Friday, 30 December 2016

YLE success at Luna in 2016

Super sunny Starters
 Back in September, before the cold dark nights set in, some of the children in our classes took the chance to sit their Cambridge Young Learners exams right here in Matsumoto - an opportunity we have proudly been making possible for sixteen years now.

Unfortunately, our preparations were thrown into considerable turmoil with Damian's CELTA course being delayed, and his eventual absence coinciding with Chuck's very unexpected bout of pneumonia. Thankfully, we were very fortunate to be able to rely on our good friends to see us through a very tough fortnight. One of the reasons we love the Cambridge YLE exams is because we do not feel we need to teach towards them - we know good teaching leads to Can Do,
Marvelous Movers
and we know our fun learning environment encourages our learners to be bold.

Over the last week of school this year we were thrilled to be able to give our exam takers their certificates, with proud hand shakes & big smiles - and you can also see Damian & Chuck are also back in action!

Friday Flyers
Particularly chuffed we could hand out certificates at all three levels (Starters, Movers and Flyers) this year to first-time takers - and that for our Flyers this meant they have now achieved all three levels.

Well done to all our entrants - having a go is all we can ask of you, and you can all be very proud of your achievements. Can you see how proud your teachers are?!

Looking forward to plenty more positive Can Do Luna stories in 2017!

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

After reading - Claws

Write about a time when you were outdoors, in a scary situation - fact or fiction!

This is a story when I was in childhood. Our family had a old house in the deep in the mountains. This house was almost made from wood and its roof was covered by a lot of straw.This house was broken down some decades ago, but we used as a rest house while working on a farm in those days.

One day, I was supposed to stay at the house alone during our family’s absence.
I was playing alone at first, but I slept while I was unaware. When I was awake, it has already become dark. But our family did not still come home. I was alone. It was very silent.
At the moment, suddenly I could hear the sound something walked around our house. I knew something was not man. But I did not know what it was. I could not see the creature since the door and window was close. But I would be found by the creature if I open the door or the window to see the creature. The creature walked around our house for a while. I was very scare, but I could only just wait the creature went far away without screaming.

After some minutes or hours, I was asleep again. When I was awake, it was already morning and our family was in our house. I did not know what that is in the end, but I believe that was not my dream. Because I found the footprint in our garden!

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Biggest day of the year - FCE

December 10th saw 31 experienced English teachers struggle up a steep hill to deliver speaking tests to over 300 high-schoolers in central Tokyo.

The candidates had already done their Reading & Use of English, Writing, and Listening papers - an altogether long & tiring day for them all. Final prospect of their FCE day was their paired speaking test with people they'd never clapped eyes on before.

All examiners are trained to deliver the speaking test from one of several randomly selected scripts on the day - to the same very high standard, ensuring each candidate has a fair opportunity to show what they Can Do. While one examiner invites the candidates to express their opinions & converse with each other on a range of topics, his/her colleague is paying very careful to attention to their output in order to assess each of them against a standardised assessment scale. The whole process per pair lasts about a quarter of an hour, and is a very intense experience for everyone involved.

My role on the day was to monitor the examiners and provide feedback - fine tuning essentially, to ensure quality control. Speaking examiners after all need to be delivering & assessing at the same level no matter where in the world they may be...and in my experience really appreciate being observed as they don't get that too often at work. Common objective shared, and therefor total confidence that the results will be reliable.

Massive thumbs up to Hibiya High School for adopting Cambridge English: First and a pat on the back to the organisers for achieving a smooth flow of candidates during the whole afternoon. And well done my speaking examiners - proud of you!

Saturday, 17 December 2016

A very big gig - entertaining an entire kindy!

Way back at the end of summer, one of my 'old' students (now a young mummy!)  asked if we'd be able to 'do something in English' at her son's kindergarten. Of course we said 'Yes' and 'Can Do'!

The date got pushed back a few times - Damian's original CELTA course in the Galapagos was re-scheduled and I needed him to deliver the hour or so of fun I had in mind...

We kept getting asked by the PTA reps etc what that needed to do - which was nice of them - and they didn't really get it when I said 'nothing - just join in'. They begged for a plan, and a translation of what we were going to do so they could explain to the kids. Quite hard to insist on a 'No' with that, but we did. They were not convinced with 'the kids will get it. trust me' response.

So, the day before the event, Damian & I did a dress rehearsal in the car park (looking a bit silly to passing traffic). All sorted, timings crunched & props prepped. Then Yukari told us it was a 90 minute event (not the 60 I'd molded in my head for weeks to come up with the show). A few harsh words and gnashing of teeth, emergency re-hash & an 'it'll be alright on the night'.

Until the phone call later with news that because of 'flu risk' kids in the city should not hang out in large groups for more than an hour! Actually, 45 minutes would be pushing it. Thanks for understanding & all that. Back to Plan A, shaved!

On the day, Damian & Jim led a merry song & dance with about 120 children & parents, PTA & teachers well over an hour (we knew the diktat but we were in the groove, man!). Yukari MC'd, and no-one seemed to notice when Jim got the verses mixed up! As everyone went back to their rooms we got to meet some familiar faces - mums we know - and share a lot of high fives with the children in each of their classrooms just before lunchtime. Lots of curiosity and bouncing from the tunes we'd all been running & jumping to.

For a one-hour event, a lot of phone calls & preparation. on the day, the kids did very much 'get it' (never a doubt) and in the headmaster's den later there was genuine shock (the good variety) from the staff & PTA at the way we'd approached the 'Entertain 101' challenge.

Guess we'll find out next year if they were just being polite! We had a good time, and we know the kids did :)

Snow, tree, and lights....must be Christmas soon!

The tree-builders did their job earlier this week, just before it snowed. Brrr! Bitterly cold! Jim got the ladders out to hang the lights & jolly up the house. Hope you enjoy the light show - tell us if you like the tree, please!

Ceilidh had the right idea and painted a tree instead - which we'll be using tomorrow afternoon - so please don't forget the Christmas party (I got a text message from Santa that he's already packed his bag & given Rudolph an extra carrot for the journey over from the North Pole).

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

My Thai food safari

English: Shrimp Green Curry, Bangkok, Thailand...
Green curry
I went to Thailand to meet my husband last week. We enjoyed a lot of delicious Thai food in Bangkok. I would like to tell you about Thai food.

We ate a lot of spicy food in nice restaurants:

  • green curry - it has coconut milk, chicken, and vegetables in it. Delicious!
  • Tom Yam Kum - this is a soup, with chicken, shrimp, mushrooms, lemongrass, coriander, and chilli peppers. A little hot!
  • Thai noodles - Like Japanese ramen, but with different kinds of noodles. Cheap!
We ate lots of mangoes, mango sticky rice, and mango smoothies.

Closeup of pad Thai, a Thai dish made from ric...
Pad Thai
We tried Chinese Shark Fin soup (very nice, and a little expensive). I love Pad Thai (fried noodles with minced pork, spring onions, peanuts & lime juice). 

We drank mineral water because you can't drink tap water in Thailand - it's too dirty. 

I like Thai food, a little, because it's interesting. It is not too hot, and it is cheap.