Why do people decide to retire?

Here are a couple of videos about Elton John, who recently announced he’ll be retiring from touring.

A possible compare/contrast task: Compare his career and reasons for retiring to, say, Namie Amuro (letter in both Japanese and English) or another singer, entertainer, athlete (etc.) you like who has retired.



Watch this very beautifully filmed video and think about the care and effort that goes into making these traditional shoes the next time you go shoe-shopping:

Her YouTube channel has equally beatiful videos of her making other crafts and foods. There’s not much English practice here, but you could try explaining some of these in English, and it’s one way you could do your demonstration task, by making a video of your own.

For people studying Chinese, some of these videos can be practice for your vocabulary recognition. I particularly liked this explanation  on the video showing how to make Lanzhou beef noodles: “Knead flour like playing with cats”

Writing prompt: What Japanese traditions (or those in your major language country) do you think should be preserved? Which would you like to learn how to do yourself?

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).

What have you learned this year?

Third year in a row (see 2015’s and  2016’s lists) of reflecting on things you’ve learned this year, inspired by this list: “52 things I learned in 2017”.

Some of the things I thought were interesting (go to the article to find links to the original sources):

#4: Laser Snake is a robotic arm that is used to help decommission nuclear plants.

#30: Some people begging for money in China are using QR codes and smart phones to get it.

#34: People who watch regular TV see up to 160 hours of advertisements a year. That’s one good thing about Netflix.

#38: In just 5 months in 2016, more than 250 people died as a result of drivers playing Pokemon Go.

#41: Men who travel first class are more likely to weigh a lot, but the reverse is true for women.

#45: There are twelve people whose job it is to check and remove abusive comments and spam from Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook page.

#51: A research company in Korea is working on furniture that moves itself, making it easier to clean your room. (see video below)

Students, try making your own list of things you learned this year. It’s a good way to review the year and get ready for end-of-semester tests and assessments.