Category Archives: EDUCATION

How To Make Next Year your Best Year in Japan

For many teachers and professionals living in Japan, December is a time for reflection on growth and choices in the past year.

In fact, most full-time university faculty in Japan are required by their institutions to write everything they have accomplished down, and this is something that all jobseekers and professionals should consider doing as it has more than one purpose. The first is that it reminds us of accomplishments since last new years’ resolutions. Another reason is that it helps to focus on where we want to go in the future, and to plan those changes for the new year.

By writing down what happened in the year, it is particularly helpful in seeing how much you have accomplished. Through articulating your accomplishments, it is easy to see more clearly how far you have come. Conversely, it should also be a motivator on what else you might have done – though this is not an exercise in self-flagellation, but rather self-awareness. So, while there may have been missed opportunities (and, it is essential to be mindful of those), focus on the positive. Therefore, start to look forward and what you will get done in the next year, and further into the future.

For universities, generally, the sections that are listed basically follow the philosophy of the Balanced Scorecard. These are four main areas that educators should keep developing; research, service, teaching experience, and education.

Academic publications are the first area that is required, with the publication name, type of article and if it is a peer-reviewed or not. The next section is the presentations that took place. And these should also be divided into those that were peer-reviewed (where you needed to submit your work before being accepted), and invited talks. The latter is where you are asked to …continue reading


敬語 ( = けいご= keigo) Honorific Form

= Otsukare ni narimashita ka? Yukkuri oyasumi kudasai.
= Are you tired? Sleep well.

Hi everyone! Those cute guest teachers, Phineas and Parker are back.
We just studied 謙譲語 (けんじょうご = kenjougo), humble form, the other day.
Now it is time to study more about 敬語 ( = keigo), honorific expressions.
I made an introductory 敬語 lesson many years ago.
We will focus on the verb form today.
Hello again. We are Phineas and Parker.
As you studied in the previous lesson, when you talk about your own actions, you use “humble form”.
When you talk about the action of someone “superior” (again, “superior” here means your boss, older people, customers, clients, etc.) or their family, you use honorific form to show your respect.
I doubt you’ll use this form so often in your daily life unless you work for a Japanese company. However you will hear this form a lot at stores, banks, restaurants or on the train — basically anywhere you could be considered a customer.
There are many special honorific verb forms just like humble forms.
Let’s start with the basic one first.

<div data-block="true" data-editor="d7et0" …continue reading


Cultural Sensitivity for ALTs Giving Christmas Lessons

Source: Gaijin Pot
Japanese boy decorating Christmas tree

In today’s uncertain world, one of the few things many can agree on is that Christmas is the most nostalgic and family-oriented time of the year. So for the ALT in Japan, preparing a fun and entertaining Christmas lesson should be the proverbial piece of cake. However, Japan — like many other countries — has its own way of doing Christmas festivities.

As a teacher, you need to be aware of local cultural ideas in all of your lesson planning, but this is especially relevant when planning a Christmas lesson. Classes about festivals and celebrations that have faith-based origins can be problematic in a country where teaching religious doctrine is officially banned in public schools. This is perhaps why Easter has never really caught on here in the same way Christmas and Halloween have in recent times.

So, with this in mind, here are five common pitfalls to Christmas lesson planning and how to avoid them.

1. Santa is still real for many of your students

This is an important point that you really need to remember. Most of us foreigners probably learned the truth about Santa Claus when we were in grade three or four of elementary school (spoiler alert: he’s not real!). However, in Japan, this happens later — and in some cases much later.

In my current job, I teach English mostly to elementary school fifth and sixth grade students (10-12 years old) and a lot of them still believe in Santa. Just today, as I was doing a Christmas lesson of my own, one student, a fifth grader, asked me: “Sensei (teacher), is the santa who delivers presents in Scotland the same Santa who delivers my presents here?”

Sometimes kids here say the most adorable things. Of course, this means that we need to tread carefully when discussing that jolly …continue reading


15 Japanese Words That Don’t Exist in English

Did you know there are quite a few Japanese words that don’t translate exactly into English? Some of them are quite similar to English concepts, or can be explained in English with only a few words. However, other Japanese words have concepts and meanings completly non-exisitant in the English language! Here’s our list of 15 words that do not exactly exist in the English vocabulary.

Shibui (シブい )

Meaning: Has good old taste, in a cool way. This adjective can not be used for young people or things. It is only used to describe people or things that have aged well, and remain cool and attractive.

Photo: The Wrap

Shouganai (しょうがない)

Meaning: It can’t be helped, so don’t worry about it. If something regrettable happens that is outside of your control, don’t stress! Just say shouganai, it can’t be helped.

Sugoi (すごい )

Meaning: This word has so many words in English that are used similarly to this, such as, “Wow”, “superb”, “wonderful”, “fabulous”, “great”, “marvelous”, and “amazing”. In English , there is not one single word to convey all of these things, but in Japanese, they are all expressed by crying out sugoi!

Komorebi (木漏れ日)

Meaning: Sunlight filtering through trees. In Japanese, the way sunlight shines through the leaves of trees is given its own noun, and it’s called komorebi.

Yoroshiku onegai shimasu. (よろしくおねがいします。)

Meaning: When meeting someone, it’s similar to “nice to meet you”. But this phrase is also used when you ask someone to do a task, of a way of saying “thanks for letting me ask this of you.”

Example: Good morning! Do you mind starting the second page of the website today? Yoroshiku onegai shimasu!

Kouyou (紅葉)

Meaning: The leaves changing colors in the …continue reading