Saturday, 26 September 2009


Congratulations to Rie, who got married last Saturday.

She looked absolutely beautiful in a white satin dress. The ceremony was held in Bright Gardens in a little western style church. And the weather was perfect!

Also it was the first time I had met her new husband, and I was happy and relieved to see that she has made a very good choice indeed. Only the best for our students!!!

Congratulations Rie!!!!
We wish you every happiness in the future!!!!

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Let's go fishing!

This is a fantastic new game I've recently discovered and works really well with young learners. What I like about it is that it combines physical challenge (something that youngsters really love) with lots and lots of language practice. It's also a very flexible game and can be used to practice and reinforce new vocabulary as well as recycle vocabulary.
Here's how: First make a rod with a stick and some string and stick a magnet to the end of the string. Turn your vocabulary cards into fish by attaching large paperclips to them. Spread the cards out on the floor and there you go!
Be sure to practice good classroom manners: "Here you are's" and Thank you's" as the game proceeds. Students catch a fish if they can and then hold up the card for the others to see. I find it better for the watchers to shout out the word or do the action, firstly it encourages greater learner participation, and secondly recall as a group it's not so intimidating. It also gives more students the chance to practice. The game can also be adapted towards using short phrases or prompting dialogues and so is incredibly flexible. So instead of just shouting out "apple!", students can shout out "I love apples!", or it could be used to practice questions like "How's the weather?" basically anything that you've been doing in class. Another adaptation in the beginning stages of learning new vocabulary might be to do the action.
It's a great way to practice and lots of fun!

Monday, 21 September 2009

It's Kansai time

Last night I jumped on a 767 down to Kansai Int'l airport, managed to find my hotel in downtown Kobe by 10pm. We obviously drove past/through Osaka...where did it end/Kobe start?

Must admit I have never been to Kobe before, apart from passing through on my bike years ago. The original plan was to train new OEs for YLE in Kyoto or Osaka, as that's more convenient for everyone. Then we couldn't find a place suitable so Malcolm suggested Okayama - too far away. So, here we are in Kobe.

I have to admit I haven't laughed so hard trying to be serious for donkeys. "My hovercraft is full of eels" demands a lot of context which I can't start to explain! My trainees today were very much on the ball; from their various backgrounds which hardly overlap dis/agreeing on the minutae of candidates' performances. Inspiring stuff to witness, and some very naughty monkeys!?

I should thank my trainees this morning for bearing with me while the 'little man' from the keikan sorted out the DVD/sound connections first thing - I really hate going to unfamiliar places to make presentations and having to deal with spaghetti...there are only so many cables & stuff I can cart around with me! What I do know after today is that in this area we will have not only a couple of fine examiners, but some exciting new exam options in 2010 around here - which is very exciting and something all of us the Cambridge ESOL fraternity can be involved with.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Sapporo - Super Sunday Co-ordination

Today was finally the chance to 'activate' all our remaining trainees/re-trainees for YLE & KET/PET. I am extremely confident of the competence of my examiners in Sapporo, and I am always delighted to see the enthusiasm/dedication they display. I don't know if it is fair to say or not (but I shall); some of this team are amongst the best examiners I have trained in the country.

Why? Well that's a fair question. I think it comes down to a host of things all adding up to 'natural examiner' - a bit like Tiger Woods is a natural golfer. Tons of hard work on top of talent, determination, training and 'x' factor. That 'x' factor you just can't bottle. All I know is, Hokkaido candidates are going to get an extremely positive experience out of their speaking tests.

Well done my team for, in most cases, giving up the best part of their weekends. Can't thank you enough nor congratulate more highly for a very good way for me to spend my time: OE's up north - valued and trusted.

I have to thank Peter for putting me up, and for hosting the weekend; OEs for their time & hard work; Kate for the lift that got me to the Station & thence the airport with a massive 8 minutes to spare. (Thanks ANA for seating me!)

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Saturday - must be Sapporo

Late into the night I was chatting things over with my good friend Peter. I wish I could get to see my friends like this more often - or find a way to get them all in the same place every once in a while. Anyway, I think we sorted many things out in the world, as we watched "The 100 Best Rugby World Cup Tries". Peter's a Kiwi, so we didn't agree on anything at all :) unfortunately, he can't make it to the Bledisloe Cup game next month in Tokyo. Anyone else going to be there instead?

Today I was making sure that we retained some good faith. Due to no reason of their own doing, some OEs missed the chance to examine last year and their approval lapsed. Righting wrongs, after an intensive day with me at Peter's SOEN English School in Sapporo, they are now back and track.

Following up last night's training at Hokkai was a PET training event this evening; another late night with dedicated teachers proving their commitment to their own professional development, and the promotion of quantifiable English language assessment. Everyone left Peter's school tired but unbowed; we SHALL examine in November!

No food left at Jusco as Auld Lang Syne was telling us to leave - Peter & I grabbed a few croquettes (yes, beer too) and spent the next three hours vainly trying to find the All Blacks vs Springboks anywhere on the TV/internet. (In doing so we both saw the score but didn't tell each other until 2.30am when we gave up!)

Friday, 18 September 2009

Luna reaches out - Sapporo

I need to thank my Friday students for accepting the fact that I have to travel occasionally, with our school's commitment to promoting Cambridge ESOL Examinations/developing professional awareness across the country. Sometimes I simply cannot get to places and back again in the space of a weekend.

This weekend I am going to be training and co-ordinating Oral Examiners in Sapporo; I was here earlier in the year making a presentation sponsored by Oxford University Press to Hokkaido's mini JALT conference about the exams... Tonight it was time to follow up initial interest with a presentation to potential recruits with specific information about the exams, their levels, availability and especially the responsibilities of Oral Examiners.

It was good to catch up with some familiar faces from conferences and events I've attended in the past, and to touch base. English teachers are busy people (often unappreciated), so having a good turn out on a Friday night before a long holiday was particularly gratifying. Thank you JALT Hokkaido & OUP for initially inviting/sponsoring me; thank you Brick for sorting out the room at Hokkai Gakuen (very nice AV systems) and to Peter for getting folks together.

Following our communal chat about Common European Frameworks, rubrics, interlocutors, etc, we knuckled down to the serious business of actual training - my group this evening working very hard to get to grips with KET, until past 11pm. Managing to stay awake was not a problem; there was plenty of debate about materials and teacher vs examiner roles etc that kept us all going until we were obliged to leave.

Well done trainees, and thanks all for coming to my presentation.

Terry Fox

Terry's "Marathon of Hope" starts at St. John's, Newfoundland (Canada) on April 12, 1980. His friend, Doug Alward, is his (support) driver. He put his leg into the Atlantic Ocean. If he runs, he can give money to kids who have cancer and help them.

The marathon finishes at Thunder Bay (Ontario), because there is a bad pain in his lungs. The cancer has spread. Now there is a statue of him there (pictured). He is facing west, running towards his home in British Columbia.(Terry died a month before his 23rd birthday)

The first Terry Fox Run was in Canada, in week three of September, 1981. There are lots of Terry Fox Runs all over Canada. Young and old, healthy and sick, two-legged people and people in wheelchairs all take part in it to raise money for cancer research.

He is an amazing person because he ran a very long way with only one good leg, to help people who have cancer. He is a Hero. We did a Terry Fox Run in my old school in Beijing every year.

Posted for Toshiya

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

A boisterous visitor`

We were very happy to have Shingen (now a whopping three years old) come to say hello the other day with his mummy Mizuki. Mizuki used to be Mizuki-chan, who Jim taught all the way through JHS & HS...and very much one of the people we consider 'family' here at the school.

Shingen was really excited and kept singing us bits of songs, collapsing on the floor and clattering all our toys around - not in a bad way - in a boysy way (I am sure our pre-school girls would have been mortified!) It's great to see a healthy, cheerful and fun young man express himself :)

Mizuki also whispered that she will have a little brother or sister for Shingen to look out for early in the new year. Obviously very early news, so we hope she will be very careful and eat all the right things etc. Congratulations Mizuki's family - we are thrilled for you all over again!


Monday, 14 September 2009

Tohoku training

About this time last year I drove overnight from Kanazawa to Sendai - quite a long way which my knee still remembers painfully. So, driving only six hours to get there this time was relatively easy, especially as I stopped to pick up a colleague Steve in Aizuwakamatsu ("Aizu"). As I got there early, I treated myself to a quick exploration of T Castle - itself a disappointing concrete replica, but man oh man, what fabulous buttressed walls?! Wow! Very impressive fortifications indeed.

The team assembled in Sendai had come about as far and wide as I, which is humbling, and fills me with ecouragement. I am condident a year from now YLE will be taking place in four new venues in this part of Japan - my guess in three new prefectures. We are already planning a 'full on' training session come the spring.

I need to thank Ben for setting things up, Steve for keeping me awake on the way home (and the pizza pit-stop), and all the well travelled OEs (as they indeed now are) for their Sunday trapped indoors listening to me.

Thank you very much indeed, guys.

Chie has a boy

Congratulations to Chie-chan, who gave birth to a healthy baby boy on August 31st.
Photo for you as soon as mother & son are receiving visitors.

Congratulations Chie from all you friends xxx

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Sayaka returns for the Summer

It was so lovely to see Sayaka again. She has grown in confidence so much and her English speaking ability has greatly improved since she left for Canada on an exchange programme a year ago.

Our returnee group had some questions for her. What a brilliant resource she was! We were so lucky to have her come in to the school to talk with us and share her experiences with us.

We had lots of fun making t he video. This is a clip from the feedback session we had. Lots of laughter as you can see!

I hope that our students will be inspired by her independence and her courage. She is a shining example of what can be done, if you only put your heart into it.

Sayaka has gone back for the new term and will be back here again next year having completed her studies abroad. we wish her all the best and know she will continue to learn and grow in the lovely way which is her.


Saturday, 12 September 2009

Tristan & Iselde

High school student Mai has been reading this book in her English class. This is her review of it:

Who is the main character?

The main character is Tristan. He is King Mark's nephew.

What is this story about?

It is a love story. Tristan and Iselde fell in love, but they died. So it is a love story and a sad story.

Where is the story set?
It is set in Ireland.

Did you like about the story?
I like this story and my heart is still pounding.

What did you not like about the story?
I did not like the sad part at the end.

What was the best part of the story?
When Tristan and Iselde look happy.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Jojo's story

 What do you learn from Jojo`s story about ghosts, and storytelling?
Jojo`s grandmother told him that when people die, their ghosts come out but slowly go away. Jojo believes in ghosts because maybe his grandmother said that. Jojo didn`t see any ghosts, but he thinks the ghosts of his family are near him. His family got killed by some men who lived on the other side of the river, because the two villages weren`t friends - they were enemies. Only Jojo survived the attack - everyone else got killed and village was silent.
Jojo’s story is like a journey through life. At the beginning, Jojo is only a child and doesn’t know the answers to his questions. At the end, he feels like a man. How does Jojo change through his experiences in the book?
Jojo asked lots of questions to mother at the beginning, but now he can`t because she is dead. Instead, other people ask him questions about his family & the village, which he answers. Before the men came, he went to school, went to the river with his brother and listened to stories about the river. At the end of the story he plays football with other kids and makes new friends. Their parents were also killed, like Jojo`s - they were orphans. Jojo talked to a lady from Medecins Sans Frontieres and they became friends.
Did you like this book? Why?
I liked the book a lot, because the story was exciting. jojo was about the same age as me, and felt like I was him.

Thank you Toshiya - interviewed in class about his reader.

They think it's all over...

Today marked the last day of  company classes this season; thank you to all my hard-working students for your commitment and involvement, being prepared to try things out and make mistakes (like I do!). All told, my students have put in 14,310 learning hours, give or take, over the last six months. Obviously, I want my students to prove that they are genuinely improving by taking Cambridge ESOL exams this November/December...we'll see.

As you will have seen from the postings below, a good number of students have made a concerted effort with Extensive Reading...each class was asked to buy a book each, and to then swap every month or so. They are encouraged to tackle a worksheet of pre-reading exercises to help them 'access' the story & characters etc; then to follow exercises as they read so that they can keep track of developments in the storyline and predict what will happen next; and finally to produce a piece of written work which you have seen here. I think it is important to produce something tangible after reading, with any point of view valid. Hate the book? Fine - why?! Interested in a new place or want to know more about a topic...great!

Anyway, we're all done for a little while. Some won't be returning as they've 'had their turn' (slightly bonkers idea. I mean, do you do that with on the job training for IT or chefs for example? Hmm). To thos eof you who worked hard but can't continue, my commiserations & best wishes - come back as soon as you can before you forget everything, please! Those managing to continue and have worked hard to deserve the opportunity, excellent stuff! Looking forward to lots more progress & interesting production this time around.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

The Day of the Jackal

Read the introduction. Have you seen the film, The Day of the Jackal? What do you know about the French leader, Charles de Gaulle? Have you read any other books by Frederick Forsyth?
When I was a high school student, I saw the film. It was the day before my examination date. It was too long for me to remember the contents, but I only remember Jackal made a rifle by his crutch and he tried to kill a person, but he couldn’t. I didn’t know about the French leader, Charles de Gaulle and Frederick Forsyth. I checked his works by website, but I couldn’t find any title I’ve known.
Anyway, the story was very interesting for me. When I was a high school student, I went to Tokyo to get my entrance exam and the day before the exam, I watched the movie in my friend's house. Because his parents strongly recomended me to watch the movie. I didn't remember the details of the story, but I remember it was so exciting. The resutl of the exam? I don't know  whether the result of the exam depends on the movie,,,,,,,, I failed.

posted for  Masao K.

New York

I read a book about New York. This is a list of 10 things
that I want to do
in New York.
1. I want see the Statue of the Liberty. Because it is
the symbol of New York. I went there once with my family,
but I want go there again.
2. I want go to Museum of Modern Art. There are many
useful things there, it will be very interesting to see
new design.
3. I want go to Central Park. I think it is wonderful to
have such a big park in the big city. It was Sunday when I
went there before, many people enjoyed in the park
running, laying, walking, relaxing. It will be nice to
have sandwich laying on the grass.
4. I want see lights on the christmas tree in front of
the Rockefeller Center. I saw it many times on TV. It must
be beautiful.
5. Tiffany. I want to go there and buy some jewelries(if
it is reasonable).
6. I want go to Metropolitan Museum of Art. I went there
before but I did not have enough time to see, so next time
I hope I will have more time to see.
7. Broadway. I would like to see musical. There are many
good shows there.
8. I want to enjoy to see the baseball game of New York
Yankees.It will be fun to go to stadium and see a game
having some drinks and snacks.
9. Wall Street. It is not so much fun to go there, but I
just want see how it is like where so much money comes
and goes.
10. I want to go shopping to Department store like Macy's
to buy clothes and souveniors.


Sunday, 6 September 2009

The Merchant of Venice

William Shakespeare wrote this play between 1596 and 1598. A famous play in the world took me long time to read the book and to listen CDs.

29. What do you learn from this play about the laws of Venice as Shakespeare imagined it? Write an information sheet for a visitor.

Shakespeare showed that citizens of Venice were protected by the law against foreigners. It looks like same as current laws in most countries. However, it seems like the Christian was protected by the law against the Jew. This was also seen in the sentence, “when you cut it, you must not take one drop of Christian blood.” , and it was easy that a hero could change a villain’s religion to Christian.
At that age, in 16th century, we could understand that it was normal (welcome) for people that Christian was the hero and Jew was the villain.


Saturday, 5 September 2009

The Stranger

I read the book "The Stranger" two months ago. But I forgot to write blog.

This book story not so fun, but it was comprehensible.
Anna was very curious and it had energy. But why did she have to die? I don't understand, and I cannot agree.
What is Dave Slatin's strange power? Curse? Sorcery? ???
I feel this book is dull.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Smile, Smile, Smile!

Friday afternoons are sweet at Luna, when our younger learners arrive en masse about four o'clock and start tearing around the place!
"My" boys have recently started a new book, suitably called "Smiles" , and as you can see they're loving it. I am also glad to be a able to use a more challenging book with a younger group. We already 'know' loads of vocab and can respond to Q/A easily; the challenge now is picking up on sight word recognition and applying some logical phonics. Yes, some penmanship as well - I really hope this won't slow us down for too long (need mummy input). I know classbooks come alive when children realise the whole thing is packed with ways to 'cheat' in games & homework!

Friday ends with a Smile. Thanks Rob for putting me onto this series so long ago. Thank you boys, for putting big Smiles into my Fridays!

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

The Double Bass Mystery

1.Write a sentence about each picture.
P.1 The Barston symphony Orchestra members were riding a bas to Barcelona city at airport.
P.9 When Penny and Simon had some coffee Adriana walked over to their table.
P.13 The orchestra members walked along the Rambla Street to the beach.
P.14 Penny played well at the concert.
P.19 The orchestra members were standing around Frank's body in front of the hotel.
P.23 Inspector Portillo asked Penny many questions.
P.26 Simon came when Adriana and Penny were talking about Frank.
P.33 Candida hit Marilyn hard in the face.
P.37 The two men were taking Penny's double base from the truck.
P.43 Penny met Frank at the Police station.
P.47 Penny found her double bass in Bilbao.