Thursday, 29 April 2010

The Love of a King

6. Read this newspaper article about Edward and Wallis. Can you find and correct the mistakes in it?

Edward, Duke of Windsor, died in Paris last week. His wife Wallis was by his side during his last hours. The body of the Duke was taken to England by a blue aeroplane, and his wife Wallis travelled with the Duke’s body. The Duke was buried in London
The Windsors on their wedding dayThe love story of Edward gave away his crown to his brother George because he wanted to marry Mrs Simpson, a divorced American woman. They were married for 45 years, and for most of that time they lived in France. They gave parties, and travelled round the world.

The Duchess of Windsor will soon return to her home in Paris. She plans to live there alone.
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Wednesday, 28 April 2010

The Omega Files

In this book, there are three short stories. I write each story's impressions of the book.
Omega File 349 : In World War II era of Japan, I think that it is true story like this story. Medicine test should be always prohibited.
Omega File 451 : When I read this story, I remembered Monstor's photograph of Loch Ness in my childhood. it might be the army weapon of UK.
Omega File 522 : In Galapagos islands, I think there are some spaceships or creatures of outer space. (iguana !)

Question : What did you think about these stories ?
1.I felt sorry for Johnny when he was dead.
2.I didn't like it the men in grey didn't answer Howker's question.
3.I liked Omega File 522 best because it is adventure story.

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Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Red Dog

After Reading Question
6. What did you think about this story? Complete these sentences in your own words.

1. I like this story because a lot of friends of Red Dog are very kind.

2. The person I liked best in this story was Patsy and Nancy because they protected Red Dog from caretaker. Caretaker Mr and Mrs Cribbage hate Dog very much.

3. For me, the funniest moment in the story was when Red Dog be friend with Red Cat who lives in caravan park. At first Red Cat didn't like Dog.

4. For me, the saddest moment in the story was when Peeto found Red Dog at the side of the road, the Red Dog was in convulsions.
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Monday, 26 April 2010

Travelogue from Tim Fawcett, in the Andes

Greetings from Bolivia.  Yesterday I walked for 18 hours and so today I'm relaxing and have time to write.  You have to get up pretty early to walk for that long and we got up at 1am and at 5300m above sea level.  It had taken two days just to get there.   The first was the harder  - a 4wd dropped us at the end of the road and we looked up at Ancohuma, the 6427m mountain  we were aiming to climb.  It towered 3 vertical kilometers above us, majestic in the morning sun and a frankly awe inspiring proposition.   What hubris prompted us to attempt such a peak?   Well, we'd just spent seven days walking around it and before that I'd had the unforgettable experience of climbing a 6088m one.  I really wanted to experience high altitude one more time before leaving Bolivia.  As the first group to attempt the climb this year, we knew that the mountain would have more say in whether we reached the top than we did, and I think this promoted at healthier, more humble and respectful attitude than in those who seek to "conquer" such peaks.   So we set off, me, two young English friends and the excellently if sterotypically named Emilio Sanchez, our guide.  A dispute with the corrupt guides' association the previous day meant we were without mules or porters so our packs weighed something around 20 kilos, far more than the usual trekking load due to crampons, plastic boots, ice axes, tent, heavy duty sleeping bag plus food for a few days and the means to cook it.

The path wound its way up and we slowly followed it.  We'd got a late start (leaving on time in Bolivia would run the risk of surprising everyone and causing a national coronary) and walked slowly due to the heavy loads.  We passed through high pasture and a beautiful lake that reflected the peak.   Higher still we crossed alpine streams and walked through tussock and rare flowers.  Steep slippery rocks unbalanced us and it took until 5 pm to reach the stony campsite on the lip of a precipice.   The view was unforgettable.  In front of us the world was cloud and the sun set into it with the grace and blinding light appropriate for a grand deity, but left us alone with freezing cold and the evening star.

In the morning we climbed higher still and arrived at a lake with a glacier dramatically flowing into it, chunks of ice floating in its cloudy waters.  Above this too we climbed, hopping from rock to rock, tiring easily with half the oxygen of sea level, but full of high spirits whenever we stopped and could take in the remarkable suroundings.  This was the northern tip of the Cordillera Real (the Royal Range) and the mountains there are ridiculously beautiful, it's all knife edge ridges, bare vertical rock, crevace covered glaciers finished off by artistically proportioned peaks, and all this on a massive scale impossible to comprehend by sight - you have to get in amoungst it, see it at different times of day and in different weathers, hear the crack and roar of avalanches and finally, climb up one.   In the middle of all this a humming bird appeared over my friend's shoulder like a welcome visitor from another dimension, and then zipped off again.  We carried on and reached base camp, a tent sized peice of flat amoungst a landscape of boulders and next to the towering cliff edge of a glacier that radiated cold.

So we got up at 1am and cooked porridge and sweet coca tea under the radiant light of the milky way, and were off by 2.  The first part was horrible, plastic mountaineering boots are designed to have no flexibility, so walking across these boulders with a head torch was a nightmare.  The rocks slid dangerously and I teetered across like a broken robot.   It took half an hour of this to reach the access point.  Crampons and harness on we roped up and set foot on the glacier.  Emilio constantly probed the ice ahead of him for weakness and we circled vast crevaces and crossed ice bridges.  Ever going upwards the slope seemed infinite and we paused after steep sections to get our breath back.  Well aclimatised by now, the trick to walking here is to monitor your breathing and allow that to dictate your pace.  Steep sections put you out of breath and you need to pause to recover, but on a regular gradient you can maintain a rythym and plod along with paces barely longer than a footlength, as if in low gear.   Mentally you need to walk without desire - on a climb this long constantly focusing on the summit is depressing and saps your energy, far better to concentrate on this pace now and where to put your foot.   After about five hours of this we were around 6000m and it started to get steep, slopes well over 45 degrees so you have to go up sideways.  During sunrise it was cloudy and we were surrounded by an orange glow that diffused everything and slowly faded to white so we walked in a void.

The steeper slopes took it out of us, and I saw a friend kneel down as if praying as he temporarily collapsed with fatigue.  I was full of beans though, feeling close to it I was now impatient to get to the summit, full of dsire for it, sure we could make it and chivying the others along.  We got to a steep part and the exhausted guy in front stopped and couldn't get any further.  Emilio declared the partially melted snow unsafe and we couldn't find another route up.  I was still sure the summit was obtainable and persuaded him to rope me up.  I set off with an ice axe in each hand and passed my friend's limit.  Above me was a vertical section of ice leading to a lip and the sunny exposed ridge above that.  The snow was loose and I needed 3 points of contact at all times, but made it to the lip.  Reaching it I hefted one axe over and to my relief it got a good grip, as did the other and I pulled myself over, out of sight of my friends and into a different world.  The snow was smooth and yellow in the sun, the slope lifted smoothly above me in a perfect curve and below sank for thousands of metres into infinity.  I made my way up, kick kick, axe axe.  Hard work and out of breath I stopped short as I reached the end of the rope.  I could see the summit about 100m above me but could go no further.  I'd have taken a photo if the act of letting go of one of the axes wouldn't have seen me fly down the face at terminal velocity.  It was a magic moment, just me, in this different world, at my limit but the goal pristine and unobtainable in front of me, Ancohuma doesn't give her treasures to just anyone, and I had to respect that.

Back down with the others the clouds had cleared and we spent a long time looking at the world around us from on high.  It's magical at that altitude, we're unaccustomed to the perspective and the brain responds with awe.  Clouds that look gray from below are stunning looked at from the side or above - the sun's light is differently reflected and they appear as a magical forest, infinite in scope.  The vast valleys below are tiny, the sky above darker than usual.  To our left was Lake Titicaca, huge and dignified from this distance.  Human impact limited to a few roads and fields, the earth regains some of it's unsullied dignity.  I could have stayed there forever and it was a wrench to leave.

The descent took a long time, fatigue and the gradient took their toll, and warmed snow sticks to crampons making them not only umcomfortable but also dangerous.  It was great though, to see in daylight what we had passed in the dark.  You can go a  long way if you walk uphill for seven hours and we passed many icy wonders.  Exhausted we got to the campsite, packed up our gear and shouldered our heavy packs again.  A couple of hours later we were at cloud level and saying farewell to the sun we passed into them and below back into the world of regular life.  The going was hard and I was very worried about one of us slipping and getting injured.  The path was covered in loose rock and we had to cross tricky mountain streams.  Tiredness makes footing harder and we were pushing the pace as we had a long way to go.  It got dark and we put our headtorches back on.  Weariness set in as we passed through rain and then out of the cloud.  My feet hurt, my shoulders hurt where the straps cut in, and my legs ached.  I remember my mind becoming detached as I contemplated my situation and feeling that I could walk forever whatever the pain, it was automatic by now.  We'd missed our ride so had to walk further.  At 8.30pm we found a road and finally got a taxi back to town and  I collapsed into bed without even changing out of my clothes.

Today I travelled on to a new town, but from the window I could see the Cordillera, and Ancohuma in particular, towering over the others, and I could make out the exact spot I got to, and the thought of me in that other world made this one seem somehow less real.  It's different up there, somehow purer, and I felt that when I'd climbed over into that other world I'd been made privy to something intangable and fundamental that we generally don't notice, and I can see now why mountaineers do what they do.

(Tim has been travelling around South America since leaving New Zealand. Prior to this he had been working high up in the mountains of Chile in a copper mine. I was worried he might have been in danger with the earthquake there last month. He seems to be OK! Jim)
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The Songs of Distant Earth and Other Stories - ARTHUR C. CLARKE

This is the second time for me to read a book written by Arthur C. Clarke. The first one was Rendezvous with Rama which I read last year. I haven't known that he had written some short stories like this book. Almost stories are very short and simple but there are deep afterglow of mysterious feelings in all. The feeling was the same as Rendezvous with Rama.

The first story is about making a list of real names of God by using computer at a monastery in Tibet. Before reading, I expected that this story was about aliens because characters in illustrations had no hairs and wore strange cloth but they were lamas in Tibet. This story was not about space, planet, aliens, and so on, but I enjoyed as a science fiction as well. I felt the same theme as the other stories about finding truth of our world.


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Grace Darling

Longstone Lighthouse, Farne IslandsImage by Steve & Jemma Copley via Flickr

This story is the true story, but I don't think so. Because Darling and his daughter had a very strong responsibility and unbelievable energy for rescue.
You can find a lot of article about "Grace Darling" in the internet. There are over seventy thousand article at the internet! I think she was a famous heroine at England.
This is a image of the Longstone Lighthouse.

After Reading 2
Find and answers to this crossword in the story.

1. Grace watched the ship through a telescope.
4. The ship was going xxxxx, from Hull to Dundee.
6. The name of ship. Forfarshire
9. You row a boat with two of these. oars
12. Daniel Donovan's job. engineer
13. Land which is not an island. mainland
14. To move a boat with oars. row
15. The ship was wrecked in 1838.

2. The Darling family lived in this. lighthouse
3. Grace put in the big lantern. oil
5. Grace Darling was a famous heroine
7. Daniel Donovan called Grace Darling an 'Angel'.
8. A man who works on a ship. sailor
10. The floor on a ship. deck
11. Longstone Island was one of the Farne Islands.

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Sunday, 25 April 2010

Desert, Mountain, Sea

In this book, there are three stories about adventure, Desert, Mountain and Sea. In each story, there are dangerous and someone or something died, especially the adventure of Mountain, Annapurna is most serious disaster. I like the story of sea. In Naomi’s story, she traveled to sail single-handed across the world’s most dangerous seas. During her dangerous sailing, she kept asking herself the question: ‘Why am I doing this?’ I understood her feeling a little bit. Sometimes I want to travel somewhere else without no reason. When I was a student, I travelled Huhhot, Nei Mongol in China. I just wanted to ride on horse and race around. But when I arrived at Huhhot in March, there is no grass so I couldn’t ride on horse. Then I thought why I was doing there?

7. Do you agree or disagree with these ideas? Why, or why not?
7.4. Expeditions like these are very expensive, and it would be better to spend the money on something else.

I disagree with the idea. I think that these kinds of adventures would be sometimes important even if it costs a lot. I think it depends on what these travelers can give to people. If they give us bravery and impression, it would be considered of value. I think it would be important for adventurers to try something difficult. On the other hand, if they do it only for themselves and there is no difficulty, I think it would be not important like my travel in Huhhot.
Annapurna I (left) and Fang (right) from the westHere is an example. Have you ever heard of the name, Nobukazu Kuriki, who is a young alpinist. He is now trying to climb Mt. Everest alone without oxygen. There is no alpinist who could succeed to climb Mt. Everest alone without oxygen in Japan. He used to be Hikikomori, but now he is one of the most famous alpinists in Japan. His purpose climbing mountain is that his adventures give people bravery and impression. He needed a lot of money to climb Mt. Everest. I hope he will succeed to climb Mt. Everest and give impression all of people in the world.
Image via Wikipedia
Desert, Mountain, Sea

Masao Kuroda
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We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea

I like this kind of reading, adventure, survival and happy ending. Even so, it was a bit predictable ending. If you want to know the plot summary of this book, please click here.

Jim’s question: Please relate this story to the current 'no fly' situation in the UK.
The four Walker children, John, Susan, Titty and Roger at last reached Flushing in the Nether Lands from Harwich in the UK crossing the cold stormy North Sea by small yacht, Goblin. They have no petrol, no IT equipments like GPS, just compass and some food.
Nowadays we can cross the North Sea easily by plane which is the safest transportation in the world. But even the safest transportation by advancement in IT would be often unable to function in a vast natural. For example,
- Volcanic ash incidents involving airliners
- Air crash’s high impact on Polish politics

I think we should realize that we can’t go against the nature even so we have leading knowledge and technology.

By the way, my colleague is visiting Germany on business at this moment. I hope he’ll be able to return to Japan until Golden Week.
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Saturday, 24 April 2010

Voodoo Island

After reading: 1) Kee is a poor man who comes from Haiti. He is a houngan, and he knows all about spirits. He doesn't understand business, and he understands about people. Kee is a kind man, and he always listens to other people.

Conway is a rich man who comes from America. He is a businessman, and he know all about money. He doesn't understand voodoo, and he doesn't understand about people. Conway is not a kind man, and he never listens to other people.

Comments: At first, I thought that Conway would be cheated by Kee with voodoo in the story. In fact Conway was a good houngan. I don't know whether voodoo exists even now in Haiti or not. If it exists, I would like to experience boodoo.

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Friday, 23 April 2010

April 23rd - apt day for Dragon Slaying!

Yes folks, of course it is Saint George's Day - England's patron saint and my namesake.

Find out more and have a hack at the themed crossword? Have a great evening pulling the wings off big green beasties!

We recycled paper!

Haruka welcomed Anna to class - Anna is a volcanic refugee! This is what we did in class today :)

First we made a mess in the kitchen - the blender started smoking too!

After we cleaned up & put our socks back on (serious splashing & dripping to avoid) we made this movie together. It's so easy.

As you can see, we made friends really quickly; Anna's flight changed to Sunday. so only a week and a bit getting back home. Thanks for helping us out today xxx

Thursday, 22 April 2010

GEOS goes bust - it's personal

Schoolboy receiving bare bottom birching, from...
Thirty-six hours after being told on the phone not to go to work by GEOS corporate division, I still have not heard a word. I am not surprised. Emails have been unanswered, answer machine picks up the phone. Mobile numbers of staff are 'dead'.

The company I teach at has sensibly decided for themselves that all bets are off until they get some information too. I think GEOS is more likely to respond to them than little old me. After all,they have paid for classes which are not now being taught. They can afford a lawyer or twelve. Teachers like me are unlikely to ever be paid for work done in April. Silly Jimmy!

From what I have pieced together from the chatter online, teachers will be expected to sign new contracts tomorrow (Friday 23rd) with the self-same people who have lied repeatedly about the health of GEOS & their ability to honour wage payments.That sounds like an enticing prospect, doesn't it? What would you do?

What about my students? I have invested five years of my life into teaching some of them; suddenly not being there really angers me. Yes, it is a job & I used to get paid for it, but there is a mutual commitment, connection, collaboration with time & trust that is sacrosanct. We have just mapped out the next six months of study, set deadlines for assignments & agreed a code of behaviour (not being there unannounced is one of the bigger no-nos...I think in five years I have failed to make three classes unreasonably late. Today I missed four.)

My problem with GEOS going out of business (apart from significant monies owed) is that I am personally going to be tarnished by association. On a larger scale, my school is going to be tarnished, again, by Eikaiwa-bashing such as we saw in the fall out from NOVA's demise. This is utterly unfair (but inevitable) as Luna International  is an entirely professional outfit. If GEOS & NOVA were the MacDonald's of the EFL industry, we are the great little local restaurant people keep coming back to. Outbreak of E-Coli scares everyone away. On an industry scale, very good people running very good schools up & down the country are going to be similarly looking at a blizzard of abuse in the media feeding frenzy coming. This is like blaming Iceland for having a septic volcano.
Arrow for Go space on Monopoly (game) board
I am no expert in the legalities of bankruptcy, companies merely being 'in administration' etc. If a company resurrects itself tomorrow in all but name, minus the obligations to pay debts etc, then that company & its officers are morally bankrupt. In Monopoly terms, "Go back to go"?  No: "Go to jail - do not go past Go & do not collect £200".

And miss three turns - no "Get out of Jail Free" cards please.

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Wednesday, 21 April 2010

A Morbid Taste for Bones

My first impression of this book was a little boring. The scene was an abbey and I thought the life of abbey was very boredom. On the other hand, the back cover says the murder was occurred.

What do you mean?

I was a little confused bit I started reading. After reading, I couldn’t understand all of the story but I understood overview of the story. I’m not so exciting even though I like the detective story.

Question: What kind of person makes a good detective?

I think a good listener and the person who is likable and friendly is a good detective, because the most important thing of detective is gathering many truths. If he can’t gather any information or can gather only unfair information, it causes him to wrong conclusion.

That makes all of people unhappy. Thus I think the detective has to have an ability to get much information.
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Words in the news: bankrupt

Some interesting developments overnight regarding a large chain of English schools in Japan, involving the

On Yahoo in Japanese
In the Asahi newspaper, also in Japanese
And in English, this guy has been on the money for at least a year.

 If you have been affected by this latest calamity in EFL, our condolences of course. A lot of people are going to be out of pocket and worse, out of work.

Students who no longer have a school to go to may redeem the classes they are owed at Luna International, 2 for 1, with no obligation to join the school until the end of May. Contact Yuki Nagano now by calling 0263-34-4481
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Who the hell is it?

Which former Luna teacher is this?
Where is he/she?
How jealous are you?
What happened next?
Should we invite this teacher back?
Would you like to read the story of this awesome adventure?

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Mai Osawa PhD (Linguistics)

I got an email tonight from one of our 'old' students who used to study with us in the Nagano days (now Noah Academy with Theron Muller). Owen Davies deserves a lot of credit for this success story - at least the early part.

Dr. Osawa used to be Mai-chan, when she came to Luna after school. Yes, she hated her school uniform, & generally loathed everything in life (especially boys)... except English (and Welsh). She did her homework, always spoke up and made very effort just to join in. Yes, JHS shy. Yes, JHS bad habits (katakana-go). Yes, wanted to escape home (how many English teachers do you know live 'at home'?!)

Last month Mai received her PhD from Tsukuba University in Linguistics. I stopped being able to answer her requests for help about three years ago - her questions were simply too hard for me. As far as I know, Mai is the first student from Luna to 'Go the Full Monty'. I am in awe of such an achievement, and am extremely proud; though I taught her only a few times she was 'one of the special ones' which teachers do tend to invest in.

Now Mai-chan finds herself on the other side of the desk, teaching this term. I hope that is an easy transition.

The 'kids' who made the previous "movie" are Mai's age when I first met her in Nagano...I wish we had the tools then that we can call into action very easily now. Here's hoping Mai-chan's success can inspire a generation of Luna Linguists!
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We made a movie

Sunday, 18 April 2010

White Cherry Blossom?!

My daughter woke me up asking me if we could make a snowman; I thought I must be still dreaming!  It was trying to snow last night, but I didn't expect to see a two inch carpet of the stuff Saturday morning! To Ohanami, or not to ohanami?

With my expert weather eye, I figured the sun would come out & give us a proper afternoon of blue skies if not warmth. No need for a cooler - put the beers in the snow! I later heard this was the latest we've had snow here for 41 years.

Fortunately, with everyone umming and arring about the weather, the charcoal was glowing nicely before called into action. Tana & I had time to enjoy a quiet drink & get organised. The blanket of snow at 11am had disappeared by 12.30, and quickly melted on the hillsides as well.

Eventually friends and students, children and oldies found us (our usual spot was a bit boggy) and in no time at all there were kids large & small running around, climbing walls & sliding down embankments, and throwing snowballs into the river. Badminton rackets found new uses as snow scoops!

It was nice to have a very 'family' kind of party today; not too crowded on the riverbank and not too hot. In fact, just right. Thanks all for a great afternoon - sunburnt & full of great barbecued lamb, chicken, pineapple, garlic, mushrooms etc. And lashings of ale? In good measure, yes, of course :)

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Cherry Blossom today

We are not cancelling!

Snow? Not enough! Volcano - maybe!

See everyone by the pink stuff for a memorable afternoon. Just wrap up well!


Thursday, 15 April 2010

My first movie

In my late bid to become a Hollywood Mogul, I have just produced my first film.

It was made in twenty minutes flat and cost me absolutely nothing; the intention was to boil a classroom discourse retelling a story about a neighbourly conflict down to the bare bones, but to include as much target language as possible. This is a resource we will definitely be making a lot more use of in future, as I think our teens will enjoy making toons!

Check out this one for now - hoping my first group of directorial acolytes will share their story precis here too (going to team review in Edmodo first, as a safety net)...holding your breath?!

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Wednesday, 14 April 2010

The boys talk about illnesses

My perennially 'noisy' boys are always up for something different; today we had a go at creating a VoiceThread project, talking about illnesses (unit 10 of our textbook English Time 2 - I hope Setsuko & OUP can cope with the image used?)

They had fun trying to take each others' pictures, then trying to put each other off when it was their turn/asking the harder questions (involving pronouncing 'stomachache'). First effort with this technology which looks very easy to use & obviously a lot of applications for our various classrooms, collaborating on projects & sharing comments. Check it out; comments welcome!
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Training Day in a Wordle

Wordle: Cambridge ESOL training day

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Congratulations Mizuki

Having a very good day today with happy news.

My long-term ex-student Mizuki-chan gave birth to her second son a few days ago. We hope he (Motoharu) & mum recover quickly and are home to play with Shingen & daddy soon.

Congrats to the happy family from all of us at Luna.

From the chalkface

Congratulations Anna!

Happy news also reaches us from Australia, that our former colleague & good friend Anna has become engaged to her Swedish beau.

We are thrilled for her and wish her every happiness. Looking forward to some wonderful wedding photos.

From the chalkface

Congratulations Penny!

Word reaches us from Nagano that our friend & former teacher Penny has become the proud mother of a bouncing baby boy!

Congratulations Penny & Atsushi & we look forward to meeting the addition soon.

From the chalkface

Monday, 12 April 2010

Moments of sheep

These bubblers are so much fun!! Here is one made by some of my students. They had to work together to navigate the program, choose appropriate pictures and decide on the script. Funny pictures seem to inspire the imagination and lend themselves to being used in this way.

Click on this link to see some funny comments made by sheep.

by Remi Yuhi and Yuya E.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

CPE on Sunday

Some people you know are always going to transform your day from run of the mill to a moment you can dine out on for years to come. Anthony in Singapore is one, Owen another. Grant Trew was a late addition to the training team this weekend but I was chuckling quietly to myself at the news. Something GT said during training for KET & PET last year in Kobe had me paralysed for half an hour; so this morning with a crack the German coast guard which cracked me up & made it pretty near impossible to keep a straight face for the next ten minutes!

Come to mention it, Paul Delaney has his moments too. Almost exactly my age, from my neck of the woods and extremely droll. No stand up gags but pithy one liners with excellent timing - no hesitation and plenty of relevance!

Our session today was intended to cover CPE - Certificate of Proficiency in English. To pass this Cambridge ESOL level (CEFR C2), candidates really do have to be exceptionally strong in all aspects of English, so much so that most of us agreed that your average native-speaker off the street would struggle to be successful in this test. I'll leave it for another day as to why there are not a lot of CPE candidates in this took a whole day today to make sure we have a dozen OEs properly competent at this level. Time well spent? Absolutely. Hard work for everyone - oh yes. Chances like this come along every day of the week? Nope.

Thank you Oana, Grant, Paul, Tom, Malcolm, Tana, Joan, Andrew, Oliver, Eamonn for your perseverance & hard work.

Luna link = big up Tana, please. The first person to work for the school who will achieve OE status for all levels of exams that we offer apart from Jim. No mean feat at all, and something she (and we) need to be very proud of indeed.
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Saturday, 10 April 2010

Churrasco & Ciapirinhia in Kyoto

Oana had been promising a slap-up Brazilian meal for us this evening for months, and I for one was not going to let the opportunity of some very good local knowledge slip. Not disappointed! What a blow-out! Tabihodai (eat as much as you like) barbecue & 'Viking' ie salad & dessert smorgasbord. My first experience of Brazilian barbecue style, so let me explain; waiter brings along the world's longest skewer and slices off chunks of deliciously juicy meat (beef, pork, chicken, sausages) during your meal, topping up your plate. Slightly similar to middle-eastern kebab style I guess, but we a talking lumps of tender meat rather than delicate slices!

Washed down with a beer or two? Of course, but it was the Ciapirinhia that proved the ideal accompaniment. New tipple for me, and no disastrous side/after-effects so will be researching this one for our Ohanami next weekend! (You'll have to come along to find out more!)

I just have time to mention pudin. I realised that Brazilians must actually be from Yorkshire (and so much suddenly makes sense - the football, the beach volleyball, the same bon viveur outlook on life). "Pudin" loosely translated from Yorkshire/Brazilian = dessert. The chocolate mousse thing was divine!

In Kyoto - check out Estrela, in Sanjo (east side of Pontocho)
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Kyoto - Examiner Training

A dozen of the nation's finest EFL teachers gathered in Kyoto today to participate in Cambridge ESOL Oral Examiner (OE) training.

Today's attendees had already been tasked with a certain amount of pre-training which meant we were able to get cracking at a decent pace. I have found that providing recruits with as much info as possible beforehand saves a lot of aggro on the day, as examiners have a lot to process/manage/do, and digesting a 50+ page booklet at the same time has proved to be too much in the past. I love Dropbox!

We gathered from Okayama, Osaka, Nagoya, Matsumoto (our Tana) as well as locals based in Kyoto & Shiga.In all  would say there was over 150 years of English teaching experience in the room; quite a lot of experienced examiners (other levels) too. Great to see motivated and capable teachers pushing themselves professionally and being open to guidance/a bit of tweaking even with all that experience. It is rare that we teachers are challenged to justify our opinions and have a common framework with which to discuss student/candidate performances.Very few teachers (in Japan) are experienced enough/qualified to deliver & assess these levels (CEFR B2/C1).

Personally it was great to see OEs I have previously trained at other levels (YLE, KET, PET) in three different cities (Okayama, Kobe, Nagoya) get down to business very much "on the same page". I was even happier to hear myself quoted as OEs collaborated during the day on rubric delivery (interlocuting) & assessment. I find it very rewarding personally to see & hear teachers/trainers I respect 're-tweeting' my suggestions/sharing their experiences moulded in consistent "Cambridge-speak".

I tried a few new things before & during this session, which I hope added value. I have given up reading commentaries to the room; the 'mana from heaven' approach falls on barren ground too often :)  Today I asked trainees to assess performances alone & then discuss their scores together, before giving them commentaries without scores to fine tune their ideas against the analytical criteria. This stops everyone arguing with me! At the end of the day, here is Cambridge's mark. "Move your scoring to this benchmark!"

Tomorrow the Himalaya of EFL - CPE... The absolute pinnacle of a student's ambitions. Very rare air at this level.

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