Posts Tagged “English”

This has been around for a while now, but I’m not sure anyone uses it regularly. I started it the first time I needed to see a doctor, using a list I got from MIC. Since then, I’ve added a few places I’ve found (and removed one when it closed). If you find any new places that do speak English or listed places that don’t, email me at

I even made a permanent home for it here on my blog, up there to the right. Here’s the link if you want to go there directly:

View English-speaking businesses in Matsuyama in a larger map

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Normally I would post something like this on Facebook instead of my blog, but this is too cool to let it fall off the bottom of a page.

A JET in rural Okayama learned she’d be the last ALT in her town, and put together this project to showcase some of her students and their dreams of using English in the future, in order to support the continuation of the JET program. She uses personal photographs of the students next to their own words answering the question “How will you use English in the future?”

The effect, and the photographs, are really fantastic. Check it out here:

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I had a kid visit class today that really scared me. Not in a “trenchcoat mafia” kind of way, but in a “holy crap, your existence shakes the core of what I know about how to do my job” kind of way.

For the first time since I moved to Japan, I met a bilingual Japanese kid.

He’s six years old, and his English speaking ability is arguably better than my office manager’s (listening unarguably so). He goes to a special school that’s taught all in English, a school which Ms. Semba says “only very rich families can pay for.” He and his classmates are only allowed to speak English while at school, so speaking English is (literally) second nature to him. Neither of his parents speak it fluently, though his mom chopped together a “thank you” when I complimented her son’s language skills, so it’s apparently all learned at school. He says his class is very small, and that makes sense from a practical perspective; if you need to police young’uns’ predilections to speak the same language at school as they do at home, it’s far easier to do if you can count them on your fingers. I’m seriously impressed at the level of dedication his parents have to teaching him speak English well.

But here’s the thing- if he’s going to be one of my students, what the heck am I going to do with him? The difficulty levels of the books I currently use progress in maturity and English ability in accordance with the average ESL learner, which means that the books I have at his English level are aimed at young adults. While he was in the office today, he spent some time in my classroom with three other kids his age who all barely know the alphabet. I talked to him like I would any American child, and he seemed to have the vocabulary of the average American first grader, which brings me back to my point.

I’m scared of having him as a student because it means I’ll have to do some serious growing as a teacher. I’ve become comfortable with my role as an ESL teacher, and now I’m going to have to be a “regular” English teacher to two kids (he’s bringing a friend from school) who already speak English.

I guess this means I’m going to be expanding my repertoire, which is good. It’ll involve more work than I’m doing right now, because I can’t imagine Ms. Semba will spring for any more books, especially for an unusual situation like this. That means I’m going to have to come up with a new curriculum, but I’m not sure where to start. American Language School is an “eikaiwa,” literally “English conversation” school, and the point of all our lessons is English communication, but I can’t just sit and have a chat with a couple of six-year olds.

I think I have a lot of reading to do. If you’re a teacher with experience teaching language skills to children, do you have any specific suggestions where I should start?

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Since there’s no way I’m going to let a whole month go by without a blog post, I thought I’d toss up a quick post about clothes here in Japan. Specifically, clothes that have Engrish on them. There seems to be no market for clothing with correctly written English, as it’s used almost exclusively as a design element rather than a method of conveying meaning. That, combined with the facts that English is “cool” and that the vast majority of Japanese people can only derive a rude meaning from a string of English words, means that there are a lot of Japanese people showing off their “English” (and very often pseudo-American) clothes without knowing what abuses of the English language are actually written on them.

When I see English in Japan, I’m genuinely surprised if it isn’t rife with errors. I couldn’t possibly hope to document it all, but when I have my camera, I try to capture the gems. The first few pictures you see are pictures of my students I took in my classroom. You can’t really read all of them in the scaled down versions, so I typed out the contents. I tried to help as much as I could through punctuation, though it didn’t often help.

LEFT: Surf riding goodstream, Professing skilled profession
RIGHT: Stinson Beach, California: The Wave is Forever
From left to right:
Individual For Pleasure Only
Guaranteed to fit better D.O.Daddy 65
Twist frontside [Remainder illegible due to shirt fold]
It takes a little more to make a Champion. Champion authentic athletic apparel
STAYING, you are on the verge of salvation! You are on the verge of salvation! When it is made to revive vividly, ground at a sense beyond the word stands up and appears that shaft line the world.
LEFT: [New York Yankees logo on polo shirt breast]
Impregnerade SAMURAI säkerhets-tandstickor safety matches
LEFT: Wask 22
RIGHT: Pour les enfants hushush Avoir le coeur leger

Included just because they’re goofballs. 🙂

Long and [obscured] condition (?) PARADISE for the sake of attaining SUNSET BEACH, surfing least much comes
The Eastboy go in the future begin to walk. The words that give me hope. A friend in need is a friend indeed. When I was troubled, I encourage it. As for you, how many “friends” are there?
Engrish isn’t limited to clothing, as this bag proves. I love the American Nutrition Facts label.
IT’S NEW, Honey sweet. Would you like a NATIONAL BISCUIT? You will be crazy about Rich Flavor! Special Value
Burger Special
GLUTTONS Special mega burger
From left:
[top illegible] 1970 GRATEFUL ROSES: It’a [sic] Beautiful In Black
Pia angel 08
[upper French obscured] esprit de paris 1998, TRÈS BON!!
GRATEFUL ROSES: It’a [sic] Beautiful In Black
I certainly can’t fault my students for wearing clothes with broken English. Here’s what they have to choose from when they go shopping:
CRESCENT- Full of energy, Galaxy Grobal [sic] Universe, Starry night, Catch your dream
Cleared up, it is fine today. THE SKY CLEARED UP BEAUTIFULLY. The tree leaves glistened after the rain.
Lustrous Cherry lips from you
WIND PURSUE lack of ability
Excellent Clear Sight, Magnificent Scenes
Artlessness & Fleckle
Delight smile and friendly competing with each other
Let me take a moment to give you an example of the “height” of fashion in Matsuyama. Note the “man bag” clipped to a belt loop, embroidered jeans (with bonus sewn-up hole) tucked into cowboy boots, and poofy, bleached “Lion King” hairdo.
Rock the World with you [the text is from a song of this name]
We gotta know we’re on the run
I just grab your stuff, and in a minute we’ll be gone
We’re gonna pull away like strangers,
but soon the world will know
How far this kinda love could ever go
Remember what I say
Baby don’t matter what they do

There’s always more Engrish to be had, so I’m sure I’ll post plenty of it in the future. I need to get some sleep though, so I’m going to pull away like a stranger. 😉

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