Monday, May 25, 2009
Boy, this couldn’t be more different. Parents, grandparents , aunties & uncles arrive in hoards armed with picnic hampers, blankets, umbrellas for the shade and their professional Nikon D60’s (come on, they’re Japanese!)
The day (yes an entire day devoted to the event) kicks off at 9am with 500 kids in total dancing with military precision to a welcome tune on the gigantic sand racing track in front of the school. This is followed by singing the school anthem whilst flags representing Japan, Oyabe City and the school logo are hoisted up. The important people of Oyabe (I’m presuming) all line up and a lot of bowing goes on. All so formal! See piccie above.
Races ranged from the run of the mill 100m, tug of war (Japan name), obstacle courses to this battle game (Japanese name) where 3 pupils carry a 4th pupil (I’ll call him the king) on their shoulders.
The aim of the battle was to knock the cap off the opponent king and cross the line. It was hilarious to watch and by far the most exciting thing I watched all day.
Pupils' pre-exercise warm up video
The whole day was orchestrated to perfection. How? Because they’ve been rehearsing the songs, marches, races, flag hoisting for weeks on end. When I was arriving at school at 8am, they’re already all out there on the track. Poor little mites!! It seems to be the done thing here in Japan. At 6.30am when I’m walking to the train station I pass little elementary kids on their way to school, yes THAT early. No wonder all the high school kids fall asleep on the train and in the classroom. Their schedules are intensive, early starts, after school clubs or juku (cram schools to learn English) and more clubs at the weekend. Hard, long days.
Anyway, I’m digressing. Great day out. I was even involved in one of the obstacle races, having to play janken (scissors, paper, stone) with the 2nd graders. Fun, fun, fun and took me back..!
Me playing Janken in video below (with my really poor "Saisho wa guu jankenpon" Japanese lingo)
Saturday, May 23, 2009
I start off with a drill of Hello/Goodbye, Yes/No and High/Low. I split the class up, one half had to stand up and say hello, the other half had to say goodbye with gestures. We then did it to the Beatles song “Hello” (with a lot of help from me!) The kids seemed to enjoy it. Good bit of exercise for Jessie too!
After passing a beach ball about the class asking “what’s your name” and the catcher responding “My name is”… I put the class into teams. The first person in each line had to run up to me and say their name, run back to their line and the next person did the same thing until everyone in the line had introduced themselves. You can see some of the game in the video below. Tip: you might want to wash your hands after shaking 40 very sweaty, snotty fingered ones...
They are really genki (upbeat, fun) at this age and seem to soak up the language better than my 6th graders!
I have done this class to 1st-6th graders making small adjustments (i.e making it easier for the younger ones) In one 4th grade class, I was demonstrating the game with one of the lines. One little girl comes up to me and I say “Hello, what’s your name?” She didn’t really answer back so I said again (and a bit louder) to her and gesturing to the class “What’s your name?” Again she didn’t respond. I then said “I can’t hear you” with a hand to my ear gesture. At this point the teacher runs over and says no shaking her head, she’s deaf, she can’t speak. As you can imagine I was mortified!!
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
We kicked off the game playing the Harry Potter game suggested on Genki English for practicing our “How are you’s” which the kids absolutely loved. (of course they all wanted to be Voldemorts) My co-ordinator at school is keen for me to drill them practice dates, weather and how are yous as well as Eigo Note so sometimes a lot to cram into a 45 min lesson!
I then put them into groups with both upper and lowercase alphabet cards mixed up. The first group to finish putting them in order won. They seemed to do this with ease.
I then had them in groups of 4 to do the Human Alphabet. Ahh so much fun! And easy for me, I just shouted out a letter and they had to get into the shape of that letter. I actually had them spell out HELLO so I can print the pictures and stick them on our English board.
Here's our first attempt at a HELLO message:
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Last night I met Kari for a good old Friday night "bitch and moan about work" catch up. We plumped for a cute looking gyōza restaurant behind Kohrinbo 109, exact location is here.
The restaurant is more like a cafe; bar stools for diners on their own and an informal seating area, only two tables as far as I can remember. The restaurant was run by a mother and daughter team who were both absolutely lovely. Faced with yet another daunting no picture, all Hiragana/Kanji menu the daughter came over and kindly translated the entire menu (and specials board) for us. The main menu gyoza, Chinese dumplings which you could have either fried or steamed with a choice of fillings including cheese, spinach, veggies and meat. A small plate of about 6 dumplings was around Y400. A slightly schizophrenic menu, other dishes including potato gratin, Chawanmushi (a steamed egg custard), stir fried veggies and an array of salads.
We opted for fried cheese dumplings, steamed meat dumplings, a garlic stir fry broccoli and chawanmushi (which despite looking pretty grim actually tasted great).
Everything was cooked by the mum behind the bar so all freshly cooked and delicious.
Guzzling some fantastic Italian red wine (ok yes I know I should be on the sake!) we lost track of time and didn't realise that the poor owners were itching to lock up (10:30 is closing time and it was past then) Of course in true politeness customary in Japan they didn't tell us but had just been waiting for us to finish our yapping.
Despite the no picture menu, I'd definitely recommend Bianco for the extremely welcoming and helpful (oh and patient!) mother/daughter team.
Bianco, Kanazawa exact location:
View Bianco: Gyōza (Chinese Dumplings) Restaurant in Kanazawa in a larger map
Friday, May 15, 2009
Yakitori, for those not sure, is basically bite sized pieces of meat skewered on a bamboo skewer and barbecued. The food is usually cheap and cheerful.
At Ichiban the yakitori sticks ranged from Y150 to Y350 (around £1 to £2.50). The menu was certainly interesting serving chicken instestines on a stick to sparrow, yes SPARROW the bird, chicken cartlige and chicken heart.
Some of my Japanese class below at Ichiban.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
View ALT lesson plan 1, 6th grade here
In terms of the self introduction flashcards I used England/Japan comparisons. (images found on google images)
- Japan flag/British flag
- Japanese chopsticks in a bowl/Knife and fork on a plate
- Japanese green tea/British cup of tea with a biscuit being dunked
- Japanese breakfast/English breakfast
- Japanese sumo wrestler (funny picture of a Japanese sumo table which made them all laugh)/David Beckam football
- Japanese imperial royal family/Queen Elizabeth
- 1000 yen Japanese note/£10 English pound note (which they were fascinated by)
Good luck! Let me know how it goes if you try it out.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Tubo does a lunchtime set menu costing 780 yen which includes miso soup (naturally), main dish and a drink. Bargain! The choices aren't massive, its tomato curry and rice (which looks and tastes a lot better than it sounds), mexican tortillas and rice (which I had. It comes with the token raw egg on top, not very Mexican but still lovely) and a ham sandwich and chips. Yes quite random choices but still good food.
Tubo is a deceptively spacious bar with a huge upstairs area (see picture) offering comfy sofas and free newspapers & mags if you fancy. I loved their style; wooden floor boards, exposed brick and soft lighting this is a great place for a lunch, a coffee, a few drinks with friends or just to oggle at the lovely barman!
Very cool, although everything I see in Kanazawa seems to be so nothing new there!
Lots of people had pre-warned me not to get too excited about the beach at Uchinada, mentions of rubbish being washed up to shore from South Korea so my expectations weren't high however it came as a nice suprise, I didn't see one bit of rubbish. the beach is a really nice clean sandy beach, ok we're not talking Florida white sands and unspoilt beauty of the Cornish coast BUT I could definately see me sunning myself there in the summer. I was told yesterday that they're actually building the shinkansen line right next to the beach which explains the rather ugly bridge that you see on your walk down to the beach, so that may spoil the peace slightly having a bullet train shoot past every hour...hmm. Not until 2014 anyway..
The kite festival is pretty small but there's a great atmosphere; an area with food and drink stalls, a mini stage for live music performances (I only heard a girl singing Enka which gave me a right headache) and of course the stunt kite flying and contests.
We saw a few red arrows type synchronised peformances, I've uploaded a video below. Pretty impressive stuff. You can also see some monster kites there and have a go with these gigantic streamer ribbon sticks.
I didn't really follow the contest mainly as commentary was in Japanese, shame as some of the kite stuntmen looked really hardcore! Enjoyed a great picnic in the (sort of..) sunshine though, great day at Uchinada beach all round.
Monday, May 4, 2009
If you're walking past Kohrinbo 109 on the right towards the turquoise Katamatchi bridge, hook an immediate right straight after Kohrinbo. Heartbreak Bar is located just on the corner. Exact location is here
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Wagashi (和菓子) and Mochigashi are two traditional Japanese sweets made of Mochi. They usually have a gooey and soft, marshmallow type texture on the outside (this is the mochi, basically rice pounded into a paste and moulded into shape) with a filling which you usually expect to be sweet but is savoury (this is the azuki bean paste)
At the moment, I'm finding it very hard to tell exactly what types of wagashi they have in the confectionary shops (theres around 30 different types and I can't read most of the Kanji!) so it all boils down to a bit of random selection. Hope you enjoy them Dad!
There are 2 Eigo Note text books, one for grade 5 and another for grade 6. They made a positive first impression, nice and colourful, a range of exercises and games included. They come with a guide for ALT's and homeroom teachers (known to us Brits as form room teacher) which is unfortunately in Japanese. Useful! It also comes with 2 audio CD's with English clips to play (only if an ALT isn't present) and a very flash interactive DVD.
Interac managed to get us a translated version of the guide which does include lesson plans. On closer inspection there are some flaws (in my humble opinion) I think generally due to the fact it hs been translated by a Japanese native which has created some cultural misunderstandings. For example, Eigo note grade 5 has a section on name cards and introductions but the names (and listening exercise) are put into the Japanese name format of family name first "Hi, my name is Suzuki Ken, nice to meet you!" (instead of Ken Suzuki) Ah..
The lessons in Eigo Note are also split into 4 parts (or hours) per lesson so you end up teaching ABC or "How are yous?" for 4 lessons each on the trot which can get a bit dull for the kids unless you really work hard to spice it up and introduce new vocab. I mean do you really need 4 hours to teach I'm happy, I'm hungry, I'm sleepy, I'm fine?
I'm no expert but the different lessons don't really seem to flow naturally into each other, in fact they're totally sporadic. In the middle of the "How many?" lessons they suddenly introduce the "Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" song. Uh? Where's the logic?
So my approach is to follow the overall Eigo Note curriculum guidelines (i.e the target language and topics) but to add my own games and ideas to spice it up. I do agree with Richard's comments from Genki English on Eigo Note and love his ideas for games so have used some of these ideas in my lesson plans as well as incorporating Eigo Note where I can (to keep the homeroom teachers happy)
I will start posting my lesson plans on the blog. Feel free to download and use. They're a bit detailed but as a newbie ALT I'm not quite at that comfort level of playing ad libbing in my lessons!
Friday, May 1, 2009
I trugged over to Oyabe City and found a good viewing spot on the side of the main street in Oyabe. The residents has certainly come out of the woodwork for this one, I'd never seen so many people in Oyabe!
The main part of the festival was a procession of these gigantic wooden and eloborately carved floats (11 to be precise) called hikayama dating back to the Momoyama period being pulled through the streets of Oyabe by local residents in traditional dress (including my kancho sensei!) to the beat of beat of drums and screeching of wheels.
The weight of one float is apparently 3t to 6t. At the T-junctions the floats are lifted by then men to turn right/left, wow did I witness a lot of sweat and even more Sake! Every float is about 200 years old, the oldest about 250 yrs. As I stood and admired these giant beasts rolling through the streets some locals came up to me and gave me some handmade biscuits with a picture of the hikayama on the front. I was so touched, well I did stand out being almost the only gaijin in town
Video below is the 3 point turn Momoyama style....
In the main street a small shrine was set up to which the hikayama carriers charged their way forward. Can't explain that one but it was really dramatic to watch! All in all a great day and of course I bumped into some of my pupils who were as sweet as ever (picture of them in red costumes)