Category Archives: EDUCATION

Tomisato Suika 10K Road Race 2017

Source: Running Talk
Suika means Watermelon in Japanese, and they are in season currently and are grown in huge volumes in Chiba Prefecture. Temperatures are hitting the 30 degrees centigrade now, and coupled with very humid conditions, running fast times over middle and long distances is a gruelling task. As an antidote, Tomisato, a rural town in Chiba close to Narita Airport, hosts an annual 10K road race to celebrate the sweet watermelons produced around the town.

Unlimited slices of watermelon on offer
to race finishers!
Getting to Tomisato for the start of the race from Tokyo requires a 5am wake up to catch an early train to Narita Airport. The thought of tasting the legendary sweet melons of Chiba drove me out of bed and I felt euphoric as I jumped onto a train packed with other melon running enthusiasts. This race is so popular that entry is decided by a lottery draw for about 7000 places. Perhaps the enthusiasm can partly be explained by the fact that on the race course, alongside the usual water stations, they have ‘melon stations’ too. Once you finish the race, you can also eat unlimited amounts of melon. And the top 20 finishers in each age category are given, yes you’ve probably guessed, their very own full sized Tomisato melon to take home!

The leading pack of the under-40 10K race
There was a huge line at the nearest train station to the race, with successful lottery winners waiting for the shuttle bus to take us the 20 minutes ride into deepest Chiba to the race HQ. As I limbered up and jogged to the race start line, I saw many runners had donned melon themed costumes for the run, and I couldn’t help but smile as I saw a family of …continue reading


Week Fourteen- An Escape into Tokyo’s Nature

The pathway of yellow trees at Meiji Jingu Gaien.

The main street, where the annual Jingu Gaien Ginkgo Festival is held to celebrate the “leaf peeping season!”

Some of the intricate ceramics sold at the festival. Many of these cups were over ¥6,000 a piece, around $60.

The pop-up German Christmas market in Roppongi Hills. There are around 5-6 Christmas markets around Tokyo!

A Torii in Yoyogi Park.

The sake wall at the Meiji Gardens!

Curriculum planning for English Schools in Japan

So you’ve found yourself a job at a private or international school. You were promised more freedom and growth as a teacher, and the school is delivering that. The thing is, you’ve never planned a curriculum before, and now you have a blank sheet of paper in front of you. What are you going to teach these students every class?

This sounds pretty daunting, no?

That’s exactly what happened to me when I started working for an international preschool in Nagoya in 2014. A few days before the students started to arrive I was told to go and prepare my classroom for the students to arrive. I asked:

“What am I supposed to teach them?”

“Whatever you like!”

Wait, what?

At no point during the interview process was I ever told that I would be planning the entire year with five hours of class per day teaching three to four year-olds. I went into full panic mode, and only after a month or two of struggling through every day did I start to get a handle for preparing classes that were fun for the students as well as challenging and met the goals of the boss (who herself had no idea how to meet those goals). When I got a part-time job last year teaching debate class to high school, it was much easier because of my experience planning a curriculum in the past.

I was going home at 7pm every day and researching the Montessori method, teaching techniques, classroom management and little games to throw in to keep these kids happy and engaged. I worked like crazy to get up to par on my planning skills, and it really helped that one of the other teachers at the school was experienced and helped me a lot in those early days. The main thing was …continue reading


How to Navigate Lessons with a Special Needs Class

Source: Gaijin Pot

As assistant languages teachers (ALTs), we hold in our hearts a soft spot for our classes, whether they are the brightest or the one that makes you smile no matter what. Even that rowdy period that you wish the homeroom teacher would do a little bit more to help them settle down. No matter what, they are a little different. That means that the way each class is taught is also a little different. Through our experiences as teachers and by trying new things, we figure out the best approach to take with each lesson. When we find a system that works — we stick with it

However, there is one class in some schools that doesn’t fit into any specific category that contains a multi-faceted assortment of different students — the special needs class. In today’s ALT For ALTs we’ll discuss how teaching to students with special needs can be a unique, fun experience and not something to shy away from. Hopefully, this post can help as a resource if you’re having troubles engaging these particular students.

Expect the Unexpected

Many ALTs who teach a special needs class or student will encounter a unique teaching experience that is very different from how a typical lesson is taught. It’s difficult to say what it is going to be like or what you should do because each time is so very different.

An initial reaction may be to wonder just how to meet the needs of the children as a teacher. This is where our earlier entry about building a good relationship with the Japanese teacher (JTE) comes into play. It’s best to directly approach the JTE in charge of the class beforehand to discuss the situation. If you can, try to find out the needs, restrictions and interests of each …continue reading