Senior school > Curriculum > Japanese

The Japanese department is part of the Modern Languages department, situated in the Library block. Japanese has been taught for the last 25 years at Gresham’s.

Class sizes are comparatively small, affording pupils plenty of individual attention and results are excellent (since 2015 100% of students achieved a GCSE grade A* – C, almost 70% at A* -A).

The majority of pupils are complete beginners when they start in Year 9 and enjoy learning not only the language but also about manga, martial arts, traditional food and other aspects of Japanese culture.

The Japanese department’s aim is to give pupils an edge, having studied a more unusual language. We also aim to demystify the language and show that it is as accessible as any European language. Japanese skills are highly valued by many prospective employers and the Office of National Statistics recently reported that graduates in Japanese have the highest lifetime salary of graduates from any foreign language due to the careers pathways that open up in the fields of international business, translation and education.

Pupils also have the opportunities to visit Japan and to host visiting Japanese students.


Pupils start as complete beginners in Year 9 and are introduced to the hiragana alphabet and learn things such as the basics of counting, introducing themselves and describing their hobbies and their family.


Exam Board: Edexcel

We follow the new Edexcel 9-1 GCSE which provides an excellent grounding for study post-16. Pupils start by extending their knowledge of kanji characters.  We then build up vocabulary and grammatical structures by studying a range of topics. The GCSE is taken at the end of Year 11 with speaking and writing, listening and reading each contributing 25%.

Pupils have 3 lessons per week in Years 10 and 11, which includes normal key language
elements as well as learning a new written script form. In addition, included in the
syllabus are opportunities for acquiring knowledge of Japanese culture both ancient
and modern – from Shogun to Nintendo Wii.


The Japanese society runs termly events such as sushi making workshops and movie nights. Thanks to support and funding from the Japan Foundation in London, we have been able to create a new manga lending library with over 100 copies of popular shonen and shojo manga titles translated into English. You can now borrow your favourite copy of Naruto, Hunter x Hunter, Attack on Titan and many more. Visit Room 13 in the Library building to browse through our newest arrivals.

The Japanese department runs exchanges with Keio Shonan Fujisawa High School in Kanagawa Prefecture and with Doshisha Kori Junior and Senior High School in Osaka. The Japanese students usually visit us every other year in March. Pupils will have the chance to visit Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima and Tokyo as well as visiting a Japanese school and staying with a Japanese family

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