2014 Weekly Blog
2013 Blogs
2012 Blogs
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Kristin's Blogs
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  • Happy New Year
  • Trip to Canada
  • Word for 2013
  • Improve your
    Vocabulary Usage
  • Week 2
  • Week 3
  • Week 4
  • Week 5
  • Week 6
  • Week 7
  • Our New Staff
  • Week 8
  • Week 9
  • New Teacher
  • Welcome Party
  • Week 10
  • Halloween
  • Mio & Riku
  • 2013
    Christmas Party
  • Winter
  • Christmas Party

      Where did 2012 go? I blinked once and when I opened my eyes, 2012 was gone and 2013 was knocking on my door. This week at school my students have to tell me their 2012 highlights as well as their disappointments. It is a good chance to tell each other what happened in 2012 while using English. What happened in 2012 for you? What happened in Japan or the world? For those of you who read the blog, please tell us about something that happened in 2012. Below is my attempt to tell you what happened here at SES. However, I know most of you are already enjoying 2013. Therefore, I wish you all a very healthy and happy year in 2013.

     There were many changes at SES in 2012. We lost our wonderful teacher, Mr. James Edel and his family in January. That was really bad news for the school. However, the good news is that the Edel family is fine in Canada, and their baby boy Joshua, is doing great! Thank you James and Yvonne for your warm hearts.

     We were fortunate to have Andy Sirkis become the new adult teacher. He has been wonderful. Thank you, Andy!

     I had to start teaching at the three elementary schools last January. I wasn’t looking forward to replacing James, but once I started to teach the kids, I found it a pleasant experience. Thank you, students! However, there was still bad news. Even with Andy and me working enthusiastically, it was not good enough. I was beginning to panic.

     Then with great fortune, a former student, Yuko Ishigohka came into our lives. She became our super staff person. With her help we successfully planned and executed the “Summer Fun” events for kids, the “Talk-Time” event for adults, two student exchanges and prepared things for our new English teacher. Thank you, Yuko!

      In August our new teacher, John Rajeski arrived and I thought everything would be back to normal. After three weeks John told me his sister had contracted terminal cancer and he had to go home to care for the family. That was terrible news for us all! John’s last day was October 19. John, I wish you and your family the best. At that time I was sad, but thought, “At least Yuko was still working at SES.” However, that same weekend Yuko had to quit for personal reasons. That was even more terrible news.

     Our annual Halloween party was less than two weeks away, and no teacher and no staff. What was I going to do? Well, the volunteers were absolutely fantastic! I won’t mention them by name, since they are very shy, but because of them we had our best Halloween party ever. Thank you, volunteers!

      Christmas came, and again the volunteers were amazing! Thank you again, volunteers! 2012 was a difficult year, I realized this old man is able to do much less than before, but with the kindness and generosity of the people around me, they made 2012 at SES a successful year. Thank you all, students, former teachers, staff, volunteers and friends for everything you did in 2012.

     I am looking forward to 2013. Until next week…



Japanese Pamphlet
Download or Open the PDF File to Read more about the Wonderful Trip to Canada
English Pamphlet

 Hello Nikaho City,

     My family and I will soon mark the first anniversary of leaving Japan. I plan to commemorate it by taking my wife, Yvonne to a sushi restaurant. Yvonne has done an amazing job in the past year. She traveled back to Canada with Naomi, who was a lively 2-year-old at the time. She had a baby and spent 3 months with baby-Josh in the hospital while he had surgery. Yvonne and I often talk about Kisakata. We miss things like Route 7 and the drive to Sakata. It’s a really beautiful trip - especially if you take highway 345 along the ocean and meet back up with Route 7 at Fukura. But enough reminiscing!

     I want to tell you about a trip to Alberta, Canada that Yvonne and I have planned. We hope some of our friends and others from Nikaho can come and visit us. We would like to show you some beautiful parts of our province. Calgary, Banff, Jasper, and Edmonton are 4 cities that you will visit. We will also show you Canada’s most famous onsen or Hot Spring. Please take a look at the attached pamphlet and let us know if you have any questions. And I want you to know that whether you can come or not we are so thankful for all the kindness we received while we lived in Kisakata.

Canada Yokoso!


     Many people choose a word for the New Year as a theme or a statement of intent. My word for 2013 is “Determined.” The English definition for determined is as follows:

determined (adjective)
With fixed purpose: feeling or showing firmness or a fixed purpose

Below is the Japanese definition of determined:

決然とした, 断固とした; 断固とした意志を表わした
a determined character 断固とした[果断な]性格(の人).
He had a determined look. 彼は意志の強いことを表わすようなつらがまえをしていた.
【P】 〔+to do〕〈…することを〉固く決心して

     What is your word for 2013? Do you have any goals? Take the time and share your thoughts with us. Here at SES we are determined to offer quality, enjoyable and affordable English classes to our local community. We will continue to improve our services and work towards providing a student lounge for our members to use freely on a daily basis; so they can reach their language goals faster. I would love to see our large facility being used to its full potential with lots of people engaged in meaningful conversations.

     The other day a friend posted an adorable video of two people talking to each other. Take a look at it. I hope we will have lots of people like them enjoying stimulating conversations here at SES. Remember, don’t forget to dream and let your imagination fly to places not yet visited. And finally, try to stay creative and flexible through 2013. Click, “here” to watch the video.

    For the next several weeks I will be blogging on the topic of difficult vocabulary that my students have had a hard time using. I will introduce the vocabulary first with the English/Japanese definition. The full definitions of the words are often too long to post them in their entirety, so you might want to look up the words in your own dictionary. I will then write a short anecdote with the vocabulary.  After reading my anecdote, you can try writing or recording your own anecdote by using our online recorder.  I will respond to each message. Well, let’s begin.

  The other day I went to the store and bought another computer for the office. My other computer broke down. The problem was the hard drive. I was going to get another hard drive to replace the broken hard drive; however, my computer expert said some other problem would probably happen soon because the computer was old. I asked another friend what he thought, and he said the same thing.

Do you agree with them? Or do you have another opinion? I wonder how many other opinions there are, don’t you?

Michael Swan's book: Practical English Usage
buy at Amazon, Japan

I watch the news almost every day, but I didn’t see it today. I looked out the window and saw lots of snow. I wasn’t happy to see that. I went outside to shovel the snow. I saw kids playing in the snow. What fun! I watched them play for 30 minutes. I looked near the car and saw my broken snow shovel.
I called my son over and said, “Look at this.”
My son looked at it and his smile disappeared. There was dead silence!
I asked him, “Did you see anyone break my new shovel?”
He said, “Yes.”
Who did you see do it? I asked him.
My son said: “I watched you drive over it when you came home from work last night. I felt bad watching you break your new shovel, so I didn’t want to say, ‘Look dad, you just crushed your shovel’.”

Now, it is your turn. Try using the 3 verbs in your own story. Hope to hear from you.

      What do you do during your day? My first morning activity is reading to my son at breakfast. I usually read to him while he is eating. During this time, we have read many interesting books, anything from picture books, short stories to novels. What do you do while eating breakfast?

    The other day, I took my son to his second basketball practice. During the practice he did many difficult drills. While he was playing hard, I was visiting with two other fathers. It was a lot of fun. Tell us about your day. Please practice using during and while in your short anecdote.

       Borrowing and lending things are a part of everyday life. I will borrow my friend’s truck tomorrow to move furniture to our new house. My friend lends his truck to me three or four times a year. I often lend books and English materials to my students. The students usually borrow them for two or three weeks. What things do you borrow and lend with your friends?    

   Yesterday I walked into the Nissan car dealership. A staff person asked me, “Would you like either coffee or tea?” I said, “I would like neither coffee nor tea.”  I didn’t have time to drink either tea or coffee. I was in a hurry. The staff person told me she can’t drink coffee because it upsets her stomache. I didn’t tell her, but I can’t drink coffee either. It is a shame neither of us can drink something that tastes so good.

   Now it is your turn to practice using either and neither. The explanation on how to use the words is below.


     I came to Japan 16 years ago. I used to live in the states. Many Japanese ask me, “Are you used to the food in Japan? My answer is always, “yes.” I used to eat hamburgers about once a week when I lived in Washington. However, I am used to not eating them now. Although, I still enjoy a good hamburger from time to time.  I like most Japanese food, but one thing I can’t get used to eating is cod roe.  What things are difficult for you to get used to and why? What things did you used to do, but don’t do anymore?

      One holiday that I enjoy in Japan is “Golden Week.” It is actually several national holidays put together to create an extended holiday here in Japan. It’s a nice break from work or school. The family usually takes a short trip, gardens or does various spring projects during this time. We have done these types of activities since 2004 or for the last 10 years. What do you do during your Golden Week? For how long have you been doing it? Since when did you start doing it? We would love to hear from you this week.

You can read more about Golden Week by clicking here.

Excerpts come from the New College English-Japanese Dictionary, 6th edition (C) Kenkyusha Ltd. 1998

from [運動・移動などの出発点を表わして; 参照: to 【前】 Ⅰ1(2)] …から
go from London to Paris ロンドンからパリへ行く.
walk home from the station 駅から歩いて帰る.
fall from a tree 木から落ちる.
hang from the ceiling 天井からつり下がる.
Come down from that tree at once! その木からすぐ下りなさい.
He turned away from her. 彼は彼女から目をそらした.
The bee buzzed from flower to flower. ハチは花から花へブンブン移って行った .
from…to… の形では名詞につく冠詞が省略されることがある; 特に同一名詞が反復される時や, 成句化したものに多い
[空間・時間などの起点を表わして; 参照: to 【前】 Ⅰ1(1), 5(1), till 1【前】Ⅰ, until 【前】 Ⅰ] …から
from early this morning けさ早くから.
from childhood [a child] 幼時から.

since    /sɪns/
━ 【接】
1 [しばしば ever ~ で, 継続を表わす完了形の動詞を含む主節に従って] …以来, …の時からずっと
since の節中の動詞は通例過去形
He has been abroad (eversince he parted from me. 彼は私と別れて以来ずっと海外にいる.
I've been doing this work (eversince I retired. 引退してからずっとこの仕事をしてきている.
2 [通例経験を表わす完了形の動詞を含む主節に従って] …した時から(今[その時]までの間に)
since の節中の動詞は通例過去形だが, 継続中のことが動作・状態が始まる時点と関係する時には現在[過去]完了も用いる
The city has changed a lot since I have lived here. ここに住むようになってから町はずいぶん変わった .
since の節中の完了形は現在も住んでいることを示す
He had not seen her since he (had) married. 彼は結婚してから彼女に会っていなかった.
3 [It's [《口語》 It has been] …~…の構文で] …してから(…年目になる)
since の節中の動詞は過去形
It'sIt has been] two years since I left school. 学校を出てから2年たちます .
Two years have passed since I left school. と書き換え可能

10 [時間・距離を表わして] …の間(ずっと); (予定期間として)…の間(は)
この意の for はしばしば 《口語》 では略される
for hours [days, years] 何時間[日, 年]もの間.
for the last ten years この10年間.
for all time 永久に.
for days (and days) on end 来る日も来る日も.
walk (for) three miles 3マイル歩く.
We stayed there (for) three weeks. 我々はそこに3週間滞在した.
The snowy weather lasted (for) the whole time we were there. そこにいる間中雪の日が続いた.
I haven't spoken to her for two months. 彼女とは2か月話をしていない.
For miles and miles there was nothing but sand. 何マイルもの間砂ばかりだった.
He didn't work for (very) long. 彼は(あまり)長くは働かなかった 《じきにやめた》.
They went down to the sea for a [the] day. 彼らは日帰りで海に行った.
The TV station stopped broadcasting for the day. テレビ局は一日の放送を終えた.
That's all for today. きょうはこれで終わり.

━ 【前】
(特定の期間の)…の間ずっと, …の間中比較 during は特定の期間を通じての意に用いる, for は不特定の期について用いる)
during my stay in London ロンドン滞在中に .
while I was [am] staying in London と書き換え可能
Don't talk during class. 授業中は話をするな.
(特定期間の)…の間のいつか, の間に[の]
He came during my absence. 彼は私の留守中にやってきた.
I'll take my vacation for two weeks during August. 8月中に2週間休暇をとるつもりだ.

      Hello everyone, I would like to take a break from our vocabulary series and introduce to you our new staff. He’s a delightful, young man who I met several years ago. His name is Takashi Oba. I will let him tell you a little about himself below. I hope some of our readers can get to know him while he is with us.


    Hello, it is pleasure to meet you. My name is Takashi Oba. I used to learn English at this school a few years ago and remember having a great time in Sloan’s class. I am originally from Yuza and had worked for some junior high schools in Sakata and Yamagata until recently. I am going to work here three days a week; Monday, Friday and Saturday for about two months. I have been to many countries, USA, Canada, UK, Italy and Spain. I would be happy to talk with you about these experiences. If you are interested in traveling or living overseas, please feel free to talk to me, either in English or in Japanese! I look forward to meeting you soon.  



    This week I, Takashi have written this blog.  I will be using many, a lot of and much. We hope you enjoy this week’s blog.

    Every spring many people visit Mt. Moon (Mt. Gassan) to climb and ski. Mt. Gassan is located in the northern area of Yamagata. It is widely known that Matsuo Basho, a famous poet (haiku), visited there over 200 years ago and wrote famous poems concerning the mountain. You can see many flowers there, but there is still much snow in some areas in the summer. When you climb the mountain, don’t forget to bring a lot of water. You will probably be thirsty as soon as you start climbing. Many visitors come to ski every summer because it has too much snow in winter. If you are interested in climbing or skiing in the summer, Mt. Gassan is one of the best places to visit. 

many は後ろに複数名詞(数えられる名詞)、muchは後ろに単数形の名詞(数えられない名詞)がくるときに使えます。a lot ofはどちらの名詞が後ろにきても使うことができます。後ろにある名詞に注意して使い分けましょう。

1: We don’t have much / a lot of time.

2: I invited many/ a lot of friends to my birthday party.


  Blog: -ing/-ed adjectives

   Alan visited Madrid and Barcelona in Spain with his friend last month. He was really excited to see fascinating pictures by Picasso, Velázquez and so on. In Barcelona, there are a lot of buildings designed by Gaudi. The tourists were very interested in the buildings because the designs are very interesting.  The biggest cathedral in the city is visited by many tourists every year. Many of them are fascinated by the design. Spain is a very exciting place to visit for tourists. Why don’t you visit there someday?

例:I was very interested in the lesson. (私はそのレッスンに大変興味を持った。 )

例:She’s an interesting writer, and I’m very interested in the subjects that she writes about.


Hello everyone.

I am Jae, the new teacher at Sloan’s English School. I think I’ve met a lot of you already, and I’m looking forward to meeting everyone else. You’ll probably see me in town or at any festivals in the area (I love festivals!). I usually wear very colourful and interesting shirts.

This time of year is one of my favourites in Japan. The hot Summer is almost finished and the leaves will start changing soon. Japan is a very colourful country. In Spring everything is pink with cherry blossoms. Summer is green. Autumn is orange. Winter is white.

Africa is a little different. Spring is green. Summer is yellow. Autumn is red. Winter is brown.

Autumn in Africa is very different. Most of our trees do not change colour, but because it's very dry most of the grass dies. The trees where I live go bright red for a few weeks and then lose their leaves.

It's been about a month since I moved to Nikaho. Wow, time really flies! Since I arrived here I've enjoyed fireworks on the beach, a shrine festival, swimming in the lovely sea, exploring the beachfront and meeting a lot of interesting, friendly people. It has also been an interesting experience living in a house alone – in Noshiro I lived in a small apartment.

For those that haven't met me yet, I enjoy most Japanese food, but Ramen and Japanese style stew are my favourites. I enjoy hiking, watching movies, exploring and many other things. My Japanese is...okay, but I really want to learn more this year.

I'm looking forward to seeing all of you at school, or in town. Please come and talk to me if you see me!

Thank you for reading.


Last week we started to blog again after taking a break for the summer. As you have probably noticed our new teacher, Jae Grobler has arrived and is busy teaching at three elementary schools as well as at SES. It is nice to have his help. He is making my job much more manageable. You can read the previous blog to learn more about him or go to the teacher’s page and read more there.

This summer both the children and adult programs were a great success! We had three week’s of day camp for kids and two week’s of Talk-Time for the adults. You can see a few photos of the event below. We had lots of volunteers helping us with the events. Our staff person did most of the prep for the events, thanks Takashi! He is now studying in Canada. We wish you good luck in your new life in Canada.

On Saturday, September the fourteenth we had a welcome party for Jae and two other lovely ladies, Tierra Tank and Marika Jackson. They are the new assistant English teachers in Nikaho. Many people came and welcomed them to Nikaho. It was a potluck dinner. There was lots of great food. Thank you everyone for bringing so many nice dishes. Jae made a killer South African stew that was really delicious. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Jae also prepared a game for everyone to play. Both the adults and children had a great time. There was lots of laughter, thank you Jae!

What will the fall look like at SES? Well, we will be teaching our normal classes and are starting to plan this year’s Halloween parties. Are any of you interested in helping us with the parties or attending the parties? We are looking for 12 to 16 adult volunteers for the children’s party. The adult party will be Friday the twenty-fifth and the kid’s party will be Saturday the twenty-sixth. Everyone is welcome. There will be more Halloween information later.

I have great news! Both Riku Yamada and Mio Sakamoto, two students here won their speech contests this year. Riku will be competing in the Tohoku tournament for high school children sometime this fall and Mio will be going to the National competition for junior high school students later this year. I hope to record both of their speeches later for you all to see and hear. Of course, I have to get their permission first. I will let you know more about that later.

Finally, we will continue the vocabulary usage blogs from time to time in the near future. We hope students will take advantage of the antidotes and read, listen to and create their own antidote for us. Until next time, have a good weekend.


Bring, Take

There is a party this weekend at my house in Kisakata. My friends from all over Akita will visit me. People with cars will bring people who don’t drive. Some people will also bring their friends! Everyone is going to bring drinks and snacks.

We will probably go out to a bar later to have a drink, so we will need a night taxi (daiko) to take us home afterward. My friends will take the food that is not eaten home with them. The drivers will leave early in the morning and can take people to the city. People staying late will need to take the train home.


Today, I would like to talk about our Halloween party for kids. It was a smashing hit on Oct. 26. I have finished the Halloween web page, however it is exclusively for our volunteers and participants. You need an ID and password to open the page. If for some reason you attended the party and you didn't get the password, then please contact me.

The 2013 Halloween party was packed with 3 hours of fun and it was too short. We really surprised the children this year by tricking them into thinking that everyone would be getting candy, but instead some of them got an edible grasshopper. Were they ever surprised! When I and several of the staff ate a grasshopper in front of the children, many of the kids joined us in eating these tasty little bugs. What fun!

We had another large group this year with over 100 children, parents and staff. We had five new games or activities and one game from last year. There was the traditional Halloween bingo, along with a balloon activity, tasting the mad scientist’s formulas, eating strange food combinations, a Halloween memory game and the story telling corner. All the children went to 5 of the 6 stations before going trick-or-treating which is always the highlight to the evening. We have put up lots of photos and videos on the Halloween page, so if you were a participant, try to find yourself.

Everyone came back from trick-or-treating and received a candy apple and a hot dog. Many were hungry after a fun time in the neighborhood. We were going to announce the costume contest winners, but had no time. We had eight judges picking the costume winners. Shuto won the competition for the third straight year. He and his sister were kappas. Our winners received a 500 yen gift certificate.

Finally, let us not forget to thank the many volunteers who helped us at the party. Great job everyone!



     I have some great news concerning two remarkable students at SES. We have two young people going to the national speech contest this year, Mio Sakamoto and Riku Yamada. Mio is a junior high school, ninth grader and will compete in the junior high school national tournament later in November.  This is Mio’s first year competing in the contest. She won both the local and prefectural competition earlier this year.  Neil Fanning has been coaching her at school, great job Neil!

     Riku is in his first year in high school. This will be his second time competing in a national speech contest. Last year he placed fifth in the national competition for junior high school students. Riku will have to wait some time before presenting his final speech one last time, since he will not compete until this coming February. It has been fun watching this young man both improve and excel in the competition over the last two years.

     I hope to put both Mio and Riku’s speeches on a future blog entry along with their text. I think you will be very amazed with their talent. Neither of them has ever been out of the country. Riku started to learn English when he was in first grade, and I believe, Mio started in second grade. They are both very talented at giving speeches, but what I am so proud of is their ability to communicate in English in general. Most junior high school and high school kids can’t speak in class one hour without using Japanese. These two young people are well on their way to becoming bilingual. Keep up the great work, Mio and Riku. We are rooting for you.


   I am so excited to tell you that we have some special people coming to this year's Christmas party! Believe it or not, the Edel family will be returning to Nikaho for 4 short days. Yes, our former teacher, James, his lovely wife, Yvonne, and their children Naomi and Joshua will be visiting us during the Christmas season. They want to see as many people as possible and thank many of you for giving them such a wonderful time while they were here. It will be a great time! Everyone is welcome to come and join us. You can bring along someone to enjoy the celebration with us. You can click here to download the Christmas flier or look below to read about the party. We hope to see many of you.


  I woke up today and there was snow on the ground. The snow brought a smile to my face. I immediately thought of my son who has been patiently waiting to play in the snow this year. I wondered if enough snow would fall today so that we could make a snowman. However, I was disappointed because it all melted in the afternoon. I went to the office in the morning and then came home for lunch. My wife had made a nice bowl of hot soba noodles with vegetables. It was a perfect, but simple lunch that warmed my cold body. My wife loves the winter because the cold weather invigorates her. I merely survive and make sure I put on many layers of clothes to keep warm. None-the-less, I like winter, too. Here are my reasons for liking WINTER!

  1. Play in the snow
  2. Eat a lot of hot soup dishes
  3. Take a traditional Japanese bath outside
  4. Exercise by shoveling snow
  5. Read an interesting book in a warm room of the house and feel lazy
  6. Wear lots of clothes and take walks in the cold
  7. Celebrate Christmas and New Year with family
  8. Look forward to the flowers and gardening time in the spring


  What are some things that you enjoy about winter? Please share your thoughts with us and leave a message for everyone on the online recorder.

  One last reminder, don’t forget about the Christmas party on Dec. 23. It is from 4-7 pm. Check last week’s blog entry to read about it. Everyone is welcome to join us.

  Well, that is all for today.

Christmas Blog 2013

Good morning everyone, and Merry Christmas! Jae here, on another chilly but sunny Nikaho winter morning. Today is my first Christmas in Nikaho and so I’d like to talk about the Christmas party.

On Monday the 23rd we had our Christmas party at Sloan’s English School. We also had special guests. A former teacher, James, from Canada, visited the school with his wife and two small children.

This year we had a record turnout for our Christmas party with almost 50 people! The event was a potluck dinner so everyone brought a dish. Sloan prepared a turkey and I made some peri-peri chicken. I was a little worried that my dish would be too spicy for people, but most said it was okay. Next time I’ll make it spicier! I was amazed as always at just how much food everyone brought and what a massive variety there was.

Later on in the evening we also played some games with the children. I ran a game where children tried to throw rings over Rudolf the reindeer’s horns, which was a lot of fun. The children also enjoyed darts, an exciting piñata game and another Santa game. They all went home with a bag of delicious Christmas sweets.

The adults enjoyed speaking with James and his family and also spent time socializing with each other. I spoke with many people about their plans for New Year’s and also met some more local people who I had not spoken with before, or hadn’t seen in a while like Mr. Oba and Mr. Mitome.

It was a very enjoyable evening and I had a lot of fun. I’m already looking forward to next year!

A big thank you to everyone who came!