Critical Thinking Through Poessays

Getting your students to read and think through a poessay - a combination of the creative and the critical - will give them an insight into the working of the language and show them how to communicate more effectively.

Here, then, are seven poessays from Communicative Times. Students need to select the correct answer and explain why it is so. Let's begin!


a Poessay?


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Poessay 1


This morning
I got up
on the



My head

I was


I'm sorry

a while


My foot
trodden on

my neighbor
to sleep

Yoriko Nagatani

Critical Thinking Exercise
What's the key point? And why?
キーポイントはa, b, c のうちどれでしょう?また、その理由を説明しましょう。

a) everybody is sleepy in the morning
b) taking the train in the morning is no picnic
c) you should say sorry when you step on somebody's foot


During the rush hour in the morning, people are going to school, offices, and so on. Everyone wants to get on the crowded trains. The trains are packed and people can't move. But the train moves - and even shakes - and people pull and push each other! So people are in a bad, bad mood ....

Akane Sakamoto

She got up late and was sleepy. But she had to go out and she hopped on the crowded train. I think she couldn't feel good in such a condition .... And the worst thing was a passenger's attitude. It made her feel worse and worse ....

Perhaps, she should go to sleep early and it will not be so bad!

Tsukasa Oishi

In the morning we are sleepy! We are in a bad humor! I call it a "hot temper." For example, the other day my foot was stepped on by several people, but they didn't apologize! But when I trampled on somebody else's foot, he got angry even after I said I was sorry.

Yes, taking the train in the morning is no picnic. It's war!

Daisuke Mizuno

Poessay 2

My Father
& Me

My father
regards everything

except scholarship

as trash

when he
asked me
I learned

I told him
it was
the price
of vegetables

my father

Saeko Hada

Critical Thinking Exercise
What's the key point? And why?
キーポイントはa, b, c のうちどれでしょう?また、その理由を説明しましょう。

a) she doesn't like her father
b) students should not learn the price of vegetables
c) father's and daughter's views on education are different


His daughter thinks that everything can be an education; for her, finding out the price of vegetables is one example of learning. Her father, on the other hand, has a narrow view of education since he thinks only scholarship is education.

He is a boring man! He is also a poor man, in the sense that he can't see the worth of anything except scholarship.

Etsuko Saito

Her father thinks that scholarship is the only way to get an education. Clearly, he can't imagine another way of getting an education. I think he is a scholar and makes his living through scholarship.

Ryosuke Yamagata

When her father went to school he studied in the classroom or library. And he listened to his teachers' lectures and memorized as much as he could. He thinks that she should do the same.

But his daughter has been receiving a different type of education. The daughter is studying not only in the classroom or library. And, further, she can get a lot of information through the use of computers. She also doesn't have to memorize as much as students of her father's generation.

So, it is to be expected that her thinking on education will be very different from that of her father's generation.

Wakako Ishizuka

Her father wanted to know what she learned at the university recently because he pays a lot of money! However, she told him what she learned in her new life as a student living away from home.

A simple misunderstanding ...?

Kazumasa Kotsuji

My guess is, she has just started living alone. Away from her parents for the first time, she has to shop and cook for herself - which she probably did not do very often when she was living with her parents. She has therefore a lot to learn from daily life, and she realized that education can happen outside of school too.

The most exciting thing for her was not school but her single life. "The price of vegetables" is nothing but a symbol of a single life, here. Her father was expecting some different answer like the joy of studying at university, and couldn't understand what his daughter was saying.

To begin with, he thinks, just like other people of his generation, that education happens only at school; "school equals scholarship equals education." And, this is the way to move up in Japanese society. To be highly educated is a good strategy, and so he invested in his daughter (university education is not free). Naturally, he expected his daughter to study something scholarly. But her answer was not about scholarship. Now, if his daughter doesn't study, his investment becomes meaningless - that's why he cried.

I also think that he is like most men of his generation. He didn't do any housekeeping! When he was young, his mother cooked for him, and did everything else. And, after he got married, it was his wife. So he is not aware that housework demands some intelligence. Naturally, he can't understand why his daughter is so excited about shopping for vegetables.

His daughter, who understands well her father's way of thinking, answered, "the price of vegetables." It doesn't mean she didn't study; she just didn't want to give him the answer he was expecting.

Akie Tanahashi

Poessay 3


On a crowded

I told
an old woman
to sit
in my seat

she said

I'm not
that old!

Miho Kawamura

Critical Thinking Exercise
What's the key point? And why?
キーポイントはa, b, c のうちどれでしょう?また、その理由を説明しましょう。

a) even kindness can be misunderstood
b) don't give seats to old people on trains
c) old people never think they are old


It is a common courtesy to give up our seats to old people on trains in Japan. And we think people are old or not by their appearance. Women in particular don't like to look old. So, this woman felt that Miho's act was not kind, but rude.

Yui Kawagishi

Old people think "I am not old yet." But we think, "We should be kind to old people." And we think old people cannot stand up on trains for too long. So we offer our seats to old people on trains.

But old people sometimes misunderstand us. "Am I that old?" they ask themselves, and they sometimes get angry with us.

Here are two people who think differently and, as a result, a misunderstanding occurs ....

Tomoko Onishi

I think the poessayist was being kind to the old lady. But the old lady thought she was being rude.

When I was on a train recently, I offered my seat to an old lady, but she declined my offer. If, in future, I see an old lady standing on a crowded train, I'll think twice before I offer her my seat. I might think she's old, but she might not think so!

We want to be kind to old people, but to communicate even kindness is not easy. It can be easily misunderstood ....

Yuri Shibahara

A lot of people who are old don't want to think so. Therefore, kindness hurts.

But, being kind to people is very important, and a good thing too! People who are treated nicely by people of good will should accept their kindness graciously, I think.

Hoshino Bunpei

Poessay 4


on my
driver's license

and now
I'm broke

How far
can I get
with only
my license?

Kumiko Tabuchi

Critical Thinking Exercise
What's the key point? And why?
キーポイントはa, b, c のうちどれでしょう?また、その理由を説明しましょう。

a) she's not a good driver
b) it costs too much to get a driver's license in Japan
c) she spends too much on gasoline


She's broke! She's spent Y300,000 to get her license - but she has no car! A common story, it is.

I think she should have saved money to buy a car, pay the insurance, and only then saved money to go to driver's school. I hope she will be able to buy a car in future.

Wakana Mori

Poessay 5



a lot

her feelings




of hate


Yuko Nagahata

Critical Thinking Exercise
What's the key point? And why?
キーポイントはa, b, c のうちどれでしょう?また、その理由を説明しましょう。

a) on sunny days the sky is happy and on rainy days sad
b) she doesn't show her true feelings
c) the writer wants to be able to express her feelings freely


The sky is able to express her feelings openly: sunny days, rainy days, cloudy days, stormy days .... And the writer would like to do so, too. But, she pretends to be "a good girl" in the presence of others, even when she is upset or angry!

Perhaps she cares too much about what others think of her. So, she envies the sky.

Natsumi Seto

The sky can express her feelings freely. On a fine day, she appears happy. On a rainy day sad. And, when it thunders, she's angry!

Now, the writer can't express her feelings freely .... If she were a child, she could! But, she's a university student ....

Sayaka Tanaka

People can't always express their feelings freely. Why? Let me explain ....

The other day, my friend made a great effort to cook a meal for me. Although I ate it, I felt that the food wasn't at all delicious. But I didn't say a word!

Sometimes a few lies are needed.

Yuko Yagi

Poessay 6


a rainy day

fell off
my bike
had to go
to hospital

pretty girls
after me

my left foot
and right arm

the hospital

Shinya Izawa

Critical Thinking Exercise
What's the key point? And why?
キーポイントはa, b, c のうちどれでしょう?また、その理由を説明しましょう。

a) he wants to have another accident
b) he is unhappy to leave the hospital
c) he has had a terrible heart attack


On a rainy day he broke his left foot and right arm. That was unlucky. But, then, he had a happy time in the hospital because he was looked after by pretty girls. Now, that was lucky. He wanted to stay longer, but his left foot and right arm were healed and so he had to leave the hospital and go home. Again, he was unlucky.

Kana Maeda

Poessay 7

Steak House

gone mad

the manager

Maiko Fukuyama

Critical Thinking Exercise
What's the key point? And why?
キーポイントはa, b, c のうちどれでしょう?また、その理由を説明しましょう。

a) the cows are mad at the steak house
b) some cows are madder than others
c) business will probably be worse than usual


Whenever we get new information about a case of mad cow's disease, we don't want to eat meat for a while. For, if we did, we might become mad. So people don't eat beef. They don't go to steak houses and, as a result, business at the steak houses is usually not good. And, sometimes, steak houses could lose money, or even have to shut down.

Junnosuke Fujikawa

inserted by FC2 system