The Flatmates


The first order of business for me today is to deliver a recommendation.
A recommendation is an evaluation that we give to learners.
It shows them how well they have been progressing in the different skills that we focus on here at DCEC.

nicole evaluation

One of my suggestions to my learner to improve listening comprehension is to watch shows in English.
Not only do you practice listening to English, there is also a high chance that one would learn a new word or expression from it.
I know this from experience because I learned some expressions when I watched "Hotaru no Hikari."
"Bucho!!!" (imagine Amemiya Hotaru shouting this to Takano Seiichi)

nicole hotaru

After the class, I searched for some short and interesting clips.
I found this YouTube video from the "BBC Learning English" channel.
"The Flatmates" is a series of short clips featuring Alice, Tim, Helen and Michal.
The good thing about these short clips is that the conversation text is included in the video.
I hope you like it.






N: Nicole U: Umi E: Euneece Em: Emery S: Shima

Euneece enters the office.

N, U & Em: Surprise! (singing) Happy Birthday to you...
E: That scared the hell out of me, but thanks guys. I
appreciate your thoughtfulness.
U: We knew you didn't expect this.
E: Right.
N: (joking and prodding) So, where shall we go for lunch?
E: Did I read your mind? I made spaghetti and bought some
doughnuts for everyone.
U: What a treat! Yummy!
N: Suddenly I'm hungry.

Shima comes in...

S: What's the commotion about?
Em: It's someone's 30th (?) natal day, don't you remember?
U: And she brought us something to feast on.
S: Ah, yes. Many happy returns of the day, Euneece.
E: Thanks.
S: (Opening his drawer) Huh?
N, U, E & Em: Happy Father's Day!
S: (Grinning from ear to ear) You never failed each year.
Thank you.
N: We hope you'll like that little something we gave you.
S: Whatever this is, I'm sure it'll come in handy just like
all the other previous presents I got. I don't know how
to thank everyone.
Em: You're welcome.
N: (Remembering the previous occasions) Just say thank you,
and that's it.
E: Meaning, don't even think of buying something and give us
in return.
U: Agree. If you do so, that'll be the last present you'll
ever receive from us.
S: Am I being threatened?
N, U, E, & Em: YES!

Everyone burst into laughter.


★scared the hell out of sb - ~を非常にビックリさせる
★thoughtfulness - 思慮深さ
★prod - 促す
★commotion - 騒ぎ
★natal day = birthday - 誕生日
★feast - 祝宴
★Many happy returns (of the day) - きょうの良き日が何度も
★grin from ear to ear - 口をいっぱいに開けて笑う、満面に笑み
★come in handy - 役に立つ、重宝する
★threaten - 脅す


N: ニコル U: ウミ E: ユニース Em: エメリー S: 島


N, U & Em: サプラ~イズ!(歌って)ハッピーバースデートゥーユー...
E: ちょっとほんとにびっくりしたー、でもみんなありがとう。心遣い
U: 予想してなかったでしょ。
E: ええ。
E: 私の心を読んだわね? 私スパゲッティー作って、あとドーナツを
U: やったー! おいしそう!
N: 急にお腹がすいてきたわ。


S: 何の騒ぎだい?
U: それに私たちにいいものを持ってきてくれたのよ。
S: ああ、わかった。お誕生日おめでとう、ユニース。
E: ありがとう。
N, U, E & Em: 父の日おめでとう!
N: ささやかなプレゼント気に入ってくれると嬉しいわ。
S: プレゼントが何であれ、前にもらったものと同じで重宝すること
E: つまり、お返しに何か買おうなんて思わないでね。
U: そうそう。そんなことしたら、私たちからのプレゼントはこれが
S: 脅されてるのかい?
N, U, E, & Em: そういうこと!




Virtual Choir


In the past, I have posted some viral videos who made us laugh, cry and sometimes even wonder.
This time I found a very enthralling video.
It would not make you laugh, I swear but the idea behind the concept might leave an impression on you.

First, let me introduce Eric Whitacre, one of the most performed composers of his generation.
When he was just 21, he already completed his first concert work.

His other great achievement was he created and conducted a virtual choir.
This was the result of 2,000 voices from across the globe singing his composition "Sleep."





June Activity: Kirkpinar


Have you heard of the manliest sport on Earth? Kirkpinar is regarded by many as the manliest sport and the oldest wrestling event in the world. Can you imagine over 1, 500 Turks gather every year for a seven day event to decide the best oil wrestler in the land? Sounds exciting, eh?
If you want to know more about this one-of-a-kind festival, make sure not to miss your class on June 20~26. Who knows, you might even get a chance to arm-wrestle with your respective GVs.
地上最も男らしい競技についてきいたことがありますか? カークピナールは世界でももっとも古く男らしい競技として知られています。毎年、国内でもっとも優れた力士を決めるべく、1週間のあいだに1500人以上のトルコ人が集結するのを想像できますか? すごいでしょ? この一種のお祭りについてもっと知りたければ、6月20~26日のレッスンを逃さないでくださいね。皆さんも、担当ガヴァネスと腕相撲ができるかも知れませんよ。

Kırkpınar is a Turkish oil-wrestling (Turkish: yağlı güreş) tournament. It is held annually, usually in late June, near Edirne, Turkey since 1362, and considered the oldest continuously running, sanctioned sporting competition in the world. In recent years this style of wrestling has also become popular in other countries. This year the 650th Traditional Kirkpinar Festival week is between June 27 and July 3, 2011.

Wrestling (Turkish: güreş) is considered as an "ancestral” or national sport in Turkey, represented foremost by the annual Kırkpınar tournament. Before each bout, the wrestlers pour olive oil over their entire bodies, and the matches take place in an open, grassy field, with the contestants naked except for trousers made of leather, which extend to just above the knee. Victory is achieved when one wrestler either pins the other to the ground (as in many other forms of wrestling) or lifts his opponent above his shoulders.



Moving Day


Normally after a week-long adventure (such as ours), people usually go off to an onsen to relax and just take it easy to recuperate.
Not in my case though.
I worked, packed all my stuff and moved the week right after my family left Japan.
Crazy, right?

I visited the new place on Monday morning; the contract was delivered to us by Tuesday.
Negotiations and payment were done until Wednesday.
Thus, packing only started Tuesday night.
On Thursday morning, I received the key to my new place and continued to pack until I had to report for work.
Friday evening was the set date to move so I was frantically packing everything away until the truck came.
Saturday was the start of my workweek.

nicole moving day

Here are some interesting points I would like to share with you:

1. Cramming is innate in me.

When I was a student, I survived high school and university examinations by cramming. It is something I wouldn't recommend but that's how I did it.
Until now, this habit has really proved hard to break.

nicole cramming

2. Now, I know how it feels to be a bum.

Not literally a homeless person. I just have a first-hand experience as to how people react towards a person toting boxes around.
When I needed some boxes, I went to the nearest supermarket to get some free boxes.
I carried them to my old place and received a lot of stares from the people whom I passed.
I found it hilarious!

nicole boxes

3. I have accumulated a lot of things.

As I was packing, I was in awe of the amount of things I have accumulated in the last 3 and half years.
How could I keep all those things that resulted to almost 30 boxes?!
It seemed that my room could expand at will.
Even the cable TV guy was shocked when he came in to cut my connection.
Half of my room was filled with boxes!

nicole packed boxes

4. I have a lot of stored energy.

I surprised myself for being able to do everything just after my Amazing Race.
Of course, the energy level was not the usual level but I was still able to do it.
That spoke volumes from somebody whose daily routine doesn't involve any form of exercise or heavy lifting.
I felt like I was the Energizer bunny... because I just kept going and going... and going...

5. Last but not the least, I am still young.

Sorry, I will not divulge my age even if you ask. (Note: it's never proper to ask a lady neither her age nor her weight)
After all that heavy lifting, I didn't feel any pain or ache the day after I moved.
However, I did have some bruises though from carrying some of the boxes.

nicole no pain

It's amazing what we could at certain times, right?
After everything that has been said and done, I am very much satisfied with my new place.
Now, if only I could get used to the idea that I have two rooms now to roam around...





You win some, you lose some


S: Shima N: Nicole Sc: Scott U: Umi

It is Scott's first day at his new job. He's running late
and the staff are getting worried...

U: Is Scott not here yet? It's half past already.
S: I don't know, I haven't heard from him since Saturday. I
hope he didn't get eaten by kappa this weekend on his
outing at the lake.
U: (Laughing) Yeah, it wouldn't surprise me. He does seem
the type.
N: You two are terrible! I'm sure he'll be here, he probably
just got lost. It's his first time here and you know the
station is difficult to navigate.
S: Well, he should have had no problems with the directions
I gave him.
N: Come on, the directions you gave me to your wedding had me
driving in circles, so it doesn't surprise me that he's lost.
U: You have to admit Shima, you don't have the best track
record at giving directions.
S: Fine, let's make a gentleman's bet that there's no problem
with my directions. The loser has to dance during the next
office event.
U: You're on.
(Five minutes pass)
S: Ok, so maybe the directions were a bit vague.
Sc: (Running through the door) I'm sorry, this old suitcase
burst open twice and I had to scramble to pick up the papers.
S: How were the directions?
Sc: The directions were great. Without them I would have
been hopelessly lost.
N: (Looks at Umi with a big smile) What shall we do, riverdance?


★half past - ~時半
★outing - 外出、お出かけ
★come on - ちょっと、おいおい
★driving in circles - 車で円を描いて走る
★track record - 実績
★gentleman's bet - (お金を賭けない)賭け
★vague - はっきりしない
★scramble - 慌てて~する
★riverdance - リバーダンス(アイリッシュ・ダンスやアイルランド


S: 島 N: ニコル Sc: スコット U: ウミ


U: スコットはまだなの? もう30分過ぎてるけど。
S: 分からないな、土曜以来なにも連絡はないよ。今週末に湖に出かけた
U: (笑って)ええ、そうだとしても不思議はないわね。彼はそのタイプよ。
N: 二人ともひどい! ちゃんと来るわよ。多分道に迷ったんだわ。
S: 僕が彼にあげた道案内で問題ないと思うけどな。
N: ちょっと、あなたの結婚式の時にくれた案内のせいで私は車で
U: 島、認めて。あなたは道順を教えるのがうまくないじゃない。
S: それなら、僕の道案内に問題ないことに賭けようじゃないか。負けた人
U: いいわよ。
S: そうだな、やっぱり道案内がちょっと分かりにくかったのかもしれない。
S: 道案内はどうだった?
Sc: バッチリ。これがなければ道に迷って途方に暮れてたよ。
N: (にっこり笑ってウミを見て)さあて、どうする、リバーダンスでも



The Amazing Race Nippon Day 6 (Sunday): Shizuoka


Day Six (Sunday): Shizuoka

Before my younger sister left for the United States to be with my brother-in-law, her last request was to have a glimpse of Mt. Fuji.
I told her I can fulfill her wish easily by just going to the station and standing on the platform.
On a clear day, Mt. Fuji could be seen from that point.
Since my duty was to fulfill all their whims and wishes, I arranged the trip.

nicole wish

Upon arrival, my sister and my mother marveled at the mountain's majestic beauty.
My sister played with several settings in her camera just to capture the grand scene in front of her.
As soon as she found the right combination, she clicked away and it took her an hour to surface from behind the camera.

nicole fuji

After having a small picnic by the lake and playing catch, we sped to Gotemba to spend some hard-earned money.
We scoured the shops for good deals and went home happy with our purchases.

nicole shopping

A shopping spree concluded our Amazing Race Nippon.
We were able to visit 6 prefectures in 6 days.
Yes, it was totally exhausting for all of us but it was all worthwhile.
This was just one example of the things I would do in the name of family.





The Amazing Race Nippon Day 5 (Friday): Chiba


Day Five (Friday): Chiba

As they say, a trip to Japan is never complete for people young at heart if you don't visit the Tokyo Disneyland.
Thus, for my youngest sister's last leg of the journey (she left May 21), the "Happiest Family" went to the "Happiest Place on Earth."

nicole tdl

Seeing Mickey Mouse and the other Disney characters always brings back my childhood days.
I still remember watching the weekly Disney cartoons on a Sunday morning (after hearing mass) with my cousins at my grandparents house.
We would all be spread all over the living room floor munching on something while catching the latest adventure of Mickey.
Very fond memories!

nicole old mickey

Thus, the entire day was spent goofing around the park and being like kids again.
It was hilarious!
Sometimes it's just nice to let go and be carefree.

nicole carefree





役に立つ表現がいっぱいDCECメルマガダイアログ  “More than just a ceremony”


E-Emery S-Sachi K-Kyoko

In the classroom. Emery looks at the Time magazine Sachi is holding.

E: Any interesting article that tickled your mind, Sachi?
S: Yeah, this one piqued my interest (pointing to the Royal Wedding
E: People from all parts of the world were glued to the TV just to
  get a glimpse of the so-called wedding of the year.
S: Would you believe that the event was watched by two billion
E: An indication that the world is charmed by a love story.
Sachi flips the pages of the magazine.
S: Oh the dress! It’s simple yet elegant.

Suddenly, Kyoko knocks at the door.

E: Come in Kyoko.
K: Sachi, your voice is full of excitement.
S: We are talking about the Royal Wedding! It’s over a month now
but I still could not get over it.
K: Well, you are not alone.
E: I read that the wedding dress was handled with utmost care.
The needles were changed every three hours and
the embroiderers washed their hands every thirty minutes
to keep the dress pristine.
S: Yeah, the lace carried the UK’s emblems.
K: And the train measures nine feet long. The bride really
looked good with that dress.
Sachi pondered for a while.
S: Seriously, I think the Royal Wedding is not just about
glamour, sensation and tradition.
E: That’s true. Somehow, this event brought back fascination
to the Royal family.
K: For me, it also gave a message of hope to everyone.
S: Aside from that, it made me recall the day when my husband
and I had tied the knot.
K: Oh, me too Sachi. Although, my husband did not say to me
‘You are beautiful’ like what the Prince said, but he
showed it through his actions.
Sachi and Kyoko seemed to be absorbed in the memories of their
wedding days.
E: OK, ladies. Why don’t we have your wedding stories
for next week’s free style lesson?
Sachi and Kyoko nodded as a sign of approval and Emery
proceeded with the regular lesson.


★ceremony - 式典
★tickle one’s mind - 心くすぐる、喜ばせる
★pique - 興味をそそる
★glued to - 熱中する
★glimpse - チラっと見える
★indication - 兆候、現れ
★charmed - 幸運な
★flip - ぱらぱらめくる
★get over - 乗り越える、忘れる
★You are not alone. - あなただけではない
★utmost care - 細心の注意
★embroiderer - 刺繍を施す人
★pristine - 新品同様の、ピカピカの、汚れていない
★emblem - 紋章
★train - トレーン。ドレスの長い裾の部分
★ponder - 思案する
★glamour - 魅力的な
★sensation - 大評判
★tradition - 伝統、流儀
★fascination - 魅惑
★tie the knot - 結ばれる、結婚する
★absorb - 夢中にさせる
★approval - 同意


E:エメリー S:サチ K:キョウコ


E: 心をくすぐる面白い記事でもあるの、サチ?
S: ええ、これに興味がそそられるわ。
E: 世界中の人がいわゆるウエディング・オブ・ザ・イヤーを一目
S: 20億もの人がこの式を見たなんて信じられる?
E: 世界がラブストーリーに魅了されたってことね。
S: そう、このドレス! シンプルでありながら優雅よね。


E: どうぞ、キョウコ。
K: サチ、すごく興奮した声だわね。
S: ロイヤルウエディングの話をしてたの! もう1ヵ月経ってる
K: それ、あなただけじゃないわよ。
E: ウエディングドレスは細心の注意を払って扱われたそうよ。新
S: ええ、レースはイギリスの紋章が使用されているだもの。
K: 裾は9フィート(2.74メートル)の長さよ。花嫁にほんとうによく
S: でもほんとに、ロイヤルウエディングは単に魅力的なだけじゃ
E: その通り。どうやらこの出来事はロイヤルファミリーの魅力を
K: 私は、みんなに希望を与えてくれたと思う。
S: その他に、夫と結婚した日を思い出させてくれたわ。
K: ほんと、私もよサチ。夫は王子みたいに私に「きみはきれいだ」
E: はい、じゃ二人とも。来週のフリースタイルレッスンで結婚式の




Get your child to school in 5 minutes


I apologize for the delay of the Amazing Race series next article but I can't help it.
I have to share this very funny video.
This one goes out to all the mothers all over the world.

nicole mother and child

Morning is always a challenge for a mother who needs to bring her kids to school.
But this particular mother has a funky way of getting a head start.
Check it out!
This is a better rush than coffee...





Get ready in 5 minutes


I was about to write the 5th day of my Amazing Race series when I chanced upon this video.
One of my friends shared it with me in Facebook and I just need to share it with all of you.
Most probably you have already seen this clip since it is an excerpt from a Japanese TV show.
このビデオを偶然発見したとき、ちょうど5日目のAmazing Raceシリーズを書こうとしているところでした。

nicole morning person

Like someone who is not a morning person, this clip was very funny.
Talk about multi-tasking and ingenuity!
I hope they do something from a ladies' point of view in the future.





The Amazing Race - Nippon Day 3 (Wednesday): Saitama


Day Three (Wednesday): Saitama

On the third day of our trip, we came back to Saitama exhausted.
And what better way to relieve our fatigue than to have a dip in a hot pool?
Thus, off we went to Seiganji Onsen.
This was suggested by one of my learners.

As you might have guessed, my Mom and my sisters were a little unsure of themselves upon entering the changing room.
Before we started the onsen experience, I explained all the steps involved in using a hotspring.
Thinking back now, I think they didn't really listen to my explanation.
It was more of they were a little giddy with the idea of soaking in a hot pool in their birthday suit with other people.

nicole birthday suit

My exhausted mother and sisters enjoyed the treat.
Surprisingly, they were not so hesitant in joining the other naked women lounging in the pool.
Their reactions were so different from mine during my first onsen experience.
Probably, the difference could be because we were together in their first experience unlike mine (I was all alone).
Thus, I concluded that experiencing something very different from what you are accustomed to is better when done with other people.
It took the edge off.

nicole onsen



Eco-friendly Illumination


T: Tre M: Mas

In the middle of class discussion...

T: Mas, can you give an example of an environmentally sound
M: What specific technology are you referring to?
T: A technology that can reduce energy consumption in
  response to power outages and can contribute to mitigating
climate change impacts.
M: Hmmm... your question is quite hard to ponder
(thinking seriously)...
T: Let me give you an example. The use of solar panels
on the roof of houses is a viable source of clean energy.
M: Ah ok, now, I can grasp the essence of your question. I'm
thinking of LED (light- emitting diode) light bulb as
an eco-friendly illumination.
T: Really, how come? I thought about it as just another
ordinary bulb that can be easily overlooked upon by
impulsive shoppers.
M: There's more to LED light bulb when you verify its efficiency
compared to incandescent and fluorescent lamps.
T: Before we go on to that, can you explain succinctly how this
bulb works?
M: Ok, the LED light bulb uses LEDs as the source of light
as a direct current (DC) electrical power.
T: Can you give me a concrete basis for its widely reported
M: Several studies have shown that a 13 watt LED bulb can emit
light which is as bright as a100 watt incandescent bulb.
Moreover, it has 30,000 hours and can be utilized for up
to 25-30 years under normal use. It is definitely worth
purchasing for compared to incandescent and fluorescent bulbs
which have a service life of 1,000 and 8,000 hours, respectively.
T: I see. So that's the reason behind the increasing demand
for LED light bulbs.
By the way, are there any downsides about this type of
M: Yes, it is quite sensitive to high temperature exposure.
The manufacturers saw this imminent weakness so they put
heat sinks and cooling fins in the LED light bulb.
In addition, the initial cost of acquiring LED light bulbs
is relatively expensive.
T: I got your point but why is it a lot of people are jumping on
"LED bandwagon"?
M: Although the initial cost is high, the running cost is minimal.
In the long run, the benefits of using LEDs outweigh its initial
cost. Further, it has low carbon footprints thereby it can be
a part of the global initiative to mitigate climate change.
T: Wow! Thank you for that relevant information. I might change
the lamps in my room.
M: Bright idea!


★environmentally sound - 環境に優しい、環境保全型の
★specific - 仕様、明確な、特定の
★consumption - 消耗、消費量
★power outage - 停電
★contribute - 貢献する
★mitigating - 軽減する、緩和する
★impacts - 影響、衝撃、効果
★ponder - じっくり考える
★viable - 実行可能な
★clean energy - クリーンエネルギー
★grasp - 把握、しっかり掴む
★essence - 本質、核心
★emitting diode - 発光ダイオード
★eco-friendly illumination - 環境に優しい照明
★impulsive - 衝動的な
★incandescent - 白熱灯
★fluorescent lamps - 蛍光灯
★succinctly - 簡潔に
★direct current - 直流、DC
★concrete basis - 明確な、はっきりとした根拠、理由
★emit - 放射する
★service life - 耐用年数
★downside - 否定的側面、不都合な点
★imminent - 切迫した、間近の近接した、目と鼻の先の
★jumping on "LED bandwagon" - 「LEDの流れ」に飛びつく
★outweigh - 価値が勝る
★carbon footprint - 二酸化炭素排出量
★global initiative - 地球規模の取り組み
★relevant - (検討中の課題などと)関係のある、関連のある
★bright idea - 名案、うまい考え



The Amazing Race - Nippon Day 2 (Tuesday): Kyoto


Day Two (Tuesday): Kyoto

After a goodnight's sleep and a hearty breakfast, we headed to Kyoto.
The theme for the second day was traditional Japan.
To make the experience more authentic, we decided to rent a kimono for the day but the weather did not cooperate.
Unfortunately, our plan to try looking like Japanese was rained on.

After looking for big lockers to store away our stuff, we started our journey to the popular spots like Kinkakuji, Kiyomizudera, Ginkakuji, Gion among other things.
Of course the photographer in the family (that's my younger sister) tried to capture everything we saw, tasted, smelled, heard and felt.

nicole kiyomizu

As my mother took the grandness of everything surrounding her silently, the youngest in the group complained about his tired feet.
From a little man's point of view, seeing a temple or a shrine once is enough.

At Gion, there were some Chinese tourists and some Japanese folks who were waiting along the street.
What were we waiting for?
We wanted to catch a glimpse of a geisha or a maiko.
In a span of 15 minutes, we saw three.
As one arrived, she would make a dash towards one particular house.
I was amazed at how fast they could walk in that tight kimono.
I guess years of wearing one would enable one to move that fast.
They looked in a hurry or just pissed off that many people were chasing them.
So, we didn't dare ask them to have their picture taken with us.

As we watched them pass one by one, I felt a little sad for them.
They were being treated like an attraction while they were just doing what they trained for.
I was wondering how I would feel if somebody chased me down the street just because I teach English.
Sometimes it's good to think in another person's shoes for a different perspective.

nicole other people's shoes

Another interesting thing that happened in Kyoto was when we got lost.
Oh yeah! Lost tourists in Kyoto... present!!
It was when we wanted to go to Kinkakuji and we were near Gion.
According to the bus map, we should wait for a certain bus to pass at that stop and it would go to Kinkakuji.
When a bus came, I checked the number and saw that it was a different one.
The lady who was waiting as well asked if we wanted to go to Ginkakuji.
I said "no" and mentioned Kinkakuji.
She was about to get on the bus when this conversation started.
To my family's surprise, she got off the bus and walked with us to a different bus stop just around the corner.
Because of us, she missed her bus and had to wait for the next one.
We waited with her and chatted for a few minutes.
Take note that this conversation transpired in my very poor Japanese.
We were all so thankful to her.
Such a kind hearted lady!