Tuesday, 31 January 2012

A Death in Oxford

After reading

3. Choose either the picture on page 11 or the one on page 22 ad write a complete description of it.
I choosed the picutre on page 22.

Chris visits his mother's house to talk with her.

He is sitting in front of the computer and his mother is sitting on the sofa. They are driking coffe and eating cake. There are a book and newspaper on the table.

His mother persuades him to start to work since he has not had a job. His mother looks like angry and he seems be overpowered by her.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

What I did at the weekend - Jim in Ueda

In my other job, organising presentations for Shinshu JALT, I get to invite some really cool people to make presentations on their work/research/books. As you can see from the slideshow, Sunday was really good fun. More info when I can find my notes (yes, we did go to the pub after!)

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Saturday, 28 January 2012

Treasure Island - a Neverending Story

http://audioboo.fm/boos/643027-misaki-s-treasure-island Misaki"s Treasure Island (mp3)

I have not seen Misaki for a while, because our schedules have conflicted - I've been away doing exam stuff, or she has. Yes, exam hell time for her. But, she is escaping, which I am thrilled with, and from April will be enjoying a whole new life in Australia. Not messing around, but studying English before college.

She didn't want to open her book today, which was fine. Instead, I dug up a game I haven't used for ages. "Neverending Story" encourages collaborative storytelling by simply requiring turn-takers to add on to the story so far, putting a picture card onto the board. There is no 'right or wrong' direction for the stroy to take - totally at the mercy of the turn taker! What I like about it with my students is the chance for me to ask questions to extract more story details (if necessary).  Each turn the player needs to start at the beginning and recycle the story so far. When it is my turn to repeat the whole story with as much of their details as possible, a few embellishments/clarifications/mistakes - but modelling the correct narrative tenses without correcting them are looking for prompts. No pencils, no reading, no safety net!

English: Stevensen Treasure Island
Image via Wikipedia
I find this helps a lot with students getting beyond the first thing they thought of and leaving that as 'their turn'. It makes students listen to each other carefully, and check/clarify details. They have to link their ideas to each others', and use a lot of discourse markers.

By the time we 'finished' - timed out - we had run through the story at least a dozen times, adding bits and polishing the edges. I remembered a Shelly Terrell app recommendation for last year's JALT Conference and popped my iPhone into her hand with AudioBoo ready. The five minute free limit was ideally short - had to get on with it. As you can tell, Misaki is doing a lot of thinking to keep her story fluent. My apologies for getting in the way here & there, but I was watching the timer. Most of the ideas were hers after my "Once upon a time..."

Misaki & I would both like to hear/read your comments :)
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Thursday, 26 January 2012

Who says life is dull for Japanese school kids?

"Yesterday, my friend Toru had a shower, used the internet, did his homework and went to bed late. He didn't get up early, send a text message, catch a bus or eat pizza."

"Yesterday, my friend Takuro had a shower, used the internet, did his homework and went to bed late. He didn't get up early, send a text message, catch a bus or eat pizza."

Takuro and Toru interviewed each other about yesterday. They go to different schools, and were not 'cheating' over this quick written follow up. Nevertheless, the result was worryingly predictable - they go through life as kids in Japan on a very plain trajectory!

I shouldn't complain, because these two lads are really coping well with the number of irregular verbs in the English language and different /ed/ sounds for even the 'regular' ones in the simple past tense. As learners they are excellent canvasses to work with.

Monday, 23 January 2012

A busy weekend - ESOL

Yukari & I were not looking forward to driving half way across the country with our little children last Friday; the fact that it snowed all that day and into the night as we prepared to leave didn't help us relax. However, despite the dangerous conditions and heavy Friday night truck traffic around Nagoya, we needn't have worried - kids fast asleep as the miles swept by.

Yukari attended a meeting of Centre Exams Managers - the people responsible for the administration of Cambridge Centres (remember, Luna is one?) and all the exams we offer. This is a lot of work, with a lot of important little details that have to be done accurately and be well planned out. Eg our 2012 exam dates have already been set & venues set up; new software has been installed and new materials sourced. It was a good opportunity for CEMs from across the country to be briefed on new developments, security issues, announcements etc - and to meet each other.

Jim attended a meeting with QC line managers from Korea & Taiwan, and peer Team Leaders (TLs) based in Hyogo & Kyushu. This was an excellent opportunity for two-way discussion of examiner performance, monitoring, and statistical analysis. It also meant we were put on the spot to submit marks as all our speaking examiners are in training & certification meetings. I was wrong, and I know why. All part of the learning curve.

Our children slept at odd angles in the car as we drove home on Sunday night, Yukari & I chatted about our experiences. She is new to the CEM job, clearly, after Yuki's ten-year occupancy. She is reassured to have met the rest (mostly) of ESOL in Japan. It is an enormous job which in other countries is a job on its own.

We hope in future we can all reduce the travel, time, cost & family burdens if such meetings - of course face to face meetings are irreplaceable...but we both feel a monthly Skype or webinar much more useful long-term. So, the weekend a regular step in the right direction; let's hope my kids won't have to cope with another 10 hours/2 nights in the car when tech can do the job.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Our phone line is down

Apologies if you have been trying to contact the school over the weekend. Hope to be fixed ASAP tomorrow (Monday) morning.

Sorry we didn't notice earlier - Yukari & Jim were both in Nara for Cambridge ESOL meetings over the weekend.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Yes, it's snowing

No, classes are not cancelled today :)

Wrap up nice and warmly, and don't forget your hat/gloves/scarf etc after class!


Teaching event, Jan 29th in Ueda; all welcome

ABAX is very happy to be sending four presenters to Nagano for this coming Sunday, January 29th. Among the presenters is Marcos Benevides, co-author of Fiction in Action: Whodunit which won the Duke of Edinburgh ELT Book Award in 2010 and the British Council’s ELTON award in the international category in 2011. Things kick off at 1.00 p.m.

This is the first time we’ve sponsored multiple presentations for a local event; many thanks to the Shinshu JALT Chapter for arranging this. We’re looking forward to our day in Ueda and hope you too can find time to attend. And if you can’t attend but think it looks interesting, please let your friends in Nagano know! We promise to keep the presentations resolutely non-commercial!

Sunday, January 29, 2012
TIME: 1.00 p.m. To 5.30 p.m.
PLACE: Pareo Library, Ueda City, Nagano-ken、〒386-0025 長野県上田市天神1丁目8−1


INTRODUCTION: 1.00 - 1.20
• An Introduction to Task-Based Learning – Marcos Benevides 1.20-2.10
• Narrow Reading 2.0 – Michael Stout 2.20-3.10

BREAK: 3.10-3.40

• Teaching Speaking Strategies: the Why and the How – Alastair Graham-Marr 3.40 – 4.30
• Teaching Listening to Low–Level Learners – Hugh Graham-Marr 4.40-5.30

We’ve set up a facebook page for the event here: http://www.facebook.com/events/136929726423999/

Please let your friends know about this too!

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Tuesday, 17 January 2012

What a Lottery!

8. Here are ten words from the story. They are jumbled up. Write them correctly.

a. sssttaain
b. yrettol
c. tteikc
d. dsiupt
e. eaiuscts
f. petocmur
g. yenom
h. lipoce
i. taguri
j. resgin

a. assistant
b. lottery
c. ticket
d. stupid
e. suitcase
f. computer
g. money
h. police
i. guitar
j. singer

A Death in Oxford

Janet Leighton was around fifty years old. She ran a clinic with her partner Dr. Collins. But she did not like her because her salary was expensive and also Dr. Collins was famous in the town. Janet was offensive and this sometimes makes people feel bad her. When she was killed nobody felt sad. I wonder why she was so offensive.

Monday, 16 January 2012


3. Write an e-mail from Sergeant Ken to Sara explaining about Alex.

Dear Sara,
I am Ken, sergeant in Glossia. Alex worked for my team.
We are sorry to inform you, but he is dead.
When we patrolled in Toneck, he shot by a man who hate soldiers. Although we tried to protect him, there was a trap by the man and we could not help him.
May he rest in peace.


Friday, 13 January 2012

Famous Sports - OUP Factfile

From L to R: Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Leb...
Image via Wikipedia
Over the holiday, I read "Famous Sports" three times, because in basketball there was Michael Jordan. I also like sports, so I read it three times.

In soccer, I like Messi, Neimar, Ronaldo and Kassillas, because they are brilliant players.

In basketball, I like Lebron James, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade, and they are called "The Three Kings" in the Miami Heat.

English: Chicago Bulls. Michael Jordan 1997
Image via Wikipedia
I tennis, I like Nadal , because he is a left-handed and also fantastic. I learn swimming, but I don't learn golf.

This book was very exciting.

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Cambridge ESOL Young Learners

Back in the country 24 hours after a delightful break in Australia, before grabbing my pre-packed suitcase of training materials and legging it to Haneda for a flight to Chitose (Sapporo). I wish I hadn't double checked my careful pre-holiday packing as I dumped some rather important bits, stupidly. Thank heavens our ESOL exam venues are predictably well-supported by publishers such as Cengage, OUP & CUP who have the vision, and teachers who use the best materials. (Still, pretty dumb to leave vital stuff on my office floor!)

I don't mind the travelling, but the dislocation annoys me; half the train trip to Tokyo is 'out of service' for internet connection. That does mean the other half of the trip is  'connected', but the on/off nature of the tunnel interruptions means you cannot actually get anything done. Work on plane? Mostly pointless, as searching for a connection kills battery-life.

Anyway, I was in Sapporo to finally make sure our northern lights were still able to examine - this coming weekend. A rush job, then. Well done Kate, Peter, Vicky, and Mary; scripts remembered and assessment criteria under control. Special guest star Brick made sure we also have a full house of squared away examiners when we are finally able to offer KET & PET in Hokkaido, something we at Luna have been keen to achieve since 2007. Looking forward to Lower Main Suite exams taking place in Hokkaido in May, as well as in Fukushima, Niigata, Nagano, Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka - and in association with our colleagues at JP176 in Okayama too.

Congratulations in the meantime to our young achievers here at home, who stepped up at the end of October. Here is Kaeda with proud mum (and shy sister) and Simon sensei (namesake of her first teacher), receiving her Starters certificate. this is just the start Kaede - onwards and upwards :)

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Let me Out!

7. You have a robot. What do you want it to do? Write down your ideas.

I want the robot to drive my car. As I don’t like driving by myself, I want him to drive my car. This is because I can spend my time for sleeping, reading books and watching YouTube if he drives my car.

I think a robot is not necessary to do everything. It is better that a robot helps us to do small things we don’t want to do. However, I felt scary if a robot has emotions and can do everything instead of us like Nolan in this story. In that case, the robot might control us like the story of “Planet of Apes”.

Posted for Reiko


The story of “Why?” is about war, and I think the title, “Why?” is well-thought title.
The reason why I think title is good is that a young soldier, Alex must go to war in foreign country and he always thinks why the war is occurred, why he has to fight with domestic people, and why war can not be stopped.
However, because of the innocence, he has to die. Through his death, the story tells the irrationalness of war.

Another reason why the title is good is that the story ends with Alex’s girlfriend, Sara’s “Why?”. Because he dies she could not contact with him. She keeps e-mailing him, and asks him why he doesn’t reply to her. It makes us feel sad, and gives us afterglow after we read the story.

Posted for Yumi T

The Girl at the Window

After reading no. 5

Yesterday there was a fire on the Eastham Street. Sue and little her baby girl was there and a fire happened due to the bad wiring. There was a bad fire on the door of Sue's room and her baby Sammy was in the next room. Mother was not able to get out from her room so she called to 999 for help. When firemen reached to the house, the house was almost burned, but both mother and baby is well.

Posted for Aya

What a Lottery!

Why does Mary leave Rick? Was she right to leave him?

I think this decision is right for her. Because Rick loves only music.
He doesn't care of her. However, if  he loves her, she can't feel be loved.
Besides he doesn't work. It's hard for her to live. He should see reality around him.

Posted for Yumi T

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

From Reader to Writer

Toru's study buddy didn't turn up (can't really blame him, it's bitterly cold and snowing - not the best weather for cycling to Luna) so we revisited our last lesson of 2011 and did another Lego story.

Again, we trawled through a reader we have already read (this time "Land of the Dinosaurs" - OUP Story Tree Orange series book 3) and picked out some key dialogue to go with background & characters he decided on. The story, of course, is totally different to anything with the dinosaurs, but that's the whole point - we can recycle the language and make it so much more personal/memorable with our own spin on it.

How much help from me? Not a lot, really, after I showed him the main tool box, though we did need to scoot along a bit to finish in time & print it out nicely to take home.

I think this is a really cool piece of work - what do you think?

What a lottery

Why does Mary leave Rick? Was she right to leave him? 

Mary left Rick since she was very tired to live with a husband who was always dreaming. Actually, the song "ice cream shop" is terrible! I wonder who gave Rick the money to buy a lottery ticket. If I were Mary and Hideaki were Rick, I'm sure I would not marry him!

After reading_Let me out

When I saw the title of book before reading, I thought it is a story of a robot who would like to be a human being. After reading the book, I felt scared. This book makes me think about the difficulty to live together with a robot. In the near future, the technology will be advanced much more than now. And, the robot who can help the people will be available. It is great if the robot can clean the dirty room, wash and iron the clothes. However, if these robots have the feeling as Nolan did, we have to accept and respect the individual of each robot. We have to treat the robot one member of family as John did for Sam. Otherwise, it will be difficult to control the robot. We don’t want to shout, “Let me out”…

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Dirty Money (After reading 4.)

4. What sort of person is Joe? Do you like him? Why/why not?

I think that he has strong sense of justice. He is type of person who researches things drastically.
I like him since his strong will leads to the truth and get new job. I think it is important, but difficult. If I were him, I might give us investigating the truth due to fear of danger.

Postcard from...Down Under

To NHK class

Hi all,

I'm looking forward to all your travel presentations & slideshows in 2012. Let's study hard & make some progress?

Me? Had a brilliant holiday; family, food, wine, sea, sun, surf - couldn't be better!

There'll be a test on Aussie idioms next lesson.

Jim xxx

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Postcard from...Sydney, Australia

Dear everyone,

we've had a fabulous time in Australia, finishing our sightseeing yesterday by the Opera House/Bridge. The weather  has been superb, so we've been especially careful not to get sunburnt. We've done beaches - Woolgoolga, Bulli & Hyams. We've seen sharks, platypus, roos and Cockatoos. W'eve had huge steaks on the BBQ & bottles of fabulous reds and shilled whites - as well as plenty of fizzy stuff. Only bad news was having to walk past my favourite pub (twice) without testing the Guinness.

Eleanor & Ceilidh both love the sea nad the pool, and two weeks of English has been a treat. NOT looking forward to freezing weather on Friday.

Missed us? See you soon?

Jim & Yukari