Summer Camp Part 1

During the summer we ran a summer camp for Russian teenagers wanting to learn English and experience Japanese culture.

They stayed in log bungalows in the mountains for 10 days at a place called kenkonomori which translates as the forest of health.

Image result for 健康の森雲南市
The bungalow and inside

Breakfast, lunch and dinner was made for them including several chances to eat out.

We had two groups visit us. The first group was made up of 11 members and the second group was made up of 15 members.

The building behind them is where we studied.

The view from the school window

The students studied 3 hours a day in the morning. Both groups had mixed ages. Two classes were made. One at A1 level and the other made at B1 level. This means Elementary level and pre-intermediate level. To determine their level we needed to give the students a level test.

During the course we gave the students opportunities to talk to locals that were studying English.

For the coursework we were using the pearson firsthand series of textbooks. The higher level class completed all the units of firsthand 2 while the lower class went through firsthand access and success.
https://www.pearson.com/english/catalogue/general-english/english-firsthand.html

In the afternoons for daily activities taking between 3 and 4 hours everyday and all day on Saturdays. Here are the things we did.

Day 1: Icebreaker

The first activity day was a chance for the students to get to know each other, this was the first time any of them had met So instead of going out we stayed at the school and played board games.

Day 2: Vogel Park and Matsue Castle

Vogel Park is a bird sanctuary with various bird shows to watch and a chance to feed tropical birds.

Matsue Castle is one of the few remaining wooden castles in Japan. Recently, parts of the structure have been confirmed to be part of the original structure built 400 years ago.

Day 3: Japanese sports day


The Russian students got to participate with local Japanese students in a range of activities based on the Elementary school sports day.

Thank you to those that came

The first event was the Darumasan relay

The second event was Tamaire where teams have to throw as many small bean sacks into a basket two metres in the air in two minutes. Unfortunately we have no pictures of this event.

The second event was a bottle filling relay. Students had to run to a bottle, pour some water in it and run back. Whichever group filled it up first one.

The third event was jumping rope as a group. Both teams had to stand in line and see how many times they could jump. Each team had 12 representatives. After several practices runs the best score for the first team was 9 jumps and the best score for the second jump was 24. It’s actually not that easy. You have to jump in tandem to achieve it. Unfortunately we took no photos of this event.

The fourth event was an old classic. The tug of war.

The fifth and final event was the American football relay. First in pairs people had to kick an american football along the ground to a witches hat at the other end while in a hula-hoop. Once there they bound their legs together to do a three legged race. Yes, it is awesome fun.

Day 4: Japanese Culture lessons

On the third day we did two cultural lessons. The first was Japanese Abacus known as Soroban taught by a professional Abacus teacher.

The other cultural lesson was Japanese calligraphy taught by an award winning calligraphist.

Day 5: Nature Day

On Nature day we took a trip to Ryuzugataki, dragon head falls in English. A beautiful location for a swim up in the mountains.

As well as the falls we also went to Yaeyama Shrine. A small shinto shrine high up in the mountains near the falls.

Phew that’s a lot of fun in one post. I think I better do this in two or three parts.

Stay tuned for more.

On Happiness

For me societal happiness is a logical goal for any society we try to create. The question should be how do we achieve a society where everyone is happy? This question has been raised throughout the ages. It is not a new concept. It was talked about during the utilitarian movement in Great Britain in the early 19th century. It’s been talked about in various Buddhist texts as the ultimate goal for all individuals. It’s been talked about by philosophers throughout the ages. I’m not going to go into too much more detail about the history of humanity’s search for global happiness. What I wanted to talk about was consumer happiness versus societal happiness.

When I say consumer happiness I am revering to the current age of consumerism and businesses constant message consume this to be happy. Here’s a TV, you are happy right? Here’s a dishwasher, you can save time, you’re happy right? Here’s a new phone, you’re happy right? etc. There is so much imagery of happiness around us that it creates somewhat of a negative condition in which there is an expectation that you should be happy and that the alternative to happiness is wrong. This consumer happiness is not Utopian happiness, it is not utilitarian happiness, it is not reaching nirvana happiness. In fact it is the opposite to all of those. Yes, we are living in a plastic punk Dystopia.

You may wonder, why do I say it is the opposite. Rather than going into materialism versus minimalism and the achievement of happiness from within rather than external forces I’m going to jump straight into Utilitarianism’s goal of global societal happiness. Utilitarianism asked the question what is the purpose (utility) of the thing. Does it create happiness? On the surface that may seem like it is in line with consumer based happiness. Does a TV create happiness? However the question wasn’t directed at individual objects not the achievement of happiness by the individual. It was aimed at the achievement of global happiness. Of societal happiness in which the entire group is happy. The question was directed at systems and policy. At the governmental level. Does this law create happiness? Does this bill generate happiness? Is the purpose of this system to ensure happiness? Does this utility contribute to our happiness? If the answer came back as no the view was then to dismantle or remove the offending utility.

Why do I say then that consumer happiness is against the idea of utilitarian happiness? While we can argue the creation of consumer products creates happiness it doesn’t ensure it. In many cases it can actually contribute to greater unhappiness. Material based happiness is a shift of the burden. It goes something like this:

I’m unhappy, I’ll buy a TV, when I watch TV I’m happy, why was I unhappy? I don’t know, Probably because I didn’t have a TV. Thus the cause of unhappiness is shrouded, the burden of maintaining your happiness is shifted and your actual ability to create your own happiness has been diminished.

That is not the utilitarian idea of global happiness. To them the question was why are people unhappy in the first place. What can be done on a societal/governmental/community based level that will unsure the initial thing that caused the unhappiness isn’t there whatever that may be. Back to the TV example, it could be that the unhappiness was generate by stress and that a stress relieving activity was required, thus watching TV would have been a good solution. But the question comes up, what is causing the stress? Why is the stress there in the first place? How can we create a society in which the stress that required you to buy a TV in the first place is not there?

While we are talking about the creation and maintenance of happiness on a societal level, I would like to point out the mistake that governments often make when it comes to happiness. Societal happiness is not populism. Populism is a shallow form of happiness at best. At worst it is sadistic happiness. Take anti-abortion laws, presumably governments put these in place because it will make x number of people happy. This group is sufficiently large enough to mean that making them happy allows those in power to maintain power. The trouble with the happiness they are creating here is that it is sadistic happiness. It is the happiness of one group to the detriment of another group. IE that one group that is happy is happy because another group suffers. The happiness created from such a policy is shallow and won’t last. Those who fought for it don’t actually gain any happiness from the existence of the policy. Most likely they will move onto the next moral fight. The policy fails the basic questions of utilitarianism. Was the purpose of the policy to create societal happiness? Perhaps on some kind of moral superiority level but on an actual societal level its purpose is not to create happiness nor to maintain happiness. What’s more it is a policy that would be seen as a great crime by the movement as it creates unhappiness.

Giving the people what they want is different to making society happy. A globally happy society is a far reaching goal that requires meticulous planning and a complete avoidance of superficial happiness. It requires the seeking of a deeper happiness on a communal level not the individual.

Cooking in English part 2

Ingredients

What does ingredients mean?

An ingredient is one of the things in a recipe. This includes meat, vegetables, spices, sauces, powders, grains, etc.

While it is impossible to share the English for all possible ingredients I will include the names of a range of ingredients you may encounter.

In English the name of various meats tend to be different to the animal name. Here is a list of commonly eaten meats.

Now for something different. Since I’m Australian I’ll add Kangaroo to this section:

kangaroo meat is called kangaroo meat

There is a lot of debate about eating kangaroo meat. Many Australians refuse to eat kangaroo because they are cute. Recently there is a movement called kangatarianism which is eating a vegetarian diet and kangaroo meat. The movement says that kangaroo is a sustainable meat source since they are all over Australia, don’t require farming, don’t emit methane and don’t cause damage to the environment.

For vegetable names in English I suggest this site: (click on the picture to go there.)


Spices are herbs are an essential cooking ingredient for me so here is a lot of spices in English:

Cooking terms in English part one

What actions do you when you are cooking? Here is a list of vocabulary for the various actions we take when we cook.

cut, cut the red pepper
slice, slice the cheese
chop, chop the onion
mix, mix the flour, milk and eggs
stir, stir the vegetables and the meat
whisk, whisk the milk and eggs

stir and mix are very similar. Usually we say stir when cooking and mix before cooking. you can use either one.

whisk is when you mix using a whisk

grind, grind the spices using a mortar and pestle
blend, blend the ingredients
knead, knead the dough until smooth
roll, roll out the dough

low heat, turn down to low heat
medium heat, put on medium heat
high heat, heat the pan over high heat
roast, roast the beef on medium heat for two hours
toast, toast the bread
bake, bake the cupcakes for twenty minutes

roast and bake are almost identical in meaning. There is almost no difference between the actions. Roast usually takes a long time. a few hours.

steam, steam the vegetables
boil, boil the water
simmer, simmer for twenty minutes

usually a recipe will ask you to bring to the boil and then simmer this means to boil and then reduce the heat

deep fry, deep fry the potatoes until brown
fry, fry the onions in the pan

the difference between deep fry and fry is the amount of oil you use. deep frying uses more oil.

pour, pour the egg mixture into the pan

pour is often used with in or into e.g. pour the mix into the frying pan.

barbeque, barbeque the meat and vegetables
grill, grill the fish for two minutes

barbeque can also be an action e.g. lets barbeque the steaks

That said the action you are doing on the BBQ is the same action as grill e.g. let’s grill the steaks on the BBQ.

serve, serve the food

Once you are finished cooking you can serve the food.

This has been vocabulary for cooking, next week we will do a vocabulary building blog on ingredients.

The strangest form of transport

Saturday Class November 17th 2018

What is the strangest form of transport you’ve ever seen?

My answer to this question would have to be in Vietnam. The transport wasn’t strange to me but the way it was being used was. In Vietnam a scooter can be a family car.

Image result for scooter family vietnam
It really is amazing how many people they can get on a scooter

It is probably a lot of fun for the children and cheap for the parents. In Vietnam the scooter is the most common form of transport. 

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They are everywhere

One thing I noticed while I was in Vietnam was how few crossings there were. I also noticed that there weren’t many traffic lights. So if you want to cross the road you just cross. Don’t run, don’t stop. Just keep walking straight and you won’t get hit.

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Just keep walking

I found it fascinating although the people I was travelling with thought it was terrifying.

The next step was to do some research. I asked the students to do their own research into unusual forms of transportation using their smart phones. After doing a bit of research they had to answer the following five questions:

Where is it?

Why do people like it?

How much does it cost?

How many people use this kind of transportation?

Would you like to use it? why? why not?

I did some research and found these interesting forms of transport. I’d like to try them all.

All of them show the ingenuity of humans. I personally would love to own a Jeepney.  Not as a job but as a personal treasure.

Today’s topic: How do you describe someone’s personality?

Thursday Adult Class November 15th 2018

(describe means what that person is like)

In groups we came up with a list of adjectives we could use to describe a person.

Here is the list we came up with:

kind a person who is good towards other people
nice a person who makes others feel relaxed and happy around them
funny a person who makes you laugh. it can also be a person who is strange
friendly a person who acts the way a friend would to other people (not just friends of theirs)
positive a person who says nice things about people and situations
optimistic a person who believes good things will happen
shy a person who has difficulty communicating with new people
scary a person who causes other people to be alarmed or surprised
polite a person who has good manners within their culture group
generous a person who often buys presents for people or often gives money to charity
helpful a person who makes other people’s life easier
smart a person who understands new ideas quickly
aggressive a person who is often violent or angry towards other people
boring a person who talks about things that are not interesting
intelligent a person who has high reasoning ability
joyful a person who is often smiling and laughing
brave a person who will challenge themselves to do things others wouldn’t
gentle a person who wouldn’t hurt others
modest a person who doesn’t show off their abilities
humble a person who feels that what they do is insignificant or says they are not significant
curious a person who wants to know how everything works and why
calm a person how is peaceful and regularly relaxed
hard-working a person who can do a lot of work
rude a person who is often impolite, doesn’t respect other’s feelings
romantic a person who wants to travel the world, meet people and have an adventure.

Do you know which worlds are positive personality traits and which ones are negative? 

Categorise the words above into positive, negative, neutral or both.

Can you add more to the list? 

Which personality traits are valued in your country?

Which personality traits would you use to describe

you?

your friend?

your partner?

your boss?

英語のクラスにつて

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幼稚園クラス 40分 4000円

歌を歌うことで、英語の音(発音)に親しみます。自然な発音とイントネーションが身に付きます。
絵本の読み聞かせで語彙を増やします。「走って」「待って」など子どもがよく使う簡単なフレーズから学んでいきます。英語で遊ぶことで、動きながら楽しく学ぶことができます。

小学校クラス 50分 8000円

教室、おもちゃ、家族など身近なテーマにそって語彙を増やします。最初はイメージから英単語を覚えていきます。小学生は文法などの概念がまた分かりにくい年齢なので、フレーズ学習がメインとなります。勉強した語彙を使ったまとまった会話を聞き、英語フレーズを身に付けていきます。ゲームを通して学習した語彙とフレーズを練習します。子どもは特に楽しく覚えたほうが定着しやすいです。たくさん歌うことでネイティブらしい発音も身に付きます。レベルがあがると、フォニックスを通じ英語の読みを学び、そして書く力も訓練していきます。

中学・高校クラス 50分 8000円

学校では英語をたくさん勉強して基礎を作りますが、学校の勉強だけでは英語学習の4技能がアンバランスになります。基礎を踏まえて実際にコミュニケーション英語を学びます。中学生・高校生コースの一番のポイントはお互いに話したり、聞いたりすることです。これらのスキルは、学校では十分に取り組まれていません。コースでは学校で習ったことの理解を深めるので、学校のテストの結果もよくなります。2020年からコミュニケーション力が大学入学試験に加わりますので、今の中学生と高校生にとってコミュニケーション力は必要不可欠です。英語は継続が重要です。継続できる一番いい勉強方法は、楽しく勉強することです。この教室は英語だけでなく、世界中のいろんな国や文化について学べるので実践的かつ知的で楽しいです。

 

Do you know Australian Football?

It’s not soccer, rugby or Grid iron. It’s arguably better than all three. Certainly a lot more enjoyable to watch anyway. Australian Football is a sport unique to Australia. If you could mix all of the above sports into one you’d have something like AFL. it’s very popular. Most of the professional games have at least 30,000 people attending and that’s considered a small crowd. The big matches have up to 90,000 people. The grand final is always a sell out with over 100,000 people going.  So what is this sport and why is it so popular?

Here is a highlights video from last year’s grand final. While watching I wonder if you can answer the following questions:

What do you need to play?

Where do people play it?

How many people do you need to play it?

How do you play it?

Could you answer the questions? It’s a bit tough, fortunately the Australian Football League made a video to help explain this wonderful sport.

Thank you to AFL for making such an easy to understand video.

I hope you all get to see this game live one day. It’s a really exciting sport to watch. Oh and in case you are wondering. Women also play it. Here is the grand final highlights for the women’s professional league, go Brisbane!