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2015 Notes from the Marking Centre – Japanese Beginners


This document has been produced for the teachers and candidates of the Stage 6 Japanese Beginners course. It contains comments on candidate responses to the 2015 Higher School Certificate examination, indicating the quality of the responses and highlighting their relative strengths and weaknesses.
This document should be read along with:

Oral examination

Characteristics of better responses:

  • language was manipulated effectively
  • candidates responded to the questions asked
  • conjunctions such as soshite, demo, dakara, sorekara were used to link ideas
  • a wide range of vocabulary and sentence structures was used
  • tense was used correctly
  • responses were clear, confident and fluent, with effective pronunciation and intonation.

Characteristics of weaker responses:

  • there were errors which included: tense, time periods and frequency, counters and dates
  • incomplete sentences were often used
  • question words such as dare, itsu, doushite/naze and doko were misunderstood
  • responses were rote-learned and not relevant to the question asked
  • imasu/arimasu, otousan/otoutosan, eigo/eiga, nihongo/nihon, jouzu/tokui and nigate/heta were confused.

Written examination

Section I – Listening

Characteristics of better responses:

  • answers were concise and not repetitive
  • opinions, consequences and conclusions were explained or justified with reference to the texts when required.

Characteristics of weaker responses:

  • responses were simply a translation of the text
  • time expressions were confused, for example, 30 minutes/3 minutes/3 and a half hours (Q2)
  • sara was translated as salad or the girl’s name Sara (Q6)
  • vocabulary and expressions such as yasai, kudamono, osoku naru, isoide and bijutsu were not understood
  • relative clauses were not well understood (Q8)
  • paatii o shimasu/paatii ni ikimasu, eigo/eiga and sakura/sakana were confused
  • tense was missed, leading to a misunderstanding of the context (Q9).

Section III – Writing in Japanese

Characteristics of better responses:

  • relevant ideas were communicated with a high degree of accuracy
  • a wide range of vocabulary, language structures and kanji was used
  • appropriate conventions of the text type were used
  • content was structured and sequenced logically.

Characteristics of weaker responses:

  • irrelevant ideas were included or a pre-learned response was used
  •  riyuu (Q17) was misunderstood and so a reason for wanting to go to Japan was not provided
  • the audience for the text was not identified correctly
  • register (polite/plain form) and tense were not used consistently
  • katakana and kanji were incorrectly used and Chinese simplified characters were sometimes used
  • appropriate text type conventions were not used
  • vocabulary from the dictionary was used in the wrong context, for example, kyoosoo, shinden, katsu, kyooyoo
  • Other common errors included:
    • particle errors, for example, using ga instead of o and ni instead of de
    • incorrect spelling of  isshoni, iroiro, ikanakereba narimasen, and Japanese city names, for example, tookyoo, kyooto
    • the kanji ima was used instead of kyoo
    • incorrect verb forms were used before some language structures for example, ta ato de, i adjective with narimasu
    • when providing reasons with kara, candidates often mixed up the reason and consequence/result.
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