Old Blog Entry: Cold & loving February

{ Old Entry moved from my old Blog }

Ahem, I'm not doing a great job at keeping up to date, am I?

February is cold.
People here in my town had warned me that the 2nd month of the year would be the coldest, but I didn't realise that temperatures would drop this much! And yet, at the same time, they say winter is "nearly over"...but apparently there's still some snow around till April. How is that "nearly over"?!
In saying that, I haven't got fed up of the snow yet. I never really loved the idea of it in the first place - I never really understood why back in England people got so excited when white stuff started to sprinkle from the sky. I used to get excited when I was younger, yes, but now, it's no big deal. It's not that I hate it; Biei is absolutely beautiful in snow, but I find myself smiling when the sun is out.
Although, that's what I do love about it here - the sun EXISTS!!! It really does lift my spirits when I wake up in the morning and golden rays are shining through the window; I go to work in a much happier mood
I think I've pretty much got used to having the snow around. But I really am looking forward to the summer. Hokkaido in the summer was gorgeous - especially where I live! And it means I get to eat my favourite SOFT WHIPPED ICE-CREAM ♥ ...not great news for my figure, however

As February is the coldest time of the year, it is also a month of "Snow Festivals" in Hokkaido. There was one in the city near me, and then there was the main, big one in Sapporo, the largest city in Hokkaido. I went to both, and I really did enjoy them. Basically, experts, not just from Japan, sculpt characters and figures out of snow and ice and put them up on display (more info here). Some of the work was stunning. I should get some photos up on this blog, if I can be bothered to move my arse

Another note to February; t'was the day of luuurve on the 14th.
And guess what? I'm so popular with Senior/Junior High (中学) girls. They all love me, haha
In Japan, Valentine's Day is seen as a day for girls to make their own chocolates or bake their own cakes and give them as presents to boys, thanks to the advertising of chocolate companies and their money-making techniques. It's seen as a day when the girl finally tells her crush that she fancies him along with some chocolates she spent all night making, d'aww. (-_-) Nowadays, that doesn't happen much, as there are such things as "tomo-choco (友チョコ)" where the girls give their friends including girls chocolates, and "giri-hoco (ギリチョコ)" where girls give boys they have no interest in but decided to give them something just so they don't feel left out. Japan amuses me.
Anyway, I got about...6 gifts from 2 schools I go to. It was very sweet of the students to do so. I mean, yes, they were giving gifts to other teachers, but for them to consider giving something to me, when I only work part-time at different schools and don't help out in all of their lessons, was really kind of them. I was so surprised because some students I've only ever taught once or twice even gave me things! I must make a wonderful impression in even the shortest of times. :P

Old Blog Entry: Teaching Talking Animals

{ Old Entry moved from my old Blog }

I had another rehearsal for the musical last weekend. Things are coming together quite nicely I think. We practiced a lot of the songs and the dances, and I shamelessly choreographed some easy steps for 1 of the songs I'm doing with the 2 genies, 'Share the World' by Touhoushinki (東方神起). The song was my choice. Don't shoot me for liking Korean boybands, they are pretty, after all  And for all you Anime fans out there, "YAY, 'ONE PIECE' OPENING SONG!"

I wasn't too well during the end of last week; I had a horrible tummy bug. I went into 1 of the schools on Thursday (called 'Meitoku') but the kind teachers there told me to go home and rest - the Deputy Headteacher even drove me back in his car, bless him! I was feeling better on Friday, so I went back to the school to teach the remainder of my classes.

A little note about this school 'Meitoku'; it's an Elementary school (Ages 6 to 11, equivalent to an English Primary school) and a Junior High school (Ages 11 to 15, equivalent to an English secondary school) together. It's the smallest school I go to, in that because there are so little numbers of students, the grades/years in the Elementary schools are taught together i.e. 1st & 2nd grades together, 3rd & 4th grades together and 5th & 6th grades together (For example, there is only 1 student in the 1st grade, and 3 students in the 2nd grade!) There are also only 2 students in the 1st grade of Junior High (kinda like Year 7), 3 students in the 2nd grade of Junior High (Year 8ish) and 6 students in the 3rd grade of Junior High (Year 9ish). I go to the school about 3 times a month, usually on Thursdays and Fridays.
Now, for the other 3 schools I go to, I am literally an assistant - this means that the Japanese English teacher has the lesson all planned out, and I simply assist by helping with pronunciations or creating an activity for them to do and so forth. But here at Meitoku, they ask me to plan the whole lesson - no plan, no nothing. It's all up to me. At first, not having had any teaching experience, I was overwhelmed, but as the number of students are small and as they are very sweet and well-behaved, I've actually come to enjoy having the freedom of teaching them what I like.

When I teach classes at 'Meitoku' I usually choose a theme and adjust the levels accordingly for each grade. Last week, I chose 'animals'. I enjoy teaching the 3rd grade in Junior High the most, as their level of English is high (especially for such a small school in the depths of Hokkaido), and they give me what I love - a REACTION and EAGERNESS!! They really listen to what I say and put their all in the activities I prepare for them. I try to make the lessons as interesting as possible by download-ur-showing Youtube videos. I was looking for some BBC Animals Documentaries but I realised that the vocabulary would be too advanced for them, but then I came across this...



When I first saw it, it had me in stitches! It's definitely my kind of humour, especially as I love animals :) There are many more to be found, but this was probably my favourite one. "ALAN! ALAN!! ALAN!!!"

In the end I didn't have time to show the kids this video, but I think I might show them it next time, purely for the hilarity of it.