Sunday, 24 April 2011

The new Ondo Bridge

Not far from where we live is the Ondo Bridge, most notable, perhaps, for its multi-storey car park-like approach roads, and the fabulous azaleas that can be seen in full bloom in a week or two - I'll do my best to post a picture if we can beat the traffic and find a good vantage point!

As of today there is a new bridge which should eventually alleviate the traffic problem that the original bridge sometimes suffers from. The bridge won't be open for another couple of years, but today we got up (quite!) early to watch what I think is the largest floating crane in Japan lower the centre span of the bridge in place.

Fortunately one of my students lives within sight of the bridge, and we were able to park at her place and have a perfect view of what was going on.

I think work began at 5:30 this morning, and we watched the crane being hauled back to the dock at around 3 o'clock this afternoon. What struck me as the most extraordinary thing about the whole operation was the apparent pinpoint accuracy with which the crane was able to position the bridge. It looked like a tremendous team effort.

Now we are looking forward to the bridge opening. The new bridge will take us to a hot spring that we regularly go to, and the old one (visible in the background of the photograph) to the swimming pool... Cool!

Many thanks to my student, Hiromi, and her family for a great afternoon at their barbecue, from where we were able to watch the end of what I suppose is quite a historic event.

Monday, 11 April 2011

bus or bath?

One of my students told me that he had a bad back after playing basketball. At the end of the class we had this conversation:

Paul: You should go home and have a bath.

Student: No, I came by car.

I think what he heard was, "You should go home by bus". Of course, we laughed about it, but it does show how important pronunciation is to your listening skills.

So, here is a challenge:

How many pronunciation differences are there between "bus" and "bath"? And what are they?







Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Pronunciation IS Important

I am always impressed by anyone who tries to communicate in a language that is not their own. In Japan most of the people I meet have to, or have had to, study English. The focus at school is very much on memorising pointless vocabulary and passing exams. Students are seldom required to produce any English.

It seems a shame to me that despite how much effort is expended in studying, so many people have difficulty communicating in English. It may well be that they have studied the grammar that a native English speaker is using, but because their listening skills are not very good, conversations often break down before they have started.

I firmly believe that good pronunciation will improve your listening and thus improve your ability to communicate.