Monday, July 30, 2012

We harvested.

Shuukaku shimashita.

The watermelon was tiny, and there was only one that was fully ripe, but the fact remains that we grew a watermelon in a container outside our dining area, and that it was just as sweet and juicy as any watermelon we have bought at the local supermarket.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

This (is what we're doing) this year!

Kotoshi ha kore!
Does anyone remember last year's green curtain? And how were were up to our necks in goya (bitter gourds) that the kids didn't like?

I have learned from experience, and this year I went with something that the kids would eat.

That's right, I have watermelon vines growing in containers outside my dining area. They're small, and I'm probably only going to get four or five watermelons from two very large containers, but the cool factor of having watermelons growing in my yard is pretty much off the charts humongous. 

In other news...Snail's Pace English School now has a new student. Our neighbor's 9 year-old, whom the Pumpkin Princess idolizes, has joined in classes. I was having (somewhat expected) problems with getting the Pumpkin Princess to say stuff and carry conversations with me, so I recruited the 9 year-old. I've done one lesson without and two lessons with the new girl, and the difference was...well, me trying to force the Pumpkin Princess to do something she doesn't want to do, and a functional children's English class.

So there are now 4 students (the Pumpkin Princess, the new girl, the Pumpkin Prince, and the Pumpkin Daddy), which is pretty good for doing group stuff like games and practicing talking to each other. We'll see how it goes. Right now, my concern is that there might be two weeks in a row without classes because of my work and family stuff. I'm trying to think of a way to make up at least the second missed lesson without driving everyone crazy...

Monday, July 2, 2012

Can you read it?


A Japanese first grader can write a letter by the end of May. Considering this is 2 months into  her first school year, this is an interesting situation. I don't think this holds true for American first graders.

The Japanese phonetic alphabet (hiragana or katakana) is a "what you see is what you get" alphabet. You read the name of the letter, and that's how that letter is pronounced (I understand Korean and Nepali are also like this). Not so in English. The name of the letter and its pronunciation are two different entities.

When I was in first grade, I remember my teacher, Mrs. Carter, doing phonics flashcards with us. The first graders would happily shout "ah! aaaaaay!" "ih! aaaaai!" "yuh! ih! aaaaaai!" as she flashed cards labeled "A," "I," or "Y."

Then we moved, and we went to a different school in a different state. This school did not do much by way of phonics. The kids were taught to read by recognizing short words.

I have started to try to teach the Pumpkin Princess English. I found a text I thought I liked, and I got the textbook and workbook and teacher's book, but it didn't make sense to me until last night, when I figured out that the Pumpkin Princess


Apparently this is how they currently teach reading to children in the UK and Australia these days. It's called synthetic phonics, and when you stop and think about it, it makes perfect sense, and it's probably easier (if time consuming) to both children and teachers.

So I have the textbook, workbook, and the teacher's book.

But I am too cheap to pay 7000 yen for the set of flashcards.