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!

M3 Empowerment Program

Good morning everyone,

Recently our junior high school grade three students participated in the “Empowerment Program”. This program brings university students from English-speaking countries to Japan, and allows Japanese students to learn not only English, but also self-confidence and communication skills. In the summer high school girls completed a five day program. Last week it was time for our junior high school girls to take the challenge.

After the program finished, I asked classes C and D to write about their experience. Here are three responses that I think were good. Click the pictures to make them bigger.

Being a nurse requires patience and careful communication skills. If someone from another country needs help, they will be happy if they can explain their health problems in their own language. These days, many people from other countries visit Japan, so nurses who can speak English will be important.

For some students, English is difficult because it is only studied in the classroom. Outside of school, it can be difficult to find a chance to use it. So, the Empowerment Program gives students a chance to use “real world” English, and can give them motivation in the future.

Also, the style of this writing, giving two reasons, is good practice for the Eiken writing test. “Because of all the reasons above…” is good to use.

Students often tell me “I don’t want to make a mistake!” when speaking English. In this program, however, expressing their ideas was more important than being mistake-free. The satisfaction with successful communication is what was important.

I hope the students can use the momentum from the program and continue learning in the new year. Making a small change to pracice English in their daily lives can help in the future. Good luck everyone, and have a great winter vacation!

Advent Season

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!

“I’d like to go on the same road as my mother.”

Hello everyone,

This week I gave my high school students this homework:

Every job is different. I learned important things from each place I worked at. In the future, what work experience would you like to have? What skills do you want to get? Talk about part-time work or your career.

Today I would like to share some of the answers. From class H2G, 

Click to make the image bigger…

My favorite sentence is “Good communication is vital to become a working member of society”. Something that is ‘vital’ is something we cannot live without. We sometimes use the word for parts of our body. For example, “The heart is a vital organ.”

Secondly, we have a girl from H1G who wants to be a math teacher.

A nice sentence here is “Mathematics is a subject that expands various ways of viewing a problem, as well as how to solve it.” Another way to write this is that “math lets you see many sides of a problem.”

Lastly, we have another student who wants to be a teacher. Her mother went to Shin-ai and became a teacher. Now this girl wants to do the same thing. It is a nice story!

“I’d like to go on the same road as my mother.”

What a great image! I am sure your mother would be proud too. Do your best, and you can make your dream come true. Final tests start on Friday. Good luck everyone!


November 23… Double Holiday!

Hello everyone,

Tomorrow we do not have school. November 23 is “Labor Day” in Japan. It is a day for working people to take a rest. There is a special festival in Nagano, and many children say thank you to their parents and other people for working.

Did you ever say thank you to a policeman?

In America, tomorrow is also a holiday. “Thanksgiving” is on the 4th Thursday of November every year. “Thanksgiving” is a day to “Give Thanks” or say thank you. It is an autumn holiday that people celebrate with their families. The airports and roads are busy because many people travel to be with their family. Many people eat a turkey, and there are sports to watch on television.

Turkey Dinner!

Thanksgiving is also the start of the “holiday season”. People start thinking about Christmas, and shops have special Christmas shopping sales and decorations. Thanksgiving is on Thursday, and the next day, Friday, is called “Black Friday”. On this day many items are cheap, and people start buying Christmas presents. It is one of the busiest shopping day of the year!

Black Friday shopping.

Your final tests are coming, so tomorrow is a good chance to study. But don’t forget to take a moment to say “Thank you!” to your mother and father for working.

M3 Class C and D Work Experience Writing

Hello everyone,

Last week our junior high school grade 3 students had two days of work experience. For homework, the students wrote about where they went, and what they did. Today I will share three of their writings from classes C and D with you.

Click each picture to make it bigger!

Our first girl went to a pharmacy. She had a big responsibility preparing medicine. She has a nice sentence “I thank them from the bottom of my heart for their kindness.”

Our second girl went to a hospital where she worked helping nurses. She worked with both staff and patients. Be careful of the word “explained” vs “told”.

I was told how to use a wheelchair, too.”


The nurse explained how to use a wheelchair, too.”

Our third girl also went to a hospital, and wants to be a “physiotherapist”. Physio means physical, and therapy means making people better. So, physiotherapy means making people feel better by moving.

Have a good week, and study hard for your tests!

「トビタテ!留学JAPAN」 3期生留学報告会