GCSE Japanese Self-Study Guide
Let's start your journey! For all those starting Japanese
How to Learn Japanese by Yourself
Japanese language skills are developed through several stages.
First step - Duolingo, basic phrases from YouTube
Learn Hiragana and Katakana
Learn communication skills for beginner
Find books and websites to learn grammar and vocabulary
Find a way to learn Kanji
Practise for an exam if you wish
See below and find online resources suitable for your stage. To see them fully, please visit my Padlet.
After studying the basics for about two years, you will be able to read short articles and write a diary. Grammatically, you will understand Japanese tenses and forms such as past and negative, and be able to say verbs, adjectives and everyday vocabulary. If you are considering GCSE Japanese, you can start preparing then.
GCSE Japanese Overview
What is GCSE？
General Certificate of Secondary Education, the qualifications that 15 and 16 year olds in the UK take at the end of Year 11. GCSE Japanese is roughly the same level as JLPT N5.
Study plan example
2 hrs/week x 3 years - Foundation Tier
3 hrs/week x 3-4 years - Higher Tier
It includes lesson time for those taking private tuition. If you are taught at school, you have roughly 300 study hours including lessons, homework and revision time.
GCSE vs JLPT
JLPT does not require output skills such as speaking and writing.
JLPT is useful if you want to work using Japanese language skills or study in Japan.
JLPT N5 requires more grammar than GCSE.
GCSE Foundation is the halfway point of JLPT N5 and those who reach GCSE Higher can progress immediately to JLPT N5 or N4.
GCSE listening test is easier than JLPT N5.
Kanji for GCSE Higher is 200, Foundation is 76. Kanji for N5 is around 100 and N4 is 350.
Normally I wouldn't recommend the JLPT to teenagers because the vocabulary is more for 18+. Learning general Japanese is more beneficial than preparing for the JLPT exam until then, in my opinion. JLPT is flexible in terms of the timing. You can try whenever you are fully ready in the future.
Is it worth taking GCSE Japanese?
All that matters is whether you want to take the exam for your record. It is also a good idea to study Japanese at your own pace without taking the exam so that you can concentrate on what you want to learn. Whatever path you take, I believe that your passion for learning Japanese as a teenager will give you a great future.
GCSE Exam Preparation
When should I start？
After about two years of studying the basics and grammar, you can start preparing for GCSE exams.
GCSE five themes and sub-topics
Theme 1: Identity and Culture
Family, daily life, hobby, celebration...
Theme 2: Local area and trip
Town, shopping, holiday, transport...
Theme 3: School
Description, school subject, club, event, school trip...
Theme 4: Future aspiration
Work experience, part-time job, learning languages, plans for your future...
Theme 5: International and global dimensions
International events, environmental issues...
There is no GCSE Japanese course book you can buy from a bookshop. Take a look at these resources instead.
GCSE Kanji List
Foundation Tier - Green (76)
Higher Tier - Black and Green (200)
Daily life 朝昼夜晩午
Adjective 1 大小高元気安古新
Adjective 2 少多有名長近好同
Verb 1 行言見食入出
Verb 2 帰聞書飲話読買会休住
Verb 3 知作使売働思泳持待終
The structure of the exam and study tips are well explained.
When the student took GCSE, using a dictionary was allowed for the writing test which is no longer possible.
There is no YouTube, but the grades my students achieved were from a 5 to a 9, and they were all happy with their results. GCSE Japanese was a milestone for these students and they are still studying Japanese!