The Best Kindergarten You’ve Ever Seen, by Takaharu Tezuka

Introduction

In this lesson we’re going to look at a fascinating TED talk by a Japanese architect called Takaharu Tezuka, entitled, “The best kindergarten you’ve ever seen.” The speaker’s English may be difficult for some people to understand because it is quite broken and heavily accented, but he uses fairly simple vocabulary and sentence structures. Besides, English is an international language and you should become familiar understanding people’s meaning regardless of their accent.

Vocabulary

Let’s start by looking at some useful vocabulary from the video.

barrier n. – an obstacle that blocks a path and impedes movement

kindergarten n. – a pre-school for young children, where they play and learn

concentration n. – the action of focusing one’s mental powers

oval n. – a round shape

resilient adj – tough enough to withstand damage

dosage n – an amount of something, often medicine

circumference n. – the distance around something, usually a circle

boundary n. – a limit marking the edge of a certain area

tumble v. – to trip and fall

architecture n. – the science and art of creating buildings

Vocab Test

Use the above vocabulary to fill in the blanks. (Answers are at the bottom of this page.)

  1. When I’m really tired I find _______________ is very difficult.
  2. He wanted to walk all the way along the beach but there was a _______________ in his way.
  3. After taking a ____________ she broke her wrist and had to go to hospital.
  4. The new building was built in a distinct _____________ shape.
  5. He dropped his phone but thankfully it was _____________ and didn’t break.
  6. Young children often attend a ______________ before enrolling in school.
  7. She studied ______________ for seven years at a prestigious university.
  8. When taking medicine you must pay attention to the recommended ____________.
  9. If you look clearly, you can see the ____________ at the edge of the property.
  10. She was busy teaching children to measure the ______________ of a circle.

Listening Practice

Watch the following video. It will last 09:47. Attempt to do the following activities to test your listening skills.

 

Comprehension Questions

  1. When did they design the kindergarten?
  2. Who said that there must be a handrail?
  3. Why was the roof built so low?
  4. How do children feel when it’s too quiet and enclosed?
  5. Where does he say are children “supposed” to be?
  6. What are we losing these days?
  7. How far do children run, on average, at this kindergarten?

Gap-fill

Skip ahead to 07:47 and fill in the blanks:

Now, this ______1_____ is showing the movement of a boy between 9:10 and 9:30. And the _______2______ of this building is 183 meters. So it’s not exactly small at all. And this boy did ______3_______ in the morning. But the surprise is yet to come. The children in this kindergarten do 4,000 meters on average. And these children have the ____________4____________ among many kindergartens. The principal says, “I don’t train them. We leave them on top of the roof. Just like sheep.” (Laughter) They keep running. (Laughter) My point is ________5________, don’t protect them too much, and they need to _____6______ sometimes. They need to get some injury. And that makes them learn how to live in this world. I think _______7______ is capable of changing this world, and people’s lives. And this is one of the _______8_______ the lives of children.

 True or False?

Listen to the material and answer true or false to the following statements:

  1. Kids love to run in circles.
  2. The principal didn’t want a handrail.
  3. The children are protected from the weather.
  4. The children are free to leave class if they feel like it.
  5. Children can’t sleep when it’s too noisy.
  6. Children are exposed to too much danger these days.

Speaking

Here are some sample IELTS Speaking questions, with model answers.

IELTS Speaking Part 1: Interview (4-5 minutes).

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in small village not far from here. It’s called ________. I lived there from when I was born until the day I moved out of my parents’ house and went to university.

Was that a good place to grow up?

For me it was a very pleasant place to grow up. There was an abundance of activities for young people, and it was very safe. I felt that it had a charming atmosphere which is peculiar to small villages.

What do you remember most about growing up?

I remember playing football a lot as a child. I’d go out after school every single night and play at the park with my friends. We were lucky to have so much freedom.

What kind of child were you?

I was a pretty adventurous child, and maybe a little troublesome at times, but overall I was quite well-behaved and respectful.

Did you ever get into trouble at home or school?

Of course. I think all children have a certain rebellious streak in them, and I was no different. I used to get in trouble with my parents quite often for minor infractions.

Do you miss anything about your childhood?

Yes and no. I am of course somewhat nostalgic for the past, but I’m also quite happy in my life now and I feel confident about new challenges that the future will bring.

Part 2: Individual long-turn (3-4 minutes)

Describe your best friend during childhood.

You should say:

who the person was

why you became friends

what you used to do together

and explain if you keep in touch with your friend now.

 

I’m going to talk about my friend, Paul. He grew up in the same little village as me and we went to school together from a very young age. I don’t remember exactly when we first met or first became friends, but we knew each other long before we were best friends. It was only when we went to high school, many years later, that we became close. At that point, I think, our interests sort of crossed paths and spent a lot of time together. We both loved drawing and then going outdoors to explore the countryside, and we were always doing one of those things. We do keep in touch now but certainly not as much as we used to. We speak on social media every few weeks and catch up in person every six months or so.

 

IELTS Speaking Part 3: Discussion (4-5 minutes)

Childhood friends

Do children find it easy to make friends?

I think that children generally find it easier to make friends than adults do, but of course everyone is different and some children find it hard to fit in. As a child you’re exposed to so many strangers of your age group and you have much in common with them, such as school, and so you probably make friends more frequently than as an adult.

Why do some people grow apart from their childhood friends?

As we grow up our lives will inevitably take different trajectories and the people we once knew best will end up following different paths. You might live in different places or have different interests, but it’s natural that over our lives we grew apart from old friends.

Is it better for children to have a few close friends, or many?

I think, personally, that it’s better to have a few close friends with whom you can share the important experiences in life. It seems more meaningful to have these intimate relationships than to have dozens of casual acquaintances who will come and go from your life.

 

Answers

Vocab test

  1. concentration
  2. barrier
  3. tumble
  4. oval
  5. resilient
  6. kindergarten
  7. architecture
  8. dosage
  9. boundary
  10. circumference

Comprehension

  1. 2007
  2. A government official
  3. So that you can see the children on the roof – if it was too high you could only see the ceiling
  4. Nervous
  5. Outside
  6. The chance to experience a small amount of danger
  7. 4000 meters

Gap-fill

  1. drawing
  2. circumference
  3. 6,000 meters
  4. highest athletic abilities
  5. don’t control them
  6. tumble
  7. architecture
  8. attempts to change

True or False

  1. T
  2. T
  3. F – they are exposed to the weather
  4. T
  5. F – they sleep better around noise
  6. F – they need to experience more danger

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Author: David S. Wills

David S. Wills is the author of Scientologist! William S. Burroughs and the 'Weird Cult' and the founder/editor of Beatdom literary journal. He lives and works in rural China, and loves to travel.

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