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Head Start 2011

On May 5th 2011, Japan Foundation held out annual one-day Head Start course for head teachers, curriculum planners and MFL leaders interested in introducing Japanese language at their school.

The day began with an overview of the current picture of Japanese language education in the UK, in addition to the support available for Japanese teaching from the Japan Foundation. This was followed by an introduction to Japanese language and culture by the Japan Foundation language advisors, who introduced basic Japanese language and information about Japan with chanting, quizzes and games! These sessions were not only useful to teachers who had limited experience of Japanese culture, but also those who had been to Japan before; as one participant said, “Despite already being aware of Japanese language and culture, these sessions gave me ideas on communicating them in a classroom setting, and teaching the language.

After a Japanese bento (lunchbox) lunch, the day progressed with presentations by teachers at schools currently teaching Japanese. Kevin McKellar, Head Teacher at Hendon School, gave an inspirational speech about how Japanese at his school has captured the enthusiasm of pupils across all ranges of ability, emphasising that “without Japanese, Hendon would not be where we are now.” Teresa Phillipson, Head of Modern Foreign Languages at Lutterworth College, gave a highly informative account of how Japanese Asset Languages is taught as an enrichment course at her school, and that pupils are so enthusiastic about Japanese that they will choose to study it even though it means less free periods!

Finally, the day closed with a tour of the Japan Foundation library, which now has 8,500 books and other Japanese language education resources, and a Q&A session. Overall, the day was a great success; some of the feedback received included:

Really inspirational / motivational day. Lots of great, practical advice which will really help.” (Sally Daniells, Assistant Vice Principal at Skinners Kent Academy)

Fantastic! A very inspiring day!” (Aeryn Hamilton, Exchange Teacher, Purbrook Junior School)

An excellent and very useful day.” (Joan Nix, Curriculum Area Manager, Sandhill View School)

We would like to thank all Head Start attendees for coming, and hope we see you again soon!

If you would like more information about getting Japanese started at your school, please email