Monday, 29 December 2014

What does this blog content reveal?

I was curious to know myself!

Apart from social media sources, 'share', 'post', 'comments', 'links' and 'reactions' catch my eye, and happily so as we encourage our students to do all of the above! 'Cambridge' is just about where it should be, 'party' is in the wrong place (Crewe, I think); 'postcard' - have received several from London; 'English' ironically in Scotland...

What catches your eye? What are your blogging key words for 2014?

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Dec 22nd - Children's Christmas Party with Luna

A splendid Christmas Party on Sunday afternoon for Luna's kids (and quite a lot of mums!). Sharing the slideshow which you can also download from Youtube here

Massive thank you to Yukari & Damian for making work a pleasure this year!

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Check out Yuto's awesome 'after reading' Glog

I was scratching my head a bit about how to make Captain Cook's discovery of Australia come to life
for young Yuto. I mean, getting your head around a three-year sailing voyage from 250-odd years ago when you are only 9 is a biggy! We really enjoyed reading about Captain Cook's three Pacific Voyages, and finding places on Google Earth that he had been to along the way.

We talked about what Cook knew before he bumped into Australia...and what we know now. Then we made a hit list of things we'd like to know, about modern Australia. Yuto came back to next class with several sheets of A4 with notes about the weather, sports, famous people and just how many kangaroos!

Please follow the link to experience all of his research presented as a multimedia tour-de-force, as a Glog. This did take us a couple of lessons to cobble together - but we learned a lot in the process, valuable tricks & skills that sadly Japanese kids rarely get shown in schools. Yuto made all the editing decisions, produced all the content and chose the video! Think you'll agree it's an outstanding bit of work - we'd love to hear your comments!

And please come back, as we have a plan for the Third Pacific Voyage in the New Year!

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

After reading a graded reader; multimedia project & presentation.

Nanako recently read a really interesting book about another young girl called Heidi, who grew up in the Swiss Alps. She really liked the book, and we had a lot to talk about - living in the country or the city, overcoming homesickness & disability, being able to read...

We also talked about mountains & in the back of the book did a bit of a project on Mount Fuji - being Japanese this was a bit easy :) So we had a think about another mountain from a list that we knew nothing about & which would be interesting to research. She chose Mount Ararat, and this is what she achieved using Glogster.

Unfortunately, I can't find a way to embed this great creation into the blog (if anyone can tell me how to do that I'd be supremely grateful!), so please pop over to Glog country and check out her excellent research & creativity. Please feel free to leave your comments as well (hint!)

Monday, 22 December 2014

Christmas Party photographs

Sunday's Christmas party was a massive success, thank you everyone! Once again Yukari excelled herself organising the venue as well as the food & logistics...that helps us massively to relax and enjoy throwing a bonanza party. Damian was up late all last week preparing games & activities, and on the day Naomi helped us manage things smoothly. Lots of winners, and no shortage of smiles - only one (massive) nose bleed (thank you Kyoko for prompt first aid).

Children thoroughly enjoyed themselves and were thrilled to meet Santa, have a quick chat with the very busy man and receive a present. We must thank him properly for making this special visit!

Find all the pictures with the link below:

Merry Christmas everybody!

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Send me a musical postcard, Shimei!

Listen to various snippets of music, and draw pictures of what comes into your mind. (Today we listened to bits of Holst, Jeff Beck, Peter Gabriel, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Yoshida Brothers, Yen Town Band, Squeeze, Queens of the Stone Age...).

Now, imagine these images are on a postcard, and that you have been on holiday. Connect the images as you describe your amazing vacation!

Dear  Jim

I am in middle of the ocean between UK and US. I crashed into a giant iceberg and my ship is sinking. I’m by myself because I killed everyone on the ship, and I’m heading to Mongolia so no one could find me.

When I crashed to the iceberg, I tried to use a lifeboat to escape, but unluckily I forgot how to use it. The weather was extremely awesome so I think the weather won’t be bad as I’m thinking. So I ran across to US on my bare feet.

In the US, I had no cash, so I stole a cool golden racing car to get to route 66. When I got there, I raced with a funky Lamborghini and a red Russian Ferrari which were controlled by erasers. The erasers had a computer brain which was under control from the space station. When I was racing, a hundred Pусский spies came and asked me if I had a PC eraser. So I said yes, but the next moment a big Russian man poked me with a drum stick, and somehow I woke up in hospital in Okinawa.


Friday, 19 December 2014

Film reviews - something suitable for adults and for teens

Mission: Impossible (film)
Mission: Impossible (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Mission Impossible and Robots are both highly enjoyable movies. However, they appeal to different audiences.

Mission Impossible is an exciting action-packed spy movie. This movie is about a spy called Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), who tries to find the mole that killed his team mates on a mission. The plot is very intriguing and there is an unpredictable and unexpected ending, so you will not have time to even blink throughout the whole film. The acting is superb. The lead actor, Tom Cruise, gives a breath-taking performance, especially when he sneaks into a room where you can’t make a single noise or even touch the ground. The background music is also good, which makes you excited and fits to the movie.

North American PS2 cover art
North American PS2 cover art (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Robots is an animated film, which was created  by Chrise Wedge, who also created Ice Age, and William Joyce. It is a story about a world of robots. The main character, Rodney Copperbottom, was born in an ordinary family. Rodney had a longing for Bigweld, a genius inventor, so he invents a robot. One day he decides to go to Robot City, where Bigweld is, so that he could show his invention and make his father proud. But, when he arrives at Robot City, he notices that the city has changed from what it had looked like on TV when he was at home. Rodney tries to change this world with friends he met in Robot City. This film tells us that if we try, there is nothing that we couldn’t change. This film also contains humour and love. The computer graphics are outstanding and the world is very imaginative.

Mission Impossible is for adults because it has some violence and killing. On the other hand, Robots is for kids, but I think adults can also enjoy it.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Postcard from Neuschwanstein, Germany

Guten Tag, Jim & NHK members.

Today I visited Schloss Neuchwanstein. Luckily it was not so cold. The castle was shining in the blue sky. In the evening as I was drinking gluhweint and having a wurst, I enjoyed Christmas market, in Schwarzwald.

The Christmas illuminations are so romantic and fantastic!!


Monday, 15 December 2014

The collections of Trattoria Gallery Matsumoto

Trattoria Gallery Matsumoto is a unique restaurant and gallery. It is near Sensai bridge, in the first floor of Matsumoto city Clock Museum building. The restaurant gallery marks its 2nd anniversary on 15th in Dec. The gallery is displaying a collection of art works. There are mostly illustrations of children’s books. All of them are original works. One of the illustrators is a Mongolian or Italian, also Japanese popular illustrator. 

Friday, 12 December 2014

Deck the school with Christmas cards

I can do it dad!
With the cold bitter winter setting in, accompanied by our first snowfall last week, we at Luna are keeping warm by getting into the festive spirit (and putting the heaters on!). Our Christmas tree is up, after lashing it down to a car tyre and tying it to the building so as it won’t topple over, our Christmas lights are illuminating the bleak nights and our decor has improved significantly this week thanks to contributions from our students.

Good work team
To add a little more joy and Christmas cheer to our already marvellous waiting room (we have a wireless Apple TV and everything, it’s awesome!), we have added a collection of pop up Christmas cards. Although the aftermath did leave my classroom in a heap of empty sticker sheets and a sea of glitter glue.

"That looks nice"

I hope that none of you have forgotten to post your Christmas cards and your letters to Father Christmas! I wonder what he has in store for all our wonderful children at Luna International… We will have to wait and see until our Christmas party! Come and join in with the festivities, games, fun and many many smiles guaranteed.

Friday, 5 December 2014

A farewell thank you

Hi, Damian,

Thank you for all the help you have given me.
I was very bad at English.
English was one of the my poorest.

At beginning of your English classes was honestly very stressful for me.
But, my stress for class got less and less.
Because you listened patiently my wrong English, I could speak English comfortably. I appreciate it.

I am going to have a talk with many person as possible.
I will make an effort to speak English anyway.

I envy you because you can speak several languages.

I will be glad if you could keep in touch me later.

Many thanks,


After reading "What Rose Saw" - describe your dream photoshoot location

If I am able to be a photographer for a day, I would choose the nature as my subject. I have watched TV program not so long ago, which was made on the subject of a camerawoman. She was taking photos of a mountain, river, town and so on riding paraglider in TV program. The photos she took looked so great and fantastic. I felt as if I was looking down on a mountain and river flying in the air while I am looking at the photos. I have got quite inspired to take photos of the scenery riding paraglider since then. I would like to try this way to the various world heritage like Machupicchu, Angkor Wat in future. However, I will need the advice of riding skill of paraglider from the professional in order to take a photo on it.
The temple of Angkor Wat, Cambodia from the air
The temple of Angkor Wat, Cambodia from the air (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If I am not allowed to become such a photographer, I would like to choose the creature in the sea as my subject instead. Needless to say, they are very beautiful. I would be pleased to take pictures of plenty of creatures in the sea. I would like the professional to advise me about the scuba skill for it.

Posted for Hiroshi

Thursday, 4 December 2014

The Rainbow Girl - after reading, share your favourite mountain

My favourite mountain-top view is from the Mountain Jonen. It was the highest mountain I have climbed. I had never known there were no trees before I climbed the Jonen. When I climbed the Jonen and into the top, I was scared. Because there were no trees, so I could look down into the valley below. I had never looked down at the mountains. It was sunny day, so I could see clearly.
The view was beautiful and so wonderful. I could see mountain next to the Jonen very nearly. And I could see people climbed the next mountain.

English: Mount_Jonen_from_Mount_Yari_1995-5-4 ...
 Mount Jonen from Mount Yari (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It was hard for me to climb the Jonen. Nearby the top, I was extremely short of breath as I climbed a little. But it was harder for me climbing down than climbing up.

When I climbed down from the top, I was so scared that I didn’t know how could I climb down. I didn’t know where should I placed my foot. An experienced person told me where my right foot on and then where left side on. He told me that all the way from the top to the mountain cottage. So I could climbed down.

I can see Jonen every day and I like it. Sometimes I remember this experience.

Posted for Yuri

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

November came & went pretty quickly - here's what happened!

We finished planting loads of bulbs along the car park, so that we might get a dash of colour in spring - already some shoots showing but we think the sub-zero temperatures will slow everything down significantly now. Last count we had 20+ pushing through, but it already started snowing?!

Very importantly, our YLE exam results came back (very quickly, thank you Cambridge) and we were able to give the cool newly-designed Certificates to all the children who tried very hard in October. The new certificates have several security features embedded in them - which means they are impossible to copy or fake. Well done kids, you own your English achievements!

We are already preparing the Christmas party, everyone is invited! This year, we will be using the local kominkan - we do not have the space, obviously! New Luna is easy to keep warm, but we cannot have a party in 3 different rooms!

Hope you like the slideshow? Please download it, share with friends & relatives, and tell us what you think :)  We would love to share your photos too!

Better results from Cambridge English - at Luna

 Take your exam in 2015 at Luna JP004

Did you know Luna International, JP004, is Japan's longest established Cambridge English Language Assessment Centre in Japan?

Did you know Jim is the longest-serving & most active Speaking Examiner in the country?

Did you know JP004 offers exams all over Eastern Japan?

Monday, 1 December 2014

Postcard from... Los Angeles, California

Dear Jim,

The Biz Conference in Los Angeles was successfully completed as scheduled.

In last night of stay in L.A. I enjoyed a good American steak. It was very very big and thick!! It was three times as large as Japanese size!


Sunday, 30 November 2014

Musical postcard - imagined & illustrated by Takuro

Hi Jim,

I'm having a trip to China. I never been to China before so I am really exciting. It took 4 hours in plane to get here which was really uncomfortable. I can't believe that the quality of the seat is low compaired to Japanese one. It's been a bad start, but I experienced and learned many things about China.

First I went to an enormous castle near to the Great Wall of China. It was interesting to see the difference between the Japanese one. The scenery from there was fantastic. What's more, the sunset was so beautiful that I was watching it for a long time, which made me miss the bus, but fortunately I was able to see an endangered bird.

When I got to a lodge, I watched a famous SF movie which was crap.

What I'm going to do tomorrow is visiting the Mexican City, meeting a man who can play music with bins and go to a disco at night, which is the most exciting event for me.

I especially request China for you to visit. It's a good fun.


Saturday, 29 November 2014

Musical postcard - as imagined & illustrated by Kanro.

Dear Jim,

I'm in China!

I've visited two places today. They both had wonderful scenery and I really enjoyed them.

First, I visited a Chinese temple. It was so big that I had to set back to see the whole. Dragons and tigers on the sides were just too cool. I had lunch there as well. I ate a little expensive Chinese food. As I love Chinese dishes, I enjoyed it till the end.

After that, I went to a desert called Gobi Desert. I drove on the sand, which was a little difficult. It was a surprise to see one tree standing in the desert alone. I wonder how it's growing there.

Tomorrow, I'll be visiting an aquarium and a zoo. I can't wait to see the dolphins and pandas. I'll tell you about my trip in detail when I am back in two weeks' time!


The Orient Express - a strange encounter (II)

Locomotive Class 363, Orient Express, Praha-Sm...
Locomotive Class 363, Orient Express, Praha-Smíchov train station, Czech Republic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Dear Mom.

Hi! I’m heading for Venice. Today, I boarded at Orient Express from London and met two interesting people in the compartment.

First, I met a cute girl who wants to be a musician. She said she got to Europe all the way from New Zealand to major in piano. We had a conversation about music and promised we’d make a performance one day.

And then, I encountered a nice looking guy. He’s from Ivory Coast. He is a magician. Since it was the first time I met a magician, I got interested in his story. He told me he’s heading for Paris and trying to do a great magic trick. He’ll steal Eiffel Tower from Paris! It’s just between you and me…

Anyway, I’ll get to Venetia Santa Lucia Station tomorrow.

I can’t wait to see you.



Friday, 28 November 2014

October variety slideshow from Luna's classsrooms

I thought October was suddenly overwhelming with demands for Hallowe'en stuff, but I'm glad I was wrong and we could get on with some significant learning & laughter too!

As you can see, lots of phonics and reading, singing and physical interpretation too - every way to learn! We planted bags of bulbs too, along the edge of the car park...and forgot to label them, so spring should be a nice colourful surprise!

The Orient Express - a strange encounter

Deutsch: Paris: Eiffelturm und Marsfeld
Yet to be stolen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Hi Anna,

I’m writing this letter for you in Innsbruck. It’s my first time to travel using the Orient Express. When I was on the train, I met two men. One of them is a student from Argentina. Oh, I forgot his name…  He plays the violin. He looks very young but he was brilliant. I hope he will be famous player in the future. Other man was strange, yes, really strange. He said he will steal the Eiffel Tower and it was secret. The young boy and me promised that we don’t tell anyone his plan. He asked us whether we have taken Oriental Express ever. I told him that it was second time and first time had been honeymoon. But I’m divorced. The strange man also has been experienced. I thought it was serious (adult) problems and I wish the young boy will never meet those problems.

I enjoyed spending time on the train. Of course, I could take nice pictures at Innsbruck.

I’ll send some photos to you as soon as I get arrived my home.

Best regards,


Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Lost keys

There is a master key for my flat. When I moved into the flat, I was informed from landlord that it was only key for the flat and 15,000yen need to be paid in case it is lost.

I was worried to lose the original key, I go to the key shop and made a spare key. I mainly use the spare key to lock the door and keep the original key safely in my room.

One day, I planned to travel to Korea with my mother. As the departure time of our flight is in early morning, my mother stayed my flat, and we went to airport by share-ride taxi. On the day before moving to the airport, my mother planned to go to my flat and wait for me. As I always use the spare key, I put the original key under the potted plant so that my mother can pick up the key and open the door of my flat.

After a short while, I tried to find the original key but I couldn’t find it…I asked my mother where it is, but she said she put the key in my room or returned to me. I couldn’t bring back to memory at all about the original key.

As I still have spare key, there is no problem to open or lock my flat, but I have to pay some money when I move out my flat in the future!
Now I am still looking for the original key in my room…

I hate science

I didn’t like science at all when I was a student.
I’ve never thought over the reason why I hated science, but it’s good time. I shall think it over here.

The first reason is that I was not good at calculation.
Science always comes with formula, and calculation of number to number.
What's worse was that I assumed by myself that I was an artistic person. That’s why I was trying to stay away from numbers.

The second reason is that I can’t see the substance when we experiment.
For example, I raise an electricity. We learned the electricity by making a torch at school. The torch lighted up when I turned it on. Then, I could feel there is electric power going through, but I couldn’t see the power itself, so it was vague to me to understand it. I didn’t have good sense to understand science.

The third reason is that I couldn’t think Science is important for my life. As I grown up, I understand the knowledge from science is very important, and there is a lot of connection with living. It’s a shame, but I was too foolish and I couldn’t find the connection between science and my life.

Now, I understand my life is supported by technology created by science. I wish I could return my time, and study science again.


Tuesday, 25 November 2014

After reading "Gone!" - my first solo journey

I visited one of my friends from university who lived in Okayama prefecture several years ago. She was an elementary school teacher, so it was difficult for her to take days off in weekdays.

It was a long and expensive journey for me, as I needed to take Shinkansen from Nagoya to Okayama station, so I decided to go another near place by myself in a weekday. I went to Kagawa prefecture, as I could go there by local train from Okayama station.

The train crossed the bridge called Seto Ohashi and the scenery was very wide and beautiful from the window on the train. When I arrived at Takamatsu station, I borrowed a rental bicycle to see around the city. I also had very delicious Sanuki Udon. It was very simple, but udon had body and the soup was very tasty.

 After that, I went to the park and walked around for an hour. Then, I went to a park near the port. I sat the stairs and drank coke while seeing very big vessel. I was very excited to see such a big vessel. Then, the vessel suddenly blew a whistle to departure from the port. I was very surprised by big sound, so I spilled coke on my cloth! I could not release my anger on anything…

Posted by Tomoko for Chinasa

After reading of "The Rainbow Girl" - A special rainbow

A sports festival is scheduled every September at my son’s nursery school . But September is the season of typhoon in Japan.

Two years ago, it was postponed due to the bad weather. I don’t remember clearly, but the typhoon was coming towards to Japan at that time. This year, the typhoon came again.

I checked the weather forecast every day, but it told me it would rain due to typhoon on that date. On the day before the sports festival, the weather forecast said it would be 80% chance of rain. I almost gave up and didn’t prepare anything for the sports festival. However, I got a message from nursery school in the morning and it said the sports festival would go ahead as scheduled. I was so surprised, but I prepared quickly then went to nursery school with my husband and son.

When we arrived, we found a beautiful rainbow in the sky. As the typhoon had passed in early morning, it became a sunny day. The rainbow stayed in the sky for about an hour even when the sports festival started with a happy song. The rainbow brought me a lot of happy things on that day. My son won the foot race and I could see his big smiles.

Slideshow from September

Remember back when shorts and t-shirts were the way to go? Long evenings lingered a bit past 6pm and the weather was nice?

Just in case you can't, here's a lovely compilation of photos from around the school as we made ourselves at home in our new surroundings. We finally got the car park sorted out, which has been a very welcome addition (thank you Yukari); Takeshi produced an awesome new sign for us; and all the children helped us make a new garden with lots of lovely little plants, herbs, flowers etc in it.

Enjoy the slideshow - you can also find it on our Luna Facebook page or Jim's Youtube channel

Stay tuned for October's installment...

Monday, 24 November 2014

Fantasy creatures – an incredibly selfish letter

English: nymph aurae
English: nymph aurae (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Hello Nymphs. How do you do?

I am a human being. My name is Reiko. When I walked in the forest I saw you around the pure source of water in forest. I was amazed. I believed that Nymphs is fantasy creature. But Nymphs is (exist). How wonderful it is! And how beautiful you are!

You are full of charming grace and intelligence. According to the book which I wrote(read), it is written that Nymphs is forever young.

I have a wish.

Please give me forever beauty and forever young by your magical powers. I am sorry for doing the wish so suddenly. Please, please grant a wish.

To beautiful and peaceful Nymphs.

From Reiko

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Fantasy creatures – a dwarf’s diary

English: dwarf Français : nain
English: dwarf  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Today I mined for gems. I got a big diamond, rubies and sapphires. It is maybe 3 carat diamond.

I went Shimosato’s house, there were milk and bread. So I cleaned the house. There were many rubbishes. How dirty house! But I got a big diamond. I was very happy I work very well today.

I wish there will be much more milk and bread Shimosato’s house!

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Fantasy creatures – a letter to goblins

CG depiction of Gollum created by Weta Digital...
CG depiction of Gollum created by Weta Digital for the Lord of the Rings film trilogy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Dear Goblins,

Do you know Gollum in the Lord of the Rings? Is he your group? Recently Gollum is the most famous Goblins  all over the world.
The movie made a strong impression on me. His image is very weird and strong.

In USA I heard you are traditionally costume in Halloween. But I have never seen your costume in Halloween in Japan. What are you thinking about this?

If possible please give me e-mail!

From Yoko

Friday, 21 November 2014

Fantasy creatures - a letter to the elves

Elves as portrayed in the 1977 Rankin-Bass ver...
Elves as portrayed in the 1977 Rankin-Bass version of The Hobbit. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Dear elves,

How are you? I have some questions. Have you felt hungry? What do you eat and drink, or you don’t need any food?

I heard you like dancing in moonlight. If I (mankind) want to see dancing, will you welcome me?

You live northern district in the woodlands. Have you wanted to travel in southern warm countries with your magic power?

You live very very long life. Have you been attracted by human being and fell in love? If you have how the matter had gone?

From Misako

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Our favourite teen TV shows


My favorite TV programme is Sekainohatemadeittekyu. It's tells us about it's the world. Sometimes it's about animals other times it's about world festivals. My family watch it on Sunday in the evening. When we watch it,we laugh. I like it very much.


Everything (Arashi song)
Everything (Arashi song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
My favoriteTV programme is "VS Arashi". I see it in the evening on Thursdays. It's very interesting because Arashi is very nice and great. I watch it in the living room with Mam.


My favourite programme is "Zip". I often watch it every day. It has a lot of short programmes, so I can choose favourite programme. It's interesting and funny programme. I can watch news, music, animal and culture programme.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Horrible Halloween - what can a monster do?

Kotone's crazy creature's
Now I do realize I’m a little late to the party with a Halloween post, but this is what happens if you rely on 10 year olds to get their homework done and handed in on time!
We have been learning to use “can” and “can’t” for abilities recently, so I thought it would be interesting to combine these abilities with some spooky creatures. We started by sharing our own ideas on what a monster/vampire/ghost etc can or can’t do: “Can a bat drive a car?”, “No it can’t!!” Don't be daft Damian.
Moeka's mysterious mummies
We then set about putting our ideas down on paper. We did this by drawing a park scene which depicted Halloween creatures playing/having a picnic together; incorporating the various actions and abilities we had covered in lesson. Everyone did an excellent job showing what each creature can or can’t do, and we followed this up by writing sentences to describe our pictures on handwriting paper. Eventually we managed to arrive at the finished product and had a bit of show and tell session to show off our work, just in time for… Well classroom decorations for next Halloween I guess.

Student project on health & lifestyles - we need some answers!

Rui is doing a project on health & you have 5 minutes to do his homework for him?

(All your answers are confidential, of course, nicknames only please!)

Thank you for taking the time - please share with friends too!

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Are iPad good or bad

Many people are against iPads, but I think they are good thing. Some people say that we play too much with iPads.
Today lots of people wear glasses because they play too much with iPads. In addition, some apps cost extra money and some people spend a lot of time playing with them so they become fat and unhealthy
I don't agree. I think that iPads are a good thing, because you can communicate with people around  the world. Also, you can play with games, watch videos and use as a mini PC.
So some people think that iPads are a bad thing. But I think they are a great way to have fun and learn. 

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Cambridge English YLE in Matsumoto - the most valuable English qualifications in the world.

Last Sunday saw our annual Cambridge Young Learners exams take place in Matsumoto - held this year at the spacious Kinroysha Centre (spell?!) nearby. It was nice not to have take down all our classroom posters and hump furniture about the night before!

Ironically, there was another organisation holding an English test in another building was easy to spot the candidates as they were children, of course, but also looking very glum. Contrast that with the cheery interaction we had to try & prevent our candidates from carrying on into the exam room! Struck me quite clearly as we were waiting for people to arrive that our YLs have a ton of fun, and that manifests itself in behaviour as well as language. They enjoy being with each other, always do things together in class, and are comfortable hanging out together outside as well. Tick that box!

I spent a few seconds in the lobby as one of their staff when we arrived early - "You're an English teacher?" she said, as though she'd never met one in the flesh before and had only heard rumours...think she might have run off shouting "I met one! I met one!"

Anyway, our unfazed kids - and well-organised Yukari - got started with Starters bang on time. Invigilating was hard, as I had a great view of some comedy car-parking below; good job there were three of us keeping a careful eye on proceedings. Luna's sessions are always 'open', by the way, so we accept candidates from any school or area. This session no different, with candidates from Okaya, Nara and Tokyo making the trip to excel.

Older candidates get stressed about the speaking parts of their Cambridge exams - I think they over-think the whole deal. Children don't, especially when you distract them until the last possible minute - play a game, chat, anything. In you go, pay attention to the other person in the room & enjoy the nice colourful pictures. And "Thank you, that is the end of the test. Goodbye." I've finished?

Watch an example of a Starters Speaking test:

As usual with Movers, we had some of our students stepping up the ladder and being ambitious. I will tell students and parents till I am blue in the face, just try! I honestly believe a lot of the "I can't do English" syndrome here in Japan comes from being battered into submission all through school with the prospect of very hard English and constantly failing complex & convoluted Englishes in test after test (all conducted in the Japanese medium). I could not pass a Japanese test of English. Make any sense? In taking a Cambridge YLE exam (or any other) you are assessed on what you CAN do, and what you  are trying to do. There is no such thing as the 'wrong answer' in any assessment scales I have ever seen, and certainly not in the speaking test. Consideration is given to whether or not the child understood the question or not, had the word(s) to make an (any) answer, and pronounced anything they did say in English intelligibly. Can an experienced teacher of children, who is the examiner, make sense of the response? Bingo!

Follow the link for a Movers speaking test here

So I should thank our examiners Magnus & Rico for making themselves available not only on the day, but in advance of the session to certify with me in person and to meet Cambridge's stringent assessment benchmarks online. Thank you both very much for your time and professionalism.

I think all of our candidates taking Flyers were only warming up for much greater things - 'easy' they all said?! Can't wait to see the results and fast-track these go-getters towards FCE before they enter JHS. Possible? With the raw talent they showed today (no prepping) and intelligence I have enjoyed in Stone Cold Steve Austin would say, "Hell Yeah!"

See a Flyers speaking test here

Looking forward to the results coming back, and seeing lots of faces light up with smiles again. Yukari deserves a very big thank you, as the new online system for the YLE exams is far from perfect and she has had to figure it out pretty much on her own. Proud of her :)

About my ideal, simple lifestyle - taking inspiration from Venetia Stanley

This photograph was taken in the city of Takam...
A basic room for a simple lifestyle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
My favorite way of lifestyle is to live every day without having a lot of things. I'm longing to live my life simply.
Because simple lifestyle is beautiful, healthy and relaxing. So I want to live without so many possessions, like a heavy burden on my back. I long to live clean and lightly every day.
But when I look around my house, my room, there are full of a lot of things, such as clothes, books, pottery, china and other decorative things. My cupboard is full of china, the dresser is full of old and new clothes, my shoebox is full of many shoes, my garden is full of trees, flowers and plants etc. I want to reduce each of these things down to at least half.
I have to do it this autumn before cold winter. Otherwise I will live my life having a big, heavy burden on my back next new year, too. I want to live a refreshed and good healthy life. It's my ideal happy life.
Sometimes I clean my room and my house very clean completely, but after a few weeks, my rooms become full of lots of things again unconsciously. So it annoys me greatly. I think to live is wonderful but it's not easy.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Driving stories - just in time

Candles spell out the traditional English birt...
Happy Birthday! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When I had been taking driving lessons, I had been working for the company in Tokyo, and my son was just before 1 year birthday. So I was definitely busy.

I don't remember, but maybe I've got a licence after 3 months later, as I might expect. It was a day after my son's birthday. His birthday was Sunday, so I couldn't get on the same day.

The company said, after my son became 1 year old, I had to work harder and I couldn't get child care time. It was the limit of my getting the licence time. It was relief.


Thursday, 23 October 2014

Driving stories - riding without a windscreen

English: Mountain road
Mountain road (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When I was twelve years old my father had been driving with my family for about two hours. He drove very narrow mountain road. There are no fence beside road.

Suddenly he shouted "Oh no!" and the car fell from the road. It revolved and landed on the road below. The front window broke all of it.

But we didn't have an injure. Only my father cut his finger a little. Then he drove to his university hospital. We were examined. We were all well.

We went home from Kyoto to Osaka by that car. It was very cold because there wasn't front window.


Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Driving story - parking problems

A multi-story car park in Kingston, Ontario, C...
A multi-story car park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I have driven a car more than 30 years. But I haven't had serious accident yet. Until now I've had some experience to make a scratch and a damage on my car.

It was one of them.
When I went shopping, I drove a car into a parking lot. It was under the park near Hotel Vuena Vista.

That parking lot was called the method of puzzle. When the car was put the parking space, it moved it back by machine. So there was the edge around the space. I didn't know it.

There were always some staffs. One of them said turn right slowly. So I did it as he said. When I was driving my car, a strange sound was occurred. But I didn't know where the sound was from. I didn't care anything.

But when I got home, I found the damage in a part of the bumper. So I was shocked.


Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Driving story - ticket trouble

Closeup of parking violation sticker.
Closeup of parking violation sticker. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I got my driver's licence 38 years ago.

To my surprise, during this 38 years I just got only one police ticket in Japan because of speeding.

I can say I'm a safe driver inevitably, so my driver's licence is Gold as you might expect. But I got three police tickets in the US while I was living there for 4 years because of parking and stop sign.


Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Local environmental news: Mount Ontake eruption

English: Mount Ontake from_OtakiTop 日本語: 王滝頂上か...
Mount Ontake from_OtakiTop  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Mt. Ontake burst angrily into life on Sep. 27th. Unluckily, it was around noon in the middle of the busy hiking season, so a lot of hikers had reached the summit and were enjoying lunch in the autumn sunshine, taking in the clear views of the Northern Alps

Officials of the volcano division of the meteorological agency said that although there had been a rising number of small earthquakes detected,they couldn't predict the eruption easily. These reasons made the damage worse.

Up to now, 56 people have been found dead, and 7 people are still missing. Most of the victims were killed by falling rocks, spewed out by the eruption. Unfortunately, a typhoon hit Japan just after, and the rain changed the ash to very sticky clay, so the rescuers can not help but halt the search, due not only to toxic gas but also the risk of mudslides.

Some annual events like the Soba festivals that a lot of people must have been looking forward to visiting and enjoying, were canceled. Furthermore, it must be impossible to open the ski slopes this year.

Nature is far beyond human beings' control.


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Silly sentences - making sense of nonsense

Mouldy banana

 We all know that making mistakes is part of the learning process when learning a new skill, learning a language is no exception. However in most cases it is extremely difficult to get Japanese students into this mind-set, the need to be coherent and not stick out as “the nail that sticks out gets hammered down”. Recognising the issue is always to first step to resolving it, so we focus on making a learning friendly environment where making mistakes is not frowned upon but in fact encouraged, it’s much more fun having a go and making a mistake.

Fire-fighter to the rescue
A really nice activity that encourages the use of new language is the game “Silly sentences”. The main focus here is not to reproduce or revise previous language patterns, but instead targeting syntax without the need of being barraged by a set of grammar rules. The cards are colour coded into nouns/adjectives/prepositions etc, and it’s up to the students to work out how to combine them in the correct order. The game cards also only piece together if they are in the correct order to ensure that the language being created is grammatically correct.

Don't stay in this house
So the end product is solely dependant on the student, achieved through cognitive thinking with a bit of trial and error mixed in. It’s a fun way of building confidence and exposing students to language they would not normally encounter. It’s not everyday you hear “the green scary baby ate the dinosaur”.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Who was to predict? Can you predict?

Active volcano Mount St. Helens shortly after ...
Active volcano Mount St. Helens shortly after the eruption of 18 May 1980 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
On Saturday fine Autumn day, Natural disaster happened suddenly.
Why it was not rainy day?

It was very fine day, many climbers visited Mt,Ontake. They were enjoying the fall foliage. At the time suddenly Mt,Ontake erupted. They could not understand what had happened.

Many people had forgotten that Mt, Ontake is an active Volcano.
Over 50 climbers died. Is it cold have previson (prediction) of eruption?

Eruption prediction is very important for natural disaster.
I hope we will have foresee of danger soon.


Saturday, 11 October 2014

The pros & cons of mobile phones

Almost everybody has a mobile phone. But is it a great invention? I think there are both advantages and disadvantages.

The first advantage is that people spend more time talking to family and friends. Secondly, they read books and newspapers to get a lot of information.

Japanese mobile phone keyboard
Japanese mobile phone keyboard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
On the other hand, there are also disadvantages. For example, they can't be contacted in an emergency. Also, it is not true that all mobile phones' contents are bad. There are also good contents, like news, weather news and navigation (I know my position).

In conclusion, although living without a mobile phone has some advantages, I think it's case by case - it depends on the situation.


Friday, 10 October 2014

Do you know Mount Ontake ?

English: Mount Ontake from Kuraiyama 日本語: 位山から...
Mount Ontake from Kuraiyama  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Mt. Ontake is an active volcano which is Japanese 100 famous mountains and is located at the prefectural border of Nagano and Gifu. Although it is a 3,000m class alp, it is relatively easy climbing and it is very popular in a broad generation. It is also known as a showplace of autumn leaves.

11:52 a.m September 27, 2014 steam explosion -type eruption took place for the first time in seven years. Since two or more factors increase damage, the death toll became the worst situation exceeding over 50 persons. It was Saturday and the weather is good from morning, large number of climbers were visiting from the distant place as well. Many people had concentrated near the summit of the mountain to have a lunch looking at magnificent view.

Help and rescue activities formed by the Nagano Prefectural Police and fire company as well as the Ground Self-Defense Force, run into difficulties because of a toxic gas and heavy rain caused by the typhoon.

Some events are cancelled under the influence of an eruption and the tourist is decreasing sharply, while damage does not reach the skiing area near Mt. Ontake. It usually passes, and preparation of commencement of business is advanced towards winter!

Posted for Saki

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Postcard from Moomin: Finland

Hi Jim,

I went to Finland the other day, and found this reminded me of you & Luna!

I hope you are all doing well :)


Sari xx

P.S. Helsinki is a very peaceful place, so I highly recommend you go there! (Prices are so high though...)

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

My role model Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi of Barcelona against Osasuna.
Lionel Messi of Barcelona against Osasuna. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Lionel Messi is a one of the best football player in the world. Messi is a good play maker and good team player. Messi plays for Barcelona in La Liga and for Argentina. He's a good creative player like Maradona, and he also wears number 10.

Messi scores a lot of goals and has won lots of trophies like six La Ligas, two Copas del Rey, six Supercopas de España, three UEFA Champions Leagues, two UEFA Super Cups and two Club World Cup (wikipedia). He has won the Ballon d'Or and FIFA world player of the year.

Messi lives in Spain ( Barcelona ) but he is very famous and recognized everywhere. He has established a charity called Leo Messi Foundation to help kids. He earns $65 million a year, but I like him because hes really good at football.

by Rui ( 11 years old )

Things to see & do in Japan

Mt. Fuji and Shinkansen
Mt. Fuji and Shinkansen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In Japan, you can visit Tokyo Disneyland, Mount Fuji and Matsumoto Castle. They are famous places.

photo by Jim George
You can ride on bullet trains. Because it is very fast. You can eat sushi. It is very good. People like playing go and cards. You can buy kimono and models of Matsumoto Castle.

Nanako (7)

Thursday, 2 October 2014

E-mail is necessary in the modern world

Quick and easy
Before E-mail, we had to write a letter or call to communicate other people in a long distance. Writing a letter is a good way to communicate, but it takes time to write and we have to buy a stamp (cost a lot) and go to the post office. And when I call someone, I have to consider what time is it there when I call to other country and if it is a good timing for them.
But E-mail, it cost low and it doesn’t bother people’s life, they chechk mail-box when they have time, so it is very convenient.
With E-mail, we can communicate other people equally even though they live in the opposite side of this planet.

Written by Yasumi

It is necessary for me to use cellphone E-mails when I want to meet friends and to send student’s parents information at work.
I can send some friends same contents at the same time. It’s really convenient and I don’t care the time besides.
But I sometimes send summertime letters and new years letters to old friends. While I write letters I think them. It’s a good time for me.
I think each way has each good point.

Written by Hiroko

English: Telex machine Svenska: Telexmaskin
English: Telex machine Svenska: Telexmaskin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
What the heck do you do with one of these!?

When I had been worked for the company, about thirty years ago actually, we had used telex. Our company’s head office is in Massachusetts so we had to contact them everyday.
To send telex, we had to use the special machine and spend time. Sometimes it failed to send. Those are terrible memories for me.
But, one day, the head office decided to use the electric mail, and it made us surprised. It was easy, beautiful and spend short time. But, those days, electric mail was still unstable ways to send important letters.
Now, we call it e-mail and it is easy and quickly to send our situation, opinion, or many other things. We can’t back to telex age. Because we can’t have the telex machine each of us. It’s not easy and it will make us to waste time and money.

Written by Naoko