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Frequently Asked Questions

For schools starting out with Japanese

Teaching Resources

Exams

Funding for Japanese and projects with partner schools

Networking and advice

Courses for teachers of Japanese

Becoming a teacher of Japanese

Learning Japanese in the UK

Learning Japanese in Japan

Other Questions

For schools starting out with Japanese

Our school is thinking of trying Japanese. Where should we start?

1. Why not arrange a taster session at your school through our Japanese Taster for Schools (JTS) Programme, so that you and your students can find out first-hand what it is like to learn Japanese? Volunteers introduce basic Japanese language such as numbers and greetings in a fun and interactive way. You can read about past JTS visits to schools here, and book a Japanese taster at your own school here.

2. Try holding a Japan Day. In addition to the JTS programme, the Japan Foundation has plenty of resources, including online resources and an extensive Japanese language education library. You may be able to hire a chest of Japanese cultural artefacts from the Embassy of Japan or the Japan Society, and apply for a Japan Society Small Grant to help you fund the event.

3. Attend one of our events for schools. The Japan Conference for Schools is a great way for teachers to hear seminars by others who have introduced Japanese or done Japan-related projects with their students. Senior teachers can find out more about introducing Japanese at our annual Head Start course. You can read about all of our upcoming Japanese Language events here.

4. Get in contact with other schools teaching Japanese. We have a list of schools teaching Japanese here. We also have an email-discussion group for Japanese teachers, JLE-UK, which is a fantastic way to network.

5. Apply for funding through our Local Project Support Programme. We are keen to support projects that promote the introduction of Japanese into the curriculum at primary and secondary schools.

6. Contact us! If you would like any advice at all on introducing Japanese at your school, even as a club or enrichment activity, we would be delighted to help you. We can provide advice on lesson planning, where to find suitable resources, how to teach Japanese language and even assist you in finding a teacher. Click here to view our contact details.

Click here to view our Step-By-Step Guide for Schools looking to start Japanese

Our school is thinking of starting a new language. Why should we consider Japanese?

Here are just a few reasons why offering Japanese will benefit your school and your students:

1. At secondary schools, the government is encouraging more flexible learning of a wider range of European and world languages, including Japanese. As for primary schools, the UK government has now made foreign language provision compulsory for Key Stage 2, and given schools the freedom to teach whatever language they wish. Because Japanese language education is well supported by the Japan Foundation (through resources, funding and other services), Japanese could be an excellent choice as a Key Stage 2 language!

2. Japanese language boosts cultural diversity and international awareness within the school.

3. Japanese gives students a rare opportunity to learn a non-European language with an entirely different writing system. It also gives students a sense of achievement from knowing a less common language

4. Beginner-level spoken Japanese is comparatively easy. Japanese has only two irregular verbs, no genders, simple pronunciation, no plurals and is not a tone language!

5. Japanese is linked to a fascinating culture, both modern (computer games, manga, anime) and traditional (origami, samurai, ninja, martial arts, taiko drumming)

6. Many schools find that Japanese appeals to boys, as well as students who have not enjoyed other languages.

7. There is a huge amount of support available for teaching Japanese, including many free resources, funding for school partnerships and other projects, and a network of Japanese teachers through the JLE-UK email list. Finally, our staff will help you with any questions you have about Japanese, and can offer specialist advice on teaching the language.

How many schools teach Japanese?

You can see the full list of establishments in the UK teaching Japanese here. This figure includes those teaching within the curriculum as well as those teaching it as an extra-curricular subject. The majority of schools teaching Japanese are secondary schools, but this number also includes an increasing number of primary schools. The teaching of Japanese in UK schools, especially primary schools, has been growing over the last decade.

What is the set-up of Japanese in UK schools?

This varies a lot between schools. Many schools offer Japanese as an extra-curricular subject. For others, Japanese is taught within the curriculum, in the same way as other languages. Other schools don’t teach it regularly but offer taster sessions. Primary schools that teach Japanese often use many Japan-related ideas across the curriculum. Sometimes the Japanese teacher is a full-time teacher who teaches other subjects (often other languages). Sometimes the teacher is not based at the school, but visits the school regularly to teach Japanese. Many teachers are native speakers of Japanese, but many are not. Some schools have a Japanese language assistant. Click here to read case studies of schools teaching Japanese.

How can we get hold of a Japanese teacher?

Schools, universities and other institutions are welcome to advertise for a teacher of Japanese on our website. This is free of charge. When new jobs are advertised on our website, we also notify members of JLE-UK, our email discussion list for teachers of Japanese.

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Teaching Resources

How can we get hold of Japanese resources?

Our library holds books and audio-visual materials for teaching and learning Japanese, and is the only one in the UK dedicated to Japanese language education. Teachers of Japanese at institutions can join the library as full members. We also offer a loan-by-post service. Finally we have many free online resources for all levels, from primary school pupils to advanced adult learners.

Finally, you can buy resources from these Japanese bookshops in the UK.

Which textbook should I use?

Although we don’t endorse particular textbooks, we do offer lists of resources that are suitable for different levels, such as primary, GCSE, A-level, and resources for starters. Click here to view these lists. In addition, our librarian and language advisors would be happy to advise you on the contents of resources, to help you find ones that are suitable for your needs. Click here for contact details.

Where can I buy Japanese books?

JP Books
24-25 Denman Street, London. W1D 7HU
Tel: 020 7839 4839
Email: info@jpbooks.co.uk

Japan Centre Bookshop
19 Shaftesbury Ave. London W1D 7ED
Tel: 020 3405 1151
Email: bookshop_manager@japancentre.com

Can I join your library?

Teachers of Japanese and university students studying Japan-related fields can join the library as full members. For full details on membership criteria, click here.

I know a website that may be useful for Japanese learners. Can you put a link to it on your site?

We encourage you to submit any websites that you think may be useful for Japanese learners to the Nihongo e-na portal website here, but please check first to make sure the website isn't already there!

I am a Japanese language teacher, and I've created a useful resource for other teachers of Japanese. How can I share it?

Why not join Minna no Kyozai Site and upload it there? This website enables teachers of Japanese around the world to share their resources.

We also suggest joining our JLE-UK discussion group for Japanese teachers and sharing it there.

How can I type in Japanese on my computer?

Click here for an explanation on Japan Foundation's MARUGOTO+ website on how to type in Japanese, including instructions for setting up Japanese on a variety of different operating systems including Windows and Mac.

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Exams

Can our students take any exams in Japanese?

Yes. Japanese exams that are commonly taken by school students in the UK include GCSE, AS, A2 and IB. Click here for more details about these exams.

What exams are available for adult learners of Japanese?

The Japanese Language Proficiency Test is a popular exam among adult learners of Japanese. The test is available at five levels and is held twice a year in London and Edinburgh. For information about other Japanese exams, click here.

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Funding for Japanese and projects with partner schools

Is there any funding available to support Japanese at our school?

Yes! The Japan Foundation's Japanese Language Local Project Support Programme enables schools and other institutions to apply for up to £3,000 to fund Japanese language-related projects.

Additionally, the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation and the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation offer funding for various Japan-related projects and exchanges. The Japan Society Small Grants are grants to support small-scale projects and events taking place in the UK.

Monetary awards are also available for selected language projects through the British Academy Schools Language Awards and the European Language Label.

How can I set up an exchange with a school in Japan?

The Japan Society locates partner schools in Japan and supports both UK and Japanese schools as they develop their exchange activities. This includes language support for exchange between students using the bilingual Japan UK LIVE! website, to enable them to communicate freely and creatively. Many organisations offer funding for projects with Japanese partner schools.

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Networking and advice

Do you have a list of schools teaching Japanese?

Yes! Click here to see it.

How can I get in touch with other schools teaching Japanese?

Click here to see a list of schools in the UK that teach Japanese. Click here to sign up to JLE-UK, our email discussion list for teachers of Japanese and others interested in this area.

I want advice on teaching some difficult grammar points in Japanese. Can you help?

Certainly! Our Japanese language advisors would be delighted to answer your questions and give you advice. Click here for contact details.

You may also find it useful to sign up to our email discussion list, JLE-UK, and ask other teachers of Japanese for their advice.

I have run out of teaching ideas – help!

Why not check out our online Teaching Resources for some new ideas? You are also welcome to contact our Japanese language advisors and our library and resource information officer to ask their advice. Click here for contact details. You can also sign up to our email discussion list, JLE-UK, and ask other teachers of Japanese for their advice.

I want to take my students to Japan, how can I do this?

The Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO) has a website all about Japan educational travel; click here to view. Schools interested in pairing with a Japanese counterpart can contact JNTO at education@jnto.go.jp, or call 03-3216-1902.

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Courses for teachers of Japanese

I'm teaching Japanese, but my Japanese is very rusty. Can you help?

Absolutely! The Japan Foundation offers 2-month and 6-month language courses in Urawa, Japan, for non-native speaking Japanese teachers. There is no course fee for any of these, although we do not cover travel expenses. If you would like to find out about private tutors, evening or part-time courses in your area, or links to help you learn Japanese, please click here.

For teachers who are learning Japanese at the beginner level, we have just launched a brand new website offering free courses in basic Japanese, Minato.

What courses do you offer for teachers of Japanese?

We run and co-organise many different courses for teachers of Japanese, including exam-based training courses focusing on GCSE, A-Level and IB qualifications in Japanese. Native- and non-native speaking teachers above a particular level of Japanese can apply for our training programmes in Urawa and Alsace. For non-native speaking teachers who want to improve their Japanese, we offer Japanese refresher courses in London every summer, as well as 4-week, 2-month and 6-month language courses in Urawa, Japan. Finally, the Japan Conference for Schools is not specifically aimed at teachers of Japanese but may be a helpful way to share ideas and network.

For teachers who are learning Japanese at the beginner level, we have just launched a brand new website offering free courses in basic Japanese, Minato.

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Becoming a teacher of Japanese

How can I become a Japanese teacher in a UK school?

Click here to download the guidelines and information about qualifications needed in order to teach Japanese in a UK school. There is a Japanese version available here

Is it possible to teach Japanese full-time?

Although the number of schools offering Japanese has been increasing, only a very small number of schools have enough Japanese on the curriculum to merit appointing a full-time teacher just for Japanese. However, there are many full-time secondary teachers who teach Japanese as one of their main subjects, usually alongside other languages. Other teachers offer Japanese part-time at several different schools.

How do I search for Japanese language teaching vacancies?

Click here to see our teaching jobs page.

How can I get more experience of teaching Japanese in the UK?

Native or fluent speakers of Japanese can join our Japanese Taster for Schools volunteer programme, and gain experience of running Japanese language tasters in schools.

I would like to teach Japanese as a private tutor. Can you help me find new students?

Click here for details on how to advertise yourself as a private tutor on our website.

I’m not a native speaker of Japanese. How good does my Japanese have to be to teach it?

Your Japanese doesn’t have to be perfect to teach it. As an example, most non-native teachers at UK secondary schools have around level 2/N2 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. However, there are also many excellent teachers with Japanese below this level, who are successfully introducing Japanese language and culture in schools.

Teachers with zero or beginner level Japanese now have the opportunity to study Japanese for free through our new e-Learning platform Minato.

Do you have a list of schools that offer Japanese in the UK?

Yes! Click here to see it.

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Learning Japanese in the UK

Do you run any courses for Japanese learners?

The Japan Foundation Japanese-Language Institute, Kansai has released the Japanese language learning platform, JF Japanese e-Learning Minato in order to provide an opportunity to study Japanese for all those people in the world who may wish to begin learning, but cannot attend an actual Japanese language school.

The main course of Minato is the Marugoto Japanese Online Course, which we recommend for those who wish to comprehensively learn about the Japanese language and culture. With this course you can have an integrated learning experience by using interactive e-learning materials to study the language skills needed for communication (listening, speaking, reading, and writing).

Where else can I study Japanese in the UK?

Click here to view lists of UK schools and adult education institutions that offer Japanese classes.

Our links section has some useful websites to help you learn Japanese. Please click here for a list of Japanese tutors around the UK. Click here to go to the UCAS website and search for degree courses in or with Japanese.

Where can I buy Japanese books?

JP Books
24-25 Denman Street, London. W1D 7HU
Tel: 020 7839 4839
Email: info@jpbooks.co.uk

Japan Centre Bookshop
19 Shaftesbury Ave. London W1D 7ED
Tel: 020 3405 1151
Email: bookshop_manager@japancentre.com

What Japanese-language examinations can I take in the UK?

The Japanese Language Proficiency Test is a popular exam among adult learners of Japanese. At the moment, the test is available at five levels and is held twice a year in London and Edinburgh. For information about other Japanese exams, click here.

What Japanese lessons are available for children under 18 years?

Click here to view lists of UK schools (and adult education institutions, some of which may have provisions for under-18 learners) that offer Japanese classes.

If you would like to see Japanese classes started at your own school, or your child’s school, please let the school know that the Japan Foundation can help them with this – for example, we can provide funding and a one-off volunteer Japanese taster session via the Japanese Tasters for Schools (JTS) Programme.

Are there any schools in the UK that cater for mother tongue-level Japanese speaking children?

You can view a list of Japanese supplementary schools, kindergartens and international schools suitable for mother-tongue speakers of Japanese here. (See the final page of the list available under the "Adult, Further and Higher Education" heading)

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Learning Japanese in Japan

Where can I study Japanese in Japan?

Organisations that can help:

Who can help me to arrange a gap year in Japan?

Organisations that can help:

Working Holiday Scheme
This scheme offers Britons between the ages of 18 and 30 years the opportunity to experience living and working in Japan for up to one year.
Tel: 020 7465 6565

Lattitude (formerly Gap Activity Projects)
Placements available through Lattitude take place in care centres, hospitals and schools.
Tel: 0118 959 4914

Project Trust
Volunteers have the opportunity to participate in team teaching or community based work, either in Tokyo or Hokkaido.
Tel: 01879 230 444
Email: info@projecttrust.org.uk

The Year Out Group:
Tel: 07980 395789
Email: info@yearoutgroup.org

The JET Programme
An official Japanese Government scheme that sends graduates to Japan in order to promote international understanding and to improve foreign language teaching in schools.
Tel: 020 7465 6668
Email: info@jet-uk.org

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Other Questions

Do you provide translation/interpretation services?

The Japan Foundation is unable to provide translating or interpreting services. Some of the organisations that may be able to help you include:

(The Japan Foundation does not endorse any of the organisations listed above)

If you are looking specifically for bilingual communication between UK and Japanese schools, the Japan Society has a bilingual website, Japan-UK Live, which you may find useful.