LONDON – Japanese may be removed as a foreign language subject from Britain’s Advanced Levels, or A Levels, which are standard qualifications widely used by British universities to assess students’ entrance eligibility.
In response, movements have been launched in the country to keep the Japanese A Level.
In Britain, there is no unified university entrance exam system, and universities select enrollees based on A Level grades and other information. In usual cases, university hopefuls aged between 16 and 18 intensively study three to five subjects for A Level exams, whose scores determine whether the students can enter the universities of their choice.
A total of 222 people took the Japanese A Level exam this year.
Last spring, a private institution that creates and conducts A Level exams based on guidelines set by Britain’s Department for Education announced that it will not develop new exams for foreign-language subjects with few applicants, including Japanese, Polish and Urdu, in 2017 and on.
Following the effective announcement of the abolition, concerns spread that chances of learning these languages at public educational institutions may be lost if these foreign language subjects are actually removed from A Levels.
The announcement heightened a sense of crisis over Japanese-language education among Japanese people living in Britain and other related officials.
An online petition for keeping the Japanese language as an A Level subject, which was started by some Japanese-language teachers, has collected over 3,600 signatures.
On the petition website, an anonymous comment reads, “Japanese culture and its language are very unique in the world and worthy to deeply learn and understand so as to preserve them.” This was among hundreds of messages that asked to keep the Japanese A Level.
The administration of British Prime Minister David Cameron, which has a policy of promoting foreign-language education, is urging the institution that creates the exams to review the plan to abolish some foreign-language exams.
“As A Level has become a goal for students who study Japanese in Britain, I’m hoping that it (the Japanese A Level exam) will stay on,” said Tomoki Akazawa, deputy director in charge of supporting Japanese-language education at the Japan Foundation, London.