Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Being An ALT #12: Is It Really This Easy?

One thing which will probably occur to you pretty quickly in this job is that not a lot is usually expected of you.

You can potentially change that, though I wouldn't guarantee it. This entry is about how you can use your free time at school.

Monday, June 27, 2011

More Cool Symbol Typing

Last week we showed you a bunch of words you can type and turn into cute symbols using the default Japanese IME dictionaries. Although a lot of symbols are programmed in to Windows and other operating systems' IMEs by default, there are still thousands upon thousands more symbols waiting to be used in the Unicode character set.

Today we'll take a look at how you can browse through all the available symbols.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

WS: "I Will..." and "Will You...?" 2nd G JHS

This is a vastly improved version of a classic ALT activity involving a plane crash and subsequent escape from the jungle.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Mobile Phone Guide #2: Important Paperwork

One of the most common mistakes that foreigners make is waltzing into a phone shop and expecting to get a phone only a few days after their arrival. Until recently, this was theoretically possible, but thanks to the Improper Mobile Phone Usage Prevention Law (携帯電話不正利用防止法 keitai denwa fusei riyo boshiho)—another law passed with the excuse of cracking down on all those terrorists just waiting to get their filthy hands on phones in Japan—you have to present valid ID to prove you are who you say you are.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

High Quality Kettlebells Now Available

For those of you who practice the macho art of kettlebell lifting, I have some wonderful news.

A friend of mine over at Japan Kettlebell Club has just received a shipment of custom-made, pro-grade kettlebells in the Tokyo area. He can ship all across Japan for a couple of thousand yen.

He has weights ranging from 8kg up to 32kg. Stocks are limited, so get in on it now.

Go to his Gaijin Kettlebell blog here.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Type Cool Icons with the Japanese IME

If you've skimmed over many message boards or blogs in Japanese, you may notice some users adding cute little symbols to their sentences, like little stars (★), musical notes (♪), or umbrellas (☂). These symbols are part of the Unicode character set, and with the help of this guide, you'll be able to type them, too!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

WS: Eigo Noto 2: Lesson 1

Eigo Noto is a set of two textbooks for 5th and 6th grade elementary students for whom English has just become a compulsory subject. I teach 6th grade using Eigo Noto 2 and have been frustrated at the lack of materials out there, and by the fact that the teachers' book is almost all Japanese. Not much use for me!

I will be writing up my lesson plans here on AccessJ throughout the year in the hope that it can be of some help to other elementary teachers out there. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Post-Earthquake Changes to ETC Prices in Japan

In the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake and it's enormous toll on government and individuals alike, expressway toll prices (including ETC card prices) are being overhauled in Japan--again. The result is a general increase in the price of automobile travel. We'll explain exactly what changes and how expensive travel will be after the change below.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Mobile Phone Guide #1: Basics

Today begins Access J’s latest installment featuring a comprehensive guide to purchasing your very own mobile phone. If you are fresh off the boat or just curious about the local market, have no fear, we have you covered.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Best Way to Learn Hiragana and Katakana

If you've been put off learning Japanese by the complexity of the script, then here's some good news: it's not actually that hard! Well, the two basic alphabets aren't. Kanji will always be daunting due to the amount, but kana will get you most of the way through the language.

If you have the time and patience, both hiragana and katakana can be done in a day or two.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Being an ALT #10: More School Hopping

In the last installment of our Being an ALT series, we discussed how some ALT jobs cover more than one school and how hopping between schools can affect your experience as a teacher in Japan. This time we'll continue that discussion and look particularly at how an ALT's time is split between multiple schools and the ways that can increase or decrease your workload.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

WS: "He/She Was and They/We Were (Not)" 2nd G JHS

This is a game using was, was not, were and were not. It's a variation of a classic ALT activity which has been kicking around for decades. All the versions I've found elsewhere look like they were designed on a 1980s word processor, so I've completely remade it from scratch. The game is called Hello Kitty Murder.

Friday, June 10, 2011

How to Not Sweat Like a Beast in the Summer

You have probably never heard of the demoniacally named Driclor before. It's a roll-on treatment for hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating. It works. Unbelievably. If you use it for a couple of weeks, you will not sweat in the applied areas. This is perfect for the viciously hot and humid Japanese summers.

It's normally prescribed, but is available without a prescription. Read on for how to get hold of some in Japan.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Disaster Donation Opportunity: Clothes

A friend of mine passed on this address which is accepting clothes donations.

989-2393 "Wataricho"
Miyagi ken, Watarigun
Watari cho Aza kyuukan 62-1
Sato kinen Taiikukan


Their number is 0223-34-0505

They're looking for high quality spring and summer clothes with little or no signs of wear. They don't need winter clothes because they can't store them, or underwear as the shops there are starting to reopen.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Exclusive Preview of New JHS Textbooks!

Here at AccessJ we're always one step ahead of the game. We tear the competition in two with our cut-throat professionalism and unstoppable momentum. Out of the way "Gumper ALT Life Stories" and "JipanGU" sites, AJ gone crazy.

Anyway, so we got hold of a copy of next year's JHS textbooks (at least, for selected schools). It's a reworked version of New Crown - that series I got so angry about last year with my "5 Most Annoying Pages in New Crown", "4 Stupidest Characters in New Crown", and "3 Appalling Stories from New Crown" posts.

Here's your chance for a sneaky peak before 2012!

Monday, June 06, 2011

Being an ALT #9: Hopping Between Schools

In some ALT positions, you will teach at not just one school, but instead rotate through a set of assigned schools. This is especially common among junior high school and elementary school ALTs, but even high school ALTs may find themselves covering a few small, rural high schools or trucking out to a special needs school once every couple weeks.

This game of musical workplaces can be good or bad, depending on your preferences. Over our next two Being an ALT posts, we'll discuss some of the pros and cons of this arrangement. First, we'll look at some of the interpersonal impacts of having more schools to visit, and next time we'll consider scheduling issues it might provoke. If you're considering a move to a multi-school job, we hope these posts will provide you some food for thought.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

WS: "Are You From Vatican City?" 1st G JHS

This week's worksheet is for the early days of first grade junior high, and covers the "Are you from..." grammar.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Getting an ETC Card Reader

In order to use an ETC card on the express-ways of Japan, you nearly always need to have a machine to wirelessly communicate with the toll booth.

We will covered how to get an ETC card very soon, which is significantly more difficult for foreigners (especially the military), but now let's look at getting the box installed.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Abbreviations in Furikomi

Take a deep breath... this is dry but useful information.

When making a bank transfer (振込, furikomi) in Japan, information regarding the transfer can only be sent using single-bit (half-width) katakana characters, Latin alphabet letters, numbers, or a small subset of punctuation. When you make a furikomi at a bank or ATM, the system will properly annotate information about the bank and branch you want to transfer to. However, properly entering the beneficiary's name is up to you.
(By the way, spaces are also valid in furikomi data. They count as one character.)