The Links - everything

Thursday, 17 April 2014

The Annual Hanami BBQ - Sunshine, smiles and satisfied stomachs

Where's the meat?

Last Sunday was Luna's annual hanami BBQ party along the Susugi river bank and what a blast it was! The sun was out, the cherry blossoms were almost in full bloom and we got to share the whole experience with a host of our students, families, friends as well as the teachers from Sasabe kindergarten. Even Damian's mum made a flying visit to join in with the festivities! It was great to see some many familiar, and some not so familiar, faces all gathered together to have a great time.

That's more like it!
Lots of our wonderful guests brought along something to share with the rest of the party goers. An excellent effort made by all. Fortunately everybody remembered to bring their appetites with them. It was quite the sight seeing all the different dishes from the classics sausages to Sri Lankan and Moroccan style dishes and of course the imperative Japanese BBQ food: the onigiri and the oinari san. We at Luna however like to take the traditional, let's say British, way of hosting a BBQ. Lots and lots of meat and hold the salad! And boy did we deliver. There was always something on the BBQ from start to finish (a special thanks to all those who helped cook all of the delicious food) and the air was filled with a fantastic aroma all day long. Everybody was left stuffed, satisfied and possibly slightly guilty from devouring such a feast.

Everybody tucking in
Whilst the adults were busy  responsible with BBQ tending and beer drinking duty, the children were enjoying themselves by running around and collecting cherry blossoms, making their own "flower pots" in paper cups and soaking Damian sensei with their water pistols! Luckily for them Damian sensei was far too full from his 20 portions of sausages and drumsticks to waddle after them. Maybe it would be a good idea to bring a lasso next time to round up the mischievous trouble makers.

Many thanks to all our fabulous guests for making this such a joyous and memorable event, we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!  We look forward to hosting you all again next year!

Damian Gowland

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

After reading The Murders in the Rue Morgue - who's your favourite author?

Edgar Allan Poe is a famous author of this genre - mystery & horror. 

Write about your favourite author

I love Miyuki Miyabe who is a Japanese famous author of mystery. I read almost all her book as it was very interesting, not let me bored during reading and she describe normal person in normal life.
My recommendation is "Kasha" which means fired vehicle. A detective was asked to find a woman who is the fiancée of his relative. Her name is Shoko and she ran away with her decision. While he investigates her deeply, he found “Shoko” does not exist actually and she is another woman with the complicated back ground…

I like it because the fact is disclosed slowly and deeply with the natural story. The detective just tried to find out one ordinal person at first, but he found a big and deep back ground of her. These pieces of story is unimaginable and I enjoy the gap of the story and my imagine of her book.

Posted for Reiko

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Postcard from... Guam (they're like London buses!)

Dear Jim,

As you know, I am now in Guam. It is very hot here, compared to Matsumoto, but I'm getting used to to it. I might not be able to survive in Matsumoto's freezing climate.

Today I went wake boarding. The wind felt very good. The sea water was so clear that you could see the bottom.

See you soon.


Monday, 14 April 2014

Postcard from...Guam

Hi Jim,

I'm in Guam.

I bought a lot of things, for example watch, wallet, and for my friends souvenier. I also went to the beach, did the 'wake board'. It was hard to take balance. I am going to have more fun!!


Friday, 11 April 2014

Postcard from...Manly Beach

Remi the minimalist



Thursday, 10 April 2014

Postcard from ...London


Jim, I'm back.

Shall we have a pint?


Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Imagine you are the Canterville Ghost. Write a letter to the Otis family compaining about them & their behaviour!

Dear Otis family,

Welcome to my house. I tried to frighten your family, but you could not be afraid of me... Please, please surprise me!! Because it's my job, that's why I'm here for over three hundred years. My heart was broken. Don't say kind words for me. Don't hurt me.. Especially your twins. They are pickle. I believe parents have a responsibility to nurture your children. Imagine, twins are in school, they do many tricks. It may hurt other kids or things in the school. And when they grow up, are there any woman to marry with your kids if they cannot stop doing to me.
Fortunately, your girl, Virginia is lovely girl. Please rise your twins like Virginia. They will be good boys.

I have a request for you. Please visit Garden of Death once a year if you can. At that time, please tell me your story what is happen in your life. I'm really happy to hear that because your family were very kind for me.

I hope you can live happy!

Posted for Miyuki

Monday, 7 April 2014

Creepy Crawly Coloured Caterpillar - platefuls of fun!

Cover of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar"
Cover of The Very Hungry Caterpillar
I have very fond memories of reading "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" (in Japanese!) from a young age, and I have been looking for a way to incorporate and share one of my childhood memories with my students in a functional and constructive way. Unfortunately I do not have a copy of the book so I had to come up with an alternative method. After having a little think and brainstorming some ideas I settled on something that I thought would capture the interest of my students as well as providing a bit of variety in the classroom. So I would like to present to you my most recent classroom project: the "Coloured Caterpillar"!

Our new classroom friend
The idea revolves around making a caterpillar using either coloured card or painted paper plates which are in turn used to make up the different segments of the caterpillar. You then cut out an assortment of shapes, numbers, letters or whatever else you think would suit the activity, from coloured card which the students have to sort into the corresponding coloured segments of your "Coloured Caterpillar". You can stick the caterpillar to a table or even on the wall or your whiteboard/blackboard! If you are planning to stick your caterpillar to the wall/board you're also going to need a way for sticking your shapes/numbers/letters too.

Fun with paints!
You may be thinking that making the caterpillar is going to be a major investment of time and effort, but this is where your students come to the rescue. Rather than make the caterpillar myself, I decided that for this activity to become a success the more hands on approach the students had the better. I also didn't fancy spending an evening painting paper plates on my own. So I roped them into caterpillar making duty. What better way to engage the students by using resources that they have helped make themselves!

In the "zone"
I have to admit thought that I was a little hesitant before launching into this project, especially as I had planned for my youngest students to shoulder the responsibility of painting the paper plates. I had a bad feeling the students would become more preoccupied in painting anything but the paper plates! However, when I broke out the paint and paintbrushes my fears were laid to rest. The students took to the activity like a charm, they were the most focused and well behaved I had ever seen them. It was like magic. Unfortunately due to paint needing to dry, we weren't able to put out caterpillar to use immediately so the students had to wait patiently for their next lesson before they had a chance to admire their work.

Showing off
A job well done

Shapes to sort
So one week came and went and it was time for the big reveal. The long wait was over and the students were finally able to see their painted paper plates come to life in the form of a colourful caterpillar. As you could imagine the students were terribly excited, and once we had stuck down our caterpillar they dived into the tray of cut out shapes and started sorting at break neck speeds! The first time we used our "Coloured Caterpillar" we used shapes cut out from coloured card, and we have since moved onto using numbers and letters as well. I have used the
Diving in
"Coloured Caterpillar in several of my other younger classes too, one of them even making the connection to "Harapeko Aomushi" ("The Very Hungry Caterpillar" in Japanese) which I was delighted by! By using the "Coloured Caterpillar" my students have become more adept at recognising shapes, numbers and letters and can sort by each category. I think it's safe to say this project was a success!

If you decide to create your own "Coloured Caterpillar" for your classroom please share your pictures and any feedback you have! 

Damian Gowland
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Thursday, 3 April 2014

We're cool - shades & ABCs!

Hiro cracked me up yesterday (for once not belting me in the gonads) with his super cool Korean dictator look, clinging to his cell phone throughout class. The girls are always cool anyway, and have lovely singing voices as you can hear. You can hear lots more Fotobabble creations we have created in classes at

We'd love to know what you think - leave us a comment below?!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

A look back at classroom smiles through March 2014

What a wild month March was! Snow that we thought would never end and our carpets still wet after the thaw. Business as usual nevertheless in the learning zone, with some big paint jobs taking place in Damian's classroom. We planted a mystery garden (now showing signs of life in all but one planter) and said goodbye to long-term students - going to miss you guys!

Success rewarded as well, with certificates arriving for YLE, KET & CAE passes - well done you!

April is going to be a busy month, and apologies in advance for the state we might be in at the end of the month. Join us, meantime, April 13th from noon onwards for our Cherry Blossom Party (details oin our Facebook page). Have a superb April - we will!

Friday, 28 March 2014

Acting out not acting up - working together through role playing

For our next instalment of "Luna's got Talent" I would like to introduce Rui, Kaito, Kotone and Moeka acting out the story of Max and Digger from Review 2 of English Time 1 (written by Susan Rivers and Setsuko Toyama). In this story Max gets a little too greedy and gets a stomach ache!
During rehearsals the boys were much more focused on creating the most extravagant and eccentric foods and drinks from the props they had available, while the girls focused more on learning their lines. As you can see from the performances the boys tended to forget their lines! Luckily for the boys the girls were on hand to prompt them when they did. It was great fun getting the students to play the role of director and calling out stage directions when it came to the performances, it's always fantastic to see your students working together to create something they can all be proud of. A great way to build on conversational language whilst having tons of fun.
Rui (Digger) & Kaito (Max)

Kotone (Digger) & Moeka (Max)

Damian Gowland

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Noisy little boys - after reading The Canterville Ghost

There are two noisy little boys in the story; are they familiar? 

Write about any noisy young children you know, and why you like (or don't like) them.

I have a niece and a nephew. As my older sister's house is near my living place, I often go to her house and stay with her, the niece
and the nephew. Since they were very little, they always talk to me at the same time or try to talk to me while another one is talking with me. As they were talking to me continuously even if another one still talk with me, I always admonished them that they have to talk to me one by one and listen the talk of another one. Now they are 13 years-old and 11 years-old but sometimes still keep me crazy. However, I like to talk with them as I can feel they have been growing by what they talk. Especially for the niece is very talkative, she often call me or LINE me to talk about her friends, schools and her parents.

Posted for Reiko

Friday, 21 March 2014

Send us a postcard - or double homework!

We are very excited to hear about all of our students' travel stories in the next week or two, during the end of year break...

If you send us a postcard we will feature you HERE on the blog and you escape all homework assignments :)

Jim's new car...
Or you can keep a diary & take some pics and escape that way!

Of course, bringing back a souvenir is cool, but they are heavy & expensive and we don't like macadamia nuts (sorry!).

We would love to hear about your trips - so please share?! Top of the list is Remi's visit to Jim's nephews' house of sport in Australia, all alone!

We'd love to hear all of your stories of course - little or large - so don't be shy :)

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Changes to Cambridge English: Advanced from 2015 (video)

Buy one, get one free - boardgames flipping the classroom

For us adults, having to go grocery shopping can be a bit of a tiresome chore. If you are forgetful like me, you will have to make a list, check it twice and then remember to take it with you when you go to the shops! At Luna we have turned grocery shopping into a fun activity which the students can enjoy with the help of the "Shopping List" game. If only I could do my grocery shopping in the classroom!

Shopping carts and shopping lists
The students get their own shopping list, made up of 8 different items, and their own shopping trolley, which they must fill up with the items on their shopping list. There are cards, which are placed face down, for each of the food items found on the shopping lists and it is the students' job to find and name all the food items on their shopping list. It's a great way of introducing new food items that the students unfamiliar with, as well as allowing them to recycle language they have encountered in their textbooks.

Is it on the shopping list?
We all know that food vocabulary is an integral part of learning any language, especially if you don't want to unwittingly order a plateful of tripe or a bowl full of fish eyes at a restaurant! The great thing about the "shopping list" game is that as well as building the students' vocabulary of food items, alongside incorporating the target language you have been teaching in the classroom. You can elicit what the students' favourite foods are, what they could make from the items on their shopping lists or even get the students to make shopping lists of their own! Another way to implement this game in the classroom is to set up a role play activity where the students take on the roles of a cashier and a customer. So why not give the game a go in your classroom with your very own twist!
No it isn't!

Only if the students would get this excited when their parents take them grocery shopping!

Damian Gowland

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

A respected teacher - Jungle Book after reading

Mowgli gets a lot of good avice from his teachers. 

Write about a teacher you respected and why their advice was important for you.

My 1st grade’s teacher was an old man. He looked very scary face. But he was kind for me. He taught us not only studying but also how we should spend in the school or society. He taught us school discipline, too. The most impressed his advice was that when I come back home, I have to talk about one of my today’s news with my parents. I talked my news every day. This was good for me and my parents. For me, it was good opportunity that I talked with my parents a lot. And for my parents, they could know how I spent in the school. So we talked about my school life a lot every day. I still talk about my news when I meet my parents. He wrote a letter which was written about what we studied that day, almost every day to our parents. And he sent students handwriting New Year’s card every year till he was in poor health. I think if I wasn’t a his student, I spent a different school days. I thank him very much.

Posted for Yuri

Monday, 17 March 2014

A very long journey to Disneyland and back - another Tale from Longpuddle!

Write about a peaceful long journey you made? 
Where were you going, and who with? 
Why were you travelling, and how did you feel about arriving?

I went to Tokyo Disneyland with my boy friend last month. It was a bus tour and should be for a day trip, but it was the most unforgettable and longest journey in my life.

Tokyo Disneyland was established thirty years ago and has served the anniversary events since last April to the end of this March. I’m same age as the park, so I wanted to go there within my thirty years old. It snowed, but we could go the park smoothly and we had believed that we would be able to go home without any serious issues.

The bus left the park at nine PM and stopped at a service area close to Hachioji junction. It snowed a lot and any cars could not move ahead to Yamanashi and Nagano prefecture. We had to stay two nights in the service area consequently. Fortunately, there were rest rooms and restaurant, but we could not take even the shower for three days.

Finally, we moved to Tokyo station by train and took Shinkansen to move to Nagano station next morning. Then, we transferred to Shinano express to back to Matsumoto station.

It was a long journey and very tired, but I was very happy that my kind boyfriend and people supported on several scenes.

Posted for Chinasa

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Jim reads: "We're going on a Bear Hunt"

Interview with a Vampire - magazine article (after reading)

All readers, I have big news!!!!! I get opportunity to interview to Dracula and ask him six questions. He answered my questions honestly.

1. Is taste of blood similar with tomato juice?
Ahh, it is more fruity flavor for me.

2. Have you ever been to beach in summer time?
Never! I can't live under sunshine, but I wish I could lie on the beach.

 3. What type of girls do you like?
I prefer ample figure girls because such kind of girls seems that they have good taste blood.

4. Your body is slim. How do you keep your body shape? Do you do excise or go to gym?
I often go to Pilates studio, of course in the night. 

 5. Do you want to marry?
Yes, I do. I'm looking for future partner.

 6. How many kids do you want to have?
Three kids! 

Posted for Miyuki

Saturday, 15 March 2014

What can you see from your bedroom window?

            When I asked my younger students “what can you see from your bedroom window?” I got a rather dull and boring answer of “a wall”. One of my students even said that he doesn't have a bedroom. I had to make sure he wasn't Harry Potter! These were not exactly the responses of inspiration and wonder I was hoping for. I couldn't even use the Japanese Alps in view from out of my classroom window as creative inspiration since it was dark. As I wanted my students to transfer their bedroom views onto paper, I realized this was going to be rather an unfruitful activity if we spent the next part of the lesson drawing our neighbour’s walls.
So I took a slightly different approach. Instead of asking “what can you see from your bedroom window?” I asked “what would you like to see from your bedroom window?”. This gave the class the spark I was looking for, giving them the incentive to use their creativity and imagination. The students began to draw the most bizarre and wonderful things you could imagine: from dinosaurs to an octopus climbing Mount Fuji, even the vast expanses of space!
Once our visions of wonder were completed, we learnt how to spell and write all of the marvellous things we had just drawn. This allowed the students to recycle the words they have learnt previously as well as learn how to say some of their favourite things in English! The students took great pride in hanging up their make believe bedroom view around my classroom, boasting to their fellow classmates of all the new exciting words they have learnt.
A fantastic way of engaging the students while giving you the opportunity to learn a little more about them. So the question is; what can YOU see from your bedroom window?

Damian Gowland

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

February slideshow review

I noticed we were so busy digging snow outside or putting buckets under drips inside in the last couple of weeks that we didn't take any pictures. I'm sure you can all remember what snow looks like though...

Here's a peek of some of the fun we got up to during February - hope you like the slideshow!

If you want a copy please email me; you can also find it to share on our YouTube channel

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Leading a horse to water; how to make it drink?

After a month or so of "I don't know", "I guess", "Yeah", "Maybe" & "Not really" responses to just about everything we have tried, Damian & I have been scratching our heads & thinking outside the box for this class, considering a project-based approach. Our learner is far too cool for school, and his English far too good for a traditional we know he will start yawning & pull his hoodie back up as soon as we revert to type & try to start teaching. A follow up to an in-class brain-storming activity never got off the ground because the written product was so utterly bizarre I did not know where to pick carrots, flying volcanic robots & reincarnation. My efforts to flesh out the narrative had us going in ever-tightening circles of teen logic & reticence.

Clearly this kid plays way to many games. A Placement Test we rely on had given us our first 'false' reading (I think) in that he was about 2 CEFR levels below where we had pencilled him, so we are still trying to establish a baseline level we can work from. OK. Writing didn't quite work out, so let's see what we can do about a vocabulary exploration.

Word Up the tool of choice here, expecting a short 'it's too hard/boring' after 20 minutes...but no. "Can I use a dictionary" and "I'm gonna loose if I just use 3-letter words, aren't I?" revelations. Uncovered a will to win/compete with people (not just programmes) and thinking about strategy - as well as accepting tips/hints to do better (after outright rejection at first - couple of big scores from me vs 'dog' did the trick!).

So, introspective reluctant learner wants to win - games - and has an impressive vocabulary. Dislikes traditional classroom approach but mum wants him to be given essays for homework! Gamification might be an answer; I have seen a few presentations now of using games for courses, but I'm not a gamer myself...I really doubt I could become a Minecraft ninja in a hurry and build this into a strategy. Likewise, I have no interest in descending into the depths of Second Life and all the escapist/obsessive traits that seems to bring out in people. Last thing we really want to do is loose this learner into an even deeper layer of withdrawal from us! Not that we can play crossword games every week either (fun though that would be for me!).

Conundrum. Any suggestions, fellow teachers?

February review - in pictures

Monday, 10 March 2014

Planting season - Luna's indoor market garden launched again

For reasons which will become clear in the fullness of time, I only wanted to plant short things this year, in our gardening workshop. Things we can carry without having to cut down a supporting lattice of canes, netting etc. Last year's tomatoes were amazingly tall, productive and resilient - one still giving us fruit until Jim had to chop it down to make space for water-damaged materials from our sodden storeroom last week.

A very willing bunch of short people came along this afternoon to get their hands dirty - but first we needed to d
ocument the seeds (get our hands on them and investigate size, shape, colour etc. We drew pictures of them and had a guess at what they might grow into. Some very interesting ideas such as 'cream', 'ants', 'daikon' & mushrooms...and I can't tell you what they actually were because the packets got mixed up in the rush to prepare this morning! Some seeds were big & round, others so tiny we couldn't pick them up; some long & thin, or prickly-shaped, or like pepper-corns.

 Damian is playing in Tokyo this weekend, so we hijacked his classroom and filled 9 planters with a different set of seeds each - we recycled the soil although Jim did prep with nutrients, water, and a good stir beforehand. Some we drilled holes for, others we sprinkled in a line. In one, we found a bulb which had just started making roots/shoots & quickly re-planted as an extra surprise - was it an avocado maybe, or a tulip bulb? Let's hope we didn't disturb it too much!

The next few weeks will be an exciting wait for shoots to appear - but might be a longer wait than usual as our winter is very cold & snowy this year. Watch this space!

Thank you mums & dads for lending a hand; great to see Susumu back from his London adventures. Thank you Eleanor for big sister job, and to Masa, Sakura, Kai, Minii for your green fingers :)

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Lights, cameras, English!

It’s always great experimenting to find new ways of teaching in our classrooms and engaging our students while doing so. However, it is sometimes the simplest activities that can produce masterpieces brimming with the student’s enthusiasm, passion and creativity. In this instance it is the tried and tested role play. Role playing is a fantastic way to the students to have their own input and use their imagination whilst reinforcing the language that they have encountered in the classroom. The student’s visions and ideas never cease to amaze me when they are given the freedom to experiment themselves. It’s as if you’re watching a group of young Steven Spielbergs going to work, just without all the fancy equipment and dinosaurs running around!
All of the books we use for young learners at Luna incorporate either a story or conversation, which allows the students to build on their communication skills by role play as well as having tons of fun doing so! The students love utilizing props and incorporating their own actions and stage directions to give their own unique creative spin to their work.
Here you can see some of my students acting out the roles of Max, Digger and Pat from a story from English Time 2 (written by Susan Rivers and Setsuko Toyama). No signs of stage freight here! I just hope my students won’t forget me when they make it to the big screens as the next Morgan Freeman or Kate Winslet. Perhaps not as they may feel let down by my shoddy camera skills.

Damian Gowland

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Thursday, 6 March 2014

Fotobabbling along a Luna!

Check out our top of the pops this week!

Above, very early progress in Everybody Up (Starter) with 4 & 5 year olds.

Below, a curtain call for two students quitting to go to a juku - they have to 'learn' a different kind of English to be 'successful' in school tests. I have ranted and raved about this insanity before, but it still makes my toes curl. Both these lads started on the carpet at Luna in pre-literacy classes and are now on the cusp...over which I doubt they will clamber with katakana-isation, translation, death by grammar, insensible reading tracts etc. Goat? Has been got. So, one for the archive very soon, from English Time 4.

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