Hello Everyone,

Well, we are in the “home-stretch” (last part) of the year. On Thursday we will have our graduation ceremony, and next Monday final tests start. I am sure the music will be beautiful during the ceremony.

I was thinking about my high school tests at the end of the year when I was a student, and it was very different from Shin-ai. In my school, students from every class took tests together in the gym. Each row in the gym would be a different test, many teachers would watch, and students from many grades would be together. It looked like this picture:

Also, the tests were scheduled at different times. So, you might have a test in first period at 9am, and then the next test might be in the afternoon at 2pm. In between you could study in your classroom… or go outside school for lunch.

The end of the year is also a good time to think about the past 11 months. How about you? Do you think about how to become a better student? Maybe you will start a new study system, or change your daily schedule.

For teachers, we think about how to make our lessons better in the next year. In my high school class, I asked students to tell me which writing homework they enjoyed, and which they found too difficult. This will help me plan for the next year. Here is an example of one student’s feedback.

Good luck on your tests, and don’t forget to take a moment to rethink what kind of student you will be.

– Allen

Kudasai… mase?

Hello everyone. Sorry for the late update this week, but I wanted to wait until the junior high school singing contest had finished. Congratulations to all the classes who participated. It was a wonderful afternoon of both great singing and great piano playing.

One thing happened near the end that made me think… “What was that?”. After everyone finished singing we were waiting quietly for the judges to come back. Mr. Konishi made an announcement asking us to wait quietly for “a few more minutes kudasai mase.”

The reaction from the students in the gym was immediate. Students laughed and chatted to each other about he had said. I didn’t know why. I looked a one girl from M2A and she told me “He sounds like a store clerk being polite.” Perhaps the students were not used to hearing their teachers use that kind of polite Japanese in everyday situations. But yesterday many parents were at the school watching the performance so it was absolutely right.

After school I kept thinking about that moment, and trying to think of when the same thing could happen in English. Of course, there are some ceremonies that have special language. “We are gathered here today” is what you say at church or a wedding, not at a business meeting, for example. But it was difficult for me to think of any time adding one extra word to be polite in English would cause that same laughter from students.

The one word I did think about was “sincerely”. This word is used more in writing than in speaking, but the difference between saying “Thank you, I appreciate it” and “Thank you, I sincerely appreciate it.” is close to the same thing. Of course, speed and intonation are also important. If I am at a shop and someone helps me, I might say “Thankyouverymuch!” quickly, with my voice going up. However, if someone helps me with a big problem, I might say “Thank you, very, much.” slowly and with a lower voice.

Anyway, it was an interesting language point that was a small part of a nice afternoon. Good job again, and now get ready for your year-end tests!

Mother Teresa

Hello everyone. Last week during the morning assembly, Ms. Itani talked about a quote from Mother Teresa. It was a very moving story. After school that day, Ms. Okamoto and the other junior high school grade one teachers made a sign for each of our classes with the quote. Here it is in both Japanese and English.


Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words.
Be careful of your words, for your words become your deeds.
Be careful of your deeds, for your deeds become your habits.
Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character.
Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny.

What you think leads to what you say. What you say becomes what you do. What you do becomes your life. And how you live becomes what people remember about you. So, if you want to leave a positive image in this world, it all starts with how you think inside your own head. Do you want to change your life? Then start by thinking positively.

Valentines Day has finished, and final exams are coming soon. This year has gone by so quickly! Make the last spurt your strongest!


Snow Day 2018!

Hi everyone,

“Hurry up Mr. Allen, finish the class!” That was the message this morning from my students after the bell rang. The air was cold, but the students wanted to go outside Why? It was snowing!

A little snowman looking out at the school.

Wakayama doesn’t get a lot of snow because it is warm and on the Pacific Ocean side of Japan. This is a lot like my hometown of Vancouver, Canada. Canada is a cold country, but Vancouver is beside the ocean and surrounded by mountains. It makes a warm pocket that protects the city from most of winter.

When I was in high school, however, my family moved to a mountain town. We got a lot of snow and cold weather every year. In Wakayama, our school is sometimes closed because of typhoons. In Canada, my school was sometimes closed because of snow. If the school bus could not go on the road to pick students up, it was a snow day! I remmeber listening to the radio every morning as they announced the schools that were closed.

Anyway, I am writing this at 11:30am, the sun is shining, and the snow is already melting. This is probably a good thing, because it is safer for everyone going home tonight. The snow is exciting at the start, but it can become troublesome quickly. Just look at Moscow, Russia today, which had a “storm of the century”. One month of snow dumped in 2 days. Yikes!

A record-setting snowfall in Moscow this week.

Have a good week,