“The Nativity Story” Movie

Hello everyone,

Now that tests are finished, the first year junior high school students have a special program each morning this week. Today we watched a movie called “The Nativity Story”. The movie follows the story of Joseph and Mary as they travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem. The movie tries to show the difficulties they had on their journey, and it ends with Jesus being born. That day is, of course, Christmas Day.

In December our school had a “Nativity Scene” in the entrance way. Do you remember it? There was Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus, as well as the three wisemen, shepards, the animals, and the angel.

Tomorrow our students will have a “study at home day” because teachers have many meetings. It is a good chance to get a head start on your winter homework. Do your best!

English Club Newspaper – Winter 2019

Hello everyone,

Recently the English Club tried making a school newspaper. It was our first time, so it was a little difficult, but we hope you enjoy it. You can find it in your class, of you can read it here. If you enjoyed it, or have any ideas, please let us know.

-Shin-ai English Club

Winter 2019 Eiken Test

Hello everyone,

Well, tests are finished for this year. Are you happy with your result? If you did not do as well as you hoped, then you you need to think about what you will do differently next time. Each time we stumble, it is a chance to change and do better. When you think about yourself, we call it self-reflection in English. Just like a mirror reflects our own face, self-reflection lets us think about ourselves.

Today was a short day as teachers passed back tests, we did some cleaning, and we had an assembly. During the assembly we heard about the tennis team going to their national spring tournament (fight!), the Cambodia team reported about their Christmas trip (good job!), and studetns got various awards for their work this year (congratulations!).

One student who got an award is in high school grade 2, and she passed the EIKEN pre-1 level test. There is a big jump from level 2 to level pre-1. Not only are the vocabulary and grammar more difficult, the concepts and themes are targeted towards adults. For example:

  • Do you think more people in Japan will be interested in having careers in agriculture?
  • Should the government raise taxes in order to improve public services?
  • Should universities provide more opportunities for the elderly to learn?

I hope that next year more of you will challenge the next EIKEN level so that you can express yourselves in many different ways and on many different topics. Good luck! Remember, if you ever need help or want to practice with me, I am always available.

Graduation 2019

Hello everyone,

Today is a special day for our school. Our third grade high school students have their graduation ceremony with their family and friends. Our ceremony is a celebration with music, singing, and words from people who have supported students through their Shin-ai life.

An English word we can use for today is “bittersweet”. On one hand, it is very nice to be finished school, and to have accomplished something so wonderful. On the other hand, our students are leaving the safety and routine of their school for a future that is hard to imagine right now.

To all graduates, your world is about to open up in many different ways. I hope you explore your new chances and opportunites with the same energy and excitement you brought to school each day. At the same time, keep the important lessons of your school life with you, as they will guide you in difficult times.

Be stong and courteous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9

All the best, Allen.

Hayabusa2 Success!

Hello everyone,

Last week was exciting news for the JAXA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. After a long wait their Hayabusa2 lander was able to land on the surface of an asteroid flying through space. It mission is to examine the asteroid, collect samples, and then fly back to earth with them.

The distance this spacecraft has traveled is unbelievable. The asteroid, named Ryugu from Urashimataro’s story, is 900 meters across. Or, 0.9 km. Right now Ryugu is 280 million km from earth, or 280,000,000 km. That is a very tiny target.

If you are interested in following the journey of Hayabusa2, JAXA has a nice website with live data coming from the spacecraft. You can find it here in both English and Japanese. There is also an interesting blog about how the spacecraft will land and take off from the asteroid, and the Hayabusa2 Twitter feed for daily updates.

 

This project needs a lot of teamwork and smart people. Look at how big the team picture is at JAXA! Our own school also has its own Rocket Girl Program which launches a rocket every year. If you are interested in this science and good teamwork, please talk to Ms. Sato or Mr. Yoshida.

 

This year’s rocket launch.

Be my Valentine?

Hello everyone,

Last Thursday we enjoyed Valentine’s Day here at school. Many students brought homemade sweets, and others brought store-bought sweets to share with friends and teachers. I was talking to a couple students, and they taught me two Japanese phrases for the day: giri-choko and honmei-choko.

In English we could call giri-choko “obligation chocolate”. This is chocolate you give to someone you have to. Honmei-choko could be called “true-feeling chocolate”, and it goes to someone you really like.

But… what happens if a girl is giving obligation chocolate, and the boy thinks that it is actually true-feeling chocolate?!? How can people know? Valentine’s Day is supposed to be a day about love, but it seems that there is also a chance for heartbreak.

I would also like to mention that the Japanese sweets industry is very clever, because it has also promoted “White Day” in Japan. In Canada, Valentines day is a chance for both girls and boys to buy each other gifts, but in Japan it is spread out over two different days. That is good for business! However… the boys who received Valentine’s Day chocolate must remember who they got it from and return the favor. Some people say that is should be worth THREE TIMES as much as the Valentine’s Day present. If they don’t, or they forget… more heartbreak!

This is all very confusing. Let’s eat some more chocolate and think about it a bit longer. Have a good week! Only two more weeks until your final tests!

Quarantine!

Hello everyone,

Influenza, or “the flu” has spread all over the country. Unfortunately, some students and teachers have also caught it. The worst problem is in class M3D, who had to stay home for a few days this week. Hopefully they will be ok tomorrow and can come back to school.

One word we use in this situation is “quarantine”. When something is “quarantined”, it is kept away from other things until there is no danger. One of the most common things to quarantine are animals. If you bring an animal to a new country, it might need to stay at the airport for some time so it doesn’t spread disease.

The origin of the word quarantine is from Italian, quarantine, which means forty. Quarantina giorni means forty days, which is the time that ships from dangerous areas had to wait in the sea before landing in Italy.

There are a lot of little stories like this in English, because English words come from many different languages. The study of this “word history” is called etymology. If you find the history of words, it can help you learn how to say them. Also, it is just interesting! When you learn the story of the word “sandwich”, you will never forget it!

Have a good week.

Analogies

Hello everyone, especially YOU class H1E and H1F (they are here for their homework!)

Last time we talked about the Center Examination. When I went to university I had a different kind of test. It was called an “analogy” test.

An analogy is a word puzzle that shows a relationship between two ideas. A simple example is…

summer:hot::winter:____?____

We can read this puzzle like: Summer is hot, and winter is cold. Using this, we can test knowledge from many different areas. For example…

1. Math – 36:6::81:__?__

2. History – Napoleon:France::Stalin:__?__

3. Geography – Amazon:Brazil::Nile:__?__

4. Chemistry – H₂SO₄:Sulpheric Acid::__?__:Carbon Dioxide

5. Art – Monet:__?__::Mozart:Composing

I took an analogies test when I entered graduate school. There were 120 questions with 60 minutes to solve them all. Can you try these five questions? If you tell me the answers, I have a surprise for you! Have a good week,

Allen.

Center Listening Part 1 – FLYING CARROTS

Hello everyone,

Last weekend our grade three students went to Wakayama University to take the Center Test. The last test on the first day was the English listening test. The test is 30 minutes, and has 25 questions divided into 4 parts. Each student has earphones and an “IC Player” that uses an SD card for the listening. Even though they were tired from taking many tests on the day, our girls did their best. Let’s take a look at the part one questions today.

Question 1 – Easy!

This question should have been no problem! Fruit or vegetable, strong or wings. Many people commented on the art of this question. I like to think that the test makers knew students had some stress and wanted to relax them a little bit. The question definately had a “strong impact” for students. Of course your answer is…

Question 2 – Easy!

This question should also have been simple for students. Adding the days in London to the days in Vienna gives you the answer, 8 days. The question says “For how many days…” which is a little different than the usual “How long will…”.  Also, the cities Vienna and Istanbul are not as well known at Tokyo, London, or New York, so that may be different for students. Quick, without checking, what countries are those cities in?

Question 3 –  Easy!

This is another pretty easy question, but there is a trick to it. Students read the question carefully to know that they want the woman’s activity, and not the man’s. However, they need to also listen to the man’s activities, because the woman reacts to his story by saying “I wish I had.” and “So did I.” Hiking and golf seems like a good vacation!

Question 4 – Medium

When I have a picnic I never take a salt shaker, I just put some salt in a small paper and twist it! Anyway, for this question you find the correct answer by taking out the other three. When the man suggests the kitchen table and toaster, and the woman says she checked those places and the sink as well, you know the answer must be “in the picnic basket”.

Question 5 – Getting harder…

This is another calculation question like number 2, but this time students have to calculate both time and money. “Hourly rate” means money per hour, and students also need to connect “12:00” with “noon”. Once they do that, they can multiply the rate by the time. 2 hours x 2,000 yen = 4,000 yen. This is a question where notetaking is very important. Keep your hands busy taking notes while you listen, so if you need more time to find the answer, you can go back and see what you wrote.

Question 6 – AHHH! GRAPHS!!

No one likes graph questions. Graph questions are difficult because your eyes are looking for information while at the same time your ears are listening for information. Double input is difficult. On top of that, there are some more difficult vocabulary in the script, such as “proposal”, “majority”, and “persuade”. After the first sentence, you can cross off number 2 and 4, because the “For” part is larger than the “Against”. Then, when the students know that it is possible to get a “For” majority, they know that the answer is number 1.

After all of that, students still had 20 more minutes and 19 more questions to go. Phew! A long day for everyone, but I am sure you did your best. See you next time.

Warm up your English voice!

Hey everyone,

It is third term now, and in my class students are starting to practice for the junior high school singing contest. In their music classes, they first warm up their voices with simple exercises, and then practice their part. A simple singing warmup looks like this:

When you speak English, warmups are also important. Everyday your mouth makes Japanese sounds, so your muscles work a certain way. When you speak English, you mouth makes different sounds, so you need to practice different muscles.

Try saying these sentences slowly and loudy to practice some different English sounds:

  1. Go slow Joe, you’re stepping on my toe.
  2. Boots and shoes lose newness soon.
  3. It was the student’s duty to deliver the Tuesday newspaper.
  4. Thoughtful thinkers think things through.
  5. Eat each green pea. Aim at the game. Ed said get ready.

These are not tongue twisters! Say them slowly and carefully, and your mouth will practicing making new English sounds. After you practice, come try them with me!

Have a good week everyone.