Monthly Archives: August 2015

Hi everyone, 皆さん、こんにちは。

My Japanese classes/lessons included practices to develop skills of speaking, reading, listening, writing, interacting, and constructing/performing students’ own dialogues by jappairs/groups or by oneself and learning Japanese used in travelling in Japan. Speaking practice sometimes used the pictures, concepts or topics from the brochures of the Japan National Tourism Organizations, Jenta, Nichigo Press, Daily Telegraph etc. Also, understanding and analyzing Japanese culture are important part of the course.

My Intermediate 3 is studying with Japanese for Busy People Book 2 (currently the middle of Unit 2). Also, I give handouts to increase vocab and simple sentences with use of the vocab for practical language learning for travelling or staying in Japan with use of other relevant books. Their Japanese linguistic level is improving progressively, so it is exciting to see that. For example, in discourse writing of homework, such as dialogue with a particular situation for travellers (the situation was at a restaurant and the dialogue was to start with a courteous waitress’ customer service phrases that were from the handout we had gone through in class), the students wrote their own impressive and distinctive dialogues and read them out in class. That was delightful.

As for my students for weekly tutorials, they have been studying and exploring the learning with their deep interest and creativity. So, teaching them is very fun too! One of them, who is a company executive, wishes to take a 2 weeks’ Japanese course in Tokyo a few months later and he is very excited about that plan too. For his lessons in my teaching, we use Japanese for Everyone (currently, its Unit 2). He enjoys using that book as the main one for the tutorials. Similar to the above Intermediate 3, I give and use materials of other books, esp. ones for travel or life in Japan based reference books for practical, realistic and often natural language teaching.

Another tutorial student too, she is studying very actively and keenly. With her preference, we use Genki Book 1 (currently its Unit 4) for the main textbook. As the above teaching, I give her other reference materials for the increase of vocab (with simple sentences making by applying such vocab) and other sentence making exercises for creative and real-life like language learning and Japanese language usage. She has many ideas about the learning and Japanese culture/society and takes the lessons in creative ways with her self-motivation.

As for the culture/society and news reported from Japan in the recent month/weeks, I spoke about the following in class/lessons. Most of the information is from NHK TV News (shown on SBS TV):

Regarding the electoral voting rights, until the recent time, the age that people can vote for elections was 20 years old in the Modern Times. However, recently, through the Diet, it legally became 18 years old (just like the case of many other advanced countries).

Japanese share market price was continuously improving and about 2 weeks ago, it reached the level of the one that was 18.5 years ago. Similarly, the prices of land esp. the big cities such as, Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya went up too as the main examples. The highest area among rises was 14% higher than before.

(NHK TV News – ) For Japanese economy, foreigner/overseas visitors/tourists have been a great source for the economy. Recently the number of duty free shops have sharply increased and in some area, it made 50% increase to encourage above tourists to buy things during the trips and stay in Japan In addition, instant noodles (raamen) shops are very popular with such tourists and at a particular shop, there are times that the shops are packed  with foreign visitors instead of Japanese locals!

Japan has been absolutely excited with the brilliant performance of its Nadeshiko team at the FIFA Women’s World Cup. It continuously won and went to the semi-final against the US in Canada. However, it lost and went to the second at the end. In spite of that, the team’s determination, full of brave leadership in each player and great competence was out of question. The delegate of one of the other countries that played with Nadeshiko and lost against the latter said something like the following. – The players of Nadeshiko team are shorter than his team’s players physically, but Nadeshiko’s athletes have many more skills and their own strategies that they used during the match. –  That comment somehow reminded me of Japanese major car manufactures in essence!

A newspaper, Daily Telegraph (30.6.15, p. 18) reported an article about an amazing cat in Japan with the picture of the cute, gentle, patient cat. The cat died last month at the age of 16. In the picture, the cat, Tama was wearing his special Stationmaster hat of Kishi Station located in western part of Japan. The station that is in a quiet rural area and had a great difficulty with its business and nearly bankrupt. However, the cat saved the business and economy of the city by causing the a great number of passengers and tourists to the sity, station and railway. People loved the cat. The station and community adored the late cat as one of the Goddess (that comes from Shinto religion). Her estimated contribution to the local economy was 1.1 billion yen, i.e. $11.6million! Another story of great harmony and successful relationships between humans and animals in Japan that are commonly seen in that land.


Japanese Teacher, Toshiko Jackson


Several Superstitions and Customs in Korea

There are some customs that you need to keep in mind when you visit Korea later on.

It would be a good way to understand Korean people’s culture.

1. Korean people think that good lucks will leave you when you shake your legs. Shaking legs look bad and is regarded as a bad table manner in Korea. Parents often scold their children whenever they shake their legs on a dinner table or during a study.

2. Korean people avoid eating ‘Miyeok-guk (미역국, seaweed soup)’ during exam periods. 미역국 is very popular and loved in Korea but it is specifically avoided on exam days. There is a famous Korean idiom ‘시험에 미끄러졌다’ which translates as ‘I slipped on an exam’. Since seaweed is slimy, the parallelism created between the slimy seaweed and the idiom, create people to think that eating seaweed will fail their exams. Therefore, 미역국 is a symbolic meal for birthdays but not for occasions when important tests are on.

3. Magpie(까치) is regarded as a bird that brings a good luck, while sighting a crow(까마귀) is thought to bring you a bad luck or death. It would be the opposite in other countries. In some countries, crow is a symbol of a good luck. However, Korean people normally say that I am lucky (재수 있다) whenever they see a magpie while they say “I am unlucky. (재수 없다)” when they see a crow. Additionally, the traditional folk song, 까치 까치 설날 (Magpie Magpie New Year), is often sang on New Year Day for people to celebrate in hope for a lucky new year.

4.If Korean people accidentally drop a cup and the cup is broken, they think that something bad will happen.You maybe have seen a similar scene in Korean dramas. When actresses drop a cup or a vase on the floor, later on in the drama/movie, something bad will eventually occur. Therefore Koreans do not serve their guest with broken glass wares.

I can’t say that every Korean people believe in the superstitions. However, it would be helpful to understand Korean culture.

Sarah Yong (Korean Tutor)


The endless rows of apartment buildings in Korea

Hong Kong is known to be packed with apartments. However, Hong Kong is just a city. Considering the size of the country, Korea is perhaps the only one country that is covered with sprawling apartment complexes throughout the country, whether it is in a metropolitan or a rural area.  It is due to high volume of population in the limited of land as well as preference of living style. Within limited space, people wanted to live in a warm cosy home without taking care of the place much. In Korea, houses traditionally used to be a common type of place to live. However, as Korea became more industrialised, the Koreans found more opportunity to get a job in the bigger city, and they prefer urban life style than agricultural life, which lead to the cities becoming concentrated. Even in the rural area, there are less people living than usual, they also enjoy living in apartments due to the convenience of home care and high security.

Given the fact that the Koreans cannot stand falling behind others, living in apartments means that everyone has the same size, design and layout shared by their neighbours. If anything is different, it immediately catches the eyes of neighbours. For example, rumours of someone having a new television would fly all over the apartment complex. Fierce competition would ensue. When there was something new, it would become extremely popular within the apartment complex, as everyone would know what their neighbours have and aim to have it too. For example, refrigerators made for Kimchi were introduced 90s and within only a few years, they became in great demand for people everywhere. The Koreans have taken their ‘equal profit sharing’ mentality to a whole new level.


Hi everyone, 皆さん、こんにちは。



My Japanese classes/lessons included practices to develop skills of speaking, reading, listening, writing (including essays), interacting, and constructing/performing students’ own dialogues by pairs/groups or by oneself and learning Japanese used in travelling in Japan. Speaking practice sometimes used the pictures, concepts or topics from the brochures of the Japan National Tourism Organizations, Nichigo Press, Daily Telegraph etc. Also, understanding and analyzing Japanese culture are important part of the course.

My Intermediate 3 is studying with Japanese for Busy People Book 2 (currently Unit 3). Also, I give handouts to increase vocab and simple sentences with use of the vocab for practical language learning for travelling or staying in Japan with use of other relevant books. With use of Japanese magazines, e.g. Nichigo Press, we read and understood some ads or articles. That included a Japanese movie magazine, “Shinema-junpoo” (Aug. ’15), its 2 page ad of a film, “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation”. The phrases shown there were very interesting.

The students of the above class are now able to write and express some story or event for essay writing. For homework, they did very well for such tasks. One student wrote a beautiful story (fiction) about adapting a puppy at a home and hectic thing having occurred at night. Other student wrote/word-processed and also used an article about Sydney/Australia in relation to tourism and historical heritage of Sydney. Each of such essay or dialogue writings were read out in class and be understood by everyone in class. That practice was very useful and fun. I like to continue that activity whenever possible in future too. One of the very desirable teaching methods.

As for my students for weekly tutorials, one of them, who is a company executive, is studying with Unit 3, Japanese for Everyone now. He is happy with the textbook. As mentioned in my Blog before, he is taking a 2 weeks’ Japanese course in Tokyo in a month’s time, so he is  excited about that plan too.

Another tutorial student (who is knowledgeable about goo/great Japanese restaurants in Sydney) is currently studying with Unit 6, Genki Book 1, very vigorously.

In the coming week, I plan to teach Japanese, traditional “bon-dance” with its cd (many well-known and beautiful songs for bon-dance are in it). In Japan, it’s bon-dance and its festivals season. Bon festivals in the summer are a big and positive part of Japanese community, public enjoyment of sharing, cultural and communal identity, peace etc throughout the land. (Recently I used the cd and taught the dance forms that I know to a few children somewhere else. They “loved” that. It was so positive-ness, relaxing, peacefulness and enjoyment creating to one another.)

As for the culture/society and news reported from Japan in the recent month/weeks, some  of the things I spoke about (NHK TV News, 13.7.15, on SBS TV) are:

Seven-Eleven, Japan began using fast cash register system for customers, who are from overseas, to buy products without paying the tax, “menzei”. The new speedy system at its register for transaction, the shop assistant just presses the key of “menzei” and face the bar code of the product to the little screen of the register. Then, “menzei” management is fixed for the customer’s purchase. It is so speedy and many foreign tourists are impressed with the convenience and efficiency.

By next February, the company intends to have that system at its 3000 stores in Japan. Likewise, other internationally operated Lawson, Inc. has the services for customers that if the customer, who does not speak Japanese, faces an i-phone to the screen given in the store, immediately the screen will have the translation from Japanese to other, required language and up to 11 languages will be covered for such translation. –  Fantastic!


Japanese Teacher, Toshiko Jackson



Part 2: Speaking tips for OET Nursing Students

In Part 1 we went through the importance of context when introducing yourself to the role player/patient giving some examples. In Part 2 we will cover two more tips that will help you to achieve the best results you can in the speaking section.

1. Refer to the role play notes as often as you like! The actor opposite you is not your assessor.
Your role play will be recorded, it will not be videotaped – therefore you are only being assessed on what you say and not your body language. You do NOT have to memorise and act out the role play. Instead, refer to the notes as much as you like to make sure you are covering everything.

2. Mentally tick off each dot point as you go – if it’s easier for you, try to follow the dot points in sequential order
In the role player card you are given they will outline the context and what you are required to discuss/explain in dot points. Try to follow these in order to make sure you cover everything and since you are only being assessed on what you say, make sure you speak clearly and empathetically.

3. Acknowledge the feelings of the role player/patient when required to show you are empathetic and caring in your work as a nurse

a. If the patient in the role play is agitated/angry for example:

“Mrs Barnes I understand that you are frustrated with what has happened but I can assure you that myself and Dr X are doing the best we can to ensure that your care is optimal” etc

b. If a patient is scared for example:

“Johnny I know you’re afraid of needles as are a lot of other people and I understand that completely. However, you have nothing to be worried about as the pain is very minimal and with practice you will feel a lot more comfortable with using your insulin injections

Good luck! I hope this two part series has helped you feel more confident in your abilities to conquer the speaking section of the OET exam.

Nadishi Athulathmudali, OET Teacher

Part 1: Speaking tips for OET Nursing Students

Having tutored many nursing students in the speaking test I have noticed a number of common areas in which improvement can be easily made. In this blog (Part 1) I will explain the importance of context in shaping how you begin your role play, giving examples of appropriate introductions.

1. Introduce yourself according to the context of the role play.

*Do not use the same introduction blindly each time (eg “Hi my name is Sarah, I am the nurse) as it may be inappropriate for the context.*

a. Sometimes you may be a nurse in the emergency department and you can simply introduce yourself by name, position and by asking what has brought the patient in today:

“Hi my name is Sarah I am the nurse here today. May I know your name? What has brought you in today? etc

b. Other times your role play may require you to make a house visit – in which case it is inappropriate to introduce yourself in the same manner as you would if a patient had come to the hospital. In this second scenario it would be more appropriate to introduce yourself by name and position (eg community nurse) and explain to the patient why you have come by to visit them:

“Hi Robert, my name is Sarah and I am the community nurse. I have been sent here by your GP to show you how to administer your insulin injections. How are you today?” etc.

c. In another scenario you might be relaying a message from the doctor in a hospital to a patient who is agitated at having to wait. In this case you will already know the name of the patient, and should communicate empathetically by acknowledging their frustration/anger and try to defuse the situation:

“Hi Mr Smith? My name is Sarah and I am one of the nurses here at the hospital. I have been sent here by Dr X to let you know that she is still attending to an emergency call and will be another ten minutes. I understand you must be frustrated but she is doing all she can to attend to you as quickly as possible.” etc

Good Luck!
Nadishi Athulathmudali, OET Teacher

Reading Part B – Simple Tips to Improve your Approach to Answering Questions

Reading Part B can seem particularly daunting after the quick pace of Part A. Many students do well in Part A because they can quickly match the relevant word(s) to fill in each gap. However, many of these same students struggle to complete Part B as it requires a much deeper level of reading comprehension.

Here I will provide two tips to improve your ability to pick the correct answers in Part B, and hone your approach to answering each question.

  • Read the questions before the text. Most of the multiple choice questions in Part B refer to one particular paragraph in which the answer is located. For this reason it is better to get straight to reading the questions and then reading the relevant paragraph only. This way you are not wasting time by reading the entire piece provided, then having to go back and re-read each paragraph as dictated by each question
  • Once you have read the relevant paragraph look at the multiple choice answers to pick the correct answer. Many students make the mistake of reading the question and then reading the multiple choice answers immediately BEFORE reading the relevant paragraph. This is problematic sometimes because you may end up putting your own bias into the interpretation of the paragraph because your own prior knowledge or opinion on the topic has led you to have a pre-formed notion about which answer that you have read is most correct.

Hope this was helpful! Good luck!

Nadishi Athulathmudali, OET Teacher


Tips for Improving Reading at Home

Many of my students struggle to complete either part A or part B of the reading for a

number of reasons. Part A requires you to be able to quickly skim read and pick out key

words that will guide you to the answer, while Part B is a test of your reading

comprehension and will highlight a need to improve general vocabulary and understanding

of the written language. Below are some of my suggestions on how to improve your reading

at home.

1. Get into the habit of reading every day. Whether it is an English novel, the

newspaper or a magazine it is very important to read something every day, or as

regularly as possible to improve your reading speed and comprehension. For the OET

in particular it would be a good idea to read scientific journal articles online from

wites such as Medline, EBSCO and PubMed, or read information on medical websites

such as the BMJ (British Medical Journal).

2. Following on from the above suggestion, when you find a word that you do not

understand while you are reading, copy it down into a book with the dictionary

definition for future reference. I find that a lot of my students miss out on choosing

the correct answer in Reading Part A and B because they come across a word that

forms part of the answer but they do not know what it means. Therefore, it is

extremely important to read regularly and write down new words when you come

across them. To really improve your vocabulary put some time aside in your day to

also revisit the new words you have written down so that you learn them for the


3. Finally be smart about what you read and try to summarise the meaning to test

how well you understand the text. This is an exercise you can do to see how well

you are able to understand what you have read. While you are reading a

book/newspaper/magazine pick a page, or a few paragraphs and read them, then try

to summarise what you have just read either verbally or by writing a small summary.

Hopefully these small tips will help improve your reading skills immensely. Best of luck in the future with the OET!

Nadishi Athulathmudali, OET Teacher

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