Tuesday, 31 August 2010

My favourite photo - Katsu

One of my favourite photos is of drinking man.

My girlfriend took the photo in the autumn of 2000 when I was on holiday in Taiwan.

We were in Taipei, sightseeing in the city. We went to some night markets, and we had dinner at Si-Rin night market.

I don't know who they are, but they were very cheerful. They were interested in my digital camera, and we talked about Taiwanese food. I ordered some recommended food. It was very delicious!

When I see this picture, I want to go foreign country.

Posted for Katsu

My favourite photo - Yumie

One of my favourite photo is of horse riding.

Riding coach took the photo in the autumn of last year when I was on holiday in Nagano.

We were in Iizuna, riding into forest. We went up a steep slope, jump across a stream, and then run of path.

Murata-san, our leader, was an experienced rider. We learned how to control of a horse in the open air.

I keep this photo on my mobile. I want to go again and again.

Posted for Yumie

Monday, 30 August 2010

Harry Potter voicethread project

by Yuhi & Remi :)


Postcard from...Alaska

Hi Jim, Tana, Yuki & everyone!

We are now in Alaska and having so much fun! We went cruising and saw dolphins, sea otters and glaciers. We went hiking on the glacier too!

Today, we went to the mountains and saw a lot of animals such as moose, bears and wolves. We are going aurora watching tonight. I really hope we can see it! I'm gonna tell you guys about it later ;)

Take care! See you guys when we get back.

Love xoxo

Sayaka & Ayane

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Loosing Ayako - spread your wings!

I've been in this game long enough to know that this afternoon is not the last time I will ever see Ayako, who had her last class with Luna today after about eight years. The next time I do see her though, she is likely to have found herself a place at uni, had her hair done and look nothing like the super-shy elementary school girl I first taught from ABC, and still remember her as. I guess she'd pass PET (CEFR B1) fairly easily now, but she wouldn't volunteer for yet another test!

Today she muttered dark things about her reader (Tutankhamen) being 'too hard' - but that her favourite character was King Tut himself. We were drawing lines under bits & bobs we hadn't finished off before.Ayako has read countless books from the Story Tree series (OUP) into Dominoes & Bookworms - she prefers Dominoes with the quizzes at the end of each chapter. She has consistently & steadily done everything she has been asked to try, and has come such a long way she can only continue to 'use her English' from now on. She leaves us ready to blossom.

Ayako has stolen the hearts of all her teachers over the years she has been coming to us for English classes. Going to have to find another way to make Saturday afternoons fun now...

Best of luck getting into the FE course you want, Ayako. Very sad to see you go, but more excited to see what you achieve next.

xxx Jim

Friday, 27 August 2010

Birthday bonanza - three times three, plus one

Today we celebrated four birthdays all happening within a week, within the pre-school, and invited friends to come and join us for the afternoon. Altogether, twenty little & large ones made up our birthday bash.
Our preparations were very disrupted as Yuki couldn't join us - Hijiri caught a bug he doesn't want to share - and therefor couldn't take care of food & 'crowd control'.

Our mums stepped up to the task but a flat battery saw lunch stalled in Jusco & the cake in danger of melting; indeed we all melted with the heat, even with the extra shade we put up along the riverbank. It was impractical to try & play the games we intended.

The food did make it just in time, and we had a lovely chatty lunch with the children sharing nicely and asking for things politely. I culture shocked my own daughter eating grapes, skin & all. Why wouldn't you?!
We found relief from the blazing sun in our great big main room, teaching our visitors a couple of our favourite songs and getting mums to roll around on the floor singing "ten in the bed"/get chased around the room playing "Mr. Wolf"! The splendid chocolate cake, with a nice pink 3 on it, met with approval and stuck to fingers & faces just right!
Check out all the photos on our Facebook page right here!
Of course we had a good sing for Naomi, Hinata, Eleanor and Sota - a great big  
Happy Birthday  
What's the time, Mr. Wolf?

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Smarty people are happy people

Mind meltingly hot and humid today. Is it OK to teach with your shirt off?!
Resisted the temptation but only just! It was actually cooler outside than in, so after lunch we refound some energy by playing in the car parking space under the school - the girls found our jumbo chalk and demanded satisfaction...a quick think and we came up with a bit of art, a bit of a song (half-remembered from Finding Out), and some jumping around. Mercifully, Naomi sensei is more of an artist than me. (Don't think I'd ever be able to draw an ostrich!)

This morning we did manage to be a bit more productive, but in the heat forgot to take the angelic candy holders we made out of the fridge at the end of the day. Dilemma - to eat them or be heroically stoic and resist the smarties until Friday?!

New podcast episode - Misaki interviews Tana

Yes folks, the skeletons come tumbling out of Tana's closet in this exclusive 'teacher bares all' interview.

Just how much did you think you knew about our effervescent Springbok sensei?  Find the latest installment of Luna's podcast series on the easy listening page (tab above) or go directly to the podbean .

Why not subscribe, y'all, and save me boring you with updates like this :)

(By the way, I think Misaki does a terrific job, don't you?)

How to make a Dvolver movie - backstage!

See one, make one, teach one
I thought you'd like to see the backstage activity that takes place in producing a Dvolver 'movie', such as my Monday girls have posted in the last week or so. Last week, only two of them turned up, so I plonked them in front of a PC each, in adjoining rooms, and put a whiteboard in the corridor.

On one PC I showed them "How to" through the pre-writing stages - choosing a scene & weather which was a bit like their holiday story; a scenario that worked - meeting a friend best as it leant itself to a chat; picking two characters (interesting that they all had similar self-images as 'character 1'!)
Little bit of team work goes a long way!

Then the girls asked how to say what they wanted to say, which I wrote on the board. We haven't done past tenses yet so this just sowing the seeds for them. I don't like 'copying, hence the board in an inconvenient place so they had to try & remember 'chunks of words/sentences. Then they switched rooms and became 'character 2', asking a question about their partner's holiday. Naturally, they had to ask each other what they'd just written too! We repeated the switches until we completed three cycles, then they chose their favourite (actually least disliked!) piece of music , added a title and their names, a credits style & bravely pressed 'enter'.

This week, my two 'originals' were the helpers as their classmates turned up, following the same steps but with some bolshie, unenthusiastic spellers! Beauty of this was having to shout over each other to be heard, repeating spellings and seeking confirmation etc. The youngest, quietest one finally found her voice - best speller and got fed up with her partners!

Friday, 20 August 2010

Fantastic - our mobile phone site goes LIVE


Bon Bon fan club

First & final sounds - and a tummyache

Another mind-melting day up here in the high hills...don't know why I am always so surprised by the intensity of the heat here. Twenty years and still one the wiser!

Our pre-schoolers started thinking about initial and final sounds today - does a particular sound start a word, or finish it? I have realised that getting 'in' with phonics before their brains are pulped with ridiculous katakana and all the implications that has for poor, bad, mis- and mal-pronunciation, intonation, stress & timing is a wonderful bonus: I don't have to unteach much (OK, maybe parents muddy the water a bit, but nothing systematic at this early age.)

 Important - dealing with the sounds letters represent, not the 'names' of them.  And be consisitent. Pointless if you are going to introduce 'ice cream' as part of your set for single /i/ sound. Think about it - or say "ice" a few times. It does not start with the same sound as {iguana, igloo or  insect}, does it?!

Likewise, we are not talking about spelling. Words like {dog, bag & log} all in in a hard /g/ sound....but so do {vague, league & plague}. Worry about pointing out the challenges actual spellings provide learners with later!

Getting ahead of ourselves a bit there. All our pre-schoolers needed to do was pay attention, best as possible in the heat, and decide if a sound we were focusing on began a word or finished it , and then to colour the picture of the word one of two colours - then all the words beginning with the sound are all the same colour, and all the words ending with it are another. Then maybe we can see a link. Teacher (pre-writing as yet) writes the letter under the picture to the left, or to the right. Which? Let you think about it!

Today's new game was 'Around the houses', which I described in detail a day or two ago. This followed up our first proper turn taking game 'Tummy ache' from Tuesday. Turn-taking, passing things, remembering where you were on the board & which way you were going...and having to put up with something you don't like eg Not having a hissy-fit just because you got boring milk while your nemesis got grape Fanta!

Best part of the game = kids teaching Naomi sensei, who came back from her Tokyo studies today and noticed how much we've all grown!

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

What's this/that? A real dialogue!

Round the houses - make a meal out of a simple game!

Obviously kids will forever be wanting to 'play games' rather than having to 'study'. The nifty teacher will manage very vocal demands for a game with the need to make sure that any game is not a 'throw away' event - chewing up precious time without actually doing something...rough input of language; recycling vocab/grammar or dialogues; generating a need to read; interacting with peers; coping with losing too!

Just before the holidays we had a super hot, humid day & any text book work would have head heads lolling in no time. I love this little board game because there's "No English" on it - so when we open up the box and have a lot it's not at all daunting...just very colourful & no obvious 'class stuff' to get in the way of having fun.
I wasn't planning on spending so long on the game - we all know attention spans wither in the heat, and notoriously short for younger lads in particular. However, these two decided they were going to win this game, no matter how long it took!

(A teachery aside: It annoys me when teachers feel they have to explain the rules of a game first. If you do that fully, you'll need to do it in L1: pointless & difficult. Also if you do, you loose all that adrenalin rush of opening the box & wanting to play. You also paint yourself into a corner, if you want to adapt your 'rules' later eg run out of time, make sure you don't have a massive 'loser', stretch it out a bit etc. Kids cotton on quickly enough - get started asap and let them find out as you play; they'll naturally ask you questions and discuss amongst themselves, dicovering/exploring/checking theories. Strategies to actually win > great reason to play again...but then you have to remember the words you were using etc.)

This 'no English' game clearly had these two thinking hard - and being much more stroppy with each other about completing a full question or answer than I usually am (and I do insist children produce more than monosyllabic responses), and picking on each others' pronunciation or time-wasting! They used English throughout to manage the game - 'my turn/your turn/miss a turn', 'pass the dice please', counting etc. Key vocab was furniture (which we have not studied thereby generating a need to ask me, the oracle, for new words first - then each other if they forgot afterwards) and colours/size/shape adjectives. To win, they had to move around the board and collect furniture to fill their removal van, but they could lose items to each other 'on demand' (ie asking each other then janken = rock/scissors/paper ).

The best games for me have two results for players - first past the post, but another criteria which the teacher can manipulate - in this case, whose van was fuller. Both lads therefor won, and the teacher 'lost' (again).

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Teacher man

Some people think it is appealing to lead pupils to motivate for study, but I think it is more appealing to teach highly motivated pupils because I can focus on teaching. If given a choice, I would like to teach at Stuyvesant High School.

Most students at Stuyvesant High School are motivated and want to get higher education. I, as a teacher, can share same interest and have sympathy. In my opinion, it is easier to get along with people when you have sympathy.

On the other hand, at Vocational High School, you would have great difficulty with teaching. Most pupils at Vocational High School want to get a job soon after they graduate, so they don’t want to study impractical subjects.
For instance, Barbara Sadler, the pupil of Vocational High School, is given an advice to go to college. But she is confused because she thinks it’s unrealistic.

Therefore, I prefer to teach at Stuyvesant High School.

posted for Sari

Girls talk. And talk, and talk...

I'm curious about the gossip 'gene'.

Our pre-schoolers haven't seen each other (here) for a week or so (we did bump into each other in the park during the break!). You wouldn't have thought they'd accumulated so much to talk/brag about (especially as a parent when you get a 'grunt' in answer to "Did you have a good time today?").

Like a pair of old ladies in the corner shop, jibber jibber jibber! It didn't matter what we were doing or talking about in English, a sub-channel was in full flow all day! I guess that means they are code-switching effortlessly, which is not a bad thing....wonder if they gossip in English too or retain Japanese for not involving the grown ups? Think the latter!
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My summer holiday movie - Yuu

Monday, 16 August 2010

A Bon Bon "Thank you" from us xxx

My summer holiday movie - Haruka

More Bon Bon pics (Yuki's)

First day back at work after the summer holidays. "Yada!"
Jim stole Yuki's camera and uploaded her Bon Bon photos to his Flickr photosharing site. Here is the address to the set http://www.flickr.com/photos/saint_george/sets/72157624553391681/
If you would like an original copy, please email us & tell which one(s), we'll gladly send you them. You should be able to download directly from flickr, though!
You will also find copies on Facebook - "Like" us and "join" us?!
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Monday, 9 August 2010

Help for tourists to Matsumoto - podcast super episode

Matsumoto's best assetSomething I have NOT managed to get done since last October finally all fell into place this evening - my last student is absent, so I had a moment!

Please LOOK at our latest podcast - it is a slideshow for tourists visiting Matsumoto. I always felt it a shame visitors all take the direct/easy route to the castle from the station, then head back the same way and miss everything! All the cool shops I know, things to see down side streets (the things you always find out about after your trip?)

So, in full shiny podcast glory is Matsumoto for foreigners. It is an mp4 file - download it & email it to friends or send the link http://lunainternational.podbean.com/2010/08/06/illustrated-audio-walking-tour-matsumoto-city/

The icon used by Apple to represent Podcasting.Visitors can load it on their iPod or iPhone & enjoy my lovely voice for 40 minutes of commentary, silly jokes and misdirection - don't blame me if people get lost (maybe I edited it badly?!) It was windy, so pls excuse the buffeting. Any good audio editors out there?

I am very excited about this - please subscribe? The podcast player is found on the "Easy Listening" page, tab at the top. Enjoy :)

http://lunainternational.podbean.com/mobile/   to subscribe directly with your mobile phone

Friday, 6 August 2010

Sayaka returns - Canada's loss!

New podcast episode - Sayaka tells us about her Canadian high school & homestay

Sayaka joined my class when she was about three - she has just come back from High School in Canada. She changed a bit! Today, I got a little revenge back, asking her to help out with our current crop of nearly threes in pre-school. Into the bargain I grabbed fifteen minutes to ask about her experience living & studying in British Columbia over the last two years, while Tana held the fort (making bugs!)

I have always had a big soft spot for Saya-chan; I think you can hear the personality and warmth of the girl very easily in this podcast? She obviously enjoyed herself very much in Canada - I am sure ever so much more than she would have done through the drudgery of the local high school she attended her in town (I qualify to have an opinion - taught there!). She might not have been in school so much, but she sure learned an awful lot more about life & relationships, the world she is a citizen of.
Please listen to what she has to say* - she answers Patrick's question from Dublin, by the way - and please leave any comments below.

And pre-school? They loved her!
(*Podcast player now lives on the "Easy Listening" page - see tab at the top)
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Wednesday, 4 August 2010

The London Game

Getting thrashed
Image by ijiwaru jimbo via Flickr
Kanrou lived in London for four years, and knows his way around the London Underground much better than me (I'm a northerner!). I was getting thrashed until he made the classic mistake of being nice - I pounced, travelling from Wembley to Green Park in record time and scooping a dramatic last minute victory when all he had to do was wander along the Cirlcle Line to Temple.

On our way around (mostly under) London, we read about various tourist spots and he told me what they were like! I've never been to the Transport Museum; I can't remember London Zoo; he used to go to school near the BBC; he's been to the new Wembley ("boring" - so he obviously saw an England friendly there!) etc. Me? I vaguely know how to get to Heathrow, but I have been to Hamley's - mecca for kids!
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