Would you pass the chopsticks exam?

In today’s Mainichi News, there was an article about a high school in Nagasaki that will start checking if applicants can use chopsticks properly. The ‘chopsticks test’ will be part of their entrance exams next year. Officials of Sasebo Women’s High School said that they wound like to see if applicants have acquired the minimum levels of eating manners by checking their use of chopsticks. The “chopstick inspections,” which include […]

My gullible students!

Yesterday was our Halloween barbeque, which was a lot of fun. One activity we did was set up boxes with pictures of fingers, brains, worms and eyeballs on them. Inside were sausages, prunes, noodles and peeled grapes, and the kids were really quick to figure that out. The adults tend to have a better imagination and pulled some really icky faces when dipping their hands in the boxes. Two of […]

A massage from your teacher

I was looking through some of my old things and found a postcard from the first school I taught at in Japan. When a potential customer had taken a trial lesson, the teacher was supposed to fill in this postcard and it would be sent to that student. I had to shrink the picture a bit for the web, but if you look closely you’ll see a classic mistake.   […]

Is ESL in Japan a big joke?

According to an NHK report in 2000, Japan has the largest commercial English language education market in the world, valued at $20 billion. So, you would expect most Japanese to be fairly proficient in English, right? Wrong! Official TOEIC figures for 1997-1998 showed Japan to have the lowest average score among the 17 countries in which TOEIC test taking is most popular. As an ESL teacher in Japan, I should consider myself fortunate that people […]