Colorful ESL: Bowling

March 11th, 2010

Oh the juvenile joys of living in a country where English is widely used…poorly… By poorly, I mean simply that you wouldn’t find that particular bit of English on an electronic scoring system screen in the US. It is, you must admit, a pretty natural usage, though. Just one you more often hear than read. :-D Super short post!

Customary Drivel, Humor, Media, Video

Final Monitor Tour Videos

March 9th, 2010

Well, folks, my tourism project with ICIEA has finally come to a close. It was a lot of fun, and I’m thankful for the experience. I created a video to precede my talk to the crowd gathered at the international fair we held on Sunday last weekend. It was a pretty fun time. I enjoyed looking over the posters and photography from other monitor tourists before showing my DVDs and then getting up to speak. Those videos have been arranged in a playlist and embedded above. The first 2 in the playlist are available in full 1080p HD, so don’t miss out. The remaining 4 have been previously featured on this site.

Anyhoo – I was asked to deliver a bilingual speech, so I frequently repeated myself, I’m afraid. I’m fairly sure that both the Japanese people and the English speaking foreigners in the crowd were able to follow me reasonably well. My take: Imabari should play up its unique food heritage in a play to put itself on foreigners’ radar. I explained the concept of food tourism, and how most foreign people who go to Hiroshima go there in order to take in the history, the museums, and the sights. But they’d be foolish to miss out on some okonomiyaki while they’re there. (Am I right?)

Imabari is the crosspoint of 3 major arteries of transportation, yet people no longer stop here on their way elsewhere on Shikoku. I urged them to think about the slogan thought up by my friend Harry; “Shikoku Starts Here.” Great slogan! If only we could get some people to take a break from their travels, spend a night here, and eat some yakitori. That’s right, yakitori. Imabari is currently the #2 city in all of Japan for yakitori, and it has a unique take on it, at that. In Imabari, shops make yakitori on sheet metal griddles and handheld steel plates instead of on skewers over charcoal. It’s said that this type of yakitori started because Imabari people are impatient and they want their food lickety-split. (It’s also likely that the ship building industry’s presence meant that loads of scrap steel plates were readily available…) DELICIOUS, by the way.

Anyway, my other recommendations were for people to get online and add information to the English language Wikipedia and Wikitravel entries. (I also told them they could pay me to do it….semi-facetiously. Got some laughs. The offer still stands, if you’re reading this, guys. Ha ha. ;-) ) All in all, I think my suggestions were well received, and I think the event went well. I want to say kudos to the other foreigners who volunteered their time and to all of the Japanese staff who worked so tirelessly on this project. お疲れ様でした!

I may or may not bring this topic up once more on this blog. It seems there may be some newspaper articles coming up out of this. And it’s also possible that I’ll post a song about Imabari’s yakitori. (No joke. It was made when we were the #1 city for yakitori. Perhaps with the aid of foreign tourism, we can reclaim the title?)

Culinary, Customary Drivel, Media, Photos, Trips, Video

Soramimi on Know Your Meme

March 5th, 2010

Here’s a quick note to let you know that Know Your Meme talks about Soramimi (空耳; literally “empty ear”) in the Phonetic Translations video they put up. It’s the term for facetiously attempting to comprehend something said in a foreign language by reinterpreting it phonetically in your own language. (The post also covers misheard lyrics, which are kinda-sorta related.) You can check out the Japanese Wikipedia article here (or English here). Be aware that the post is not safe for work, please. That’s why I’ve not embedded it. Also know that I seriously object to some of the forced humor in some of the examples given. As one of my favorite former teachers would have sarcastically put it, “lewd, crude, and socially unacceptable.” Ha ha, man I wonder how she feels about 90% of the Internet. Anyway, go check out the Know Your Meme post on Phonetic Translations, and make sure you hit up Harvey’s post at Japan Newbie with probably the funniest Japanese soramimi effort I’ve seen to date at the bottom. It leaves me winded from laughing every time. If you’ve got better examples, please, share!

Customary Drivel, Humor, Unsolicited Commentary, 日本語

Saisaikiteya Event

March 3rd, 2010

Hey – here’s a post to answer the obvious (and totally fair) question: “Dude, you just said you were back to blogging and went radio silent again. What the heck is up with that?” Well, I’m wrapping up a huge project that has spanned about a full year. It’s a project put on by the city government and the local international association in an attempt to glean some useful information about how we can increase foreign tourism to Imabari City. If you’re in the Imabari area and you’d like to come, you can get a flyer in the city. (I might be able to upload one later, but it’s the same as the images you see.) For those who want to cut right to the nitty gritty, here’s the deal.

Where – Saisaikiteya
When – March 7th (Sunday), from 9 AM to 3 PM
What – Videos and pictures from monitor tours, a 30 minute presentation by yours truly, a slideshow by a professional photographer, a live radio talk show event, a piano “live” performance, a kids quiz & craft bonanza.
Why – To discuss how to increase foreign tourism, of course. But also to receive the free handdrawn English map of Imabari and to enjoy the international cooking demonstration. ICIEA Eco-bags are also being given to those who answer a survey.

Hope I see you there! And hope I can get back online once this mega-project is over! :-D

Culinary, Customary Drivel, Unsolicited Commentary, 日本語

Creative Comic Conversations

February 17th, 2010

I recently had several classes re-caption several webcomics. I did this for a few reasons. Using comics in class to have students develop dialogue is far more interesting / engaging than asking them to roleplay what has already been written in the textbook. It’s also far more challenging due to its unfamiliarity. These students do not know the characters from the comic, have a mere 3 frames to grasp the context of the situation, and are often pressed to be super creative when faced with these issues. I love that. I thrive on that. I like to hear the gears in their heads whir as they do something out of the ordinary. Plus, it benefited me in a way, too – I also happened to use this activity as an example in a cruddy mediocre talk I gave at our prefectural midyear seminar to other high school ALTs.

I first got the idea for this project when I saw it pop up on the blog of a former CIR here in Ehime. His Japanese examples are pretty funny, by the way, though you can tell they’re a bit dated from the jokes (not just the URL)! Anyhoo, I then traced it over to this site, which is where I saw the potential for high school kids to pull it off.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Penny Arcade, you really should be. It’s a hugely popular webcomic built around gamer interests that’s updated thrice weekly. The guys who make it, Mike & Jerry, rock out with their socks out, so go hit them up. Having said that, I feel like it’s important to offer up a note here. Note: Penny Arcade is NOT appropriate for class. The subject matter is super niche and the language alters between course, archaic, and highly sarcastic. The art, however, is perfect – highly emotive and often curious.

You can visit the source comics via the following links: 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5. That’s right. 5 comics. Examples follow. Please feel free to read them. Sorry about the poor legibility – the ditto machines are ancient at school. Ask questions and make comments if you’re so inclined! But above all else, enjoy. Read more…

Customary Drivel, Humor, Media, Photos

Student Chain Stories

February 3rd, 2010

Sometimes when I’m grading, I think “I should probably share this.” My students have active imaginations – sometimes they choose to use them, and sometimes they don’t. Let’s take a quick look at an example of each situation.

Situation 1: this is a common occurrence with chain stories written by indifferent students who just want a laugh. They pick an idea and they snowball it. I was happy that it paid off a bit, at least. The “crazy” part turned into a polar bear club type of outing, and the story did have a good conclusion. Also, I’m a sucker for maniacal laughs. Nicely done!

Situation 2: this is a great way to cause your ALT to have a heart attack when he’s grading, and then wonder how much he needs to defend himself against any forthcoming outrageous accusations. Ha ha ha. Holy crap. For the record, no way, Jose. No chance. Also, I don’t live in London – clearly, it’s some other dude.

I’ll be sharing some more student work soon – I did the Penny Arcade Remix activity that I spotted on several other websites, where you erase the dialogue from any webcomic (I used PA for the great contextual clues it contains) and have your students create the conversation in each frame. I hope you look forward to it!

Customary Drivel, Humor