Money and tipping

Hello everyone! The high school entrance test is finished, and the end of the school year is coming. This week students wrote about money, and here are a couple of their ideas from classes M3C and M3D.

First, which expressions are ok, and which are wrong?

  1. Few money
  2. Much money
  3. A lot of money
  4. Many monies
  5. A little money
  6. A large amount of money

Let’s see!

If you chose 3, 5, and 6, good job! I was impressed how many students save their money. I was the opposite when I was younger, I spent everything I got.

Another student wrote about tipping, and how it might be difficult for her in another country.

In Canada, tipping extra money is a way to say thank you for service. Generally I tip 15% of the bill at a restaurant, more for excellent service and less for bad service. I also tip taxi drivers so that they do not have to make change. So, if I ride is $17.50, then I would give a $20 bill and say “keep the change”.

Another place to tip is a hotel. People that carry your bags or make the beds get a small tip. So does the bartender at a bar. Lastly, if someone delivers food to your door, give them a tip. They are working hard and paid little, so a tip will help them take care fo their car.

A tip jar at a coffee shop.

You don’t need to tip at a coffee shop, a restaurant where you carry your own food, or at a gas station where someone fills your car with gas. Sometimes these places have a “tip jar” which you can drop money into, but it is not necessary.

You also don’t have to tip your English teachers, but saying a big “GOOD MORNING” when you come to school, or “SEE YOU TOMORROW” when you are going home is a nice tip!

A “Chinook”

Today the weather is dipping down to almost freezing, and the wind is strong. It was like this a week ago as well. But, last Sunday the weather was warm and beautiful. It felt like spring! What happened?

A beautiful Sunday

In Canada winters are long, snowy, and very cold. However, once in a while, a warm wind comes in and melts all the snow. This is called a “Chinook wind” in Canada. After the air drops its snow on one side of the mountains, the drier air warms up on the other side of the mountains. Sometimes the weather can change from minus 20 degrees to plus 15!

How a Chinook works

It is a nice break from winter, but the cold soon returns until the real spring comes along. For people with a garden, a Chinook can be bad. Flowers start to open because of the warm air and then are frozen soon after.

The sky during a Chinook

In Wakayama we don’t have to worry about minus 20 degrees, but it is still cold. Having a little bit of warm weather can help everyone feel better before summer comes.

Center Listening Test Parts 2-4

Hello everyone,

Yesterday on the main teachers’ blog I talked about the first part of the Center Listening test. today I will go through a few more questions from other parts of the test.

Part 2

Question 10

The answer for this question is 4. The phrase “look it up” is a useful one. To “look up”  means to find information from somewhere. We can “look up” information on the internet, “look up” words in a dictionary, or “look up” phone numbers in a phone book (but those have almost all disappeared).

Question 11

There is a lot of information in a very short script here. Students must catch “twice as many”, which means 2x, or double. But, they must also re-order the colours in the script.

Part 3

Question 15

I will be honest, I don’t like the English used in this question. Books from a library are “renewed”, not “extended”. To use “extended”, the script should have matched it with “deadline”. For example, “The deadline can be extended by a week.” Also , hearing the phrase “a week at a time” is difficult in the middle of the sentence. Tough question.

Questions 17-19

To solve this question effectively, students must use the preparation time to both look at the picture, and read the questions. Especially for questions 15 and 17, students need to make notes while they are listening. Question 16 is an easy question, but it is in the middle of a lot of other information. I have highlighted the script for where to find each answer.

Part 4

Questions 20-22

We again find some difficult synonyms in this question. To “get up” and to “wake up” in question 20 is ok, but “grow up” and “matured” in question 22 is quite difficult.

Questions 20-22

For the last listening, it is vitally important for students to take note of the characters names, and listen carefully to the transitions between them. For example: “Justin, what do you think we should do?” “Well, Tokiko, …” and “Karen did you have something to add?” Knowing who is speaking is important for character specific questions such as number 24. Tokiko starts and finishes the discussion, but her most valuable information is in the middle of the talk, where she speaks only once.

As for questions 23 and 25, the vocabulary of the questions is more difficult. In question 23, for example, the basic “travel plans” is written as “travel arrangements”. For that question, key words such as passport, insurance, and tickets are a good clue. In question 25, students will often pick answer number one, “shared” because the other verbs “came to a ~”, “debated”, and “emphasized” may be less well-known to them.


Otsukare to everyone who took the test! The national average of the test was 23/50, a full 5 points lower than last year, and 10 points lower than three years ago. Being able recognize synonyms while listening and reading at the same time was an important part of this year’s test. Keep studying your kikutan!

Happy New Year 2018

Happy New Year!

Welcome back to school everyone. It is the start of a New Year. 2018 is the year of the Dog in the Zodiac Calendar. Quickly, what 12 animals are on the Zodiac… GO!

Finished? China and Japan use almost the same animals, but there are a couple differences. See the animal on the bottom, second from the left? In Japan we would say it is a sheep, but in some parts of China they say goat. Also, the bottom right animal is a pig, but Japan uses a Japanese boar (イノシシ).

At New Years, many people make a New Year’s Resolution. Usually people want to stop doing something bad, or start doing something good. Many popular ones are to stop smoking, or to start exercising. For me, I am going to use my train time to study kanji, rather than listening to music or sleeping. How about you? Is there something you want to change this year?

Check out this video. In the video, it says that if you really want a new habit to continue you need to do it for at least 30 days. After that it becomes easier to do. So, give it a try!