Wednesday, September 30, 2009

ALT Lesson Plans with Eigo Note. Lesson 6- I want to go to Italy

In Lesson 6 pupils learn how to talk about where they want to go and the reasons why.

This is a huge jump in learning compared to the lesson no 6 where they only learnt a handful of vocab. I found this exhausting to teach as well. There is so much new target language, a difficult question (where do you want to go?- believe me, I heard so many variations such as "where you do want to go?" and "Where want you to go?") followed by a difficult answer "I want to go to...." and THEN reasons why which could vary from "I want to eat...", "I want to see" and "I want to play..." My pupils found this lesson so hard even when split into 4 parts.

Here are my lesson plans:

Grade 6 Lesson Eigo Note Lesson 6- (6.18) I want to go to Italy part 1 *

Grade 6 Lesson Eigo Note Lesson 6- (6.19) I want to go to Italy part 2

Grade 6 Lesson Eigo Note Lesson 6- (6.20) I want to go to Italy part 3 **

Grade 6 Lesson Eigo Note Lesson 6- (6.21) I want to go to Italy part 4

* Japanese local places flashcards download here
** Travel agent worksheets download here

I decided to focus part 1 on local places in Japan. I'm not sure 6th grade Japanese pupils have huge desires to go abroad but I can't be so sure. They certainly were all familiar with Tokyo Disneyland and Mount Fuji so I started them on this practicing "where do you want to go?" and "I want to go to...Tokyo Disneyland"

Then we moved onto countries in part 2, just learning names and what pupils associate with the country (without wanting to reinforce stereotypes but I really couldn't think of any other major things other than soccer and pizza famous in Italy. They wouldn't know the leaning tower)

Part 3 we played the travel agent game with fake English money. This has to be the first time I've seen my 6th grade class get excited about anything. They simply LOVED the role playing and I had them bargaining (in English) for a good travel deal which they really enjoyed and of course the fake money went down a storm.

Part 4 I had them do an interview game (although I didn't originally plan this, another teacher's idea) but it worked well to practice the language. For other classes I reverted to Eigo Note's idea of making presentations which also worked well (esp for the pupils who really couldn't get to grips with asking the question "where do you want to go?"

Let me know how your lessons on this go!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Natto: like marmite, you either love it or hate it

The Japanese eat a food called “natto” (なっとう or 納豆) Natto is made from fermented soybeans. They eat it with on top of their rice and it’s a popular dish for breakfast. I’ve seriously never seen anything like it. When you pick the beans up with your chopsticks, they come away like sticky glue. Think picking chewing gum off your jeans.

Not only does it look strange but natto has a really acquired taste. Some people say it tastes like a strong cheese, I think it’s more like smelly socks. I guess it’s the equivalent of marmite, you either love it or hate it. I’m afraid I fall into the latter category.

You can’t come to Japan without at least giving it a try. The most likely place you'll find it is a traditional ryokan (Japanese inn) but I also know that any Japanese Denny's serve it up for breakfast too.

Try it and let me know what you think…!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Senmaida Wedding and Rice Harvesting

One of the lucky couples to get married at Senmaida

I jump at the chance of doing anything that's cultural whilst here in Japan so when I heard that we could watch a wedding and do some rice harvesting at the famous senmaida rice paddies in the Noto Penninsula I jumped on the first bus there (7am on a Sunday morning mind!)

Every year, apparently, there's a competition for 2 couples to get married at Senmaida rice paddies, a stunning location overlooking the sea, in a "go to town" lavish ceremony. When I got there the place was packed with photographers, journalists, TV crews and locals. The ceremony, which had already started, was taking place on a purpose built stage.

Stage for the wedding overlooking the sea

The ceremony lasted about 1 1/2 hrs and it was all rather formal. I actually learnt through a friend (who gets paid to feign a catholic priest and conducts weddings here) that the Japanese can have any religious ceremony they choose whether it be Shinto, Christian, Buddhist and they don't have to be practicing. For example, a couple can choose to have a Christian style ceremony at a Christian church even though they're not Christian. It's big business here and a lot of the hotels will have built in European looking chapels for couples to create that authentic experience!

Shinto priest conducting the wedding ceremony

Back to this wedding; a traditional Shinto ceremony as a shinto priest was conducting it. Both brides wore the most equisite, brightly coloured wedding kimonos (known as "uchikake") I've ever seen.

After the ceremony 2 dancers, a male and female, came onto the stage to entertain the company with a traditional fan dance.

The couples were then invited to cut some rice with a small sickle (rice cutter).

Me and my rice sickle

When it was all over we went and joined the locals to help harvest the rice which involved cutting it with sickles and laying it in piles of 6 bunches ready to be tied together into bundles by some strong hay type string.

Local helping Erika tie up the bundles of rice crop

The rice bundles are then hung out on huge wooden rice racks to dry out.

Rice crop drying racks

At Senmaida each row of rice crop has a different owner and hence a name post at the end of each row. We ended up cutting a row that was owned by a local businessman who didn't look like he wanted to get his hands dirty so I guess we did him a favour! The local news journalist took a billion photos of us (hard to look glam cutting rice crop) so I'm sure we'll end up in some Noto paper.

Owners name on post therefore his row of rice crop

After cutting we were all given a free lunch of rice balls and pork stew, yum. After a quick TV interview (only ones proficient in Japanese, i.e not me) I set off home. Fab day and well worth the early start.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Apple picking trip in Nagano, Japanese Alps

A few months ago I agreed to join Yoko (my Japanese teacher), Candy, Candy's mum and a few of Yoko's colleagues on an apple picking trip to Nagano (Japanese Alps).

Thinking I may have committed myself to a day up a ladder doing a days hard labour, I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was a mystery apple and pear "tasting" tour, phew, big relief!
Met Yoko et al at 6.45am at Kanazawa station which nearly killed me especially the FIRST day of silver week (a 4 day holiday in Japan) I've discovered that the Japanese really don't do relaxing that well. If this was England on the first day of a public holiday at this time in the morning it'd be a ghost town. Nope the station was packed, coaches lined up ready to take eager Japanese tourists on their day trips. One of the coaches was ours. I hadn't realised our group was part of a larger coach tour with our own compère and everything, but I was up for it. Me and mum had seen so many coach tours on our travels around Japan I was intrigued to see what all the fuss was about. Little did I know that we were about to cover half of Chubu in a day!

First stop was Komagane to see a beautiful old temple called Konzenji, set in a green forest with ridiculously tall trees. There was some commotion along the path leading up to the temple and I wanted to know why a whole crowd of people were pointing at this old wall and looking inside. I thought it might be some type of rare insect but nope it was moss. Yep apparently moss only grows inside walls here. Soooo random, but this is Japan...

Me and the girls in the buckwheat fields

Next stop was Inatajima to see the beautiful and brightly coloured red buckwheat fields, the crop they use to make buckwheat flour for soba noodles. We then visited a local produce market where they were selling locally made tomato juice, these huge grapes (called Kyohō budō, 巨峰葡萄 or "giant mountain grapes") apples, pears and figs.

Huge Japanese grapes, Kyohō budō (wow, is my thumb really that wrinkly?)

After a delicious nabe lunch we eventually reached the apple and pear picking farm in Matsukawa, a beautiful place surrounded by mountains. The picking (really tasting) went like this: we entered the apple orchard to an area where there were apples & pears wrapped up in paper but still hanging off the trees, weird!

We were allowed to pick 1 apple and 1 pear. Once picked, you then go to one of the little tables to wash, peel, cut and taste the apple not forgetting to remark "oishieeeeeeeee" (delicious) in a high pitched voice with plenty of enthusiasm! That's the Japanese way of apple picking!

Ready? 1,2,3 oishieeeeeeeeee!

We boarded the bus and were given omiyage (souvenir or gift) of a Nagano pear and apple each.

When we got off the bus again near Ida City it was to visit a mizuhiki gallery. Mizuhiki is an ancient art craft which uses a brightly coloured cord to knot and create decorative shapes and animals. Apparently the artform was used to tie up the hair of the samurai. In Japan you see mizuhiki on wedding money envelopes everywhere. This gallery had some pretty stunning and huge animals crafted solely from this cord. Amazing.

Before climbing onboard the coach it was time for the "who can grab the most chestnuts with one hand" competition. Yep, we all queued up to see how many chestnuts we could grab from a box full of chestnuts. I got 11. Very bizzare but then this is Japan and the Japanese seem to make the simplest of ideas so much fun.

Chesnut grabbing random!

Back on the bus heading home our compère announced it was Bingo time, woop woop. Haven't played for years and the prize was a free coach trip to Kobe. Ace! Once we all had a bingo card they pulled down the TV and this squeaky little Japanese voice read out the numbers, hilarious.

I didn't win but one of Yoko's colleagues did.

Brilliant day.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

ALT Lesson Plans with Eigo Note, 5th grade. Lesson 1 Hello.Bounjour

OK it has been a while since I taught this first section (Lesson 1) of Eigo Note. This section covers greetings in different languages (not just English) The pupils did enjoy learning how different cultures greet each other and couldn't believe that it's totally normal in France to kiss each other on the cheek when you greet.
I remember using the first lesson to do my self-introduction. See that lesson plan here.

I'm afraid I've lost the last lesson plan for this section. I'm sure I was probably covering page 4 & 5 of Eigo Note and more of greetings. Anyway here are my lesson plans for Lesson 1 that I do have!

Grade 5 Lesson Eigo Note Lesson 1- (5.2) Alphabet practice (in prep for lesson 5.3)
Grade 5 Lesson Eigo Note Lesson 1- (5.3) Hello/Bonjour, Greetings (making bookmarks)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Rice harvest outside my apartment in Nishi-Kanazawa

Autumn has officially arrived in Kanazawa. Literally on the 1st September a little old farmer and his wife (I presume) dragged their reluctant looking son (presuming again) to help them in harvesting the tiny rice fields right outside my apartment.

Having watched them preparing, seeding, watering and tendering the fields I felt a pinch of sadness seeing the golden crops get the chop and the little fields look so bare! Maybe they’ll plant something else on them. I hope so, I’ll miss my daily walk mentally checking their progress.

After the rice crop has been cut the little farmer brings his little tractor with his little trailer and takes the corn to the little barn where it is dried out