Tuesday, 29 November 2016

After reading - The Quest

Write about a holiday you have had when the weather has spoiled everything.

My family loves Matsumoto Yamaga who is the professional football team in Matsumoto. Last year, Yamaga was in the top category in professional football league in Japan called J1. We tried to go to the other team’s stadium to watch the game as much as we can.

In summer, there was a game in Sendai. There is a professional baseball team in Sendai, which is called Rakuten Eagles. Luckily, we found there was a baseball game in Sendai on the day before Yamaga game. For my son and me, it was the first time to see the professional baseball game. So, we decided to go to Sendai to watch both baseball and football games though Sendai is approximately 500 km away from my home.

It was the night game. We went to the official shop in town to get the team T-shirts and towels and we were fully prepared for the game. In the stadium, we enjoyed the game and the supporters who sang and yelled. In the 2nd inning, we saw the lighting in the sky then heard the big thunder. Soon, the sky became dark with thunder cloud and then it rained. We had to wait for the rain to stop. But, it didn’t stop raining. Finally, the game was canceled and we were announced we would get the refund on our tickets.

On the next day, the weather was good. But Yamaga couldn’t win the game.

We enjoyed a lot of good food in Sendai, but we couldn’t enjoy both games.

「The quest book」の画像検索結果

Monday, 21 November 2016

The best footballer I have ever seen

Matsumoto Yamaga
I usually watch games of Matsumoto Yamaga football club and rarely watch games of Japan football league called “J league” and other leagues in the world like league Espanola, Premium league etc.

So, I would like to explain a best footballer I have ever seen is Hayuma Tanaka of Matsumoto Yamaga football club. I think that his football skill may not be good as other football players, the points I respect him are as follows.

His leadership
He tells his many experiences to younger players to be good football player and many players respect him, but he respects all players regardless of age. Thus, the team is very well organized.

His sense of responsibility
When the team loses a game, he doesn’t throw other players in their fault and is thinking what he should do.

His positive thought / action
When the striker’s shoot doesn’t get a goal, the supporters will disappoint it. But he offers the striker a compliment on his shoot or his fighting.

His prompt switching
His position is “Side back” and its position is requested to have a lot of exercise volume because its position is related to both of offensive and defensive. His switching between offensive and defensive, so the team can make a lot of chances of goal and can reduce a lot of risks.

I would like him to work for team until his retire and after his retire.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Great Wall of China

When I studied abroad in China 13 years ago, I have seen some of the Great Wall of China, which is one of the world heritage. I lived in Tianjin city at that time. Great Wall of China have been placed in several area of north China. Before I tried to go to Great Wall of China, I didn’t know that it consists of several fortifications and some place has already gone the wall. As I thought it should be one great wall continued from north-east China to north-west China like a dragon, I was very surprised and a bit disappointed of the fact. There were three famous places near Tianjin and Beijing city, which is Simadai, Mutianyu and Badaling. The Badaling is the nearest and most famous place because there is another famous place that is an emperor’s tomb in Min dynasty near the wall. When my mother came to see me, I take her to go sightseeing to the Badaling from Beijing by tour bus. The road to the Badaling and the emperor’s tomb had been developed and it was comfortable trip than I expected. We could get ropeway to go up to the wall on top of the mountains and enjoyed the view from the Great Wall of China. When we go down the mountain, we got truck and it was so excited. It was easy for us to go there but a lot of Chinese people go there and it was like packed train in Tokyo, it is difficult to walk on the wall or take pictures. On the other day, my friend came to see me and I took them to another famous place of Great Wall of China, which is Simadai. This place is very far from Beijing and a few people go there. However, the Simadai is most beautiful and exciting place of the Great Wall of China I have ever seen. Although it was a little hard for us to go there, we don’t have to take care of so many Chinese people. We enjoyed beautiful view from the top of mountain and the scared ropeway which is always shaking. Now these places are not same as the one I saw, but I would like to go Mutianyu if I have a chance so that I can go all of the famous Great Wall of China!

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Brazil - an armchair traveller's wishlist

I don’t have a lot of knowledge about Brazil where is very far from Japan and my images of Brazil are “Football” and “Carnival”.

During this travel in Brazil, I would like to experience famous Brazilian cultures and to know other aspects of Brazil which I don’t know at this moment.

The most interesting plan of this travel is to see a football game. Any category of football is fine for me. How Brazilian supports/fans give their team or their team’s footballers a boost? How Brazilian supports/fans lift football audiences or whole stadium alight? I would like to creative a positive atmosphere in a stadium of Matsumoto Yamaga football club even though the team is behind. And I would like to see football technique of highest level in the world.

Next. I would like to visit the “Fall of Iquazu” and “Barreirinhas”. It seems that there are so many attractive places to do sightseeing, but if we visit many famous places, we will spend much time to transfer because Brazil is big country. So, I will visit to limited places and will spend much time to see them enough. I have to check how far those attractive places are placed.

As for the food, I would like to taste Brazilian chocolate candy “Brigadeiros” and “Mate” tea from special cup made from fruit called gourds. I can drink “Mate” tea in Japan, but I think that the Mate tea sold Brazil in Japan is adjusted to suit Japanese taste and would like to taste real bitter tea.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Using smartphones to learn "Telephone English"

English: Large image of telephone switchboard....
 Photograph courtesy of Joseph A. Carr
I have a dread fear of trying to teach telephone English, especially in business classes. Why?

  • The more realistic the set up, the more impossible monitoring
  • Students know each other & understand each others' short cuts/linguistic tics
  • Students are expecting this call
  • There is usually some kind of hierarchy in the group
  • Not always possible to use phones 
  • Work arounds, such as Skype or Google Hangouts firewalled 
  • Odd number of students
Obviously, making phone calls & answering them at the office/on the road are everyday working situations, and vitally important that the user masters the absolute basics very well. There are stock phrases to be used, which to sound professional & proficient just can't be mangled. We need to hear the right phrases to trigger the required responses & manage the conversation forwards in a predictable fashion.

Things learners do that kill a telephone exchange:
  • get the giggles
  • panic attack & go silent
  • start nodding or just make sounds that other cultures do not understand
  • use their own language as much as possible
  • repeat poor pronunciation more slowly
  • lack empathy with the listener's level of English
English: This is an example of the angst cause...

Whether making the call, or answering it, learners simply have to 'learn their part of the dialogue' - an observation I heard years ago as a complaint about native speakers in Hawaii, who didn't function as expected from an Interchange 1 dialogue! On the phone, we do need to learn our lines.

So how to do this in class? 

Well, this may sound stupid, but use your phones! But no, I don't mean start calling each other - recipe for multiple overlapping snippets & malfunctions which you cannot control. The answer is still BYOD, though. Although slow adopters in Japan, most of my business classes now boast mostly smart phones. 
The preparation:

I created a set of very simple phrases I wanted the receiver of a call to use, on Quizlet (here). In this instance, I took out a key word or words. We had already listened to a short dialogue and filled in the blanks, as you do. I asked students to open up the set in the Quizlet app. A few stunned faces (I have only asked them to install the app every week since May)...mini hiatus while 'expert' users led their less coherent colleagues along the app store, password, install, register, join the class dance. OK, itself a learning moment! 

The set up:

Reassuring nods as they scrolled across the flashcard function. Easy. Race each other in mad screen-tapping game mode (scatter) against the clock...pecking order established?

The Challenge:

I asked students to use the 'Learn' feature. 'Too hard!' - needed to toggle the 'term' button so they only had to write in the key word(s) and not the rest of the phrase!


Typing too slowly/deliberately - copying from books open. And why are we typing a telephone dialogue? USE THE MICROPHONE to fill in the answers/blanks!


'Cool! I don't have to type stuff', shortly followed by 'Oh, stupid phone doesn't understand me. I said "and you" but it reads "Andrew"... the dominant students cockily barking at their phones and reacting indignantly at the jumbled message received, looking around to see more deliberate & gentle pronunciation making better progress.


 At this point all I needed to do was put my hands in the air and let the penny drop. Talk to the phone nicely! And as the teacher, I am totally absolved of any blame or shame game in picking on students' intonation, enunciation, elision etc. Fine tune your own pronunciation! Students wandered off to find quieter corners, they practiced and practiced more than they ever have done before with any dialogue - and importantly, with phone in hand & an unknown 'partner'.
English: logo of quizlet

We didn't get to the other half of the phone call (the caller) which was just fine with me. Nail the most important bits first, then we'll get adventurous!

  • 'Harder' Quizlet sets (though of the same content/conversation), with caller 'terms' to match with receiver 'definitions'. This would really challenge sentence level pronunciation, with stress & intonation features etc
  • Use other apps eg Dragon Dictation to polish pronunciation further, again, without the teacher being involved in critique mode, but enabling/suggesting tweaks

The students 'got it'. If their phones won't understand them, nobody else is going to! They needed to moderate their output to suit their listener, and not be critical of the listener eg 'He's from China' or something. Now they can see another function for their smart phones - a most excellent phone training device.

Jim was teaching from International Express Elementary (OUP) 3rd Ed. when this hallelujah moment struck. Check out "LunaTeacher" on Quizlet for plenty more creative uses of the site.