Let’s keep our “minority language” GCSEs and A-Levels (inc. Japanese)


Another call to action! Your help is needed to preserve the continuation of qualifications in Japanese (and other languages) in the UK…

The exam boards AQA, OCR and Edexcel have stated that they will not re-develop, and in effect will withdraw, GCSEs and A-Levels in 13 languages – including A-Level Japanese.

(For those not in the UK, the A-Level is a major qualification taken around the age of 18 that can determine both whether or not you go to university and your future job prospects)

As a Shintoist, and as a life-long learner of Japanese language for whom the ability to speak Japanese has proved essential to my career, I believe this decision is utterly wrong and that the government needs to do all in its power to overturn it. It should be noted that many of the other languages planned to be axed, such as Arabic, Modern Hebrew, and several South Asian dialects, are strongly connected with members of particular religious groups in the UK, meaning that practitioners of these faiths will no doubt feel in some ways de-valued by these plans.

There is a ray of hope – the government has pledged its commitment to (some of) our “minority languages,” and that it will work to preserve their qualifications. But this is no guarantee set in stone, and we may find ourselves losing qualifications in some of these languages if we do not make our voices heard.

If you wish to help, please see the campaign page on the Speak To The Future website here, which includes further information, links to petitions, and other suggestions on how you can assist such as writing to your MP. You don’t have to be living in the UK to help – anyone in the world can voice their opinion!

Finally, if you need any further persuasion as to the importance of Japanese language to the UK as a whole, please see (and share!) this infographic produced by the Japan Foundation:




Filed under Shinto / Japanese Religion

6 responses to “Let’s keep our “minority language” GCSEs and A-Levels (inc. Japanese)

  1. EmilyAnn Frances

    In the 1980s everyone wanted to learn Japanese because of the boom in the Pacific Rim region. Once the bubble economy in Japan burst in the late 1980s the esteem for the culture and language also declined. I experienced it first hand and was dissuaded from entering a certificate program at New York Univ. for Japanese and Korean. My jobs at Japanese financial firms had ended because of the bursting of their bubble economy. Such moves as the one you post about are usually determined to some degree by business interests. It’s true that Japan is still a trading partner but their economy has been so stagnant and there doesn’t seem to be much growth or desire on the part of the Western businesses to go there. I’ve always thought that what’s taught at schools is offered not always because it has a cultural benefit but is something to condition you or prepare you to conform to the needs of the current culture and business expectations.

    • Japan is the second biggest investor in the UK! It invests more here than China. Yet Mandarin is booming here while Japanese is under threat. So I would say there are definite career advantages to a bit of Japanese under your belt, as well as the cultural benefits you mentioned.

  2. EmilyAnn Frances

    Location has a lot to do with it, as you mention. Here in New York it’s more Spanish and Cantonese as a good language to have in terms of a job.

  3. EmilyAnn Frances

    I love our exchanges. You’re very informative and I appreciate the space you give for my pov.

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