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September 22, 2009

PRINT:  13-Page Class Handout
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Rent-A-Friend Agencies Growing in Japan

There are many new ways of making friends in today’s world. The best known of these is meeting new pals online. The Japanese are doing things a little differently. There is a growth in rent-a-friend agencies. The only catch is that the friends you meet will not become your true friends. You simply rent one when you need one for a specific occasion. The friends for rent are professional fakers. They will pretend to be anyone you want them to be. They serve a very useful purpose in Japan, where it’s very important to keep up social appearances. If you do not have a best man for your wedding or you need a rich aunt to seal a business deal, rent-a-friend agencies will provide you with the perfect impersonator.


Britain’s Guardian newspaper reports on Ryuichi Ichinokawa, the owner of the “I want to cheer you up” agency. He has been the best man at weddings, making jokes about happy couples he did not know, and has acted as the uncle of students at school sports days. The Guardian says: “He dutifully cheered them on, recorded their efforts on his handheld video camera and joined in the adult-and-child races.” Ichinokawa charges just over $150 as a rental charge, but says there are extra fees for singing at a karaoke party or making a speech at a wedding. Ryuichi says he plans everything in detail so he doesn’t embarrass his client. He boasts: "In three and a half years I've never once been caught out."


 
 

WARM-UPS

1. FRIENDS: Walk around the class and talk to other students about friends. Change partners often. Sit with your first partner(s) and share your findings.

2. CHAT: In pairs / groups, decide which of these topics or words from the article are most interesting and which are most boring.

 

many ways / making friends / doing things differently / pretending / rich aunts / deals / cheer up / best man / happy couples / rental charges / karaoke / detailed plans

Have a chat about the topics you liked. Change topics and partners frequently.

3. RENT-A-????: What would you rent, if you could? Complete this table. Talk about what you wrote with your partner(s). Change partners and share what you heard.

Rent a …

Reason for renting

What you would do

friend

 

 

world leader

 

 

movie star

 

 

pet

 

 

country

 

 

company

 

 

4. SOCIAL APPEARANCES: Students A strongly believe it is important to keep up social appearances; Students B strongly believe people worry too much about their public image.  Change partners again and talk about your conversations.

5. MANY FRIENDS: Talk about these friends with your partner(s). Change partners and share what you heard.

  • childhood friends
  • online friends
  • boyfriends / girlfriends
  • long-lost friends
  • best friends
  • “just good” friends
  • former friends
  • school friends

6. RENT: Spend one minute writing down all of the different words you associate with the word ‘rent’. Share your words with your partner(s) and talk about them. Together, put the words into different categories.


 
 

BEFORE READING / LISTENING

1. TRUE / FALSE: Read the headline. Guess if  a-h  below are true (T) or false (F).

a.

Most Japanese people rent their friends.

T / F

b.

Friends from rent-a-friend agencies usually become lifelong friends.

T / F

c.

The friends you rent will pretend to be anyone you ask them to be.

T / F

d.

People rent friends in Japan to maintain their public image.

T / F

e.

The owner of a friend-rental agency often knows the bride at weddings.

T / F

f.

The owner cheered for children he never knew at a school sports day.

T / F

g.

You have to pay extra for your rented friend to sing or make a speech.

T / F

h.

The agency owner said he was found out as a fake just three times.

T / F

2. SYNONYM MATCH: Match the following synonyms from the article.

1.

ways

a.

costs

2

pals

b.

ideal

3.

catch

c.

brides and grooms

4.

purpose

d.

disadvantage

5.

perfect

e.

shame

6.

happy couples

f.

methods

7.

fees

g.

function

8.

detail

h.

brags

9.

embarrass

i.

friends

10.

boasts

j.

accuracy

3. PHRASE MATCH:  (Sometimes more than one choice is possible.)

1.

ways of making

a.

useful purpose

2

doing things a

b.

at weddings

3.

need one for a

c.

in detail

4.

They serve a very

d.

friends

5.

keep up social

e.

you up

6.

I want to cheer

f.

for singing

7.

the best man

g.

little differently

8.

there are extra fees

h.

been caught out

9.

he plans everything

i.

specific occasion

10.

I've never once

j.

appearances

WHILE READING / LISTENING

GAP FILL: Put the words into the gaps in the text.

There are many new ways of ____________ friends in today’s world. The best known of these is meeting new pals ____________. The Japanese are doing things a little differently. There is a ____________ in rent-a-friend agencies. The only catch is that the friends you meet will not become your true friends. You simply rent one when you need one for a specific ____________. The friends for rent are professional fakers. They will ____________ to be anyone you want them to be. They serve a very useful purpose in Japan, where it’s very important to keep up ____________ appearances. If you do not have a best man for your wedding or you need a rich aunt to seal a business ____________, rent-a-friend agencies will provide you with the ____________ impersonator.

 

 

 

deal
online
social
growth
making
pretend
perfect
occasion

Britain’s Guardian newspaper ____________ on Ryuichi Ichinokawa, the owner of the “I want to ____________ you up” agency. He has been the best man at  weddings, making jokes about happy couples he did not know, and has ____________ as the uncle of students at school sports days. The Guardian says: “He dutifully cheered them on, recorded their ____________ on his handheld video camera and joined in the adult-and-child races.” Ichinokawa ____________ just over $150 as a rental charge, but says there are extra fees for singing at a karaoke party or ____________ a speech at a wedding. Ryuichi says he plans everything in ____________ so he doesn’t embarrass his client. He boasts: "In three and a half years I've never once been ____________ out."

 

 

making
acted
caught
charges
reports
cheer
detail
efforts

LISTENING – Listen and fill in the gaps

There are ___________________ making friends in today’s world. The best known of these is meeting new pals online. The Japanese ___________________ differently. There is a growth in rent-a-friend agencies. The only catch is that the friends ___________________ become your true friends. You simply rent one when you need one for a specific occasion. The friends for rent are professional fakers. They will pretend to ___________________ them to be. They serve a very useful purpose in Japan, where it’s very important to keep ___________________. If you do not have a best man for your wedding or you need a rich aunt to seal a business deal, rent-a-friend agencies will provide ___________________ impersonator.

Britain’s Guardian newspaper reports on Ryuichi Ichinokawa, the owner of the “I want ___________________” agency. He has been the best man at  weddings, making jokes about happy couples he did not know, and has ___________________ students at school sports days. The Guardian says: “He dutifully cheered them on, ___________________ on his handheld video camera and joined in the adult-and-child races.” Ichinokawa charges just over $150 as a rental charge, but says there ___________________ singing at a karaoke party or making a speech at a wedding. Ryuichi says he plans everything ___________________ doesn’t embarrass his client. He boasts: "In three and a half years I've never ___________________."


 
 

AFTER READING / LISTENING

1. WORD SEARCH: Look in your dictionary / computer to find collocates, other meanings, information, synonyms … for the words ‘rent’ and ‘friend’.

rent

friend

 

 

 

  • Share your findings with your partners.
  • Make questions using the words you found.
  • Ask your partner / group your questions.

2. ARTICLE QUESTIONS: Look back at the article and write down some questions you would like to ask the class about the text.

  • Share your questions with other classmates / groups.
  • Ask your partner / group your questions.

3. GAP FILL: In pairs / groups, compare your answers to this exercise. Check your answers. Talk about the words from the activity. Were they new, interesting, worth learning…?

4. VOCABULARY: Circle any words you do not understand. In groups, pool unknown words and use dictionaries to find their meanings.

5. TEST EACH OTHER: Look at the words below. With your partner, try to recall how they were used in the text:

  • ways
  • differently
  • true
  • useful
  • social
  • perfect
  • owner
  • best
  • video
  • fees
  • detail
  • caught

STUDENT FRIENDS SURVEY

Write five GOOD questions about friends in the table. Do this in pairs. Each student must write the questions on his / her own paper.

When you have finished, interview other students. Write down their answers.

 

STUDENT 1

_____________

STUDENT 2

_____________

STUDENT 3

_____________

Q.1.

 

 

 

 

Q.2.

 

 

 

 

Q.3.

 

 

 

 

Q.4.

 

 

 

 

Q.5.

 

 

 

 

  • Now return to your original partner and share and talk about what you found out. Change partners often.
  • Make mini-presentations to other groups on your findings.

FRIENDS DISCUSSION

STUDENT A’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student B)

a)

What did you think when you read the headline?

b)

What springs to mind when you hear the word ‘friend’?

c)

Do you have enough friends or would you like more?

d)

How good are your friends?

e)

What do you think of the rent-a-friend idea?

f)

Do you think the Japanese do things differently?

g)

Can you think of a time when you needed a fake friend?

h)

What pretend friend would you like this week?

i)

Would find-a-friend agencies work in your country?

j)

Would you like to work as a rental friend?

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

STUDENT B’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student A)

a)

Did you like reading this article?

b)

Do you think rent-a-friend agencies will start in other countries?

c)

Do you think you would notice if a major wedding guest was a fake?

d)

Do you think Ryuichi Ichinokawa enjoys his job?

e)

Do you think kids would be angry at impersonators pretending to be their uncle at school sports days?

f)

Do you think $150 is a reasonable charge to rent a friend?

g)

Is there anything illegal about this rent-a-friend idea?

h)

Have you ever been caught out pretending to be something you weren’t?

i)

When was the last time you boasted to a friend?

j)

What questions would you like to ask Ryuichi Ichinokawa?

LANGUAGE – MULTIPLE CHOICE

There are many new ways of making friends in today’s world. The best (1) ____ of these is meeting new pals online. The Japanese are doing things a little (2) ____. There is a growth in rent-a-friend agencies. The only (3) ____ is that the friends you meet will not become your true friends. You simply rent one when you need one for a specific occasion. The friends for rent are professional (4) ____. They will pretend to be anyone you want them to be. They serve a very useful purpose in Japan, where it’s very important to keep (5) ____ social appearances. If you do not have a best man for your wedding or you need a rich aunt to seal a business deal, rent-a-friend agencies will provide you (6) ____ the perfect impersonator.

Britain’s Guardian newspaper reports on Ryuichi Ichinokawa, the owner of the “I want to cheer you (7) ____” agency. He has been the best man at weddings, making jokes about happy couples he did not know, and has (8) ____ as the uncle of students at school sports days. The Guardian says: “He dutifully cheered them on, recorded their (9) ____ on his handheld video camera and joined in the adult-and-child races.” Ichinokawa charges just over $150 as a rental charge, but says there are extra (10) ____ for singing at a karaoke party or making a speech at a wedding. Ryuichi says he plans everything (11) ____ detail so he doesn’t embarrass his client. He (12) ____: "In three and a half years I've never once been caught out."

Put the correct words from the table below in the above article.

1.

(a)

knows

(b)

knowing

(c)

known

(d)

knew

2.

(a)

differences

(b)

differently

(c)

difference

(d)

different

3.

(a)

catch

(b)

throw

(c)

drop

(d)

aim

4.

(a)

makers

(b)

bakers

(c)

takers

(d)

fakers

5.

(a)

on

(b)

over

(c)

up

(d)

down

6.

(a)

by

(b)

of

(c)

with

(d)

to

7.

(a)

in

(b)

up

(c)

down

(d)

out

8.

(a)

acted

(b)

reacted

(c)

enacted

(d)

contacted

9.

(a)

effects

(b)

efforts

(c)

affects

(d)

effigies

10.

(a)

fees

(b)

bees

(c)

tees

(d)

pees

11.

(a)

on

(b)

out

(c)

up

(d)

in

12.

(a)

beasts

(b)

bloats

(c)

bests

(d)

boasts

WRITING

Write about friends for 10 minutes. Correct your partner’s paper.

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

HOMEWORK

1. VOCABULARY EXTENSION: Choose several of the words from the text. Use a dictionary or Google’s search field (or another search engine) to build up more associations / collocations of each word.

2. INTERNET: Search the Internet and find out more about rent-a-friend agencies. Share what you discover with your partner(s) in the next lesson.

3. FRIENDS: Make a poster about your friends, past and present. Show your work to your classmates in the next lesson. Did you all have similar things?

4. RENTED: Write a magazine article about someone who rented a friend. What was the occasion? Include imaginary interviews with the person who rented the friend and the rented friend.

Read what you wrote to your classmates in the next lesson. Write down any new words and expressions you hear from your partner(s).

5. LETTER: Write a letter to Ryuichi Ichinokawa. Ask him three questions about his rent-a-friend agency. Give him three suggestions on what other things he could rent people for. Read your letter to your partner(s) in your next lesson. Your partner(s) will answer your questions.

ANSWERS

TRUE / FALSE:

a.

F

b.

F

c.

T

d.

T

e.

F

f.

T

g.

T

h.

F

SYNONYM MATCH:

1.

ways

a.

methods

2

pals

b.

friends

3.

catch

c.

disadvantage

4.

purpose

d.

function

5.

perfect

e.

ideal

6.

happy couples

f.

brides and grooms

7.

fees

g.

costs

8.

detail

h.

accuracy

9.

embarrass

i.

shame

10.

boasts

j.

brags

PHRASE MATCH:

1.

ways of making

a.

friends

2

doing things a

b.

little differently

3.

need one for a

c.

specific occasion

4.

They serve a very

d.

useful purpose

5.

keep up social

e.

appearances

6.

I want to cheer

f.

you up

7.

the best man

g.

at weddings

8.

there are extra fees

h.

for singing

9.

he plans everything

i.

in detail

10.

I've never once

j.

been caught out

GAP FILL:

Rent-a-friend agencies growing in Japan

There are many new ways of making friends in today’s world. The best known of these is meeting new pals online. The Japanese are doing things a little differently. There is a growth in rent-a-friend agencies. The only catch is that the friends you meet will not become your true friends. You simply rent one when you need one for a specific occasion. The friends for rent are professional fakers. They will pretend to be anyone you want them to be. They serve a very useful purpose in Japan, where it’s very important to keep up social appearances. If you do not have a best man for your wedding or you need a rich aunt to seal a business deal, rent-a-friend agencies will provide you with the perfect impersonator.

Britain’s Guardian newspaper reports on Ryuichi Ichinokawa, the owner of the “I want to cheer you up” agency. He has been the best man at  weddings, making jokes about happy couples he did not know, and has acted as the uncle of students at school sports days. The Guardian says: “He dutifully cheered them on, recorded their efforts on his handheld video camera and joined in the adult-and-child races.” Ichinokawa charges just over $150 as a rental charge, but says there are extra fees for singing at a karaoke party or making a speech at a wedding. Ryuichi says he plans everything in detail so he doesn’t embarrass his client. He boasts: "In three and a half years I've never once been caught out."

LANGUAGE WORK

1 - c

2 - b

3 - a

4 - d

5 - c

6 - c

7 - b

8 - a

9 - b

10 - a

11 - d

12 - d

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