new job

2022-03-01 TO 2022-03-04 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Our eldest daughter got me a new job!

I was hired by the
Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (Japan's top language school) to improve their online learning environment. I belong to the Online Learning Support Team. I will not be teaching courses, but instead, helping teachers teach theirs.

My office is in the white-and-brown structure to the left as one enters the campus main gate.

View from my 3rd-floor window facing east. The main buildings are connected by an elevated ring road, which allows pedestrians to cross campus without being overrun by bicycles! I am not sure that that is the design rationale, but it does function that way.

Another view from my widow. From between buildings, I glimpse general aviation aircraft taking off from
Chofu airport a few blocks away. The skyline is low, close to the horizon, because the airport prohibits tall structures near it.

I share an office with 3 other team members. They are not here yet; they should arrive by 2022-04-01. 2 of them are being internally transferred, and 1 is being hired. I am the 1st of 4 people in this new team. We do not have a website yet. I need to work on that ...

I prepare for my colleagues' arrival by organizing furniture and cleaning everything. Sirokuro keeps an eye on progress.

I am sure my colleagues would like hot beverages. I cleaned the hot water pot with citric acid. I verified the outcome by brewing myself a cup of tea.


I cleaned my own section too. The right half of the cabinet is my space.

I placed my new monitor on my spic-and-span table. I use a table, not a desk, because I do not use drawers. I prefer legroom.

Whoppee! Opening my new computer!

First Boot. Before this can happen, the furniture needs to be arranged and cleaned. After booting, my computer files need to be migrated. It takes a while ...

Once my files are migrated, I logged in, and updated the operating system. Wait a while ... Kicked the power cable loose by mistake. Wait a while ...

I had problems with the network and email servers. Technicians came to help a number of times. I used my laptop in the time being.

Once network access was stabilized, I was able to join staff training. This one is for ethics.

More details to follow in the coming days, weeks, and months. For now, I am grateful, eager, bewildered, and excited!

survey for jaltcall

2021-05-08 (UPDATED 2021-06-12) TOKYO, JAPAN -- Thank you for participating in my survey for my presentation at the JALTCALL-2021 conference. The purpose of the survey is shown in the description below. The survey was open between 2021-05-08 and 2021-06-04. Thank you again for your time and expertise.

You may download
my presentation slides in medium resolution (6.6 megabytes).


河合 剛 (かわい ごう) 博士(工学)


2020-04-16 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Hokudai sent me my termination papers that I will submit to the unemployment office after my 14-day quarantine period ends.


online learning

2020-03-19 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- Oregon governor Kate Brown issued an executive order prohibiting colleges and universities in Oregon from conducting face-to-face instruction until 2020-04-28. She states that colleges can continue to teach by remote and online learning.

I am grateful that online learning is considered a viable alternative. I am saddened that a pandemic is underscoring the value of e-learning.

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farewell paddy

2020-01-30 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- I have been the faculty advisor for Hokudai's ultimate team PADDY since before the team was formed. I am retiring from that position because I am leaving Hokudai.

PADDY chose their name after the name of a dog owned by a founding team member. I know there is a
brand of whisky with the same name. I saw it at a bar near Sapporo train station.

I sent farewell videos to PADDY at their request. Good luck to you all!

last class

2020-01-24 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- We had our last class at Hokudai. Immediately afterwards, I submitted my students' grades to the registrar.

I will miss classroom S-5, which I was indirectly involved in designing.

My former grad student and co-teacher Naomi gave Sirokuro a beaded likeness of him. Delightful!

We celebrated with hot chocolate (warme chocolademelk) from Antwerpen.

leaving hokudai

2020-01-20 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Noriko and I are leaving Hokudai (Hokkaido University) to live in proximity to our 4 aging parents, who live in Kanagawa.

We started to consider moving oh maybe a few years ago, but it wasn't until last spring (about a year ago) that our decision solidified. Each semester (that is, 2 times a year), Hokudai allows up to 5 full-time faculty members to take early retirement. Leaving in summer was too early for us. We asked to leave at the end of winter. Today we learned that our request was approved. My last day of work is 2020-02-28. I leave Sapporo the following day (leap day). We will take vacation (paid time off) during the entire month of March.

Early retirement means that we receive the full amount of retirement pay (otherwise only a small amount is paid), and I can apply for unemployment benefits while I search for my next job. I haven't found a job in Tokyo yet. Wish me luck!

I will miss walking to work across the snowy campus. I'm the person with both arms raised in this picture that Noriko took from our apartment.

ethernet cables

2020-01-15 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Our students practiced reading assembly instructions in English language. They built ethernet cables by attaching RJ-45 connectors to twisted-pair cable.

We test connections. Of course nobody succeeds the 1st time.

What surprised me most was that our students had never seen ethernet cables. Everything is wireless these days! I knew young people have never seen typewriters or record players or rotary phones (a student asked me where the "off hook" button was). I was unprepared for students having never seen an RJ-45 connector. Wow the speed of innovation.

Wired connections are faster, more reliable, and more secure than wireless connections. But it does seem that as if my crimping tools are becoming obsolete.


2020-01-14 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Our TAs gave me a T-shirt that says I have teacher super powers. Thanks!

I hope the powers are more than giving course credit to students!


jazz bands

2018-06-02 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- We listened to several student jazz bands during the campus fair.

Alas Hokudai does not have departments for the performing arts. Musicians and the audience are shoved into a lecture hall. Space is tight, and acoustics are awful. But everybody is eager to play or listen!

I couldn't help comparing my ability to our students'. I have been practicing for almost 4 years. I would have finished college by now! I would never had survived (well, maybe
avoided death, but certainly not contributed) in a jazz band.

The more I think, the more John's prediction seems likely: 10 years to learn trumpet. Wow, if you start in 5th grade (11 years old) then you might entertain people the last 2 years of college!

hokudai campus fair

2018-06-01 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Our school's annual campus fair started today. Each year, we try to cover all the exhibits and shops. This year, they finally put the program online. (These links may become obsolete rather quickly. Sorry about that.)

Our favorites year after year are the
railroad club and the entomology club.

The railroad club visited various railroads across the country.

The entomology club went to Malaysia (among other places) to collect insects.

We listened to several jazz bands. The bands operate under a larger umbrella organization called the jazz club. The club has dozens of members, and they probably plan gigs and parties together, but seem to practice and perform in smaller ensembles.

According to Kero (Noriko's frog), the scariest attraction is the Frog Meat shop. They sell exactly what they say.

"We purchase frogs from reputable butchers", says the sign. Kero gagged when he read this. "I gotta hide!"

The queue was long! Girls wearing frog headgear walked around holding pictures of frogs happily serving their kin. Kero almost fainted!

We walk through the exhibits and shops again tomorrow and the day after.

history of geological surveys

2018-05-26 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Yoshiaki Matsuda, a researcher at the Hokkaido Research Center for Geology and a retired high school teacher of earth science, gave a talk on the history of geological surveys and science on Hokkaido island during the 19th century.

I saw the flyer on a poster board besides the street. Old fashioned methods of announcements still work.

The talk was fascinating.

I learned that both the Tokugawa
bakufu (shogunate) and the Meiji government (led nominally by the emperor) were both serious about learning Hokkaido's geological structure and mineral resources. Experts from Europe (Prussia mostly) and the USA surveyed the island in record time. I doubt our current government could do half the job even with modern roads and equipment.

I had naively imagined that the Tokugawa government did not have their priorities straight (or, to be more colloquial, had their head stuck in the sand), inept, ineffective, ignorant, outwitted. It seems that to me now after attending the talk that the Meiji government put a smear campaign (naturally) on the previous government. The Tokugawa bureaucrats were doing a decent job.

William Clark (who nominally founded Hokudai) is but a small player compared to the many other non-Japanese experts who, for starters, stayed longer in Japan (Clark stayed for merely 9 months), trained more students (sometimes several batches over several years, adding depth to the knowledge conveyed), published more articles (their reports and books were read in their home countries of course, and also translated into Japanese), and overall left a more significant legacy.

Today's talker Yoshiaki Matsuda showed us numerous slides of maps, reports, books, and photographs. His extensive library research is impressive, and humbles me because library research is one of my weak points. The translations of technical documents is of high quality (I wish my students could do
half of that).

Matsuda's talk was recorded on video, but I fear the talk will not be made public. However, a previous report written by Matsuda is available online as a PDF file from
Hokudai's online repository. Matsuda told me that his talk and paper share about 66 percent of the material. I think it is fair use to show you part of the cover page from the report, especially in the context of recommending that you download it and enjoy the photographs and commentary.


hokudai elects new president

2016-12-14 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Hokudai elected Toyoharu Nawa as university president. Nawa is a professor of cement engineering, and currently is dean of the school of engineering. On 2017-04-01 Nawa replaces Keizo Yamaguchi, a math professor.

I am glad to see Yamaguchi gone. He is an embarrassment in both administrative leadership and public relations. Yamaguchi is a spineless yes-man for the Ministry of Education (he agreed to cut costs and personnel without seeking alternate funding), and a heartless no-man towards the local community (he banned barbecue parties and children from campus). I attended a keynote talk by him, and was appalled by his lack of vision and compassion.

I welcome Nawa, partly because of his corporate experience. He worked at Chichibu Cement before joining academia. Hopefully Nawa's real-world training will put Hokudai back on track.

Similarly to the United State's electoral college, Hokudai's president election is not decided by popular vote. All full-time instructors may vote, but the president is chosen by a closed panel of 13 individuals, who are not bound by the results of the faculty vote. This steering committee is akin to the privy council under the Meiji constitution, and is designed to protect the upper echelons of university administration.

Newspaper clipping from Hokkaido Shimbun 2016-12-14 online edition.

library talk

2016-11-30 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- The Hokudai North Library invited us to give a workshop on learning phrases in context by using manga and books in L1 (a language you are familiar with) and their translations in L2 (a language you wish to learn).

We expected a tiny audience of somewhere around 3, which was the number of people who told us they might come. 34 people showed up -- a mix of faculty, administrative staff, and grad and undergrad students. Noriko and I were ecstatic.
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The workshop took 97 minutes, consisting of (1) 5 minutes of introduction by the library staff, (2) 10 minutes of lecture by me explaining the merits of reading identical material in L1 and L2, (3) 10 minutes of lecture by me explaining how manga and anime are appreciated in America and Europe, (4) 27 minutes of hands-on activity by students under my guidance, (5) 30 minutes of hands-on activity by students divided into groups (each table received different language material), and (6) 15 minutes of sharing results from each group of students.
Screen Shot 2016-12-01 at 12.59.30

Students first found corresponding phrases in L1 and L2, then used the L2 phrases to construct new messages, and lastly shared their results with the other participants.
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Many thanks to Kyoko Jo and Yuji Nonaka for organizing the event! In the picture below, they are standing 3rd and 2nd from the far right.
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library talk

2016-11-11 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- The Hokudai north library invited me to give a workshop on reading in 2 languages. The talk is on 2016-11-30 from 18:15 to 19:45 in the north library, 3rd floor group study zone.

The idea is that by reading your favorite manga or books in L1 (the language you already know) and L2 (the language you want to learn), you can read the books you love in L2, and learn phrases without looking up words in the dictionary. Manga gives graphical context, which provides the nuances of social relationships that are so important to the Japanese psyche. Manga (and to a limited extent novels) provide spoken language expressions in written form.

I intend to ask students to find corresponding phrases, and create short sentences using those phrases.

A pair of slides from my talk. These slides are shown to students at the beginning of my workshop as a warm-up task. The tasks increase in complexity during the 70-minute workshop. The artwork below is from Osamu Tezuka's "Black Jack", a classic medical drama which was serialized when I was in middle school.
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They made a flyer with a rather embarrassing picture of me. Here's a 2nd galley proof after I asked them to change a few minor portions of text.

back at hokudai

2016-04-01 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Returned to Hokudai today after stopping by our parents' homes on our way back from Lincoln City, Oregon. We are grateful that all of our 4 parents are healthy and active.

Mom runs a publishing company out of her house. Pictures of my departed sisters adorn the walls.

I'm relieved that there is hardly any snow left in Sapporo. I slipped and fell a couple of times earlier this winter and was sore for a while. Ouch!

Oh and I was promoted to full professor effective today. No big deal -- our school limits the number of full professors so qualified associate professors wait their turn. I qualified years ago. Vacancies were created last month when several professors retired. I ordered bilingual, double-sided business cards.

halloween party

2014-10-29 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- We celebrated Halloween 2 days early in our wed[1234] classes.

Noriko was a bat. Kero was Robin Hood. I was an original youkai spirit named Siranubasu, that lives in Ohno Pond and preys on students who foolishly register for classes without reading the course offerings. That’s supposed to be a lily pad and a lotus root I’m wearing.

Students, download your group photos from Glexa!


classroom change

2014-10-07 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- From 2014-10-08 until 2015-01-14, our wed[1234] classes will meet in S10, a regular (and warmer) classroom on the 2nd floor of S building. Tell your friends!

christmas party

2013-12-25 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- We celebrated Christmas a week early on 2013-12-18 in wed[1234] in room E215. We decorated the room and had fun all day long! Students, download your pictures from Glexa.


talks by guest speakers

2013-12-25 (originally 2013-10-31) SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Guest speakers give talks in my class. Everybody is welcome. No reservation necessary.

All talks are in the liberal arts building, room E215. Several weeks after each talk, the talks will appear on Hokudai’s Open Courseware project.

Our 1st guest speaker of the semester was Momoko Miyamoto, who talked about her adventures at TUM (Technical University of Munich, or Technische Universität München) in Munich, Germany. She gave her presentation on 2013-10-16 in wed[1234] (same talk repeated 4 times).

Our 2nd guest speaker was Hana Shimoyama, a Hokudai sophomore who has done volunteer work in Tanzania and elsewhere. She talked on 2013-11-13 in wed[14] (same talk repeated 2 times).

Our 3rd guest speaker was Keiko Okabe, a Hokudai postdoc specializing in ancient Latin manuscripts. She talked on 2013-11-13 in wed[23] (same talk repeated 2 times).

Our 4th guest speaker was Tsuneaki Nishimura, a Hokudai alumnus and licensed physical therapist, who works at the artificial joint division of Johnson & Johnson (visit their English website and Japanese website). He talked on 2013-11-20 in wed[1234] (same talk repeated 4 times). (HIs talk was originally scheduled for 2013-11-06.)

Our 5th guest speaker was Yuka Wakatsuki, a Hokudai 2nd-year master student, who spent a year in Hawaii and a summer in China and Russia. She talked on 2013-11-27 in wed[1234] (same talk repeated 4 times).

Our 6th guest speaker was Yuzuru Kubo, a Hokudai alumnus, who works on water quality issues in northern Kyushu island. He talked on 2013-12-04 in wed[1234] (same talk repeated 4 times).
Our 7th guest speaker was Shunji Imai, a Hokudai freshman who spent his summer in Finland and Germany on an exchange program. He talked on 2013-12-18 in wed2 to his classmates.

Our 8th guest speaker is being planned. She will probably talk on 2013-01-15 in wed4 to her classmates.

christmas party

2013-12-16 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- We’re having a Christmas party on 2013-12-18 in wed[1234] in room E215. Bring your friends! Wear a costume or hat. Bring a Christmas tree decoration.

These pictures are from last year’s (2012’s) party.


halloween party

2013-10-30 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- We celebrated Halloween a day early in our classes. Students and TAs decorated the room, and we had fun all day.

I dressed up as an ayakashi (yokai) named Hiiragi from “Natsume’s book of friends”.

This ayakashi -- Kaonashi from “Spirited Away” -- won a big cookie decorated by TAs.

My colleague Jeff Gayman brought his class over.

trace effects

2013-10-13 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- A group of English language teachers in the USA developed an interactive manga-style learning experience titled “Trace Effects”. Help Trace and his pals. Their website requires a browser plugin that installs quickly.

lottery for English language seminar

2013-10-02 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Students who wish to register for my wed1 class (the class in Wednesday 1st period) must enter and win the course lottery. The lottery is open from 2013-09-27 to 2013-10-03. Results are announced on 2013-10-07 at 08:30.

2013 fall courses

2013-07-28 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- In 2013 fall semester, I teach 2 kinds of classes. All classes meet on Wednesdays. Wed1 (the class in Wednesday 1st period) asks students to give brief presentations in front of class about a spot on Hokudai campus. Wed[234] (the classes in Wednesday 2nd, 3rd, and 4th periods) have identical content, and practice phrases for international travel.

Classes start on 2013-10-02, and meet every week (except during winter break) until 2014-01-22. We have a Halloween party on 2013-10-30, and a Christmas party on 2013-12-18.

To register for my classes, you must enter and win the course lottery. The lottery is open from 2013-07-24 to 2013-07-30.

technical writing

2013-07-09 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- I produced a short video series titled “Technical Writing” for learning the basics of technical writing through writing captions for figures and tables. The 4-part video series is used in an English language course required of all 2588 freshmen at Hokkaido University. Students use Glexa’s peer-based writing tool to submit their writing output (see screenshot below). Watch the videos below. Total running time 56 minutes.


president's award for teaching excellence

2013-03-15 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- I received the Hokkaido University president's award for teaching excellence (教育総長賞). Although I am the only person named on the certificate, the honor is shared by Noriko and our fantastic teaching assistants. Everyone who guided our students over the years jointly earned this award.

The president's award for teaching excellence was established in academic year 2011 along with its sister award, the president's award for research excellence (研究総長賞). The president's award for teaching excellence is Hokudai’s highest honor in teaching, and is given annually to Hokudai instructors who, among various other qualifications, have received at least 2 first-place teaching excellence awards. For academic year 2011, 7 instructors received the president's award for teaching excellence, of whom 3 teach languages (1 each from Chinese, French, and Japanese), showing that language teaching is strong at Hokudai. I do not know yet who all the recipients are for academic year 2012. I do know that 2 colleagues (sociology and English language) whom I respect won this award.

My sole disappointment is that receiving the president's award for teaching excellence permanently disqualifies us from receiving further teaching excellence awards. This limitation creates vacancies in award positions so that others may follow. While I agree with the spirit, I will miss the pride of having our future TAs mention in their resumes that we taught award-winning classes. (Maybe there is a way around this restriction. If I find one, I'll exploit it.)

Thank you, students, for the opportunity to assist you. Thank you, colleagues, for recognizing my teaching team.


grades are in

2013-02-03 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Attention all students:

Your grades are in!

Login to
Glexa to learn your scores and grades.

Personal interview

2013-01-24 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- This announcement is for my students in wed[1234].

Update: As of 2013-01-27 12:20 Japan time, I am no longer accepting requests for personal interviews.

If you missed your final exam, you must see me for a personal interview. You are responsible for contacting me for an appointment. Send me mail via Glexa. You must see me on or before 2013-01-28. Contact me now because my schedule is rapidly filling up.

Update: As of 2013-01-25 09:30 Japan time, nobody has contacted me for a personal interview. If you want to see me, then send me Glexa mail now.

English Proficiency Index

2012-11-01 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- The English Proficiency Index (EPI) says that Japan and South Korea have “exemplary education but mediocre English” which is “particularly striking when compared to the astoundingly high quality of achievement in math and reading in these countries”. The EPI blames “an over-emphasis on rote learning, relatively low levels of exposure to foreigners in everyday life, and teacher-student norms which impede conversation practice”. That sounds correct. Access the EPI main page, from where you can follow links to the report I quoted above, Japan’s fact sheet, and the EPI full report for 2012.


2012-10-31 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Classroom E215 was a party house today. We celebrated Halloween all day long. Here are some pictures from the event. Our students can download more pictures from Glexa.

We decorated the classroom. Can you guess what I am?

Yuka was a farmer. She wore her ag (agriculture) team jumpsuit.

Keiko was my nurse today. She wore her real uniform. Nobuyasu was sometimes a wizard, sometimes a devil, and sometimes both.

Noriko was Keroppi of course.

Yoshimichi was a jack-o-lantern. Somehow he looked more like a tomato.

Wizard-devil, Dr Jellyfish, and Jack-o-Lantern.

Ting was Batgirl. Our class solved a Halloween crossword puzzle.

Lots of students wore costumes too. Lots of fun things to talk about in class.

Here’s our team! Left to right: Yuka the Farmer, Nobuyasu the Witch-Devil, Ting the Batgirl, Sirokuro as himself, Goh the Jellyfish, Kerokki as himself, Noriko as Keroppi, Yoshia the Wizard, and Keiko the Nurse.

Another team photo starring Yoshimichi the Jack-o-Lantern (second from left).

hokudai book reviews

2012-10-07 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- The Hokudai library has a program called “Reading nourishes your brain” (本は脳を育てる). Books recommend to freshmen by faculty are marked as such. If the library doesn’t have the book that the professor recommends, then they buy it.

From time to time, placed in one location so that everyone can see the varied, fascinating interests of our faculty. The next time this event begins is on 2012-10-23.

I have also recommended some books.

citation for course offering

2012-08-23 SAPPORO, HOKKAIDO -- We received a citation from Hokkaido University for the clarity and content of our course offerings.

Click the image below to view a full list of our citation along with those of my colleagues.

teaching excellence award

We received a Teaching Excellence Award for an English language course offered during 2010 fall semester!

The course that won an award was an elective course in English language conversation for freshmen, and placed 4th in category (courses with class sizes between 25 and 49).

This is the 4th award during the 5 years that we have been eligible. Hokudai gave its first teaching excellence award in 2005. Since then, Noriko and I were in Belgium for 2 years. That leaves 5 years of eligibility. Results from the last of those 5 years (academic 2011) will be announced in spring 2013.

Most of our team -- Nobuyasu Obata, Xin Li, Chifumi Goto, Yuka Wakatsuki, and my wife Noriko -- are in the picture below taken during a Christmas party in class.


SACLA (Sharing All Cultures and Languages) is a Hokudai student organization that socializes internationally. They are recruiting new members. View more information on their blog.

SACLA holds international lunches. This semester, I believe they start on 2012-04-11 Wednesday (but I may be wrong -- contact them). They meet from 12:10 to 12:50 at the International Student Center (留学生センター) 1st floor lobby. Bring your own lunch.


Internships are highly desirable, in some cases practically mandatory, to secure your dream job. The Hokudai career center is offering internships to undergraduate students. To be considered for this competitive opportunity, attend 1 of 2 identical workshops: (a) 2012-04-11 Wednesday from 16:30 to18:30, Clark Building, 1st floor, main lecture hall (クラーク会館、講堂), and (b) 2012-04-13 Friday from 18:30 to 16:30, the Humanities and Social Sciences building, room W203 (人文・社会科学総合教育研究棟, W203室). Both workshops have ended.

english online courses start

The first week of class starts 2012-04-10 Tuesday. The course "English 2” (英語II) is offered in 14 class periods in up to 4 classrooms for each class period. Check your classroom assignment because computer equipment and deadlines vary from class to class.

good luck and good bye

Thanks to all students, teaching assistants, conversation partners, guest speakers, and visitors for making our semester a success. Good luck to you all, wherever your adventures may lead you!

What now? 3 things:

(1) Your grades were sent to the registrar on 2012-01-27 at 19:30.
I sent you glexa mail about your class points, assignment points, bonus points, total points, and letter grade. Contact me by the “contact” tab above or by glexa mail if you have complaints, suggestions, or questions.

(2) Tell your friends about our class. Do you recommend our class? Or not? Either way, the best way the to learn is to match the student’s desires with the instructor’s abilities. Help your friends determine whether they and me make a team.

Our survey results are online under the “undergraduate” tab above. Tell your friends to read them in order to decide whether to take my class next fall. That’s 2012 fall semester, starting on 2012-10-01. My course offerings are listed on the “undergraduate” tab above as well.

final exam

My undergraduate students must take their final exam during their last day of class (2012-01-25 and 26). If you cannot take the final, you must contact me to schedule a personal interview. The interview is a 30-minute English conversation. Use the “contact” tab above to reach me.

book reviews

I occasionally write book reviews for the Hokudai library. Here’s a recent review of the following book:

新美景子 (著), 野口邦和 (監修)「カラー図解 ストップ原発〈1〉大震災と原発事故 」全4巻
大月書店, 2011年12月発売
ISBN-10: 4272408410
ISBN-13: 978-4272408412

The book will soon circulate at the Hokudai north library.


Japan lacks investigative journalism. Scientific journalism is almost as scarce. Read this series of 4 illustrated books for children. Familiarize yourself with the theory, history, objectives, advantages, and costs of nuclear energy. You may wonder why you knew so little before picking up these books.

I vehemently oppose nuclear power plants. You may agree or disagree with me. Either way, you owe it to yourself and the world to learn all about the issue, particularly the aspects that the government and industry strive to hide.

seasons greetings

Winter break starts on 2011-12-23 and ends on 2012-01-04. Regarding my classes, the last class day before winter break is 2011-12-22, and the first class day after winter break is 2012-01-05.

Have a great, safe, winter vacation!

no class

No class between 2011-11-19 and 2011-12-05 because I have business trips to Tokyo, Japan and Portland, Oregon. Read your class slides for details.


I’m a big fan of 侵略!?イカ娘 (watch the season promo) and the upbeat opening theme song for season 2 makes me want to take over the world!
If there’s time in class, we’ll watch During week5 of class, we watched an episode that aired last the previous week titled “
English じゃなイカ?” See you in class!

dropping wed1? or taking thu1?

If you decided not to take my wed1 class (English Repeat 4 英語再履修4), then contact me by using the “contact” link above, because I must remove you from my course roster (履修者名簿) so that you can register for other courses.

If you are taking my thu1 class (English Seminar Introductory 6
英語演習初級6) but were absent during week1, then you must see your TAs to learn about our class, and do assignments for week1 and week2. I extended the deadline by one week for week1’s assignment so that new students can catch up. If you were absent for both week1 and week2, then you are in trouble. Talk to your TAs in depth during week3 or you risk being left behind.

class registration closed

Registration from my courses during 2011 fall semester has closed. I will accept no more students.

registering for my repeat class

Do you wish to take my class that appears in the course catalog as 英語再履修ー4 (English Repeat, class 4), and is offered in Wed1 (Wednesday 1st period) during 2011 fall semester? You must come to our first class on 2011-09-28 Wednesday at 08:45. This is a rule for all repeat classes (as well as being common sense). You cannot register if you miss the first class. I do not know where our classroom is yet.

Registration is limited to 35 students. To register, you need my signature of approval.
I approve registration on a first-come, first-served basis. Come early to guarantee registration.

have a great summer

Thanks to all of you -- students, teaching assistants, technical staff, and instructors -- for making spring semester of 2011 a success. We earned the highest mean scores in TOEFL-ITP in the past 6 years. Test scores are not the reason why we learn, but they do indirectly indicate how we are progressing towards our objective. I’m glad that the quality and quantity of our learning experiences is improving.

lose those training wheels

A student wrote on an anonymous survey for our online English language course: “I want translations (from English to Japanese)”. My response: "Could you state the reasons why you desire a translation?"

Obviously, in the real world, translations are rarely available. But even when they can be obtained, for instance in language classes, I am unaware of convincing arguments for translations. If there is an argument for supplementing our courseware with translations, I would like to hear it.

In case the argument is based on sense of insecurity or ambiguity associated with communicating in an unfamiliar language, let me counter that argument by an analogy to math.

Say you wish to solve a math problem. For simplicity we'll assume we wish to prove the Pythagorean theorem. As you plan your solution (I heard there are 370 known proofs; maybe you can discover the 371st), do you translate that, say, to art or music? Probably not ... What is true and clear in your mind does not need to be transposed to another medium.

One goal in language learning is to achieve the same sensation of sureness that you have in math. How would you judge a person who solves math problems by translating them to music? (By the way, Pythagoras did precisely that on occasion.) If you value certainty in math, I am sure you would appreciate confidence in language. A corollary is that the longer you rely on translations, the longer it will take to build that confidence.

TAs wanted

Are you helpful, personable, social, outgoing, boisterous? Will you be on Hokudai campus during 2011 fall semester? Do you enjoy coaching Hokudai freshmen on their English language skills? Then consider applying for the position of teaching assistant (TA). Successful candidates will work with me and other conversation partners during class. Interested? Click on the “contact” button on the menu bar above.

campus fair

In between work, Noriko and I walked up and down the campus main street and enjoyed the fair. My favorites include the railroad society, and the astronomy society. I wish our ultimate team (frisbee team) put on a demonstration. Maybe next year.

mon4, mon5, tue3, fri3 survey results

Anonymous survey responses for my undergraduate classes are posted on their respective class web pages (mon4, mon5, tue3, fri2). Combined preliminary results are posted below.

Thanks to everybody for making this an exciting semester for your conversation partners.


  • 1.00 = 大賛成、全くその通りだ
  • 2.00 = やや賛成、かなり納得できる
  • 3.00 = 中立、回答できない、わからない
  • 4.00 = やや反対、あまり納得できない
  • 5.00 = 大反対、全く納得できない

  1. 1.55 面白い授業だった。
  2. 1.69 TA (teaching assistant) がいると授業が向上する。
  3. 1.70 一般に外国語の授業というものは、いつまでも日本語ばかり使っていても上達しないので、どしどし外国語に触れるべきだ。
  4. 1.75 TA若槻由加の「ハワイ大学交換留学体験」が聞けたのは有意義だった。(2010-11-08, 09, 12実施。当日欠席した人は「c」と回答してください。)
  5. 1.78 剛の授業に成績をつけるとすれば、総合して「秀」だ。
  6. 1.90 成績は絶対評価(基準さえ満たせば「秀」が取れる成績のつけかた。クラス間に成績の格差が生じうる)にすべきだ。
  7. 1.93 TAとの会話のチャンスが多かった。
  8. 1.95 コンピュータを活用した授業だった。
  9. 1.97 初対面の人と握手や挨拶を練習したのは有意義だった。
  10. 2.02 機会があったら、剛の授業を再び受けたい。
  11. 2.03 練習したいろいろな会話は、将来、役立つだろう。
  12. 2.06 以前できなかったことがらが、何か1つ以上できるようになった。
  13. 2.08 教材が授業内容に適していた。
  14. 2.11 授業参加の度合いを客観的に測るためにbonus ticketを今後も配るべきだ。
  15. 2.22 英語のみの授業を受けるうちに抵抗がなくなった。
  16. 2.26 この授業を取るように友人や後輩に薦めるつもりだ。
  17. 2.34 毎週たった2(合計180)の英語の練習では話せるようにならない。
  18. 2.39 授業や課題の指示が明解だった。
  19. 2.46 1回の授業を1学期間にわたり合計15回ほど受けるかわりに、連続3日にわたり英語だけで生活する合宿制の授業(English Camp)があったら、受講したいですか?(宿泊費用は実費約1万円、教材費無料)
  20. 2.48 Glexaによる予習が授業中の会話活動に役立った。
  21. 2.51 3ヶ月前と比べて英語力が身についた。
  22. 2.51 ビデオ・映画・音楽などをより多く用いるべきだ。
  23. 2.52 シラバス通りの授業だった。(シラバスを読んでいない人は「c」と回答してください。)
  24. 2.64 何かをやり遂げた気がする。
  25. 2.64 北大の1年生全員を対象に「コンピュータで英語を学ぶ自律学習型の授業」(英語2)が行なわれています。来年以降も続けるべきだと思いますか?
  26. 2.72 この授業をより高度にした内容の授業があれば履修したい。
  27. 2.81 native speaker (母語話者) を授業に呼ぶべきだ。
  28. 2.83 剛の指示が英語であるため理解しづらく不安だった。
  29. 3.07 「大学の英語とはこういうものか」と感動した。
  30. 3.39 剛が日本語をもっと話すべきだ。
  31. 3.44 課題の説明を含め、授業を全て英語で行なうべきだ。
  32. 3.48 現在、北大の英語科目は4人の異なる教員が英語1,2,3,44科目を教え、学生は毎学期2人の異なる教員から2つの異なる英語科目を学んでいます。もしも1人の教員が1年間を通して教えるとしたら、つまり1年間ずっと同じ教員が同じクラスに英語を教え続けるとしたら、その方が良いと思いますか?同一教員が継続して指導すると、個々の学生の能力を深く理解し、長期にわたる学習計画が立てられるという利点があります。反面、教員が採用する指導法が学生の期待と食い違うと、学習効率が劣化し、長期にわたり苦痛が続く恐れもあります。教員のシラバスや先輩のレビューなどから適切な教員を選べると仮定して、同一教員による1年間指導が望ましいと思いますか?
  33. 3.71 WEBごしの宿題よりも授業中に小テストを行なう方が良い。
  34. 3.71 語学の授業では、一般に、日本人教員の授業よりも、native speaker教員の授業が優れている。
  35. 3.76 授業内容が平易すぎた。
  36. 3.78 学生を指名して(当てて)発言・回答させるべきだ。
  37. 3.81 学生同士で課題を添削しあうべきだ。
  38. 3.87 クラスの人数を減らすべきだ。
  39. 3.92 成績は相対評価(「秀・優・良・可・不可」が取れる人数の比が定まっている成績のつけかた。クラス間の成績の格差がなくなる)にすべきだ。
  40. 3.96 日本人同士と英語を練習するのは気が進まない。
  41. 4.06 課題や小テストを増やすべきだ。
  42. 4.08 プリントやスライドではなく、一学期を通じて一冊の教科書を使うべきだ。
  43. 4.10 スライドショーはムダである。
  44. 4.11 授業の目的がわからなかった。
  45. 4.12 この程度の内容なら受けなくてもよい授業だった。
  46. 4.45 意味のない授業だった。
  47. 4.71 TAたちはムダである。
  48. 4.77 剛の英語力が低い。
  49. 4.82 剛の声が小さい。
  50. 4.83 剛の熱意が全く感じられなかった。

fri2 survey results

Survey results have been updated with the addition of write-in comments.

Our fri2 class (undergraduate class on Fridays 2nd period) ended today. Anonymous survey responses are posted on the
class web page. Thanks to everybody for making this an exciting semester for your conversation partners.

final exam

Attention all undergrad students

You must take the final exam. If you missed the final, you must see me for a personal interview no later than 2011-01-25. I am out of town starting 2011-01-26, and when I return to Hokudai, it will be too late to have an interview. You must see me before I leave.
If you miss both the final and the interview, you fail my course.


Sushi is popular. (Which causes problems that I won’t go into today. Suffice it to say that if you like sushi, enjoy it now, while there’s still fish left in the oceans.) Anyway, here are some sushi-related links.


But don’t believe all websites! How many mistakes can you find at the following website?


I found:
wrong: “malay”, correct: “japanese”
wrong: “ohyo” is pronounced “oh-yoh”, correct: “o-hyo”

winter break

Winter break starts on 2010-12-25 and ends on 2010-01-04. Regarding my undergraduate and graduate classes, the last class day before winter break is 2010-12-24, and the first class day after winter break is 2011-01-07. My grad class on 2011-01-05 will be delivered as an online lecture, not as an in-person class.

Have a great, safe, winter vacation.

yuka wakatsuki talk on hawaii

On 2010-11-08 (mon4, mon5), 2010-11-09 (tue3), and 2010-11-12 (fri2), Yuka Wakatsuki will talk about her experiences in Hawaii. Yuka went to the University of Hawaii, Hilo on the Hokudai exchange student program. She is currently a junior in the school of agriculture, and one of my teaching assistants (TAs). Her talk will include slides and descriptions. Come to my classes to learn about the Big Island of Hawaii, the Hilo campus, and the exchange student program.

accessing glexa

Contact me if you need an account or password for glexa. You may do your assignments at school (in the CALL rooms, IT rooms, or library) or at home. You need a microphone to do your spoken assignments. Our CALL rooms have microphones. The IT rooms and library do not (and you need to be quiet anyway).

exchange program talk

The following message is copied from Hokudai’s International Student Center. Hope you find it useful.


集まるのは、「持続可能な社会の実現(SD)」に力を入れている大学ばかりです。"Quality of life:いのちと人生の質を高める"という観点から、各大学がそれぞれ誇りとする「研究」そして「教育」を紹介します。


会   場:学術交流会館第一会議室
主   催:国際本部・国際支援課


visitors welcome

Visitors are welcome at any time. My students, teaching assistants, conversation partners, guest talkers, and I are eager to have you join us. You may drop in unannounced to observe or to participate under my direction. Should you wish to co-teach, prior coordination would be appreciated.

Past visitors have included: family members of students (parents, siblings), students (high school, college), teachers (middle school, high school, college), professionals (software engineers, journalists).

study abroad program

Hokudai’s International Student Center (留学生センター) advises and accepts applications for Hokudai’s Study Abroad Programs (exchange student programs). Deadline for programs next year is 2010-10-27. Programs vary in destination and duration. Visit their website, and click on “Study abroad programs for Hokudai students” link.

hokudai's new entrance exam

Hokudai’s undergraduate entrance exam and the curriculum for the freshmen year are changing radically in spring of 2011. View the overview for details. Advise your friends and underclassmen who are considering applying for Hokudai.

teaching certificate workshop

Hokudai’s career center offers a series of workshops aimed at students who wish to become middle school and high school teachers. The 4th workshop (titled 論文指導1/個別面接指導1) is on 2010-08-03 Tuesday from 13:00 to 16:00 at the Information Technology Education building 3rd floor auditorium (情報教育館3階多目的中講義室). All students planning or considering earning teaching certificates should definitely attend. The first of many courses required for teaching certificates should be taken during fall semester of your freshmen year. Delays add to your workload. Don’t wait -- act now.

intercultural internship

Internship Opportunity for College Students (basically for 4th year students) to Help Intercultural Exchange Program for 8 days This Summer
This internship opportunity is for only six college students (3 female and 3 male) to work closely with staff members of World Youth Japan (NPO in Hokkaido), World Learning (NPO in USA) and program participants (mostly North American high school students) to organize/run the intercultural exchange program, and to help the participants to learn Japanese language and culture this summer.
 If you were a college instructor, please let your students and/or other instructors about this internship opportunity.
About internship program:

1.      The term: July 2 – July 9
2.      Time: usually from 9 am until 17:00 to 21:00 (ending time depends on planned activities)
3.      Internship is basically for 4th year students.
4.      Interns will be insured for injuries during the internship.
5.      Jobs include: meeting participants at Chitose airport, guiding the participants to their accommodations, guiding them in downtown, assisting Japanese language teachers and World Youth Japan/World Learning staff members in language and culture programs, managing/supporting other student volunteers, and others.
6.      Interns necessary expense such as, transportation and meals, will be provided.
7.      Deadline for applicants: June 9.
The internship guideline and application form (written in Japanese) can be downloaded from the website below:
Please feel free to contact me at any time with any questions or concerns that you might have regarding internship program.
Sonoyo Ishikawa
NPO World Youth Japan
Sonoyo Ishikawa
Tel: 090-2057-6635
Skype: SonoyoIshikawa


There’s much more than computers and offices. I should promise myself to spend at least half an hour outdoors daily. To view more, visit my “gallery” --> “hokudai in spring”.

undergrad course "english 2" starts week of 2010-04-12

The first week of class starts 2010-04-12 Monday. The course "English 2” (英語II) is offered in 14 class periods in up to 4 classrooms for each class period. Check your classroom assignment because computer equipment and deadlines vary from class to class.