Teaching English

Remembering Taylor Anderson – English Teacher Who Died in March 11 Tsunami

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    The following video aired on Japanese TV on March 10th:

    It is news report about Taylor Anderson, a 24-year-old American who died when the March 11th tsunami hit the city of Ishinomaki. Taylor was a JET Program ALT who taught English at public schools in the city.

    It starts off with a look at the Taylor Anderson Reading Corner at Ishinomaki’s Mangokuura Elementary School. It has a collection of over 300 English language books for children donated by Taylor’s parents.

    They interview Cameron Peek, a friend of Taylor’s and a fellow JET. He comments on how Taylor enjoyed working with children.

    They also talk to Ayane Sugiyama, a 3rd junior high school student at one of the schools where Taylor taught English. Ayane remembers how she had trouble learning English, and how Taylor taught her to keep trying until she understood.

    Ayane wrote an essay expressing her thoughts and feelings about the loss of her favorite teacher. She wonders if the tsunami warning system was adequate. Apparently Taylor was last seen riding her bicycle towards her apartment, which was in the direction of the coast. She should have been heading to high ground instead. If the announcements had been easier to understand, would Taylor been able to hear the warnings and reach a safe place before the tsunami hit? A foreigner from an area that does not have earthquakes or tsunamis may not have known about the importance of evacuating to high ground. Ayane wants to improve her English so she can be capable of helping foreigners who cannot speak Japanese.

    Back in Virginia, Taylor’s parents show the Japanese TV crew how they have received over 1,000 letters from students who loved having Taylor as their English teacher. The Andersons know that their daughter loved Japan and wanted to help educate children, so they’ve established a memorial fund in their daughter’s name. It has already raised over $200,000 in donations:

    It is very important to Taylor’s family, friends and donors that 100 percent of the funds raised will be used for the benefit of the schools, students and families in Taylor’s area. Taylor’s family feels blessed that Taylor’s high school, St. Catherine’s in Richmond, VA is donating their time and services to administer the fund. Ishinomaki BOE, Smile Kids Japan, and the Fruit Tree Project contribute 100% of what they receive to the projects we identify with them.

    “We think Taylor would be very proud of this,” Anderson said. “Her spirit encourages us and gives us the strength to do our best in her honor and keep her spirit alive in all of us.”

    Activities on behalf of Taylor and Taylor’s Fund to date include: appearances at St. Catherine’s School (two), Randolph-Macon College, Japanese Ambassador’s Thank You Barbecue, National Jet Alumni Conference, Japan Sports Visitors Program at Ripken Baseball Academy, and the Taylor Anderson Reading Corner Dedication in Ishinomaki, Japan. The family also accepted the Luminary Award for Taylor at the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of NY annual dinner, made an appearance at the Atlanta Consulate Reception in Atlanta and the Anime USA Festival in Washington, D.C. Taylor’s Fund was a beneficiary of The American Chamber of Commerce Japan Charity Ball held in December.

    In the report, we can see the Anderson family giving a presentation at Randolph-Macon College, where donations from their fund have helped expand Japanese studies.

    The report ends with another look at Mangokuura Elementary School, where volunteers (including a former student of Taylor’s) are visiting classes to read the English books donated by Taylor’s parents.

    For more information, check out:

    6 comments - What do you think?  Posted by James - April 11, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    Categories: Foreigners in Japan, Teaching English

    Sh*t Japanese Students Say

    The latest contribution to the “Shit X say to Y” meme of YouTube videos:

    “Shit Japanese Students Say の “Shit” は “こと”って言う意味です。この場合は全然悪い意味じゃないです。
    These are some things I hear everyday in my classroom. 日本の生徒から毎日聞くことです。”
    Written, Directed and Starring Medama Sensei

    Related Link: Sh*t Japanese Say to Foreigners

    16 comments - What do you think?  Posted by James - March 7, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Categories: Teaching English

    Japanese University Students Create Rage Comics

    Reddit user and English teacher Sukosuti has taught a class of Japanese university students about the rage faces from /r/fffffffuuuuuuuuuuuu and asked them to create some original comics.

    Here is my favorite:

    See the rest and vote on them them at http://www.reddit.com/r/EFLcomics/!

    12 comments - What do you think?  Posted by James - October 17, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    Categories: Odd / Strange, Teaching English

    Learning English From Japanese TV

    Scott Bean of Kansai Gaidai University gave a special English lesson on last night’s episode of “Sekaiichi Uketai Jugyou.” It included this scene, where three Japanese celebrities assume that English-speakers would understand the katakana words for certain foreign foods:

    Bean tells them that:

    • Ordering a “mikkusu sando” (ミックスサンド) sounds like you want a bowl of mixed sand. Instead, you should order a “mixed sandwich.”
    • Ordering “shu kurimu” (シュークリーム) sounds like you want shoe cream. The katakana term is actually based on French: Chou à la crème. In English it’s called a “cream puff.”

    • English speakers would supposedly understand that “aisu kohi” (アイスコーヒー) refers to iced coffee. [Fun fact: iced coffee has been common in Japan for over a hundred years, but didn't really catch on in America until the 1990's.]
    • If you ask for “gamu shiroppu” (ガムシロップ), English-speakers won’t understand that you’re asking for a syrup sweetener for your coffee. They might might think you’re talking about chewing gum or something to stick your dentures to your gums.

    Viewers were also introduced to some of the following terms:

    • ham actor – an unskilled actor
    • top banana – a leading actor; an important person
    • second banana – an actor who plays a supporting role

    Many native English speakers might not even be familiar with these terms, because none are really used in everyday speech. It’s probably unrealistic to expect entertainment programs to provide serious English lessons, but sometimes it feels like these kind of shows deliberately go out of their way to teach useless words and phrases.

    13 comments - What do you think?  Posted by James - August 7, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Categories: Japanese TV, Teaching English

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