The Links - everything

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Plating up the 2015 Rugby World Cup - #CarryThemHome

Unless you have been hiding under a rock over the last few days, you will be aware that the 2015 Rugby World Cup is in full swing, with World Cup history being made in the South Africa vs Japan game. A game that will be talked about for years to come, and deservedly so with such a magnificent performance from the Brave Blossoms! There may be a few late nights with eyes glued to screens over the coming month for Damian and Jim.

Who's going to win this group?
Rugby is still a growing sport here in Japan, and in an attempt to raise awareness of the sport (especially as Japan will be hosting the next tournament in 2019!), we got some of our students involved in a workshop on the theme of "Countries and Flags". Most of our students were unaware that the World Cup is going on, let alone the 20 countries involved. I hoped to change all that recruiting some help from a few keen students. I even wore my full rugby kit for the entire day in honour of the occasion!

With 20 national flags and home jerseys to colour and sort, it was quite the task for Kahina, Hinata and Hikari. Since there were 4 of us, me included, we assigned a knock-out group for each person to focus on and got to work! We ran into a bit of trouble when Kahina chopped one of the kits in half, but thankfully, after having a closer look, it turned out to be the French one.

A proud smile!
The real challenge came however when we came to matching the kits to their national flags. Some of the colour schemes are not too dissimilar to each other and even Damian sensei got in a muddle at times. We got there eventually through some good guess work and trial and error. In hindsight writing the countries on the reverse may have been a good idea...

How many more upsets will there be? Who's going to come out on top on the 31st of October? What are your predictions for the Rugby World Cup?
The final product

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Satoka describes her house

Always a nice little follow up to a nice little reader - when Kipper & family move into a new house and have new adventures waiting for them.

Nice drawing Satoka - nice house! And very nice voice :)

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Anne of Green Gables - after reading

Dear Marilla,

How are you Marilla?  I feel strange to ask you this question since I was with you yesterday.

It is my first date in Charlottetown.  The dormitory is close to the Queens Academy.  The scenery from my room is totally different from Green Gables.  From my room, I can see the street to Academy.  After I arrived in the town, I went to see the building of Academy.  I am excited to start new college life here.

The people in dormitory are very nice and kind to me.  I am sure I can get along with them and will not get in a trouble like I did in Avonlea.  I will become friends with other students and a good girl in the class room.  Of course, I will study hard to be a teacher like Miss Stacy .  Oh, I cannot wait for tomorrow morning.

I just miss you and Matthew.  I will go to my dearest home at weekends.  I will be able to talk to you about the new friends, new teacher, what I study and Charlottetown.  Please take care of yourself, Marilla.  And, please give my best wishes to Matthew.  I love two of you very much.

With my best regards,


Love among the Haystacks - After reading

We had to build the tent by ourselves.  It took time to build the tent as it was the traditional type that was supported by poles and ropes and difficult to build.  We cooperated with each other to build it.
In the night, we slept in our own sleeping bag in the tent.  It was very exciting as it was unusual experience for us even though it was narrow.  We were too excited to sleep and talked a lot through the night.  Our voice
and laugh were sometimes loud and one of the leaders came to the tent and alerted us to sleep immediately.
In the meantime, some accidents happened in the night.  A part of tent suddenly collapsed as someone attacked the pole accidentally during sleeping and someone tripped over the stake and the rope loosed outside of the tent.

I have not gone camping and slept outdoors recently, but I would like to go somewhere if there are any good places.  Do you have any recommendations?

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Unusual Suspects - after reading The Mystery at Lion Rock

I think a master criminal who lives in neighbour will have 2 types.
One is strange person who is constantly stayed in house and/or is doing strange behavior, and the neighborhood don't know what the person is doing or how the person is.
So, the neighborhood is always on alert against movements of ther person.

Other is a person who is accommodating and takes the lead in activities in the community.
The person is always kind and the neighborhood is lower ther person's defenses.
But a part of persons who are accommodating and kind seem to feel stress and have a possibility to pwepetrate a crime.
So, the person is easy to perpetrate a crime in neighbour and is hard to being suspected of the crime.

In my neighbour, there was a person who is 1st type.
He worked in daytime, but he went to anywhere everynight.
I admired him for having the stamina to work and enjoy everyday.
But, one day his family (his parents and his younger sister) moved home suddenly because he did something bad.
I and the neighborhood doesn't know in detail what he did.

Posted for Ritsuko

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Postcard from...Stonehenge, England

Dear Jim,

How's doing?

I hope your everything alright. I spent a couple of day in London, and I think London is one of the best city where I've ever been. People in there are very kind like you.

See you next class.


Thursday, 3 September 2015

After reading - Gulliver's Travels

Česky: Gulliver u Hvajninimů, ilustrace
The Houyhnhnms (taken from Wikipedia)
Which people or creatures in the story would you most like to meet? Which would you least like to meet? Explain why.

I would like to meet most is the Houyhnhnms and I would like to meet least is Yahoos. I thin the reason why.

Because every word that the Houyhnhnm's master speaks is right and perfect, and he tells always in a very intelligent, gentle way. He seems to me a quite reasonable. I like such a type of people. Also Houyhnhnms can live their lives without lying, stole, disease, crime and wars which human beings have experienced and died.

They use language in order to understand each other and to give and receive information. Houyhnhnms's master says, "If you don't tell the truth, how can people understand each other".

The country of the Houyhnhnms horses (not people) are in control, and their servants are Yahoos. Yahoos are the horrible-looking animals which has human faces looked like Gulliver. But Gulliver hates the Yahoos for their dirty habits and unpleasant character. He thinks how different Houyhnhnms life is from what he was used to. He says to the master of, "In my country all the important people look like Yahoos".

I hate to meet Yahoos which Gulliver tells. But I can't live without such a character like Yahoos. So I always try to be like Houyhnhnms and I would like all the important people in our country the most intelligent in the world for peace than truth making war making money.

Posted for Mine

Monday, 31 August 2015

Ten in the Bed - singalong with art/craft functionality!

With mummy
 If you have a good idea - which I rarely do! - then the smartest thing to do is try to do it again, better...or differently, or backwards...and I have actually seen some young learners trying to use scissors backwards, so bear with me!?

Primary Music Box (CUP) is the starting point for this numeracy activity, to go with the  "10 in the Bed" Nursery Rhyme. Obviously, if you have ten or more kids in your class, you can skip this posting! Most language schools, though, usually have up to about 6 in the room - and not a lot of rolling around on the floor room at that!
Confident gluing team

Set about this by numbering the 10 children from the photocopiable resource, and adding a step - using Super Simple Learning's I see something blue/pink songs (still needed two extra verses myself add black & grey). Another excuse to recycle a familiar song/add a 'listening' challenge; depending on the intensity of your colourers, pause between verses?

We made these!
For very young learners this is where the adventure ends, resume next week with the 'bits' cut out - it is very fiddly & time consuming (you'll be re-attaching more arms than it's worth!). For 5/6 year olds plus, should be able to manage the cutting out phase. Do this again with the song so everyone is focused on the same task, not racing away and chopping like fury?

With a small class (2 max!) you might be able to cut as you go yourself, and keep ahead of the next step!

Winking optional!
Whatever glue you use, use sparingly and demonstrate what you want your children to do CLEARLY - prevent eager starters and shut down yapping! Suggest you also do this by nominated colours to prevent chaos/mixed up bits/early finishers/glue everywhere but where it was supposed to be!

Teacher tip; enlarge the set you are making for yourself - fat fingers do not go into the A4 size intended for your nippers!

Count the finger puppets you've all got made now - should be ten! Ask them to find the green/blue orange one etc. Help children getting them all on to digits!

Scissor skills
Press play, and sit together but be able to pause the song at each verse-end; build in a "roll-over" action. Drop ONE finger puppet off and recount the ones remaining. Continue to one ("I'm lonely!" - Give it a hug and ask which colour is left).

Remove table/stand up, have another go without pauses and a 'turn around' action to 'roll over'.

So, think about your class in terms of eye-hand co-ordination (scissors - beware lefties as they will need proper left-handed scissors), how much glue you can cope with on surfaces/are prepared to clean up, time available, for the art/craft bit vs production.

NB Learning the song? Not important - but they'll have heard it & picked up subliminally all lesson if you are good with BGM :)

Sunday, 30 August 2015

The Funniest Man

Let me introduce the funniest man in the world. The person who I think is the funniest in the world is Mr. Bean. He is the best of all.

He is always being funny & stupid in films. To me, watching Mr. Bean is like watching a grown-up with a child's brain. He always does something that is unbelievably amazing, and he makes me laugh.

For example, at Christmas, Mr. Bean's friend came around, but Mr. Bean only had a chocolate stick, so he cut a branch and painted it with some kind of black paint, placed it on a plate, and gave it to his friend. I loved this scene very much. I wanted to watch it again and again.

Rowan Atkinson on a Mini at Goodwood Circuit i...
Rowan Atkinson on a Mini at Goodwood Circuit in 2009, demonstrating a famous scene from the Mr. Bean series. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Another reason why I love his act is that he sometimes becomes really serious to accomplish his mission. He is also talented at creating a happy atmosphere.

Another example is when he goes to Paris and ruins his own trip. I can't explain with words, but he is the funniest man in the world.

You should watch his films when you are tired of your life! He will make you laugh so much that your mind will be refreshed.

Posted for S.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Information sheet - Izakaya (a Japanese bar) in Japan

No shoes!
  • You have to be 20 to drink in an Izakaya. If you look young, sometimes ID card is required.
  • Some izakayas will have tatami areas. Be sure to remove your shoes before stepping on the tatami mats.
  • Many izakayas will have a locker with wooden keys. Make sure exactly where your locker is.
  • While being seated at your table, you will usually find a small white towel, called "Oshibori". You should wipe your hands before eating.
  • A lot of izakaya will automatically serve you a small dish when you are first seated. You have to pay a small charge for this dish.
  • Many people tend to start with beer. But there are various drink menues in izakayas.
  • You are allowed to smoke in izakaya in Japan.
  • In izakayas, it is traditional to share the dishes. As a group, sharing each dish by taking small plate.
  • When receiving drinks, it is polite to hold the glass with both hands. One hand should be underneath and one on the side.

Posted for Yuki

Friday, 28 August 2015

How has the role of women changed (in your country)?

Write an article for an online magazine about how the role of women has changed in your country and say whether you think these changes are positive or negative.

The roles of women has changed dramatically over the last 50 years. But is it a good or a bad thing?

In the past, women weren't able to do as many things as man were. In almost all countries, women didn't have the right to vote. In Japan, it was taken for granted that ladies would stay home and do all the housework, so none of them went to work. They didn't even have the chance to work even if they had the motivation.

English: Women in Japan voting
Women in Japan voting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
These days in Japan, many things have changed. Women have more power & rights in today's society. Women can vote. They can also work. Precisely speaking, it is becoming natural for women to work. What is more, they have the same chances of promotion as men. As a result, there are now many female managers, company presidents, and even politicians.

Women's sports have become popular, and have increased recognition. In our country, women's volleyball is more watched than the men's. Our women's soccer team is also very strong, not only in Asia like the men's, but in the World Cup.

Are these changes positive? I personally think that they are. There are about the same number of women as men in the population, which means half the population of the world has been treated badly. Every one of us has the right to live as we like. Everybody should be treated the same way. That is why this alteration is affirmative.

Posted for Toshiya.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Postcard from Iowa, USA

Dear Jim sensei,

How are you? I am always sleepy because of jet lag.

It's good in U.S.A. I meet my friend and spoke English. It was fun.


Dear Jim sensei,

How are you? I'm fine. I meet my friends!

I did BBQ with my friends. I bought the t-shirts.

See you. 


Tuesday, 25 August 2015

After reading Secret in the Farmhouse

Write about an act of bravery that you have personally witnessed or experienced.

Every summer, Nippon Television who is one of main television stations broadcasts a program entitled "24 Hour Television".  This program's purpose is to introduce many activity or challenge by disability persons and to collect donations for improving environmental for disability persons.

Main event all through the program "24 Hour Television" is marathon by a talent and this year talent named "Daigo" run 100 km for the finish line at an arena named "Budokan".

At 24 Hour Television, I saw a 13-years old boy who lives in Minowa town, near Ina city, in Nagano prefecture. He has a heart condition and a physical difficulty, and until now, he experienced much pain in 5-times big surgery and in the stay at the hospital and his life has some limits.

But, he is very cheerful person and gave me some brave messages.

  • "Someone is tall in height and someone is short in height.  My heart condition and physical difficulty is just individual character and I don't feel sorry for myself."
  • "Everyone has something good"
  • "I am very happy to just live my life as usual."

I thought he experienced many many hardest things and he overcame his pains at the age of just 13-years old. Our difficulty is not of matter compared with the hardest things he may experienced.
I was impressed with his kind/bravery message and his family including his younger 5-years brother.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Students' Bon Bon posters

Yuto's poster
This is a Chouchin, which is used for make bright at night a long time ago. Now they put electric light in it  but in the past they put candles in it and lit the candle.

Matsumoto bonbon is when people dance, sing, eat and drink. Matsumoto Bon Bon is in August

Nanko's poster

Takoyaki is an octopus ball; it tastes very good.

Yakisoba is noodles fried with vegetables. It tastes delicious.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Eyes wide shut - a nervous passenger

Photo credit: Jim George

Is there someone you know who drives badly? Write about a trip you made with them when you were afraid.

A few years ago, I went hiking with my friends. One of my friend drove to the mountain.

She drove fast. Her car’s seats were lower than mine. I felt the ground is close to me. I felt a little scare when I sat the seat.

There were a lot of curve on the way to the mountain. But she didn’t drive slowly when she drove curving road. I was afraid. Because one side of the road was cliff. And some time suddenly oncoming vehicle was appear from the rock. I couldn’t say “Please drive slowly” to her. Because she looked happy and she said “ I love to drive curving road!”

I tried to smile and I put a force with my legs.

I enjoyed hiking. But I felt tire than usual. And I haven’t got on her car after that. If I go hiking with her, I try to get on another car.

We went hiking last month. But I got on another car. She drove in front of ours. But soon we couldn’t see her car. We talked “Sorry to her car’s people. We drove carefully.”

Posted for Yuri

Monday, 17 August 2015

Postcard from New York, USA


It's my last night in New York City. I'm writing this at hotel lobby. I walked around NYC this time. It was sunny & good for walking.



I will transfer to Chicago to have our meeting with a new customer. This trip is the longest stay (10 days) in U.S. for me. I'm getting tired, but I'd like to enjoy the stay!


Sunday, 16 August 2015

The Phantom of the Opera - another letter to the Persian

To my friend to my only friend

I have been hungry and disired for love, and now I found it at last. I don`t want anything anymore. Now I don`t regret anymore. 
I was born with scaring face. It`s not mother`s fault I know. But my mother scared me,never watched my face and never kissed me. Then she would like hate me gradually. 
I prefered and admired beautiful things,buildings,art, music and so on. I made my house in the deep underground of the Opera House secretly. And I remade some secret passages to be able to move freely. I could enjoy watching stageplays as a invisible man.
I have been satisfied this life till I found my Angel, Christine Daae. I was fascinated her voice like songs from heaven. I loved her passionately, then I wanted to marry her.
I tried to eliminate ones to interrupt my action without mercy. 
Some time she was going to leave the Opera House for love.
Desparately I took her away from stage and forced her to marry me, you knew that. She said “yes”,and she kissed me voluntarily. 
Then the world changed. I lost the reason to stay here, to live more. 
I will go somewhere never been in. 
Good-bye friend. I`m sorry and thank you for everything.


Posted for Misako

Saturday, 15 August 2015

The Phantom of the Opera - what really happened

Erik was unhappy man. He has terrible ugry face. Even her mother never kissed him. She gave him his first mask when he was two years old. She turned her face away from him every time. 
But Christine put her arms around Erik's neck and she kissed him. That was his first kiss from a waman. That was why. He decided she would set free. and Erik wanted to die. He did not want to live any longer. He thought it makes her to be free.and to be happy. He killed himself. 
After that Raoul and Christine married and were happy. 
But they never came back to Paris. and never singing Margarita.

Posted for Yoko

Friday, 14 August 2015

The Phantom of the Opera - a letter to the Persian

To the Persian

I am leaving this letter for you, because once you were my friend. Now, of course, I have only enemies. People scream when they see my face. I am clever, it is true, but no woman can ever love me. And how can a man live without love?
When I was a child, I was very unhappy. My mother never kissed me. She didn't want to look at me because I was so ugly. And years later, when I was a man, I did many terrible things. I know that, and I am free now. But I did one sorry thing in my life. Christine is wonderful. She can marry the Vicomte and be happy.
But I can never forget her good voice, and I cannot live without her.
And so, goodbye.

Posted for Reiko

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Independence Day - schoolgirl's experience in San Diego

I have not cruised for a long trip, but I have a good memory that I’ve seen fireworks from a ship.
It was fun, so let me write down the experience here.

I’ve been to a city, called Oceanside, near to San Diego, USA. My host family had a neighbor in good relation. My host family had four children, and the youngest girl was about 20 years old. The neighbor had two boys, and the oldest boy was the same age as her. They were friends from childhood, so it might also bond their parents.

The neighbor had a ship which is about 5 meter long in the port of San Diego.

There are fireworks to celebrate independence on 4th of July every year. The neighbor invited us to see the fireworks from their ship. It was my first time to join the celebration of independence date, so I was excited.

The view of port was amazing with white clean ships. I strongly felt it was beautiful because I was grown up in mountain side. On the ship, we had a couple of glasses of wine, and saw fireworks on the ship. Everything was new to me who was from mountain side in Japan. I enjoyed the atmosphere, and appreciated the neighbor that I could experience one of American customs.

I hope to see the fireworks from a ship again.

Posted for Yumi

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

An honest appraisal of a commuter's driving skills

I think I am bad driver.

Every weekday, I am usually ready to go to the office 13-15 min. before starting an operating time.

We had waked up earlier (ex, 15 min. earlier) in order to get ready to go to the office earlier. I left my house just 2-3 min. earlier because my preparation became slowly without realizing.

So, I gave up to waking up earlier.

To get back to talking about bad driver, due to late preparation, I need to hurry and usually increase speed and sometimes stop quickly.

That is, I have no time to stop for a car oncoming lane or a person who wants to cross the road without crosswalk and to stop at a point where a yellow light is flashed.

Near work, there are 2 schools, and many students are walking in my commuting line. One time, I almost got into an accident. I am always afraid that I may have a car accident some day.

In Matsumoto, it is difficult for us to live without car. In order to keep my car license and to be good driver, I am trying to shorten the time of my preparation.

Name withheld!

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Mallorca mystery

After Hannah went back to England, she goes to university to be a biologist.  She spent the special holiday in Mallorca Island and cannot forget about the beautiful blue sea.  At the same time, she regretted that she could not do anything for dead seal which she saw at the beach.  She wanted to help it, but she did not know anything about animals living in sea.

She has another reason.

During she spent holiday with her friend Joe, she felt her job at bank is really boring.  She finds her job is just for her money not for anyone else.  On the other hand, Joe studies Spanish literature at university.  Hannah wanted to study on what she is interested in and it would be better if her study could help other people.  After she could be a biologist, she wanted to work together with Ramon.
He is working for Spanish coast guard and she thought she could help him for protect the beautiful blue sea.  Through the experience that Ramon and Hannah went into the cave, she thought two people could do a greater job than only one person.

Posted for Tomoko

Monday, 10 August 2015

Hiroshi's 'Strange' Holiday - after reading...

This is a story in the summer two years ago. I went drinking with my friends when I went to my home town. The place we drunk was far from my house in my home town. So I left for there by train. We enjoyed our reunion after a long time while drinking. So I forgot the time the latest train leaves.

After drinking, I decided to go home by taxi in the end since the latest train had left. However, I did not use taxi till my house to save the cost of a taxi ride. I decided to walk after getting down from taxi on the way. I walked along the railway. There are not anyone in the way to my house since it was the midnight. It was very dark and silent.

It was the night even the only dog did not bark.

However, I suddenly could hear the strange noise. That was the sound like someone hit the rail way at many times. I looked around, but there are not anyone. The noise continued for a few second. I shouted from fear. Then the noise stopped. When I tried to start walking as relieved, I found something surprised. There were some bunch of flowers by my foots. Those were offered for the dead men by traffic accident there. I could not breath in surprised at the moment. I start running in rush.

Posted for Hiroshi

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Dodgy neighbours - suspicious Miyuki

Which of your neighbours could be a master criminal? 

I think the neighbour in next to right side could be a master criminal.

The family is really strange for me and I suppose there is secret in their house. I heard the father is normal office worker but he drives high class car such as Mercedes, Lexus. In addition, he often changes the luxury car. Their children went to high school in China. I think there is a secret to earn money.

The oldest boy has a child and they lived together with their parents. The child is small but I cannot hear any voice or crying from the house. I have never seen a child. Normally, I can hear any voice from house where is child. It is really strange for me.

I'm wondering if the house has thick wall with good quality.

As there are people can speak Chinese, they could contact with China and import or export some goods illegally. Just imagine..

So, I think they could be a master criminal.

Posted for Miyuki

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Seven - book review

This book is about detectives who find a clue to the last deadly sin, Envy...I think the most exciting and most aggressive part is when the assistant shoots the murderer, Doe, in the head.

The story is about a crazy-minded man being jealous of happy people and kills seven of them, leaving Deadly Sins' names somewhere. The given sins' names are related to the case of the person who was murdered. There are seven different ways of killing the victims, but I'm not going to say how they die because if so, the stroy will be ruined.

I loved the idea of using the seven deadly sins' names. It was amazing & fresh. I also loved the way of killing people and the backgrounds of the victims. What I didn't like so much was that it was a little bit too bloody & I think the book is not suitable for kids.

I my opinion, this book was written for teens, and bloody scenes are required, so maybe you'll like it.

Posted for Shimei.

Monday, 3 August 2015

We painted the town red - Bon Bon in full Luna colour!

The Grande Depart
 Aching limbs, hoarse voices and stuck on smiles? Sure signs you've been dancing around the town again!

We circled our wagons as the traffic stopped on Eki Mae dori, just after 5pm on Saturday evening, and waited for our red wave to arrive. Busy process then getting name tags secured around children's wrists - we nearly lost a little girl a few years ago & I can't tell you how scary that was. Distributing fans which our students delighted in creating last week, and a bandana to top off the costume.

A Luna Dervish
Important to get dads, especially, in the mood with amber throat charming juice, and network a bit - one of Yamaga's star players came over to say hello, as did a couple of the Yamaga die-hards - good on you guys!

The music started bang on time and we were away, looking fresh and keen...away from the main festival that is, up the main drag into matsuri hinterland. Once again, no crowds, stalls, or mood. Who cares - over 70 of us this year so we entertained ourselves royally, and had a good practice so by the time we did turn in towards the main action, we were on a roll. As you can see from the slideshow here, everyone had a superb time - and almost everyone kept going from start to finish. Awesome stamina.

Proud of all our dancers; the festival is all about you, and you made this year very special. Of course thank yous to all parents and grandparents who looked after us along the way & especially Yukari for dealing with all the unglamorous preparations.
We totally conquered Matsumoto - again!

Find all the photos from Matsumoto Bon Bon 2015 right here

Friday, 31 July 2015

Planting acorns - Luna's Reading Tree

Current progress
Back in April, to coincide with the start of  a new academic year here in Japan, we endeavoured on yet another project: Luna's Reading Tree. As our students develop their reading skills, we wanted a reminder within the classroom of their progress as means of evaluation for both student and teacher. Conveniently, it also adds to the decor!

As part of our reading curriculum, the Oxford Story Tree series has been a staple to many of our young learners as their first steps to reading in English and beyond. Having only become acquainted with Kipper and the gang relatively recently, I've thoroughly enjoyed their grand, and at times bizarre, adventures alongside my students.

The first step
Part of the reason this series has been such a hit with Luna is the language progression, each story builds on the vocabulary from the previous titles to allow students to expand their vocabulary without getting heavily bogged down with too many new words. Each series also comes with an audio CD, to listen in class or at home, and a workbook focusing on the key words from the story. Both bring a great wealth of additional materials/content for children to internalize the language.

The entire series spans 7 levels, with each level represented by a different colour, while at Luna we use the first four levels: red blue, green and orange. We believe this provides enough of a platform for our students to begin discovering their own titles and genres to explore.

The secret room looking lonely
Luna's Reading Tree represents all 28 titles, in the forms of leaves, from the 4 series, differentiated by the different colours. Each time you complete the story along with the workbook, you add a customised acorn to the relevant "leaf" to show off your accomplishments. Our goal is to have a luscious tree budding with vibrant energy, although our initial plan may not come to complete fruition as the Oxford Story Tree series are no longer available to order in Japan.

Never fear though as we still have some tricks up our sleeves and an opportunity to discover other fascinating stories to spark our students' imaginations.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Rainy season heat

 A long rainy season has from early June has finally ended, but what is worse is the scorching sunny days after that. Most days this week were boiling, over 30 degrees Celsius . It is perfect weather for swimming in the pool in the P.E class. The heat is not so bad at night or during classes at school because we have fans to keep us fresh and cool.

 However, after school or at the weekend, I usually have badminton club, where we use shuttles which are very light and easily blown by the wind, so we close the doors and all the windows. This makes the gymnasium horribly hot and humid. I changed 4 T-shirts in about 4 hours and drank about 3.5 liters of water!

 I want to hang out at the beach with cute girls instead of playing badminton with big sweaty guys!

Posted by Takuro

Friday, 17 July 2015

After reading - A letter from an orang-outang

When I met you for the first time in Borneo,I thought you were so kind. You moved me from the small cage to the big one. So I was relieved for a while. Then I thought I would go home in jungle again.

But you "a sailor " were not totally good man.You put me in a small cage again and moved to a ship.I stayed for two months. That was a terrible journey. I felt seasickness everyday and I didn`t like the food you gave .In addition I hated the whip.

In Paris, the situation was almost same. I eally wanted to go home.
The trees in the jungle was my favorite place. In the Rue Morgue I saw the lightning-rod, I thought I could be on treetops.But it was different. I watched women. It was a badly stressful incident.

Fortunately I stay in the Zoo in Paris now. This is the quiet life for me. I hear you get lots of money instead of selling me. I never forgive you.

Posted for Hiroko

Thursday, 16 July 2015

After reading - An unusual story involving an animal

Every Japanese knows Hachi,a akita dog. Hachi was born Akita prefecture in 1923. When he was 1year old, he came to Tokyo.

Mr.Eisaburo Ueno who was a professor of Tokyo University, Department of Agriculture by train. Mr.Ueno wanted to keep a Akita dog although he had had 2dogs.

Everyday when Mr.Ueno went to University, Hachi saw him to the door or to the Shibuya Station. And when Mr.Ueno came back home, Hachi went to Shibuya Station to meet him.

But, after a year, Mr.Ueno passed away by a stroke of apoplexy after a meeting of the University. Hachi didn't have anything for 3days after his death.

On the day of Mr.Ueno's funeral, Hachi went to Shibuya Station to meet Mr.Ueno.
Later, Mr.Ueno's relatives tried to keep Hachi, but it didn't work well.

After 2 years Mr.Kobayashi who was a gardener of Mr.Ueno's house kept Hacchi.He knew Hachi since Hachi was a baby. Mr. Kobayashi loved Hachi very much, but Hachi didn't stop to go to Shibuya Station to meet Mr. Ueno. On his way to the station, Hachi stopped at Mr.Ueno's house and looked inside of the house through the window.

One day Mr.Saito who was the president of Japanese dog preserve association knew about Hachi and wrote the news paper article about Hachi. Hachi became famous, people loved him.
10years later, after Mr.Ueno died, Hachi passed away.People atend his farewell ceremony and he was berried to the grave next to Mr.Ueno. Hachci's blonze statue was built at Shibuya station, and it is still there.

Posted for Yasumi

Thursday, 9 July 2015

After reading Hamlet - a conversation between king and prince

Hamlet went to another world where he saw his father.

Hamlet: Father, at last I have killed bad Claudius for your revenge. I decided I had to kill him when your ghost spoke to me about your true death. That was too cruel.

Father: You did a great job, fulfilled my soul. It;s great, my dear son. But I'm sad you died and came to this world too young. I hoped you lived strongly with Ophelia for long time as Denmark's noble king.

Hamlet: I'm sad about Ophelia, her father Polonius and brother Laertes. I'm sorry forgive me.

Father: You were good, noble and gentle prince. You are loved by all people. But it's not enough to live as a king of Denmark for long time.

Hamlet: Yes I was. I should be more cruel for bad people. Next time we will again be in that world and be a most royal and complete king to Denmark.

Father: I hope so. We will live strongly without revenge or not to receive revenge from others. We have to live for long time. It's important.

Posted for Mine

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Sensei, I don't have a story to tell...speaker's block & interrogative teaching

Andy Offutt Irwin telling a story, Atlanta Bot...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Casually mentioned I was trying to teach "The Narrative Tenses" last Thursday evening, via Swarm,  and then had a bit of a 'mare doing so. Friend, inspiration and twitter vivant +Michael @mickstout promptly asked me about resources to do so. Oh hell, called out!

Back story = used to employ a DELTA-qualified teacher whose every second sentence was about teaching the narra'ive tenses (Geordie), how good he was at it (them?) and that we should all d'off caps & bend a knee to the genius before us. But seeing as we have never had that many students in the rarefied reaches of advanced do need a bit for YLE Movers but you can generally get by without having to display any grasp of the past perfect simple/past perfect continuous/ fact if you even tried, I think the speaking examiner would shake your hand!

This particular class week was missing the storytellers, instead only the 'answers on the next page already filled in' students had turned up. Any story telling they do attempt is in L1. My 'pardon?' usually gets a 'No, no' + dismissive hand wave. Been there? Can never introduce something stealthily or creatively because my thunder eternally stolen "that's on p45"...

Nuts & bolts of had + past participle etc all diligently underlined. But grasping the actual concept? Timelines, arrows, arm waving...Jim sensei needed to hit reset and start again.

So not only scratching my head all week about how to rescue the befuddled students from last week's grammatical cul de sac, needed to actually impress a colleague as well - or at least try to reply.

My students share the same language, and are not natural story tellers nor inquisitors. Imagine the opposite of Irish or Italian, maybe? Any contribution usually delivered as a set piece, accepted universally & scarcely a comment or question there be afterwards.

As usual, simplest is best, and decided after rummaging my collection of supplementary materials that nothing was really going to present itself. I needed to detox the class from the dreaded G terminology & translation mindset, and in some parlance flip the classroom. Keep books in bags, concentrate on imaginative brain, banish pencils, avoid turn-taking & prevent dominant personalities railroading others. Time too for me to be quite a lot more intrusive than I usually am (inviting fluency and letting 'errors' go).
A board game with out story telling limits

Solution. A narrative.

Dived into the back of our games cupboard & found Never Ending Stories (sorry, that awful song will start in your brains too!) - for age 6+ it says on the box. Ideal. Very simple. Totally random. Players plop cards onto a board in turn, and develop a story as suggested by the images on them (characters, objects, locations) in the order they have been played. Past tenses great. But the 'forgotten' past?

Start at the end of the story and add cards to try to get to the beginning, back-filling detail as you go. This is where the teacher needs to be very involved asking for connections, suggesting links, checking/requiring details eg Were they married before? What happened? How did they meet? and letting the whole group contribute - player whose turn it is selects 'best help' and adds the bits up. Importantly, before the next turn, teacher as narrator recaps - helping everyone keep up with developments and providing a model. Embellishment with current events etc as they occur to you are great, as students then get to see the rationale for the tenses you are using, without focusing on the tenses you are using per se - at least if the story is interesting! I challenge anyone to recount the same (and ever expanding) story the same way twice without leaving bits out; students need to see this is the beauty of storytelling not the mental linear blockage some see it as. Grammatical flexibility gets you over the hurdle and you can 'keep going' without having to go all the way back to the beginning of the timeline and get things 'in order' Students love pointing out the teacher's mistakes....ask them if you left something out...and 'rescue' yourself with a post script.
How our story unfolded - narrative to come

So, for me, interrupt like mad at the creative brainstorming phase, establish chronology and link bits together grammatically - then let that part of the story be told however it comes out. Once a turn is 'done'; gently re-tell it to check you got it right (include 'corrections' here?), and help the other students with a second listening before connecting all the other previous parts.

So there has to be a digital way to do this, for classes with wifi & tech savvy learners.Voicethread would be one way to collate a final version, I think, and could be done outside of class/before the next class. Sock Puppet, minus the time limit, another idea. Fotobabble only gives you 90 seconds - but ideal per pic?

In class, with confident students I think a Pecha Kucha type approach might work. You could also trawl ELTpics or any theme in Flickr - or go random and use flickr as a screensaver (hands free, adjust time images shown to suit skills).

Another randomiser = give a student a slip of paper with a ridiculous scenario on it and have them bluster their way out of it - kind of Liar's Game. (eg "You were seen climbing out of a nightclub window at 8am this morning wearing a superman suit")  Of course allow questions from the floor. Big class, have 2 or 3 students sit at the front and have them tell a story. Only one is true, room votes at end of story & Q/A on which one. NB They can all be false, but the winner = most convincing liar?!