Using the ‘Rokunin no Tomodachi’ readers: 4. Book 1 ‘Nihon wa hajimete desu’ (continued)

Japanese01 cover lo res  copy

Hi Everyone!

Today’s post is about the remainder of the lesson sequence for Book 1.

In lesson 5 we will be setting the scene for the taste testing of Japanese snack foods and lesson 6 will be the actual taste-testing activity. I have used these two lessons as a means of getting students to reflect on their own cultural and linguistic identity and then to experience an aspect of another culture.

 LESSON 5—preparation for the taste-testing activity

 In this lesson each student will reflect on his/her cultural background by considering what part of the world their family has come from and what language(s) their forbears originally spoke. Each student will then consider the current culture of his/her family in terms of food—snack foods, typical family meals and customs observed in relation to eating. The information from individual students will then be collated to show the variety of cultural and linguistic identities represented in the class.

  1. Get the students to copy the heading ‘My Cultural Background’ into their books. Under sub-headings ‘Grandparents’, ‘Parents’ and ‘Me’, get them to write where the person was born and what languages the person spoke/speaks.  Places that students’ families have come from could be marked with pins on a map of the world, or with texta on a blank world map.  Cultural and linguistic backgrounds could be collated on the SmartBoard or butchers’ paper. Students could then list these in their notebooks under the heading ‘Cultural Backgrounds of other Students in the class’.
  2. Each student writes what s/he eats for recess at school and for afternoon tea at home.
  3. Class discussion about snack foods. These foods could also be collated on the butchers’ paper or SmartBoard.
  4. Each student describes a typical family meal in his/her family. These meals should be added to the growing list of information about the class.
  5. Class discussion about the snacks and meals. Ask the students about any meal-related customs in their family. Questions such as: ‘Does the whole family eat all meals together?’  then continue to draw out further information along those lines. ‘How is the food served?’ (Everyone helps themselves from large bowls of food or each individual is served by the person who cooked the meal, etc).
  6. Students write about 100 words under the heading ‘Food- and meal-related customs in my family’.

LESSON 6—Taste-testing activity

Worksheet 2

Choose about 6–8 different types of せんべい.  When I do this activity, I have the students sitting in groups of 4, and use small paper plates for the tasting samples. Number the plates from 1 to 6 (or 8, depending on the number of items to be tasted) and put a sufficient quantity of each type of rice cracker for 4 students to taste, on to the appropriately numbered plate. If you have easy access to other types of Japanese snack foods such as こんぶ or うめぼし, you could include them as well.

The students fill out Worksheet 2 as they taste the せんべい.

Conclude the lesson with a class discussion of the experience.

LESSON 7: Cultural research

Japanese family life 2: typical Japanese family meal

Students research a typical Japanese family meal, either breakfast or the evening meal, and present their results as a poster or PowerPoint presentation. Their research should cover the following points:

  • What dishes are served for the meal (menu for the meal)
  • Japanese names for the dishes if possible
  • What sort of plates, bowls etc. are used
  • Etiquette for eating the meal, including greetings before and after the meal
  • Recipes for the dishes that make up the meal

LESSON 8: Class activity—a Japanese meal

I always find eating works well with students of any age. Depending on the situation at your school, its geographic location and the size of your Japanese class, the way you organise the Japanese meal will vary. At one school where I taught we had a large number of native speaker students. By that I mean about 50 students across Years 7–12. The Japanese mothers were very keen to help in any way, so I asked if they would be prepared to cook with the students one Japanese dish per class in Years 7–10. They were excited to be able to do this and organised a roster. We prepared dishes such as Oknomiyaki, Yakisoba, Onigiri, Makizushi. The mothers brought all the ingredients and anything necessary for cooking the dish.  I collected money from the students to cover the cost. The mothers gave me the recipe, which I gave to the students at the cooking lesson. The Japanese mothers demonstrated each step so the students did not need to translate. Of course, this activity worked at different levels for the different students, but I found that every student gained considerably from the experience.

At other schools, where there were no native speakers, I have organised a Japanese breakfast with a class that was on Period 1or 2. The breakfast was very simple, but included ごはん、    みそしる、つけもの、and some おかず.

You might be able to organise a class lunch at a local Japanese restaurant.

Or you could get the students to plan their own typical Japanese meal and spend another lesson working out the logistics of the meal.

As long as the students get to eat some Japanese food, it is good!

That’s it for today. I hope you and your students enjoy ‘Nihon wa hajimete desu’.