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Humanising Language Teaching
Year 3; Issue 5; September 2001

An Old Exercise

A Game of Parts from 10th Century AD Japan

Guessing covered parts of the characters in poem was a pastime among court ladies in 10th century AD Japan. The game is mentioned in The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon and the text below is taken from the same book, P210 Penguin, 1967.

Beginner to intermediate
The passage here is for intermediates

Choose a short text and decide which syllables and letters you are going to blank out.
You could put this on an OHP transparency or use the board.
You could use the text given below ( intermediate)

This technique can be used with part of the reading passage in the text book unit you are currently doing. You can also use it for previewing units ahead or revising units already covered.

In class

  1. Pre-teach any words the students may not know.

  2. Put up your transparency or write up the text you have chosen on the board with the gaps you have decided on :
      Things that f…..from the sky

    Snow. Hail. I do not ..ke sleet, but when it is mi….with pure ……ite snow it is very …..tty.

    Snow looks won………..when it has ..llen on a roof of cypress bark

    When snow … . ins to melt a ….tle, or when …ly a small am……..has fallen, it ……ters into all the cracks ….ween the tiles, so that the ….of is black in some places , pure …..ite in others - most at…c….ve.

    I like drizz….and hail …en they come …wn on a shingle roof. I also like ….ost on a shingle roof or in a ….rden.

  3. Ask students to come up freely and add in the syllables and letters they reckon are missing.

  4. Help the class with any gaps they have not yet filled.
  1. Ask a student to choose a song or other text they like and come to class with a gapped version to put up on the board or OHP. The exercise is done the same way but the power of text choice is in student hands.
  2. Work from an auditory gapped text in tape. The students now exercise their ears not their eyes.

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