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LESSON FORTY-EIGHT HERE!
In today’s lesson, entitled The Choshu Five, you will listen to a passage about five young Japanese men who, during Japan’s Edo period, risked everything to come to London and learn about Western ways. Listen carefully to the passage and then answer the questions that follow. It’s always a good idea to take notes as you listen, but remember: don’t let your note-taking distract you from your listening.
The Choshu Five
Listen and Learn
Lesson Forty-Eight PASSAGE ONLY track:
Walk anywhere around Tokyo these days and you’ll find a vibrant, culturally diverse city. You’ll encounter people and hear languages and smell tantalizing aromas from all over the globe. You’ll come across ethnic restaurants and specialty shops of all kinds that cater to both foreign residents and today’s increasingly “international” Japanese. Japan may not yet be a true “melting pot” society like the U.S. and the U.K., but it is fast becoming one of the world’s most multicultural countries.
This is a fairly recent development, however. During most of the Edo period (1603 to 1867), Japan was a feudal society, shut off from the rest of the world. Reading foreign literature was a crime and traveling abroad was an offense punishable by death. Contact with outsiders was limited to a handful of foreign merchants. But despite these stringent conditions, news of events from abroad did manage to sneak in. In the early 1800s, some of Japan’s more liberal, better-educated leaders got wind of the Industrial Revolution that was sweeping across Europe. They realized that if Japan didn’t open up and modernize, it would lag far behind the rest of the world in technology, economics, and governance. Japan would put itself at risk of being exploited by other more powerful nations, as had happened to China.
In 1863, five young noblemen of the powerful Choshu clan had an idea. Though they spoke little or no English and knew little of western ways, they planned to secretly go abroad and learn as much as they could. Then, after a few short years, they would return home and use their new knowledge to transform Japanese society. They approached William Keswick of the British trading firm Jardine, Matheson & Company with their plan. Keswick made secret arrangements to smuggle the five men, disguised as British sailors, out of Japan aboard one of his company’s ships. After a long, perilous journey, they arrived at their destination—London, England.
Hugh Matheson, the London head of the firm, pulled some strings to enroll the Choshu Five in University College London (UCL), the only university in Britain at the time that accepted applicants regardless of race, religion, or political background. The five Japanese men were put in the care of the head of UCL’s chemistry department, Alexander Williamson. Williamson registered them in his course in analytical chemistry and also arranged visits to iron foundries, mines, railway companies, farms, and shipbuilding facilities. Williamson’s wife Catherine was enlisted to teach them English and help them to adapt to British society. And they did adapt, and were able to achieve everything they had set out to do.
The Choshu Five returned to Japan soon after the post-Edo, Meiji period had begun. They quickly formed the core of the new Japanese government. In 1885, Hirobumi Ito became Japan’s first Prime Minister and author of its first constitution. Kaoru Inoue was appointed Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. Masaru Inoue headed the Japanese Board of Railways. Kinsuke Endo organized the Japanese Mint Bureau. And Yozo Yamao served as Secretary of State in Japan’s Ministry of Industry. Together, these five remarkable young men engineered Japan’s almost overnight transformation from a backward, insular state to a modern society and emerging world power. These committed, brave, exceptionally forward-looking men kept Japan free of foreign domination.
LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS
Listen to Listen and Learn: Lesson Forty-Eight LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS track:
Today’s listening comprehension questions will be TRUE-FALSE or MULTIPLE CHOICE and based on FACTUAL CONTENT and LOGICAL INFERENCE. Listen to each question carefully and mark your answer. Feel free to pause the recording if you need a moment or two to think about the question.
1. Decide if this statement is true or false.
Japan is already a true “melting pot” society like the U.S. and the U.K.
2. Choose the answer that best completes this sentence.
During most of the Edo period, which lasted from 1603 to 1867, Japan ________________________.
a) only allowed foreign diplomats from Europe into the country
b) was essentially shut off from the rest of the world
c) was already becoming a multicultural nation
d) traded openly with many European and North American merchants
3. Decide if this statement is true or false.
The Industrial Revolution swept across Europe during the early 19th century.
4. Choose the TWO best answers.
What did the more liberal, better-educated Japanese leaders think would happen to Japan if it didn’t open up and modernize?
a) They believed that Japan would be swallowed up by China.
b) They admitted that Japan was so far behind the western nations that it would be impossible to catch up.
c) They realized that Japan would lag far behind the rest of the world in technology, economics, and governance.
d) They believed that Japan would put itself at risk of being exploited by other more powerful nations.
5. Choose the best answer.
In which year did the Choshu Five leave Japan?
6. Decide if this statement is true or false.
The Choshu Five planned to go abroad and learn as much as they could in order to return to Japan and overthrow the Edo government.
7. Choose the answer that best completes this sentence.
William Keswick made arrangements __________________________.
a) to let the five men work as sailors aboard one of his company’s ships so that they could pay for their trip to England
b) with the Edo government to allow the five men to travel to England to attend university
c) to smuggle the five men disguised as British sailors out of Japan aboard one of his company’s ships
d) with the leaders of the powerful Choshu clan to return the men to their native land at once
8. Decide if this statement is true or false.
Today, the University College London is still the only university in Britain that accepts applicants regardless of race, religion, or political background
9. Choose the best answer.
Which of these is NOT mentioned as something the Choshu Five did with their time while they lived in England?
a) They studied English and learned how to adapt to British society.
b) They enrolled in university and studied analytical chemistry at the UCL.
c) They visited iron foundries, railway companies, mines, farms, and shipbuilding facilities.
d) They took many walking tours of London so as to learn all they could about it.
10. Choose the FALSE statement.
a) Hirobumi Ito was the author of Japan’s first constitution.
b) In 1885, Hirobumi Ito became Japan’s first Prime Minister.
c) In 1885, Masaru Inoue became Japan’s first foreign secretary.
d) Kinsuke Endo organized the Japanese Mint Bureau.
LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS and ANSWERS HERE!
You may also download the lesson in PDF format to keep for your reference.
KA Wordcast: Listen and Learn! LESSON FORTY-EIGHT
KEY VOCABULARY WORDS
Be sure to listen to the Key Vocabulary bonus track. This will help you improve your understanding of the passage itself and give your vocabulary a big boost.
But despite these STRINGENT conditions, news of events from abroad did manage to sneak in.
STRINGENT means very strict and is most often used to describe rules, regulations, and requirements that need to be obeyed. Rigid, exacting, demanding, inflexible, and draconian are some synonyms that can be used in place of STRINGENT.
Though Miho did very well as an undergraduate, she wasn’t able to meet the STRINGENT admission requirements for Harvard Law School.
Thanks to the STRINGENT diet her doctor recommended, my mom was able to control her blood pressure and diabetes.
Commercial airplanes must pass STRINGENT safety tests before they are allowed off the ground.
California has the most STRINGENT gun laws in the United States. Its constitution has no provision guaranteeing citizens the right to bear arms.
Japan would put itself at risk of being EXPLOITED by other more powerful nations, as had happened to China.
EXPLOIT is a verb that is usually used disapprovingly to mean to treat a person, situation, or country as an opportunity to gain some advantage for oneself. It can also mean to treat people unfairly by overworking or underpaying them. Take (ill, unfair) advantage of is the nearest synonym. Other words and phrases that can be used in place of EXPLOIT include impose on, prey on, abuse, manipulate, and withhold rights from.
Under imperialism, colonized people were brutally EXPLOITED and impoverished.
The revolutionary socialist Karl Marx abhorred the fact that the mass of workers are EXPLOITED by a privileged minority who control all the wealth and means of production.
While some people believe that selling Girl Scout Cookies EXPLOITS young girls, others believe that it teaches youngsters entrepreneurship.
Women are still EXPLOITED in the workplace even in the most developed countries.
EXPLOIT also has a more positive connotation. It means to make (good) use of a particular resource in order to benefit from it. Utilize, put to use, capitalize on, use to good advantage, and cash in on are some words and phrases you can use in place of EXPLOIT.
Our school has a wonderful faculty whose talents and experience we need to EXPLOIT more fully and effectively.
Wind turbines are designed to EXPLOIT the natural wind energy that exists in a particular location.
Despite its enormous potential for use in sub-Saharan Africa, solar energy has barely been EXPLOITED.
Critics have accused the presidential candidate of EXPLOITING the media to get them to give him more coverage than his rivals.
As a noun, EXPLOIT refers to a bold or daring feat. Note that for this usage, EXPLOIT is often used in the plural form—EXPLOITS. Feat, deed, act, accomplishment, escapade, adventure, and undertaking are some synonyms.
My son came home from summer camp just dying to tell me about all his amazing EXPLOITS.
One of the magician’s better-known EXPLOITS was levitating on an iconic London red bus as it travelled across Westminster Bridge.
Larry and his friends never tire of reliving their EXPLOITS backpacking through the Himalayas.
I have never been able to understand why so many people are so interested in the absurd EXPLOITS of reality TV celebrities.
After a long, PERILOUS journey, they arrived at their destination—London, England.
PERILOUS is an adjective that means full of risk. Synonyms include dangerous, hazardous, treacherous, and unsafe.
When the baby leatherback turtles leave their nests, they must make a PERILOUS dash to the sea, with birds of prey swooping down on them all the way
Jonathan watched his mom gingerly walking up the PERILOUS, ice-covered path, knowing that he was going to get a scolding for not clearing it as he’d promised.
The floodwaters were PERILOUS to cross, but the migrating herd of wildebeest had to make the crossing to reach the fertile savannah on the other side.
PERILOUS is based on the noun PERIL, which means serious and immediate danger. Synonyms include jeopardy, hazard, and risk.
Fully aware of the PERILS involved in climbing the Alaskan peak at this time of year, the Japanese mountaineers set out anyway, with disastrous results.
Jim was driving like a lunatic and putting both our lives in PERIL, so when we stopped for gas, I jumped out of the car and waved down a taxi.
A commonly used related phrase is AT YOUR (OWN) PERIL.
If you insist on swimming here with that treacherous undertow and no lifeguard on duty, you do so AT YOUR OWN PERIL.
There is a useful related verb that you should know, IMPERIL. It means to expose to danger or put at risk.
Hundreds of plant and animals species along the Amazon River are being IMPERILED by the destruction of their natural habitats through deforestation.
The plant manager was fired when it was discovered that he had recklessly IMPERILED several workers’ lives by ordering them to work in unsafe conditions.
Williamson’s wife Catherine was ENLISTED to teach them English and help them to adapt to British society.
ENLIST is a verb that means to get someone to help you or to join you in doing something. Recruit and engage are some synonyms.
If you want to get your teenager excited about a family activity, try ENLISTING him or her in the planning.
Casey wants to ENLIST students from other schools to take part in her charity fund-raiser for Syrian refugees.
With three players down with the flu, the Falcons had to ENLIST players from another team for this weekend’s match.
How many times have I told my dad that rather than trying to fix things around the house himself, he should ENLIST a professional to make sure the job gets done right?
Bertie Saunderson urged her supporters to ENLIST all their friends to help out in her campaign for school president.
ENLIST also means to join the military.
I wouldn’t ENLIST in the military if they paid me a billion dollars to do it.
Oscar’s older brother, David, plans to ENLIST in the Navy when he graduates from high school.
After twenty years in the Air Force, Robbie was eligible for retirement, but he re-ENLISTED for an additional five years.
Norway, Tunisia, and Cuba are three of the six countries worldwide that ENLIST women for mandatory military service.
Kaoru Inoue was APPOINTED Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
APPOINT means to choose someone for a job or position of responsibility. Select, elect, name, nominate, commission, and designate are some useful synonyms. The noun APPOINTMENT refers to the act of choosing a person for a job or position of authority.
If Coach Harris doesn’t take the team into the finals this year, we will have to APPOINT a new football coach for next season.
The school has all of next term to APPOINT a new teacher to take over Mr. Duncan’s classes after he retires.
“I’m going out of town for a conference for a few days,” Susan said before leaving the office, “so I’m APPOINTING Max to be in charge during my absence.”
Some Republican members of Congress are making it difficult for President Obama to APPOINT a new justice for the U.S. Supreme Court.
Professor Lopez has held an APPOINTMENT at the University of Minnesota’s Biology Department for the past ten years.
Prior to her APPOINTMENT as head pharmacist at our hospital, Lisa spent seven years working in a chemistry lab at a pharmaceutical company.
APPOINT also means to arrange or decide on a time or place for a specific activity. Specify, determine, set, establish, and decide on are some near equivalents. An APPOINTMENT is a formal arrangement to meet or visit someone at a specific time and place.
At the end of our last PTA meeting, we APPOINTED a day early in April to meet again.
Sheila made an APPOINTMENT with her high school guidance counselor to discuss her university options.
Ethan handed a note to his teacher explaining that he was going to be late for school the next day because he had a dentist APPOINTMENT in the morning.
For more information or to make an APPOINTMENT to visit our school, please call the main office between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Together, these five remarkable young men sparked Japan’s almost overnight transformation from a backward, INSULAR state to a modern society and emerging world power.
INSULAR is an adjective that means lacking contact with other people. Isolated, closed or cut (off), segregated, and detached are some synonyms.
The reclusive fiction writer valued her privacy and was content in her INSULAR lifestyle.
Some of the older members of the parish have no idea there is a world outside of their INSULAR village.
Believe it or not, there are still indigenous peoples that are completely INSULAR and cut off from the rest of the world.
INSULAR also means only interested in your own country, ideas, culture, experience, and so forth. Some useful synonyms and phrases include narrow-minded, intolerant, inflexible, limited, and myopic.
For someone who has traveled the world as much as George has, he has surprisingly INSULAR views.
Americans, especially those who live in the Bible Belt, are generally quite INSULAR, not to say racist and xenophobic.
If we could develop a less INSULAR, more global outlook, I believe it is still not too late to reverse the effects of climate change.