Lost Property lesson plan

Preliminary information

Time: 70 minutes??

Level: Advanced

Lower levels could use the cut-up dialogue & the roleplay at the end. If the text is too difficult you could orally summarise it, giving some interesting teacher talk & get a discussion going along the lines of the points mentioned in stage 1.

To give extensive & intensive reading practice
Language focus to suit
To give freer speaking practice

That the stds will be interested in the content of the text.
That the language in the text should not be challenging.

Anticipated Problems and Solutions:
It's quite a long article so you might want to spend time on the analysis afterwards.

The article from the international Herald Tribune
Objects for the roleplay



Stage 1 - Intro to the theme of lost property
10 mins tch<>stds
1. Elicit from the stds if they have recently lost anything. Are they going to attempt to get it back? Where might they go for this? How successful do they think they will be? Heard of any unusual stories about this?
Could put these questions on the board - pairwork >> class feedback.
2. Give the stds the article headline:
Misplaced a wad of cash? In Japan, not to worry - ask them to predict the content of the article. Write up some of their ideas on the board.

Stage 2 - Reading - to the text
25 mins tch<>stds, std<>std, tch<>stds
1. Using their previous predictions, stds look very quickly to see if any were right. 2 mins max.
2. stds compare ideas >> class feedback.
3. More detailed comprehension - individual work - find answers to the following:

1. List the objects lost nowadays in the article along with any how many were found.

2. List the objects that people used to lose.

3. What reasons are given for the honesty of the Japanese people?

4. Name the comparisons made with other places in the world.

4. Stds compare answers.
5. Class feedback - ask for justification....Also getting the stds to respond to the text, elicit: Which bits did they find surprising, unusual? Would such a situation be possible in their country? Why not?

Stage 3 - Language focus
25 mins tch<>stds, std<>std, tch<>stds
The text might well lend itself to a brief look at reported speech - why is the writer using direct speech in the few instances that he does. Possibly the lexical field of losing things might be useful. There are also the discourse markers to pick up on.

Stage 4- Follow up work - roleplays - to the objects
25 mins tch<>stds, std<>std, tch<>stds
1. Give out the following dialogue, cut up into sections, & stds order together.

Excuse me, I wonder if you could help me?


Yes, what can I do for you.


Well, I've lost a raincoat. I left it on the bus the other day.


Which day was this?


Thursday, at around five o'clock in the afternoon.


And which bus were you on?


The number 47, going from Market Street to the Town Square.


OK, let me have a look....oh, what was the raincoat like?


It was brown, fairly normal, size 10.


OK, I won't be a minute.


Now, these are what I've found. Is one of them yours?


Well,these two look like it. Could I see them?


Here you are.


Yes, I think it's this one. Yes, it's a size 10 & it's got some of my rubbish in the pockets.


Good. Could you sign here then.


Of course.


Thank you.


Thanks a lot Bye.



2. When completed, get the stds to think how the conversation could be made more sophisticated & natural - give ideas, expanding on any of the language areas you think might be useful for this particular group.
3. Class feedback.
4. Roleplays - lost property officer & client. Using the objects, set up a roleplay with have the class having lost things - give the object cut out of the page & the officer has the page of all the objects. The client describes & the officer identifies.

An alternative would be to refer to the section where one official wonders what happened to the owners, & give several objects from the article for the stds to invent stories & extensions.

From the International Herald Tribune


Misplaced a wad of cash? In Japan, not to worry

Norimitsu Onishi NYT
Friday, January 9, 2004

TOKYO Anywhere else, perhaps, a shiny cellphone left behind on the back seat of a taxi, a nondescript umbrella left leaning against a subway door, a wad of cash dropped on a sidewalk, would be lost forever, the owners resigned to the vicissitudes of big-city life.

But here in Tokyo, with 8 million people in the city and 33 million in the metropolitan area, these items and thousands more would probably find their way to the Tokyo Police Department's lost-and-found center. In a four-story warehouse, hundreds of thousands of lost objects are meticulously cataloged according to the date and location of discovery, and the information put in a database.

Smaller lost-and-found centers exist all over Japan, based on a 1,300-year-old system that long preceded Japan's unification as a nation and its urbanization. More recently, it has apparently survived an economic slump that has contributed to a general rise in crime.

Consider that in 2002 people found and brought to the Tokyo center $23 million in cash, 72 percent of which was returned to the owners, once they had convinced the police that it was theirs. About 19 percent of it went to the finders after no one claimed the money for half a year.

Hitomi Sasaki, 24, sporting a suntan and a pierced nose, found $250 in a tray under a plant outside the restaurant where she works. "I always hand in something I find, like purses," said Sasaki, who had come to claim the money after waiting half a year. "I imagine that a person might be in trouble, losing money or a purse.

"I used to live in Chicago, so I can tell you how wonderful this is. Inside the center, I saw a woman come to pick up an umbrella today. Only for an umbrella. It's something almost impossible to imagine in other cities in the world."

Children are also taught from early on to hand in anything they find to the police in their neighborhoods. So most of the 200 to 300 people who come to the center every day take the system for granted, as did Tatsuya Kozu, 27, who retrieved his leather business card case the other day. "I'm glad," he said. "I just dropped by here to pick it up, since my office is nearby."

On a recent morning, shelves were heaving under bags containing lost items that spoke of the rhythms of commuting life: keys, glasses, wallets, cellphones, bags. A small bicycle helmet with "Suzuki" on it and a toy horse testified perhaps to a child's fickleness. Skis and golf bags attested perhaps less to misplacement than to an abandoned hobby; unclaimed wedding bands perhaps bespoke the end of something larger.

Other objects - wheelchairs and crutches - were harder to explain, though Nobuo Hasuda, 54, and Hitoshi Shitara, 47, both veteran officials of the lost-and-found system, had well-rehearsed lines.

"I wonder what happened to the owners," Shitara said.

Hasuda said, with a smile, "If they didn't need them anymore because they got better, it's a good thing."

One floor was a sea of umbrellas, which have the distinction of being the most commonly lost item - 330,000 in 2002, or 3,200 for every good rainfall - and, at a rate of 0.3 percent, the least reclaimed.

The low rate is an indication of how rapidly Japan has grown rich in the span of a few generations. "In the past," Shitara said, "one person barely had one umbrella, or a family had to share one. So your father scolded you if you lost an umbrella."

Everything changes. Hasuda remembered that at a local lost-and-found center decades ago people brought in cabbages, radishes, oranges and other vegetables and fruit they had found.

Because the products would spoil, the police sold them at a bargain to the finders. Nowadays, fearing contamination, the authorities immediately dispose of any food.

The item with the highest return rate - 75 percent - is the cellphone, which has flooded the center in the last three years. Owners typically call their own phones, or the center traces the owners through their subscription and sends a notification postcard.

The lost-and-found property system dates to a code written in the year 718, according to Hideo Fukunaga, a former police official who wrote a book on the subject, "Notes on the Law on Lost Property."

Back then, lost goods, animals and, mysteriously, servants had to be handed over to a government official within five days of being found. After a year, the government took over the belongings, though the owner could still reclaim them. The code stipulated that people had no right to keep lumber found adrift in a flood.

In the 18th century, finders were given more rights and were rewarded with a certain value of the found property. Finders who did not hand in objects were severely punished. According to Fukunaga's book, in 1733 two officials who kept a parcel of clothing were led around town and executed.

A new law was created in the late 19th century and then reformed, most recently in 1958. Currently, a finder must hand in an object to the authorities within seven days, or lose the right to a reward or ownership. In the case of lost money, if the original owner is found, the finder has the right to claim 5 percent to 20 percent of the sum, though usually it is 10 percent.

If the original owner is not found after half a year, the finder can claim the object or money. But most finders do not bother making any claims, and the objects and proceeds usually end up going to the Tokyo government. These days, the authorities are thinking of ways to update the system by creating an Internet listing of the items at all lost-and-found centers nationwide, or at least those in Tokyo. The system's survival, though, will depend less on technology than on simple honesty.

Last June, Tsutomu Hirahaya, 55, a photographer, found ¥13,000, or about $120, on a counter at a betting booth. He handed over the money to an employee and left his name and address. A few weeks ago, he received a postcard from the police informing him that the cash was his.

"I feel uncomfortable holding another person's money," Hirahaya said. "I think many Japanese people feel the same way and hand over something they find. I think among Japanese there's still a sense of community since ancient times."

To the original plan

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