Monday, January 31, 2011

Sending Flowers and Gifts in Japan

So, it's Valentines Day in two weeks, and you haven't thought of a present yet for your special someone(s). Oops!

Don't worry, it's going to be OK. You've still got some time to buy a gift, and today we're even going to show two shopping options you can check out without even brushing your hair and getting dressed.

And it gets even better if you're a guy! In Japan, guys don't usually send Valentines gifts to girls anyway. Valentines is a day when women send stuff (mainly chocolate) to men. Men return the favor with a gift of sweets, flowers, diamonds, cars, houses, etc. a month later, on a Japan-only holiday called White Day.* So, for our male readers, there's a whole six more weeks left to procrastinate!
*White Day, March 14, is technically also observed in China, South Korea, and Taiwan.

Anyway, back to the point: If your special someone(s) is/are far away from you, you can always use a gift service to send a gift when you can't deliver it personally. Here are two great florists who deliver nationwide:

Sunday, January 30, 2011

WS: 2nd Grade JHS Homestay Letter (New Crown ch8 DIW2)

If you use New Crown, you'll find this on page 77 of NC2.

Otherwise, this is a lesson which teaches the use of "I'm looking forward to..." and "I hope to (see)..."

This activity requires about 20-30 mins prep, several envelopes or containers, and some different colour sheets of paper. It should last about 25 mins from handing out the cards.

Here's what I do:

Friday, January 28, 2011

Job Spotlight: Kanuma City ALT Position

Kanuma City in Tochigi Prefecture is currently accepting applications for an ALT Position. This is an elementary-level position with remuneration comparable to JET, and it is open to people who are not currently living in the Kanuma area but are willing to relocate there. The deadline on this one is coming up fast, so if you're interested, take a look below then get cracking!

Application Deadline: Feb. 7, 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Job Spotlight: Maebashi City ALT Position

'Tis the season for hiring, in the world of April-start contract jobs, anyway. We got a heads up today on an ALT position in Maebashi City, Gunma Prefecture. Unfortunately, the deadline for the job is today. However, the package on this one is pretty nice: Maebashi might be worth looking into next year if you're in the market.

Application Deadline: Jan. 27, 2011

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Driving Test Tips: Checklist when Entering and Exiting Car

The driving test starts from the moment the proctor calls your name. The proctor will be watching your actions before you get in the car and after you get out, all the way up to the moment you walk back inside the building. Here is a checklist of things to do outside of the actual driving component:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

PT: Japanese Beer

Will any of these not give you diarrhea? Think of it as a challenge.

I've been wanting to write about the massive variety of Japanese beers for a long time, but never found the time. Don't get excited, because I still haven't. However, I came across this interesting article about Japanese home-brewing of beer, and thought you, dear reader, might be interested. In fact, the whole of the Beer in Japan website may interest you - it has all kinds of information about breweries, bars, brands and other things beginning with b.

Do you like Japanese beer? Tell us your favourite varieties in the comments.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Being an ALT #5: Getting Drunk on Duty (The Enkai)

All the drunken work party antics you've seen in Japanese TV shows and movies are true. The enkai in Japan is a sacred event where work colleagues get completely hammered as a semi-compulsory part of the job.

On special days, like big sports-events or opening/closing-ceremonies at school, you'll be invited to join the majority of your co-workers for an enormous meal and massive piss-up. Also, when a colleague gets married, or occasionally when they have a child, win the lottery, etc., be prepared to give your liver a bashing.

It won't be cheap, but if you treat it right it will be the gift that keeps on giving. It can also be a quite surreal experience.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

WS: Movie Clips

Occasionally, a quote from an old favorite movie will come to my mind when I'm trying to decide how to present a new grammar point in class.

I mean, we've already seen how drab some textbook examples can be. Why not dump all those examples about Kumi's pencils and learn the comparative forms through clips from Braveheart ("That can't be William Wallace! I'm prettier than this man!") and Spaceballs ("I see your Schwartz is as big as mine!")?

Friday, January 21, 2011

The 4 Stupidest Characters in the New Crown Textbooks

My new hobby is picking numbers out of thin air and getting angry about them (see my 5 most annoying pages and 3 appalling stories from New Crown), so here are the 4 stupidest characters in the New Crown textbooks.

I've had just about all I can take of this awful cast. Praise the lord I haven't been subjected to the CD version of these total puppets yet.

Anyway, whatever, here they are, and apologies in advance for my anger.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

PT: Robots

To celebrate (or rather commemorate) the giant Gundam being removed from Shizuoka (see this couple's blog for details), here's a repost of my old plamodel decorated toilet. See closeups of all the awesome robots on my original blog.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Being an ALT #4: Planning Classes

As I mentioned before, a lot of classes will involve you making a game, activity or worksheet. This is an acquired skill, although you'll be surprised how quickly you pick it up, and often horrified when you re-examine the sheets or activities you made last year/when you started the job.

This week we'll talk a little bit about the process of putting together something for your class.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

WS: Snake Eyes (All Purpose "Anything OK" Escape Plan #3)

This is another great group game which involves the whole class interacting with the JTE and ELT.

You will need dictionaries for each group, and some dice.

Keep going as long as they are enjoying it, which can quite conceivably be all lesson. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Job Spotlight: Tsukuba City CIR Position

Tsukuba City has posted a hiring notice for a Coordinator of International Relations (国際交流員) position on their home page. CIR jobs are generally positions within a city hall or other municipal office arranging community events and international awareness. Some CIR positions include teaching community classes or visiting public schools as a guest teacher. Here's the scoop:

Application Deadline: Jan. 22, 2011

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Being an ALT #3: An Average Day

We kicked off this series with an explanation of what an ALT actually is, and how it differed from an ELT. We later explained your role in school.

This time, we'll have a detailed look at the average school day for an ALT.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

PT: Japanese Gardens


Everywhere you look in Japan, there are some immaculate and spectacular gardens. Future installments of our Destination series will give some recommendations, including the one above (Ritsurin, Takamatsu: Shikoku).

Peaceful, colourful, full of fish.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Differences Between Driving in America and Japan: Traffic Rules, Etiquette, and More

The obvious difference between driving in the U.S. and Japan is that drivers sit on the opposite side of the car and cars drive on the opposite side of the road. Although this seems like a terrifying difference, actually this difference is really easy to get accustomed to. The differences that trip people up tend to be smaller things:

Sunday, January 09, 2011

WS: Boggle Puzzle Generator

Boggle puzzles are an alternate activity to word searches and crosswords in the ESL classroom. They offer more flexibility, are easy to create, and can be presented to advanced students as a challenging vocabulary activity rather than the simple "search and mark" routine of a word search.

Here are some easy-to-use tools and hints for incorporating a Boggle puzzle into your classroom:

Friday, January 07, 2011

Being an ALT #2: Your Role in School

Your Role
As mentioned last time,
"An ALT is supposed to act as support to a Japanese English Teacher (usually abbreviated to JET or JTE, but not to be confused with JET programme participants), while an ELT usually plans and executes classes alone by instruction from their employer."
You are not on the same level as Japanese teachers. You don't have the same status or responsibility. Whether this is a good or bad thing depends on your current and future goals.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Job Spotlight: How to Get a Gaijinpot Job

Although I think there are other, better resources available for job searching, the well-trodden sites of the Internet are still worth a look; they are often well designed and because of their popularity, new jobs appear on them almost every day.

Today we're going to take a look at Gaijinpot Jobs.
(But, this advice is just as effective at other big job-listing sites, too.)

Most readers have already heard of Gaijinpot Jobs, so I'll keep the site description short: You create a profile on the site, write and save resumes, browse jobs, and send resumes with cover letters. Most of the jobs listed on the site are ESL teaching gigs, from small local schools to corporate giants like Interac. And Gaijinpot's ability to store your resumes means you can apply for a load of jobs with very little effort.

And that right there is what I want to focus on.

Think about it: If you can save one resume and one cover letter and send those off to a dozen companies in five minutes, so can everyone else. So, if you want to get in for an interview, the name of the game at Gaijinpot is quality and speed. Read on...

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

PT: Lunch

Pregnant fish

We've written quite a bit about school lunch in Japan in the last few months. Steve wrote a very interesting article about why we have some very bizarre combinations of foods sometimes, and I wrote about what it's like eating with your students.

For a more in-depth look, I also put together a typical 5-day sample of what you can expect to be eating.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Getting a Japanese License: Do You Have to Take the Test?

The driving test is the worst part of converting a foreign license. But, not every nationality has to take it. It all depends on whether Japan has concluded a treaty with your country that waives driving tests for each country's citizens. (So, if you're required to take a driving test to get your license converted in Japan, so would a Japanese person moving to your country.)

Anyway, here's the list of countries who do or don't have to take a driving test in Japan:

Sunday, January 02, 2011

WS: Pyramids - 1st and 2nd grade JHS (12-14yo+)

This is a great format which can be adapted to a lot of different scenarios. It's essentially a listening test, where students have to pick the correct choice on a descending pyramid of words, letters or numbers.

Takes about 10 minutes.

Full description: