Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Five Hundred and Nineth Anniversary of Columbus' Landing on the Island of Trinidad

Today is the anniversary of Christopher Columbus' landing on the island of Trinidad. Columbus landed on the island of Trinidad on his third voyage (船旅). Below is a map showing the route Columbus took on his third voyage.

Columbus' voyages had a huge impact on world history. Following Columbus' voyages many European people migrated ( 移住) to North America. Unfortunately, the meeting of European and indigenous (先住民) North Americans caused the extinction (民族の滅亡) of many cultures and languages too.

A map of Trinidad is below.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Impressions of Miho: Shibaura Institute of Technology Global Issues 1 Assignment 2

This image was created by Michael Stout using a frame from The Daily English Show 320 and Corel Painter

For their second assignment, students in the Global Issues class watched an interview with Miho, a Japanese returnee (帰還者). Miho made a strong impression on the students. Below are some examples. Again, I have edited the students' writing for accuracy and clarity. This time I had to edit a lot. However, I did my best to stay true to the content and to retain the students' voice. Some teacher's may object to this but I decided it was better to edit the work than not present it at all. Few students would have agreed to let me post their work unedited. Even still, some students asked to remain anonymous (匿名).

"I was impressed by her willingness to study abroad alone. However, I didn't like her merry talking and big gestures because I thought it was over the top. Perhaps I experienced culture shock watching and listening to her.
I was also impressed by what her friend said. She said, "Where do you come from in Birmingham?". Many Japanese think that Japanese are a single race and foreigners are separate but her English friend doesn't think so. I think this shows a difference in thinking between Japanese people and English people."
Shunsuke Miyashita

"My first impression of Miho was that she was just an ordinary girl but my impression of her changed a lot once I heard her speak English. I was impressed by her English speaking. When I closed my eyes, she sounded just like someone in an English-speaking area. In particular, she uses gestures well. "
Takahiko Hasagawa

"I think her English is like that of a native speaker and I want to speak English properly like her. I think she is very patient and hard working because when she actually mixed with native English speaking people and had to do group work with them, they didn't want to work with her. I if were in that situation I wouldn't want to learn English and I would return to Japan. However, in that situation, people are really able to learn the language. She struggled to learn English properly. I think we need to be n severe situations in order to learn English properly."
Yusuke Tsukui

"Miho is a very good English speaker. At first I thought she was a native English speaker because she talks very fluently and her gestures are very good. I want to be like her."

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Shibaura Institute of Technology Global Issues 1
Make-up Assignment

This is an assignment for students unable to sit the final exam. Watch the video and do the tasks on the task sheet given to you. You must submit your work by 28 July 2007. Enjoy!

This video was made by Paul Carr for his podcast ESLpodTV. Below is Paul's introduction to this video:
  • Topic: students talking about the meaning of ‘home’ (家にはどんな意味があるのかについて話合います)
  • Level: beginner (初級)
  • Language: listening (聞く)

This is a supplementary beginner lesson on the topic of the meaning of the word ‘home’. Watch and listen as a group of students talk about what they think the word home means. . Enjoy the show!


There are some useful words and expressions to learn below. More are in the text.

abroad - another country, not your own

support - to help and assist someone

discriminate - to judge someone based on color, race, sex, height etc.

treasure - someone or something very important to you

accept - agree with or understand another’s ideas or feelings

For Japanese and Spanish translations please go to transcript. ( せりふの訳はこのページです)

In April another video about "home" was posted on this blog. Check it out again!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Slide Show

Many students have requested more posts about me. So, here is a slide show of some photos,. If you want to hear the music click on the speaker icon.

Friday, July 20, 2007

British Columbia joins Canada 20 July 1871

Vancouver, British Columbia, originally uploaded by chuqui.

Today is the 136th anniversary of British Columbia joining confederation.

British Columbia is the red area on the map. British Columbia is usually called B.C.

This is Mount Robson. It is the highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies. It is 3,959 metres tall. Mount Fuji is 3,776 metres tall.

Meg's Lounge Notes

One of my students called Megumi wrote some notes about her experiences in the English Lounge at Toyo Gakuen University. Megumi spends time in the English Lounge every day. She also helps organise activities in the English Lounge. Consequently (その結果), she speaks English very well. I hope you enjoy reading about her experiences in the English Lounge and I hope it motivates you to come to the English Lounge.

Wednesday, 6/20/2007

Sarah took charge of today’s lounge time. Today, a lot of students came to the English Lounge. Some of my friends and I thought too many people were in the lounge, and so we couldn’t speak English with Sarah. In addition, I wasn’t feeling well. So we ate lunch and talked at another table. My friends were worried about me because I hadn’t been sleeping well and I hadn’t been eating eat enough. My friends told me how to sleep better, and how to feel better. Next, we talked about the weather One of my friends said, “Recently, everyday is very hot, isn’t it?” Everyone answered,“Yes, too hot!” One girl said to me, “I got it. It’s the reason why you’re feeling so bad, everyday is very hot recently.” Then we talked about global warming a little until time was up. We had to go to our next class.

Thursday, 6/21/2007

Andy took charge of the today’s lounge time, but he was very very busy. He had to go to Hongo campus by 2 o’clock, because he had a meeting. He had to eat his lunch right away, and leave Nagareyama campus at 12:45. Therefore, some students and I could speak only a little with Andy. Andy left the English Lounge, and then we talked about otaku (オタク). I domn’t know much about otaku but I understand some things about them, for example their fashion. Japanese otaku are like nerds or geeks. We were talking about this university’s otaku. Maybe, there are some otaku students in Toyo Gakuen University. One of my friend said “I usually meet a boy who looks like an otaku. He has strange eyes. Maybe he is an otaku.” I see the boy almost everyday, and I think he is an otaku, too.

Friday, 6/22 /2007

Today, Mr. Wilgus took charge of the lounge. We were talking about some things. First, Mr. Wilgus and I were talking about his towel. Today he refrigerated his towel, and brought it. He put the towel on his head. It made him relaxed. He looked very happy. Later, Mr. Hardy and some students came in the English Lounge and joined us. Then, we talked about “LOST”. It has become popular in Japan. Mr. Wilgus said “LOST is boring for me.” I asked him “Why do you think so?” He answered the question with civility but I’ve forgotten his answer. I’m sorry. However, Mr. Hardy loves this drama. He said “LOST is very exiting to me”. I’ve never watched “LOST”, so Mr. Wilgus and Mr. Hardy told me about the story. I have some friends who love this drama, and they recommended “LOST” to me. To be honest, it is of no interest to me. Finally, we talked about summer vacation plans. Mr. Wilgus told us about his summer vacation plans. He is going to go to Hawaii, and he is going to the beach. He is going to come back to Japan and then he is going to stay in Shirahama, Wakayama prefecture for 3 days. I thought that he is a good vacation planner and he is lucky. I want to go to Hawaii. I will go back to my parents’ home and stay there during summer vacation.

Monday, 6/25/2007

Mr. Wilgus took charge of today’s lounge time. There was Mr. Wilgus and a boy and me in the English Lounge, so only 2 students joined lounge time at first. We were talking about some things. First, we were talking about our next my class, third period on Monday. I take a class about how to teach English to junior high school students because I want to be an English teacher. In this class, I had to to practice teaching English. I was very nervous at that time. Mr. Wilgus gave me some advice. He said, “You should use only English. You can do it. It is easy for you.” His advice relieved my stress a little. At about 12:20, some of my friends came and joined us. We talked about some herbs. Mr. Wilgus said that he is growing some herds, for example Rosemary, Sage and so on. In addition, he uses them for his own meals. I said, “You are a great chef. You make your lunch everyday, and you are growing a lot of herbs. Great!” The other students agreed with me.

Tuesday, 6/26/2007

Andy took charge of today’s lounge time. Today, a lot of visitors came from Idaho, USA. They came to the English Lounge last week, and I hung out with one boy. Therefore, I didn’t speak with Andy. I spoke English with the boy. I was very happy, because I could meet him again. He was confused and looked like little tired because there were a lot of Japanese. We talked about some things. First, we talked about Tokyo Disneyland. He told me about his trip to there. I was very envious of him. I have not been there since I was in the fifth grade. He said, “I like Space Mountain and Splash Mountain.” He loves roller coasters, but I hate them. We discussed roller coasters for a few minutes. In Tokyo Disneyland, he met a lot of characters, for example, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Pooh. He wanted to take a picture with Pooh, but he couldn’t. He said, “Pooh escaped from me. I was very sad.” We love Disney, so we enjoyed talking about Disney. At 12:55, I had to go to my next class. I exchanged e-mail addresses with him, and I said, “Let’s keep in touch.” He promised to send me an e-mail.

*Teachers interested in the theory behind the English Lounge at Toyo Gakuen University should read Sarah Louisa Birchley's article, Creating Learner Autonomy: Self Access and an English Lounge.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

More contemporary Japanese culture
Pepsi Ice Cucumber

Last month, Pepsi started selling a drink in Japan called Pepsi Ice Cucumber. This drink will only be sold in the summer. According to Aya Takemoto, spokeswoman of Japan's Pepsi distributor, Suntory Ltd.

"We wanted a flavor that makes people think of keeping cool in the summer heat," Takemoto said. "We thought the cucumber was just perfect."

There is an English simile, "cool as a cucumber". However, in this case "cool" does not relate to temperature. It relates to emotion. Perhaps the people at Pepsi didn't know this.
Here's a video of some people trying the new drink.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Japanese contemporary culture

This is an interesting story recently published by Agence France-Press. Upper Intermediate learners of English should be able to read this article with out too much trouble. The reading level is about the same as texts written for native speakers in the final year of high school.

(AFP/Toru Yamanaka )

Japanese soak in their noodles

Sat Jul 14, 12:51 PM ET

HAKONE, Japan (AFP) - The Japanese love their noodles so much that some of them are literally ready to dive in to their bowl of ramen.

A Japanese spa on Saturday opened special baths meant to resemble ramen, complete with bath salt shaped like the dangling delicacy, a giant pair of chopsticks overhead and water the aroma of pepper.

"The aroma of pepper is said to have the effects of refreshing your mind, warming your burned-out heart and inflaming your passion," explained a statement by spa complex Hakone Kowakien Yunessun in Hakone, one of Japan's most popular hot spring resorts.

Ramen lovers in bathing suits turned into ingredients in the broth, jumping into the three tubs shaped like ramen bowls underneath noodle decorations hanging over their heads.

"Customers may have been puzzled first, but I think they enjoyed it ... because the hot water smells good, like pepper," said Yusuke Sato, a spa employee who poured in the noodle-looking salt.

Hakone Kowakien Yunessun has offered a variety of creative baths including some filled with wine and coffee. Last year it came up with one resembling curry.

"I want to think of more ideas that surprise people," Sato said.

Talking about abilities

This is another video by Real-English.com . In this video people talk about the things they can do. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Shibaura Institute of Technology Global Issues 1 Assignment 1

The students in the Global Issues 1 class at Shibaura Institute of Technology did a great job on their first assignment. The assignment came from their textbook, Identity by Joseph Shaules, Hiroko Tsujioka, and Miyuki Iida. Assignment 1 was a follow up to Unit 1: Identity and Unit 2: Values. Some of the students agreed to share their work. Some of the students' work is uncredited at their request. Some, but not much of the students' writing has been edited for grammar and clarity.


What is important to you?

I think that it is important to keep a promise. I think that it is necessary to keep a promise in order to build relationships of mutual trust with friends.

"My friends are important to me. I like the expression 'All for one and one for all'."

"How we dress is important to me. I think that our style of dress expresses our attitudes. For example, if we want to appear formal and serious we probably wont choose scruffy clothes. The point is that clothes make a bid impression on people." Shun N.

"Music is important to me. I belong to a brass band. In addition, I spend two hours getting to school so I pass the time listening to music. I think that music gives me energy and many ideas,". Seiya S.

What experiences have affected you?

"I belonged to baseball club. I devoted myself to club activities when I was a high school student. It made me strong, gentle and earnest."

"When I was a high school student I had an English teacher who gently admonished and encouraged me to work harder. I learned not only English but I also learned about the society that we live in. Thanks to my English teacher I continue to strive to achieve my dreams.
" Shun N.

"When I was in junior high school I thought the brass band club was a troublesome thing. I was the leader of the student council and some members of the student council were also members of the brass band club. I couldn't have meetings because of conflicts with brass band practice. So I hated the brass band club at that time. However, in high school, my friend dragged me to the brass band club. I tried some instruments and I discovered the joy of music. My life was changed. I'll always be grateful to my friend." Seiya S.

"I belonged to the tennis club in my high school days. It was hard for me to practice but this experience changed my way of thinking and I came to have goals." Yuto T.

What is your experience with cultural difference?

"University is a place that gathers all sorts of people together. Everybody has a variety of different ideas. I think this is wonderful and I want to meet all sorts of people." Yuto Tsunokake

Do you have a strong cultural identity?

"Yes I do. I think that Japan is a beautiful country and I love my hometown of Yokohama. I have studied Japanese calligraphy since I was six years old because my grandfather was a calligraphy instructor. I really like Japanese food and I especially love a set meal served on individual trays at a traditional Japanese dinner party." Shun N.

"No I don't. I think everybody has a variety of cultural identities. So, I don't have a strong cultural identity. Yuto T.
What similarities or differences do you have with your peers?

"I have always hated to lose. I can't stand that feeling. I wonder why my peers don't have a strong fighting spirit."

"Most of classmates are not self-centered people. Neither am I. I endeavor to improve relationships with my classmates. On the other hand, I try to do various new activities. For example, I participated in volunteer activities last year. These days I have been studying Korean. Maybe my peers haven't tried these things."
Shun N.

What career do you want to pursue and why?

"I want to pursue a career in space science. I want to do a big project. I want to believe in myself and test my strength."

Would you ever live in another country? Why or why not?

"Yes I would. As of yet I've had no chance to live abroad because of lack of time and money. If I can solve this problem I would like to study abroad."

What are some hidden and visible cultural differences?

Most Japanese think that "silence is golden". Therefore, when they have a problem they usually solve it without other people helping. They think that wanting help is annoying.

Time is a hidden cultural difference. People in some countries think that 5 minutes late is ok but people in other countries think that 30 minutes late is ok.
Ryo H.

Something I want to accomplish in the future

I have a big dream. I want to study space science. I like physics and I'm interested in space. I think space is strange and beautiful. I want to solve many of the mysteries of space. We are a lot smaller than space but we have unlimited possibilities. I sometimes wonder about the meaning of life. However, I don't want to know the answer. I want to feel happiness through symbiosis with many people. I want to study every field including: biology, history, math, and English. I don't think I can achieve my dream by studying just one field. Achieving my dream will be very hard but I won't give up because we have only one life. I want to do my best in life.

A Family member who changed my life

My grandfather changed my life. When I was a kindergartener, I was raised by him because my parents were both holding down jobs. About 10 years ago, I was not diligent. At that time my grandfather said to me, 'Think carefully now so you wont be sorry later!'. I Since then I have seriously followed my grandfather's example. Let me tell you about my grandfather. He is a man of iron will. He has strived to succeed and worked since his father died sixty-five years ago. When he was young his family was poor but now his family is rich thanks to his efforts. I want to lead a full life like him. I don't want to regret that I didn't do the things that I wanted to do. Shun N.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Father of Modern Medicine: Sir William Osler
Born on this day - 12 July 1849

Did you know that one of the greatest doctors in medical history was born in Canada? You can learn more about Sir William Osler by reading his biography on wikipedia.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

7 July 2007: The luckiest day of the century

Yesterday was the seventh day of the seventh month of the seventh year. Many people of many cultures believe that seven is a lucky number. For this reason we have many phrases in English that include the word "seven". For example:

The Seven Wonders of the World

The Seven Liberal Arts

The Seven Deadly Sins

Other examples are: Team 7 in Naruto, The Seven Princesses in Kingdom Hearts, and Seven Samurai

Was yesterday a special day for you? Here's a great video by Youssou N'Dour and Neneh Cherry called Seven Seconds. Enjoy!

he Japanese Star Festival

Last week, the theme in the English Lounge at Toyo Gakuin University was Tanabata. This is a video made by Debbie, a teacher in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, Japan. Debbie owns and operates a school in Hamamatsu called Hands on English. Here's what Debbie had to say about the Tanabata celebrations in Bentenjima:
From the air conditioned, tatami-covered viewing room, we watched fireworks. It is Tanabata festival time. Many people dressed in yukatas. Kids are so cute in their traditional Japanese summer outfits.


Thursday, July 05, 2007

Language and Identity: A conversation with a Quebecois who moves to the United States

This is a video conversation between Sarah of the Daily English Show and a man called Achille. Achille was born in Quebec. Therefore, his mother tongue was French. He moved to the United States. Achille's experience was very interesting.
Watch the video. What do you think of Achille's experience? How do you think you would feel if your second language became your main language and you were unable to express yourself easily in your mother tongue?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Toyo Gakuen University Toku Toku Class - Ball Hockey

Profile of Paul Tetsuhiko Kariya

Photo by Sean Russell

Nationality: Canadian
Ethnicity: Japanese, Scottish
Born: 16 October 1974, Vancouver British Columbia
Height: 178 cm; Weight: 80 Kgs
Shoots: Left
Nicknames: Mighty Mouse, P.K.
  • St Louis Blues 1 July 2007 - present
  • Nashville Predators
  • Colorado Avalanche
  • Anaheim Mighty Ducks
Major Achievements:
  • Winner of the Lady Byng trophy as the NHL's most gentlemanly player - 1996,1997
  • Gold Medal 2002 Winter Olympics
Paul Kariya with Team Canada Captain Mario Lemieux

Watch the video below to see Paul Kariya in action!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

399th Anniversary of the founding of Quebec City

On 3 July 1608 Ville de Quebec was founded by Samuel de Champlain.

Quebec City is beautiful. It's the first place I travelled to on my own. I went to Quebec on a ski trip when I was 16 years old with some school mates. I went to Quebec on a ski trip again when I was in university. I hope I can go back to Quebec some day.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Canada Day
The 140th anniversary of Canadian Confederation

The first of July is a special Day in Canada. When I was a boy it was called Dominion Day. Now it is called Canada Day.

Canada Day Party 2006 in Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan

On 1 July 1867, the British colonies of Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick joined and The Dominion of Canada was born. Later, the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, and the territories joined.

The video below is a school project made by a student in Canada. It is very funny but not historically accurate. The video's titles have many spelling and grammar mistakes too. Can you find them?

The project got only a B- !! The teacher must be very strict (厳しい) and a rather humourless person (くそまじめな[ユーモアを解さない]人間) because the video is very funny. You can see a more accurate video on: http://www.musee-mccord.qc.ca/scripts/projects/CH/animCH.php?tourID=GE_P1_2_EN&Lang=1&type=quicktime