And another

When I heard that one of my students had just started a part-time job at a bakery I asked her if she is interested in the bakery’s products.

She told me that after she learns the basic skills of the job, then she will learn about the products, so she can answer any questions from the customers. I was very happy to hear it.

Another student made me happy


This is always the answer when I ask a Japanese student, “How ya doin’?” To be honest I am fed up with this answer.

Yesterday a student replied, “Not fine.” I was so happy. Of course I wasn’t happy that the student was not fine, I was happy because the student didn’t say ‘fine’ and actually told me the truth.

What if there is no smoking in restaurants?

On July 1st in all restaurants, cafes and pubs in England there will be no smoking. This is a big change and will especially help the workers, who will not risk the danger of passive smoking. In Scotland smoking was banned a few years ago and there are some surprising results.

1. People smoke more

As people can’t smoke in pubs etc they smoke more at home. Of course they are at home for longer than they are in a pub, so they get into the habit of always smoking at home and many people actually smoke more.

2. Passive smoking for children

As more people smoke at home it means that their family do more passive smoking. And, if they have children, it means that their children do passive smoking, and there is more chance that these children will become smokers later in life.

3. More food is eaten

Since smokers can no longer hold a cigarette while they are drinking, they start to eat more snacks in pubs, and to order more side-dishes in restaurants.

4. More energy is used

If a smoker wants to smoke he or she must smoke outside the pub. In many places it can get very cold, especially in the evenings, so many pubs have put large umbrella heaters outside so their customers don’t get too cold. These heaters use up a lot of energy.

5 Less sleep

Not less sleep for the smokers, but less sleep for the people who live near a pub. With so many people smoking outside it is almost like a party and the noise can get very loud. Neighbours are sometimes not able to sleep.

6 More road accidents

With many people standing outside a pub there is often not so much space for someone who is walking past. This person might step into the road which can result in an accident with a car or bike, especially in the dark at night.

So there have been many unpredictable results from a ban on smoking, not all of them good.

Cinnamon roll and smoke

There is a nice bakery cafe, called Epiciel at Shimizu station. I went to Shimizu yesterday and I decided to have lunch there.

I have been there many times before and there is a good selection of bread and pastry, and some of the products are original. I ordered a few things including a cinnamon roll. It was not like the soft bread cinnamon roll that is in many bakeries, but this one was like a thick sponge bread, and it was really delicious.

But there is one bad thing, one really bad thing, about this bakery cafe: smoking is allowed. I have had a bad experience here before.

Yesterday there were about 12 customers in the cafe and I was lucky, no-one was smoking. But just as I was finishing a man walked in and took an ashtray and put it on his table, a smoker. I could see the other customers look at him, there were six elderly people and a mother with two young children. Immediately they all started to leave.

A student made me happy

A few weeks ago at Roggen Meyer bakery cafe I asked the waitress about one of the products. She was very polite but she knew nothing about the product. I was very disappointed that she took no interest in the bakery’s products.

But today a student made me happy again.

I saw that one of my students was reading about green tea in English. I found out that this student works in a green tea shop in Tokyo, and she was studying the products in both Japanese and English (she needs to learn the English explanation because there are a lot of foreign customers). I was so happy that she was interested in her shop’s products.


Zed or Zee?

Z is the last letter in the English alphabet, and also the rarest. This letter comes from the Greek language, and is known as zeta in Greek.

There are two pronunciations, ‘zed’ and ‘zee’. Zee is the pronunciation used in the USA, and zed is the pronunciation used almost everywhere else.

Today one of my students told me something very interesting. She said that when she first learned the ‘abc’ song she pronounced the z as ‘zed’, but at about the time of junior high school she noticed that the pronunciation changed to ‘zee’.

Does anyone have a similar (or different) experience?

Pizza isn’t very delicious (again!)


Pizza is tasty. Pizza is very tasty. Pizza is delicious. But pizza isn’t very delicious.

The problem is that the adverb ‘very’ and the adjective ‘delicious’ are not used together.

‘Very’ can be used in front of most adjectives, for example: ‘very hungry’, ‘very cold’, and ‘very nice’, and it is used to show a strong feeling. So ‘very tasty pizza’ is a very nice phrase.

However ‘very’ is not used before all adjectives. Some adjectives, for example ‘tasty’, are known as basic adjectives, and they have a strong adjective as a partner, for example ‘delicious’.

Please look at a short list:

basic adjective – strong adjective

tasty – delicious

tired – exhausted

cold – freezing

nice – wonderful

interesting – fascinating

scared – terrified

hungry – starving

‘Very’ can be used with a basic adjective but it is not used with a strong adjective. So ‘very cold’ is OK, but ‘very freezing’ is not OK. And ‘very tasty’ is OK, but ‘very delicious’ is not.

What can we do? The answer is simple: use ‘absolutely’.

The adverb ‘absolutely’ is used with strong adjectives so ‘absolutely delicious’ is what you can say. But, be careful, ‘absolutely’ is used mainly with strong adjectives, so don’t say ‘absolutely tasty’.

If this is very confusing don’t worry because there is an even more useful adverb: ‘really’. This can be used with both basic and strong adjectives, yippee! So ‘really tasty’ and ‘really delicious’ are both OK.

You may think that ‘really’ is not so easy to pronounce, but all you do is touch the top of your mouth with your tongue when you say ‘l’.

So pizza isn’t very delicious, it’s really delicious, especially with ham and pineapple!

Message to my students

I have had a good week. It has been enjoyable to teach you. Every student in every class has tried their best and I can ask for no more than this.

We have just come back to university after Golden Week so we have all been feeling fresh, and the weather has been good too. I am sure this helps us to feel good.

But we have many more weeks in this semester and, when we are in July and August, the weather will be much too hot and humid, so let’s continue to try hard.

Why green blackboards?


Before I came to Japan I had never seen a green blackboard. So why are blackboards green? One of my students, Kyoko, kindly told me the answer: because green is easy on the eyes.

It seems very sensible. Another word for blackboard is chalkboard, maybe we should use this word more often.

Actually I hate chalk, and chalk dust. It makes my throat dry, and also my fingers. It gets on my clothes and into my eyes. I much prefer whiteboards. But why aren’t whiteboards green?

Electronic Ice-Cream

A few days ago I was with my young son on the platform at Shizuoka station. It was pretty hot and he asked me if he could have an ice-cream. Since he had been a good boy that day I agreed.

I remembered that there was an ice-cream vending machine on the platform. I looked for it, but it had gone. Then I saw a kiosk called Siera, selling macrobiotic food. It was made of aluminium and glass and looked very modern. It had a picture of an ice-cream so I took my son inside, and ordered one. It cost 380yen but looked quite big. There were a few chairs so we sat down. It was a nice place except for the music. Actually the music was all right but it was so loud. There were two big speakers in this small kiosk, an i-pod player would be enough.

While my son was licking and biting the ice-cream I looked at the ice-cream machine. It said, in English, that the ice-cream was made by an ‘Electronic Advanced System’. What is this? I wanted to ask the kiosk worker but, after my experience in Roggen Meyer (see April 20th) I didn’t feel like asking.

My son was really enjoying the ice-cream and he let me have some. It was very tasty. It wasn’t light, more like a thick gel. The cone was a strong waffle cone, and the ice-cream filled the cone right to the bottom. The electronic ice-cream was very good.



It is thought that the month of May was named after the Greek goddess Maia. She was the goddess of fertility and her festival was held in May.

May is one of seven months with 31 days. The bird of May is the nightingale, the flower of May is the lily of the valley, and May’s birthstone is the emerald.

And don’t forget Mother’s Day, on the second Sunday in May; this year it’s May 13th.