Category Archives: EDUCATION

3-Week Mark: Learning How to Get around Japan


Three weeks in, and I can firmly say that when I ride the subway, I usually know what I am doing. For the traveler with no knowledge of the native language, the subways and the stations have been made very accommodating. Every overhead sign with info about the incoming train is in English. When riding, you’ll also hear every stop is repeated in English. Google Maps will become your best friend when you’re here. Just type in what station you’re at/near and what station you want to go to and it shows what route is the quickest, what trains to ride, whether it’s local or express, what platform the train arrives on, and even the approximate cost in yen of the trip. The trains are always on time, and if you miss your train don’t feel bad–there’s another one arriving in 3-5 minutes. The subway is the go-to for traveling within and around Tokyo.

As it was mentioned during orientation here, Japan is not just Tokyo. There is also the city of Kyoto, which I highly recommend visiting, that has retained traditional elements of Japanese culture. Here you will find older shrines and temples, more people wearing kimonos and yukatas (a casual kimono), bamboo groves, festivals, and the elusive geisha. Now getting there from Tokyo can be a bit expensive. Everyone tells you to take a shinkansen (the bullet train) which gets you there with 2 to 3 hours. Tickets are around 12,000 to 16,000 yen one-way (about $120-$160) and get even more expensive if you really want to travel in luxury.

However, there’s also a second option that I chose to take advantage of, and the round-trip fare cost less than a one-way ticket for the bullet train. I took an overnight bus that departed Tokyo Friday night and arrived …continue reading


6 Types of Students Language Teachers Will Meet in Japan

Source: Gaijin Pot
The Bromancer

We all know those American high school movie stereotypes: the athletes, the cheerleaders, the nerds, the teacher’s pets. Who can forget the Mean Girls scene where Janice shows Cady the lunch table cliques. It’s also true we should be careful about describing these fragile teens “in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions” as the collective group from The Breakfast Club pens in their letter at the close of the film (cue: “Don’t You (Forget About Me).”

Language teachers — old and new alike — you are going to meet some wonderful, zany and challenging students as you navigate the classrooms of the Japanese education system. Here are the six characters I would pick if I had to make a terrible teen movie about teaching high school English in Japan.

1. The Whisperer

The most ubiquitous of the Japanese students, this child speaks more quietly than a falling sakura (cherry blossom) petal.

Apparently, most teachers just allow them to do this because you can always count on their look of sheer terror when you interrupt their whisper with an: “Ehhh? Say again?” As you cranine your neck in their direction.

“Oh, God. This foreign person actually cares? Maybe if I speak more quietly, they will give up,” they seem to think.

Everyone in the class looks away, trying to save them the embarrassment of actually having to participate in class. A fly buzzes by, drowning out the student’s third attempt at an audible answer. After constant pestering, it is usually possible to get them to at least blurt out a few strong attempts at a sentence. However, too much pestering will terrify the other whisperers in the class (i.e. everyone) so proceed with caution.

  • Favorite place to sit: Not the front, that’s for sure.
  • How to spot them: Their mission seems primarily not to be spotted.
  • How …continue reading


Are you feeling “Waku waku” today?

Language is the blood of the soul into which thoughts run and out of which they grow.
‒Oliver Wendell Holmes

Picture from Pixabay

Hi there! Hope you had a great Father’s Day weekend! We spent our family time by the coast this past weekend. Weather was amazing where scenery was beautiful with plenty of sunshine, but above all, I got to eat at my favorite seafood restaurant, which I might have enjoyed a bit more than the weather. 🙂

So, I was feeling excited all weekend about this short day trip to the coast. Feeling excited can be expressed as “wake waku (わくわく, excitement)” in Japanese. This is another word that describes the state or condition. It is more so to be used as ” wake wake suru (わくわく する, feeling excitement)”

So, let’s get today’s lesson started~~ Read on~

Waku waku (わくわく, ワクワク) – feeling excited, thrilled

Feeling excited

Waku waku suru

わくわく する

I am so excited to see you tomorrow.

Asu kimini aeru to omouto waku waku suruyo.

あす きみに あえると おもうと わくわく するよ。

(明日 君に 会えると思うと わくわく するよ。)

She is so excited about her new job.

Kano jo wa atarashi shigoto ni waku waku shiteiru.

かのじょは あたらしい しごとに わくわく している。

(彼女は 新しい 仕事に わくわく している。)

I am so excited to go to Japan and can’t wait to be there.

Nihon ni iku noni waku waku shiteite machi kirenai.

にほんに いくのに わくわく していて,まちきれない。

(日本に 行くのに わくわく していて 待ちきれない。)

I am so thrilled to be here today.

Kyo koko ni korarete waku waku shiteimasu.

きょう ここに くることが できて,わくわく しています。

(今日,ここに 来ることが出来て, わくわく しています。)

Why are you so excited?

Nande sonna ni waku waku shiteiruno?

なんで そんなに わくわく しているの?

(何で そんなに わくわく しているの?)

How thrilling?

Waku waku surune!

わくわく するね!

I knew you would be thrilled!

Zettai waku waku suruto omottayo.

ぜったい,わくわく すると おもったよ。

(絶対 わくわく すると 思ったよ。)

What are you feeling waku waku about today? Hope you will have an amazing day today with all waku waku excitement! 🙂

Want to hear more? Sign up for one of our newsletters!

For more language learning advice, free resources, and information about how we can help you reach your language goals, …continue reading


Hi. I’m an Intern, and I’m Experiencing Culture Shock

View From Talisman's Office

The title says it all — I suffered culture shock. So let’s back-track a bit. I’m a Summer Intern in Tokyo this summer. It’s not my first time interning abroad, but it is my first time in Asia. I interned in London last summer, so I didn’t have to worry about culture shock (to the same degree as here, anyway). England and the US are fairly similar in culture, to the point where I’d have to look closely at times to find differences in the culture. Tokyo has definitely proven to be a different experience.

It took me a few days to realize it, but those were a hard few days. It’s not the most glamorous subject and I’m probably about to write multiple posts about this, but I want to be clear, and thorough about this. I feel like some people talk about the concept of culture shock, but, at least for me, no one really impressed how it can emotionally drain you. Culture shock slowly sneaks up on you…and then it hits you right in the face. It wasn’t until I almost (almost, but not fully) regretted my decision to come to Tokyo that I really accepted that I was experiencing culture shock. If you’re reading this and are scared about culture shock, don’t be. It’s normal and it just takes a few days to really acclimate yourself–a couple days or weeks to really start loving where you are.

I mean, really–look at this view!

This is especially true for people interning. You’re going to spend 140 hours surrounded by people from a culture that’s different to yours, and it’s hard. But you know what? That’s good. You’re really experiencing culture. You’re not visiting, you’re living. That’s why you’re here. That’s what will make your experience that much more valuable …continue reading


Kanji Cheat Sheet: Japanese Elementary School Event Schedule

Probably the most important piece of paper your child will bring home from Japanese elementary school is the yearly schedule of events — it basically determines the whole family’s plans for the next 12 months. It’s a long list of too many to-dos, which for many foreign moms can be a tad frustrating to figure out and make sense of. Having spent a long time trying to decipher this important list myself, I decided to put my experience into practice and share everything I’ve learned over the years here with you.

So if you’re a mom to a child who attends a Japanese school and want to make sure that your return home in summer doesn’t interfere with sports day, parent-teacher meetings and irregular holidays, read on!

Japanese school event calendar Kanji And Kana

  • 行事予定 (Gyouji yotei) Event schedule
    This details the main events that the school has planned for a particular period. You should receive an annual (年間, nenkan) one at the start of each school year. It will probably be in a list or chart format, with a title like this: 平成30年度 主な行事予定 (Heisei 30nendo omona gyouji yotei) 2018 Main event schedule
  • (4月)行事予定 (4 gatsu gyouji yotei) (April) event schedule
    You will also regularly receive a monthly plan, which will be more detailed and up to date.
  • 始業式 (Shigyou-shiki) Commencement ceremony
    This gathering is held at the start of the school year, and on the first day back at school after vacation, but usually doesn’t involve parents.
  • 入学式 (Nyuugaku-shiki) Entrance ceremony
    This big day may be held on the same day as the commencement ceremony, or the day after.

  • 給食開始 (Kyuushoku kaishi) Start of school lunch
    Love it or hate it, catered school lunches are a quintessential …continue reading