Amazon Kindle

An interesting possibility

kindle device

I’ve been a big fan of reading Kindle ebooks for a while now, but so far I have done all my reading on my iPhone. I bought a couple of the earlier Kindle eReaders but never liked them: the page turning, the form factor, something about them just wasn’t as good as reading on my phone so I didn’t use them much.

Last week though, Amazon were doing a deal where the latest Kindle was 5,000 yen off, so I picked one up for under 4,000 yen.

And loved it. It’s light, the screen looks great, and the pages turn in a pleasing manner. It’s a bit too easy to touch it by accident, but not a deal-breaker.

So far, so good. It’s a nice device, and the prices are coming down so fast that these things are practically disposable now.

And that’s what hit me. On Thursday as I was showing some teachers around the Academy, it struck me that Kindle could be the answer to our high-level book problem.

You can sync multiple devices to the same account (my account is linked to a dozen: computers, smartphones, tablets, and all those old Kindles).

So instead of buying hundreds of paper books that are going to lie around taking up shelf space and rarely being read, I could buy books on my Kindle account, buy a couple of Kindles for the Academy, sync them to my account, and lend them to our students. Heck, at 3,000 yen each we could just give them to the students 🙂

I already have close to 1,000 books on there (although 90% of them are fantasy, science fiction, personal finance, productivity, or teaching) and it would be easy to pick more up as needed.

The school would appear funky, students would probably appreciate the novelty, and we wouldn’t need anywhere near as much space for marginal books.

What do you think? Genius or what?

22 Jul 2016, 10:51pm
levity life in Japan
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Pokemon Go in Japan

Sadly I have failed to ‘catch them all’

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Okay, so Pokemon Go finally came out here today. All my university students were talking about it in the afternoon, so I downloaded the app and tried it out on the way home.

My verdict: it’s okay. Probably not as good as Ingress (the previous game by Niantec, which I got fairly into) but okay. I don’t think I am going to get into it.

Ingress is a sci-fi themed strategy game. It overlaps the game onto the real world, just like Pokemon Go does, but I think the game play works better. Pokemon Go also incorporates augmented reality, where the game overlaps the monsters onto the real world using the camera. It’s cool at first, but basically a gimmick.

Nevertheless, it’s going to be huge. That’s the power of the Pokemon brand.

But I think it also shows how games are going to develop in the future: more inventive, more integrated with the real world. The good thing is that it’s going to get players out walking around in the real world.

Anyone enjoying Pokemon Go?

REVIEW: Kids’ Classic Readers

Great series but a bit more variety please

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Level 4 of Kids’ Classic Readers

A couple of weeks ago we received most of a set of Kids’ Classic Readers, a new series by e-Future edited by Rob Waring. I had high expectations for the series, and these were mostly met.

Kids’ Classic Readers consist of 60 books over six levels, from YL0.2-0.5. As the series name implies, the content is classic tales from around the world. And this is my main (only?) criticism of the series.

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List of titles

As you can see in the list above (click on the image to make it bigger), most of the titles are fairly original. My personal favourite this time round was The Wolf and the Fox (level 4). However, there are about ten titles in there that I wasn’t happy to see. Stories like The Gingerbread Man, or The Tortoise and the Rabbit. Stories that have been done to death. We already have about five versions of the Gingerbread Man, so I would hope that publishers would look beyond the obvious classics when bringing out new series. Kids’ Classic Readers goes a long way towards using new stories, but fails to do it completely.

Apart from this, I really like the series and think it’s a good fit for our program.

So what is in the books?

Great illustrations, well-graded text, interesting stories. The books have several useful sections:

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Introduction, list of characters with pictures, useful vocab with pictures

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Great illustrations, easy-to-read text (this is the book I like)

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Playlet based on the story text (useful for class speaking activities?)

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Visual review of the story (on the right). Could be used for preview or review activities?

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Hybrid CD. Normally I hate these, but this one works fine in our CD players (haven’t tried it in a computer yet)

We’re just going to be using Kids’ Classic Readers as part of our extensive reading library, but I can see how they would be very versatile as part of a four-skills kids’ class or even in a speaking focused class.

A nice addition to our collection.

16 Jul 2016, 4:47pm
internet personal
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Life, the Internet, and me

Still figuring this one out

windows shutdown

Interestingly, I started writing this almost two years ago. It’s been sitting in the draft folder ever since.

Earlier this year, I stopped using Facebook. This week, I pruned my email and RSS subscriptions, deleting some of the more active lists. Today, I chose not to respond to an angry person on Twitter.

I feel like my relationship with the Internet (internet?) is evolving, sometimes in the right direction.

Well, that was then and this is now, and my improved relationship with the internet didn’t last.

Last week I again felt the need to cut back on Facebook, after starting to use it again last year. For me, Facebook is something that slowly increases over time, taking more and more of my attention.

Last time I got rid of it I deleted all my friends. This time, thanks to its expanded features, I just unfollowed them.

What that means is that I don’t see anyone else’s posts, but they can see mine. I can see their comments on my posts, but nothing else.

It’s a way of turning Facebook into a broadcast rather than a source of new content. Another way of looking at it would be in terms of being a free rider. I get to share my stuff with the world but never see what anyone else writes 🙂

In some ways it’s similar to browsing the web with an ad blocker.

Either way, it seems to be working. I check Facebook less now, and when I do there is no new content to see so I just close the browser tab again. I’m hoping over time the urge to check will also go down.

Why this sudden desire to regain my time? I have some projects I want to finish.

11 Jul 2016, 1:58pm
Academy Admin curriculum
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The Academy Program

English Program for Junior and Senior High School Students

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For the last two years we have been developing the Cambridge Academy, an academic English program for junior and senior high school students in a private English school setting.

The program consists of two strands: input and output.

Input classes are based on extensive reading and listening. Students spend most of their time reading/listening to graded materials at their level. Students also learn vocabulary, do shadowing, or write short reactions to books (at higher levels).

Output classes are focused on oral and written production. Students work in pairs to develop their speaking fluency, and do intensive reading and listening exercises to encounter and practice language. Vocabulary and grammar is chosen to complement public junior high school textbooks.

We are now exploring ways to license and share the Academy program with other schools. Academy partner schools will receive training, teaching and administration manuals, and materials, and have the option to purchase starter packs of readers (labelled and organized into packs so they can be used straight out of the box).

Many English schools struggle with retaining and recruiting junior and senior high school students. The Academy program provides practical, academically focused classes that are easy to run, enjoyable for teachers and students, and easy to explain to parents.

If you are interested in learning more or would like to be considered as a test partner please get in touch via email or a comment below.

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