Japanese especially the usage of informal words, which wasn't taught in the Marugoto course or in past self-study text books.”

Do you have any advice for Japanese language learners thinking of going to Japan to study?

“My advice is just to go for it. It is very different between reading up about something to actually being there to experience it and speaking the language on a daily basis. Lots of knowledge to be gained, lots of fun, laughter and potentially friends for life.” 


We may be offering the chance to participate in the Japanese-Language Programme for Outstanding Students of JF Japanese-Language Courses 2015 to participants of our Marugoto courses in the future. If you would like to receive updates about enrolment on the Marugoto courses and all our other activities, please sign up for our e-bulletin here.

Japanese Plus: Let’s Speak Kansai Dialect!

Yayakoshii (difficult), chau (different) and akan (no good) were some of the words of Kansai-ben (the dialect of Osaka and the surrounding Kansai region) that participants learned at the Japan Foundation’s Japanese Plus course for advanced learners of Japanese, which ran 11th – 19th November.

The course, attended by 36 participants in total over the course of two weeks, was led by the Japan Foundation’s Assistant Japanese Language Advisor, Mio Tsunematsu – who is also a native speaker of Kansai-ben. First, Tsunematsu-sensei introduced the Kansai region of Japan, and the image that Japanese people have of Kansai’s culture. She then taught participants the characteristic pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary that distinguishes Kansai-ben from standard Japanese. Participants had plenty of opportunities to have fun practising listening, speaking, reading and writing skills using Kansai-ben while learning more about Kansai culture: They listened to songs sung in Kansai-ben, read manga written in Kansai-ben, watched manzai (double-act comedy originating from Osaka) and even had a go at Osakan comedic art of nori-tsukkomi (playing along with a joke) by pretending to use bananas and chopsticks as phones and pens!

The participants had a lot of fun learning Kansai-ben, with many describing the course as “omorokatta” (“fun” in Kansai-ben)

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.

Photos from this event can be found on our Facebook page here.

Japanese Taster for Schools (JTS) Programme Volunteer Training Day November 2015

On November 16th 2015, 24 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. The Training Day was held at Conway Hall in London.

After an overview for new volunteers about the Japan Foundation and the JTS programme itself, the participants heard reports from volunteers who had held Japanese tasters at schools via the JTS Programme. Miss Lisa Barrett reported on her visit to The Priory School, which was an unusual taster as not only students, but also the teachers, took part as part of a staff training session. Next, Dr Eunmi Pearson talked about her visit to Reading School, which had been a complex visit involving 4 volunteers but had gone really well.

This was followed by workshops held by two of the JTS Programme’s most experienced volunteers. Mrs Kyoko Delaforce, who has been volunteering for JTS for over 2 years and has visited 8 schools, presented some of the ways to teach Japanese in Primary Schools, including the use of song. She was followed by Ms Emi Yabe, who has been a JTS volunteer for over 5 years and has visited 19 schools, and she presented on teaching activities for Secondary School pupils.

At the end, the Japan Foundation announced that we would now be issuing certificates and prizes to volunteers  according to the number of schools they had visited, and presented volunteers present at the training day with a Silver or Gold certificate plus prizes.

All the volunteers enjoyed the training day and said that they found it useful. Miss Sarah Dopierala, who was attending the training day for the first time, said, “I was glad to meet people in our taster community and to get such wonderful ideas for sessions.”

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

Photos from the event can be found here.

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

D.I.Y. Japanese Club! Extra-Curricular Japanese Resources & Ideas Sharing Workshop

On the 29th  October, 26 teachers came to Conway Hall to share ideas about how to teach Japanese as a club activity in schools. The event involved presentations by school teachers about their Japanese club activities, followed by discussion time to allow all the participants to share their own experiences and ideas.

First Alan Greaves from The Wavell School spoke about how students can experience Japan without ever leaving the UK. He shared ideas for excursions, such as visiting Club Taishikan, various museums, Japanese schools, Hyper Japan, a taiko drumming concert and Chiddingstone Castle. He also shared his school procedures and tips for ensuring excursions are fun, rewarding and safe. You can view videos of what Alan’s students thought about their trips here.

Next Yoko Leedham, from Thomas Hardye School, shared her ideas to help teach basic sentences in Japanese. She showed how she builds up students’ vocabulary at the same time as teaching hiragana, then how she teaches basic sentence structures to allow students to be able to say quite a lot, even with limited contact time. 

This was followed by Dr Marina Sereda-Linley who introduced several te-asobi songs, including the original Japanese, the romaji versions, and their English translations. These would be excellent examples of authentic texts that could be fun to teach to children along with their hand gestures.  

Lastly the Japan Foundation’s Assistant Japanese Language Advisor, Mio Tsunematsu, introduced her interactive lesson to teach about Japanese bento boxes. The participants then all had a go speaking to each other in Japanese to discover their food preferences so they could design each other a perfect bento box.

One participant, Tiki Ebun-Cole, commented that it was “great to come to these events as it’s a way of feeling connected to Japan and others working in promoting Japanese language and culture.” Another mentioned that there were “so many great ideas to take back to school!” 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, they are all available to download below.

Download Attachment

Japan Foundation at the Language Show Live 2015

A big thank you to everyone who visited the Japan Foundation’s stand at the Language Show Live on 16th, 17th and 18th 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, we were very lucky to be joined by Catherine Rodrigues, teacher at St Edmund Campion Catholic Primary School Maidenhead and 2015 winner of the Association for Language Learning’s Primary Language Teacher of the Year for her work in Japanese.  She held a seminar on her school as a case study of a UK primary school's mission to embed global learning into the curriculum by introducing a multi-lingual approach including Japanese. You can read more about her school here.

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,  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 Japanese Language Scheme of Work for Primary Schools, as well as videos of students performing kami-shibai from the webpages of Tenbury Cof E Primary School and Holbrook Primary School, both previous winners of the Japan Webpage Contest for Schools.

Additionally, we held a Japan Quiz, which approximately 600 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) 花(hana) means “flower” and the kanji 火 (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 five at random to send our Japan Foundation Goody Bag. Congratulations to Joyce from London, Jackie from Middlesex, Emma from Croydon and Artyom from Cambridge who have all been sent Goody Bags!

We would like to thank Catherine Rodrigues 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 Scotland  on March 11th and 12th 2016, and the 2016 Language Show Live in London on October 14th – 16th. We hope to see you there!

Click here to view more photos from the event.

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.

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.

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

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