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Taking Control of Time
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06.05Have you ever been to Baltimore?Photo Credit: Brendan Beale @ Unsplash.comI’m from Baltimore, and I proudly use every opportunity to share about my hometown whenever I can. Baltimore is just the 30th largest city in the United States, so it may be an unfamiliar destination to many people. However, Baltimore, which is home to over half a million people, is one of the oldest cities in the United States with a rich history as well as boasting many attractions and places of entertainment.History of BaltimoreBaltimore was one of the first major cities to develop in the United States and as a result, there are many historical buildings and structures in Baltimore. In fact, close to one third of all buildings in Baltimore are designated historical structures. Cobbled stone streets, colonial style architecture, and row houses that are hundreds of years old are a very common sight in Baltimore. Other than its large supply of historic buildings, Baltimore also holds a famous place in U.S. history as the birthplace of the U.S. national anthem. The lyrics to the U.S. national anthem, known as the "The Star-Spangled Banner,” were famously written in Baltimore in 1812 by Francis Scott Key, an American lawyer, after he was moved by the sight of the American flag proudly waving in the Baltimore Harbor during the War of 1812. Baltimore is also famous for being the birthplace of Babe Ruth, nicknamed the “The Great Bambino,” who is widely considered to be the greatest baseball player of all time.Attractions and Entertainment of BaltimoreBaltimore has many sights of attractions and entertainment. The city has two major professional sports teams, a Major League Baseball team, the Baltimore Orioles, and a National Football League team, the Baltimore Ravens. Both sports teams, which are hugely popular and play in large stadiums close to downtown Baltimore, are a big source of pride for Baltimore residents and residents wearing their teams’ jerseys, hats, coats, logos, and colors is a common sight.The other major attraction of Baltimore is its strong connection to the sea and water. The Baltimore Inner Harbor, for example, is a popular tourist attraction and pedestrian friendly waterfront with many shops and seafood restaurants. If you visit any of the restaurants at the Baltimore Inner Harbor, you can order a “crab cake,” which is a type of fishcake made with crab meat, breadcrumbs, and mayonnaise. “Crab cakes,” which are said to originate from various fish markets around Baltimore, are a very popular food eaten all over the city. At the Baltimore Inner Harbor, you can also visit the Baltimore Aquarium, which is one of the most extensive aquariums in the United States, with over 17,000 species of animals.Finally, another major attraction is a group of four historic ships docked in the Inner Harbor that were built between 1853 to 1944 and are fully accessible to the public as a maritime museum. If you have a chance, I definitely recommend that you visit Baltimore!Questions:1. How many people live in Baltimore?2. What happened in Baltimore in 1812?3. What popular food can you eat in Baltimore?Scroll down ↓ for the answersAnswers:1. 500,000 people2. The lyrics to the U.S. national anthem, known as the "The Star-Spangled Banner,” were written by Francis Scott Key after he was moved by the sight of the American flag in the Baltimore Harbor.3. Crab cakesAlexander Sheffrin
05.29Gestures and physical movements are parts of our communication.
Photo Credit: Andrea Piacquadio @ pexels.com
In many countries, people often use hand gestures, such as “beat” gestures, to make communication easier. There is scientific research showing that “beat” gestures improve children's narrative discourse performance. Other studies illustrate that people can more easily realise the meanings of words when hand gestures are used during a conversation than during a conversation without gestures.
As there are different languages depending on cultures, different hand gestures are used from country to country. For example, Japanese people wave their hands when they want to call over somebody, or ask somebody to move forward. More specifically, they repeatedly drag their four fingers inwards to their palm, before then straightening them again. These beckoning gestures have an opposite meaning in Western culture. People in Western countries use similar gestures when they want to say goodbye.
Japanese people wave their hands left to right in front of their faces when they want to say 'no'. However, people in Western countries use a similar expression when something smells bad.
Not only hand gestures, but also physical behaviours are culturally different. At this point I would like to introduce my experience in the UK when I was a postgraduate student. When I was a college student in Japan, I thought it was okay to sniffle quietly when I had a runny nose. I did not care about other people's sniffling sounds, unless they were loud. However, when I was a postgraduate student in the UK, I realised that making a sniffling sound is very rude in Western cultures. When I was studying in a university library with my friend from Luxemburg, a male student next to us sniffled many times. I did not care about it so much, but suddenly my friend from Luxemburg stood up and whispered into my ear, 'I can't stand that sound, Chika. I'm gonna leave'. She looked very angry, and I was extremely surprised to learn the reason for this anger. I realised that it is better to blow one’s nose in Western countries even if it makes a sound. It may not be good to make a big noise, though.
Of course, it is very important to learn other languages. However, as we can see in the examples of this blog, physical movements or behaviours also have huge impacts on our communication. While learning foreign languages, it may be interesting to observe the physical movements or behaviours which are common in our own countries, and think about how these common behaviours are considered in other countries.
Question 1: What kinds of hand gestures do Japanese people use when they want to call somebody over?
Question 2: What does the beckoning gesture of Japanese people mean in Western countries?
Question 3: What kinds of hand gestures do Japanese people use when they want to say 'no'?
Scroll down ↓ for the answers
Answer 1: They drag their four fingers inwards to their palm, before then straightening them again and repeating the gesture.
Answer 2: It means 'goodbye'.
Answer 3: They repeatedly wave their hand left to right in front of their faces.Chika Kitano
05.22Seven Hours to the Beach
Photo Credit: マサコ アーント @ pixabay
One cheap way to get to the beach in Japan is to fly with Peach Airlines from Kansai International Airport to Ishigaki Island in Okinawa. In March, I flew round trip for ¥15,000, and with a bargain deal on a new hotel with a free breakfast for ¥6,000, the choice to see the ocean before school started was an easy one over a weekend stay in an urban setting in Tokyo.
After exiting the new airport on Ishigaki even with a Starbucks cafe, I took a city bus 15 minutes to my hotel in front of the new Intercontinental ANA Resort Hotel and walked to the beach in 5 minutes. Without a car, I had to take a bus around the island. The main gem of a beach is called Kabira with clear, clean water and star-shaped grains of sand. It was an undeveloped beach in a pure state, very peaceful and beautiful. That is in contrast to the downtown area with many izakayas serving Orion beer and souvenir shops selling ceramic shisa figurines. Almost all of the homes in Okinawa have a pair of shisa dragons on the roof or at the entrance. One of the shisa has an open mouth beckoning for good fortune to enter, while the other one has a closed mouth to expel bad fortune. These figures are seen everywhere as spiritual guardians.
The other lyrical touch that I appreciated was constantly hearing the music of the sanshin, I guess Hawaii’s counterpart being the ukulele.
The vibe down there is mellow, and it is a place that needs more tourists to survive economically. This is a great place for students since the costs are low and the warm weather will make it easy to pack a light carry-on suitcase.
1) What musical instrument is heard on Ishigaki Island?
A - ukulele
B – sanshin
C – guitar
2) What is special about the sand on Kabira Beach?
A – it has gold in it
B – it smells good
C – there are star-shaped grains of sand
3) What Okinawan figure/decoration/guardian is also connected with luck inside and outside the house?
A – Setsubun
B – Maneki Neko
C – Shisa
Scroll down ↓ for the answers
3) CJane Ward
05.15Why I Read Self-Help BooksPhoto Credit: Kranich17 @ pixabayMore and more, I hear students say something that completely breaks my heart. “I don’t like reading.” This, to me, is one of the saddest things I hear from today’s younger generation. I’ll admit to you, there are definitely a lot more exciting things we can do with our time. Reading does not often give us a rush of adrenalin or dopamine, two chemicals that bring us joy and cause addiction (both healthy and unhealthy ones). However, it does so much for us that we often overlook (or ignore).First, reading books, especially non-fiction, gives us a better education than many of our university classes do. Why, you ask? You can take the learning at your own pace and review things as much as you want before moving on to the next stage (chapter). Also, being a published author requires the writer to be an expert in the topic. Furthermore, the book will have been read, questioned, evaluated, rewritten, and perfected, before it reaches your eyes. This means the content in the book can be trusted to be valid and accurate, whether it matches our opinion or not.By contrast, magazine and online articles, blog entries, tweets, and other reading materials, are often produced much more quickly and with less peer reviewing than books. In some cases, no one has verified the information before it goes public! Some of these writings can be trusted, but not all!My second reason for reading these kinds of books is that it allows me to hear points of view that are different from the ones I currently hold. I have been influenced by my parents, my friends, my teachers, and others who are in my circle of contacts. However, bringing in someone else’s perspective, someone that I have never met before, allows me to get a fresh angle on a topic that might already interest me. I might not take everything that they teach and apply it to my life, but at least I can gain something from reading their work!Finally, reading relaxes me a lot more than staring at my smartphone or computer screen. I get enough social media, movie streaming, and other such entertainment in my life. I find that looking at books, pages with meaningful writing on them, calms me down and helps reset my mind for a while. If I do not read on any given day, I feel that I am a little bit too wound up to handle the next day.By the way, I strongly recommend the book Atomic Habits (by James Clear). It has been translated into Japanese and is called 複利で伸びる一つの習慣. I am also currently reading a really cool book called Terraform by my favorite rapper, Propaganda. I also just recently bought a book called Stop Living on Autopilot by Antonio Neves. I hope it gives me a good education, offers some new perspective, and relaxes me from day to day.I recommend you pick up a book and learn more about how you can make yourself a better person, too!Questions:1) What do the chemicals adrenaline and dopamine do for us?A - Give us a happy feeling in our brainsB - Make us want to read more booksC - Provide entertainment such as Netflix and social media2) Why are blogs less enjoyable than books, according to the writer?A - They do not have enough depth, so we cannot learn from themB - They can be read on the train, so reading them is not relaxingC - They are often not fact-checked by others, so they might be inaccurate3) Which of these is NOT a reason that the writer enjoys reading self-help books?A - They help him gain new perspectives on topics he already cares aboutB - They help him avoid using his smartphone and computer so muchC - They provide a good education because the writers of these books are expertsScroll down ↓ for the answersAnswers:1) A2) C3) BTrevor Raichura
05.08The Joy of Vinyl RecordsPhoto Credit: Merve @ pexels.comMany people today listen to music using streaming services like Apple Music or downloaded mp3 files played through smart phones. When I was a child in the early 1970’s, we mostly listened to music with vinyl records. Then cassette tapes became popular because they were more portable, and you could record your own music onto them. Later in the 1990’s, CDs became the most popular medium for music. My favorite way to listen to music is the vinyl record. In recent years, records have become trendy again, partly due to their popularity with DJs. I am not a DJ, but I have several other reasons why I like vinyl best.If taken care of properly, records last a long time. I have several hundred records; most of them I bought in my youth or came from my father’s even older collection. Today I listened to the very first record I ever bought – Led Zeppelin IV. It still sounds great, even though the vinyl record is over 40 years old. None of the cassettes from my childhood work at all now, and even some of my CDs from the 1990’s don’t really work well anymore. My old records; however, have become some of my most prized possessions.I believe the analog format of vinyl records provides a better, warmer sound than digital formats. Even the pops and crackles you hear on scratched or dusty records can have some nostalgic attraction for people of my generation. Many audiophiles think analog records contain a wider range of sound waves and give a rich, truer, more authentic sound.Finally, and most importantly, listening to music with records is a more involved, satisfying experience. First, I have to physically find a record by looking through my record collection. The artwork on the record covers trigger memories and helps me choose what I want to hear. Then I have to take out the record from its sleeve, decide if I want to hear side A or B, put the record on my turntable, and manually place the needle at the song I want to hear. Often, I will start from the beginning using the automatic function. This makes me listen to all of the songs in the order the artist intended, something I think is mostly lost today when we skip through and just pick single songs from our mp3 collection. As I listen to the record, I usually spend some time looking at the artwork and the information printed on the album sleeve, and sometimes I can read the lyrics to the songs if they are printed on the sleeve. I think listening to music with records is a more focused, complete, artistic experience than using other formats. When I play vinyl records, I can most fully appreciate what I am listening to.Questions:1. Which of the following is the oldest music medium?A. CDsB. Streaming ServicesC. Vinyl records2. In paragraph 4, what is an ‘audiophile’?A. A professional musician.B. A notebook with notes about music.C. A person who is enthusiastic about high-quality sound.3. Why does the author like vinyl records?A. Because they are very convenient.B. Because the author thinks they provide a better listening experience.C. Because the author is a DJ.Scroll down ↓ for the answersAnswers:1. C2. C3. BBrett Morgan
05.01Out-of-the-box ideas for your leisure time at home
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Have you been looking for something different to do while staying at home? How about learning to play a board game or having a game night? There are many types of games that can be played by yourself or with a group. Although you might think games are just for children, they can be enjoyed by adults too: from strategy games to family games to word games, there are many to choose from.
The game of chess has been growing in popularity, especially since The Queen’s Gambit was released on Netflix last year. The show is based on a book with the same title, and it refers to the name of an opening move in the game of chess. This fictional story follows chess prodigy Beth Harmon as she struggles with personal problems and strives to become the best chess player in the world. Because of this series, more and more people are buying chess sets, learning the rules, and following famous chess players online, like grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura. These new members of the chess community are practicing at home with their friends or family members, or they are playing online. Although the rules of chess are easy to understand, the strategy is difficult to master, so it can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities. In fact, my father taught me to play chess when I was an elementary school student, and although I don’t play it now, I remember the time we spent playing chess together.
During the stay-at-home period, some families have started a new tradition—game night. Game nights are a fun way to spend time together and not only play games but also talk. Over the past year, my family often played board games, and the one we have played the most is called Ticket to Ride. Two to five people are needed to play the game, so it is ideal for a game night with friends or family; however, there is also an app version if you want to play alone. The object of the game is to collect colored cards and then build train routes to connect cities across the board. There are various versions of the game, each based on a different map: The United States, Europe, and so on. Players earn points based on the length and point value of the train routes, and the winner is the person with the most points at the end of the game. Therefore, this game is a mixture of luck and strategy, so it is very fun to play on game night.
Games are good for the brain, and they can be a fun way to practice language skills too. Classic word games like Scrabble, Boggle, Scattergories, and Taboo are sure to challenge your English vocabulary skills, and most of them are available in both tabletop and online versions. No matter which one you choose, playing a game can be an excellent way to spend your leisure time.Questions:
Q1. According to the article, why has chess become popular recently?
A. It is easy to master the game of chess
B. There was a popular show about chess
C. A game of chess can be played quickly
Q2. What kind of game is Ticket to Ride?
A. A word game
B. A card game
C. A board game
Q3. Which benefits of game night are mentioned in the article? (Choose all correct answers.)
Scroll down ↓ for the answers
1 – B
2 – C
3 – B & CMary Hillis
04.24Language Lessons from Polyglot Language LearnersPhoto credit: Tessa Kavanagh on PixabayPolyglots are people who have learned many languages. The most famous polyglots can speak over 10 languages. Some of the current famous polyglots are Richard Simcott, Steve Kaufmann, and Luca Lampariello. You can look them up on the internet to find out in detail how they study. They might study a little differently than your teachers have told you but it is hard to argue with their success. This article will summarize what I found out from researching polyglot language learners.The first thing to know is there isn’t one way to learn a language. Polyglots used a lot of different methods. Some of the methods they recommended were the opposite of what other polyglots recommended. The lesson here is to research what others recommend, try many different methods, and when you find one that works for you personally, use that method. Despite there being many opinions on what is the best way to learn languages, there were some main themes that emerged.Maximize Comprehensible Input. Most polyglots were big fans of the American Linguistics Professor Stephen Krashen. Krashen recommends learners expose themselves to as much of the target language as they can. This input should ideally be just above your level and interesting to you. This includes reading easy books, watching videos, and listening to music. The key is to listen and read as much as you can in your target language. Some people call this the immersion approach. Use the time you have such as when you are travelling to school, doing housework, or winding down at the end of the day.Review Words, Phrases, and Sentences from the Input. Most polyglots advised reviewing what was learned from the input using a Spaced Repetition System. This is similar to studying from flashcards but the Spaced Repetition software tells you when to study the information again just before you forget it. There are many computer applications you can use but the most famous one is called, “Anki”. When a word or phrase repeatedly catches your attention make a study card and review it until you can recall it easily.Practice Speaking and Writing. Although most polyglots advise to focus on listening and reading at the beginning stages of learning a language, speaking and writing can help to reinforce and solidify language already learned. To practice writing, the most obvious example given is to write a diary. For speaking, the most obvious thing to do is to speak to others in the target language. If this is not possible, recording yourself can also be good practice.Learning a language should be fun if you follow the polyglot language learners’ advice. Immerse yourself with as much interesting content in your target language as you can. Pick out bits you want to learn and review them with a spaced repetition system like Anki. When you have progressed beyond the beginner level, use speaking and writing to reinforce what you have learned through listening and reading.But most of all, make sure to have fun!Questions:1: What is a "polyglot"?A parrotA person who speaks many languages well.A person with many “glots”.2: What is the first advice from polyglots?Eat food from around the world.Feed your parrot many seeds and fruits.Maximize comprehensible input.3: What is the name of the most famous SRS Flashcard Application?Anki.Tik-TokScroll down ↓ for the answersAnswers:1 – B2 – C3 – AMichael Wilkins
04.17Inspired by Historical FictionPhoto credit: Avery Evans unsplash.comYou may have discovered that reading about one topic will get you interested in others. Recently, I read the novel “The Eagle Has Landed” by Jack Higgins (1975). The style is what some call ‘historical fiction’ meaning places, people and events used in the book may have really existed, but the drama is a fictional story. This particular story relates an account of a secret plan of Nazi Germany to send soldiers to England in order to kidnap the Prime Minister of Britain, Winston Churchill.While reading, I first became curious of the location of some scenes in the book. This led me to researching more about Norfolk and Norwich, England by looking at maps and pictures. I also wanted to see pictures of war time Berlin and England.I became interested in the historical characters including Adolf Hitler, Churchill, and Benito Mussolini, the former Prime Minister of Italy. These are names I grew up hearing, but I never learned the details about what kind of people they were, or what they did during the time of World War II. I also become interested in the political problems between Ireland and Britain which have a long history and are one component of the story’s background. The internet is a great resource for following up on topics. We can see pictures, videos and find other materials related to what we are reading.After finishing the book, I learned about a movie that was made based on the novel. I read about the actors featured in the movie and how it was reviewed by movie critics. From now I would like to read more ‘historical fiction’ novels to see how the authors combine real and imaginary events or people. In fact, there have been many historical dramas produced for TV in Japan. They are often based on historical characters and events, but they can show us a human side to the events we read about in history textbooks. I recommend trying some historical novels and checking out some historical dramas as well. It is an interesting way to encounter people and events from the past. Maybe you will also be inspired to expand your interests and views about various related topics.Questions:Q1. Which book did the author read?A. Harry PotterB. The Eagle Has LandedC. Apollo 13Q2. Who were two famous people in the novel?A. Adolf Hitler, Winston ChurchillB. Jack Ryan, Ethan HuntC. William Wallace, Queen ElizabethQ3. Why does the author recommend reading historical fiction?A. You can watch historical movies.B. It can help you get a good grade on history tests.C. It can give you a new perspective on history.Scroll down ↓ for the answersAnswers:1 B2 A3 CBBP Staff
04.10Learning from doing Volunteer Work
Photo credit: RODNAE Productions @pexels.com
Have you ever done any volunteering work before? If not, what kind of image do you have of them? My image toward volunteering work was something special and for only special people. However, my image was changed after I did some volunteer work in a Japanese class as a language facilitator when I was studying in the UK as a postgraduate student.
Volunteer work became more familiar to me and made me realize that it can be a good way to deepen my interest or knowledge, especially when the volunteering work that I chose related to what I wanted to do in the future. As far as volunteering work in the UK, it seems normal for university students to do it before they start job hunting, and to write about volunteering work experience on their CV.
According to a survey conducted in 2019 by the Japanese Cabinet Office, 33.3 % of Japanese young people aged between 13 and 29 answered that they are interested in volunteer work. However, this was the lowest rank compared to other countries such as USA (65.4%), UK (52.7%), South Korea (52.6%), France (51.7%), Germany (49.6%) and Sweden (45.8%). In fact, 48.1 % of Japanese young people answered that they are not interested in volunteer work, which is 6.2 % higher than a previous survey in 2013.
In terms of the word “volunteer”, Cambridge Dictionary says that volunteer means: a person who does something, especially helping other people, willingly and without being forced or paid to do it. What’s more, PATIMES.ORG [https://patimes.org/the-origins-of-the-word-volunteer/] explains that the origin of the word volunteer comes from the Latin word voluntaries, which has the meaning of willing or of one’s own choice. With reference to the benefits of volunteer work, [https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-living/volunteering-and-its-surprising-benefits.htm] it explains that there are four good reasons to do such work;
1. Volunteering connects you to others. This means that volunteering can give you a chance to make new friends and expand your network.
2. Volunteering is good for your mind and body. According to the researchers, helping other people can make you feel happy and increase self-confidence.
3. Volunteering can advance your career. Volunteering can teach you some important skills such as teamwork, communication, problem solving, project planning, task management and organization.
4. Volunteering brings fun and fulfillment to your life.
It is said that volunteering can be an easy way to discover your interests and passions. Why don’t you learn not only from the textbooks but also from doing some volunteer work?
Q1.What percent of young Japanese people are interested in volunteer work?
Q2. What does the Latin word "voluntaries" mean?
B. Willing or of one’s own choice.
C. Giving things away free
Q3. What can people receive by doing volunteer work?
A. More Self-confidence.
B. Bigger pay
C. Free lunch
Scroll down ↓ for the answers
3 ARyoko Ozaki