Ryota's Old Daybook: Language Arts & Basic English
  More about Empires of the Mind

Dr. Koeneke's book is an attempt to have a detailed look back at what I. A. Richards did in China, in the light of current political theories.

Richards, though he was a kind teacher and lover of peace, was a man from the Great British Empire, teaching the language of the Empire. Probably he was a true friend of Chinese, but they were not equal.

The 2nd division of the book gives an account of the 1920's Cambridge teachers interested in China. Richards' theories of language and writing, in addition, had to be tested in the society, and he saw China as a good place for starting.

The 3rd division is about Richards's experience of teaching at Tsing-Hua College in Peking from 1929 till 30 and how he came to his decision to put more weights on teaching Basic English.

The 4th is about Richards's book on writings by Mencius, a noted man of thought from very old times of China, and about getting money necessary to make a new school given by an American organization.

The 5th is about Richards and his friends working for the Peking branch of Ogden's organization in 1936.

The 6th is about the war with Japan and the school's move to the south part of China. Even after Richards went back to England, his friends kept teaching Basic and regular English when the land was under Japanese attacks, among broken buildings, till the American organization made a stop to sending money in 1949.

The 7th is about Richards coming back to Communist China from 1950 till 51, and the war in Korea. International relations were changing and China went into 30 years of having little connection with countries using English language.

The last is about old Richards back in China, seeing old friends, giving talks, his loss of healthy condition there, his quick comeback to England, and his death.

Dr. Koeneke says that Richards had some shortcomings. Richards, for example, had little interest in history, and didn't give enough attention to opinions against his work and opinions against Basic. Dr. Koeneke, however, is certain that Richards did a great amount of work, facing hard questions of the time, to make the earth a better place.


  Newsletter on Richards-Gibson System

I got a parcel this morning. It was News Bulletin 57, a 35-page newsletter from Graded Direct Method Association of Japan, the group of teachers working on Richards-Gibson system.

It has 10 writings on the system and a short record of what the group did from August 2003 to July 2004. Most of the 10 are papers in Japanese, by Japanese teaching English in Japan. They give facts and opinions based on science and experiences. One is about high-level language theory and hard to go through (^-^;).

One is my writing in Basic English, which is about my experience of how I came across the three books of English through Pictures in 1978 and what a great change they made in my way of living and learning.

Two papers are by Mr. Katagiri, and in one them he gives his kind opinion of Ryota's Daybook. It's a happy surprise. Am I a new star?

It you are interested in the group, please go to their online pages:


  Churchill and Empires of the Mind

Before writing about Empires of the Mind, the book, I will give some account of what "empires of the mind" they are first of all.

The name of the book comes from a public talk given in 1943 at Harvard University, Cambrdge, Massachusetts, US, by Winston S. Churchill: "The empires of the future are the empires of the mind."

Empire is government or nation ruling other nations or countries. Churchill was talking about UK and US, which, if they made use of Basic English, would make a good and kind empire with a common language, taking care of other countries. He said: "Let us go into this together."

History didn't go like the one hoped by him, and their radio stations didn't make use of Basic. And we would be still unhappy about empires even if they were only of the mind.

Dr. Koeneke's book is an attempt to take a detailed look back into Richards' work in China, how it was like and how it was different from Churchill's empire.

You may see Churchill's Harvard talk, the complete words of it, here:
The Churchill Center


  Empires of the Mind

Yesterday, I got a small cardboard box from Amazon.com. In it was a hardcover copy of the book Empires of the Mind: I. A. Richards and Basic English in China, 1929-1979 by Rodney Koeneke.

Today, I went through the part 1 of the Introduction, the opening of the book. It gives a short history of what Richards did in China: in 1930's, in 1950 and in 1979.

Because I'm reading other books in addition to this, it may take a long time for me till I come to the end of the book. I will put my opinion, however, on this daybook at times.



Spell is a general English word used with a sense of "talk, or word." In fiction, stories like The Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, a person with special power does an unnatural, but interesting, thing like making himself go up in the air, by saying a special word; that sort of power-word is a spell.

Bound is a general English word for being "fixed." The persons and most of animals, for example, are not able to go up in the air like birds or someone with special power. We are bound to the earth; we are earthbound. If someone with dark power puts a spell on you, you will be spellbound. You may take a form of animal or you may do something strange or you may be sleeping till the spell is broken. In everyday English, even not in fiction, when you are under a power and fixed to something, they say that you are spellbound.

Spelling, in wider English, is act of reading out the word, letter by letter, or way of writing the word, letter by letter. When you spell "competition," for example, or when you give the spelling of "competition," you say the word, letter by letter, and, after that, say the sounds of the word; it will be like this: "C, O, M, P, E, T, I, T, I, O, N, competition!"

When you give a talk and the hearer doesn't get one of the words, you may say the spelling. That is a common way of getting a strange word across.

Most of the Japanese, when they do their work of learning English, put the spelling in their memory by simply writing the word again and again, without using voices. Most of the Americans at school, on the other hand, do it by saying it. They even do it as a play and competition. The name of the play is "spelling bee" or "spelling contest." They have a long history of nation-wide competition: National Spelling Bee.

In 2002, a motion picture of the eight young Americans working in the last stage of the competition was produced. It's not a picture with actors playing as if they are schoolboys. It's a documentary: a record of what it truly took place. The name of the picture is Spellbound.

This moving picture, as Challenge Kids, is now on the road in Japan.


기초 영어 or Baza Angla. If you have knowledge of 850 English words, you may have a good time reading this daybook, Ryota's day-to-day notes, in Basic English, for college-level learners of English as a second or overseas language. Notes are generally on English or other languages, American or other writers or writings, and music or motion pictures based on those writings.

About Me
Ryota Iijima
Ryota's Japanese Daybook
Ryota's Rooms
Fukushima University

About Basic English
Basic English

About Internet Words

What's New?
Changing Names
The End
Ryota's New Daybook
New Paper on Basic
More on the Man Who Was at the Nazi Prison
Leaves of trees are changing
A man who was at a Nazi prison
Been to the Basic English
Night School
Stand by Me: The Song and the Motion Picture

What's Old
2005/03 | 2005/04 | 2005/05 | 2005/06 | 2005/07 | 2005/08 | 2005/09 | 2005/10 | 2005/11 | 2007/01 |

Bookmarks: English
Ryota's Top-Page
Mr. Ohyama in Basic
Basic English Institute

Bookmarks: Japanese
Yuzuru's Daybook
Mr. Katagiri's Pages
Mr. Ohyama on Basic
Basic English Discussion Group
GDM: Or, Richards-Gibson System

Bookmarks: German
On Basic English

Powered by Blogger  Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com