Hi everyone, 皆さん、こんにちは。

My Japanese lessons includes practices to develop skills of speaking, reading, listening, writing, interacting and constructing and performing students’ own dialogues by pairs/groups or by oneself. The learning included the language and cultural skills to be used in travelling or living/working in Japan and general understanding upon Japanese culture. Speaking practice sometimes used the pictures, information, concepts/ideas or topics from the brochures of Japanese newspapers, the ads, Nichigo Press and other Japanese monthly magazines. For Hiragana learning, I used flash cards of Hiragana words and the pictures that the words signify. Most of the weekly homework given (exercise sheets) is for Hiragana reading and writing that are with Japanese words, name or simple sentences plus pictures.


Regarding my class teaching, my Beginners 1 finished in the middle of last month (Jan.). As for the main textbook, they completed Training Material of SLS. Also, I use many handouts given to students for the increase and application of new vocab, grammar (including verbs and their conjugations), reading and writing of Hiragana scripts.

Also I taught travellers Japanese especially with the use of a textbook and its cd of “Instant Japanese” by E. Smith, 2003, McGraw-Hill, Illinois. Two long dialogues from the book were used. The situations of them were planning a trip at a travel agent in Japan and booking a room in Japanese styled inn, ordering drinks at a coffee shop, getting train tickets, being o a non-smoking carriage of a train, getting on a bus to go to famous Miyajima and hiring/driving a rental car. The dialogues include many new words and some new grammar too and I had to explain such. Overall, the above material was unique (not stereo-type), useful and realistic for teaching travellers Japanese, occasionally funny (humorous) and good.

I also taught Intensive Japanese Beginners 1 (6 weeks’ course) on Saturdays. That also finished late last month (Jan.) The contents that I taught were basically similar to the above Beginners 1.

Also, late last month, a new class of Beginners 1 began (Thurs night class). I am teaching this class in the similar way to the above classes. For that class, I also use big flash cards of “Hiragana in 48 Minutes” (students are responding to the cards very well) and “Hiragana kotoba-kaado” (publisher: Kumon) which is a set of flash cards of beautiful and simple pictures of various living things and materials in Hiragana and English.

In relation to big news and culture in Japan, the Japanese media has been continuously and consistently reporting the birth and healthy growth of a baby panda Shan Shan (and her mother panda Shin Shin) for over half a year. The birth and growth of Shan Shan at the famous Ueno Zoo in Tokyo has been great sensation in Japan. The major media has been reported in details and many pictures of the pandas that are in the special room/area given in the Zoo for the media and other area where the pandas are shown to the selected visitors (people from the public who could get the tickets to see the pandas after “very” high competitions to get the tickets!). Both the baby and mother pandas look so relaxed, confident, happy, natural, active, curious (esp. Shan Shan), gentle, placid, soft and so cute. No wonder that the people in Japan get so excited and eager to see them (even just for only a few minutes’ allowing time for viewing the pandas during last month.)

You can see the beautiful pictures and video of the pandas etc in the online, Japanese newspapers (Yomiuri newspaper and Asahi newspaper). The following is the websites.





As another big news and this is about a subway in New York. Yomiuri online newspaper recently reported that Kawasaki Heavy Industries accepted the request from the MTA of NY to provide the former’s products & services and facilitate new subway trains and technology. (Over 1.7 billion passengers use the NY subways annually.)

NY subways will pay up to $3.6 billion for the above contract. Above Kawasaki H. I. did such big business with the above for NY subways since 1982 in the past too. About 2000 subway carriers were made from that contract. This new contract aims to make and run up to 1612 carriers. The new carriers will have wider doors than current ones of NY subway. That would travelling time quicker for passengers plus the signalling system will also be improved.

Kawasaki’s products and technology are in the aerospace, aviation, land, seas, robotics, environment protection. (As a similar case, later and recently the NHK TV reported that Hitachi has done similar type of work for the London transport system.)

If you want to see more details of the above news of Kawasaki H. I., go to the following. 

http://www.microsofttranslator.com/bv.aspx?from=ja&to=en&a=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.khi.co.jp%2F (It has a “smart” video clip/YouTube available to see, “Kawasaki Brand Movie” on the page).



Toshiko Jackson (Japanese teacher)



IELTS Task 2 Essays: SIX Smart Hacks to broaden grammatical range


  1. Use connectors to make complex sentences (Note the punctuation and sentence pattern too!)Wrong: Some people tend to overspend, they do not earn that much.


    1. Some individuals tend to overspend although they do not earn that much.
    2. Although/While some people do not earn that much, their expenditures exceed their income.
    3. Despite their limited revenues, some individuals’ expenses exceed their earning.
    4. A large section of the population does not necessarily earn exceptionally high income, but/yet they tend to incur excessive expenses.



  • Use gerund (V-ing) to connect sentences.Wrong: Unemployment rate increase lead to higher crime rates need to be addressed immediately.


    1. An increase in the rate of unemployment which would lead to higher crime rates needs to be addressed immediately.
    2. An increase in the rate of unemployment potentially leading to higher crime rates has to be addressed immediately.



  • Use infinitive (to + v(1)) vs. Gerund interchangeably.Wrong:  It is not easy pass the English exam.


    1. It is not easy to pass the English exam.
    2. Passing the English exam is not easy.



  • Do the passive to introduce a point.Wrong: Some people always think passing an exam is only lucky.


    1. Some people always assume that passing an exam is merely a matter of luck.
    2. It is invariably assumed that passing an exam partly depends on luck.



  • Use a Noun Clause as a Subject.Usual: It is questionable what causes the problem.

    Better: What has caused the problem is questionable.



  • Use a ‘perfect’ Modal.Usual: People can prevent the problem if they know first.

    Better: The problem could have been prevented.

Happy New Year and Happy Holiday!


24 December 2017




PTE Writing: QUICK Spelling fixers in PTE

It is highly recommended that students consistently use EITHER the U.S.or the U.K. Spelling convention throughout the entire exam. See the illustration below:

  1. AmericanExamples:
    1. Favor, center, realize, traveling.
    2. While, among, amid, toward.
    3. Program, sceptical.
    4. Has proved, learned.
    5. Advisor, story, acknowledgment
  2. BritishExamples:
    1. Favour, centre, realise, travelling.
    2. Whilst, amongst, amidst, towards.
    3. Programme, sceptical.
    4. Has proven, learnt.
    5. Adviser, storey, acknowledgement.

To avoid misspelling, break up the word into word parts.

  • e.g., govern +ment → government
  • dis + satisfied → dissatisfied
  • Hobby + ist + s → hobbyists

To decide whether or not to double a consonant, notice the syllable stress.

  • e.g., occur + ed → occurred
  • occur + ence → occurrence
  • prefer + ed → preferred
  • refer + ing → referring
  • BUT: prefer + ence → preference

Using accurate spelling as well as correct punctuation and spacing will save you at least a few points in Writing!


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


24 December 2017


Reading B – questions about main/general themes

Continuing on from previous posts about common question types, this post will cover another frequently seen question type – one that asks for the “general topic” or “main theme” of a paragraph, or a variation on these. An example we will discuss is below.

In a socio-demographic study in 1988 among Lebanese, Turkish and Vietnamese women in Sydney, migrant women were found to be, much less likely than Australian women generally to report sterilisation operations. Compared with the Australian population, these migrant groups were more likely to marry earlier, to start childbearing earlier, to have larger family sizes, to use traditional methods of contraception in their earlier years and to turn to oral contraception and IUD use at a later age. Hysterectomy was also far less common. Among the migrant women aged 40-49, hysterectomy was reported by 3-7% across different groups of migrant women. Compare this with a national sample survey in 1986, which showed that 15 per cent of women aged 40-49 years reported having had a hysterectomy.

The general topic discussed in this paragraph in relation to the 1988 study is differences between migrant groups and Australian women generally…

  •  in the reported use of sterilisation procedures
  •  in terms of hysterectomy rates
  •  in socio-cultural attitudes towards family planning
  •  in the reported use of contraception

The first thing worth noticing is that all four of the answers are indeed covered within the text – we can’t rule any of them out for being wrong straight away. However, the important thing with any question asking for the “main” or “general” aspect of a paragraph is to pick the broadest, most overarching of the answers. As an example, hysterectomy is mentioned several times, but falls under the topic of sterilisation, so hysterectomy is not the general topic. Sterilisation itself also comes under the topic of contraception, as sterilisation is one possible route of contraception, and so sterilisation is not the general topic either. Finally, contraception is only a part of family planning, which also covers ideas about family size and the age of marriage and childbirth. Family planning is thus the broadest, most overarching of the answers here, and is the correct answer.

The big trick to be careful of in these question types is not to always pick the answer that has the most written about it, but is only a specific example of a bigger general topic. In this paragraph, sterilisation and hysterectomy are talked about a lot, so it is easy to pick one of these as an answer, but as we said before they are only part of the larger general topic of family planning.


Reading B – being careful with logic

This post will cover a relatively common mistake students make in Reading B, and something that the question writers use to come up with wrong answers that are easy to fall for. It is always important to keep two things separate – what does the text specifically say, and what is something you have made a logical step to assume is correct. As always, we will look at an example question.


“Many third-world countries use blood unnecessarily. Where stricter indications for blood use have been introduced in sub-Saharan countries, consumption has dropped by almost two-thirds. Blood is often also used when alternatives would be more appropriate such as crystalloid or colloid solutions, which must first be imported and paid for in hard currency. Construction of local or district-based blood handling facilities could make a big impact on blood safety.”


Which of the following statements about developing countries is the most accurate?

  1. A) Many cannot afford suitable alternatives to blood transfusion
  2. B) There is no understanding of alternatives to blood transfusion
  3. C) Some have increased their rates of blood transfusion
  4. D) Facilities for blood handling are too expensive to construct


Let’s look at the answers from D to A. C and D are both examples of the trick we are focusing on in this post – they are both statements that are probably true, but they are not directly said in the text. For example, in answer D, it is probably true that facilities for blood handling are not built in poorer countries because they are too expensive, but the text does not mention cost at all; it only says that building these facilities could improve blood safety. Answer C is the same error; it is probably true that some of the countries have increased their use of transfusion, but all we are told in the text is that some have decreased their use. Again, you have to make sure that what you pick is said directly in the text. The answer for this question is A; we are told that the issue with alternatives is that they have to be imported and paid for, but the answer itself is not important. What is important is that in the exam you are careful with your choice of response and make sure it matches what it says in the text, rather than needing a logical jump.

IELTS Task 2 Essays: FIVE Easy Hacks to minimise common grammatical errors (Part 1)

  1. Use PLURAL forms for Count NounsWrong: government, the governments, individual, computer

    Better: governments, governments / the government, individuals, computers

    (TIPS: Simply add ‘–s/-es’ at the end of a countable noun (but if you use THE, then don’t use the plural)

  2. Always use THE for some nounsWrong: public, media, internet

    Right: the public, the media, the internet

    (TIPS: Memorise them!)

  3. Use THE when you use a noun phrase ‘N + of +N’Wrong: majority of people, rate of unemployment

    Better: the majority of people, the rate of unemployment

    (TIPS:  Remember a few exceptions, eg. a wide range of, a vast variety of, a number of, a series of)

  4. Do not use THE when speaking generally about the noun.Wrong: many of the students, the humanity, the people, go to the school, the society

    Better: many students, humanity, people, go to school, society

    (TIPS: Most of the time, don’t use THE in Task 2, except when you have a good reason to do so)

  5. Use Present Perfect / Modal rather than Present / Future Simple/Continuous.Usual: become, became, will become, is affecting

    Better: has/have become, would/may/might become, has been affecting

    (Reason: Present perfect has a wider time frame and WILL is too strong /opionated)




Infrequent grammatical errors will score you 7+ in the Grammatical Accuracy criteria and will be decisive to help you achieve your target band in Writing!

Next month, we’ll discuss the Grammatical range criteria.


Happy Writing!

26 November 2017


PTE Writing: SEVEN easy-to-use ways to conclude your Write Essay in 2 minutes!

Many students don’t know exactly how to conclude in Essay writing. You only have 2 minutes to do so convincingly and you need to write 2-3 sentences (20-30 words).

Just use any (up to 3) of the following methods to suit your purpose.  


Conclusion + MPs

Start with ‘In conclusion / To conclude/ Overall / On the whole…’ + Paraphrase of your main points / main reasons (the 1st sentences of your body paragraphs).


Conclusion + Position

Start with ‘In conclusion,’ + reiterate your position by paraphrasing the last sentence of your Introduction.


Conclusion + Contrast

Use ‘In conclusion,…’ + ‘however / while / although / but’ especially when you partially agree, discuss both sides or discuss advantages and disadvantages.


Conclusion + expected Effect / Outcome\

Use ‘In conclusion,…’ + ‘so / therefore / for these reasons,…’ to show an effect / consequence especially for ‘Problem-Solution’ question type.


Conclusion + Causes / Factors

Use ‘In conclusion,…’ + ‘because / since / due to… etc’ to summarise the factors leading to the conclusion.


Conclusion + Condition

Start with ‘In conclusion,’ +’if / unless…’ to show the required condition to merit a certain outcome.


Conclusion + Prediction / Warning

Use ‘In conclusion,…’ + ‘Otherwise,…’ to describe what would happen if a particular condition is not met.


After you finish your conclusion, remember to allow 2 minutes to proofread your grammar, vocabulary, punctuation and spelling.


26 November 2017


IELTS Essays: FOUR proven ways to score higher in the Lexical Resources criteria

WARNING: Before you see the suggested answer/s, do think about them yourself first as an exercise!

  1. Use SPECIFIC / PRECISE and FLEXIBLE (non repetitive) Vocabulary 


    Too common: Children / Young people

    Better: Youngsters /. The youth / youths / teenagers / offspring / adolescents

    (TIPS: Do not just reuse words from the question)


    Too common: Some / Many / Most people

    Better: Quite a few community members

    Better: The majority of the populace

  2. Use correct SPELLING 


    Wrong: Goverments prefered to belive that the occurences are rare.

    Right: Governments preferred to believe that the occurrences are rare.

    (TIPS: breaking down words into syllables and/or use the right syllable stress can help)



    Wrong: take a decision; take the book to school; throw away rubbish; discuss about

    Better: make a decision; bring the book…; dispose of…, talk about / discuss

    (TIPS: Use natural English expressions, not translation from your native language)

  4. Use correct WORD FORM in the Word Family  

    Eg. Conclude

    Let us … the discussion. (Verb)

    The … of the discussion has not been finalised yet. (Noun)

    Our team’s victory is quite …. (Adjective)

    We can safely say …. that the evidence is unfounded. (Adverb)

    (TIPS: Forms depend on structure patterns and then on suffixes used where appropriate)


    (V: conclude. N: conclusion. Adj: conclusive. Adv: conclusively)

A higher vocabulary score will be crucial to help you achieve your target band in Writing!


26 October 2017


PTE Writing: EIGHT easy-to-use connectors to boost your Written Discourse score

How do you enhance organisation of your sentences and paragraphs to achieve a high score in this criteria, which in turn will raise your Writing band? Simply use a combination of the connecting devices below:

  1. Linking Words Eg:  However, Furthermore, Therefore
  2. ConjunctionsEg:  but, and, so
  3. Connectors for complex sentencesEg:  which, that, if / unless, because // due to^, although // despite^, ^ followed by a noun (phrase)
  4. V-ingEg:  including…
  5. Prepositional phraseEg: For these reasons, In such cases, In fact
  6. AdverbsEg: Obviously, (Un)fortunately, Initially // Eventually,
  7. DeterminersEg: This // these, That // those , (An) ofher/s, such, the former // the latter
  8. PronounsEg: They // them // their,  We // us // our

Remember to use proper punctuations and look up 1-2 more synonyms in the thesaurus.

Your essay will surely have a better flow and connectivity now – and a higher score!


26 October 2017


Reading B – dealing with long sentences

Reading B often has lots of long sentences, some of which can extend over four or even five lines without a full stop. When a sentence is this long, it can be hard for even a native speaker to hold all of the sentence meaning in their head at once. One way you can try to simplify long sentences is by cutting out phrases that are between brackets, commas or dashes – let’s look at some examples.


Other ways to minimise stomach upset are to start at a low dose and gradually increase as tolerated (e.g. start with alternate daily dosing then increase to daily or twice daily dosing) or give smaller, more frequent doses (e.g. use oral liquid in divided doses)

If we try to simplify this sentence by removing the information in the brackets, we get a much shorter and easier to understand sentence: “Other ways to minimise stomach upset are to start at a low dose and gradually increase as tolerated or give smaller, more frequent doses


The incidence of meningitis changed by −31% (95% confidence interval [CI], −33 to −29) during the surveillance period, from 2.00 cases per 100,000 population (95% CI, 1.85 to 2.15) in 1998–1999 to 1.38 cases per 100,000 population (95% CI 1.27 to 1.50) in 2006–2007.

Again, we can take this quite complicated research sentence, and ignore the information between the brackets to get a much simpler sentence: “The incidence of meningitis changed by −31% during the surveillance period, from 2.00 cases per 100,000 population in 1998–1999 to 1.38 cases per 100,000 population in 2006–2007”


Close and prolonged contact – such as kissing, sneezing or coughing on someone, or living in close quarters (such as a dormitory, sharing eating or drinking utensils) with an infected person – facilitates the spread of the disease.

Here we have brackets and dashes – we can change this sentence multiple ways. If we ignore what is in the brackets we get: “Close and prolonged contact – such as kissing, sneezing or coughing on someone, or living in close quarters with an infected person – facilitates the spread of the disease.”

We can simplify it even further though, by removing what is between the brackets and between the dashes: “Close and prolonged contact facilitates the spread of the disease.”


This is an important trick to remember for reading complex sentences in reading B – if you are really stuck try re-reading the sentence but leaving out one of the parts of the sentence, and see if that makes the meaning clearer.


Aug 29, 2017

James Bergfield

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