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Japan Conference for Schools 2016

On March 7th 2016 nearly 100 participants joined the Japan Conference for Schools, held at the British Council in London.  Co-organised by the British Council, 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.

The event started with a welcome message from Mr Mark Herbert, the Head of Schools at the British Council and Minister Motohiko Kato, Minister Plenipotentiary from the Embassy of Japan. Next Baroness Jean Coussins, Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Modern Languages in the House of Lords spoke about language education in the UK and how important it is to maintain less-widely taught languages like Japanese. Alan Greaves, from the Wavell School mentioned that it was “fascinating to hear insight into the workings of government by Baroness Coussins.” Participants were then transported to Japan with a performance from Hibiki Shamisen, who can visit schools to show off the beautiful sound of their Tsugaru shamisen.

This was followed by a full day of workshops and group discussions. There were cultural-related workshops teaching sushi, origami, kamishibai (Japanese storytelling), and calligraphy. In addition to this teachers could hear from Pearson about the new Japanese GCSEs, or learn about flipped learning resources or resources for primary level Japanese. Severine Mizeret from Gunton Academy told us the “calligraphy and sushi were fantastic workshops.” Mary-Grace Browning from County Upper School said that the “flipped learning was excellent- Just what I need!”

There were also group discussions on a wide range of topics from school linking and science exchanges to how to introduce Japanese into schools, how to prepare students for speaking exams, and an introduction to Online Resource for Japanese Archaeology and Cultural Heritage (ORJAC). There was lots of good feedback for each session.  One teacher commented , “This was a really great event. As someone who knows a little (and not a lot!) of Japanese, I feel much more confident to teach the language.”

This year the conference had a fantastic turnout and included diverse 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. 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 Japan Foundation London. More are available on our facebook page here

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