Saturday, 31 July 2010

Vocabulary Connect 4 : Chip-O

My little lads struggled a bit last week in the heat, and I wasn't on the best form either, getting frustrated with their lack of energy/brain power!

We are all mates again now, after a 'sound' game of Chip-O. Essentially 'Connect 4', with images of vocab on the board and cards with the words on to try & match. It is more interesting not knowing all the vocabulary, as that stimulates the kids to help each other/have a need to ask me questions - ahead of their turn, importantly, to keep the game moving on & not waiting for someone 'stuck' on their 'go'.

I love this game as a reading review/phonics lab - the game itself is fun and the teacher can rarely contrive the result (usually have to 'throw' a game so students win, which is boring & often transparent!)
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Big Books, little readers

Show YOU are interested!
Action shots of Jim in action in the classroom are few & far between; Yuki is always pestering me for them though for promotion materials etc. So, seeing as she was helping out in pre-school today (Naomi off studying in Tokyo), she snapped away happily while I was reading one of our lovely BIG Scholastic readers ("I like").

Be active
Obviously (as I think it is obvious!) readers need to be interactive and engaging; milk the book for all it's worth and personalise it for maximum impact! In this case picking out the fruit we do like - and the fruit we don't like. Which fruit did we eat already today? Which fruit is soft/hard, what colours are they etc.

Most importantly of all, know your story!

As you can see, our pre-schoolers thoroughly enjoy a good book, and it is a lot of fun getting so much back from the children. I would say they are producing more spoken English now, before their 3rd birthdays, than most of our pre-teens who can only come to class once a week.

All the language they are acquiring at this age is going 'in', and being reproduced extremely naturally, frequently, and in context - with no pressure to perform.
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Thursday, 29 July 2010

Canterbury Tales writing project

A Holy Place in Japan

The Kofukuji in Nara is one of the oldest and historical places in Japan. It's a very quiet and holy place where a lot of famous and familiar statues of Buddha are. Inside the temple one of the statues is smiling while another is angry about something etc. They all speak to us without saying a word.

Sixty years ago a lot of youths visited to see these pagodas during WW2. They were sent to the place as a miserable soldier who had to battle for defeating war of Japan. Most of them were sent to die in the Southern Island for the sea of Japan and never came back home.

Well, Kofukuji was built in Nara by the Emperor Shomu and Empress Komyo about 580AD or so.

A very popular statue of Ashura. He's handsome and speaks of humanity.

Kofuji Park- The Emperor and Empress loved it. Also young and old people have loved it since old times.

Deer is very cute.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

The Girl with Red Hair

Good evening Mr.T. You have just read a book called "The Girl with Red Hair".

Can you tell me about the main characters in the story?
The main characters are Mark and Kate . Mark works at Mason's store with Leon and Shami in security. He likes working in security and he is twenty-two years old. Kate has red hair and green eyes. Mark thinks she is very cute because he saw her on the security TV. Her sister Clair's little boy is called Greg, and she looks after him every Wednesday.

Does Mark meet Kate? How?
Yes, he meets Kate by dropping Greg's hat and he says to Kate "Is this your hat?" Greg had a red airplane and was near the door. Mark went to the door and stopped him, because he didn't want Kate to steal it. Then, in the Ocean Club (a nightclub with good music and nice girls) Mark saw Kate when he got a drink, and he met Kate and her sister. He was happy.

What kind of story is this, then?
This story is really funny and I liked it when Mark is talking with Kate at the Ocean Club and the store. It's a romantic story.

What kind of story would you like to read next?
I'd like to read a story which is a little bit harder, but very funny.

OK! Let's see what I can find on the shelf. Thank you Mr. T! Look forward to reading about your next book :)
Bye bye!

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Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Idle iPhone designs

Yuta was the only one to turn up to class today - it's been very hot and the holiday season is looming...

Rather than give him a hard time with the books, I showed him how to draw a simple picture on my iPhone; as you can see, he got the hang of it pretty quickly! We then imported the images to VoiceThread and made the cool slideshow above, adding captions, comments and our little chat. He did most of the work himself, and looked rather chuffed with the result.

Fool on his classmates for not turning up! We had a ball! Thanks Yuta - goo job :)
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Yellow chair chant & trusting your friends

This is a song/chant I've not used in class for ages, and I'd forgotten how much children enjoyed the challenge of listening hard for detail...when they really want to do something like colour a picture! An extra way I like to exploit the material is colour coding the lines in the song - our pre-schoolers are pre-reading stage for now - and it helps them sing-a-long/remember the song later.(The Yellow Chair Chant, from Let's Sing, Let's Chant 1, OUP)

Establishing trust and helping your friends is a very important part of growing up, and we've noticed with our kids a certain tendency called 'me firstism' closely followed by tantrum alert if frustrated. It was therefore very pleasing to see the girls lending each other a hand to walk along the wobbly causeway they'd designed, and telling each other to 'be careful'.

We have been working on combining short vowel sounds with consonants recently, and this game was a step ahead of where we really are in terms of learning, but it served a purpose which was to generate 'oh wow!' and also to notice there was a recurrent theme - ie a/e/i/o/u tend to get used a lot  "again?" they kept saying! Even a couple of weeks ago this game (My first scrabble) was 'too hard', but letting it 'settle' and having another go worked like a charm. I like the set up as it is colour-coded and self-correcting, the pictures are clear and colourful, and pieces unbreakable.

Another awesome day in pre-school :) 

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Monday, 26 July 2010

Stop press! : Britain closes to foreign students

From the EL Gazette

"In a move that sidesteps the UK Court of Appeal and the Houses of Parliament, and right as the Gazette goes to press, the British government has given just 24 hours' notice of a change to immigration law.
The change bans adult students from coming to the UK to study English or any other course below degree level for more than six months, unless they have passed a specified intermediate English qualification at B1 level on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).
A new list of qualifications comes into effect from 12 August; the only ones accepted for entry are Toefl, Ielts, the Pearson Test of Academic English and Cambridge Esol exams. Among the qualifications no longer accepted is Toeic, the world's largest English language exam, which is taken by over four million candidates a year and dominates in Korea and Japan, the two largest markets for English language courses in Britain...."

Luna International is a Cambridge ESOL Centre, offering exams at all levels - including B1 (PET & PET for Schools), year round. Contact Yuki Momose for details/dates (next PET exams available in November).
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Friday, 23 July 2010

Wallace and Gromit invention advertisement

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Not three yet!

Exploiting graded readers

I am a huge fan of the OUP Reading Tree series, because it offers so many 'angles of attack'. Not just an interesting read, with familiar characters and cool illustrations, but very subtle recycling of vocabulary and sensible progression of grammatical structures.

Students love the stories because silly things happen, and in not too many pages! I love them because a happy reader is a learner on the loose!

Reading (and listening to the narration) is an 'at home' extra to regular classes, but things often tie in nicely with a classroom task - today our JHS girls were trying to distinguish the different sounds of a "final s" - voiced /z/ or unvoiced /s/.

Listening was one tack. Reading aloud and holding fingers gently across our throats was a second - fingers feel a vibration, then your voice is 'working'. If no vibration, then it's just wind between your teeth, isn't it?

Green series "A new house" was just right; lots of final s. As a group, the class read the story with two colour pencils at the ready (pink & blue to match the coding in their textbook). The story itself was irrelevant! Pouncing on words with an s on the end and pronouncing it clearly until I nodded (they modeled the sounds to each other, experimenting/testing until it sounded right).

Trial & error breeds confidence when students self-identify patterns or rules, and will listen to each other's intuition before any teacher's voice 'goes in'.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Beer Party!

Come and join us for a cold one!

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Daiich Kokan (rooftop beer garden next to the castle)
What time?
meet outside at 6:30pm, nomihodai from 7-9pm, party might continue until later..
How much?

Y3500 (about), meal Y1500 plus drinks Y2000
Meeting Place?
outside Daiich Kokan, entrance of castle opposite the Family Mart

Please let us know asap so we can book a table. Pleas note that payment is compulsory once we've booked, as the restaurant does not make any allowances.

Hope to see you there!

The Luna Team :)

My name is Keiji!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

About me - Mr. T

Hi Jim,

My name is T****. I am Japanese and I ten years old. I live with my two big brothers and my parents, and I go to a school called *******.

I am 133cm tall, and I am thin. My hair is short and black, and my eyes are brown.I do not wear glasses.

I am cheerful and lively, talkative and extrovert. My mum says I am very cute and always smiling (I am not smiling today because I went to the dentist!)

In my free time, I love watching English cartoons on DVD, and I like playing with mum. I go to English lessons on Wednesday afternoons at Luna International. I sometimes read English books, but I didn't read last week because I was busy doing kendo.

This is about me, and please write back.

Best wishes,


Yuki-chan on Twitter

The fabulous Yuki is now on Twitter. She doesn't know how it works and doesn't have any 'friends'.
Please follow her?!

The Fat Controller?!

Our introductory pre-school 'warmer' class is a delicate balance between trying to do something 'useful' (actually do a bit of learning) and something fun (probably not a lot of language produced). Case in point here is a Thomas the Tank engine-a-holic; just LOVES trains, and as soon as he spied our big set would not do anything else until the entire layout was done to his satisfaction!

Obviously, the "wheels on the bus" song & dance I had in mind was tweaked, which was met with approval. Thomas snack box. Thomas water bottle. I'm prepared to bet on Thomas pyjamas too!
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Plein Soleil - film review

Alain Delon 2010Image via Wikipedia
I saw a great film "Plein Soleil"
It's a Italy and Flance Film, and Picaesque Saspence.
Alain Delon is the main star, lovely music is Nino Louta
Very rich man's Son was staying Rome and he didn't come back US. His father's disied to take back his Son. Father employed Tom. Tom was a very poor student. Tom went to Rome and he stayed with rich son. SPOILER ALERT Duaring to stay with rich son. Tom had jealoused. Tom killed rich son, Tom starts living as rich boy. Tom acts rich boys life. When Tom enjoyibg rich life, telephon rang

Posted for Takeshi (correspondent was Ayaka), writing project from English Result Intermediate (OUP)
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Never-ending Story - film review

The story title is "Never-ending Story"
It's a fantasy movie.

There is a boy (name is clkjbvd) finds an old book and starts reading the book.
Other characters aren't people.
Another boy (name is lkjujty), who adventures on imaginary world.
The girl, who is a fairy princess, her hope is to find someone to help her kingdom.

The story mingles real world and imaginary worlds.

My favorite character is Falcon.
Most exciting scene is the boy
frying on the sky with Falcon.

Posted for Ayaka (correspondent was Takeshi), writing project from Unit 4E English Result Intermediate (OUP)
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Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Hate it when you leave

This little learner of ours impressed the hell out of me when he joined our school - aged four. He has impressed me and all his teachers over the eight and a half years he has been with us. He impressed me most when he complained his buddies (who joined Luna together) were "not studying hard enough" and that he "wanted to study on his own" - how often do you hear that from an under ten?!

Yuki is a charming young chap: he ALWAYS says 'hello' and ALWAYS addresses the person he is talking to. He ALWAYS makes conversation and does his homework, he ALWAYS tries 100% in class and ALWAYS leaves Luna with the teacher feeling that something 'went in'.

When Yuki first started with Luna I was his teacher. I was very concerned that he would stab himself in the eye whenever we used pencils for writing letters or colouring - he was SO short-sighted his face was closer to the paper than the end of the actual pencil. I am not kidding, he had to get  his face SO close to the page, and favour his better eye.

Corrective surgery has helped Yuki a lot; he has always been a confident reader, for his age. He will be one of the kids my staff & I will miss very much - he has to get better at his other subjects to pass stupid entrance exams (his English is well-above the curve). He has munched his way through OUP's Story Tree like a very hungry caterpillar; he has stolen the hearts of all his teachers.

So this evening we say goodbye. I know Yuki will come back in about 10 years to say 'hello' again, like all of our 'favourite' students do; he will be able to talk in English and Yuki & I will feel older still...This little laddy will be a leader, of that I am very sure. Good luck Yuki - look forward to reading about you :)

Billy and the Queen

Q: Write a short summary of the story.

Billy want to a new bicycle but he hasn't got any money. One day, He and his sister Rox are go to their grandmother's house. She finds news about queen's competition because she likes Queen very much. Billy and Rox join the competition. They go to the horse races the first time but they don't take a Queen's picture. Next they go to new hospital because they want to see Queens car arrive They wait for a minute and then the car arrives but they don't see the Queen because there are many people. Next they go to museum and Rox has a good idea! Rox takes a picture of Billy and the wax model of the Queen. But the museum's guard sees them and he is angry with them. They run away fast. Finally, they win a prize and they buy two new bicycles.


With these hands

With these hands I can paint without restraint;
With these hands I can eat any treat.

With these hands I can touch much too much;
With these hands I can hold, but I need to be told 'two hands!'

With these hands I can 'be nice' or snatch,
With these hands I can throw dice and catch.

With these hands I can share;
With these hands I can show you that I care.

With these hands I can put on my dress;
With these hands I do can really make a mess.

With these hands I can show you I care;
With these hands you know I am there.

With these hands I can build, colour and glue;
With these hands I will forever be tactile and true.

Now Hinata-chan, this is true;
Wash your hands - we love you!!!

The Man in the Iron Mask

This is a history and action film.

Leonard Decaprio played the leading
In 1662 French king who is Louis 14th.
He is tyrant.
He has a yong brother whose name is Philip.
He and Philip are twins.
Louis 14th imprisoned his brather
Musketeers who had retired knew about it.

They decided to help Philip at the mask ball
they changed the king and Philip.
(Louis was imprisoned and Philip became the French king) SPOILER ALERT!!!

My favaraite charactor is Philip.
because h
e is tolerant and good personality.

Posted for Masayuki (correspondent was Chisato), writing project for Unit 4E English Result Intermediate (OUP)

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Postcard from...Singapore

Hello Jim,

I'm having sooo much fun in Singapore :)

I drank Singapore Sling at the Raffles Hotel last night. I really like to be here!

See you in Matsumoto.

Love ya,  Takako

Postcard from...Le Mont-Saint-Michel (France)

I having a great time here in France. The weather is not so good...but no problem for me. I already been Chartres, Chateaux de la Loire and Mont St. Michel. Mont St. Michel was one of place where I really wanted to visit, so I;m happy now and it was wonderful. Tomorrow I go Paris. I'm really looking forward to see the "14 juillet"s fireworks.

See you in next lesson. Miyako F
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Monday, 19 July 2010

Twitter 101

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CEFR - Word cloud - WordItOut

I was curious how the Common European Framework Reference would look when rendered as a word cloud - it's a National Holiday today so I am doing my homework/catching up on projects. Likely more experiments to come. Comments please!

CEFR - Word cloud - WordItOut
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TagCrowd - our blog as a word cloud

created at
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The Devil wears Prada - film review

Cover of "The Devil Wears Prada [Blu-ray]...Cover of The Devil Wears Prada

It's a drama film called "The Devil wears Prada". This story is about two ladies lives that are full of hope and disappointment.

Meryl Streep and Ann Hathaway are the stars of it. A naive just graduated young lady who has a dream to be a journalist comes to New York. Against her wishes she is hired as an assistant for a boss who is demanding, powerful, and sophisticated.

When her boss's new higher position she is expection is replaced with a younger woman who is a rival of the boss, she realizes the ups and downs in life. She learns life is made of choices. I was moved by their positive attitude towards difficulties and encouraged. I enjoyed gorgeous fashion.

Posted for Chisato (correspondent was Masa), writing project from Unit 4E, English Result Intermediate (OUP)
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