Wednesday, 30 April 2008
At Luna we try ever so hard to make sure friends stay together whenever possible, and that we avoid mixed-level classes. We know only too well the lack of free-time children have, especially once they start junior high school; scheduling becomes a massive jigsaw puzzle every April and often there are a few pieces missing. We are extremely lucky to have all of Yuki's experience at times like this, because we have to keep everybody happy AND find schedules that suit everybody.
Except this time, a dad we've never met (despite all the events we organise - parties, open weeks for parents, Bon Bon etc) suddenly calls out of the blue, and abuses Yuki to tears. Of course, students move on and develop other interests - that's part of growing up. But when a student has been making great progress, has lots of fun and has barely missed a class in 5 or more years...we know exactly how much the family is commited, and how much hard work the child has been doing. In turn, we 'ring fence' classes like this to make sure they continue, even when we're doing so at a loss. Some classes are just too good to let go. This was one such class.
I know this student will be missing her pals and her English class badly. I really miss her, and I have a really bad taste in my mouth as a result of her being punished just because we couldn't satisfy a parent's ego. We bend over backwards at Luna to accommodate - as I think 99.9% of our mums & dads appreciate. I am also sure nobody will think much of a person who makes our Yuki burst into tears.
Sunday, 27 April 2008
The Suzuki Institute's annual 10 Piano Concert in Matsumoto is further proof. Sayaka wore a stunning gold dress and performed her piece with cool maturity and skill. Is this the girl I first taught when she was barely able to stand up, way back when?! Takao & Yoshiaki all grown up in suits and spiffy haircuts - didn't they used to punch each other in the nuts & draw naughty pictures in their books?! And what about Yuki-chan - an English Rose by any definition in her fabulous red dress. Fingers flying over the keys so gracefully.
Now, I'll be the first to admit Suzuki Method has its limitations, and that I'm not a real fan. However, the evidence on display today was of prodigious musical talent and no notes. Literally. Suzuki's idealogy is to learn by ear; learning English is not dissimilar, but if you can't read & write then I think you're going to be snookered sooner or later, aren't you?
Anyway, massive applause to all of our young learners past & present who tickled the ivory today. As a non-musician I stood (at the back) in awe. Very well done!!!
Saturday, 26 April 2008
Thank you Jeff & Theron for beating the traffic out of Nagano this morning (the Olympic Torch relay was in town on its much protested journey to Beijing - it actually led the news while we were waiting for Tana's toddlers class to arrive, and we had to laugh at all the local coppers running in their workclothes and shoes...sore feet tomorrow we were sure!), and to Rico & Shizue for making a grey rainy morning cheerful & fun.
Wednesday, 23 April 2008
I have ａ friend who is staying to study English in Canada now．Her name is Michiko．Ｉ went to Canada to see her last November with my two friends，Yuka and Naomi．We flew to Canada with Air Canada．
We stayed for 6 days，2 days of them in Vancouver，another 2 days in Banff，and the other days in the plane．We stayed in two kinds of hotels in Vancouver，and Banff．Both hotels were on the main streets．They were cheap and classical，but very clean and nice．
The first day，We arrived at Vancouver in the afternoon． Then we walked around the downtown of Vancouver．We took ａ lot of photos．
At night，Michiko came to our hotel after working． She took us to ａ very good restaurant．We had beer and wine with many kinds of fatty foods．The second day，we walked around the city，and went shopping． We love shopping anytime anyway．I bought some very beautiful pierced earrings made of silver and amber in ａ jewelry shop．Naomi and Yuka bought very nice rings．We often said “We sometime have to reward ourselves better， don’t we？”．We had a good time．
I gave myself ａ reward again． I bought ａ pair of pretty gloves． On our way from there to downtown， we got ａ public bus．We were anxious to get the bus because maybe we couldn’t understand the information in English and arrive in ａn unknown place．But we tried． As ａ result， we could arrive without problems．It was a very good experience for us. That night , we saw Michiko again，and went to ａ good Korean restaurant．
The third day，we went to Vancouver airport to arrive at Banff．As we had checked in foreign domestic airlines for the first time，we were very tense．
About an hour and a half later，we landed at Calgary airport without incident．Then we went to Banff by bus．It took us two hours from Calgary to Banff．We arrived at the hotel in Banff at noon，then went around the town of Banff．It was ａ beautiful small town．We enjoyed taking photos and shopping．I bought some pretty pins for my family and friends，and ａnother postcard for Jim．
Posted for Kaori
Sunday, 20 April 2008
is busy learning and working!
The occasion today was a co-hosted event featuring one of Japan's best known authors & teacher-trainers, Aleda Krause. The focus of Aleda's three-hour workshop today was on teaching young learners and even younger learners.
As the author of the "SuperTots" and "SuperKids" series of children's books, Aleda has the materials to back up the theory - both of which she generously shared with an appreciative audience of teachers from far & near. She presented her ideas about developing children's learning from listening to speaking, and on the problems & possibilities of teaching pre-teens. All very useful for us then, with the age group of students we see everyday in Luna!
You can look forward to Tana, Jon & Jim adding some new classroom activities to their armoury as a result! Everyone is invited to attend our next event, on May 25th, by the way, when we host Potato Pals author Patrick Jackson and master reader Kevin Churchley...details to be announced soon. Thank you Aleda, for coming to our school today!
Sunday, 13 April 2008
Saturday, 12 April 2008
Today I was invited to a beautiful young woman's wedding. She's a nurse, and she has two super cute sisters as well. What could be better?!
The problem is I have known Anna more than half her life - I started teaching her in 1993, when she was twelve. She got married to a very lucky chap (Ryosuke) on her 26th birthday today. She arrived at the hotel for the reception in a breath-taking white kimono - and made me feel great as she bounced over to me to say 'hello' & let me give her a proud kiss on the cheek. Her mum & dad both came over too, and we did the bowing thing; I taught all three of their daughters and coached Anna through high school in their front room. They're really nice people.
Of course, I didn't recognise Rina (who used to be 7) nor Maria (who I used to throw around!), both wearing amazing kimonos themselves & in their early twenties too. I did recognise Anna's nursing friends Miho & Yoshimi however, who studied with me before they went to study in Samoa, and they managed to help me survive the feast with translations.
I guess I'm going to have to get used to seeing kids I used to teach getting married? Don't think I'll be able to stop feeling chuffed to bits though, when favourites like Anna blossom and become friends I can talk to. Oh yes, and she looked great in her blue dress too...once again I couldn't think of the right things to say in Japanese, and walked home thinking I should start to learn someday.
Thursday, 10 April 2008
So I'm really enjoying the class, as you can see. School can be tiring & club activities overwhelmingly demanding...so English needs to be a bit of fun as well as very useful. Miku & Maho brighten up my week every Thursday evening very nicely. Here you can see us trying to play whirl-a-vowel, matching long vowel sounds. Naturally, the 'hive' looked like something else: result = paralysing laughter! I can't remember who won the game, but my ribs hurt and an hour flew by. With a bit of luck, dipthongs 'went in' as well.
Thank you girls - look forward to seeing you every week!
Sunday, 6 April 2008
The quality control aspects of Cambridge ESOL's exams makes sure that all candidates worldwide get the same, fair chance as any other. Our part in this delivery of quality is to train, and then "co-ordinate", examiners. Just because you do the training does not mean you can examine; we all have to prove annually that we can give the speaking tests properly, as well as assess to Cambridge's standards.
It is also a vital opportunity for me to meet the people who are doing the hard work on our behalf. Three years ago we 'inherited' this responsibility but had no idea who we were dealing with. Now, gradually, I am getting to know our examiners and can feel a lot more confident about our boast that YLE is the best exam around...our examiners really are very good, and very nice people to boot.
Some examiners travelled miles and miles to attend Co-ordination at King's Road school (thank you again Trevor!). From Nikko & Matsumoto to the north, Toyota to the west, Kamakura to the south, and Saitama to the east(ish). No matter how for you came, thank you. Now let's find some new schools to examine at?!
Friday, 4 April 2008
I'm in Beijing now. I went to school.I met lots of my friends. I was worried if I could speak
English well, but I was happy I could speak English well.
See you soon. from Toshiya
Thursday, 3 April 2008
Tuesday, 1 April 2008
Teaching pre-teens: Problems and possibilities & From listening to speaking by Aleda Krause. First, even the most confident teachers can be challenged by 11- to 12-year olds. Do you experience difficulties generating energy, managing classes with mixed levels, or bringing out shy students? Author of SuperKids and SuperTots, Aleda Krause will share some secrets for success with this activity-based presentation. Second, she will present active, participatory listening tasks to explain and demonstrate the five steps from listening to speaking in an EFL session right from the first lesson. Come prepared with clean ears and lots of energy! Sun 20 April 14:00-16:45; Luna International; free for all.
Please email Jim if you want to reserve a seat.