English rakugo used as a tool for English language instruction in Japanese schools

According to The Yomiuri Shimbun an increasing number of English teachers and instructors are using English rakugo storytelling as an effective and entertaining method for English language acquisition for children.  Rakugo with its use of comical facial and exaggerated gestures, is seen as an effective means of helping  Japanese children overcome their shyness and inhibitions in expressing themselves in English.

ECC Artist College Umeda branch in Kita Ward, Osaka, is among one of the very few English schools offer English rakugo lessons.

In February, Yoko Ikegame and about 10 other English instructors founded an association that introduces English rakugo to children.  Ikegame and other instructors are using English rakugo in English classes at schools such as Seido Primary School in Ashiya, and Higashiyamadai Primary School in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture.  She brushes up her own skills at Eigo Rakugo Dojo Nigiwaido in Chuo Ward, Osaka. 

The origins of English rakugo: it was started over 20 years ago by Katsura Shijaku (1939-1999), an Osaka-based popular rakugo storyteller, more than 20 years ago. The torch for English rakugo according to the news article has passed to Katsura Kaishi, Katsura Asakichi and several other storytellers.

Reference: English rakugo helps kids learn, laugh The Yomiuri Shimbun (Mar. 23, 2009)

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