Thursday, 21 January 2010

Japanese historical figures

My class today was discussing, slowly, famous people and their statues. I have been teaching in Japan long enough not to assume my charges will know all that much about the big wide world across the seas...Still, took a long time for the penny to drop on Chopin, Garibaldi, Nelson & Joan of Arc. Where were they born, who were they, why were they famous, where were their statues? etc

The Mount Rushmore Monument as seen from the v...Image via Wikipedia
Last week we had the same faltering exchange over the four US Presidents (Lincoln, Washington, Roosevelt & Jefferson) who feature on Mount Rushmore so prominently, and had some bearing on US/world history. My concern last week was rhythm & intonation, getting some bounce into sentences and not pausing after the was/were (and thereby stressing them inappropriately). I actually had them up & swinging their hips to the beat of the sentences - daft? Yes! Did it work? World of difference for one student who 'got it' 100%. (Others just proved you can't dance with your arms folded/hands in your pockets/leaning on a wall/holding a book 3 inches from your face!)

We came to the conclusion that Japan isn't the kind of place where you trip over statues on every corner - at least not of famous people. Matsumoto has an awful lot of iffy ones of semi-naked children...Anyway, as that conversation petered out I asked for their top 5 of historically important Japanese people (each made a list) and from that vote on a top three after describing them a bit. This was their final list.
  1. Ryo Sakamoto
  2. Tokugawa Ieyasu
  3. Hirofumi Ito
(Also in the running were Hirohito, Himeki, Ono Komachi, Shotoko Taishi & Tadataka Ono)

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