Friday, 31 August 2018

Postcard from...Niigata, Japan

I went to the sea of Niigata with my mother, my sisters and family in summer vacation.

Very good weather and beer was very delicious. 
Fishing and swimming in the sea.

My son seemed very happy to make a castle of sand and pick up the shells, and he got sunburned.
The sea is the best - I love the sea!!

Posted for Kanako

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Kaoru's hometown - Matsumoto City

Matsumoto Castle's annual taiko festival
I live in Matsumoto, which is in the centre of Japan. It has a population of about 200,000 people. It is about 2 hours 30 minutes to Tokyo by train.

In Matagricultureiculture is famous industry. Apples, watermelons, grapes and a lot of fruits and vegetables are made by farmers. There is a small airport in the west of the city, so there are some factories near the airport.

The weather in Matsumoto is typical of the inland. There are many sunny days, so winters are very cold. But there are not a lot of snow. In summer, it is not so how because Matsumoto is about 600m high from the sea.

Matsumoto is famous for Matsumoto castle. It is a national treasure, it was built in Edo period. In summer, a big classical music event, Seiji Ozawa Matsumoto Festival is held in the city. A parade of brass bands of students marches as the opening of the festival. The goal of the parade is Matsumoto castle. Then the thousands of students play music in the garden of the castle.

What I like best about Matsumoto is that the city is not too urban, and not too rural. In Matsumoto, there are some shops and restaurants, and several big hospitals. But if you want to contact with nature, you can go to highlands, mountains and rivers quickly.

Posted for Kaoru

Training to become a Cambridge Speaking Examiner

For the last 7 years, I've been preparing students for the Cambridge exams. A few months ago, I decided that it was time to take things to the next level. I realised that becoming a Cambridge Speaking Examiner would help me improve my teaching skills and assess my students' levels more accurately.

As I am an online English teacher, I currently live in Asia and teach students from all around the world via Skype. This meant that I couldn't train to become an examiner back home in England. The closest centre to me was Luna in Japan, so I decided that instead of waiting for the next opportunity, I would just take a 7 hour flight to Tokyo.

Even though it was a long and uncomfortable flight, I was really excited to start the training. It took place over two weekends at Rikkyo University in Tokyo. We practised how to conduct a full test multiple times and also did a mock test with real students. We also examined the marking criteria in detail and watched several videos to practise assessing real students. The training was challenging and rewarding and when it finished I felt even more confident as a teacher.

I would like to thank Jim for giving me this fantastic opportunity and for training me to become a Cambridge Speaking Examiner. All of his advice was practical and useful and it was clear that it came from many years of experience.

If you're a teacher, especially an exam English teacher, I think training to become an examiner is certainly worth it and I cannot recommend it enough.

Anu Warrier
Super Easy FCE

Picture Credits: @CambridgeEngJP004 on Twitter

Postcard from...Aomori, Japan

I'm watching a Tachineputa festival in Goshogawara city in Aomori prefecture. The Tachineputa is very big. It's 23 meters high and its weight is 19 tons. About 70 people parade through the central city pull a Tachineputa with musical accompaniment.


Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Keiko's hometown - Town of Villaba Tagbubunga

Tagbubunga Villaba in the province of Leyte Eastern Visayas in the Republic of the Philippines.

Officially the Municipality of Villaba. Is a 3rd class municipality in the province of Leyte. It has a population of 41,891 people. Tagbubunga is the one of the small town.

Near of the sea and surrounding of mountains. The town is quiet and peaceful. The have church and many small stores.

The weather is always summer 26°C-35°C. Most popular during the dry season between November and April. It's the best to travel during the cooler month of December to February. Temperatures are high during March and April.

Landmarks are usually photographed a lot by visitors. Lots of beached. Fiesta and traditions of Tagbubunga every year on May. Every community have sports, for example basketball, boxing and etc. It is famous of singing and dancing.

It is are so close to nature. They are go to the beaches. The have rivers and tributaries.

Posted for Keiko

Monday, 27 August 2018

The day I met Kofi Annan in New York

The sad news reminds me of the unforgettable moment

Kofi Atta Annan who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations, the recipient of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize, passed away on 18th Aug. To hear the sad news, I just remembered that the amazing experience which I was able to see him at the United Nations Headquarters in New York in December 2006.

I went there for the opening of the United Nations exhibition “SPIRIT OF THE EAST” with my husband Takeshi. It was composed by the works of Kaii Higashiyama, who is one of Japanese representative painter, and Chinese photograph artist Wang Wusheng. 

 The beginning of the opening ceremony, Mr. Annan and his beautiful wife appeared. I had been admiring him since 2003, when the  Iraq war 
happened, so I was so excited. He looked gentle and intelligent. His wife was really elegant, like an actress.

My husband had a precious experience. He guided the exhibition and explained to Mr. Annan about the works of Higashiyama, because my husband was the director of the Art Museum of Kaii Higashiyama at the moment. 

Mr.Annan, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, was a great person. I was really sorry about losing such an awesome man.


Saturday, 25 August 2018

Modern art artists made a difference in my life

Author: Rosemary Border
It's not only one person, but there are some people, who are modern art artists, made a difference in my life. Although my major was art, I am ashamed to say that I didn't know about the modern arts well when I entered the university. At that time, I was not well to think about something flexibility.

One day, I said to my teacher that things are unchangeable. He said that it might be difficult to make artist works for you if you have such thinking. I was shocked. However, I realized what he means later and it was so hard to make artist works from nothing.

I went to the art museums and galleries every weeks and I was exposed the new ideas, thinkings and concepts there. They exactly changed my thought and made my life spirits wealth.
These days, I feel that I am getting back to like before university.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

The Wright brothers ~ those who made our dreams fly ~

Orville and Wilbur were born in America in the 1870s. They were two of seven children born to Milton Wright, their mother. Their father was a bishop and one day he brought home a toy helicopter for his sons to play with. They loved the toy and they played with it until it broke. So they built a new one. From this moment, they started to become interested in flying.

After graduating from high school without diplomas, they started thinking about creating something so that they could fly through the sky. The Wrights began building gliders based on their kites. They tested at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Unfortunately they failed several times, and Wilbur got injured during the tests, but he managed to recover.

In 1903, they built the powered Wright Flyer, using lightweight wood, and a stronger engine. After many efforts, they were able to fly 175 to 200 feet above the ground. It was the first powered flight in the world! Finally their dream, and also mankind’s dreams, had come true.

To fly was the biggest dream for humans since the first human looked at the sky. We can go abroad because of the Wright brothers’ invention. I think we should know about them and be grateful for their gift. They are two of the greatest inventors ever.

Posted for Tomoro (after reading about Steve Jobs, Scholastic graded reader)

Nanako's psotcard from Singapore

Sunday, 19 August 2018

School uniform - agree or disagree!?

In Japan, every junior high school has school uniforms. Sometimes students don’t like uniform and feel uncomfortable.

When I was a junior high school student, my school has the school uniform.  It was a typical style of uniforms in Japan.  Boys wore black jacket with stand-up collar and trousers.  Girls wore blazer and skirt.

Many students didn’t like school uniform and tried to coordinate clothes to show how I am different from others.  For example, boys changed the length of jacket either shorter or longer.  Girls also changed the length of skirt longer.

In my 3rd year at junior high school, the new trend came suddenly.  Girls wore the shorter skirt with white loose socks.  This trend became extremely popular all over Japan.  As a trend of loose socks, students try to enjoy and express themselves within fixed rule. 

Recently, it is popular among students to wear school uniforms when they go to Disney Resort even after they graduated from junior high school.  Younger generation seems not to have negative feeling on school uniforms. 

I agree with school uniform.  It can give the sense of belonging to students and some new culture or trend cannot happen without school uniforms.

Driving technique for a limited period

I learned to drive during summer vacation when I was senior year of college.  I applied for the training camp program for three weeks at Omachi driving school.
Firstly, I learned the traffic signs and rules in the lessons.  There were many things to learn and I had to take the tests periodically.  I reviewed the lessons every night.

Secondly, I learned how to control car by driving the course in the school.  The teacher sat down on the passenger’s seat and taught me how to drive.  I drove a stick shift and it was difficult for me to control it first.

Finally, I drove public street around the school.  There were several sloping roads there, so I sometimes stalled out.  However, I could drive a stick shift consequently and got the driving license after the exam.

Then, I bought a car "Passo" from Toyota.  It was compact and easy to drive as it was automatic car.  The current my car is also automatic and I have not driven stick shift since I graduated from the driving school, so I forget how to drive stick shift now...

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Picture Puzzle - Front page article of the story

A gang Zetter’s jailbreak plan revealed!!

The lawyer purchased a prison officer. 

Zetter’s lawyer Mr. Thurber purchased a prison officer Wallace. Mr. Thurber gave £50,000 to Wallace to get his help for Zetter’s escape. Why did the plan find out? A young girl, Amy, who lived at same flat with Wallace heard their talk that they were going to meet at a churchyard to pass money next day. She went there and took the photo of them at that moment. But Wallace noticed her and he ran after her to take away the camera. She ran away and took the film out of camera. She ran into the shopping mall and passed it to a young man.

After all Wallace caught her and locked her in the bathroom of the flat. A young man, Pete, was surprised but he thought to solve the puzzle. He saw photos in the film, he chaced the some clues and he reached her flat at last. There Wallace waited him and threatened to give the film back. They fought. Wallace finally fired the gun so people called policeman. After all Wallace was arrested and Amy was rescued.

Posted for Misako

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

The Last Leaf and Other Stories - A criminal disguised as somebody else

The famous criminal is 30million yen criminal. An offender pretended a police officer. It happend 50 years ago. The car which carried money was stoped by a police officer who rode a white bike. The police officer said the driver ``This car was set up the bomb. Get off the car`` They were very surprised and got off the car, the police officer drove the car away. Soon they knew money was stolen. The criminal was prescription. Money has been disappearded now. Many people were suspected of the offender. But the offender have not arrested. No one Know who is the offender. If I can ask the offender, where is money?

Posted for Misuzu

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

The Phantom of the Opera - Yoko's alternative ending

Erik was dead. Raoul and Christine and Persian did not talk to anyone lifetime about that terrible night of the event. Raoul and Christine got married. Their cute child was born. Christine who has a wonderful voice never sang in the Opera House. She sang for only husband and a child with love. They lived happily ever after. The Persian told that Erik was dead to the King of Persia. The Persian did not return to the King. And he lived calmly throughout the life. In the Opera House in Paris, the people still talked about the ghost. A few of the singers and dancers said ‘we had seen a strange man who always wore a black cloak and wore a white mask over his face.’ Box Number 5 is still empty. Nobody sits down the Box Number 5. But when somebody put a program on a chair in the Box, there is always 20 francs on the chair after a performance.

Posted for Yoko

Monday, 13 August 2018

Northanger Abbey - famous writers from Japan

The popular Japanese writer is Keigo Higashino, Miyuki Miyabe, Jun Ikeido, etc. I like their novels. Their novels are very interesting and are easy to read. There is a writer called Haruki Murakami in Japan. Before, his novels “Norwegian wood” became the bestseller. And he won Franz Kafka Prize as an Asian for the first time. He became the most likely candidate for Nobel Prize in Literature every year. He is very famous and popular in Japan. He is known in abroad too. His enthusiastic fan is called Harukist. I have read only “Norwegian Wood” and “Kafka on the Shore”. However, I was not able to enjoy the novels that much. I was hard to finish reading it. Many people love his novels and read. And he is a man with talent as he became Nobel Prize in Literature Candidate every year. But I am no good at reading his novels. I don’t seem to have literal ability.

Posted for Reiko

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Local super star takes part in his first training session at AC Milan - a mock newspaper article

The marvelous football player of the local football team Yamaga joined AC Milan last weekend. The hard training session was in Milan, Italy.

Akira Kawasaki started to play football, when he was the elementary school student, but he couldn't join and football teams, because he grew up in a poor family. However he has continued playing soccer. He loved it and being an international football player was his dream. After he graduated high school, he was scouted by the head coach of the Yamaga. He joined the team as a forward. His plays were remarkable.

One day, 5 years since he has joined Yamaga, he was found by a scout of AC Milan. The Yamaga supporters and people in Matsumoto city blessed and encouraged him. Finally he went across the sea. He just arrived in Milan last weekend, and yesterday his first session in the team started. He said "My dream has come true, but it has just started. I will never stop my step for my dream".

Posted for Teruki

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

A postcard from New Orleans, Louisiana

Hi Damian!

How are you?

I arrived in New Orleans today. I was deeply moved by the cute cityscape.

I will go to Lafayette on 27th, and go to the wedding ceremony.

See you!

Mie at New Orleans

Monday, 6 August 2018

Postcard from...the Graduate, London

Hi! How are you doing?

I attended my graduation ceremony of UCL at Royal Festival Hall. The ceremony was moving and I enjoyed it. I shook hands with the provost of UCL. All the names of graduate students were called. I felt rewarded after finishing the harsh Masters course!!

Take care, best wishes,