Canada, the Japanese, and Baseball: The Vancouver Asahi Story

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Names of Teachers: Sara Brown (+ JTEs) Class/Grade/Language Level: High School 2nd/3rd years – Low to Mid-Level

Goal: Familiarize students with the concepts of racism and racial/social issues while keeping things interesting and inspiring by using a Canadian-Japanese baseball team’s story.

Preparation: Handout 1, vocabulary cards (prepared beforehand by JTE), “Sleeping Tigers” documentary, Vancouver Asahi movie preview, power point file with text and pictures.

Class time: 50 minutes (for Part 1 only)

Notes: “Sleeping Tigers” is available online for free courtesy of the National Film Board of Canada ([1]). This lesson was created specifically for my visiting schools, where there are many boys who love baseball and hate English. As one school has to promote “Inclusive Education”, this lesson is catered to the lowest level of students. Difficult words from the text were identified by JTEs and vocabulary flashcards to introduce before class were created. The students in these classes do a lot of reading aloud during regular lessons, so the reading section was designed to build on that strength.

  • Show students a picture of the Vancouver Asahi movie poster (in theatres on December 20th, 2014) and ask if they’ve seen or heard of it as well as what they know about the story.
  • Show the movie preview so that all students can have a basic familiarity with the story.
  • Ask students if they know about Vancouver or Canada. Show a map if necessary.
  • Show clips from “Sleeping Tigers” documentary that depict Vancouver at the time of the story.
  • Inform students about the social and racial issues the Japanese immigrants faced. (NOTE: I personally make a point to relate it to examples of racism where Japan has been the aggressor so students don’t misunderstand it to be something that only happens to Japanese people by foreigners.)
  • Bring focus back to Asahi baseball team and pass out Handout 1.
  • Use vocabulary cards to familiarize students with new/difficult words. I tend to give out a small prize for students who try to answer/guess the meaning to encourage them to speak up on their own.
  • Read Handout 1 in English and Japanese using Yasukouchi method.
  • ALT reads one section of a sentence and students repeat, then the JTE says the section in Japanese and students repeat. This method is very useful for reinforcing grammatical order and the meaning of words together.

EXAMPLE SENTENCE: From 1877, many Japanese people went to Canada.

ALT: In 1877			Students: In 1877
JTE:1877年に			Students: 1877年に

ALT: many Japanese people	Students: many Japanese people
JTE: 多くの日本人が		Students: 多くの日本人が

ALT: went to Canada		Students: went to Canada
JTE: カナダに行った。		Students: カナダに行った。

  • Read aloud a second time. One student reads one sentence and the other students repeat. Sentences are numbered for easy reference.
  • Show appropriate clips from the documentary as needed to deepen students’ understanding of the story (i.e. clips of the Asahis playing “brianball”).
  • Ask students a few questions at the end to check understanding and end by questioning them as to why the Vancouver Asahis had to stop playing in 1941. This should lead to at least one student mentioning World War II. Lead into Part II of the lesson by telling them how the Asahi team became even more famous and beloved because of what they did during the war and leave them with that cliff hanger.