Monday, 29 March 2010

Things we like - more bubblrs

Posted by Ha-chan & Mayu

Mmmm, delicious!

Thanks to Takeshi and Yuri for taking us out to dinner on Friday night. Takeshi and Yuri are new to the Luna family and we had been wanting to have a get together with them for sometime. Finally we managed to find a date that suited everyone, Jim and another Takeshi included, so we started the evening with a double Takeshi, some beer and a wide range of assorted dishes.

We went to a lovely little Japanese style restaurant called
Yamameya. It is run by the family and specialises in traditional home-style cooking. Thanks to Yuri who provided me with a written translation of the menu and recommended all the most delicious things to eat. The owner served us with such a cheery smile and twinkle in his eye that one couldn't help but feel welcome. Apparently his son is a bit of a rocker and plays the drums!

The boys spoke about s
port most of the evening and Takeshi (1 ) impressed us all with his vast knowledge of British football, which made Jim happy. Yuri and I just had to shake our heads :)

Great company, delicious food, and beer!
What a great way to start the weekend! Friday is definitely my favourite day of the week!

Friday, 26 March 2010

Super Duper Daiya

Daiya's buddies skipped class today (school holidays) so we got a really hard reading/spelling game out of the cupboard. Daiya is a strong reader, but he really impressed me today and didn't need any help, even sounding out new words he didn't "know".

Thanks for letting the teacher win (only just)!

Playing outside

Posted by Haruka

Thursday, 25 March 2010


Question was asked "How do you play Sudoku?"

Had my laptop with me today, so we found a puzzle online and a go solving it. Unfortunately generated quite a lot of Nihongo ;(

Wonder what is going to happen when we discuss the other topics...BASE jumping & body building!? (karaoke I think we have done before)

Stay tuned for more cracking pictures of pecs & parachutes!

story on a plate

These delightful drawings were done by some of my Friday students. They were asked to read a book from our student lending library for homework. The task in class was to condense the story enough so that it would fit easily onto a plate in picture form. This in turn helped us when it came time to write a summary of the story. This is what you can see below.

The idea was taken from some project work we did from one of our class readers, an Oxford Dominoes graded reader called "Mulan" and harks back to an ancient Chinese tradition.

Incidentally the readers that we use in class are a fantastic tool to get things going in the classroom. The stories are interesting and the students love reading them! When I set this type of reading for homework it always gets done. The students learn more rapidly and the teacher is happy. The only problem is keeping up with the reading pace...

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

The Penny Drops!

Sorry, Penny, couldn't resist the cliche!

Our former teacher Penny became the happy mother of a bouncing baby boy within the last 24 hours in Nagano.
We are all absolutely thrilled to bits for Pen & Atsushi and can't wait to see photos of son & heir. We all hope mum is recovering quickly; we are looking forward to meeting the new addition.

xxx from all of us! 

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Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Making faces

Today in pre-school we played a game making faces and matching. Not as easy as it sounds! We also made cute little rabbits on straws and sang the "Skiddermarink" song to them, especially the "I love you" part!

We had a lot of cutting practice, so we are getting good (and safe!) with our scissors; Hina hasn't decided which hand to use yet though, which is interesting!

This afternoon a chat with GEOS. Looking forward to that.

Monday, 22 March 2010

I made this in class!

Good job Yuu!
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Typing skills - cool tool

BBC B - keyboardImage by barnoid via Flickr
Over the weekend I found a cool typing tool via twitter; actually on the BBC's site, but I'd not come across it before. Have a go - it is very useful no matter how old you are! Click here.

And an awesome way to start using your phonemics more fluently...use this 'typewriter'
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Friday, 19 March 2010

Night at the Museum

Night at the Museum is really interesting!

I really want to watch the movie again. I liked the part when the little monkey steals the key and Nicky was riding on T-Rex. I would want to ride on T-Rex if I could. I read this book in one night because it was really fun

I love that story. I would like to read the next story - I can't wait!

posted for
Haruka (10)
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Silly subway sign

Would any eagle-eyed students like to suggest corrections to this sign. I think I found it in Yurakcho station. (I am guessing the Japanese makes more more sense?)

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Word Up

Shuji & Masao relax after a tough winner takes all match

An Irish presentation

Last Friday I attended an event at the Tokyo International Forum, in Yurakcho.
Pretty amazing building, isn't it?!

I was invited by Enterprise Ireland to hear a keynote speech by the Irish Minister for Education and Science, Mr. Batt O'Keeffe. I was already in Tokyo having trained some new examiners the previous day, as well as meeting my line boss for oral examiners that evening in Shibuya, so I was able to hear what he had to say regarding homestays, visas, and English schools.

Unfortunately, he turned up ten minutes late and left five minutes early, without taking questions or really paying any attention to his audience nor the previous two speakers, who had already mentioned most of the stats, folk tales, and asides he delivered. It was fairly obvious he had other fish to fry. He did come up with a memorable line though, "Ireland has produced some of the world's top ten tinkers". Priceless. I am sure it has!

I did learn some useful things from a speaker representing the Celtic Travel Association (I think), but the round table at the end was a farce. Hard hitting questions such as 'What's the weather like in Ireland?' were staggeringly inane and conducted wholly in Japanese - pointless, given all six panel members were there to promote EFL excellence in Ireland. What were they thinking?!

I had engagements elsewhere, unfortunately missing out on a free lunch AND the black stuff. Silly me.
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The Nagoya aquarium

I went to the Nagoya aquarium with my family the other day.
My daughter was pleased to see penguin and dolphin's shows.
The adult was able also to enjoy that there were a lot of unusual things such as the white whales and deep-sea fish, too.
On the way home, we ate to Nagoya special product "Hitsumabushi" .
The daughter became tired, and was sleeping for a long time in a return car.
We had such a productive holiday.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Dangerous Journey

There are four men in the rainforest. Their names are Leon, Manuel, Pedro, and Joe. Three of them are Brazilian. Joe is American. They speak Portuguese and English.
There are no villages in the forest. People do not live here. The men are living in tent for a few days. They have come from their base camp.
The base camp is fifty kilometres away. It has wooden houses. It does not have tents.
There are no roads leading back to the base. The ground is mud. It has rained already and it is going to rain again.
This time of year is called the rainy season. There is heavy rain every year at this time. The ground will get wetter. The tracks through the forest will turn to wet.
The journey back to base camp will be difficult and dangerous. The men will have to cross a wide stream.
Why are these men in the forest? They are looking for metals. There are rocks in the forest that contain metal. Joe and Pedro left the camp two days ago.
They drove away in the jeep. Now Leon and Manuel are waiting for them. When Joe and Pedro return, they will all go back to base.
They will go in the jeep.Leon wants to take down the tents. He wants to leave before the rain starts. But he cannot leave without the jeep. He is angry. Where is Joe? Why is Joe late?

posted by Seiji

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Bangkok, Thailand - postcard from Olimpiada

Greetings from Bangkok!!

I've been meaning to send a card since I came here...but the CELTA course keeps me busy every day. I like the course, it is really useful, I think, although it's a bit too intensive :)

I've managed to see a couple of sights of Bangkok. The one in the picture is the Chapel of the Emerald Buddha. It's a very beautiful place. I loved it. I wish I had more time for sight-seeing.

Best, Olimpiada

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Monday, 15 March 2010

Penang, Malaysia - postcard from Naomi

As I promised, I am sending this card from Penang. I heard it snowed in Matsumoto yesterday. Here in Malaysia, it gets 36' everyday, but for me it doesn't matter because I leave before 7am to office where air-conditioned and come back to hotel after it gets dark & cooler. I enjoy Indian foods here but not much sight-seeing (no time!)

See you when I get back!

from Naomi K
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Sunday, 14 March 2010

Passing out in Korean

The Korean school had its graduation ceremony this morning, and it was a pleasure to attend again this year. Must admit, the speeches are a bit dreary but I assume a lot worse back in the motherland. The children Tana has been teaching most recently deserve a bit more of an emotional send off we reckon.

Anyway, best uniforms on and enter into the spirit of things :)

Tana has been very popular with her students, which was obvious this morning - staff and students huddling around for photos (OK, Eleanor was a draw too!). The mood at this school is always communal and friendly; two of the new staff Jim recognised as ex-students from a dozen years back, and even better they didn't run away! Let's cross our fingers that Tana will be back and get a hero's welcome...she deserves it :)

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Talking about my family

Today in pre-school we got into some really cool arts and crafts stuff, which we could never have done even a few months ago. The most important piece of equipment was...scissors!

How do you teach 'how to use scissors'? I suggest it's nigh on impossible! Every child has an entirely different background in manipulative & motor do you actually cut things successfully?! Thumb on top? Yes. Chop off fingers of other hand? No! Put them in left hand? OK - of course if that feels right! Cut along the lines? Well, that's the idea but a lot of experimentation is involved!

We were talking a lot about family, what we can/can't do, and recently the girls have been teaching us a Japanese finger chant which gives each finger a member of the family. Our "Finger Bobs" today was an English version of the same thing. We cut, glued and wore a finger family. As you can see, we need lots of fingers :)

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Please don't podcast us!

SchwaImage via Wikipedia
I had to laugh when my 'very good at blogging' class asked me on Monday not to feature them in a podcast.
Seeing as they asked nicely, and had noticed the pod & listened, don't mind at all if they don't. Yet...

Instead I'll show you what we were trying to achieve today, by way of review. A little bit of phonic awareness, using English File (Intermediate). I'm a massive fan of the series (old, new, but not American!).

The actual tipping point was being unable to accurately place the stress the stress in longer words, after mangling a few dipthongs for longer vowels & vice versa. Occurred to me that if they were having problems locating the stress (speaking slowly, thinking in katakana, not voicing the sounds at all etc) then just maybe I'd missed a trick along the way too. 

To test my theory, after we'd agreed on the stress for a group of longer (newish) words, we'd write them out phonetically. I'm a big fan of using phonemes, but have found a lot of resistance to my 'destroy katakana' philosophy...yes, a few tantrums have been seen :)

In pairs I asked my crew on Monday to spell their words phonetically. Their last three texts have had the same table in the back, and the poster has been on the wall for heaven knows how long, so not an unfair challenge. As I suspected, we were not 'schwa-ing'. Mmm. What? Although locating the stress and saying the word, in super slow motion students were emphasising each syllable. Not a lazy schwa in sight.

Please understand I am not bagging my students here; something I have neglected to focus on properly revealed itself when the three pairs were asked to put their transcriptions on the board...none were the same. Almost none had an unstressed vowel we found a place to start!
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Monday, 8 March 2010

ABC waiting time

I found my smart Monday evening girls amusing themselves cleverly - spelling their names and other words they 'know' on our large carpet mats. Good for them! I despair of how little advantage is taken of the resources we have available for children & parents in the school.
  • We used to leave a PC for free use - never touched.
  • We left our games out on a shelf - thrown around, bent out of shape & broken
  • BBC TV, Discovery Channel etc left on for free - volume muted
  • Streamed BBC & Virgin radio (as was) into the school - asked to turn it off
Erm. As a school I think we have to be an oasis of English, and any opportunity to get more exposure likely to be welcomed. I think. "Silly daddy", Eleanor likes to say.Maybe she's right.

Anyway, I was delighted to see my super polite and hard-working crew challenging each other to spell stuff, including new words from their Story Tree readers, set for homework last week. Who cares if they had to double-check?! Excellent application & lateral thinking.

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Sunday, 7 March 2010

The Canterville Ghost and Other Stories

I thought this book is horror story before I read this book. Now I think this book is a kind of humors story.
My favorite story is "THE CANTERVILLE GHOST". I love Americans who does reasonable thinking. They weren't afraid of the ghost, and opposed to the ghost with a modern tool. I was amusing their behavior, and sympathized with the ghost. Finally the ghost went to the heaven. I thought that it meant the end of the old age. I thought the ghost was the symbol of old age, and American's were symbol of new age.
The character who I liked best is Virginia. She was kind to the ghost and courageous. The ghost thanked her in the heaven, I wish.
By the way, I have read only one short story of Oscar Wilde. It was "The Happy Prince". I read it in English class when I was junior high school student. I thought it was very heart-warming story, but these stories have a lot of sarcasm, so I was surprised these stories wrote same writer.
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Fukuoka - My holiday

I went to Fukuoka last November with my wife.We flew to Fukuoka with JAL.
We stayed for three days in a businesshotel near the station.The hotel had a hotspring;it was very nice.
During the day we walked around the city.We went to some shops and we ate ramen and motsu-nabe.At night we met friends and we went to a restaurant with them.We bought an old dish next day.
We had a great time.Fukuoka is full of great food.We had a problem;We walked a very long distance,so we were very tired.
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singing classroom

This class has just started English Time 1 and we have been studying This and That is a ... I asked them to read the object words and then we sang this song as an extra challenge. I was so impressed! So we did it again on video, with the actions of course. Take a look!

What really gets me is the cooperation that is required to do an activity like this, as students were required to sing different parts. Therefore they have to listen to each other as well as perform their own task. Not easy. Listening, reading, cooperation, and most of all a willingness to try! As yet I have placed no expectations on them for reading, so can imagine my surprise and delight then at how well they managed this.

Well done both of you!!


Friday, 5 March 2010

Podcast S1 E3 - amazing flatmates

Episode three of our shiny new podcast features the work of Jim's Thursday afternoon business English class, describing how they'd imagine some very famous people, living together, would go.Flatmates they line up are:
Now obviously these are hypothetical (imaginary) situations, but the idea was to suggest how their potential flat-sharing relationships might deteriorate & finally bottom out.

In the podcast you can here Masao, Shuji, Susumu & Keiko delivering their monologues, as well as some reaction from us all. Which is your favourite? We'd love to know! Comments welcome - please subscribe :)
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Thursday, 4 March 2010

Shizuoka - My Holiday

I went to Shizuoka last September with my family. We drove the car to Sizuoka.

We stayed for two days in the car. We parked our car in the parking area.

During the day we went to the sea and went up to the light house. We took a lot of photos. At night we went to a Japanese restaurant and had a lot of pork cutlets. We bought some souvenirs.

We had a great time. Shizuoka is a good place and has a beautiful sea, and sunset is fantastic. We didn't have any problems.

written by Seiji
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Tuesday, 2 March 2010

The Promise

This book is happy story. A boy became famous football player, his name is Palito. When Pakito was born, the old woman prophesy his life is success.
I think like this story is popularly. But I feel this story have very important things. For example, believe family, work hard and believe my dream.
I like Palito's father Pedro. Because Pedro believe old woman's prophesy, believe his son and believe his family. I think he is honesty man.
This book was written many football game. It is a little difficult for me.

Korean school graduates

Today was the last class before graduation, which is a happy and a sad time for me as I have been fortunate enough to have taught these students for some time now, and have watched them grow and increase their English skills considerably since the time we started together.

This is a particularly spirited group, adventurous and full of fun. Before class I am always greeted with boisterous hello's from the boys and sweet hello's from the girls, along with a barrage of questions and other attempts to communicate.

Before the class started the teacher rounded us up and took a photo, and at the end of the class they presented me with this delightful little card. As you can see it is all in English! Very impressive!

And so, to the kids in this class I wish you all the best for the future, keep studying, stick to your dreams, and remember me from time to time!

Much love,

Hamlet (William Shakespeare)

As you know, the story consists of spoken lines. At first, I’m not accustomed to this style. Therefore I can’t read quickly. However, I’d read from Act 2 to Act 5 at one sitting in the Sunday afternoon. Hamlet and Laertes understood each other finally but even so they had to fight and killed each other. Why they had to fight? Did they yield up their life for the sake of justice? Were they wild for revenge? I think they had a strong sense of justice. In these latter days, I wonder if there is such a man who fights for justice. Everyone, don’t be a cold fish!
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