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What will students be studying in Japanese this year?

Japanese is introduced to students first at the beginning of Year 8 Autumn Term.  This is the GCSE Japanese course which the students have an opportunity to sit for the exam at the end of Year 11 (4 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 Year 8, 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.   In the summer term, students have the opportunity to visit Japanese embassies, various cultural facilities and Japanese grocery shops in order to experience a more advanced level of Japanese culture.

Expectations of Students in Japanese

The Japanese language course runs for one hour after school each week, with 45 minutes for Year 9 students and 30 minutes for Year 8 students during the lunch break.  Students sit GCSE examinations in Year 11. As GCSE is accelerated, students are given every opportunity to develop their skills as independent learners.  Self-assessment is therefore a key component of the course.  After-school lessons are based on a three-pronged approach, starting with a review of the previous piece of previous effortless learning, the main study content and the homework that accompanies it. Speaking and listening are also emphasised in every lesson, with the aim of developing lessons that are designed to enable students to learn in an active environment. Lunchtime lessons aim to introduce and review vocabulary and maximise the use of music and games. These are also important for learning about Japanese culture. 

Students should not be overly concerned about mistakes, especially as oral learning is an important step in the learning process. Students' written work is graded using the MFL section marking code adopted in Japanese. Students are usually given the opportunity to correct their work and may ask questions in class.

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 four language skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing) are regularly assessed in class and on homework assignments.  Students are given assessment guidelines in advance, and the original exam questions are developed in line with these guidelines. These four skills are averaged together, and the percentage of homework and other assignments submitted is also taken into account to a large extent.

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

You first need to inform the teacher about the issue. In most instances, the teacher should already be aware of those problems in terms of attitude in class, grades and homework. Your daughter will be given time to talk to the teacher who can identify the exact aspect of the course that is causing the problem and suggest ways to help her understand grammar and alphabet learning. In addition, the Unit 1 material is supported by online tutorial videos.   These videos are available at or pupils can do additional worksheets alongside the book. 

How can I support my daughter?

The best way to support your daughter is to take an interest in the Japanese language and culture. No prior knowledge is necessary! If you have never studied Japanese before, sharing some of what your daughter has learnt with you can be a powerful way for her to develop her knowledge and understanding of the subject. Help her test her vocabulary. Interesting video clips or TV programmes about Japanese culture can help to deepen her knowledge of the time. 

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. 

Who 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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