Using the ‘Rokunin no Tomodachi’ readers: 2

Using the readers for a whole class activity

Following are some suggestions for using the readers with the whole class. Some activities would be more suitable for serious, more able students, whereas others would be within reach of all students—even those who are struggling with the language.

1. Students work individually, or in pairs.
Get them to go through the book from Page 5 to Page 29, studying the pictures but not worrying about the text at this stage. There will also be one or two of Liam’s diary entries in English. Ask them to write out the story-line in English, giving as much detail as possible.

2. Students work in pairs.
Get them to read through the story aloud, one page at a time, sounding out the Hiragana. Each pair should discuss the meaning of the language in each scene, drawing on prior knowledge and ‘guessing’ the meaning depicted in the illustrations. Then they should write out an English version of the story, in their own words, without consulting the Word List.

This could be quite a time-consuming task. In order to maintain the students’ interest, you could divide the story into scenes and get each pair to work on one or two scenes. In most cases each page is a separate scene, although sometimes a scene may continue over a couple of pages or there could be two scenes to a page. In this case, the more able students could be given the larger blocks of text and those, who are experiencing difficulties could be given less challenging sections.

When the pairs have all completed their sections, you could hold a class discussion—each pair reporting back, reading their scene in Japanese and then presenting their version of the scene(s) in English. You could compile a class version of the whole story, in English, on a Smart Board, if you have one, or on the whiteboard. As each pair reports, they should justify any ‘guesses’ they have had to make, based on the illustrations, Liam’s diary or the back cover blurb.

3. Give students a section of the script with the lines jumbled and have students rearrange them in the correct order (without consulting the book).

4. Dramatic interpretation of the story.
Choose some scenes from the story that lend themselves to role-play. Divide the class into an appropriate number of groups and get them to perform their role-play for the class. This performance could be mimed, or the students could learn their part in the dialogue and act out the scene, speaking the dialogue in Japanese. At the end of each scene (ie, at the end of each group’s role-play) the group should form a tableau that depicts the main idea(s) of the scene.

The teacher, or other students (depending on the size of the class and level of maturity of the students) then ask one or two key players in the scene, how they are feeling right now. Ideally these questions would be asked and answered in Japanese, but for students in their first year of learning the language this would be too difficult. The object of this exercise is to have students live the story through the eyes of one of the characters and this can be achieved equally well if the discussion is conducted in English.

5. Get the students to research any features of Japanese culture that appear in the books and present their findings as a 3D model, poster or PowerPoint presentation.

6. Get the students to research some or all of the food featured in a particular story and present their findings as a poster or as a PowerPoint presentation.

7. Students collaborate in groups to bring in samples of Japanese food, or even a meal, to share with the class.

8. Get together typical Japanese snacks/pickles such as dried fish,
かまぼこ、 たくあん、 うめぼし、 つけもの、 おせんべい and set up a taste-testing activity for the students.

These are all general suggestions. In future posts, I will suggest lesson sequences with exercises, activities and worksheets specific to each story.

I hope you find these ideas helpful.

Until next time,



Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: