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What will students be studying in Japanese this year?

Japanese is introduced to students first at the beginning of Y8 Autumn Term.  This is the GCSE Japanese course which the students have an opportunity to sit for the exam at the end of Y10.  (3 year-course)

At first, the Hiragana alphabet is introduced with help of pictures, games, and songs.  At the same time, classroom expressions are learnt so that the students will get used to hearing real Japanese in a practical way.  The second alphabet, Katakana, is introduced while learning how to do self-introduction and some basic Kanji charachters.  The students are given a Unit 1 book to work on. 

Building on the foundations laid in Y8, students will broaden their vocabulary and learn a wider range of structures, so that they can build extended sentences, refer to past events and ask and answer questions. Specific topics covered include describing oneself and others, a past holiday, talking about activities we do, food and shopping. Lessons use a mix of listening, speaking, reading and writing and the continued focus on oral as well as written communication, aims to equip students to really be able to use the language now and in the future.  We will be also learning about cultural aspects such as table manners.  This is be practiced by going to a Japanese restaurant in the Summer Term by ordering the food, and say the greetings at the table and to use chopsticks.

Expectations of Students in Japanese

The Japanese course takes place after school for an hour each week with an additional 35 minutes lunch time lesson on a different day of the week.  Most of the students sit for the GCSE exam at the end of Y10 although it is possible to leave it until Y11, if the student is not ready.  In view of its accelerated nature students have every opportunity to develop their ability to be independent learners.  To this end self-assessment is an important element of the course.  The starter of each lesson is especially important to both the teacher and the students to ensure that they have understood the previous lesson’s work.

Students should not worry unduly about making mistakes, especially in oral work as that is an important step in the learning process. Students’ written work is marked using the MFL department’s marking codes adopted for Japanese which identify the type of error rather than simply writing in the correction so that students learn to redraft their own work. They will usually be given the opportunity to do this and to ask any questions in lessons.

What are the major assessments this year?

In addition to a mini test every 3 or 4 weeks, which includes Kanji test, there will be an Oral exam in the Summer Term ahead of the  End of Year Exam. The Listening Test is done during lessons.

What will the current performance grade be based on?

The students’ 4 skills (Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing) are assessed regularly, both in class and by homework exercises.  The current performance level in Japanese is lower compared to other subjects simply because the students have to learn a writing system that is totally new to them.  Therefore, even if a student’s grade in Japanese is lower, it does not mean she is a weaker at the subject.  You should be guided by if she is on track or not.

What should my daughter do if she feels she is struggling in the subject?

Your daughter should seek advice from her subject tutor who will help identify the precise aspect of the course that is presenting a problem and be able to suggest ways to aid understanding of grammar or alphabets learning.  The Unit One book is supported by tutorial videos on line.   These can be found at  where the students can do extra work sheets to go with the book.  Also, the students have an opportunity to be entered into the Language Perfect Championships twice a year where they can practice the Unit 1 book as well as alphabets and other vocabulary.

How can I support my daughter?

The best way to support your daughter is by taking an interest in her work in Japanese.  No prior knowledge is required!  Indeed if you have never studied Japanese you might find it interesting for your daughter to share some of her learning with you, as this is a powerful way for her to re-inforce her knowledge and understanding of the subject.  To learn alphabets, you can play Karuta with your daughter.  You can read the caption of each letter and your daughter to pick the correct one on the table.  It is a fun way of learning together.  There are so may free on-line games available as well.

It is always a good idea to ask her to explain what she has been doing in class, testing her on the vocabulary she has learnt, and looking through her book with her will help her consolidate her learning. Do encourage and praise her for her efforts. Please support your daughter’s efforts to use her own language in her written and oral work rather than relying on Google translate. Electronic translation tools give strange translations.  Getting used to use her dictionary is encouraged.  We use Oxford Beginner’s Japanese Dictionary.  

What kind of independent work should my daughter be completing?

Although your daughter will be set regular homework targeted at a specific set of alphabets, vocabulary and grammar, she needs to take responsibility for regular revision of all aspects of the subject.  This is especially important for your daughter’s progression. 

What can I contact for further advice and information?

Ms Bongout has oversight of the twilight language courses and will be pleased to follow up any queries: 

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