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    Hi,

    Last summer I had a fantastic opportunity to visit Japan with a charity. Since then, I have been employed on an apprenticeship scheme in web development and my interest in the language essentially waned...until now.

    I am interested in perhaps undertaking an A-level in Japanese as a mature student, and before people warn me, I understand your concerns 100%.

    I would like to say I am naturally gifted when it comes to languages, and I have quite a few friends who can help me on the Japanese side. I can even find Japanese meetup groups in my local area if absolutely vital. I find that I am more focused in terms of realising my ambitions, now that I have the relevant work experience under my belt following the end of my original A-level studies and my subsequent BTEC Level 3 course, but would just like to have a few of my concerns in regard to the A-level Japanese answered:

    1. I understand that a few of the examination boards are considering ceasing provision for some of their A-level foreign language subjects due to traditionally poor interest. Will this affect me as a mature student interested in studying A-level Japanese as a private candidate?

    2. As I am looking to study A-level Japanese as a private candidate, ideally I would like to do this on the cheap, but I understand that a key component of the subject, which is true of any other A-level language, is the oral / speaking exam, which I believe would account for 25% of the final grade. What are the rules in regards to who can deliver the oral exam? Does it have to be a qualified teacher, or would a native speaker suffice?

    3. Are there any textbooks that you can recommend?

    Thanks.
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    What is it that makes you want to take the A-level as opposed to the JLPT?

    The JLPT doesn't have oral exams, and is the only language test widely recognised by Japanese employers.

    I'm sorry I can't give advice on the A-levels per se, but I think it would be a lot easier to self study/sit for the JLPT. Even if you were looking to take it further and do a degree, universities don't require Japanese A-level for those courses, and a level or two of JLPT would be sufficient demonstration of your language learning ability.

    If you're looking for textbooks, I've used Genki I and II and found them very useful. Anki + Wanikani are also good resources for learning kanji.
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    Hi, I am looking to study comp sci, preferably at a top RG uni, and I know there's research that suggests a correlation between an aptitude for languages and an aptitude for computer science / programming, and I would like to take the opportunity anyway to study for the A-level in Japanese, so thought why not. It should also give me more to talk about in my personal statement and at interview (if I have to undergo one).

    I think, as long as I sit the exams (barring the oral / speaking) as a private candidate, I shouldn't have to pay too much in admin fees.

    And thanks for the textbook recommendations, I will try and see if I can source them through my local library.
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    Have you studied Japanese before? If not, how long do you want to do the A level in? I did Japanese A level, and it is not one of those subjects that you can just pick up and do without any prior study. It is difficult, so I would be weary of coming at it it with such a relaxed approach. Over 50% of the paper is taken up by 2 essays in Japanese (for me, I did 2 on literature) and there is also an English->Japanese translation as well as a reading comprehension.

    1. Edexcel have cancelled their plans to stop provision of the Japanese A level, so that isn't an issue.

    2. There is no oral for A level Japanese. The paper is 100% written.

    I can't really recommend any textbooks until I know what sort of level you are.
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    (Original post by Plaguedbyfoibles)
    Hi, I am looking to study comp sci, preferably at a top RG uni, and I know there's research that suggests a correlation between an aptitude for languages and an aptitude for computer science / programming, and I would like to take the opportunity anyway to study for the A-level in Japanese, so thought why not. It should also give me more to talk about in my personal statement and at interview (if I have to undergo one).
    Ahh ok. I understand where you're coming from now.

    Having said that, if I were you I'd reconsider the Japanese. If you're looking to do CompSci at a top ranked uni you need excellent grades, and the relevant subjects are complex enough as it is.

    Japanese to GCSE level from beginner/self taught might be possible, but it is very difficult. Japanese from nothing to A-level I honestly think is close to impossible and probably not worth the effort if you're just looking to broaden your impact. I get where you're coming from with the idea, but I'm pretty sure good unis would rather you do really well in related subjects.

    I haven't taken Japanese A-level personally, but the above comment (sorry can't see the name, on mobile) tells me all I need to know. Two essays requires a grasp of complex grammar which is confusing, and you would need to learn hundreds of kanji, which takes time and a lot of practice.

    I don't know your level at the moment, and I don't know your personal abilities. However, I would consider it impossible (even with lots of work/talent) to almost anyone. My advice would be to concentrate your efforts on Maths, Physics, etc

    You can always mention Japanese as a hobby, and that would be impressive enough as it is I think.
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    If you definitely want to do the A Level and not the JLPT, then I suggest sitting GCSE Japanese first (about the equivalent to N4 JLPT).

    I intended on sitting A level Japanese a couple of years ago but found there was far too much to take in even after studying the language for a few years, especially the Kanji which is unavoidable and must be learnt for GCSE/A Level (Not all characters of course, but the majority), and ended up sitting a GCSE. The knowledge needed in A Level is quite complex and roughly the equivalent to the upper levels of JLPT (N3/2/1) as there is barely any furigana.

    1) Being a mature student shouldn't affect you sitting the exam.

    2) Speaking and Listening skills aren't assessed in A level on GCSE (full-course).

    If you are dead-set on sitting the A level, I suggest doing so through Edexcel. There is a course specification with everything you need to know; vocab, Kanji, ect. There are also past papers and mark schemes for practice. I'm not sure about pricing, but I'm sure they have the option to sit the exam as an independent learner, but the exam will be sat in a registered exam centre i.e high school, college, etc.

    But I will be completely honest, unless your Japanese is fairly advanced, and unless you have a great understanding of more advanced grammar and a lot of kanji, I'd recommend either GCSE (short course reading & writing) or JLPT N5.
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    Since I've not taken A Level Japanese I'm not sure I can give you much advice however I have taken the old JLPT 4 (now N5) and GCSE Japanese exams and passed both of them.

    I took GCSE Japanese as a private candidate and as a mature student back in 2013 but had to travel down to London to take the exam itself. I think BeePanda has already given you a lot of really good advice and I agree it's best not to jump into A Level Japanese if you don't know anything about the language to begin with.

    You say that you want to do this on the cheap but I wonder how cheap you mean? Learning without a teacher is difficult. You can go the self study route but you need to be quite motivated to begin with. I'm not trying to put you off and if you want to go straight to A level Japanese then go for it. You can find free language exchange partners online to help you with the language but they are not professional teachers. I've never tried it but somewhere like 'italki' might help more in that regard.

    In regards to books I've used Japanese for Busy People, Genki and Minna no Nihongo before and one of those books would be good place to start with.

    http://qualifications.pearson.com/en...nese-2008.html (conditions change from 2020 onwards)
    http://www.jpf.org.uk/language/exams.php
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChB...h_aPt2Q/videos (general listening practice plus some tips about the language)
 
 
 
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