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.

Online English lectures

Hello everyone,

Welcome back to school! I hope you enjoyed your winter break, and that you were able to spend a good time with family and friends. How about your winter homework, were you able to finish it early and relax? Or… did you leave it to the last minute and have a stressful last few days?

This morning we had our opening ceremony in the gym. Oshiro-san talked about her online program at Stanford University. That program was a big challenge for her, so I want to say “good job!”

If you are interested in experiencing  something like that, there are many classes from American universities that are offered online, for free. A good resource to fine them is the site openculture.com. I often listen to the classes when I am riding my bicycle or hiking. They are usually a recording of the teacher speaking to his class, and are either audio or video.

I enjoyed…

Ancient Greek History

Basic Astronomy

and Adapting to Climate Change

… but there are many many others, so go take a look at the list of free courses, and search for something you are interested in.

The full list

See you next time!

JHS Student Council Elections 2018

Good morning!

Today in the Hall, junior high school students took part in choosing the members of the next students council. Both grade 1 and grade 2 students stood up to speak, and the rest of the students took notes. After, we returned back to our classes and voted.

Last year, the voting age in Japan was lowered from 20 to 18. That means some students in our school have the opportunity to vote in Japan’s national elections. Voting is a serious responsibility, and takes some effort. It is easy to vote for someone who is good-looking, or has a lot of energy, but it is important to listen to their ideas as well.

That is one reason we have a school council. It is a good chance for all of us to practice in this system.

Sometimes, one word in English can lead to many other words. For example, the word “elect” means “choose”. It also gives us the event, an “election”. There are also other related words, such as:

select(choose by setting apart),

neglect (not choose), and

intellect (the ability to choose between).

Have a good week. Remember, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday are 家庭学習日 on your schedule. Use your time wisely!


English Club Dec. 2018

Hello everyone,

Yesterday was Friday, which is club day at school. After school the English club members gathered in the cooking room to make some Christmas cupcakes.

Recipe? Check. Toppings? Check. Santa hats? Check.
We made two groups of high school students and junior high school students mixed together.
Out of the oven, and on to the toppings. The more chocolate, the better!
Finished! I hope nobody ruined their dinner.

If you want to try making them at home, they are super easy. Just use pancake mix, milk, sugar, and an egg. Add some chocolate chips and toppings and you are ready to go!

The recipe we used.

This is our last club of this year, but I am looking forward to club starting again in January. Have a happy holidays everyone!

Christmas Lamp Shade

Hello everyone,

Before summer vacation, grade one junior high school students went to Shin-ai college for a lecture, and an art activity. They designed lapshades out of clay, and then the teacher at the college finished them. They were delivered back to use in October and have been on display at school.

Today the students took the lamp shades home, but first we displayed them all with little tea lights inside. It was a nice way to end the day. Here are some pictures:

Kawamoto-sensei setting up Class A’s table.
Here they are!
Ishikawa-sensei waiting for it to get darker (she takes much better pictures than I do!)
With the candles on.
My attempt. Don’t laugh! I tried to make the nativity scene with the star above, but Joseph started to lean over during the drying process. Hang in there Joseph!

It isn’t long until our Christmas Mass. Let’s enjoy the season together.

See you!

Christmas Music – Joy to the World

Hello everyone,

We are four days into December, and Christmas is only 3 weeks away. One of my favorite things about Christmas is the music. We call Christmas songs “Christmas Carols”. Whenever I hear Christmas carols it puts me in a good mood.

Everyday at the end of the school day, my class sings a song from the hymn (=songs for church) book we have. If you look at number 421, it is called もろびとこぞりて. We have the same song in English, and it is called “Joy to the World”.

Try singing the first verse (first part) to the music of number 421, and then you will know one of my favorite Christmas songs!

Joy to the world, the Lord is come
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart prepare Him room
And Heaven and nature sing
And Heaven and nature sing
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing


May your heart be merry during this season. One more test day to go, good luck!

To Cram

cram verb (FIT A LOT IN) ​ [T usually + adv/prep ] informal:

to force a lot of things into a small space

For example: Eight children were crammed into the back of the car. The room was packed and we were crammed against the door.

Tests are upon us today. How well did you prepare? This morning I saw many students on the train with their face in their textbooks. Were you… cramming? Cramming means to study a lot at the last minute in order to pass a test. While you may pass the test, the knowledge soon leaves your brain.

Don’t just study to remember. Instead, study to understand. Understanding, doing, and reviewing is the way to long term knowledge. Cramming only serves you for today.

Good luck in the next week everyone.

Black Friday

Hello everyone,

Yesterday was a holiday, and I enjoyed going shopping with my son. However, when I got to the mall it was crazy! There were so many people I had had trouble finding a place to park. When I went inside I saw signs for a special sale, a “Black Friday” sale.

I can’t believe Black Friday is now in Japan. Do you understand the meaning? Usually “Black” means something is bad. For example, the “Black Plague” was a disease that killed many people in Europe long ago. However, in business, when you are “in the black” it means you are making money. (Being “in the red” means you are losing money).

For people in America and Canada, Black Friday is a chance to get good prices for Christmas presents. In America, the Thursday before is “Thanksgiving Day”, a holiday, so the Friday is a good Christmas shopping day. Many people wait outside stores all night to be the first ones to get inside to get a good deal. In this way, businesses make lots of money and go “in the black”. Black Friday.

Some people get crazy when the doors open, and dash for the best items. Every year on the news they show videos of people running, pushing, and falling. I don’t think I saw any of that at the mall yesterday, we have to wait for New Year’s Day happy bags for that!

I hope you are enjoying your weekend, see you Monday.

Tobitate Japan 2018

Hello everyone,

This morning all the students went to the gym to get awards, and to listen to a presentation. We have SO MANY girls doing great things these days. The Karuta team, photo club, science club, and English recitation pair are just some of the students who were recognized today.

After the awards ceremony, Miss Konishi, who is in grade 2 of high school, gave a presentation about her trip to America. She was chosen for the Tobitate Japan program, and went to Boston. While she was there, she used the English she has been studying at school while volunteering at a food bank.

A food bank provides food for people who need it, and works because people donate food to it. It is a common idea in Canada and America but, as Miss Konishi talked about, is not as well known in Wakayama. She hopes to change that.

She must have been nervous taling in front of the whole school, but Miss Konishi did a great job! pachi pachi!

Christmas Tree 2018

The school’s Christmas tree now has lights and is ready to shine! I hope it lifts your spirits when you leave school each day.

Final tests are coming soon. Get ready, get organized, and do your best!