Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling
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
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:
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!
(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.
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
Have a good Golden Week!
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.
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!
First, I gave students a print of their comments about Harry Potter and they discussed these in groups. I talked a little bit about the difficulties of learning a challenge (babies are working on learning their mother tongue even before they are born!).
Then we did the split watching exercise for the section of the video corresponding with chapter 7, followed by a check on the names of the main characters, etc.
Finally, students spent a bit of time discussing
possible topics for a class presentation. Presentations will be on some
topic connected with British culture, with the aim of providing useful
background for understanding Harry Potter. Possible topics include: The
history of witches in England, Magical creatures in English folklore,
English education and the class system. These are just examples;
many other topics are possible.
Homework for week 5: Read chapters 7 & 8. You don't need to write a summary this time! Email me and tell me (1) your strategy for learning English and (2) your idea for a PowerPoint presentation (you don't have to stick to this; you an change it later if you want to).
We began by looking (in groups) at students' strategies for learning English, followed by a short group discussion of chapters 7 and 8 of Harry Potter. Then we did the split viewing video exercise for the sections corresponding to chapters 8 and 9 in the book, before watching those sections in plenary. Finally, students formed presentation groups as follows:
Rimi - school
Hana - station
Minori - house
Koki - movie locations
Yui - castle
Yuto - town
Mana - centaur
Moka - three-headed dog
Itsuki - the history of tead
Mone - comparison with other countries
Rina - recent teatime style
Nanae - dormitory
Erimo - uniform
Akari - club activity
Maho - subjects
Erika - events
Kyohei - history of magic
Masahiro - origin of spells
Tasuku - effect of magic
Homework for week 6: Read chapters 9 & 10. Write about 300 words on the topic of "Harry Potter at Hogwarts".
Don't write in Japanese and then translate; just write directly in
English. Write as quickly as possible and don't worry about mistakes!
Bring to class next week. Finally, send me an email with about half a dozen questions about things you don't understand in Harry Potter (vocabulary, details of the plot - anything!).
See you next week!
|About the term paper
Asking why something is famous, or popular, is not usually a good way to write an academic paper. There is a Latin saying, "De gustibus non est disputandum", which means, "You can't argue about taste".
Academic writing is all about presenting a persuasive argument, but you can't persaude people to like something! People like things because they like them; you can't persuade people to like something if they don't like it.
So trying to explain why something is famous or popular is not usually a good topic.
You need something that you can research, something that is debatable, and something that shows your skill at persuading people to accept your argument.
Here are a few examples:
- You could explain why it is important that Harry is an orphan.
- Squirrel says, "There is no good and evil and evil, there is only power and those too weak to seek it." What are the moral implications of this statement, and how does Rowling show her feelings about it?
=What differences are there between the Muggle world and the wizard world? Why do you think Rowling shows these two worlds as different?
- What is the basic difference between Harry and Voldemort, and why does this matter?
- Why does Rowling seem to encourage the breaking rules?
- Is Harry Potter a bad influence on children? Why/Why not?
- Rowling seems to use stereotypes (for example, Hagrid fits the stereotype of a slow-witted person from the West Country), but at the same time she challenges stereotypes (for example, we normally think of witches as evil). You could examine her use of stereotypes and explain what you think is her purpose.
- Why does Rowling model Hogwarts on the English public school system of schools like Eton, Harrow and Rugby?