Monday, December 23, 2013

A Christmas Story

"Christmas, Christmas ever so overestimated annual event! " my mum screamed in the early morning. Her cry got us all get out of bed immediately and rushed into the kitchen.

In the kitchen, we all found Mum in her PJ, sitting on the floor, covered with white powder.

"Ah, are you ok?" Dad was the first one to dare to start a conversation.

"What do you think?" was her response. "Hah? Don't you see how upset I am? You have no idea why I am so upset, don't you? Hah? No idea at all!"

It wasn't exactly a promising comment for a nice and cozy family breakfast to take place. I was determined to contribute my idea to lighten up the heavy air and said,

"Can I have breakfast? I am hungry."

It was one of the worst lines I have ever uttered in my life.

"You just don't care, do you? I'm just a cook or a servant to you all, am't I? No interests for how I feel or what I do! You just don't give a thought about my well-being, my feelings, my life!!! I am just like a pot in the kitchen providing food, fulfilling your empty stomach. Or, or, or just a hoover cleaning the mess you make. I am not even visible to ya, am't I? You don't look at me. You don't notice any changes in me at all. You don't appreciate my presence at all. Why do I bother to cook, clean and organize the bloody Christmas party for people who don't respect and care my being?"

She was absolutely in a chaotic state of mind. She screamed lines and lines of hurting words like sharp knives in the core of your heart as she smashed dishes and glasses on the floor. It was more frightening than most of horror movies I've even seen. Dad and I stood helplessly beside Mum, wishing desperately her emotional tempest would eventually go away.


"Don't you Honey me now, you heartless bugger. What have you done for me lately? You just come home exhausted and sit on the couch sipping beer, doing nothing at all. What comes out from the mouth is either the depressing sigh or 'Oh, dear.'  You go out on your own with your mates and have fun outside. I always sit on the bloody kitchen chair alone, asking what happen to my happy days with laughters and full of music and friends to share the joy of being. "


"You just don't listen to me, don't you? You don't care what I think, do you? Do you???"

"em...May I say something?"

"I am asking, am't I?"

"Right. Excuse my stupidity but I do care about you, my dear."

"No, you don't."

"Well, I am not here to argue with you on the matter. But I do know how I feel and I do care about you. I truly do."

"Then why don't you help me out for the house work?"

"I do when I can. But why do we argue on who do washings or not in such an early morning on Christmas Eve? Why did you start making cake in the morning?"

"Just because I invited some friends over the Christmas dinner and wanted to make it so special!"

"Did you ask us to help you out?"

"No. But you should volunteer for helping!"

"Well, I am sorry but I had no idea what's in your mind. Ok. What can I do to help you? Our daughter will help you too. Don't you, dear?"

My goodness! I thought to myself. I didn't know how tactful Dad can be with Mum. It must be a secret of long and lasting married couple with a stepchild. He is not my biological father but I wanted him to be at the moment. He was doing a terrific job to calm Mum down like a pro magician with his words. I was well-impressed with his skill and nodded so deeply with full approval with his suggestion.

"Well, I suppose we can start from doing something with the mess around here, can't we?"

Mum did not respond to that and sat down on a chair covered with flour.

"Well, you must be exhausted, dear. Please take a rest. We'll make you some tea and take care of this mess." said Dad and put the kettle on the stove.

I didn't dare to comment anything but gave the approved nod and joined his healing mission.

After all the mess was wiped and the fury was subsided, we all sat on the chairs at the kitchen table silently as we sipped the strong tea with plenty of milk together.

Dad mumbled, "Oh dear." and then covered his face in shame, apologizing, "Sorry. I did it again. Oh, dear..."

He looked up the ceiling in vain : I started giggling. Mum also started giggling. The hysterical giggle stayed for a while with us, sweeping the heavy air away.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Have a little more faith in yourself!

"Have a little more faith in yourself!" is the word I was given repeatedly by one of my best mates / mentors.
He probably has no memory of what he said because it always happened when he was extremely drunk. It was alway just before he lost his conscious due to the massive amount of alcohol, he looked into my eyes and said his line. He said that so many times that this line was engraved onto my mind and grows every single day even now. This memory comes back to me so vividly because of the party I had last night with bunch of lovely people.

After finishing to revise my paper on self-esteem, I cooked some food for the little christmas party. It was also a debut gig for Momo (my daughter). She was so reluctant to go with me, telling me how tired she felt and how boring it could be. But somehow my heart told me not to get her away from this opportunity to meet and mingle with unique, creative and inspiring individuals. So, I gave her the smile that said, "I won't take no for an answer". By now, she knows the awful consequences if she objects to the smile. So, she came along, dragging the heavy guitar and the heart.

She was in a devastating state of mind due to the terrible test score she got at school in spite of her tremendous effort. The worst news for her was that it was the English test. She got 58 in 60 in speaking test and full mark in listening but when it came to translation from Japanese to English, she got into one of the worst three in the 8th graders. She just couldn't memorize all the meaningless lines no matter how much she tried. It was heartbreaking time to see her struggle so much and lost all her self-esteem for such a tiny little matter like an English test at a Japanese school. But don't you remember the school life and test scores meant the whole world for you when you were 14? Perhaps it meant more in Japan for more students become more obedient to social rules in general. Momo is not an exception. She takes a measure, the school grades way too seriously and thinks she is a total loser. The school grades are one of the most influential measures for "success" but it is NOT a tool to measure your value as a human. I can't repeat this enough and I want her English teacher repeat this as well instead of killing all her enthusiasm towards learning and discovering unknown. The fatal line, the bullet in her heart from the teacher was, "You may not be able to go to the high school unless you try harder." This is a spit on your face. This is a kick in your already bruised butt. This is a bucket of cold water on your head on the freezing winter night. Such words humiliate you.  Such words pierce your heart and numb it. Little by little, I can see her heart stop taking things in due to the pain, humiliation, disappointment, despair that come along with heartless words like that. It is not even truthful. It is just a harsh and mean words reflecting the teacher's irritation towards his lack of ability to inspire and motivate his students. I've heard so many lines like that back in school days and I know that none of them are true now. But how do you know when you are just 14 and the school life occupies 80% of your conscious life?

I truly wished she had a friend like my best mate telling her repeatedly that how wonderful and special she is because who she is. I wish I could be her best friend but as you know for a teenager, a mum is a mum not a friend. She needed a person who has a faith in her. Someone who is not a member of her family and looks at her objectively and genuinely appreciates her presence in her/ his life. Someone like my best mate.

At the party, a big help from my partner and the amazing audience, Momo managed to play some tunes and got applause, telling her how wonderful performer she was. Except a few people in the crowd, no one really knew what mental state Momo was in and what she really needed. For me, those encouraging sweet words from them were the best Christmas gift I can ever think of for Momo. The words from the cool grown-ups who enjoy their lives and successful in their own way. They had no idea the impact of their words on her. But those words she heard last night were like the line I carry every single day, " Have a little more faith in yourself." By the time we got home after joining the second party at a bar, the little twinkles came back to her eyes. This morning she said, " It was fun.."

Her frozen heart has melted a little. Of course, it takes time to build more faith in herself. But at least, she experienced that there were the whole wider world with all jolly and lovely awesome grown-ups.
And those people appreciate her presence and talent.

Thanks to the jolly mates and their Christmas spirit. I truly wish you a very merry Christmas!!!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

An inspiring message

A few nights ago, Momo, my teenage daughter sat on a couch in the living room next to me and took a deep sigh as she mumbled, "I wish I had a teacher like him."

Then she showed me the message of a school teacher who gave the last homework to his student before he passed away. The message said:

The last homework
 No specific deadline.
"Become happy."
Perhaps I would be in heaven when you turn in this homework. Do not rush to hand it in.
Take your time. But please tell me face to face, "I have become happy." I will be waiting to hear from you.

What messages would you like to leave to your children or family? Ultimately, the message I would like to leave my children is the same. "Please find your happiness within your heart."

Friday, November 8, 2013

Christmas Story for The Magical Story Tribe

After reading the inspiring book, The Element in the bath on the Saturday morning, this story popped up out of my heart. I would love to make some collage based on this story later.

Sakura’s Christmas

Sakura lost her dad when she was only 3 years old. She was born in Seattle in the United States of America. But her mom decided to come back to Japan when Sakura’s dad passed away. Her mom said,
“Sakura, we will go back to my home country and be with our family.” Sakura was not happy about saying good-bye to all of her friends and wonderful neighbors. But she liked the idea of being with her family.

Sakura lived with her funny grandpa, loving grandma, two playful uncles and mom. Sakura was a happy girl loved by everyone of her family.

As soon as she got into a nursery school nearby her grandparents’ house, she made some good friends. The neighbors welcomed her and her mom and everything was just fine. Sakura stopped crying missing her dad little by little.

One cold winter morning, Sakura’s grandma asked her,
Sakura hesitated to tell grandma her wish.
She looked at her grandma in the eyes and asked,
Sakura smiled and nodded excitedly.
She wrote a letter to Santa and put it in a envelope. She handed it to her mom and said,

At that time, Sakura has already forgotten her mother tongue, English. Her mom was sad and wanted her to speak it again. Her mom tried to talk with her in English but Sakura stopped speaking in English back. So, her mom got an idea.
“Did you write in English, Saku?”
“Hah? 何で?
“well, Santa can’t read Japanese, can’t he? He is from North Pole.”
“ I can help you out.”
So, Sakura started practicing alphabet and got much better.
She asked her mum how to say some of phrases in English such as I wish to see. But she did not tell her mom who she wants to see for Christmas.
Her mom thought it would be Stitch from Disney channel. Sakura loved Stitch at that time.
After a few days of practice, Sakura managed to write a letter to Santa.
She handed it to her mom and said,

On the night, her mom opened the letter and it said,

Dear Santa,
Merry Christmas. Last year. Present. Thank you.
I wish to see dad for Christmas.
I am good.
Thank you.

“Oh, my, my.”
Her mom sighed. She had no idea what to do with Sakura’s wish.
She did not make Sakura sad on Christmas day.
She walked around her bedroom and thought about it. But she did not get any good ideas. So, she asked her family what to do.
Grandpa shrugged his shoulders. Grandma shed in tears. It was one of Sakura’s uncles, Hiro gave her mom a good idea,
So, her mom came up what to write. The other uncle, Yoshi volunteered to write it down on a Christmas card.

On the night before Christmas, Sakura’s mom sneaked into her bedroom and put the card under her pillow. She also put a little bracelet in a little box next to the pillow.

Next morning, Sakura’s family was got up by a big cheerful shout.
Sakura showed the card and the present from her dad. She wore the bracelet around her wrist.
“Thank you.” She mumbled. The card says:

Dear my girl, Sakura

Thank you for your request for Santa to see me again on the special day.
He promised me to deliver this letter to you on the Christmas Day.
I was so happy to hear that you still remember me and think of me.
I am so sorry not to tell you this before. I am always with you, Sakura.
When you need me, I am there next to you. You may not see me but I am there. You may be able to feel me if you try. I am so glad and proud that you have made some friends and helped your mom to go back to Japan. You have learned Japanese so quickly. I wish I could understand what you say. But for me, just watching you grow is a gift. I am sorry that I can’t hug you like other dads. But please remember I am always with you.


It was all written in English. But Sakura could read “dad”. She did not ask her mom what it was written. It was a message from her dad to her. She wanted to read it on her own. She used her mom’s old dictionary to understand the message. It took her very long time to get the message. She asked her mom what “always” and “be with you” mean. When her mom told her it means, 「いつも一緒だよ。」, she was so happy and felt as if her dad was there.

From the Christmas, Sakura always gets a card from her dad with a little present. Sakura became a big girl but she never questioned if Santa is real. For her, the Christmas card and a present from dad is Santa, the love. Once a year, on a Christmas day, a special gift will be delivered to you. That is if you believe in love.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Element

Flow or zone or the new term, the element is a place your skill meets your potential. That is a place where you can be the best of your ability. That is a place where you feel right and find content daily. I think I have found a place like that. It is in the story circle with children. That is a place where I can feel their heartbeat and breath. That is a place where my beat and their beat make a unique harmony that nobody ever heard of before. The beat of our hearts and souls weave a story together. That is where I would find the joy and the meaning of my presence in this planet. It is not in the dark meeting room where everyone feel suffocated. It is not a classroom where a kid gets bullied by everyone that includes other student's parents and even some of teachers. It is not a school where children are judged by very restricted measures like mid-term tests, last-term test, proficiency tests, and other mini quizzes that kids get almost daily. It is not a place where kids would be controlled to be a heartless robot to serve our society. It is not a park where kids are proctored by mums and caregivers who love them only if they are obedient. It is not a grey street where children's laughters are prohibited. I don't belong those places. I belong to a place where kids can laugh their head off if that is what they feel like. I belong to a place where I can be accepted as who I am as I accept kids who they are. We can fight badly from time to time yet next minute we can hug each other. I belong to a place where I am allowed to speak genuinely. I belong to a place where nobody has to put a fake and cynical smile on her face. That is a place in the story circle with children. The story circle where we share all forms of stories of our own as well as others. That is my element and I would do anything to keep my seat there. Yes, I would.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

"Why do I have to study English, Mum?"

It is one of the good questions my daughter asked me once. She is 14 years old, studying English at a private Jr. high school. She took the entrance exam and was accepted a year ago. When she entered the school, she was full of enthusiasm to learn English which she had been exposed as soon as she was born by her mum, myself. As soon as she became 5, we started going abroad and enjoyed our adventure in a different country. In Vaucouver Canada, Hawaii, Alaska, Australia and Guam we travelled on ourselves on a tour or visit my friends living there. She played with some of local kids and joined some of local summer programs for kids as well. She had no fear of speaking English in spite of her low English proficiency. Her speaking ability wasn't so bad as a Japanese kid who had never lived overseas. But her strongest skill in the second language learning is her low anxiety in communicating in English with locals. She developed an excellent non-verbal communication skill via exploring the foreign cities and being exposed to the local cultures.

So, when she marched into English education at the school, I didn't imagine she would ask this question, "Why do I have to study English?". In fact, I was quite offended by this inquiry of hers because I felt that my identity as a bilingual was questioned as well. I didn't answer well at that time. But later she started hating English as a school subject due to the miserable test scores she kept on getting at school. Finally, last semester, she became the worst three students in English and she asked me this question again. This time, I tried to answer her question sincerely because she looked desperately in need to hear my answer.

Here is what I said to her:

I didn't want you to abandon possibilities to take a part in the growing global village where no country boundaries, no ignorant discrimination towards race, nationality, gender, social status, education background and other measures that people used to have due to the lack of accurate information. But I am also aware of the pitfall of the so-called global village where developed and economically dominating countries exploit developing countries via using their cheap labour and products. Losing unique and outstanding cultural identities including the staple diet, the language and regional rituals would be a great loss for the multi-national world with numerous cultural heritages for the future generations. But taking a part in the global village would be better than isolating ourselves in the rapidly changing multi-cultural society. Because I believe that we evolve by adjusting to the changes and learning something new under a new environment. If we stop evolving, the humanity won't survive. And whether you like it or not, English has become a global language and it is one of the most useful tool to have as a communication with as many people as possible under the current circumstance. The status as a dominant language that English has might change as the global economics changes.  But for our generation, such a big change would less likely happen. So, considering the global current circumstance, it is my responsibility, as a mum, as a facilitator of learning for you, a guardian of your future to tell you the potentials of learning this dominant language, English. It is just a potential and it is you who open many doors by using the language as the key. Please remember that you have so many potential abilities to lead a life that you feel proud and love. It is possible to join the global circle to make things better for you and your children without learning English. But equipped with a good English proficiency get you in without so much hustle.  Besides, the way  English is studied at school is just one way. It is not at all the one and only way. In fact, there are so many ways that you may have difficulties to find the most suitable one for you. So, it is too early to stop exploring now and conclude that you don't need to learn English just because a way of studying the language is not suitable for you. Give English a chance to represent your own mind and soul. Once you acquire one more way to speak your own mind, it surely will enrich and empower your presence on this planet.

This is the answer from me to my daughter but I can't tell anyone who ask this good question in any other way.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Lessons for life

My daughter stopped going to the brass band. She needed a break from all the practice, pressures and unnecessary and unpleasant conflicts within the members. She became physically so sick that she had to skip school. To get her healthy teenage life back, she has decided to leave the club for a while. ( It can be for good.) After solving slightly serious problem, she has gained her health and became the cheerful girl again.  Thanks to my partner for taking his time and offering what she needs when she asked him how to play the guitar. I suppose her soul craved for music and the guitar was there. It was miraculous that she actually went up to his room and showed him her interests towards playing the guitar. He did not miss the chance to show her he is also in her cheering team. From that moment, her lesson for life has started.

It is not only about music or playing the guitar. It is about the legendary musicians such as Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Tracy Chapman, R.E.M,  and their legacy and souls. She has been immerged in their harmony of melody and lyrics. Their music got some power to move even the most apathetic girl towards real life at that time.

This apathy that my daughter showed and declared towards real life bothered me so much. I blamed all the digital culture she is surrounded by. In fact, I was about to organize anti-social networking group to protest this soul threatening addictive culture. She is really into tweet and social networking with other teens she has never met. Her favorite ones are called utaite-san or the singers who upload their own singings to Niko-niko douga (Japanese version of youtube). Some may be talented but many of them are just enjoying to share their performances and comments from the viewers. My daughter is one of the viewers. I won't be bothered if she was the one who upload her performance for it might be a sign of creativity and her own expression. It has been the hardest job I've ever got to take iPhone from her and get her in bed to get some enough sleep to live! Otherwise, she would go online all night long talking to someone she never met. What do you call that if not insanity or addiction?

But after she met those legendary musicians via my partner and his guitar lessons, the way she deal with social networking and online culture has changed. She started listening to great music and reading books as well. She must have realized the taste of good stories again. She also started going out with her classmates and other club members from her school who enjoy my daughter's presence and treat her  as a fellow human. I detect a bit of sweet scent of the puppy love that would burn your soul and show so many colors of emotions. One of the best lessons you can ever get if only you know what it is.

Her trampet seems like sucking her soul out of her but the inspiring music and the warm helping hands my partner offer to her have brought her vigor back. My lesson from her this time is to give enough space for children to grow on their own way. Do not judge teens or any other people based on my old conventions. One more encouraging discovery is that teens love cool and inspiring stories of real people!!!

Lessons for life would go on!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Making stories

I finally recovered  from the awful jet lag and my brain started functioning again. I was fully energized and refreshed during the summer vacation. Thanks to the jolly Northerners of UK!!! I had an absolutely fantastic time there. The great memories I got there make the nightmarish jet lag worth having. Revising  my research paper added a little too much spice on my life but it is over. I am ready to rock again!

To begin with my new adventure, I've got two big story-making projects going on at the moment. One will be held at Obaasan no chibukuro, a bookstore in Kokubunji with 10 other story& music lovers. This event idea was inspired when I went to see my friend's storytelling event with her own storybook at the place. The place got something extraordinary and I wanted to have regular magical event with stories and music. Tonight is the first event of the project. What I have in mind is to share the pleasure of telling stories and music appreciation. My additional purpose for this project is to make stories with others, based on a lot of story-making activities that are written in a book, Creating Stories with Children. Today I will try out the relaxation activity as I read my favorite poem. Then I will introduce, Fortunately-unfortunately activity. I can't wait to meet the others tonight.

Another project is at my new work. I finally persuade one of the elementary school's head master to permit my project. It is a play, based on Momotaro, the Japanese folklore. I have written a script and showed it to him, telling his students would be able to perform the play with a little bit of preparation. I have already made some musks of some characters for the play such as the Monkey, the Demons and etc. He promised me to support this project 100% and ask other teachers for their cooperations. Teachers are too busy to look after other affairs and I know I might have to plan and prepare for the project all on my own. I get a little bit supports from the teachers if I beg. The main purpose of this play is to show the pleasure of making and sharing a story with others to kids via taking a part in the play. It doesn't have to be perfect but I will encourage them to be the best they can. Otherwise, it will be dull.
For the theme music, I chose this tune:

Lyrics: Come on let's go! Come one let's go! Come on let's go to Onigashima! We're gonna get, we're gonna get, we're gonna get the treasure back!

Through these projects, I truly hope to find more story & music lovers. If you are one of them, please join us via sending me a DM to my facebook page.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Summer Reading with Kids at Sunnyfield English

From tomorrow, the annual Summer Reading Course at Sunnyfield English will start. From 4 pm to 8 pm for 4 days in a row with varied aged and leveled kids, I am planning to read some stories. With high schoolers, I am planning to go virtual world trip, starting with this article on Day 1:
Then on Day 2, learn more about some destinations on the list with Wikitravel such as
The destination will be student's own choice.
Then on Day 3, they will present the place they choose and share reasons why they choose the destination. Then we will decide which one is the most suitable destination for our own tour.
On the last day, we will share places to go and things to do in the place we decided to go on tour in the previous lesson.

For the elementary school kids, we will read books with summer-related themes.
Day 1:
We will write a week diary after reading this.
Day 2:
And of course, we will sing a song: beacuse we will eat ice cream on the last day :-)
Day 3:
We will draw things we can see under the sea.
Day 4:
Finally: one of my favorite story, Swimmy. We will talk about this story and eat ice cream later on!

This is my plan and as you may know "Plan" is a subject to change :-)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Reflecting the first semester

Last Wednesday was the last teaching day in the first semester at elementary schools as ALT. In the last classes at 4 schools, I introduced a game that is similar to the horse racing board game.
  1.  Divide the class into 6 or 7 teams of 4 or 5 students, depending on the number of the students.
  2. Put 20 to 30 quiz cards with questions that you wish to review on the blackboard for students to choose from. 
  3. The first players from each team decide their team name from 6 to 7 animals ( it can be anything like fruits ) via Janken. 
  4. The second player come up to the front and pick a card or a lot. (I made a lot of french fries shaped lots and put them in a gigantic red container and wrote MEGA potato on the box.)
  5. They go back to their seats and answer the question according to the number they draw. (the members of the team can help the player to answer the question if necessary.)
  6. The team can go forward when the player can answer the question. In case the player draw a lucky lot with a heart on it, the team get to go forward one more.
  7. When the team got to the goal, they are assigned to say,"Goal!" in chorus.
It was great to see kids help each other as a team and enjoy the review game. They like the idea of MEGA potato as well. 

I was told by one of the school masters that I don't have to teach anything but have fun with kids as I use English. Well, it is not that simple and easy when I need to have all the kids understand the rules of games in English. But by the second week of teaching, I figured that some of students can make brilliant assistant teachers for me and ask them to help me to explain the rules to kids who look completely lost. I also found out which students can make brilliant leaders and make classes more enjoyable and informative. Those key students are much better facilitators than any teachers. 

Thanks to those amazing facilitators / leaders, my classes got more fun co-contrractive learning space. 
I had a bit bumpy beginning because of the extreme lack of support and information about how to conduct classes with what materials. In fact, nobody can tell me when, what, how I should teach at the beginning. All I know was I was supposed to teach 5th and 6th graders and student books I am supposed to use. Later on, while I was searching some information on line about the assigned textbooks, I found accidentally the syllabus and lesson plan for each unit at the MEXT site. While I was  reorganizing the bookshelf to find available materials for the classes, I found DVD for the textbooks. This mess turned out to be kind of like a daily treasure hunting game for me and by the third week I started enjoying digging and discovering unexpected materials. By the 4th week, I started making my own materials using their PC and password I also found at the back of the PC desk on my own. The user name and the passwords were written on the post-it and stuck on the back of the desk of the shared computer. 

Now I got most of mysteries figured out and the most challenging task is to get to know the teachers I work with. They have very very little time to communicate so that I have to find the best time to start talking to them. I sometimes feel like I have become CIA agent, trying to figure all the unknown codes at work. It would have been easier and better if I had more support from the board of education and schools. But easier doesn't mean more fun. I think I am getting much better and unexpectedly fun stories to tell :-) 

To be continued

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Supermoon night

Supermoon to rise tonight.

The moon reminds me of many stories. One of them is a scene from this movie, Evening. An exhausted mum with a serious emotional problem sang the moon song for her kids when everything looked so intimidatingly wrong. She quitted cooking and put her daughter on her laps and went:

I see the moon and the moon sees me
And the moon sees somebody I wanna see...

Being a mum gets overwhelmed from time to time because of all the emotional roller coaster she deal with on daily bases. On such an evening, stop everything and just looking up at the moon with her little girls or boys and singing away would bring a big smile back on her face. How many times would you look up at the night sky and gaze at the moon? How often would you talk about the moon and the memories that are inspired?

Tonight might be one of the suitable one for storytelling night with a supermoon.

Have a lovely evening, everyone!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

On my day off

Yesterday was one of those days that I don't enjoy looking back because of the despair I felt at work. I hear some abusive words from kids. Where do those painful and abusive words come from? Don't they come from the mouth of us, grown-ups. It is the chain of harmful words. I hear teachers say, "Why don't you understand such an easy instruction?" "Are you an idiot?" "Shut up!" without any reasons explained to the kids. I completely understand classroom management in a large class is challenging and stressful especially when you need to deal with that all day long. And those 6th graders can be a pain in neck. But abusive words can't stop anything. In fact, they feed only negative and painful vocabulary to the dictionary of our kids. It is true that the world can be brutal and harsh and kids might need to deal with that but I keep thinking what if kids didn't know those harsh and abusive expressions but knew more and more encouraging, supportive and soft words like music to our ears. Words and moods are much more contagious or influential to us than we imagine. For instance, when I feel relaxed and fine, my words become more inviting and cheerful. when my words become more cheerful, Momo, my daughter acts better and nicer. When she is cheerful, more laughters happen among us. And the other way around is the same. I am not saying that we should ignore something unpleasant or abusive incidents in our lives because there are always some.  But by focusing on such events, you become bitter and gloomy and your words usually coincide your mood. Then the painful chain of abusive words take place.

In order to have kids listen to you, perhaps giving them a little time to calm down especially after exciting activities is a better idea than throwing bitter and abusive words at them like, "Shut up! Otherwise, you are out!" " Shut up! Get out of here! You don't know when to stop!" I had enough of those heartbreaking words at work. It really break my heart because those words kill all the pleasures kids had during the activities that they felt excited. It is like feeding kids cake and telling them how bad the eating cake is. It is such a wrong message. One of the teachers say, "Ok, we had fun, Now let's listen to another one. Ok?" He has much better classroom management. It makes sense to kids. And I don't have to stand like an idiot while my team-teacher is screaming at those poor kids. I heard one of the teachers shouted at a girl, "We don't need a person like you! Get out of here!" It was harsher than what the girl mumbled. I felt so awful because she said something childish ( but she is a child and that's what she is supposed to say.) like, "You had a hard luck."to one f her classmate in a pair work. Maybe the teacher meant to shout at me for doing something inappropriate. But in any cases, shouting at the girl in front of the class and killing all the joy all the students were sharing at the moment was inappropriate to me. Whatever the problems she has in her daily behavior, I can't imagine such abusive words can grow anything healthy. I think inspiring and nurturing words can only touch our soft part of the hearts and grow more of empowering words there. What this girl need to empathize how her classmate would feel if she calls him a had luck. Empathy is something kids need to learn in the course of their development. And it is our responsibility to make sure that they learn empathy.

Some days, it is so challenging to be careful with my words. I get tired and stressed out and my words become unkind. For those days, I should remember the face of every kid when the harsh words were poured onto her / him - the most confused, embarrassed and despising faces. After all, I can't change anything nor anyone but myself. I would love to have a circle of musical and inspiring words around me :-)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Story-based class at elementary school

After reading a story, Ketchup on your Corn flakes? in some of my classes at an elementary school, I started wondering how I can integrate lots of activities that stimulate interactions among students and shared reading activities. Based on my experiences and some literature, I have become a believer of impact of narratives and the power of shared reading. But I also hypothesize that only shared reading might not be able to attract students' full attention. I saw some sleepy faces and yawning if the book lasts more than 5 pages. That's how short their attention span is. Kids got more stimulating activities such as online games, movies and so on. Simple activities such as reading don't give them instant stimulation in spite of all the imaginative and creative stimulation you can get once you are completely engaged in the world of narratives. Reading requires bit of patience and practice in order to feel the absolute freedom to play in the world. Once you get the grip of how you can free your mind on the pages, you can be addicted to it for sure, however, like everything else, you gotta experience the magic on your own. Those kids, who had no enjoyable shared reading experiences with their parents or care takers, have no patience nor stamina to wait for the magic take place in their hearts. And only in the area, I might be able to give my hands to kids. Via introducing some books they can be engaged and having fun time in sharing the story, I might be able to create the similar bed time experiences that I and my daughter got as babies - The smoothing feelings and the excitement come along with the stories told by the caregiver, the guardian of your tiny life. It might be the warmth and the tender tone of her / his voice babies cling to first. Then, they can built the love of reading later. How powerful force it can be to make your kids bookworms or addicts for narratives in a positive sense. With this foundation based on love and trust, kids can freely fly in any worlds they may live.

I must thank my daughter for this realization and also being a light to guide me where to go in the midst of a tempest. I also thank my mum to give me a good nose of story hunters. Shared reading with my mum got me fall in love with picture stories and children's literature has been one of my favorites. I also had nothing but books to entertain myself when I was indoors during my childhood. Outdoors, I got the wild and thrilling nature beckoning me back then. I really appreciate her to provide such a wonderful environment.

It is impossible to create such a rich environment in classrooms but I would be extremely happy if I can share at least a bit of pleasure of shared reading with some kids. In my dictionary there is no word like "too late" especially when it comes to reading. You can fall in love with narratives anytime in your life according to Storytelling Animals since craving for stories is one of our very primitive instincts. Nothing  can take that from us. (Well, unless some extreme cases with physical or psychological damages.) This human tendency explains a lot for addictions for games. Games are animated stories that you can join and experience instantly. But they lack the magic, the freedom of mind. Readers can animate each character of a book as they like. I can't get such a freedom in movies and games due to the fixed images and sounds. Only in texts, you can get the absolute freedom. In the sense, storytelling or shared readings are also limited but such activities can be a great bridge between the  ready-made animated images and self-genarated images. When stories in your mind get colors, sounds and motions, you can be absorbed in the world endlessly and the pleasure is priceless. But it is hard to explain because you gotta experience that.

So, I think I can define my mission is to be a bridge between ready-made imagination and self-generated imagination. Hope I can be a solid one that doesn't fall down via sharing engaging stories with kids as we play lots of pre- and post-reading activities.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

It's been a while...

I've been dealing with the way too many new things at work on top of preparing two presentations without having chilling & reflecting time on my own. For the first time in a while, I had a peaceful afternoon nap on my favorite sofa. I realize how tired my body and soul has been. I guess that's what happens when you suddenly start dealing with more than 100 different types of humans at work. Before this new work, I talked with only my family and some of kids at my own school. The average number of people I meet was about 5 to 6 a day. They are all familiar faces and I know what to expect. But from a few weeks ago, as my new work begun, suddenly I deal with 40 to 50 people a day and I don't know many of them. For the first time in my life, I realized why I  couldn't handle school life so well back in school days. It is just too much information to take in. At workshops and presentations, I meet new faces and share the time but I often feel like those occasions are for meeting kindred spirits and making new friends. After all, those participants who bother to join my workshop or presentations share the interests or at least have a bit of interest in what I say. So, it has been inspirational and empowering for me to do presentations. However, this job as an ALT is a whole different story. Many of participants (students) got little interests in what I say. In fact some of them including teachers show no interests in me, an ALT. For them, I am just an intruder of their fun school life. One day, she marched in from nowhere and started telling something they didn't care. To make the matter worse, she asks them what  she can do for them. What a nightmare for them! I feel sorry for their confusion but I hope they will eventually understand my intention is not bad at all. In fact, I genuinely would like to get to know them because we are there, sharing the time and space at the same time for some kind of funny and amazing coincidence. It might mean nothing if we ignore the fact that the chance to be in the same classroom at a certain time is very low almost like the level of miracle. I just can't help getting a bit too excited about that. It might be a good reason or some kind of universal mystery going right now. If so, I don't want to miss a thing. Having this crazy idea in my mind, I've been 100% open to whatever I feel at work. With all my senses I take everything going on around me and it's been exhausting. I feel so alive and appreciate the opportunities offered to me but still I haven't got used to such an intense circumstance.
On top of that, at Sunnyfield English, I have nearly 10 new students joined to our learning community last month. I'm so ecstatic but at the same time I feel a bit overwhelmed because of the flood of information I would like to take in. Unfortunately, the capacity of my heart is limitless but that of my head is quite limited. Considering the chaos in my mind, however, things have been rather smooth. In fact it has been unexpectedly good. I appreciate everyone's generosity and patience.

From next month, I will have a full schedule, 5 days a week at elementary schools, 3 days a week at  Sunnyfield English in the evening plus my own study and life. I know there are bunch of people who got much busier schedule but please imagine I am a total beginner for juggling. I can toss and catch only a ball at a time. But now I got 5 balls in my hands to juggle. I am a big believer of "Practice makes perfect" and would keep on trying to juggle well. But in a mean time, I need a group of cheer leaders.
Would you be one of them?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

New journey!

How many times have I said "Really?" ever since the year of 2013 started? There were various kind of "Really?" depending on the circumstances but most of my "Really?" so far this year have been the one used for expressing joyful surprises. The first "Really?" happened when I was invited to the speakers workshop for TEDx Tokyo teachers. The second one came when I was invited by ETJ Saitama as a presenter. The third one was when my partner found my first textbooks became available online. Those  "Really?" expressed my astonishment at surreal moments.

Having lived in a peaceful yet humble place with my daughter and enjoying the slices of English world with cute little kids in our neighborhood for more than a decade, I got used to my little Cheekish la la land where we got nothing but our imagination to play with. I had such a blast time sharing all the fantastic picture books and stories kids told me about their daily findings. In such a little la la land, there is no such a thing like fear. To get up-to-date information about outside of our world, all I need was to have a chat over cuppa with wise friends from time to time. Nothing radical happened. It could be boring but surely peaceful days. I wished this make-believe style of living with kids would last forever as long as I live. My only fear was that one day my daughter would say. "Mum, don't you wanna know what is going on outside? I wanna find things out!" The day didn't come within one day but little by little she stayed outside of our land longer and longer and finally she left me in the little land on my own. Those neighborhood kids also grew out of the land and left for the much bigger world.  Looking at the empty seats, I moaned and moaned as if it was the end of the world for a while.

One night, I sat alone in the little classroom looking at those pictures of my kids on the wall. Every one of them looked happy and smily. As I started reading those picture books we shared, I got on the mental time-machine and went back to the days of laughters. All the kids were still small with chubby faces and the sticky hands, asking me what to play for the day. So, I said, "Mr. Wolf?" Kids went "YAY!" After playing in our garden for a while, we got back in our library and shared our favorite story, Goodnight, Moon. I said "Goodnight" then kids said "Good-bye" instead with big smiles on their little cute faces.

Their voice echoed repeatedly in my mind and I looked at them and finally said "good-bye."  Good-bye to our la la land and my early motherhood. It was time my own life started again. The early motherhood was filled with full of little surprises, findings and laughters. It was absolutely fantastic but I didn't want to stay there alone. All the kids left there to explore more complex and perhaps beautiful world. So, why don't I? After all, we learned together how to be courageous in the face of challenges and fear and stay curious via playing and sharing so many stories in the la la land, the place where the reality and the innocent fancy meets. After the time-travel, I promised to myself to be out of sentimental self-pity and enjoy the life fully.

"Really?" The latest one was happened at the end of last month after I had a job interview at Kunitachi city hall for an ALT position. It was the first time for me to do 5-min demo lesson without any preparation at all. More than a decade of make-believe life with kids has intensified my crazy imagination or something, somehow I was oddly excited to get all the serious looking men open up and talk to me in the foreign language. Surprisingly the magic I learned in the land worked! Learning how to say "good-bye" opens the door to a new journey. I would visit 4 different elementary schools in Kunitachi city. What kind of stories those kid will share with me? What stories I can introduce to them? What kind of magic would I learn?

There are so many things and people I appreciate but today I thank to those kids including Momo, my daughter, who shared multi-cultured and colored stories with me in the last decade. They got me ready for the new journey to find more stories.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


I got my gum swollen again. This is what happens when I overworked without breathing for a while. Even though I am suffering from the intense pain(Going to a dentist is a waste of time for this.) I am happy that I've written the first academic writing. 4250 words with quite long appendix. The total number should be around 5000 words. Of course, quantity doesn't count as much as the quality but  the time I have spent and effort I have made are worth praising :-) Sometimes, you need that in order to go forward instead of beating yourself up for being a pathetic writer.

Despite the low quality of my writing, I have got one of the best supporting team for the paper. The team includes an experienced editor, proofreaders, researchers and a teacher-trainer for teachers for young learners. I know how lucky I am and I truly appreciated their support. Without this team, I won't be able to submit the paper on time. Although I am not so certain that my paper will pass the standard of the Master's program, I've learned a lot. Here are some notes for the next one:

  1. "no one is born good at academic writing. " 
  1. One focus for a research paper
  1. Plan more in advance: who (participants), what(focus) and how (methodology).
  1. Describe in detail.
  1. Read relevant research papers more. 
  1. Find a team of friends who would give you constructive feedback.
  1. Find a good balance between working and chilling.
In the mean time, I sing "Pain, Pain, Go away!" fingers crossed :-)

My first step into academic writing was bumpier and much more nerve-wrecking than I have imagined.  Now I have realized what the helluva world I have stepped into. After taking this gigantic mountain climbing (if I am allowed to continue), I would surely be armed with much thicker skin and some more essential skills for a M.A. Mama. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Night alone: reflecting the first year as a mum of a teen.

It is raining outside and I am all alone at home. It is very silent night and I can hear the sound of rain and occasional foot steps of neighbors. I take this night as a gift and will reflect on what I have done through this year as a mum of a teen since she entered the school last April. I remember the face with the mixture of excitement and apprehension in the new uniform on the first day at school. I watched her back feeling as proud as any mums can be in the situation. We didn't know how tough things would be to get used to the new life style then. We moaned and struggled together so much. By summer, I felt so exhausted and didn't know what to do or say to ease her pain and stress. At that time, I was also busy for getting used to my new work in order to gain some more financial security to provide what she needs but ironically lost time to be with her. We hit the bottom at that time. Then, things improved as she started shining again as a member of the school brass band. She gained her confidence and finally started to live again. She also passed an English proficiency test and by winter, she looked enjoying her school life with a certain purpose. But then, she lost her hearing temporarily, according to the doctor, due to the intense stress. Intense stress? Then guilt stepped in my mind asking if it is my fault. At the same time she started questioning of her hectic daily life. She works 7 days a week. Even on the break from club activity, no time to play but study for the tests. No space or time to relax and play. Without knowing what I could do for her at the end of last month, I got on the emotional roller-coaster with her again. We moaned and struggled together again with no clear answer.  That was all I could do. I felt so powerless, helpless and imperfect mum but I made sure that I was there for her when she needed me no matter what. One night, she asked me to scratch her back and fell asleep as she leaned on me. She must have been really exhausted at that night. As I felt her warmth, I felt her heavy heart as well and it was heartbreaking yet I was thankful that she allowed me to feel the heaviness in her heart.

Struggling might be something all the teens go through. Yes. It might be true but it doesn't mean it is easy. It has been a big challenge for both of us to be genuine yet  flexible enough to accept how things are at school. Last night as we took bath together, she said, "Mum, in the first year at Jr.high, I've learned life never been flat. It goes up and down all the time no matter how much you try to stabilize it. So, instead of fighting, I decided to accept it." I lost for words and just nodded, trying not to think about how she came up with such an enlightened comment. If I did, I couldn't have stopped my emotional tempest.

 I am not sure what is gonna happen next but I know that we will be ok as long as we are sincere to each other as we laugh, sing, dance and also moan together when it is needed. When she comes home, I will make sure to tell her that no matter what she deserves to be loved and admired.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


Ok. I did it! I totally surprised myself. The mission has completed. I did got up on the stage in front of the crowds on the March 1st. What a leap from a mum with a little girl, wishing to find a little cozy place to live at the edge of the society to a TEDx Tokyo Teacher's speaker. For some people who are lecturers, presenters and pro-speakers,  it might not such a big deal. But for someone who leads a small and simple life, such a big event was something extraordinary. I must thank my friend, Noriko, who planted this crazy idea into my little simple mind as she posted TEDx Tokyo Teacher's speaker's application on the FB. As I mentioned before, I didn't expect myself to put myself into such a frightening situation. By nature, I think I keep my heart and mind open to something new. But I am also super self-conscious and terrified to be criticized by others. Then why did I dare to get up on the stage?  I guess my crave for sharing and communicating with others got much bigger and stronger than any anxieties and insecurities I still have inside of me. Being accepted as who I am by my family and friends is another reason to be brave and try out things I have never imagined myself doing. This year has been just awesome as my connection with others got deeper and bigger. I feel less fearful and much more liberated. I certainly have developed much thicker skin as well.

I've started reading a book about storytelling called The Storytelling Animal. I suspect that is who we are and that is what I was born to be. We read stories to know about other lives and our own. We tell stories to feel connected with each other. Via my new challenge which is to share my findings in class with other ELTs, I've already met so many unique,wonderful and inspiring people and heard so many extraordinary stories. 

In order to stay little more objective, I imagine my life like a book to write. I am the author of it and all rights served. I am not sure what next page will be like and I don't need to know how it would end. All I know at this moment is my story is getting merrier and richer with much more connections with other open souls. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

On Cloudy Morning

As I got up in this morning, I saw the grey sky and a bit gloomy face on my daughter at the morning table. She has the sudden deafness on her right ear and has to take very yucky medicine. On top of that she won't be able to enjoy music at the moment in order to give a bit of break to her ears. Taking away music from her is like taking her soul out of her. No wonder why her smiles are away from her chubby cheeks. In such an unfavorable circumstance, she always hum but this time she won't even do so. She buried her face into a book as if she tried to escape from the reality.

Then I started to think to myself, "What's the damage to listen to a soothing melody in the morning? She is gonna listen to some lectures that teachers make today, anyway. Why not a song! Just a song to start her day." So, I started searching a good song for her on youtube and found another mellow  yet beautiful tune of our favorite singer, Jason Mraz. We love his thought-provoking message and his beautiful melody with a hint of melancholy. The tile was "When we die".  It can be the most inappropriate song for such a grey morning but it turned out to be the best one to listen because of the message, "Live like it is your last day".

We often take out lives for granted. We live as if we can live forever. We get bored. We get lazy. We neglect to communicate with our family and friends. We tend to be caught up in things that bother us so much instead of appreciating things that you have in your hands. We moan, cry and whinge way too much. But when we take each day as our last day, we act differently. Like my grandparents in their last days, we would appreciate things more. We adore every single moment we have and won't waste any of our time on moaning and whinging. Instead, we would focus on what we can enjoy every single second of our day. We would do something productive not destructive. Who would you like to spend the last day with? What would you like to do? How would you like to be remembered ? By whom?

On the last day, I would like to spend with my family and real friends joking and laughing as we share nice meal and would like to thank every one of them for taking me as the way I am. And I would like to be remembered as who I am: messy, clumsy, cheeky gal who loves this brutally complex yet beautiful world. Like one of my teachers from high school said I am still excessively happy, curious and brutally honest immature being.  Yeah and I know very little about things. Yet I know I am loved and I certainly love the people who dared to get involved in my absolutely chaotic life. And this fact always get me smile even in the tempest.

As we finished listening to the song, I spied a hint of sparkle in my daughter's eyes. I would like to think that she is humming or whistling the tune right now at school. And one day if not today, she would realized she is loved by so many people because of the way she is.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Cheeky Story

Can you imagine yourself standing on a stage in front of 300 audience, presenting your own idea?
I honestly can't. I repeat I can NOT imagine that. But what if a little crazy idea pops up in your mind one night and acted on the idea without considering the consequences? I sometimes jump into troublesome adventure because those events make me feel so alive. All my senses got sharp and awaken by the shock. I love surprising people, especially myself. I do sometimes I can never imagine myself doing. This story is one of them.

At the beginning of this new year, one of my friends posted about an announcement that TED Tokyo teachers is seeking speakers and entertainers on FB. She challenged us to make action on this opportunity. That was right after I read a book, Dare Greatly about the real meaning of braveness. As a typical of me, I  dared to send an application form just to show how brave I could be. I thought to myself, "No way I got a chance to talk." But I was happy and proud that the fact that I filled the form and sent it to TED Tokyo.

I have been researching on code-switching and its functions in EFL classrooms for young learners, more specifically beginner students at my school. While reading numbers of research paper on code-switching of bilingual children, I came across one of catchy title, We only learn language once. The role of the mother tongue in FL classrooms:death of a dogma. (Butzkamamm, 2003) It tickled my anti-authority and rebellious mind. The paper  asserts how L1 can be one of the most effective resource for language learning and introduces Sandwich technique, founded by a german scholar, Dodson in 70's. It was such a cathy name that I wanted to dig a bit about this technique and by the end of reading his paper, I was hungry enough to taste it in my classrooms with my students.

I have been planning to have Story-based or narrative-based teaching for I am a big believer of story and its magic over mind and souls of young learners. I enjoyed lots of stories as a child and turned my daughter a big story fan. I believe those stories are the foundation of my beliefs and values. Since I collected so many picture books for myself and my daughter, I wanted to share with other kids and hope that they would learn English as they enjoy the stories. I've read a book called, The Storytelling guidebook and learned how to utilize those brilliant narratives for language learning. So, it didn't take me so long to integrate the sandwich technique into my story telling practice.

For the first time, I read a story a little bit higher than my students' English proficiency with brief Japanese translation, they were so engaged to the story that they went so quiet. They could answer all the comprehension questions after the storytelling at ease. I really liked the result and stretched the use of Japanese a bit more for pair work. I gave some pairs some tasks and asked them to work them out together. They immediately code-switched to Japanese but successfully achieved the tasks together.
I liked the spontaneous interactions among them and the support they give each other. They looked engaged and enjoying the challenges. They came up the answers for the tasks in L2 but the spontaneous interaction that occurred in the pair work was conducted in L1. But it didn't bother me after understanding the nature of code-switching and its benefits. Students felt liberated to participate the class more actively and I was amazed and amused by the interactions among students. The vibe in the classroom was positive and lively.

So, I started to hypothesize that by accepting more spontaneous usage of mother tongue in some activities would facilitate more positive learning environment and consequently have students more engaged and active learners in my classrooms.

This bilingual method was in my mind when I filled the application form and didn't have a second thought when I sent it to TED Tokyo. So, that blew me away when I got the invitation to their speaker's workshop. I humbly accepted the offer and went to their first workshop for public speech last Sunday and had one of the most exciting and though-provoking day in my life with amazingly interesting participants and two incredibly supportive, passionate and giving mentors.

I knew what I wanted to tell but as soon as I got on a stage, my mind went paralyzed with nervousness   and words didn't come out from my mouth. Nevertheless, all the participants were patient, supportive and gave me some feedback.

I am not sure yet if TED Tokyo would want me to get back on the stage and let me to get words out of my heart on March 1st. I am not sure if my little fragile heart can take the thrill.

Excuse me? Yes, I have a very fragile and sensitive heart PERIOD

But I would try to get ready for the day because it would worth trying to do something I never imagined myself doing. I am trying to surprise myself.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A personal reflection at the end of the first month of the year.

It has been a month since the new year started perhaps a good time to reflect what went through my mind so far. I've got a few projects in hand, the Action Research on L1 usage, potential HV presentation and TED Tokyo speaker's workshop on this Sunday. I applied to the presentation a few weeks ago and got e-mail from one of organizers of TED Tokyo yesterday. In the application form, I wrote my thoughts regarding English education in Japan particularly on L1 use as a bilingual language teacher. My presentation would uncover what has been going on in the language teaching industry and classroom at school via my personal observation. I assumed nobody would take what I think and try to bring a bit of change seriously because I am just a person in a crowd. Although I personally think everyone has something extraordinary to tell, I never believed people would be interested in my own story for I haven't done anything extraordinary. But I suspect the catchy title - Would you like some BLT Sandwich in a language learning? might have attracted their interest. In fact, what I have contributed to the world is a small private language school for young learners with a little idea.

After my own daughter's birth, I set up Sunnyfield English to facilitate a learning space for local children via learning English. I never wanted to expand the business or numbers of students. In fact, I wanted to keep it as small as 2 to 3 classes a day for 5 days a week with 30 to 40 young learners in order to maintain the homy atmosphere and close relationship with them. However, from last year, the numbers of students started to drop and now become the half of the number used to be. The reason is crystal clear that children grew up and left our house and I haven't found the new ones to look after.  When my daughter was much younger, teaching at Sunnyfield English was the only job I had and I used to take a pleasure in organizing some events and did a bit of advertisement via posting flyers from time to time. Since some of friends of my students kept on joining, the number of students stayed almost the same for about 10 years. I was able to support myself graduating from 4 year university while my daughter was in elementary school while making a nothing fancy but comfortable living by the tuitions I charged. I certainly appreciate all the children and their parents for their support and understanding of my practice. After completing my BA in English literature, I went on learning further and got myself on a Master's program last year. In spite of my passion in this field, my interest and attention has been paid to more personal and professional development as a facilitator but not as an owner of the school.  Nevertheless, the biggest motivation and inspirations to keep this place is those children's laughters and the twinkling eyes when they discover something. I feel so blessed and spirited when I am with children in last 5 or 6 years. I suspect I see the little tiny chubby baby I held 13 years ago in every one of children I meet. In other words, I became one of the mums who blindly and helplessly love her children. It can't be complete unconditional because of little expectations I hold towards them but "humanly" unconditional and compassionate love. There are not much I can do for those beautiful creatures by sharing only an hour a week but one thing I believe I might have a chance to do is to plant the love of reading into the heart of them.  Unfortunately I can't go and read a story a night by their beds like I used to do for Momo but fortunately all of my children have their own mums who can possibly enjoy the stories children bring back to their homes as they leave my classroom. I might be naive to think that a language instructor can bring a bit of change at home but this goal would remain as my life time goal. And if this can be realized more pleasurably with a help of L1, I say why not! In order to keep this wishy-washy dream, this year I promised myself to tell the society where I am and what I do more actively, meaning making flyers and posting them.
After all, If TED Tokyo are willing to listen to what I think, my little idea which is planting the love of reading in the heart of little ones while utilizing children's L1 via BLT Sandwich, might be worth spreading.