Archive for February, 2014

2 English Language Aids for Japanese Students

Posted on February 18th, 2014 by Melanie in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Photo by OiMax

Photo by OiMax

Constantly striving to find ways of improving learning techniques for the English language, the Japanese government places a high priority on research into this field. Despite all of their efforts, Japanese children are less adept than children from other countries at speaking English. For this reason, much research is carried out to find ways of improving the teaching of English language in Japanese schools.

Some of this research has paid off in the discovery that combining mnemonics (pictures of objects which are used to help the children remember the letters) with sound contrasting (saying the letter in the picture which helps the children remember how to pronounce each letter) is an effective way for Japanese children to be able to get around the difficulties in pronunciation. Researchers have found that these language aids are successful in enabling children to learn how to pronounce letters from the English alphabet.

Mnemonic Images

Mnemonic images are used as a way for children to remember the shape and sound of English letters by relating them to Japanese words. For example, a picture of a brush, called ‘bulashi’ in Japanese, is overlaid with a picture of the letter ‘b’; an image of a telephone, called ‘denwa’ in Japanese, is overlaid with the letter ‘d’. In this way, it is easier for children to recall the sound of each letter by associating it with an image.

Sound Contrasting

The sounds of the letters ‘b’ and ‘d’ mentioned above are simple examples of phonemes (the smallest units of speech which sound different when used in different words) learned in this way. But the researchers have also had to highlight the differences between the simple phoneme sounds for letters, such as the ‘f’ sound made for the letter ‘f’, and the sounds used for kana syllables (syllables in the Japanese language), such as ‘fu’, which they can be confused with. One way to help children understand this difference is to explain about ‘loan words’ which are words in the Japanese language which originated from foreign languages. An example is the word ‘fulawa’ which means ‘flower’. The children are taught that the first syllable ‘fu’ is actually comprised of the vowel sound ‘u’ which is joined to the ‘f’ sound. In the English language, this distinction between vowel and consonant sounds as phonemes is not necessary.

Positive Results

ChalkDuring the study for this teaching method, the children already knew the names of letters of the English alphabet and were taught the sounds for these letters both with and without the use of mnemonic images and sound contrasting. The findings showed a significant increase in the children’s ability to recall the sounds of each letter having received tuition using these two study aids. The Japanese government is continually promoting the importance of English language learning, putting an emphasis on teaching methods to be implemented at the elementary school age. Research findings from studies such as this one will go a long way to improving the way the English language can be taught in a way that the children will be able to easily grasp and put into practice.

Do you feel that these 2 methods would help in any language? What have you found to be helpful during your English lessons?






Fill Up Fast with These 9 Delicious Dishes from Wales!

Posted on February 4th, 2014 by Melanie in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Travelling around and chatting to the locals can be hungry work, so why not satisfy your hunger by tasting traditional Welsh food during your trip to Wales. Here are the top 9 traditional Welsh dishes you’ll be able to enjoy.

Photo by zingyyellow…wish I could bend space/time

1. Welsh cakes (Picau ar y Maen)also known as bakestones, these little round cakes are flavoured with spices and dried fruit and are the perfect treat for teatime. Enjoy some warm Welsh cakes in a local cafe while you plan where you’re going to visit next.

2. Bara Brith – literally meaning ‘speckled bread’, this is a rich and spiced fruit loaf made with tea which is usually eaten spread with salted butter. Take a break to savour this favourite teatime fruitcake.



3. Cawl – this Welsh stew is made with different ingredients depending on whereabouts you are in in the country. If you’re travelling around the coastal area, you’re more likely to be served with a seafood stew, whereas inland you’ll be able to try the traditional lamb or mutton cawl. Cawl is the national dish of Wales, so make sure that you try some before the end of your trip!

4. Welsh rarebit (Caws Pob) – this famous Welsh dish is basically posh cheese on toast! The topping mainly consists of Welsh farmhouse cheese, mustard and ale which is served on top of toast. This delicious hot snack will keep you going while you see the sights.

5. Glamorgan sausage (Selsig Morgannwg) – this traditional Welsh vegetarian sausage is made with Caerphilly cheese and leeks coated in breadcrumbs. It’s a delicious meat-free option for you to try on your trip.

6. Bara Lawr – this classic Welsh delicacy called Laverbread is not actually a type of bread but is a dish made from seaweed which resembles a spinach-like puree. You can try some for breakfast fried with bacon and cockles or as a sauce to accompany a meat or seafood dish for dinner.

Photo by nyaa_birdies_perch

7. Leek broth (soup) (Cawl Cennin) – leek is the symbol of St David so leek soup is traditionally eaten on St David’s Day but this vegetable is a staple ingredient of Welsh cooking so you must try some during your visit.

8. Pembrokeshire pasties (Pastai Penfro) – these traditional Cymric (Welsh) pasties were originally made with mutton but are now usually made with lamb which is combined with redcurrant jelly and currants in a pastry case. These pasties are ideal to eat while you’re walking around so you don’t have to interrupt your latest tour.


9. Welsh rice pudding (Pwdin reis Cymreig) – this is a comforting hot dessert made with pudding rice which will leave you with a warm glow as you step back out into the cold to continue with your sightseeing.

Practice ordering the dishes in their Welsh names as well as the English equivalent and you’ll soon be as full as your sightseeing schedule! Get ready for your trip with some last minute language lessons so that you can make the most of your UK holiday!