What’s your favorite Christmas movie?

This is a question one group of students was talking about in class the other day. One said, “Die Hard, of course!” Another said, “The Nightmare BeforeChristmas” A third said she didn’t know any Christmas movies. My favorite Christmas story is “A Christmas Carol” and there are many movie versions.

Here’s a graded (leveled) text from Tween Tribune about why Charles Dickens wrote the story.

“Dickens may not have gotten rich off of the publication of A Christmas Carol, but he did make the world a little richer.”

I couldn’t agree more.

There’s a new movie out this year called The Man Who Invented Christmas, which is about this origin of the story and looks like a lot of fun (unfortunately, no date on when or if it’s coming to theaters in Japan).

Of the many movie versions, I like the one with Albert Finney the best, though the one with Patrick Stewart is good, too, and I always enjoy

There are also other versions, like “Scrooged” with Bill Murray, and the seasonal favorite “It’s a Wonderful Life” is also based on the story.

So have you seen any of these? Have you read the Dickens story? I used to teach at a JHS/HS that would put on this play at Christmas time (it was either that or Les Mis).

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Sumo and squid

This video suggests we might try something new for Thanksgiving dinners: instead of the traditional turkey, why not eel?

It’s kind of tongue-in-cheek, but maybe the point is to rethink our stubborn adherence to certain traditions. My family in the U.S. laughed when I told them that on Thanksgiving, I was watching sumo and eating dried squid jerky (するめ).

Here in Japan, we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, though we do have a holiday with a similar name at around the same time. What I suggest is moving away from the “traditional” chicken I see EVERYWHERE on December 24th and 25th here, and try some eel. Or tempura. Or oysters. Or curry. Or anything except that ubiquitous chicken.

“Awe, contentedness, joy, amusement, curiosity”

Classes are finished for the spring semester, so I’m going to take a break from adding topics until just before we start up again in September. There’s plenty in the archives to keep you busy, though. Try to get a little English input every day over the summer and do something with it — summarizing, expressing your opinions, asking questions, and language noticing.

I’ll leave you with 10 (really 50 if you watch them all) hours of relaxing planet earth visual soundscapes from the BBC, which “”significant increases in feelings of awe, contentedness, joy, amusement and curiosity” and  “reduce feelings of tiredness, anger and stress” (says this study). If you don’t like the mountain one, there are also 10 hours each of islands, jungles, grasslands, and deserts.

(via Open Culture)


🐬 Have a great summer! 🐳


Happy Marine Day 🐳

Today is Marine Day, a relatively new holiday in Japan. Here’s a short explanation from this site:

Discussion question:

We’ve talked about national holidays in class and one question I always like to hear the answers to is: If you could create your own holiday, what would it be for and when would it be? Personally, I think we need at least one holiday in June. Maybe we could have a “Hydrangea Viewing Day” or make Father’s Day a 3-day weekend?

Language usage questions:

  • How do you say “sun-worshipping” in Japanese? Do you think it’s similar to 日向ぼっこ (my answer is  “no” but what do you think?)
  • A.K.A is a relatively common acronym/abbreviation in English. Can you find the three words it’s made up of in this short text? Then, can you do a little research (or ask me or another native speaker) how the acronym is used?
  • Try using “make the most of” in your own original sentences, about topics relevant to your life and what you’re studying.
  • This text uses some different words instead of “and so on” or “and etc.” Can you find them? Did you know that native speakers really don’t say “and so on” nearly as often as Japanese speakers do (at least I don’t think so)?