English Cultural & Content Seminar:Talking
About Contemporary Japan in English

Teacher: Mr Furmanovsky Class: 4
Period: Wed 2 Room: B103
E-mail: michael@world.ryukoku.ac.jp
(office) kyoin76@yahoo.com
Homepage: www.world.ryukoku.ac.jp/~michael/index.html


12 Websites for Understanding Contemporary Japan
HP Name/Wed Site
HP Address or URL
1 Keiko Schneider's Bookmarks www.sabotenweb.com/bookmarks
2 Japan Information Network www.jinjapan.org
3 Japan 2001 (UK) www.japan2001.org.uk/links.html
4 Japan Today www.japantoday.com/e
5 Iijanai www.iijanai.com
6 Japan Globe (Business) www.japanglobe.com
7 Japan Inc (Buiness) www.japaninc.net
8 Pop Culture http://uk.geocities.com/rifem21
9 Foreign Students in Japan www.aisf.or.jp/raccoon/student4.htm
10 Commercials www.japander.com/japander/index.htm
11 Women's Issues www.wom-jp.org/e/JWOMEN/index.html
12 Anime and Manga http://otakuworld.com


Welcome back to University. I hope you had a good holiday. As you know in the third year your English classes are a little different from the first two years. English Cultural Seminar is a 1-semester class which you chose based on your interests.

What will we learn in this class? It is very likely that when you talk to a native or non-native speaker of English in the future, you will be asked to explain some things about your own culture. In this class we will be learning and thinking about the most effective way to Ňtalk about Japan in English.

What will we do in this class? We will use the Internet and our own general knowledge to get information in English about various aspects of Japanese traditional and contemporary culture and lifestyles. We will use this information to create group role-plays in which one or two of you of you plays the part (or role) of a Japanese student and one (or two) of you plays the role of a foreign visitor or student in Japan.

What kind of topics will be focus on? The goal of this class is to help you become a person who knows how to explain aspects of his or her culture or lifestyle to people from other countries (in English). In the future you might have to explain some traditional Japanese things such as osechi ryori or obon, but you might also have to explain who Mini Moni are or why Dance Dance Revolution or Final Fantasy are popular. Of course language ability and knowledge are important, but what is more important is knowing HOW to explain things simply and clearly.

What is the homework and how will be graded? Attendance is very important because we will be working in groups and there are only 13 classes. Your grade will be based on attendance, two group role plays and one 2 page report on some aspect of Japanese contemporary culture. If you are absent more than 3 times, you will not be able to pass this class. (Two lates=1 absence)

What is the main goal of this class? By the end of this class I hope you will understand the meaning of the word "stereotype" and the problems involved in making generalizations about behavior or ways of thinking. You should be able to identify generalizations that you encounter in the mass media and elsewhere. You will never say "We Japanese" or "Ware ware nihonjin."


English Culture & Content Seminar Calendar

April 14 (1) Introduction to the class and teacher. Self-introductions. Introduce Cultural Stereotypes vs. Individual behavior Homework: Read this hand out.
April 21 (2) Brainstorming about when we use English to talk about Japan. What are the most likely topics of conversation in English relating to Japan? Using the Japan-related web sites. Computer skills review. Homework. Research one popular culture expression that is unique to Japan and we ready to talk about it for 5 minutes.
April 28 (3): Make Role Play groups. Watch video on Video Game industry. Practice making a short role play relating to video games. Homework:
May 12 (4) Research your topic and work on role plays. Homework: Prepare for your role play presentation.
May 19 *** (5) Role Play 1 Presentations. Homework: Work on your report.
May 26 (6: Meet with teacher to discuss your report topic & work in computer room on your short report.
June 2 (7) Watch documentary-British family in Japan Homework: Work on report
June 9 (8) Work on your report in class Homework: Finish on your report
June 16*** (9) Report and individual presentation due Homework: None
June 23 (10): Make new groups for second Role play activity Homework:
June 30 (11). Work on role plays Homework: Prepare for Role Play 2
July 7 *** (12) Role Play 2 Presentations Day 1 (Groups 1-4)
July 14*** (13) Role Play 2 Presentation Day 2 (Groups 5-8)


List of Possible Topics and Themes for Role Plays

1. University life, both academic and social;
2. Fast Food and Japanized western food;
3. The music and mass entertainment industries-teen or idol groups, fan behavior, etc;
4. TV programs and commercials with a uniquely Japanese aspect;
5. Comics, Video Games and Game Centers;
6. Night time entertainment such as karaoke, dance clubs,
7. Team sports and fan behavior, especially among soccer and baseball followers;
8. Fashion trends, especially relating to clothes and hair color etc;
9. New Technology such as mobile phones and related behavior
10. Shopping patterns and the popularity of brands;
11. Street culture-freeters, hip hop dancers, etc;
12. Gender specific behavior and tastes, especially in food and night entertainment;
13. Part-time jobs and job-hunting experiences.

Examples of Realistic Situations for Role-plays

Talking to a foreign student in a university cafeteria;
Guiding a foreign student or homestay visitor around some tourist sites
Taking a foreign student or homestay visitor to a place frequented by young people, e.g., a game center, restaurant, nightclub, karaoke box, sports game, party, club or circle event;
Talking around the dinner table with a student who is doing a homestay at your house;
Talking with a foreign student at a university event or club or circle activity;
Making polite conversation with a foreign student at a party and
Giving some advice to a student who asks a question about every day Japanese life.


Model Role Play

Hiroshi: So what games would you like to play at the gaysen?
Gary: Gaysen? Is that some kind of new Japanese hotspring?
Hiroshi: Ha ha. No itŐs a short name for game center. You know ŇGame Center.
Gary: Game Center. Oh now I get it! ThatŐs funny. There seem to be a lot of shortened names in Japanese. Why is that?
Hiroshi: HmmÉ I am not sure. Maybe it's because when we have long names in kanji, we shorten them by using the first syllable. Like for example this university is Ryudai which is short for Ryukoku Daigaku. But some older people don't like the way young people keep changing the language.
Gary: I see. Actually, I guess we do that in Australia too. I go to Monash University and we call it Mon U....Hiroshi, I can't believe how big this game center is.
Hiroshi: Yes this is one of the biggest. I guess it is because there are two universities near here. So lots of university students come here after classes.
Gary: I see. In Australia, game centers are probably more popular with high school students than university students.
Hiroshi: High school students in Japan often go to Game Centers too, but at this time of the day, many are in cram schools. On Saturday you will see them here. Maybe they want to escape their hard studies. I know I did when I was in high school.
Gary: I seeÉ OK then, which game do you recommend we play? I want to play something that definitely isnŐt in Australia.
Hiroshi: How about Taiko no Tatsujin?
Gary: WhatŐs that? I thought a taiko was a kind of big drum.
Hiroshi: Yes, that's right. Maybe you have seen it on TV in Australia. I know itaiko drumming groups are popular all over the world now. Anyway itŐs a game where two people compete to see who can play the taiko drum to various songs by singers or groups such as Morning Musume and Chemistry. Do you know them?
Gary: Yes I saw Morning Musume on TV yesterday. ItŐs a group of about 10 teenage girls who jump around the stage while singing right?
Hiroshi: Yes, that's them. You know a lot about Japanese pop!. They are very popular now though maybe not among college age students..OK, we can play now. I recommend that we play the drums to "Pieces of a Dream" by Chemistry.
Gary: Is that the English translation of their song?
Hiroshi: No, actually in Japan, many pop groups have an English title for their song even if it is sung in Japanese. I guess they think it's cool or maybe English words look good on the CD cover. Do you want to try it?
Gary: Yes, definitely. It sounds like fun
Hiroshi: OK, lets begin. Have you ever seen a taiko performance before?
Gary: Only on TV. It was some kind of festival. When are taiko drums usually played?
Hiroshi: Hmm that's a good question, and in fact most Japanese donŐt know this. I only know this because I learned it in one of my classes. I was surprised because my teacher told us that taiko group performance is not really traditional at all. Taiko groups first began after World War 2. Now the best taiko festival is in Narita near Tokyo....