Monday, 29 July 2013

Another Pirate wanted!

Sir Henry Morgan

Nickname is Barbadosed.
From Wales.
Lives in Caribbean.
Crimes are he attacked the Spanish cities in the Caribbean.
Usually wears a slash doublet and embroidered baldrics, cotton shirts with ruffs, breeches and leather boots.
The Spanish are looking for him.
He is 53 years old.

Researched & written by Tomoro

Professional Development - Nagoya

I was delighted to be asked to provide a KET & PET examiner training session by Mike Stockwell at Sugiyama University in Nagoya. It is really reassuring that some of the people I hold in the highest regard 'get it' i.e. appreciate just how useful the examiner training is to in-service teachers...let along the quality of the actual exams and usefulness to candidates.

On sweltering day, we worked around felafel kebabs for lunch and potent Mojitos afterwards!

KET & PET (CEFR A2 & B1 respectively) are abundantly appropriate for university language students in this country - far much more so than TOEIC, for example. The speaking parts of the tests, which we were training for today, are especially important. Exam-takers interact with each other with graded material to stimulate an exchange, and are not required to talk to a blank PC screen for 3 minutes. Examiners are professionally experienced, annually re-trained and well-paid - not minimum wage, uni students on piece-rates!

Thank you Rob, Tanja, Steve, Cheryl, Jon & Mike for your very hard work and thoroughly professional work ethic. An excellent day's work, and six of the best joining Luna's examiner corp.

Friday, 26 July 2013

The Secret Room - Green Story Tree #3

A hot summer's day, weary students at the end of a long week..."nothing new" to learn (cleverly arranged Jim-sensei?)

listen to ‘The Secret Room - Green Story Tree #3’ on Audioboo

Love Sock Puppet - the 30 second limit really makes us hurry up :)

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Jumping Up!

A beginners guide to enjoying a very simple starters' song!

listen to ‘Jumping Up!’ on Audioboo

better in video, but we are early learners :)

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

From Yamagata - examiner training weekend

Our great northern venues in Yamagata & Fukushima have been co-operating with each other since adopting Cambridge exams, and last weekend the fine tradition continued. MY English Schools in Yamagata are very keen on Cambridge Young Learners, and it was a pleasure to deliver examiner training to their staff on Saturday.

The following day, we had a whole day of Professional Development, which included opportunities to practice & hone our interlocution skills with volunteer candidates. This puts examiners under 'real' exam pressures and is invaluable experience - helps me identify possible areas that need fine-tuning or showcase good habits. The volunteer candidates can enjoy two or three 'practice' goes for free, to help get them in the mood for the actual exams which will be taking place in November (details below). I'd like to thank Ryan's school & staff for their help in organising the weekend, and for all their hard work.

I actually enjoyed the long drive, as the nights' on the expressway coincided with live commentary on the cricket between England & Australia in London...meaningless for most people I know, but blissfully enjoyable for me, and made the 1,100km slip by relatively quickly - just like the Aussie innings!

YLE in Yamagata city: November 10th
Apply to MY English School or via Luna at

YLE in Aizuwakamatsu city: November 17th
Apply to Windmill English Centre or via Luna at

Thursday, 18 July 2013

What is it?

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Postcard from Slot Canyons, Arizona, USA

Today, I visited "Antelope Canyon".

It's a very very beautiful place which nation (nature) have made for a long time.

Just now, I was back to Las Vegas. Here, there're many people & noisy music :(

By one day trip, I felt peaceful wind (at Canyon) & human's energy.

Tomorrow I'll go back to Japan. My vacation is not long, but good time.


Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Grace Darling - difficult choices

I read Grace Darling in June, and here is my answer to After Reading #4.

If I have to choose four people, I would save…

A mother and her young child, because young child is not physically strong to spend long time in the ocean.
A doctor (older woman), because she is able to take care of the sick people after she goes to the lighthouse.
A nurse (young man), because I need someone to row my boat together. He would be able to row back to save other people.
A teacher (older woman), because older woman is not physically strong enough comparing to man or young woman.

I imagined it was very difficult to made the right decision in the limited time frame. But William and Grace were really brave and able to save as many people as they could.

I was really impressed by the Grace’s word, “Think of those poor people, alone on that rock. We live on a lighthouse – it’s our job!”. I am working at a company, but I want to think about what I can do for the people as a job.

Posted for Tomoko

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

My kid brother as a Super Hero!

As a diversion from the brain melting 37 degree heat we've enjoyed today, I asked Kanro to imagine himself as a Super Hero. Ever modest, he declined, but when asked to cast his kid brother in the role, things got a bit more interesting.

Here is a transcript of our interview.

Your brother is a Super Hero, I hear. What should the world call him?
You can call him Mouse Boy.

I hear he is pretty scary to look at. Is that true?
It is ture that he looks unusual and wierd but not scary in my opinion.

Does he leave fur around the house?
Yes he does. The house always get dirty with it.

How does he get on with your labrador?
They get on well with each other. They sleep on the same sofa every night and play together in our garden.

Tell us about his alias, please.
It is Alex Cabbage, and he works in the local seven eleven as a convenience store clerk and he even wears the uniform.

He wasn't wearing that uniform when we saw him on CCTV last week rescueing those climbers in the Alps...
He quickly changed into his costume and saved them. The costme consists of green mask and a blue ring which gives him powers.

Powers? Like what?
He gets the power to dig holes underground and become really tiny.  

And then what does he do? 
He will go to the place where someone needs help like he was shot from a catapult.

Very interesting! I hear he doesn't live in Japan? 
No, he lives in Turkey, because he likes to swim in the Black Sea. However, he will come to help even in Japan, beacause of the time difference and he loves udon.

Do you ever get jealous of his fame, good looks and success with the girls?
It is a little difficult to answer that question, though I sometimes feel blue.


Railway set as a class analysis tool?

Rainy season is about done in Japan now (so any rain we do get from now will be unexpected!) and the real heat of the summer is set to swamp us with an oppressive, humid blanket.

We had a foretaste of that at the end of last week, when our new little class dripped into Luna excited but clearly on their last legs. We are about over the "hugging mummy's leg" stage, but not quite past the "let's run around the room picking everything up" stage which also comes with the "I am going to pretend to be a rabbit for the next 45 minutes" personality!

With my own son added to the mix (once in a class he will not do anything like make daddy a proud teacher) I decided to make a pre-emptive strike and make a mess of my own classroom (and lesson plan). We have a lovely wooden train set, underused, and today it got a full work-out. The boys grabbed all the engines, of course, while the girls stood there wondering why! They shared the nice wooden characters instead, and started arranging them neatly. Now, play carried on and was self-propelled; for once they wanted me to referee disputes and to fix things. Although they asked me to do stuff in L1, I would make sure we had at least a snippet of English while I checked what they wanted and got a "please" or a "thank you" extracted. The bolder children started to insist on the same courtesies, and soon enough some "here you are" & "you're welcomes" too (which they 'remembered' from the background music we had playing quietly).

Something I was really interested to see happened after about 15 minutes; the boys had had enough ploughing around the track and wanted to re-build it. Which, to be honest, was a bit of a eureka moment! They were really saying "OK, we've got the mechanics sorted, now we want to see if we can make it work for ourselves". Replace 'grammar' for 'mechanics' and you'll see the analogy. That they tried to put the ends together or track upside down, corners going the wrong way, had bridges going nowhere, and not enough track to join the ends together = making mistakes, experimenting, making false starts, trying out ideas and arriving at dead ends...they realised this for themselves, and set about problem solving (or walking away & doing something different for a bit then coming back with fresh eyes) individually at first (even less track because somebody hogged all the corners!) and then as a team. These little engineers were doing this for the first time in any language, so I can't expect them to instantly do the same in English classes...but I can try to re-create the kind of tasks with more of a language focus down the line, and give them the glue they need to get their personal tracks organised.

I found myself needing to apologise to mums afterwards that we "didn't do much English" - but on reflection I am glad we did something completely different and that the children showed me their natural dynamic, teams & leadership skills. I can use all of that! Mums? Well, the kids came back without any tears or calls for mummy during the class (first time none of them had had to sit in & reassure anyone), the class went really quietly and yet they were humming the "clean up" song at the they were more than happy.

Now to follow that up with a 'proper' lesson and not a "it's too hot" cop out!

Monday, 8 July 2013

Blackbeard - wanted poster

Wanted Dead or Alive

Reward of  500 gold doubloons for the capture of the Pirate "Blackbeard" 

Real name: Edward Teach , or Tatch, or Thatch
Age: 38
From: Bristol, England
Lives in: the Caribbean on his ship the Queen Anne's Revenge.

Crimes: capturing more than 40 shipsstealing lots of treasure, blockading Charleston , marrying 14 wives.

Appearance: a tall, frightening man with a long, black beard, usually wears lots of pistols in his belt and puts smoking fireworks in his beard.

Contact: Governor Spotswood of Virginia or Tomoro of Matsumoto

Friday, 5 July 2013

Red Dog

After reading #2&3

1. A worker at Hamersley Iron: ‘This new girl, Nancy, gets on the bus and sits down on the seat behind the driver, where Red always sits. Red didn't like that at all! First he shows his teeth and then he tries to push her off the seat. We were all laughing.'

2. Patsy: ' It was difficult getting the claws out, but luckily they didn't hit anything important. He's a strong dog, and I think he'll be fine. Next week he'll probably be at a barbecue stealing somebody's burgers and eating them!'

3. Mrs. Cribbage:' here’s that dog again, visiting people in the caravans. I don't like it. this is my park, and I live here. He'll try and chase me, like all dogs do. When he does, I'll use my bullets on his nose. That'll teach him a lesson...'

4. Nancy: 'Don't worry, I know what to do. I'll show this letter to everyone, and tomorrow morning everyone will drive their cars and part in a circle aound Mr. Cribbage's truck. Then he won't be able to pull your caravan away.'

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Report - things to do in my hometown: Suwa, Nagano prefecture

諏訪湖祭湖上花火大会/Suwa lake firework Festival
Suwa lake firework Festival (Photo credit: Kurosawa Michiyo)

1. Festivals in Suwa

Summer Season: The majority of festivals are held in the summer. You can enjoy fireworks around Suwa Lake in August, every evening at 8pm. In additiona, many "Bon Odori" and "Ofune" festivals related with Suwa Lake are held.
Winter Season: Suwa Lake is frozen in January and February. The frozen lake blessing is broadcast on the news as "God`s walking on the Lake".

2. Onsens everywhere

There are onsens (public baths) which tend to be a bit cheaper than the majority of the high range hotels.

3. Suwa Lake

There are many options if you want to go fishing, boating and walking. While enjoying the outdoors, you can nearly always feel a nice, peaceful wind.
English: Lake Suwa, Suwa, Nagano prefecture, J...
English: Lake Suwa, Suwa, Nagano prefecture, Japan  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

4. Eating out sight-seeing

Most traditional food restaurants are open near Suwa Lake. Generally speaking, some traditional food is cooked with very unique materials, such as bee larva etc. For your experience, we recommend trying to eat them. If you want to see a beautiful sight, why not visit "Kirigamine kogen". It takes one hour by car from Suwa station.

Posted by Yumi
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A funny thing happened...original story

A funny thing happened during a lesson at school. We were in a history class in the fourth period and that day it was the last class because school finished at one o’clock in the afternoon.

The dopey kid sitting in front of me was snoring. He seemed to be absolutely exhausted and had fallen asleep on his desk. When the bell rang at the end of the class, he was still sleeping deeply. Our teacher, who was totally furious, hid the boy’s shoes on top of the blackboard. 

We didn’t want to wake him up, so we all left the classroom on tip toes and left him with his dreams.  Next morning, he had to apologize to us and he was extremely embarrassed. The funniest thing was that he couldn’t find his shoes. We all wondered what his mother had said to him when he got home that night!

By Takuro

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Monday, 1 July 2013

Postcard from...St. Moritz, Switzerland

Dear Jim, NHK guys.

I'm in St. Moritz in Swizland. I came here by Bernina railway, one of the World Heritage, from Tirano in Italy.

The cool red trains goes into the Swiss Alps. The view from the wide windows is fabulous!!

I enjoyed the journey with glaciers, wild flowers, clean lakes...It is like another world.

Finally, I arrived this amazing resort. Swiss is nice and warm. After visiting a art museum. I am going to stay a hotel located by Lake Como.

Posted for Teruki