"GENKI" English education homepage by T. Suzuki

Dear Readers:
Thank you for visiting my homepage. It might be a good idea for you to visit this "my diary" page once in a while. I will try to write and update it at least every week, if not every day. Many things I write may not interest you. Bear with me. At least I am Honest. I write what I mean and mean what I write.

Occasionally you may find something amusing or even interesting for you. "Dozo Yoroshiku." Or "Nice to see you." I am a home teacher of English, who has loved learning English and its culture over 4 decades. I am glad that I have never lost my enthusiasm to learn it more for such a long time.

Takeshi is a "genki" person when he is not lazy!

Takeshi Suzuki in Akita, Japan

Have you ever seen Honjo Festival - "Daimyo gyoretsu"? You can see some pictures of the festival.

My Diary 4
from January 1in 2003 to most recent in 2004

go back to My Diary 3

Friday, March 26
1) Warm spring seems to have come at last. Tomorrow we will have our JALT meeting at Joinus. Stephen Shucart who teaches at Akita Kenritsu University will be giving a presentation. The title is ESP [English for Special Purposes] - Adapting an American High School Science Textbook for the ESL/EFL Classroom. Interesting, isn't it? Hope many will come.

2) On Sunday, we will have ACES Communication Session with Marcy Paulsen as a guest speaker. Her topic is "Culture shock, cultural differences and stereotypes between Japan and America".

Thursday, January 8
The coming Saturday I will attend the first meeting of ACES and the following Sunday the first meeting of AIS.

Thursday, January 7
Hello everybody. The following is my "nengajo" or new year card for 2004.

Happy New year! I hope 2004 will be filled with much happiness for you and your family. Last year was a good year. I enjoyed being in charge of JALT for the 6th consecutive year and attending other activities, making friends with more people. I am excited that Akita International University will be starting in spring. My hope is more English teachers will be interested in making their classes more communicative and learner-oriented. Learning should be more fun!
Kotoshi mo Yoroshiku. @@ Takeshi Suzuki

Friday, December 12
Tomorrow I will attend ACES in the morning at Akita University and JALT in the afternoon.

Saturday, November 22
Tomorrow I will attend the first session of ACES at Akita University. ACES, stands for Akita Communicative English Studies, is now officially starting with the approval from its parent organization of Akita Eigo Eibun Gakkai, which was held on November 15th. It will be the 90th session consecutively after we have had 89 sessions over the past 4 years under the old name AES. The participants will enjoy various activities during the session in order to improve practical English skill.

Friday, November 14
This is about JALT 2003 national conference to be held in Shizuoka between November 21 to 24.

Mr. Takeo Kawamura, Minister of Education, Culture, Science, and Technology (MEXT), will be one of the  panelists  in a panel discussion called  gJALT Open Forum on English Education Reformh on Sunday, Nov. 23, at the 29th JALT International Language Conference at Granship Shizuoka Convention and Arts Center, Nov. 21-24.

The other attendees will be Kiichi Matsuhata, President JASELE, Mamoru Morizumi, Vice President, JACET, Yasushi Akashi, Former Undersecretary General of the United Nations.

Afternoon panelists will be Hideo Oka, Professor, The University of Tokyo, Yoshida Kensaku, Professor, Sophia University, Allen Tamai Mitsue, Professor, Bunkyo Gakuin University, Tadashi Shiozawa, Professor, Chubu University and James Swan, President,  JALT.

Thursday, November 13
1) This Saturday I will attend TIE meeting in the morning and the general assembly of Akita University in the afternoon.

2) On Sunday I will be working as an interviewer at Eiken STEP test.

Tuesday, October 13
1) This coming Saturday we will invite Christine Winskowski as a guest speaker for our JALT meeting. She teaches in Iwate Prefectural Universityfs Dept. of International Cultural Studies. Her topic is "To integrate culture into the language classroom". The topic sounds interesting! For more information about the meeting, Hope you can join us Saturday.

2) Some pictures are up for our AES (new name will be ACES, which stands for Akita Communicative English Studies, will be used soon).

3) After AES meeting at Akita University last Saturday, the participants went to join Akita International Festival, which was held at Yugakusha. Many people, both Japanese and foreign, were having a great time.

Wednesday, October 1
1) There was a TIE meeting last Saturday morning. I was a presenter. My topic was, "Will Japan change?" Some pictures of the meeting and some thought of mine on it are here.

2) Last Saturday we had a JALT meeting. Mark Cunningham gave us a good workshop based on a series of books he and his colleagues published. He told us that it took him two years to prepare and write the book. Some pictures of the workshop are here.

3) Last Sunday we had a regular meeting of AES (which will be ACES soon) at Akita University. Some pictures of the meeting are here.

Tuesday, September 9
For the last several days, I had had a lot of trouble with my main computer. It was not able to access to the Internet, send or receive email, etc. After a lot of work and efforts, however, it was brought back to normal. Now everything seems to be working well again.

Thursday, September 4
1) Some pictures of August 27th JALT meeting with Dr. John Fanselow are up.
2) We had a good AES meeting last Sunday.

Wednesday, August 13
A 7-day seminar was held for Japanese English teachers between Monday, August 4th and Tuesday August 12th at Akita Furusato-mura in Yokote. 62 junior and senior high school teachers took part in it. Former MSU-A teachers like Brad, Helen, David, Mark, Dave and others were in charge. I visited and joined some of the activities on Tuesday, Thursday last week and Monday and Tuesday this week. I had a chance to give them a speech as Akita JALT president. In the afternoon all the 62 participants gave poster presentations. They were excellent presentations!

Friday, June 27
Tomorrow I will attend AES in the morning and JALT in the afternoon.

Tuesday, May 27
There was a big earthquake at 6:24PM yesterday in Tohoku area. It was a scary experience that my house kept shaking for a minute or longer. Fortunately no damage to my family or house. The "shindo" of the quake on the Japanese scale was only 3 here in Honjo while it was 4 or more elsewhere in Akita prefecture.

The magnitude of the quake in the epicenter was 7 and some areas in Tohoku district went through 5 to 6 on the Japanese scale. So it was not a small earthquake. Nonetheless few houses or buildings were reported to have fallen or collapsed in Tohoku. Nobody seemed to have been killed, either. In a sense it is reassuring to know that we can stand an earthquake of the size in Japan. I feel sorry for some 3 thousand people who have lost their lives in Algeria last week due to a similar quake.

Friday, May 23
Tomorrow I will be attending AES meeting.

Friday, May 16
1) Tomorrow I will attend two meetings. One is Tie meeting and the other is JALT meeting. Both will be held at Joinus in Akita city.

2) ETS is now using the PhonePass technology to conduct speaking test using the telephone. Looking for a convenient and reliable way to determine your students' English speaking skills? With the new TOEFL Academic Speaking Test (TAST) from ETS, you can test their ability 24/7 using the telephone! This is from Prof. Yoshida. More on this.

Tuesday, April 29
1) Last Saturday we had AES meeting in the morning. Some pictures are up now. Later in the afternoon our first JALT meeting at Joinus was held. I've put some pictures. You can also read what we discussed at the meeting. Both meetings were interesting.

2) This is about a computer virus infection. Last Sunday I received email infected by a virus. The sender's name was T. Suzuki - the same name as mine. To be more exact my PC didn't receive it because my provider checked it for me, discarded it and sent me a notice, "The file attached to following mail is infected with virus. The mail was silently discarded because it contained dangerous code." I receive the similar message often these days.

So to anyone who might have received the virus infected email with the name t.suzuki as a sender, I have nothing to do with it. Interestingly a person making his Ph.D. study in Texas gave me email and kindly warned me that I should check my PC. We belong to the same mailing list. Here is what I wrote to him after I thanked him for his concern.

"...I don't think my computer is infected. It is doubly protected against the viruses although it's a window OS and MS Outlook I use as a mailer. First due to a new system that my provider started several months ago my computer is not supposed to allow any infected email to come into my PC. It will also block any of mine infected from going out.

The system is good and effective, I think, but it might not be perfect. Anything could happen in this world these days. ;-) So I have continued to pay to Trend Micro, an anti-virus software company. That allows me to update my PC almost every week against any new viruses or worms. And finally I try the virus check every now and then. Why do I do that? Even with all
the protections I have, I am still afraid of getting infected somehow..."

A computer virus is a real headache, isn't it? Hope your PC stays safe and healthy.

Friday, April 25
1) Tomorrow I will attend AES meeting at Akita University in the morning.

2) In the afternoon we will have Akita JALT meeting - the first meeting to be held at Joinus this year. In the past 5 years almost all the JALT meetings were held at MSU-A. Since it is closed now, the venue for the meetings this year will be Joinus in Akita City, which is located near Senshu Park.

Tomorrow we will welcome Debbra McClintock as a guest speaker for our April meeting. She knows a lot about Japanese English education - its merits and demerits or what's good and effective and what isn't - because she worked as an ALT in Akita for three years. In other words she will talk about English education from her perspective. It might include good tips or suggestions to improve the current teaching. I am sure that her presentation will be interesting to all teachers and learners of English.

Wednesday, April 23
Last Monday Hideo Nomo won his 100th victory in Major League Baseball. Here is the summary of the game if you are interested. Time flies! It was in 1995 when he started playing in the US. This is the 9th year. I have been attracted to him for all these years as a baseball player and as a person. It's fortunate that NHK BS has televised almost all the games - as many as 250 games - in which Nomo was a starter of whatever team he was pitching for. And I enjoyed watching almost all. Nomo looks great this year. He is as strong as ever. He no longer gives so many walks like he used to.

Sunday, April 5
Today I will attend AIS session at Joinus.

Friday, March 7
Some pictures are up from the last JALT meeting. You can read a report about the meeting written by Akita JALT officer, Stephen Shucart. Here is the page.

Thursday, March 6

1) We will have our JALT March meeting this Saturday. The guest speaker, John Small, comes from all the way from Kumamoto. His presentation sounds very interesting. Please join us. More information about the presentation. The following Sunday he will give the same presentation at Iwate JALT chapter.

2) March 3 VOX POPULI, VOX DEI quotes from "Francesco's prayers" the following: Let people be the ones to comfort, rather than to be comforted, to understand, rather than to be understood, and to love, rather than to be loved. (unquote) Francesco lived toward the end of 12th century, known as Saint Francis of Assisi. I love what he says. I think today's Japan and world needs a little more of such "generosity".

3) March 5 Interview of Asahi Herald, Natsuki Aruga answers to a question, "How should Japan deal with the United States?" She says, "The government will probably say Japan should cooperate with the US to avoid isolation, but I find such logic questionable. If the Japanese people remain silent, international society will feel the Japanese don't think. I think that will cause Japan to be internationally isolated. (unquote)

Her opinion is interesting especially the "Japanese people don't think" part. I was reminded of my university days. One of my teachers, Father Nissel, who helped us learn how to debate often said to us, "You are not thinking. Start thinking." or "Think what you are saying. It doesn't make sense."

Saturday, March 1
I have made a great discovery although you might have known that already. The website of the American White House. If you want to know anything about President Bush or his speeches on a daily basis, it is there for you. It's a great site. An excellent point is that you can listen to him and can watch the video, too. Of course all the transcription or text are there. And it is free. It looks updated everyday and you can enjoy watching and listening to different speeches or events. Besides the website is full of other interesting stories.

If you want to listen to his speech at Memorial Service for Space Shuttle Columbia Astronauts, for example, follow the instructions.

1) First go to the homepage of the White House:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/

2) You will see "West Wing Connections" on the left side of the page. Under that heading you will see a sub-heading like "Policies in Focus", "News", "Appointments" and others. Chose "News" and click "Current News" under it. You will go to
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/

3) The new page will have "News by Date". Click "February 2003".
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/02/

4) Then go to the section of February 4. You will find, "President Bush Attends Memorial Service for Columbia Astronauts" Click "video" or "audio" depending on your Internet connections. It takes only several seconds if it's fast like ADSL.

Of course you can skip 1) & 2) and directly click the URL 3) If you are in a hurry.

The same thing about his State of the Union address.
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/01/

Go to Jan 28 for President Delivers State of the Union.

Tomorrow I will attend AIS interpretation training session.

Friday, February 28
1) Ms. Kelly Nishimura who teaches at Utsunomiya University came to visit Akita last weekend. I was very happy to meet her. She is such a nice person. She joined us at AES English training session at Akita University in the morning and at JALT meeting in the afternoon. At the former session the participants practiced to debate. The title was - Should America attack Iraq? Kelly, who was born in Hawaii, educated in New York, gave us comments after our two debates. Last Wednesday she wrote to me email.

She wrote, "Do you ever read the Japan Times student newspaper, Shukan ST? My students enjoy reading it and discussing the articles. In reference to your debate topic, there's an interesting opinion piece about a war strategy called "Shock and Awe." It can be read at:
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/shukan-st/articles/op20030228/op20030228main.htm

More details on this topic can be found in an article titled "From Dresden To Baghdad"
http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=40&ItemID=3003 (the end of quote)

I've found the former one extremely interesting. A good model for constructing an argument, too. You can also listen to the content in beautiful English. Why don't you try it yourself, if you are interested?

2) Prof. Yoshida has been asked to give a presentation at a forum for the Strategic Plans to educate Japanese who can use English, which is sponsored by the Ministry of Education. He will talk about English education in junior and senior high schools. The forum will be held on Monday, March 17 in Tokyo. Read his email.

Thursday, February 20
1) We will have a JALT meeting this coming Saturday. Koki Dobashi will be our guest speaker talking about English education at junior or senior high school. His topic is "How can teachers bring about language learning based on learning strategy at junior high school?" The speaker will explain a practical approach for the development of learner autonomy. His presentation will last about an hour and after that we will have a free discussion on what he spoke. He is keenly interested in listening to a lot of comments from the participants during the discussion time. Please join us Saturday.

2) I will attend AES (Akita English Study group) skill training session to be held at Akita University on the Saturday morning. We will practice debate for the first 90 minutes. Then our friend, Masako Sasaki will give us a speech about her award. The Japan Association of College English Teachers (JACET) commended Ms. Sasaki for her enthusiastic research. This award is given for a promising new researcher. We will also watch the video from the JACET awarding ceremony.

Wednesday, February 19
"Future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." This is what I heard toward the end of Philippine ABS-CBS news program yesterday morning. It was very fortunate to hear the message because I really believe in it. And I am a dreamer myself like many of you. It seems that Japan is full of more pessimism of all sorts than ever. Everybody knows that we have problems, all serious problems, but that our leaders do not seem to have honest and workable answers. People outside say that Japan has no ability and no will to solve them. I agree with them.

Japan's debt has amounted to 700 trillion yen. Our annual budget is 80 trillion yen, but only a half of the amount comes from tax revenue. The rest is covered by additional debt called national bond, which is piling up. The serious trend is likely to continue for some years. It means that the debt is climbing up. It is incredible that no workable solutions have been seriously discussed and implemented by anyone except for minor things. No clear long term plan is presented either. Many Japanese people don't seem to understand how serious the problem is. Why? First they don't want to and second, more importantly, there are few good reports from mass media that can explain about it more clearly and easily to the people. That makes them more worried and have less confidence in their future. How can you expect them to increase their consumption? Real vicious cycles!

Japan's mass media report about Iraq and North Korea and possible danger they might be causing. Some TV reports about how bad the North Korean leader is too much and redundant in my opinion. It is almost like an entertainment. At least we don't have to hear them everyday. I know that we have to cope with the both dictator regimes, but we shouldn't forget Japan's problems because they are real problems, which will never go away unless we do something. Just being patient and waiting is not an answer. Why don't some media start focusing on the real problem a little more and a little more clearly? They can cut off a little on such reports like how Matsui or Godzilla, a new Yankee batter, is doing in the spring camp day and night ;-) although I am an MLB fan.

Maybe I am too critical or too pessimistic about Japan and its future. I try to be so because I think it is good to know what problems you have honestly, objectively, analytically when you have one. Last November I read a good article on Japan, which was written in English. The author used a term, which impressed upon me a great deal -- "self-indulgent pessimism" to describe Japan in terms of its problems. That is what has been happening to us and will be happening for some more years to come....

Somehow we have to find a way to stop feeling just pessimistic and sorry about ourselves. Instead we will have to be more positive and more constructive about our future. Maybe it is a good idea to start thinking about the meaning of the good message now, "Future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." I think I have beautiful dreams, which might come true in the future. How about you?

Friday, February 14
1) Do you know what "blog" or "blogger" or "weblog" is? I read an interesting page about the new term. It explains as follows. "Weblogs are websites owned and run by ordinary people like you and me. On them, they post stories, poems, pictures, rants, and links to other web sites." You can read much more here. The title is "I blog, therefore I am." It's interesting, isn't it? Why don't you start blogging yourself by starting your website? It's a lot of fun.

It is not the BBC page, however, that first taught me about the meaning of the blog.

Dr. Philips kindly wrote to me last December, "The kind of web diary you are writing is called a "blog" (noun and verb) which is a new word in English, short for "web log". If you do a web search for "blog" you will find out that it is a popular form of communication/publishing these days. I have been urged to do one myself, but I am too old fashioned and too busy with other things. I need to update my site generally before I think about adding a regular blog." Thanks again, Dr. Philips, for telling me about the nice word.

2) I will attend TIE discussion meeting tomorrow. Hope the weather will not be too lousy.

Wednesday, February 12
1) There will be held "2003 NLP WORKSHOP" in Sendai this weekend - on Sat. February 15 and Sun. Feb. 16. The first workshop was a successful event that was held in February 2001. Three people attended the workshop from Akita two years ago. It was a worthwhile experience according to them. Again, the presenter will be Charles Adamson, Ph.D. Dr. Adamson is a certified Master Practitioner of NLP (Neurolinguistic). In this two day workshop you will learn a series of these NLP techniques that will allow you to become an even better teacher. More detailed information about the workshop.

2) First Kyoto Prefecture is going to require all English teachers to take the TOEFL--as a measure to see how much effect the new teacher training program will have on its teachers. Second the Ministry is thinking of conducting summer and winter English immersion camps in several districts around the country for elementary school students. The information (written in Japanese) is from Prof. Yoshida. More on this if you are interested.

Wednesday, February 5
I watched ABC's special coverage of Memorial Service for Space Shuttle Columbia seven astronauts, who lost their lives during their mission last Saturday. NHK BS televised the program this morning in a video tape for 50 minutes. During the ceremony President Bush gave a speech to honor the heroes and their families. The whole transcript of his address is here.

Last Saturday I attended AIS interpretation practice meeting. At the beginning of the afternoon session all the participants and our guest speaker, Dr. Philips, offered one minute silent prayer to pay our respect for the sacrifice they made for all humanity. We also paid our respect to their families and friends. I've also asked my students to give their silent prayer in my class this week. I don't know how many people are doing the same thing all over the world, but there should be many. The seven astronauts are all courageous people who will be remembered for a long time along with the victims of another Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986.

Wednesday, January 29
I've watched ABC News and listened to what American President, Mr. Bush had to say in his state of the union address. Here is the full text of his address. Whenever I listen to such a speech, I wonder why the audience applauds so and too frequently -- I feel it's kind of interrupting the speech. Let me know if you know the good reason.

Tuesday, January 28
I've got this from a mailing list. You can watch all the commercials shown during the superbowl at the following site.
http://superbowl.ifilm.com/superbowl/

Friday, January 24
1) Akita JALT has decided to hold our February meeting on the fourth Saturday, February 22. Our guest speaker is Koki Dobashi, who will talk about English education at a junior high school. More on this.

2) Interesting information from Prof. Yoshida on COL (Center of Learning) programs and international comparison of educational expenditure -- Japan being lowest among OECD nations. He says that one thing to note is how much Japanese education owes to private institutions (expenditures).

Wednesday, January 22
If you are an English teacher of a junior or senior high school, public or private, there is an interesting survey going on -- created by Prof. Kensaku Yoshida and others for the Monkasho -- about how English is currently being taught in high schools in Japan. They would like to have the cooperation of as many teachers as possible and so have set up a WEB questionnaire at the following site (http://cgi.jrc.sophia.ac.jp/~tfujita/cgi-bin/questionnaire/).  Their job is to come up with concrete plans with which to 'change' the way English is taught in Japan, and they would like your cooperation in this matter. Here is more detailed message from Prof. Yoshida about this as well as ASTE meeting this Saturday.

Saturday, December 28
I got Christmas email from Yoko Kamada, who is studying in Monterey, California. She is doing her MA there. She sends her love to all AES members. Here is her email.

Merry Christmas, Takeshi-san!!

I'm here in San Jose and Sacramento(You know, it's a capital here)at my friends' houses, having a wonderful Christmas week.

I went to Japan town and found rinse-free Koshihikari (Just ask Toshiko-san!),
and had Yorkshire pudding, Nashville eggnog, pork steak, sirloin steak, champagne, apple pie,
Hummus dip with corn chips, coffee, broccoli and carrot,
rye bread, sourdough bread, home-made cereal with yogurt,
long grain rice, lasagna,
and went to the Episcopal Church with them,
and walked with them in the communal forest where duck couples , egrets,
geese and horses are,
and got Christmas socks with many knickknacks and toiletry inside,
and did some crossword puzzles.           

This is such a wonderful Christmas!

I think I'm improving my language skill.
I suppose all of you as well in the group.
I'm always working hard with all of you in mind.

Merry Christmas to you all and Happy New Year!

Yoko

______________________________________________________
I often tell my students the following:
"Don't think that I am teaching you English! Because I can't. I am only helping you to learn English. You will learn to speak English well if you follow my advice and are willing to learn English for yourself. Someday you will be able to think in English as I do."
Takeshi Suzuki

Read My Diary 4 (from January 1, 2003)

other pages:

MSU-A
Akita JALT
My Message
My MSU-A Speech
PALS English Class
Hi! We are PALS students
My thoughts about MSU-A

Takeshi Suzuki was asked to give a keynote speech for Winter 2001Honors Convocation@held at MSU-A on February 22, 2001. You can read@the full script of the speech

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