Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling

Lesson 1 (April 12, 2018)

Welcome to the world of Harry Potter! My name is John R. Yamamoto-Wilson. You can call me John if you want to be friendly or Mr/Prof Wilson if you want to be formal. Some people call me Mr/Prof Yamamoto; that's OK too! Please email me when asked to or if you have any questions or difficulties.

To enjoy this course fully, you need access to the following materials:

1. The original text. You will need to have this in three forms, as a printed book, as a digital text and as an audiobook. Please buy the printed text yourself. You can download the digital text here. Here is the audiobook:


You may find other audiobook versions using Google or another search engine. Use the original text together with the audiobook for best results. Do not pause the audio until you reach the end of each chapter. After reading the chapter, write a short explanation (100-200 words) of what you have understood; don't worry about things you don't understand! Bring your summaries to class (with no name) each week. I recommend you not to use a dictionary until you have finished reading each chapter.

2. The movie. We will be watching this in class, but you can also view it here, broken down into short scenes:


3. Study guides. There are several study guides available online. You can find quite good chapter summaries and analyses in Wikibooks. Another useful site is SparkNotes, which also gives a list of characters, in case you forget who people are! There are other student guides which you can find easily enough through Google. Warning: Do not copy the summaries or other material from these websites when doing your homework! That is plagiarism and you will be penalized. Persistent offenders will fail the course. Changing a few words or copying phrases from several different sources is also plagiarism. Your written work must be your own work!

Homework for week 1: Read chapters 1 & 2, using the audiobook to help you if you need it. You can check words in the dictionary after you finish reading, but try to use a dictionary as little as possible. Write a short explanation of what you have understood (by hand or typed) and bring it to the class on Thursday with   I recommend a thythm of reading/listening for about 10-15 minutes, then writing about what you understood for 5-10 minutes. Try to do this every day!

Lesson 2 (April 19, 2018)

(Sorry to be slow posting this!) First students reviewed each other's homework, then we watched the video version of the first two chapters and did the split watching exercise for the part of the video corresponding to chapters 3 & 4. Finally, we watched that part of the video together (we didn't have time to watch the part corresponding to chapter 4).

Homework for week 2: Read chapters 3 & 4, using the same method as last week. Again, write an account of what you understood and bring it to the next class with no name on it.

Lesson 3 (April 26, 2018)

I returned students' homework and we looked at the difference between "a" and "the".  Remember, these two words mean something different! When we say "a book", for example, it could be any boy ("aru hon"). We usually use it the first time we mention something. But when we say "the book" we mean one particular book ("ano hon" or "sono hon").

Then we watched the part of the video corresponding to chapter 4 and students reviewed this week's homework. After that we watched the video version of chapter 5 as a split viewing exercise and all together as a class, finally, then we watched chapter 6  as a split viewing exercise.

Homework for week 3: Read chapters 5 and 6. This time, instead of writing a commentary, compile 20 quiz questions about the first 6 chapters to challenge other members of the class with. Keep a record of the question, the answer and the page on which the answer is to be found, and bring it to class on May 10. There is no class on May 3 (national holiday).

Have a good Golden Week!

Lesson 4 (May 10, 2018)

This week's grammar point was the "-s" on third-person verbs ("he likes", not "he like") and nouns ("two boys", not "two boy"). As I said in class, there are two kinds of mistakes - the ones you know if you think about it and the ones you just don't know. I think everyone knows about "-s", so the aim now is to check for that mistake before handing your work in!

Then we had a class quiz on chapters 1-6. This was good - lots of good questions, lots of right answers and fairly fast-paced.

Finally we watched the section of the video corresponding to chapter 6 in the book.

Homework for week 4: No extra reading is necessary this week! Use this time to catch up and make sure you are really comfortable with chapters 1-6 before we carry on and read about what happens to Harry at Hogwarts School.

Email me and tell me what it's like for you reading the book. Do you use the audiobook? Do you read it in Japanese as well as English? Do you use study guides, like SparkNotes? Tell me your strategies for reading Rowling's work and let me know if you feel you are making progress. Is it getting easier to understand the story? Are your English abilities starting to improve? Tell me what you think!





Video lessons

Computer skills

Writing skills

Speaking skills

Study skills


Global Issues

Web links

Further Reading

Model essays


Site map