Friday, December 31, 2010

3 Appalling Stories from New Crown

After getting so angry about the five worst pages in New Crown last month, and then later the 4 most annoying characters I thought I had let off just enough steam to get on with my life.

Unfortunately, when I next picked up New Crown 2 it flopped open to Pot of Poison and I realised my work was far from done. "You're bad," I thought, "I must punish you."

Without further ado, here are some terrible editorial decisions from the NC team.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Being an ALT #1: Teaching English in Japan

So you want to teach English in Japan?

Well, here's the start of a new series of posts giving you a sample of what to expect as an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher). Hopefully this information will help you decide if teaching here is for you, and answer any questions you may have.

You may also want to consult our "How much will I get paid teaching English" blog, and our "Living expenses guide".

Anyway: first off, here's an explanation of what an ALT actually is.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

PT: Onsen

These two disturbing old ladies sit by the side of the road in Komagane, Nagano-prefecture.

They appear to be enacting an onsen scene, but without the hot water. Which reminds me: an onsen outside in the rain or snow is really, really nice. I recommend you try it if you can. The iconic Snow Monkeys (the Japanese Macaques who live next to and bathe in a natural hot spring) share the area with many outdoor onsen.

Check out our onsen blog for some more information about the experience.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Call in Gmail for Free Through 2011

This year, Google added an extension of their Google Voice VOIP calling feature to the Gmail interface. Simply by logging into your Gmail account and typing in a phone number, you can call friends and family anywhere in the world.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

WS: Scramble Scrabble (all grades 12 years +)

Different versions of this game are floating around ELT/ALT circles, but this one is wholly original to this site, and arguably much easier for kids to understand. So there!

Everyone knows Scrabble, right? Well this is a combination of that and a word scramble. Hence the name.

It can last up to the whole lesson with some classes, or you may want to set a time limit and see who has the most points after that.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas from AccessJ

Merry Christmas, and thank you for following our site. Especially for December posts, we've concentrated on adding quality information on topics frequently asked about by our audience. Please take some time to browse our recent posts about getting a driver's license and working in Japan, and enjoy the holiday season.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Learning Japanese: The Japanese "R" Sound

Last year, Tofugu made an awesome post about how to pronounce the Japanese "r" sound. If you haven't already checked this out, you should. This is the first time I've seen the sound "explained" in a comprehensible manner.
(For the record, my long-standing useless explanation to others was "it sounds more like a 'd' than an 'r'.")

Here's the video:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Using an Amazon Kindle 3/4 Part 3: Japanese eBooks and Manga

Well, last article I went into some depth as to why I loved the new Kindle and why you should definitely buy one (UK link). We talked about using it for studying Japanese and how great it was at that.

However, it was clearly designed for reading standard books, and even though it isn't directly for sale in Japan (although you can import it from Amazon) it does support Japanese script.

So here's everything you need to know about getting (free, and modern) Japanese books onto your Kindle for study, pleasure, or whatever you want. I've also included a section on reading manga with it, which is a revolutionary experience!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

PT: Cold

Here's our first Photo Tuesday.

If you want tips on how to keep your Japanese house warm, I have just the article for you.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Getting a Japanese License: Foreign License Conversion

If you used to drive in your home country, you may be eligible to "convert" your license into a Japanese driver's license using a process called 外国免許切替 (gaikoku menkyo kirikae), often abbreviated to 外免切替. There are a lot of good guides about this online, which we highly recommend you check out.

But in addition to linking these resources, we've compiled our own bullet points and special tips regarding the 外免切替 process. To start off, here are some common questions and answers about the 外免切替 process:

Sunday, December 19, 2010

WS: What Time Is It? First Grade JHS (12-13yo)

Here's a simple activity for first grade JHS. You could use it with elementary too, but only with an advanced class which can read simple verbs - or you could edit the sheet to use pictures instead of text.

Estimated time: 20-25 minutes, but give a bit longer for under-motivated classes.

Those of you using New Crown will find this on page 64 - Chapter 6 Do It Talk 4.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Running Tokyo Marathon part 1

Well, it's too late to apply for this year's marathon. Entries have been closed, invitations issued and now reserves called.

But for those of you reading this blog in The Mystical Land of The Future, here is a collection of necessary information for applying and running. You can also read part 2: the race and after.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Using an Amazon Kindle 3/4 Part 2: Reading Manga

Check the end of this blog for some troubleshooting tips.

The Kindle is fantastic for studying Japanese, as well as reading books. I think it's great, and take it with me everywhere. And get ready to be blown away - you can read manga on it. Yes indeed.

This will revolutionise the way you read manga. No more ripped plastic bag full of smelly tankoban on the subway for you! No more long flights watching Nicolas Cage "act".

I found a lot of barely legible/outdated guides to converting manga for your Kindle, so to go with my upcoming "Using a Kindle for reading Japanese books and manga" blog, here's the best guide currently available for converting and adding that manga to your Kindle:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Using an Amazon Kindle 3/4 Part 1: to Study Japanese

I just bought an Amazon Kindle and I love it. Nothing ever attracted me to ebook readers until I tried one, and now I can't see a reason not to immediately burn all physical books and start again.

This blog is about using your Kindle for studying Japanese. Next time I'll look at reading Japanese books and manga.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Job Spotlight:

For those of you who are interested in teaching English, but just want to escape the yearly-contract, no-bonus, no-pay-raise ALT quagmire, here's a site to keep an eye on.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

Why Are Japanese Houses SO COLD?

I feel your pain. It was -1C in my room this morning, with ice on the inside of the windows.

After writing about how to warm up your house in these cold winter months, I realised that perhaps we should cover exactly why the Japanese house is such a freezing nightmare.

Here's your answer: they aren't insulated.

The reason for that is quite interesting, I guess:

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Net Print: Fuji Xerox + 7-11 = Miracle

One day Fuji Xerox Japan and Seven & I Holdings got together and decided they would make the best service the world has ever seen: Upload documents to a website, then go to any 7-11 in Japan (in Japanese that means "anywhere") and have them printed out at your convenience. The service is called Net Print and I do not know why the companies have not made a bigger deal about this, because it is a miracle for every apartment-dwelling, printerless single adult in the nation (of which there are many).

If you've ever needed to print something out while on the road, or needed to meet a deadline when no printer was in sight, or took your USB thumbdrive to work to print out your resume so you could apply for another job, Net Print is for you.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Job Spotlight:

One of the best places for foreign nationals to look for jobs in Japan are career forums. Career forums strip out a lot of the traditional Japanese hiring practices of attending compulsory seminars, filling out entry sheets, and attending up to eight rounds of interviews before a job offer finally arrives. They concentrate employers in one convenient location, so you can gather information and talk with recruiters at a dozen companies all in one afternoon.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

WS: 14 Time Fillers (part 1 of 2)

This is part one of a two-part entry of some short games you can use to fill extra time at the end/start of a lesson (here's part 2). Most require little or no preparation at all.

We've got stuff for all JHS grades, and a bit of elementary, so come one, come all!

Friday, December 03, 2010

Insulating a Japanese House for the Winter

For the most part, the Japanese still haven't discovered either central heating or double-glazed windows (another example of low-tech Japan). Not only that, but old Japanese houses are actually designed to be cold. Kerosene heaters and kotatsu are the obvious ways to heat up your home, but if your house is anything like ours, you'll need to do some extra work to keep that heat in.

Read on for hints on tape, bubble-wrap and various other solutions designed to stop you resorting to buying one of those monk-outfit/blanket/muu-muu things with arms.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

11 Useful Vocabulary in Your Job Search (Part 2 of 2)

Knowing just a few particular terms can double your readiness to tackle a professional job search in Japan.

Continuing from our last post about job-search vocabulary, here are six more words that you ought to know as you embark to find work outside of ESL: