Ceneter Listening 2020 – part 1

Hello everyone,

What a crazy week! Last weekend was the center test for our grade 3 students. Then, on Sunday evening, the water for half of Wakayama was turned off to repair a pipe. Of course we didn’t know how long it would take to fix, so there was no school on Monday. The pipe was repaired very quickly (good news!) but then a lot of teachers came down with the flu (bad news!). Now it is Friday and it finally feels like things are getting back to normal.

As I mentioned, the center test was last weekend. As usual, the final test of the first day was the English listening. Let’s take a look at the first 6 questions!

This is a question Kita-sensei would like! An easy question to start the test, you need to listen for the preposition (behind or in front) and vocabulary (back or stomach).

When you see a time question, you need to prepare for time words. Early, late, morning, afternoon, before, after, etc. In this case “the afternoon one” is your hint, and you just have to be careful not to confuse the price (17,000) and chose number 4.

This is a question where you can cross out two answers the first time you listen, then double check the answer the second time you listen. “We have the text and photos” means 3 and 4 are out. After that, listen carefully for the word recipe at the end. This is probably the easiest question in part 1 this year.

This question is more difficult. Make sure you read the question carefully to know that you need to listen for the woman. The difficult part is connecting “opening remarks” with the “start of the party”. This is more difficult as the request comes from the man “taking his place.” With so many teachers out with the flu last week, there were many of us “taking the place” of others during the entrance tests!

There is almost always one math question in part 1, and here it is for this year. When approaching these questions, watch out for words like “half, a third, a quarter” as well as “double, triple, five times as many”. The other thing to be careful of is the last sentence: I’m thinking of…” He hasn’t yet bought the DVDs, so don’t include that in the answer.

(On a side note, who still buys DVDs? Everyone uses Netflix or Hulu these days. Come on test-makers, get with the new generation!)

Lastly, the most difficult question to look at. There is a lot of information here, with the year on the x-axis and the number of fish on the y-axis. A couple difficult words such as “continuous trend” and “exception” are here, but the most important word is “lower”. After that, you just have to find the correct path in the time provided. Fortunately you have a few extra seconds as the test explains part 2 to double check your answers.

If you have any questions about these 6 problems, or anything else on the test, let me know and I will help you through it. Don’t get sick! Stay healthy!

Center Test 2020

After months of preparation, our third grade students are headed to Wakayama University to take the center test today. This is the last time the center test will be taken in the current format, as next year there will be big changes. As I arrived to school today, I met some of our girls at the convenience store getting ready to leave. Chocolate? Check. Hand warmers? Check. Nervous smile? Check.

Good luck to everyone over the next two days. I look forward to seeing you Monday when you are finished.

Deca-… Jan. 2020

Hello everyone,

Welcome back to school! I hope you enjoyed your time off, whether it was long or short. On January 1st we celebrated the new year… but it was also the start of the 2020’s. It is the start of a new decade!

Deca- is an English prefix that means x10. For example, at the Tokyo Olympics there is an event called the decathalon, which has ten sports. When we talk about time, a decade is ten years.

It is common to use decades in English conversation. I enjoy sports, so I might say “Michael Jordan was the best basketball player in the 90s,” or “I grew up in the 80’s in Vancouver.”

Last decade saw the rise of the smarthphone around the world. What do you think will happen this decade? Let’s find out together!


M1 and M2 English Contest Practice Videos

Hello everyone,

Winter vacation starts today! I hope you have a great time. Part of the homework for M1 and M2 students is to remember an English story for the English contest next year. I have made some videos to help you practice. Listen and read along with me. Good luck! Merry Christmas!

M1 – Red Demon and Blue Demon


M2 – Friendship Across Time and Borders


M2 – Education First: Malala’s Story


M2 – Stevie Wonder – The Power of Music


ACP – Dec. 2019

Hello everyone,

Yesterday our grade 3 junior high school students started their Advanced Communication Program (ACP). Over the four day program they will work with their group leaders to think about ideas such as:

  • cross-cultural communication
  • women’s rights
  • international understanding

At the end of yesterday the students I spoke to said they felt tired after a full day of English. However, by the end of the program, I think they will have grown both their English skills and their confidence in speaking. Good luck everyone!

Advent Season – Dec. 2019

Congratulations everyone!  Your tests are finished for the second term and the holidays are coming soon.  It is a time for family and friends.

This time of year is called “Advent”.  Advent is from the latin word that means “coming”.  What is coming?  Christmas!  The Advent season starts four Sundays before Christmas and it is a time for people to get ready.  My family did two things for Advent.

An Advent Wreath with all candles lit, on Christmas Eve.

First, in our church, we had an “Advent Wreath”.  The wreath had five candles.  On each of the four Sundays before Christmas, another candle was lit.  Then, on Christmas Eve, the fifth candle was lit.  I always enjoyed going to church on Christmas Eve, because it was at night.  The music and candles were beautiful, and I knew the next day would be Christmas.

An advent calendar, with the choclates and Christmas story.

Secondly, when I was a boy, I got an “Advent Calendar”.  This was a special calendar with paper doors for each day.  Behind each door was part of the Christmas story and… chocolate!  Everyday I got a piece of chocolate and saw Christmas getting closer and closer.  The last chocolate was also the biggest one.  I can never forget my excitement.

You have two more weeks before the holidays start.  Start your winter homework soon, so that you have some free time with your friends and family in the holiday.  Grade 3 students, this is your last push.  Do your best!

Pope in Japan pt. 2 – Nov. 2019

Good morning everyone,

It is a cloudy Monday morning, and Pope Francis is on the third day of his Japan trip. Today he will be in Tokyo to meet with some leaders in Japan and give another speech. Over the weekend he was in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, spreading his message of peace. Here is one news report from the Washington Post about the reaction from local students:

Pope Francis’ powerful message of peace and a world free of nuclear weapons that he brought to the two cities to have suffered atomic attacks has struck a chord with the younger generation.

Francis visited Nagasaki and Hiroshima on Sunday to demand world powers renounce their nuclear arsenals, declaring the use and possession of atomic bombs an “immoral” crime and a dangerous waste.

A Hiroshima high school student, 17-year-old Nozomi Kitahata, said the pope’s visit prompted her to renew “my resolve to work toward peace.”

She was among a group of high school students who joined the pope and survivors of the 1945 U.S. atomic bombings at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.

Koharu Matsuda, also 17, said she could see the pope’s understanding and compassion for the atomic bombing survivors, and that “I can imagine how much his visit meant to the survivors.”

Pope Francis offers prayer after laying a wreath at the Atomic Bomb Hypocenter Park, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, in Nagasaki, Japan. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Pope Francis kisses a baby as he arrives to lead a Holy Mass at the Nagasaki baseball stadium in Nagasaki on November 24, 2019. – Pope Francis railed against the use of nuclear weapons and the growing arms trade on November 24 as he paid tribute to the “unspeakable horror” suffered by victims of the Nagasaki atomic bomb. (Photo by Ed JONES / AFP)

Pope in Japan – Nov. 2019

Hello everyone,

Have you heard the news? Next week, from November 23rd to the 26th, Pope Francis will visit Japan. It is only the second visit by a pope to Japan, with the last one being in 1981… even I was a little boy back then!

The theme for his visit is “Protect All Life”. He will visit Tokyo, Nagasaki, and Hiroshima during his stay. If you want to read more about the event, you can check out the website here: https://popeinjapan2019.jp/en/

Here is the summary about the logo concept from the website:

United with the red flame representing martyrs as the foundation of the Church in Japan and the light blue flame representing the Blessed Mother embracing all humanity as her children, the green flame in the likeness of Japan abundant with nature expresses the mission to proclaim the Gospel of hope. The red circle as the image of the sun embraces all life equally with love.
The logo expresses the theme of Pope Francis’ visit to Japan, PROTECT ALL LIFE.

College Life – Nov. 2019

Hello everyone,

Last week our school had many activities. One of them was a university visit for high school grade one and two students. I think they learned a lot about the schools, but I wonder… do they think much about life outside class? This term one of my writing topics for grade three was about their budget for next year. I got some really good ideas, so please read them and take a look!

This one has a lot of good details, and the last line is really strong! Click on it!

This one is also really good. Private universities and public universities have different costs. Although, when you write, be careful of the difference between a “million” and a “billion” yen 🙂

Have a good week!

Pockey Day ! – Nov. 2019

Good morning everyone. Today is November 11th, and it is Pockey Day in Japan. Why?   Because 11/11 looks like pockey snacks. Honestly, this is just a clever marketing idea by the company. If you can associate a calendar day with your product, then it will get more recognition. Another example is on Mother’s Day in Canada, many many people buy Kentuky Fried Chicken. They have succeeded in linking that event and their product as a way to “give mothers a break from cooking”. Clever, right?

Today I have a quiz for you. If 11/11 is Pockey Day, how about these other dates?

November 11 = Pocky Day!

November 29 =

January 5 =

August 3 =

August 7 =

December 3 =

Hints: Good meat day! One Two Three day! Strawberry day! Banana day! Honey day!

In other countries, November 11th has a much more serious meaning. Why don’t you search for “Remembrance Day” to learn about the Canadian holiday?