Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Import Mart - my dream job

I like import products, especially from ethnic. Because they are very mysterious and I feel that I can
derive power from them as they are made of natural materials. Most of all they are colorful and funny! So I often go ethnic shops when I have time. But there are only two shops in Matsumoto. It is too few for me.

Photo credit: Jim George
My ideal job is to open an import shop in Matsumoto. If I can be owner of the import shop, I will be able to see all goods from overseas buyers. And I will be able to buy not only for customer but also for me. It is like a dream for me!! I can truly recommend the goods which I bought from buyer to the customer because I really like these goods. I know that minority likes ethnic goods. So I would like to sell the import products from all over the world.

Now North European design is popular in Japan. So I want to provide more space for North European products. If my dream come true, I will hardly go back home!

Posted for Mio

Brave girl saved her little brother - after reading "Gone"

Newspaper report - Gone girl done good

On 20th Aug- Jenna Paul saved her younger brother, Timothy Paul who was kidnapped. The criminal, Celia Brooks used to be Jenna’s neighbor.

Timothy Paul was kidnapped in the super market near the park on 13th Aug. Jenna was taking Timothy for a walk. She left her pram at the entrance of the super market because she was taking a dog too, but the pram was gone when she came back from her shopping.

Police organized a team of 300 staff to find Timothy. A witness lady said that she saw Jenna with a baby and a dog in the supermarket, but there was no more useful evidence.

Jenna decided to find her little brother, and found old neighbor, Celia Brooks was carrying a baby although she has never had her baby when Ryan Clark was missing firstly on 25th Jul. Jenna doubted Celia would kidnap Ryan and Timothy. The brave girl found the new house of Celia, and found Timothy there. Jenna’s father called police, and Celia Brooks was arrested.

Celia Brooks has been a mentally incompetent since she lost her first baby, and became ineligible to have a baby anymore. Police is investigating further crime that she confesses for kidnapping of Ryan Clark.

Reporter - Yumi

Monday, 30 March 2015

Out of Africa

Trying to find apps with suitable YLE storytelling functions. This one works, as the recording starts instantly!

A pizza for your car keys?

It happened two month ago. The day was snowing hard.

I heard an announcement of our office to go home ASAP. I knocked off work, and I went to parking area with my colleague. I opened my car door with the key, and pulled out the goods for snow removing. I finished removing snow on my car, I sat down the seat and put my hands in the jacket pockets to pull out the car key …? My key was not in it. “Oh, I know. I put it in my skirt pocket.” I put my hands in the skirt pockets, but they were empty. “Oh, no. I must have dropped my key in the car!”

I went back the office and borrowed a torch. I searched through my car, but I couldn’t find it.” This is awful!! I can’t help thinking that I dropped my key outside!” I got out of my car, and looked around. I searched under my car too, but I couldn’t find it. At last I decided to ask someone for help. Four people helped me using snow shovels.

After ten minutes, one of them said “ I found it ! You must buy L size pizza and drink for each person!” My key was into the snow which I removed on my car.

“Thank you very much! Of course, would you like anything else?” I said to them.

For Mio

I finished my reading books!

I read four books.

The first one is Mulan, about a fighter in China. Mulan's dad was old so he can't go to the war. Mulan goes instead, wearing armour, and fights bravely. I liked this book because Mulan is a brave woman.

Next I read Heidi, who lives in the mountains in Switzerland. She makes a friend in the town. Her friend is in a wheelchair. I liked this story because Heidi is a very good girl.

Then I read Tristan and Isolde, a sad love story from Ireland & Cornwall. This is the first sad love story I read, and it made me feel sad. Isolde is a beautiful princess. My favourite princess is Snow White.

The last book I read is Hercules. He kills his family and then when he tells the King, has to do tasks. These are difficult and dangerous, but he does all of the tasks. This book was good because I like adventure stories.
I enjoyed the interview with Hercules, because it was fun and memorable. 

I think the best book is Mulan as it is a lot of fun. The next book I want to read is an adventure book.

Mary, Queen of Scots sends an email to Elizabeth I

Dear Elizabeth,

Hello, how are you? It’s been a long time since I met you last. When I was first put in this prison castle, I cursed you every day. You were just jealous me because I’m beautiful and clever.

Now, however, I don’t have any anger, and I just want to see my son, James. I beg you very much to see my son. Please order him to come here.

There is one more thing that I hurt my heart. It’s about the rumor that I killed the father of James. I never killed Henry. I think I have told many times to you, but I declare clearly here once again that I didn’t kill my husband.

I heard that Kirk O’Field is broken, and I immediately ran there. I never expected that my husband is dead, but there was his dead body exploded when I got there. I was in a party. How can I kill him at Kirk o’field. It’s physically difficult.

Now, I don’t care how people think about me, but for my son, I want him to know the truth. Please tell my son James that I never killed his father.

I know you will soon order execution to me. I won’t curse you anymore. I just beg you to raise James as a good king, and give him lots of love for me that I couldn't do.

Best Regards,


(pp Yumi)

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Slideshow #1 of 2015 - all about smiles!

We were so busy making videos for the Aurasma project, Damian and I forgot to take so many pictures over the last couple of months! Sorry about that!

Father Christmas brought us a nice new stash of games, which we've been testing out to supplement class materials. Surprise surprise, everybody loves them!

Enjoy the slideshow and please do leave us your comments. We'd love to know how we're doing.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

March Workshop - Walking In The Jungle

In today's workshop we went Walking In The Jungle! Well, the concrete jungle that is our car park. We saw lots of animals as we walked, stomped, jumped and skipped through the jungle... Until we came accross Hana-chan the roaring tiger!

Hope you enjoy our video. Apologies for the poor audio quality.

Something special about rainbows; Miyuki reflects

When I was college student, I went to Hawaii for three weeks to study English at Hawaii university. It was held during summer holidays.
That time was first time to go abroad in my life as well as took a plane. The programs had a lot of activities during staying Hawaii. The main purpose was studying English, so I went to school and study. After school, I tried Hula dance, went shopping, cooked for dinner.

big island of Hawaii
big island of Hawaii (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I didn't know that rainbow is famous in Hawaii. Rainbow was painted in car number plate. On weekends, I went to Tower Records with my friends near staying hotel to buy some CDs. (Actually, it was first time to go Tower Records. In that time, I didn't listen to rock music..) After shopping, I found big rainbow in the sky! It was beautiful. Furthermore, there were two rainbows. Usually, I cannot look rainbow from begin to end but I could look the whole rainbow. I was excited and happy because I could watch them in Hawaii!

I want to look rainbow again to go Hawaii.

Posted for Miyuki

Friday, 27 March 2015

A volcanic experience in Japan

After reading "Rainbow Girl", Hiroshi writes:

When I was a university student, I had ever climbed Mt. Shirane, the volcano in Nagano prefecture. This mountain is located in the north-east of Nagano and crosses Gunma prefecture

Actually, I just drove my car rather than climbed. However, the road around the top of the mountain is filled with many crater and hot spring of the volcano. Those always emit the white smoke.
So the mountain looks like erupting right away. I was so scared while driving the road on the top of the mountain. But suddenly, the road started having fog like magic on the way. And I could not see any scene around me. So I was more and more scared. Driving slowly and carefully, I could see the road a little. But what I saw there was more surprised. A man was running on the road alone. He was training for trail running race. That scene was amazing.

Photo credit: Jim George
Thinking what happened on Mt. Ontake, I cannot say but it was so unlucky. Mt Shirane looks like erupting even now, but it has not done yet. Mt. Ontake must have not looked like so these days. It is so difficult to foresee the eruption. I think men cannot control all of the nature. I only pray their souls may rest in peace.

Posted for Hiroshi

After reading "The Key", Ritsuko's lost key story

When I came back to Matsumoto after seeing a Yamaga's football game with Osaka Gamba at Osaka two years ago, I lost my car's key. I moved by bus and my car was packed in a parking of "Skypark".

After taking off the bus, I found quickly that I had no car's key. So, I looked for my car's key at baggage space, aisle, seat in bus and at packing lot around midnight by the light from my phone. I couldn't find it and got lift to my house that night.

 In the morning of next day (before job), I went to the parking and found my car's key was put a space below window at driver's seat side. At that moment, I was very very happy. Mr car is incorporated in system not to lock the key when the key is inside the car, but ttat time, the system didn't work properly due to poor batter. I called a locksmith and they opened one door by using their equipment.

I thought my life without car was very inconvenience and is hard to continue.  And I changed the battery in my car's key right away not to cause same trouble.

Posted for Ritsuko

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Postcard from...Luang Prabang, Laos

Hi Jim,

Jardin des Buddha/Xieng Khouane
I'm now in Lunag Prabang with my daughter Saori. This is an old capiltal before Vientianne. Streets are so beautiful. Many things have happened to us since our departure. Lao people are fashionable, wearing traditional skirts for everyday life. We enjoy night market, too. But it is too hot & humid. Tuku Tuku were so scary and dangerous. They seemed to ignore traffic rules.

See you soon,


Wednesday, 25 March 2015

email from Captain Bligh

Dear Christian,

You may be surprised to receive this email from me.  It's Bligh, the captain of HMS Bounty.  

I am now in Timor, seven thousands away from where you put me on launch with my eighteen men.  It was really long way to Timor.  We landed at Tafua a day later but islanders killed one man with stones.  We had no power without big ship.  I was really sorry for him and I swore to myself I would never let anyone else be killed.  Then we sailed to Timor and it took long days through bad weather.  Sometimes it rained and sometimes it was very hot.  All of us were hungry and ill, but no one got angry or fought each other.  Fourty-one days later, we finally landed at Timor.  We found Dutch ship and they helped us.  They got surprised to know only one men died through our sailing by small boat.  I am proud of my eighteen men.  We are going back to our England soon.

Remember, I will never forgive you.  The HMS Bounty is my ship, not yours.  The mutiny means your death as you may well know.  The English ship will find you and send you back to England for trial.

William Bligh

My favourite photograph - after reading task

My favorite picture is a woman is doing Yoga. A woman is Japanese model and she is first woman to get certificate from Ashutanga Yoga in India. She takes some poses of Yoga and the pose is advance. It is like a octopus, I mean her hands, legs is strange at part on her body. But her face is beautiful, happy. Yoga master said Yoga's pose should be comfortable. When I practice, I'm struggling to take pose and hard to keep breath. It is not correct during doing Yoga based on yoga's master. Her picture is really peaceful and warm, I think the Yoga's master saying words is like her. I practice Yoga and I want to do like her. So the picture makes me to practice more and more.

Posted for Miyuki

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

The Witches of Pendle – after reading

Pendle Hill is well known, even now, as a “powerful” place. Write about a similar kind of place in your country.

I think Kanazawa city in Ishikawa prefecture is the most powerful place in Japan recently. It is because that Hokuriku-Shinkansen which is connected between Tokyo and Kanazawa was opened on March 14. Kanazawa city is the biggest city in Hokuriku area and one of the famous tourist sites, but it had taken about five hours to go there by trains from Tokyo so far. After Hokuriku-Shinkansen was opened, it takes only two and a half hours to go to Kanazawa from Tokyo at fastest. The most of the visitors to Kanazawa was from Hokuriku area or western Japan, but it is expected that the visitors from eastern Japan will also be increased.

Lantern in the Kenroku-en garden, Kanazawa, Is...
Lantern in the Kenroku-en garden, Kanazawa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Kanazawa city has been famous as a feudal Japanese castle town. The most famous spot is a garden called “Kenrokuen” which is one of the three major gardens in Japan. It is often touted as the Maeda clan’s greatest accomplishment in the seventeenth century. There are many other traditional spots related to Maeda clan in the city.

My parents said that they visited Kanazawa city when I was baby, but I don’t remember about it at all. I want to visit the city to see the beautiful scenery and eat the delicious sea food in near future.

My old collection - baseball cards

I was a big fan of Giants that was one of Japanese professional baseball team when I was a high school student. I enjoyed watching the game on TV and bought a magazine that featured Giants every month. I was also a collector of the player’s card that belonged to a potato chip. I couldn’t check the card until I opened the package. Whenever I opened the package, I wished I could get the cards of the players from Giants. Especially, I liked Koji Uehara who was a pitcher. He is now the pitcher of Red Socks and plays an important role as ace relief pitcher. I was so excited when I got his card. I collected and filed the cards of the players from Giants.
English: Koji Uehara, Baltimore Orioles
Koji Uehara, Baltimore Orioles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was a university student, I didn’t have a TV in my room and the chance to watch the baseball game. Therefore, my interest in baseball was getting low and I stopped collecting the cards.
I’m not sure where I kept the file of the cards. I guess it was housed somewhere in my room. I’m not interested in baseball at all now, so if I find the file, I may throw it out.

Posted for Chinasa

Interview with Timmy, character in the graded reader "Gone!"

Interviewer:  Here is Timmy who is now the hottest baby all around our town.  Hi Timmy, it's nice to talk to you.

Timmy:  Thank you for having me today.

I:  All of us worried seriously about you since you disappeared from supermarket.  Could you tell us what was happened while you are waiting for your sister at special place for pram?

T:  Yes.  I was crying in the pram since I felt really bad with deeply wet nappy.  I couldn't do anything but crying.  Suddenly, my pram moved out from supermarket.  I was surprised and stopped crying.

I:  Then, you saw the strange woman in front of you.  What did you feel at that time?

T:  I noticed it was not my mother nor my sister from her smell and her voice.  I felt scared and cried harder.  She changed my nappy and gave me some milk.  I felt comfortable and fell asleep since I was so tired.

I:  We imagine you felt lonely during you stayed with that woman.  How did you feel when your brave sister came to save you?

T:  When she came to that room, I was sure it was my dear sister's voice.  I used to hear her voice even when I was in my mother's tummy and I was relieved to hear her voice.  I knew she was not happy to have a brother at her age and I was sad that I was not accepted by her.  Through this happening, I felt I became a true brother for her.

I:  Oh, it is a beautiful story.  I wish you have a happy life with your family.  Thank you for coming today.

Posted for Tomoko

"I left my books at home" - iPad rescue story!

In spring holiday mode at Luna this & next week, classes being rebuilt  as we lose students randomly to Dads being transferred at a moment's notice, and scrambling to assess sign ups...Yuto got stuck into a very challenging storytelling app.

12 panels of themed images (in our case "space") generating up to 30 seconds of storytelling each; needed some brainstorming before each 'go' and the app allows you to 'redo' as often as you like - great for practicing 'having a go'...superb long turn practice for any #YLE Movers or Flyers candidates (though 4/5 story panels  and much less output required!)


In this story my role as agent provocateur not assessor etc - and I was equally challenged to follow the storyline! For some reason part one is missing; blame the app, we struggled to get going.

In a first outing with Story Wheel, I like what we produced, but there is nothing other than a bog ordinary visual stumuli for the student to get to grips with. Yuto is a confident returnee but he was struggling for fluency - connecting ideas - an did not want to be doing the final 'conclusion' bit.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Goddess Athena in pt 2 of her TV interview

Athena continues to "blurt" about her ambitions with Hercules - a SockPuppet TV interview exclusive featuring Nanako!

An Interview with Goddess Athena - part one

As a follow up to reading about Hercules and his challenges, I wanted to know how The Goddess Athena felt about the hunk and his tormentor, King Eurytheus. I am sure you'll agree, Athena lives up to billing - in her own words!

An interview with King Eurytheus

On a recent TV am show, Nanako interviewed the notoriously shy/cowardly tormentor of Hercules - King Eurytheus. See their exchange on SockPuppets and decide who you prefer :)

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Describing where you live - Nagano

English: Mount Yari from Higashikamaone 日本語: 東...
Mount Yari in all it's glory
I live in Nagano, which is a city ont he mountain in the centre of Japan. It has a population of about 2100000 (Nagano prefecture not city) people. It's the 16th biggest city in Japan.

It's a beautiful city it's great for sightseeing, hiking and doing winter sports. There are lots of mountains, temples, skiing area. There's the oldest castle in Japan (not true!). It's Matsumoto castle. It was build four hundred years ago!

The weather is very different from the south of Japan. The winter can be very cold, and it often snow for days. The summer is wonderful - it's sunny but not usually too hot and it;s great for going to the mountains.

Nagano is famous for mountains. There are lots of beautiful mountains. So many people come to Nagano climbing mountains every year. Mt Yarigatake and Mt Hotaka is as popular as Mt Fuji.

I think the best things about Nagano are the air and the water. It's so clean and very safe and very delicious. it's a beautiful city. That's the main reason why I like living here so much.

Posted for Inenaga

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Hercules and the monster he can't kill!

A Chimpnass
This is a Chimpnass, a monster I imagined after reading "Hercules". Hercules had to do twelve hard challenges for King Eurystheus because he killed his wife & sons. He met a lot of monsters, and beat them all!

Chimpnass has horns which light up at night. The ears are very good hearing things. He can run fast and he's friendly. He lives in the mountains, where it has huge trees. He eats lions, tigers, and monkeys. He has claws on his front legs, and hooves on his back legs. He can scratch with his long steel claws. He can kick with his his paws, hooves and tail. His tail is long and strong, made of rocks. He can tickle with his tongue.

Chimpnass guards little animals in the forest from lions & tigers and other big animals. He is brave and clever. If you sing a happy song, he won't eat you. I like Chimpnass because he's friendly. Hercules would not kill him because he's ticklish!


Monday, 16 March 2015

An interview with Hercules

A Sock Puppet interview by Nanako, putting the questions to Hercules after his endeavours on behalf of King Eurytheus in her OUP graded reader.

Comparing the first movie with modern ones

Today I watched the Great Train Robbery. The story is about some robbers. They stop a train and steal $5,000. A group of men goes after them. They kill all the robbers and the back the money. This is the first American film, made in 1903 by Edwin S. Porter for Thomas Edison.

English: Poster of "The Great Train Robbe...
 "The Great Train Robbery" (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There were some things different to a modern film.

  • It was silent
  • It was black and white
  • Things were not real, eg a clock, a wall, a door
  • It was easy to get on the train - no stuntmen
  • Bad acting eg when a man got shot
  • Not realistic special effects eg using a doll an explosion
  • Peoples' clothes are old
  • Using slow horses
  • Animals are in danger when the robbers got shot by the group of men
  • Ending is very sudden
Some things were the same.
  • It was an action story
  • There were animals in the story
  • The bad guys lose
  • There was a chase
  • They were using guns to steal money
  • It was a little exciting
Posted by Yuto, after reading The Story of Motion Pictures, a Richmond ELT graded reader. It was an exciting movie!

Friday, 13 March 2015

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Film Review
I saw a great movie recently called  Harry Potter and The Philosopher's stone.
It is a fantasy movie about a teenage wizard and his friends at a magic school called Hogwarts.

Daniel Radcliffe is the star of the film. He plays a young wizard,Harry Potter who is an orphan living within ordinary world and family. As soon as he found his ability ,he is invited to an exclusive magic school. He becomes a student at Hogwarts and learns to overcome problem that face him.

The most exciting moment is when he goes through a secret platform 9 3/4 at King cross station in London.

I think Harry,Ron and Hermione are good role models for children. 

Friday, 6 March 2015

Chewing the fat - reflecting on Aurasma

              You’ve heard us rave about how brilliant Aurasma is and what an asset it has been to help “upgrade” our school. However, it hasn’t been all smiles and rainbows. There's been a lot of hard graft and careful planning going on behind the scenes. Even so, there were things that managed to slip past us or failed to take into consideration. So, with hindsight now on our side, here’s a run down of things which we would have done differently, plus some unexpected obstacles we stumbled across while putting our project together. You can also see a video summary if you feel so inclined.

            One of the biggest issues we came across was image recognition across different devices and tablets. There were a multitude of factors at play: poor camera quality, bad lighting, small drawings with faint lines and lack of colour. This lead to Aurasma having a little difficulty picking up some of our trigger images. Not ideal when you want to show off in front of eager parents after building up a lot of hype, then for it to not work at all. We heavily advise using images as large as possible with a combination of thick lines and bold colours. Don’t worry too much about the finer details, make sure it stands out.

            Also make sure that you spread out your pictures. For our birthday calendar, some months are more popular than others in terms of the number of birthdays. You only need to take one look at March to see it’s chock-a-block with students. This presents another problem for our trusty app; since the pictures are so close together, it sometimes detects an image other than the one you are currently focusing on. It’s a pain in the neck when the video you want to watch is interrupted by Jim’s self introduction instead (just as a hypothetical example of course).

            Another problem which came apparent towards the final stages was that parents, especially mums, had a hard time getting close enough to the drawings with device in hand. Some having to resort to climbing on the sofas in order to reach high enough! This was overlooked during the planning phase as we were primarily more concerned about fitting the display in the room, and out of reach of curious fingers. Me and Jim being over average height probably had something to do with it too. Definitely something to bear in mind when making your own Aurasma display. Defeats the purpose of having good content if nobody can reach/access it!

            Following on from the idea of accessibility, something we had to overcome on the job was making our content available to parents and visitors alike. As mentioned in a previous post, you must be following the creator’s “channel” on Aurasma in order to access their Auras. We weren’t actually aware of this when we first started, so you can imagine our bewilderment when Aurama didn’t work for any of our students or parents. The demonstration process would go smoothly, until the part when we got them to try using their own devices. At the time I put it down to devices with poor camera quality, but after many similar incidents, myself and Jim put our head together to fix our dilemma. With a little help from one of our students, Hikoro, and some trial and error, we managed to solve the mystery. We made an instructional video on how to “follow” a channel so nobody would have to suffer what we went through.

            So that concludes our first step into the realms of augmented reality. It feels as though we have only just dipped our toes into a vast ocean of endless possibilities. We look forward to using Aurasma more in the future, really immersing ourselves into the digital age and adding an extra dimension to the language learning venture. 

Monday, 2 March 2015

Pronunciation and misunderstanding; is it me?

I thought I had figured out how to maximise student participation with Quizlet, in & out of the classroom, but I happened across another cool angle during the week.

Students finishing tasks quickly while their buddies are still working presents the teacher with a micro management problem; give them a new task that will overlap? Let them kick their heels and wait? Doing a quick task on Quizlet on an iPad is a solution - extra practice or review on related vocabulary for example, without having to relocate (to a PC). It's quiet, so not about to distract the others, but looks fun and encourages to others to hurry up & potentially have a go too.

Working with full phrases (rather than single words) also brings in punctuation - capital letters, apostrophes, spaces - to simple spelling. Typing takes time, counter-intuitively, as learners are not familiar with a keyboard layout. Still, a relevant skill to acquire.

This is where the "Aha!" moment arrived, though (I was trying to help from upside down & failing!) Use the mic and dictate the response.

And then the fun started, as the programme's interpretation of what it had heard produced other than what the students had said. Or thought they had said. Their reaction = the iPad must be deaf, or it can't spell, or it's just stupid ("We've said the same thing 5 times already, and it is wrong again!").

I let them keep trying until it was obvious there was quite a bridge missing. Students' pronunciation (elision or not, hard consonants 'missing', misplaced stress, false starts, intonation?) and my acceptance/perception of their usual utterances (ie my ear tuned to them & our shared context) perhaps allowing less than ideal output? The software second guessing utterances into grammatical structures (with no contextual base, obviously!) - its initial interpretations did 'adjust' as the speaker finished a phrase...

English: logo of quizlet
English: logo of quizlet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"You do it then!" was the 'we've had enough'
and to their satisfaction, my attempts were equally mangled!

So, what's the problem?!

Sunday, 1 March 2015

A time to travel - Palace of Versailles

Château de Versailles, vu des jardins
Palace of Versailles - it's massive!
I have used a magic watch to travel to the Versailles Palace in 1780.
I want to see beautiful dress and if it will be possible, I want to sleep in the Marie Antoinette's bed.
Someone find out me, I turn on magic watch!