Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star - graded reader + intergalactic app

Yusuke's Water Planet
Personalising irregular verbs
Another day, another graded reader (I know, I do go on a bit)...

A recent reader leant lots of practice to irregular past tense verbs; cool for teacher, bit of a pain in the neck for the learners "Why are they different?" Erm, well, the Vikings & Anglo-Saxons.....

Imagine you were a spaceman and went to another planet; draw it and describe it. 

Already dark outside, I asked my lads to turn around & look carefully out the window. What could they see - 'stars' a fairly glum response. Yes, but no. That bright one is not a star lads. Your book is called "Red Planet". Any ideas what that particular one is? Penny dropping. Don't believe me? OK, let's check with Star Walk app on my phone. Shock & consternation as the screen shows a live image of what the heavens should be looking like - including constllations, satellites, and...(coming to that) as you move it around. Very cool :)

What planet is red? OK, let's search for Mars. Presto, arrow navigates us to rendez vous with our celestial neighbour, with the cursor exactly over there. Now you believe me?!

Can you see Mars?
OK chaps, what can you see in the sky next week? A "suissei"? You mean a comet? What's it called? OK, let's search for that. Navigated to a spot in the carpet under the board. Oh! Can we see it yet? Why not?! Decent speculation and then a prediction for where it might be next class - come back and find out!

I love this app, as it lends itself to all sorts of searches, besides helping you walk into lamp-posts at night :) I even saw Father Christmas last Christmas Eve!

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Snuggle up with a nice graded reader!

Where do you like to read? 

Personally, I'm a bath browser, and I like to stay in there with a decent read until my fingers have gone all wrinkly and the water gone cold (love the reheat button on my Japanese bath, heh heh!)

My daughter reads how I used to - upside down with feet stuck up a wall or the back of the chair. Comfy!

At Luna we recommend that children (and adults) get into graded readers, and to do so in the comfort of home - instill that reading habit etc. Realistically though, we know we need to spend class time from time to time making sure we are literally on the same 'forget to do' or mummy forgets to enforce etc. This class reading does not need to be a dull drudge though; many ways to make the books work, especially with Young Learners:
Headful of readers
  • find a page with the word _____ in it
  • find a page with a picture of a ______
  • listen to the CD & pause it - what is the next word going to be?
  • 'stoopid teacher' reads the book but makes mistakes - shout out the corrections
  • books open on table, children race to spell (target/new/reviewed) words, as teacher calls them out, onto the board
  • make a word cloud of the story & use that for a group re-telling
  • use cuisennaire rods to re-build the story
  • record a 'team read' - use eg Talking Tom for line by line efforts
  • ham it up - act out the story/take roles
Irregular past tenses
More involved texts offer you plenty of chances to review e.g. irregular past tense verbs or to listen carefully & pick up the different -ed sounds of regular past tense verbs.

Readers + Quizlet
Another tie in is using Quizlet - in or out of class, on PC or on smartphones/iPads etc. You can use Quizlet in a myriad of ways, not just vocab definitions or matching objects with images; breaking sentences into halves, matching collocates, matching opposites, matching speakers with quotes or actions etc.You can explore our resources on Quizlet - just search for "LunaTeacher" - why not join a 'class' - it's free.

Word of warning though - don't use your iPad in the bath!

Monday, 25 November 2013

My favourite building - Horyuji temple, Nara.

Horyuji temple near Nara
Horyuji temple near Nara (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The oldest building in Japan is Horyuji temple. It is in west Nara.

It was designed by Shotokutaisi. It was built 1300 years ago.

Kudara Kannon is one of the most beautiful statues of Buddha  in the world. Kudara Kannon was a secret statue for a long time.

Nandaimon is a Japanese style gate.  There are two statues in Nandaimon. One statue is "a" . This statue's mouth is open. The other one is "un" . This statue's mouth is shut.

Inside the Koudo building it is quite dark. There are a lot of  interesting statues of Buddha inside.

One of the best buildings in Horyuji is Gojyu-no-to pagoda. There are five rooves. It is 34 metres tall.

It costs 1000 yen to enter.  

Written by Kaoru
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Colourful alphabet soup

I think I have said this before, but I love my big blackboard (even though it's green), especially because it's magnetic and we can do cool stuff like this - fridge magnet letter soup!

To be sure, my very little learners are nowhere near letter recognition yet - we've only just started our learning journey together! No, I wanted us to get our hands on stuff, move around, share, negotiate and organise.

So that is exactly what we did. A grand time to work with mummy as well, whilst at the same time becoming a little bit independent - venturing out of arm's length. The to & fro of this discovery exercise building confidence and earning praise many times over. Some letter names were used, and some numbers too, but our prime target was colours...and I think you'll agree we ended up with a very colourful board :)

Maybe next time we will do some shape matching, or match up a few big & small letters...we'll see.

I'm sorry, I haven't got a clue

World Peace Flag of the Universal Peace Congress.
World Peace Flag of the Universal Peace Congress. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I was recently asked to be a judge in a speaking contest, and I grudgingly went along. I have done this before, about 20 years ago, and have managed to avoid doing it again ever since. I was expecting to be droned to death with pre forma banalaties about 'world peace', 'my neighbourhood' or 'my hero'.

Pleasantly surprised - no speeches.

My mission was to conduct a short interview in English. No parameters given. No hints about what to be looking for or what kind of level I should be aiming at. We had been faxed (too much) personal data, which was also in the hands of the other six (male, fossilised) judges. So we knew which schools they attended (and therefore teachers, pals, siblings), as well as their home addresses etc. Fair?

The high schoolers were vying for the chance to do a homestay overseas. They had submitted a piece of writing (in Japanese) and were asked some really banal (and irrelevant/unfair) questions (again, in Japanese) such as "Do you have allergies?" which produced the kind of mundane answers you'd expect from nervous teens in the hot seat. Presumably, if you do have an allergy, you disqualify yourself? What about a wheelchair...

I  asked questions (in English) relating to their experiences (from their bios) and from their submissions (neither of which were in English), starting with something familiar they ought to be able to manage, and getting a bit harder if I thought they could manage. I wanted to get the teens to give us a flavour of themselves, and the opportunity to express themselves less rigidly. Varying degrees of success eg the eventual winner did not have a clue about her supposed heroine, nor the runner-up have any thought about what to say if she met someone famous (beyond "Hello"), but both had a speech memorised about 'my town'.

When each of the contestants had had their turn, there was a totting up of scores - only I was asked what mine were, and then asked to justify them. Apparently, my scores were wrong. No matter guys, ignore me by all means. Much more important that they sat up straight and will not have a reaction to the neighbour's cat?
World Peace Gong
World Peace Gong (Photo credit: Rolling Okie)

My clear winner came all but last, and her clear lifelong ambition of studying in whichever country she had chosen shot down...the panel's winner, farsically, could not be the winner because she was too young to get a visa to study in the country she had chosen (which was on the form, methinks?) the really dreary, politically correct one got the golden ticket. No doubt a very enjoyable trip it will be - but I'd send the one with a bit of personality and chops, wouldn't you, dear reader?. Obviously, I cannot be counted on to apply the proper criteria, even 20 years + since my last speech contest!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Carpet (reading) Sharks - giggles attached!

Regular readers will know @OUPGlobalELT 's fabulous #StoryTree series is the best #YLE graded reader series around. For one thing, you can put your foot on it!

Eleanor & Hina had a carpet-based lesson after a couple of #Starters preparation-style classes. They can mow the materials usually but in an exam...brain freeze?! Love their answers anyway (last year Eleanor wrote her own name in every spare space...this year plain gibberish!)

The girls stagger me with how much they can do - and annoy me with how much fun they have not doing...make any sense? They can do stuff, but don't, messing around with language instead. Re-arranging words, giggling at ridiculous constructs and mis-reading wors to sound worse! Which, truth be told, is very clever, isn't it?! This means they are scanning ahead. This means they actually do understand meaning and are substituting. This shows they can manage subtle word-play, can read and misread, can follow text and refer ahead and backwards. And all of that is some kind of superb!

Where do your #YLE s read? Do you ask them to read out loud or do something with text/spelling/vocabulary?

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Autumn safari - colour hunting in Nagano

 We are definitely into the wintry half of autumn now - and suddenly - as this time last week it was still just about OK to wear shorts out if it was sunny. It might still be sunny, but we also have what we call a "lazy wind" in Yorkshire - one that goes through you rather than around! Brrr....

This morning we went on a Bear Hunt with our Kids & mummies to the very local little park. However, just like in the story, we couldn't go through it, over it, under it or anything else :(  as it was fenced off with "No Entry" signs. Looks like they are replacing the slides and stuff (OK!)

Plan B! We are lucky to have a shrine at the top of the street, and it has a lot of old trees. Unfortunately, the monk is a flag-stealing nationalist...but that is another story! We rummaged and sorted, picked and collected like good Wombles on Wimbledon Common! Leaves in oranges, browns, yellows and russett reds, twigs & fronds, bits of bark, berries and even some mint. Haru-kun found a house-brick sized 'pebble' as well!

Rosy-cheeked we dumped our findings on the table back at Luna, and got into glueing. I've never glued a large rock to paper before, so we had to reach into the DIY locker and bring out the industrial stength stuff we used to block off the disused staircase! It's never coming off - but made for a collosally heavy collage!

While we stuck & pasted we talked a bit about eating funny coloured berries, and generally decided it was a bad idea unless we are sure they OK to eat - and mummy said so first :)

Do you like our autumn collages? What does autumn look like where you are?

Monday, 11 November 2013

A postcard from...Paris

Bonjour, Jim & NHK Members.

I'm here in Paris!!

Today I visited Masee du Louvre (sic) and I was lost there, because it's too huge & beyond my imagination. Unfortunatelly I didn't meet La Victoire de Samothracei, because of its restoring. Now La Tower Eiffel is illuminated so fascinatingly. I wish I could stay in this charming city a little longer.


Wednesday, 6 November 2013

After reading: New Yorkers

Write about your experience doing a menial job eg waiting or waitressing 

I did a part-time job in a Sushi restaurant when I was a university student. I worked there as a waitress for two years. It was my first job. When I got the salary first time, I was so glad and bought cakes for my family.

My job was to get the orders from customers, serve the meals to them and wash the dishes. I liked to serve the meals to customers because the meals looked so delicious and the customers were glad to see the meals.

In the weekend, many customers came to the restaurant and it was much crowed. I was so busy and could not have a rest, but I worked very hard as it was better than I had nothing to do. I paid attention so that the customers enjoyed their meal without awaiting our service for a long time.

My forgettable memory in the part-time job is that a sushi chef cooked to celebrate my birthday. I am not good at cooking, so I tend to like the man who cooks well. If the sushi chef did not get married and were much younger, I might fall in love with him.

Posted for Chinasa

Friday, 1 November 2013

An unusual wedding - after reading "Tales from Longpuddle"

The most unusual wedding I have ever been is my best friend’s wedding.
It was the trend that they have a wedding party at the small house like a party at their own home. The small house has a beautiful garden with the gate. We can go through the gate to enter the garden. There were a lot of sweets and drinks which we can eat and drink anything we want during the time waiting for the bride and groom.

The bride came to the garden at first. She wore the white wedding dress with white grove and small brilliant tiara. That was most beautiful moment that I have ever seen her. While we talked with her, the groom came to the garden. He rode a white horse wearing white suits! It looks like prince on a white horse.

In fact, the groom loves all animals especially for horses and he wanted to be veterinary surgeon. Now his job is not related to animals, one of his hobbies is to ride a horse.

That was the unusual wedding I’ve ever been to, but nice and fun wedding as well.

Posted for Reiko