Rap your way through your multiplication tables

Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2008


Teacher’s music CD helps kids rap out multiplication table in English, Japanese

Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2008  Japan Times

KITAKYUSHU (Kyodo) A retired elementary school teacher from Kyushu has produced a rap music CD for children to master the multiplication table in English and Japanese.


“This has been used in classrooms and also at home in Kyushu. I hope not only Japanese students but also students within and outside Japan will enjoy the song,” said Tadashi Tomomura of the CD’s tune, “Shaboten Kukku,” which is repeated in Japanese and English.

Tomomura, 56, from Nakama, Fukuoka Prefecture, took early retirement in March because of the aftereffects of colon cancer, for which he underwent surgery in April 2006. He said he was encouraged by his students who came to visit him at the hospital before the operation.

With them in mind, he said he thought that he should devote the remainder of his life to education and came up with the idea of composing the rap CD.

Tomomura said that while students in Japanese schools spend more than 20 hours learning the multiplication table, “It is not long enough for ordinary students to master it completely. . . . I felt a new and fun way was needed so that they can concentrate on it.”

The singer starts the song in English, picking up a rap rhythm: “Two one two, two two four, two three six. . . .”

“Two one two,” for instance, refers to two multiplied by one, which gives you two. The song starts from “one one one” and ends with “nine nine 81.” The English version is a translation from the Japanese.

“This is perfect,” said Lawrence Chivers, an English teacher in Kitakyushu. Chivers said people in schools in England also learn multiplication tables by chanting to a rhythm.

“Using music makes this method even more effective. This is a surefire way for all kids, both Japanese or otherwise, to learn multiplication tables,” Chivers said.

Tomomura said money raised through sales of the CD will be used for his next project: making a picture book to educate children about the importance of the early detection of cancer.

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