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Japanese Taster for Schools (JTS) Programme Training Day November 2013

On November 29th 2013, 37 people including special guests from the Academy of Home Educators attended the fourth and final training day of 2013 for the Japan Foundation’s Japanese Taster for Schools (JTS) Programme, in which native and fluent Japanese speakers conduct free Japanese taster sessions in UK schools.

After an overview for new volunteers about the Japan Foundation and the JTS programme itself, the participants heard reports by two volunteers who had held recent Japanese language tasters. One presenter talked about her experience teaching with three other volunteers at Langley Grammar School in Slough, while the other presented her report on her visit to Boxgrove Primary School in London. It was a good opportunity to hear about two quite different JTS experiences.

This was followed by workshops by Hiroko Tanaka (Japanese Language Advisor and co-ordinator of JTS at the Japan Foundation), who introduced how to teach Japanese writing – one of the most challenging aspects of Japanese for UK learners. However, Tanaka-sensei demonstrated that despite the difficulties involved, learning Japanese hiraganakatakana and kanji can be made very enjoyable for students through games and activities such as “kanji sumo” and the “Hiragana rap!” Finally, Tanaka-sensei showed some activities suitable for winter and Christmas incorporating Japanese language and culture.

Several of the materials used came from Japan Foundation’s own resources, including Ready Steady NihonGO.

To close the Training Day, we had a very special performance by the children of the Academy of Home Educators. Ever since having a Japanese language taster organised through JTS in March 2012 (which you can read about in-depth here on page 6), the pupils have been learning Japanese regularly from two of our JTS members. Their amazing performance of Japanese songs demonstrated how far their Japanese language abilities are progressing.

All the volunteers enjoyed the training day and said that they found it useful. Midori Case-Leng, who has now completed her full course of 4 JTS Training Days, commented:

「いつも通り、ボランティアの皆さんのお話、そして博子先生のお話、興味深く聞かせていただきました。特に今日はThe Academy of Home Educators の皆さんのパフォーマンスも見ることができてラッキーでした!」

(“As always, it was really interesting to hear what the other volunteers and Hiroko Tanaka had to say. I feel particularly lucky to have been able to see the performance by the Academy of Home Educators!”)

Eri Matsuoka, a new JTS volunteer said:


(“It was really useful. I want to try and use the information I learned from the volunteers’ report of their experiences and the activities.”)

We would like to thank all participants for coming, especially our two fantastic guest speakers and all the pupils, parents and staff from the Academy of Home Educators!

Our next JTS Training Day is scheduled for January 21st, which will be held at Newcastle University for the first time – good news for our volunteers in the north! We are now open for applications.

If you are interested in taking part in the JTS programme as a volunteer, please click here for more information.