Category Archives: EDUCATION

How to use 知る & わかる ( = shiru & wakaru)

Snowy: 「ちょっとやせたんだけどわかる?」

= Chotto yasetan dakedo wakaru?

= I lost a little weight. Can you tell?

Zoey: 「私の好きな食べ物知ってる?」

= Watashi no sukina tabemono shitteru?

= Do you know what my favorite food is?


= Ninjin dayo!

= Carrots!

Hi everyone!

We are today’s guest teachers, Snowy and Zoey !

Today we are going to learn the differences between the verb 知る ( = shiru) and the verb わかる ( = wakaru).

They are both often simply translated as “to know” but there are subtle differences. And choosing the tense is sometimes a bit tricky.

Making this lesson is like opening a Pandora’s box, but it’s too late. I already opened it! (^_−)−☆

Let’s start!

知る= しる= shiru

The dictionary form is

知る ( =shiru)

and the masu-form is:

知ります ( = shirimasu)

But when you describe the state of knowing something/someone, you don’t use these forms.

Instead, you say:

* 知っています( = shitte imasu) polite

* 知ってます( = shitte masu) polite but conversational

* 知っている ( = shitteiru) casual

* 知ってる ( = shitteru) more casual

Note: In casual speech, you drop ( = i). Most “proper” Japanese textbooks cover this form, but you hear this form a lot in daily conversation so we will study it.

1) The current state of knowing something/someone/to have knowledge about ~ .

Ex. A: 「 マギー先生を知っていますか?」

= Maggie Sensei wo shitte imasu ka?

= Do you know who Maggie Sensei is?

= Do you know Maggie Sensei?

Note: You don’t say

X マギー先生を知りますか?(wrong)

= Maggie Sensei wo shirimasu ka?


=Yes, I do. (I know her/who she is.)


= Un, shitteru.

=Yes, I do. (I know her/who she is.)

Note: You don’t say:

X はい、知ります(wrong)

= …continue reading


Air Travel With Kids: The Keys To A Successful Flight

Air Travel With Kids: a little girl crying

Back in the days, I dreaded getting on that first 15-hour flight with my then 9-month-old. The idea of facing air travel with my kid when going back to the States was giving me pure nightmares.

Now aged five years old, my daughter is a veteran traveler with a total of 7 round trip flights between Japan and the USA under her young belt. I have acquired experience along this rocky way and I’m here today to give you the lifesaving tips I always keep in mind when air-traveling with kids. So buckle up and bon voyage!

Rule Nº1: Logistics Are Key!

When it comes to kids, there is no such thing as “improvisation”. If there is only one thing you should remember from this article, it surely is logistics. Think, prepare, check everything!

Prior to the flight

The first step to prepare your air travel experience with a kid is placed way ahead of your trip: read your child a storybook about flying on airplanes.

Be it the first or seventh trip you are doing together, your little one may not know what to expect inside a plane and it can be frightening. Reading a story together is the best way to help apprehend the upcoming experience. “My First Airplane Ride” by Patricia Hubbell is a good choice for young kids. It is also fun to visit an airplane museum if you have one in your area!

Don’t forget to prepare your outfit too! Making yourself comfortable will surely help your toddler feel comfortable as well.

Direct Flights Are Always The Easiest

My advice: go for a flight that will allow for maximum sleeping time.

  1. Departing in the late afternoon seems to work well for long, international flights. It allows for a little playtime, dinner, and if you are lucky, for a good …continue reading

Kanji Cheat Sheet: Finding Vegan and Halal Products at the Supermarket in Japan

Source: Gaijin Pot

In the last 10 years, and increasingly so in the last three, the booming numbers of visitors to Japan have spurred a greater understanding of different eating habits, including vegan and halal diets. In major cities across Japan, the number of vegan-friendly and halal-observant restaurants has blossomed, a huge improvement over the situation when I first moved to Japan all those years ago.

…even if the label doesn’t show any animal products, there may be traces of things like fish broth…

That being said, food labeling in supermarkets and convenience stores is trailing behind many other countries. Part of this is definitely a language issue. We certainly can’t blame Japanese companies for labeling their products in Japanese, or for covering imported food labels with Japanese ones so locals can read them.

However, there is also a nasty little secret behind food labels in Japan. When extracts and additives fall below a certain percentage, food companies are not required by law to include them on the label.

This means, even if the label doesn’t show any animal products, there may be traces of things like fish broth, milk powder or weird animal-based amino acids lurking in your food. Buyer beware.

How to Shop in Japan as a Vegan

Of course, you can stick to fresh veggies, but for packaged food, there are some kanji to look out for.

My recommendation for everyone living in Japan is actually to avoid supermarkets as much as possible and shop at independent stores. A local grocer is likely to have fresher, tastier fruit and veggies—also less plastic waste. A neighborhood tofu maker will actually be able to tell you what goes into their product since they make it.

However, I recognize that this is not always …continue reading


Internationalising Japan’s higher education sector

A Japanese school teacher teaching a class at a junior high school in Tochigi, north of Tokyo, 14 April 2005 (Photo: Reuters/Yuriko Nakao).

Author: Sae Shimauchi, Tokyo Metropolitan University

January and February decides the fate of Japanese students preparing for university entrance exams. This year’s high schoolers have been through a particularly stressful period because of policy changes concerning English in the entrance exam. In 2013, the Prime Minister’s Office published a policy document titled ‘Japan is Back‘. The strategy included the introduction of private English exams (like IELTS and TOEFL) aimed at revitalising Japanese society by nurturing ‘global human resources’.

Rates of English competency in Japan are generally low. Many people believe this stems from the education system (which concentrates on teaching grammar and reading) and the university entrance exam (which ignores students’ speaking and writing skills). The introduction of private English exams was justified as a means of assessing students’ English skills comprehensively.

The idealistic policy was based on the assumption that comprehension skills will improve if university entrance exam focus on assessing students’ listening and writing skills. Yet there has been no evidence-based discussion to support this assumption. Changing the entrance exam will not directly lead to educational innovation or skill development — more fundamental changes, such as class-size reduction and teacher training, are required.

The use of private English exams has also been widely criticised as problematic in terms of access to testing locations and higher examination fees. Public concerns concentrate on equal access to education — many fear that the exams could widen economic and geographic disparity.

The private English exams had originally been scheduled to be introduced in the 2020 academic year, with second-year high school students suffering the greatest impact from the government’s abrupt decision. But on 24 October 2019 Koichi Hagiuda, the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, appeared on television and said that students should compete for university spots …continue reading


Fukuoka Foreign Language College: A Welcoming Home for International Students in Japan

Source: Gaijin Pot
FFLC - Fukuoka Foreign Language College - Teaching

Located in an unassuming area, just one stop away from Fukuoka’s famous Hakata Station is Fukuoka Foreign Language College (FFLC). As one of Kyushu’s best Japanese language schools, the school also serves as a vocational school for Japanese students eager to study in an international environment.

A quiet place for studying!

After walking down the school’s corridors holding over 115 years of history, we sat down with FFLC’s team to chat about the variety of courses available to international students. The school prides itself on offering much more than typical Japanese classes. Ongoing support for your life in Japan, a rich cultural program, and a green campus set the school apart.

Fukuoka’s lively atmosphere is perfect for international students

Fukuoka offers all the commodities of a modern and big city while being relatively compact and international. Being the main city of Kyushu, there’s more shopping, eating, and places to explore than you could ever want. Even with all this, Fukuoka is far from a concrete jungle—its laid back atmosphere is the complete opposite of the typical stress associated with city living.

What’s more, the cost of living in Fukuoka is approximately 30% cheaper than in other big Japanese cities like Tokyo. A good one-room apartment located near Hakata Station costs around ¥61,500 per month, whereas the rent for a 1R located in central Tokyo can easily cost over ¥100,000. Despite being a medium-sized city, Fukuoka offers plenty of part-time job opportunities too. FFLC has several partnerships with local businesses and provides guidance to students searching for work.

Fukuoka is compact enough that you can get almost anywhere by bike.

Thanks to its ideal location, most FFLC students actually don’t even …continue reading