The Links - everything

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Local environmental news: Mount Ontake eruption

English: Mount Ontake from_OtakiTop 日本語: 王滝頂上か...
Mount Ontake from_OtakiTop  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Mt. Ontake burst angrily into life on Sep. 27th. Unluckily, it was around noon in the middle of the busy hiking season, so a lot of hikers had reached the summit and were enjoying lunch in the autumn sunshine, taking in the clear views of the Northern Alps

Officials of the volcano division of the meteorological agency said that although there had been a rising number of small earthquakes detected,they couldn't predict the eruption easily. These reasons made the damage worse.

Up to now, 56 people have been found dead, and 7 people are still missing. Most of the victims were killed by falling rocks, spewed out by the eruption. Unfortunately, a typhoon hit Japan just after, and the rain changed the ash to very sticky clay, so the rescuers can not help but halt the search, due not only to toxic gas but also the risk of mudslides.

Some annual events like the Soba festivals that a lot of people must have been looking forward to visiting and enjoying, were canceled. Furthermore, it must be impossible to open the ski slopes this year.

Nature is far beyond human beings' control.


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Silly sentences - making sense of nonsense

Mouldy banana

 We all know that making mistakes is part of the learning process when learning a new skill, learning a language is no exception. However in most cases it is extremely difficult to get Japanese students into this mind-set, the need to be coherent and not stick out as “the nail that sticks out gets hammered down”. Recognising the issue is always to first step to resolving it, so we focus on making a learning friendly environment where making mistakes is not frowned upon but in fact encouraged, it’s much more fun having a go and making a mistake.

Fire-fighter to the rescue
A really nice activity that encourages the use of new language is the game “Silly sentences”. The main focus here is not to reproduce or revise previous language patterns, but instead targeting syntax without the need of being barraged by a set of grammar rules. The cards are colour coded into nouns/adjectives/prepositions etc, and it’s up to the students to work out how to combine them in the correct order. The game cards also only piece together if they are in the correct order to ensure that the language being created is grammatically correct.

Don't stay in this house
So the end product is solely dependant on the student, achieved through cognitive thinking with a bit of trial and error mixed in. It’s a fun way of building confidence and exposing students to language they would not normally encounter. It’s not everyday you hear “the green scary baby ate the dinosaur”.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Who was to predict? Can you predict?

Active volcano Mount St. Helens shortly after ...
Active volcano Mount St. Helens shortly after the eruption of 18 May 1980 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
On Saturday fine Autumn day, Natural disaster happened suddenly.
Why it was not rainy day?

It was very fine day, many climbers visited Mt,Ontake. They were enjoying the fall foliage. At the time suddenly Mt,Ontake erupted. They could not understand what had happened.

Many people had forgotten that Mt, Ontake is an active Volcano.
Over 50 climbers died. Is it cold have previson (prediction) of eruption?

Eruption prediction is very important for natural disaster.
I hope we will have foresee of danger soon.


Saturday, 11 October 2014

The pros & cons of mobile phones

Almost everybody has a mobile phone. But is it a great invention? I think there are both advantages and disadvantages.

The first advantage is that people spend more time talking to family and friends. Secondly, they read books and newspapers to get a lot of information.

Japanese mobile phone keyboard
Japanese mobile phone keyboard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
On the other hand, there are also disadvantages. For example, they can't be contacted in an emergency. Also, it is not true that all mobile phones' contents are bad. There are also good contents, like news, weather news and navigation (I know my position).

In conclusion, although living without a mobile phone has some advantages, I think it's case by case - it depends on the situation.


Friday, 10 October 2014

Do you know Mount Ontake ?

English: Mount Ontake from Kuraiyama 日本語: 位山から...
Mount Ontake from Kuraiyama  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Mt. Ontake is an active volcano which is Japanese 100 famous mountains and is located at the prefectural border of Nagano and Gifu. Although it is a 3,000m class alp, it is relatively easy climbing and it is very popular in a broad generation. It is also known as a showplace of autumn leaves.

11:52 a.m September 27, 2014 steam explosion -type eruption took place for the first time in seven years. Since two or more factors increase damage, the death toll became the worst situation exceeding over 50 persons. It was Saturday and the weather is good from morning, large number of climbers were visiting from the distant place as well. Many people had concentrated near the summit of the mountain to have a lunch looking at magnificent view.

Help and rescue activities formed by the Nagano Prefectural Police and fire company as well as the Ground Self-Defense Force, run into difficulties because of a toxic gas and heavy rain caused by the typhoon.

Some events are cancelled under the influence of an eruption and the tourist is decreasing sharply, while damage does not reach the skiing area near Mt. Ontake. It usually passes, and preparation of commencement of business is advanced towards winter!

Posted for Saki

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Postcard from Moomin: Finland

Hi Jim,

I went to Finland the other day, and found this reminded me of you & Luna!

I hope you are all doing well :)


Sari xx

P.S. Helsinki is a very peaceful place, so I highly recommend you go there! (Prices are so high though...)

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

My role model Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi of Barcelona against Osasuna.
Lionel Messi of Barcelona against Osasuna. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Lionel Messi is a one of the best football player in the world. Messi is a good play maker and good team player. Messi plays for Barcelona in La Liga and for Argentina. He's a good creative player like Maradona, and he also wears number 10.

Messi scores a lot of goals and has won lots of trophies like six La Ligas, two Copas del Rey, six Supercopas de España, three UEFA Champions Leagues, two UEFA Super Cups and two Club World Cup (wikipedia). He has won the Ballon d'Or and FIFA world player of the year.

Messi lives in Spain ( Barcelona ) but he is very famous and recognized everywhere. He has established a charity called Leo Messi Foundation to help kids. He earns $65 million a year, but I like him because hes really good at football.

by Rui ( 11 years old )

Things to see & do in Japan

Mt. Fuji and Shinkansen
Mt. Fuji and Shinkansen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In Japan, you can visit Tokyo Disneyland, Mount Fuji and Matsumoto Castle. They are famous places.

photo by Jim George
You can ride on bullet trains. Because it is very fast. You can eat sushi. It is very good. People like playing go and cards. You can buy kimono and models of Matsumoto Castle.

Nanako (7)

Thursday, 2 October 2014

E-mail is necessary in the modern world

Quick and easy
Before E-mail, we had to write a letter or call to communicate other people in a long distance. Writing a letter is a good way to communicate, but it takes time to write and we have to buy a stamp (cost a lot) and go to the post office. And when I call someone, I have to consider what time is it there when I call to other country and if it is a good timing for them.
But E-mail, it cost low and it doesn’t bother people’s life, they chechk mail-box when they have time, so it is very convenient.
With E-mail, we can communicate other people equally even though they live in the opposite side of this planet.

Written by Yasumi

It is necessary for me to use cellphone E-mails when I want to meet friends and to send student’s parents information at work.
I can send some friends same contents at the same time. It’s really convenient and I don’t care the time besides.
But I sometimes send summertime letters and new years letters to old friends. While I write letters I think them. It’s a good time for me.
I think each way has each good point.

Written by Hiroko

English: Telex machine Svenska: Telexmaskin
English: Telex machine Svenska: Telexmaskin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
What the heck do you do with one of these!?

When I had been worked for the company, about thirty years ago actually, we had used telex. Our company’s head office is in Massachusetts so we had to contact them everyday.
To send telex, we had to use the special machine and spend time. Sometimes it failed to send. Those are terrible memories for me.
But, one day, the head office decided to use the electric mail, and it made us surprised. It was easy, beautiful and spend short time. But, those days, electric mail was still unstable ways to send important letters.
Now, we call it e-mail and it is easy and quickly to send our situation, opinion, or many other things. We can’t back to telex age. Because we can’t have the telex machine each of us. It’s not easy and it will make us to waste time and money.

Written by Naoko

Monday, 29 September 2014

My new friend

Yesterday I went to a park near my school with my dog. In the park, I met to a  boy.
His age was same as me. He was walking with his dog too. So my dog looked very 
happy. We talked a lot. He said that he likes playing with girls!
I was very surprised with him. We spend a lot of time in the park together.
I didn't ask his name but I want to meet him again.

Tomoro M

Friday, 26 September 2014

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Referendum time – Luna’s voice

Votes are in
The hot topic last week was the Scottish independence referendum, although picking my students’ brains for their thoughts and opinions proved largely fruitless (some were even unaware there was a referendum whilst the rest weren’t really too bothered either way), I did come across this little gem: “I hope Scotland don’t become independent or Scottish whiskey prices will be higher”.

I was in for quite the surprise when I received a phone call from Yukari on Friday morning, just as I was setting off for my midday class at Daiichi High School, requesting if I could prepare an impromptu demo lesson discussing the recent Scottish independence referendum for a slot on the evening news for ABN (Asahi Broadcasting Nagano). I was a little taken back, especially since this gave me a 30 minute window after my midday class to get back to Luna, have lunch and prepare! Despite the unfavourable situation that I found myself in, I decided to give it a shot and make the most of it. It’s not often do you get the opportunity to demonstrate how you operate in your working environment. But I assure you I was in no way calm and collected as I am making myself out to be, to be honest I was terrified at the prospect of conducting a lesson in front of a camera with little to no preparation. What if my students didn't know that Scotland is a country, let alone identify it on a map.

            I motored back to Luna after my class in order to clear my mind so I could set about how I was going to tackle the demo class starting in less than half an hour. However, when I arrived at Luna I was greeted with yet another shocking surprise. The demo lesson plan had fallen through, since we were actually unable to get enough students together at such short notice, so as an alternative ABN wanted to interview English nationals on their opinions of the referendum. Here’s the catch: the whole interview was going to be in Japanese. Definitely not part of the job description when I joined Luna! My head was spinning from just trying to keep up with the day’s antics, I hadn’t even sat down to have my lunch yet. I guess there wasn’t an abundance of potential candidates to choose from either, as they settled on me as an appropriate interviewee. Luckily we also had our friend Mark, who teaches over at Shinshu University, join us for the debate. Thanks for joining us on such short notice Mark!

            I barely had the time to digest the news, and what lunch I could shovel into my mouth, before the crew arrived on set a la Luna. The camera was so big I didn’t think it would fit in my classroom! After brief introductions and usual pleasantries we got straight down to business, the footage was going to be aired in less than 4 hours after all. I was greatly amused by the "voting batons" that had been prepared for us to show whether we were for or against Scottish independence; they were the epitome of Japanese ingenuity and craftsmanship. They had essentially taped on a red circle and blue cross onto plastic tea stirring spoons. They had the last laugh however as me and Mark both had to reluctantly hold up our chosen "baton" for the entirety of the interview, Mark tried to put his down several times but to no avail.

Chewing the fat
            I was a little tense before the interviewing process due to my limited Japanese vocabulary. I thought I would come across as simple and uneducated, which may not be too far from the truth, but I didn’t want people tuning into the news to know that! Having a massive camera sitting right in front of me didn’t help with the nerves either. Once we started though, my fears and worries quickly faded and I quite enjoyed myself. I jokingly mentioned that my biggest relief for Scotland rejecting independence was that we get to keep the Union Jack, as it meant I wouldn’t have to re-teach what the Union Jack represents to all of my students. You wouldn't believe how many people thought the Union Jack was the flag of England.

            But alas the referendum has passed, I had my shot at fame and stardom and the Scots have decided to stay united, for the time being at least. Back to business as usual I suppose. I wonder what old Nessie would have made of Salmond’s plans of an independent Scotland…

Monday, 22 September 2014

This my learning biography, and a Voki!

Hi, I'm Tomoro. 

I'm studying English to remember what I learned in England. I have a lesson once a week with Jim, and I study English in school too. In my lesson I use a textbook and it's a little bit hard. I practice English by listening to English songs like Queen and The Beatles. Also I watch football matches in English too. I sometimes read English books, but I don't like reading.

This is why and how I study English.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Hello 100%

Friday, 19 September 2014

Let's go to the movies.

Created with Sock Puppets for iPhone and iPad.

After reading The Black Night

Describe your favourite art gallery or painter...

Actually I'm unfamiliar with art. But my favorite painter is Leonardo da Vinci. I think his picture is spidery, exquisite and mysterious. I've never seen his painting, so I want to look it in the near future. Especially I want to see Mona Lisa in Louvre Museum. The women is not so beautiful in the painting, but I cannot leave my eyes from her. His painting is realistic, I mean his painting is based on anatomy. He has inquiring mind because he watched body.
English: Self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci. R...
English: Self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci. Red chalk. 33 × 21 cm. Turin, Royal Library ( 15571). NOTE This image is in red chalk. Do not revert to the black and white image. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I also want to see "The Last Supper" at the Church and Dominican Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Accoring to one of the book I read, this painting has secret massage and Leonardo da Vinci was leader of secret society! It was really exciting for me. Leonardo is great painter but also cool person, so he is my favorite painter.

Posted for Miyuki

Zoo book – Lets find the animals!

Hard at work
Satoka and Keina have been learning to ask and answer where to find zoo animals, using the prepositions in, on and under. We have been using the zoo scenes from Everybody Up 1 as well as playing hide and seek with animal flashcards around the classroom. Unfortunately we exhausted all of the hiding spots in my classroom very quickly. It would be fantastic if we could organize a school trip to the zoo for some language reinforcement and a way to blow off some steam, but sadly we don’t have any money trees currently growing in our garden.

Our very own zoo library
As an alternative, we embarked on creating our own zoo book, filled with our favourite animals hiding on/in/under various nature items such as trees or lakes. We folded an A3 sheet of card in half to create our books, instilling life into the empty double spread with our own creative ideas. Satoka and Keina got to show off their wonderful creations to a very proud mummy. They were also able to explain to her where all of their zoo animals were hiding! Smiles all around, even without splashing out on a trip to the zoo.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

After reading the Black Night - describe your favourite art gallery

I like Chihiro Iwasaki. She painted babies and children a lot. Her paints make me feel warm. Children in her paints are so cute. But sometimes they look sad. I want to look them many times over because I don’t know why.

She paints a lot of illustration of books, too. (ex, Andersen) She painted some illustration of war. But she didn’t paint the scene. She painted facial expression a lot. So her paints were very impressive for me.

She painted in water colors. She used a lot of water. So sometimes paints look like India ink drawings. She used mellow colors. I like her colors, too.

When I was a child, my mother bought some replicas for my sisters and me. One of them used only green and white color, and a girl is smiling. I exhibited it in my room. When I was tired, I looked it. It healed me.

There is “Chihiro Museum” near my home town. I haven’t gone there lately. So I want to go there and look her paints. I think many women or girls like her paints.

Posted for Yuri

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Noisy 'see you later' song!

Shopping for Trouble - a shopper writes

When the going gets tough, I go shopping... 

I like shopping! Because I like looking many things for clothes, grocery, shose, etc.. So i like looking something but also buying something. When I buy new things, it makes me happy and excited. My favorite place is Karuizawa outlet and Isetan, which is famous department in Shinjuku.

Regarding Karuizawa, there are many shops. I can buy anything with cheap price. I also like to touch the high brand clothes. Of course I'm not able to buy them but it is exciting. And for the Isetan, I can look and buy latest stuff there. Sometimes, it is hard for me to get some products in Matsumoto, but if I would go this department store, I can get them.

For me, it is exhausting sometimes but I like looking goods and imagine how to use them in my life style. Furthermore, if I can buy a goods after researching, looking, it is very happy!

My learning biography :)

I'm studying English at the moment. It's the second most important language in Japan, and I want to travel to the Olympics in Brazil & Russia.

I go to English classes once a week. We have a coursebook, and I always study it if I have got a free moment, in the car for example. I'm going to read English books and watch English DVDs.


Here's my Voki!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Postcard from New York, New York.


Hello from New York! I stayed in NYC for two days and I really enjoyed. I watched the baseball game (Ynakees x Red Sox), got on a ferry to see the Statue of Liberty and had a great dinner at Grand Central Station. It was so excited city.


After reading Death at Hadrian's Wall...

What 10 things would you put in your backpack for a long hike?

1 a tent: We can be out of winds and rains in a tent. And if we will sleep outside without a tent, it will very dangerous!
2 a torch: we can walk in the dark night safer.
3 a mobile phone: People who reads this book will understand it is necessary to walk for a long distance. If we will get into danger, we will be able to inform it to others quickly. As I am bad at directions, I want to confirm where I am by GPS.
4 raincoat: we need not wet clothes and ourselves if we wear it. So we can keep feel well.
5 matches: They are very useful to set fire when we cook.
6 a pot: If we take it, we can eat hot meal.
7: a map: This is one of the most need things. We can confirm the course to goal.
8: batteries: When the battery of torch run down, we can change it with new one.
9: money: We can buy foods, clothes and other need things. And we can stay a hotel or youth hostel and we can take a bath there.
10: medicine: If we have a stomachache suddenly, we need it.

Posted for Mio

After reading Mystery at Lion Rock - my trip to France & Italy

Write about a (school) trip...

I went to Italy and France with my friends after the graduation from the university in 2005. It was good for me to have two weeks trip with the cheap price as we were still students.
We visited a lot of famous and beautiful buildings like church and museums.

In Italy, we were very excited to go around the locations of Roman Holiday like Spanish Square, The mouth of Truth and Trevi Fountain. We enjoyed doing the same action as the movie.

In France, the most impressive one was the Louvre. I was not very familiar with the arts, but there were many arts that I learned in the text book. Especially, I was moved to see Mona Lisa. It was much smaller than expected, and there were many people around the art, but I felt the great presence from the drawing.

I was also looking forward to seeing the Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay, but it was cloudy, so I hope that I can see it in sunny day next time.

We also enjoyed eating many delicious pizza and sweets in those countries. I can eat most of them even if I am in Japan, but I felt they were special when I had in Italy and France.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Want to be a better teacher? Become a Speaking Examiner...

Delighted to report that Luna's most recent Speaking Examiner training events in Tokyo were a resounding success. This makes sure we are able to have a good rotation of top-class examiners for the coming sessions and beyond, at all adult levels (we are offering all levels of Cambridge English Language Assessment exams for adults - KET, PET, FCE, CAE, & CPE - this autumn, at various locations which can be found via our exams-specific website ).

Experienced teachers prepared to listen & learn
Big slap on the back to the team, giving up two Sundays in succession to tackle some very demanding professional development, and a fairly demanding trainer to boot!

Thanks always to Trevor at King's Road, for hosting us & rearranging classes.. Actually pretty pleased he didn't thump me, after nominating him for the A.L.S. ice bucket challenge!

Certification for all examiners will be taking place on October 19th in Tokyo. Anyone considering becoming an examiner should contact Jim directly.

After reading Daeth at Hadrian's Wall...

Write about an historic structure or building in your country, that you have visited. Include photographs.

 There is a Zenko-ji temple in Nagano city, Nagano prefecture. It was built in seven century.
The main temple was designated a national treasure in 1953. It is the 3rd biggest wooden building in which was designated a national treasure.

Its honzon (the principal image of Buddha) is Amida Sanzon-zo (the image of the Amida Triad). But we can’t see the honzon. We can see the copy instead of honzon once in seven years. The period is called Gokai-cho. The copy is an important cultural property built in Kamakura period, made of bronze.
Zenkoji in Nagano, Nagano prefecture, Japan
Zenkoji in Nagano, Nagano prefecture, Japan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A pillar called Eko-chu is built in front of main temple when Gokai-cho. If you touch the Eko-chu, you will happy in your next world. When I went to Zenko-ji in Gokai-cho, there are a lot of people. So I got in the line to touch the Eko-chu over one hour.

There are some idioms including “Zenko-ji”. For example, “Ushi ni hikarete Zenko-ji mairi” = Never see me as just a cow, the mind of mine let you to go to Buddhism. It mean you are unexpectedly brought to somewhere with others. And an invitation from someone or unexpectedly chance will lead you good or lucky.

I think Zenko-ji temple look very beautiful. I like it.

Posted for Yuri

Write about the best 'bad' guy from a movie

English: The British actor Jeremy Irons presen...
The British actor Jeremy Irons (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
My favorite baddy is Simon Peter Glover acted by Jeremy Irons in Die hard 3.

I fell in love with Jeremy Irons when I saw him in the beginning of this movie. He looks full of intelligence. He is tall and thin. He shows up in the movie, wearing dark blue suit and a pair of sunglasses, and walking through the babel of Wall Street. He looked really cool. The way of his speaking is also attractive.

In the movie, he was setting to have German accent. I couldn’t really tell the difference of English accent. To me, he sounded British accent, which gave me an noble impression.

In the movie, he asks John McClane riddles, saying “Simon says…” He was teasing John, and his elegant and mysterious “Simon says” attracted me because of his coolness.

However, as the movie goes to the end, he becomes just a human being, so I don’t like him so much in the end of the movie. He loses his temper because John McClane brakes his perfect plan. He dies very easily, so I felt something missing with his ending, but I think it is good for the end of bad guy that Justice have to win always!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

After reading The Show Must Go On...

When I was a high school student, I belonged to a brass band club of my school. I played Bassoon. This instrument is not famous. But I liked to play it. Our coach, Mr. Matsui was very good conductor. And he coached us very harshly.

We wanted to make our debut at a national convention. Therefore we had to get a gold medal at each three conventions. To rehearse, we always went to school by first train, and we went home by last train. And not only that, we rehearsed every weekend. Mr. Matsui always said “ If you don’t practice for a day, your skill will return back to three days ago!”

We could get a gold medal at two times every three years. But it was hard for us to get it at the third convention. My last year, we got very nervous by the side of the stage at the third convention. We cheered up each other. And we enjoyed to play there. At last we could get a third gold medal! But we could not go to the national convention. Gold medal was given seven teams, and four upper teams of them could go to the next convention. Our team’s rank was seventh. We were unhappy then, but it is my good memory!

Open week - happy mums everywhere!

A big thank you to all our parents who made the effort to get involved during Open Week. It means a lot to us, that the job we are doing with your children means a lot to you. It is great to see so many of you wanting to see inside the classroom & get a first-hand glimpse of the classroom dynamic.

Importantly, we do not ask our teachers to prepare a finely crafted demonstration that has been rehearsed and drilled down to the last minute; this used to happen when I was an assistant language teacher at Fuzoku junior high school. Every last detail of the class was choreographed (even down to which students would be asked which questions...). Our teachers' brief is to "get on with it", teach a class as usual and highlight how/what the kids can do as well as how you 'do it' along the way - don't play to the gallery.

Obviously the children behave differently with mums hovering, but they quickly forget the audience once engaged with class tasks and it's business as usual. Some issues of course with distractions (little brothers & sisters, mostly) but time flies and a high quality lesson delivered smoothly means no one was watching the clock/surprise that it's already time to wrap things up & set homework.

We will be taking note of your feedback and look forward to fine-tuning things with your comments in mind. 

Anyone is welcome to observe a class at Luna - please do contact Yukari to ask/give us the chance to find you an extra chair etc.

Friday, 12 September 2014

The Black Night - after reading

There is a very valuable painting on display in a local gallery. 

Describe your plan to steal it without getting caught.

I ask my friends to be a member of my robbers’ team. At least I want four or five people who one can
trust in my team. To get down safety with this job, we need for more than one year. I think the local gallery borrows very valuable paintings for art exhibitions from a famous gallery. So we will steal it when the paintings would be carried back to the famous gallery.

First, one of my team will work for this local gallery as part-timer for about a year. And he has to earn the trust of the staffs. And he will say the boss that he knows the very high-grade and low cost transport company to carry art. That is our team! Others of my team will learn method of packing for art for a year. On this day, we will wear disguise. We will pack for art perfectly. And we will carry back them except for the painting we want. This plan is perfect …Oh! This is not perfect. When the staff notice the one of paintings was stolen, our friend who works this gallery will be suspected… I think I can not steal it without getting caught!!

Posted for Mio

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Alphabug soup - There's a fly in my soup!

s...s... soup!
I was looking for an open ended vocabulary game to test some of my YLE students when I stumbled upon “Alphabug Soup”, which was tucked away in our vast boardgames cupboard, right next to the gateway to Narnia.
The essence of the game is to get your critters around the board, and back into your soup pot, by naming words that begin with the letter displayed on the letter disks that you pick up after rolling the die. The aim of the game is to collect as many disks as possible, NOT get around the board as quickly as possible. Repeated words are strictly forbidden!
Rather than focusing on a specific vocabulary set, this game provides the students with freedom to choose their own words. I was especially pleased when “Union Jack” was uttered during game play! The game also helps clear up some common mistakes with words beginning with "l" or "r" and "b" or "v". One of my classes was struggling with differentiating between b and d, the competitive aspect of the game soon straightened out those errors.
I’ve also experiment with some variations to the game and upping the difficulty. Instead of only picking up 1 letter disk per turn, players pick up the amount of letter disks as shown on the die face, moving forward 1 space for each correct answer. For hard mode, the number you roll is the number of words you must say beginning with the letter shown on your chosen disk.
“Alphabug Soup” is fun, versatile and basic enough to suit classes of ranging abilities, whilst allowing for a broader range of vocabulary to come into use. The students also don’t seem to mind the collections of critters bobbing away in their soup pots!

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Making a mobile - butterfly flutter

"This is fun!"
In a bid to brighten up the classroom a little more, Ceilidh and Koutarou gave a helping hand in creating a butterfly mobile to hang up in the classroom (it was also another excuse to bust out the paint brushes and get our fingers dirty!).  We used folded card to draw on 1 wing, then by the magic of mathematics we were able to cut out perfectly symmetrical butterflies with half the work.

Following on from the symmetry theme, instead of painting these butterflies willy-nilly, we painted a pattern onto 1 wing of each butterfly with the intent of pressing the wings together while the paint was still wet to transfer our patterns over onto the opposite wing. It took a couple of attempts before the idea of painting only 1 wing sunk in, while some patterns transferred better then others.

Pressing the wings together
The class was also disturbed by Jim’s ALS ice bucket challenge, which meant we didn’t have the time to assemble the mobile during class. On the other hand, we did get to tip ice cold water all over Jim!

The mobile is now complete and on display by the window, with the butterflies fluttering merrily in the breeze. They can now serve as a reminder to the prospect of spring and sunshine when the cold winter months set in.

The finished product

Monday, 1 September 2014

After reading Rip Van Winkle...Nanako predicts 2034

Happy graded reader!
This is what I think I will see if I wake up after a 20-year sleep!

In people's houses...all the things have 3D screens, like your TV and computers. If you say "Lights on", the lights will come on.

In people's can go to work by a clean bus for free. People wear 3D shirts, and everybody prints their own clothes. You can decide the colour & design and everything on your computer. Life will be better.

In the way people work...some people work at home using their computers and the internet. People work more, because they do it at home - mums can work.

In what people do in their free-time...they can go to space for $1. People will play other new sports and you can do sports in the house with a special helmet. 

I would like to go the future now, cos. I want to see what I will be doing right now. I will not be married, and I will be a doctor in America and in Japan too.  My brother will be married, living in America and be a doctor too. My dad will be retired. My mum will be a normal mum, living in a small house in Matsumoto.

Nanako (7).

Can you do the vocabulary games on Quizlet for this story? Have a try!

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Friday, 29 August 2014

Damian's ALS ice bucket challenge

Damian's guerilla style ALS ice bucket challenge, storming the castle grounds with buckets of ice cold water for a very good cause.
Remember you can either donate some money to us (which we will be forwarding on ourselves) or donate directly at at

phonics; Masa. Long/short /u/

Created with Sock Puppets for iPhone and iPad.

At the supermarket

Created with Sock Puppets for iPhone and iPad.

I can't find my mum (Kaede/Daiya)

Created with Sock Puppets for iPhone and iPad.

Jim's Ice Bucket challenge

Thank you Steve Bond & Katie Malins for nominating me; proud to revisit Rag mentality! ALS a very worthy cause no matter how many of these you have seen - cough up a coin for charity please. Trevor Joseph, Anthony Hogan & Patrick Jackson are my nominees: get wet gents!

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Mobile phones - a great invention?

English: Mobile phone evolution Русский: Эволю...
The not so complete mobile phone evolution
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Almost everybody has a mobile phone. But is it a great invention? I think there are both advantages and disadvantages.
First I would like to introduce some advantages. Firstly, a mobile phone enables us to contact our friends anywhere. We can meet friends even if we don't set the meeting place specifically in advance. Secondly, we can search a lot of things by using the Internet. We can search and get information when we want to. Thirdly, a mobile phone has a high definition camera. A mobile phone makes it easier for everybody to enjoy taking or sharing photos and movies.
On the other hand, there are also disadvantages. For instance, we are spending too much time with a mobile phone. We use it with no purpose to kill time and sometimes we spend a few hours a day by surfing the net. Also, a mobile phone is not good for your eyes. Watching a small display definitely damages your eyes. In addition, some crimes happen by using a mobile phone.
In conclusion, I believe a mobile phone is a great invention and it has changes our lives dramatically. It is true that is sometimes causes bad effects. However, if we take care of the way to use it, it's a very useful and safe tool for us.


Almost everybody has a mobile phone. But is it a great invention? I think there are both advantages and disadvantages.
The first advantage is that people can contact other people easily anywhere, anytime they want. Secondly, they can use the internet to check something, book a hotel and buy something online. The current mobile phone can do almost everything. Thirdly, in case of emergence, they can use it to call.
On the other hand, there are also disadvantages. For example, people need to pick up their phone or get messages even if they take their holiday. Also, it is bad for their eyesight. We get addicted too easily a lot of using mobile phones.
In conclusion, there are some disadvantages, but the mobile phone is a great invention. I think that people need to think about how to use the mobile phones themselves.


Almost everybody has a mobile phone. But is it a great invention? I think there are both advantages and disadvantages.
I think mobile phone is very useful item. Firstly, we can always contact with our friends. In an emergency, we can call the police easily by it. Secondly, everywhere anytime we can research everything by Internet. If you went out with your girlfriend, your mobile phone would recommend a nice café. So it is a nice item.
On the other hand, I think mobile phones are dangerous. For example, we can receive call or e-mails from our office or business. So, we can't relax on holiday. Some people get crazy about mobile games and lose creative or family time.
In conclusion, the balance is important. It is very good items with good use.


Almost everybody has a mobile phone. But is it a great invention? I think there are both advantages and disadvantages.
The first advantage is that we can use our mobile phones anywhere and anytime. Secondly, we can use many functions with mobile phones like e-mail, photos and listening to music. Thirdly, incase we are in trouble, we can call our family or emergency call (110, 119, etc)
On the other hand, there are also some disadvantages. For instance, we also have a chance to get annoyed with unexpected calls. in addition, we must keep the battery on charge all the time!
To sum up, we need to switch off this great invention at least while we are asleep.


Monday, 25 August 2014

Kamikochi information requested

English: Kamikochi in Matsumoto, Nagano prefec...
Kamikochi in Matsumoto, Nagano prefecture, Japan  上高地   (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Kamikochi is about 40km west of Matsumoto.  It is one of the most beautiful mountain parks in Japan. There is a beautiful green forest, an icey cold river, waterfalls, beautiful old lakes, and massive tall mountains, many over 3,000 meters high.

There is a lot of wildlife in Kamikochi. There are friendly wild monkeys, secretive rare Ptarmigan, dangerous black bear and shy quiet deer. There are also pretty chirpy birds.

Our summers are lovely and cool, with clear blue skies. You can go camping in safe cheap camp sites and hiking along easy enjoyable tracks. You can go boating in interesting small boats, and  take photographs of beautiful natural scenes.

In winter, there is heavy snow, with good snow-shoeing spots. 

I hope this information is useful for you.

Best wishes, 

Tomoro's summer holiday report

English: Mount Jōnen from_Mount_Akaiwa 日本語: 赤岩...
Mount Jōnen from Mount_Akaiwa 赤岩岳から望む常念岳 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In my short summer holiday I went to climb a 2986m mountain called Jonendake with my mum. It was very easy to climb because it wasn't so high. At the top of the mountain we took some photos of the beautiful mountain scenery. The weather wasn't so bad but, it was raining a little bit. We stayed for one night in a lodge at the top of Jonendake, and we ate a good hot dinner of hunberger, rice, miso soup, vegetables and jelly for dessert.

I also went to my grandmothers' houses in Chiba and Kanami. In Chiba I saw a Japanese samurai film called Ruroni Kensin. It was really enjoyable because the samurai Kensin, the star, was a very cool killer. The rock music was super and the fighting was very glory. In Kanami I tidied my grandfather's room, which took a long time as it was really untidy. I also watched a lot of the high school baseball tournament on TV. All of the games were good. My grandmothers were very happy to see my face and I was happy to see them.

I had a very good time this holiday, but next year I will have a high school entrance exams so I won't be able to play much then.

My camping experiences in Japan - a student writes

When I was young, I experienced several camps with my family and as a member of school student and Girl Scout. The places were different every time, but I always used dixie to cook rice and had dinner outside.

In the camp with my family, the camp place was sea side. We enjoyed playing fireworks and doing BBQ. The tent was very narrow and a little bit hot. However, I was happy as my mother fanned me until I felt into a sleep.

In the camp as a member of school student, we hiked to Utsukushigahara highland and stayed in a lodge. I was happy, as a boy who I liked and I were in the same group. I could cook and had curry with him. In addition, I danced with him by the camp fire. It was my one-way love, but it was good memory.

The camp as a member of Girl Scout was more complicate than other two camps. Especially, building big tent was analog (physical?) and hard work. I remembered that talking with other members was fun in the tent, but next day, we had to unbuild and fold the tent…

I haven’t done camps for a long time, but they
were good experience for me. If I have children in the future, I want them to experience unusual life like camp.

(Posted for Chinasa, after reading "Stranger Danger")

Sunday, 24 August 2014

My favourite possession - my iPod drip!

Ipod touch 2gen
Ipod touch (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It's got two high quality cameras at the front and back, the one at the back has flash which also can be a flashlight. It's got a big 32GB memory can hold lots of apps, music and photographs. It's got a clear big touch screen.

I like to use it to text chat with friends and family, phone them, send pictures and videos. I also like to listen to my music, take pictures and videos. I can play games, watch videos on YouTube, check quizlet and search for some answers for my homework. I check the weather every day and use it as an alarm clock which has various ringtones. 

I accidentally dropped it in the river last week, so I'm really sad.

Takuro :(

Saturday, 23 August 2014

The most idyllic place I have ever visited is....

The most idyllic place I have ever visited is Ohshika-mura in Nagano Prefecture.

I lived in Nagano Prefecture for a long time, but I didn't know Ohshika-mura until one of my friend worked for elementary school there. I visited her together with my friends. It is located in the southern part of Nagano.

We drove to south by express highway and exit from Matsukawa IC. It was a long winding road to the village. It took over 30 minutes into deep valley to east. There were neither houses nor shops along road. Sometimes deer and/or monkeys jumped out from valley.

After coming out of a tunnel, there is a small village. There are dotted with houses. There is only one grocery store, but no convenience store. I love the hot spring spa there. It was located in the middle of mountain. It is a small facility and has only open-air spa. In the spring, I could enjoy the beautiful green landscape down to the village.

 Ohshika-mura is famous for Kabuki which is the traditional Japanese performance art. The people living in Ohshika-mura play some famous story every spring and fall.

Well, I love to visit there but I don't want to live there. I am living within walking distance from the convenience store as well as bus stop. Also our parents live near to our house. It is very convenient environment for me.

Posted for Tomoko, after reading "Double Trouble"

The Secret in the Farmhouse - writing about being brave

I have three dogs. The accident happened to one of them nine years ago. It had past several months since I had her. I had taken her for a walk every morning.

One day, I changed the lead to new one for her as the previous one was a little bit complicating. It, however, was too loose to hold her. When she stopped to sniff a tuft of grass, I pull the lead and moved forward. Then, she came out from the lead. When I tried to catch her, she was surprised and ran away! I chased her, but she continued to escape from me.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have mobile phone. In addition, there were no any other people around there. Therefore, I could not ask anyone to help and I had no way but to keep chase her not to lose her. I had been struggling with the situation for twenty minutes.

After that, I found a dog in the backyard of a house. I suddenly recalled that my dog liked other dogs. I thought that she came close to the dog if she saw the dog and I could catch her.

I didn’t know the owner of the house, but I knocked the window from the backyard to call the owner. The owner was surprised, but when I talked about the accident, she took her dog to me. When my dog saw the dog, she was pleased to come close and I finally caught her. I was very relieved and appreciated the owner and the dog.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Voice in Silence - Shigeki Tomura’s Drawing and Drypoint etching Exhibition

Shigeki Tomura's work
Shigeki Tomura’s Exhibition “Voice in Silence” will be open on September 11 at Trattoria Gallery Matsumoto. Shigeki Tomura was born in east-northeast in Japan and he lives in Morioka-Iwate, now. Since 1984, he has been dedicated to drypoint etching. Drypoint is a printmaking technique, in which an image is incised into a traditionally copper plate with a hard-pointed needle. He has received some international prizes since 1989. His works are extremely delicate and sensitive. They are in monochrome silence world. You can feel real air and deep atmosphere in the works. His works are very quiet but they have great presence. His works are really popular for people. It will be his first exhibition in Matsumoto city. 
The gallery restaurant “Torattoria Gallery Matsumoto” is a unique style gallery restaurant in the city. Many kinds of homemade pizza and pasta are popular.