Sunday, October 23, 2011

Useful ESL Resources

In preparation for the Kenshukai (Education Research seminar) later this year, I have collected together a few of the beneficial ESL websites I frequently utilize.

Nearly all of these websites focus on ESL learning and together form a useful database for English materials, such as flash cards, word puzzles, worksheets, and English based activities and games ready made for your convenience.

The reason I am posting this information on this blog, is because I may need to reference these sites at a later date, and I thought it would be nice to be able to do it from my smart phone in real time instead of having to save files onto a SD card and try and transfer them manually, which can be a pain. Also, I can direct others to this post which may help them build their own data base of English teaching materials.

1. Eigo Note Blog (

2. Eigo Noto (

3. Boggles World ESL (

4. A4 ESL (

5. ESL HQ (

6. Eigo Batake (

7. MES English (

8. Genki English (

9. Matsuka Phonics (

10. Dave's ESL Cafe (

11. My (

12. Livewire Puzzles (

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Scarecrow & Lady Kignston: Escort Escapades

As many of you know, I love to write, and as such, I write, write, and write some more. Some might even call me a writer.

The second installment of The Scarecrow & Lady Kingston, Escort Escapades, is now available for Kindle and Kindle Fire on!

Here is the summary of the plot, which continues after the events of part one.

A strange assassin prowls the streets of L.A. A well known adult entertainment actress becomes collateral damage in a corrupted Senator's night life, and once again Julie finds herself involuntarily connected to the bizarre events. The FBI butts into Detective Julie Kingston's affairs causing her to be more ill tempered than ever. Meanwhile, her vulpine rival, the starlet Kateland Ramese Beckensale, gets tangled up in the whole mess when she becomes the assassin’s next target. To make matters worse, Julie gets stuck in the middle of having to dismantle a bomb set to detonate in downtown L.A.

Scarecrow, with time running out, tirelessly works to piece together the puzzle of seemingly unrelated events—and save his partner—but will he solve the mystery before it's too late?

The Scarecrow & Lady Kingston: Escort Escapades is approximately 15,000 words long. Warning: contains sexual references, action based violence, and some offensive language. Recommended for mature audiences.

This novella makes for a great gift for oneself--especially if you like action/adventure, mystery, suspense, comedy. Be sure and check it out!

The wycked cover art was provided by my long time friend Sedat Oezgen.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Kumamoto: Solara: October Updates!

 A gorgeous setting Japanese sun. I took this shot on me cell out in the Amakusa bay.

 A gorgeous little girl picking "cosmos" flowers.

Sunset over the JR line. Taken at Kumamoto station on my cell phone.

Another angle at the station. My late night commute.

Dad and his lovely little princess. We went to Moenosato park near Mt. Aso. We spent all day there. It was so much fun.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Earthquake (Level 5!) Kumamoto

On Thursday this past week (Oct. 6) at 11:33 in the evening Kumamoto was rocked by a level 5 earthquake. The good news is that TKU and RKK news networks have reported that nobody was seriously injured.

It was the first level 5-upper JMA seismic intensity level earthquake to ever hit Kumamoto.

Other than my wife getting spooked and bundling up the baby in a big soft blanket and pacing the hallway waiting for aftershocks, which luckily never came, everyone at the house is fine.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Phonics Mother Frackers! Phonics!

Japanese teachers of English (JTEs) usually get flustered if you, the eager assistant language teacher (ALT), exuberant to extol supreme English knowledge to your non-native speakers of English as a second language (ESL) students does something insane... like... teach them a new word... in English.

Immediately protests are mounted. The teacher complains, "But it's too difficult!"

"What the frack?" thinks the ALT. "All I did was teach them the word *moon*. What's the big deal?"

"That word isn't in their vocabulary list," informs the JTE. "They won't learn it until next year."

English learning suddenly comes to a halt.

You would be surprised at how often this form of protest is levied against the poor ALT who can't understand what their job is supposed to be. After all, here is the ALT thinking they were hired to help assist English learning--by using their native English speaking powers--like a master Language Jedi--to transform their students into masterful English users.

Instead, the ALT is lectured to, usually in front of the class, that English is "just too hard" for the students. It makes one wonder how well this bit of reverse psychology motivates the students to learn English? The students probably only hear, "You all suck at English! Don't even bother."

The average Japanese person, stuck on a small island, where everyone looks the same, it taught to think and behave in the same manner, and where they are constantly told that English is just too difficult for them--they grow up thinking, "Heck, this English is just too hard. It's not for me."

Not exactly a great way to excite Japanese students and ignite their passion for English.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Riding the JR Line

My new job is an hour and a half train ride out of town. By car that's roughly a two hour drive with the traffic. Now you know why I've entered the world of train culture. Trains are much faster and many times safer than driving.

Japan is infamous for timely trains. Two minutes late and everyone on the platform starts checking their watches and smart phones. Four minutes late and the control room is sending out apologies then announcements stating that the train shall arrive shortly. And you know what? It always does!

I've never seen a late train in the sense that it didn't arrive on schedule. Personally, the latest I've seen was around five minutes late. Only in the case of random freak accidents does a Japanese train not make it to it's destination on time. Usually suicide jumpers flinging themselves in front of a speeding locomotive. But if it wasn't for suicidal folks completely inconsiderate of the time schedule, the trains in Japan would probably never be all that terribly late. All in all, I must say, that it is pretty darn impressive.

So here is a breakdown of my daily commute.

5:00 AM ... Wake up.
6:10 AM ... Ride bike to tram line.
6:45 AM ... Switch from tram to JR line.
7:00 AM ... Switch trains at main station. Buy breakfast.
7:24 AM ... Ride train to destination.
7:50 AM ... Arrival.

My breakfast usually consists of a coffee with a freshly baked panini. Now, I am a little behind on the times, because this was the first time I have discover the wonderfulness that is panini. The way the bakery at Kumamoto station makes paninis is splendid. They slice a small cut into a thin loaf, then put on all the toppings, seal back up the loaf, and throw the whole thing into the large oven.  The oven looks like a pizza ovens. Then after a minute, they pull it out, and presto--a panini!

I prefer the bacon, lettuce, tomato with cheese panini. The cheese melts inside, and it is truly scrumptious!

After that I head to school. Actually, I work at three schools. Two elementary schools and one junior high school. The transition from my old job, where I had taught at three different junior high schools and ten elementary schools, was fairly smooth.

The new faculty and staff, teachers and students, all gave me a warm welcome. Usually, when starting at a new school, it takes a few weeks for everyone to warm up to you. Especially the students. But this time, for some reason, it was completely different. The students keep asking what day I will come, and one of my junior high school 3rd graders (equivalent of a freshman in American high school) stated, "What days do you come to school? We always have more fun when you're here."

I'm glad they are having so much fun. Although, all I have really had time to do is chat with them in the hallways between classes. During class, Bikkuri Vick takes over, the crazy wild teacher--and goes wild teaching English. Gets the children motivated. My philosophy is, you have to raise you energy level to theirs, or at least the excitement of learning, if you want them to absorb what you're teaching. Also, when teaching ESL I have found that it really helps to be animated--the larger the gesture or expression is, the more likely they will be to make the correlations between the vocabulary and the action.

After a hard day of work, Bikkuri Vick often likes to stop for a drink. Of course, the preferred beverage is Bikkle. Why Bikkle? Because Bikkuri Vick likes to drink Bikkle.

Actually, you wouldn't know it by reading the English, but this is an inside joke with my students. In Japanese, there is no sound for the letter "V" so inevitably it becomes the letter "B." As such, the sentence, said in Katakana sounding English, becomes an extra humorous rhyme in Japanese.

"Bikkuri Bikku laikusu tsu dorinku Bikkeru."

Yes, I do. I do like to drink Bikkle.

After a nice refreshing drink, to cool off and regain my sugar levels, I walk ten minutes back to the station, and repeat my train hopping all the way home. I usually get home around 6:30 PM. Well, that's my daily routine involving riding the JR line! Busy, busy, busy.

P.S. This is the bike which gets me around. Notice the Bikkle along with the bento in the back of the bike.