Monday, 26 October 2009

Culture with Cooliris

Inspired by the Cogdogblog to use cooliris as a presentation tool and by Muza-chan to explain the story of 'Manekineko", I searched Flickr for "Maneki neko" and created the wall below, with help from Cooliris for developers (not that I've ever imagined myself as a developer).

"Maneki neko" are often seen as you enter shops, businesses or even homes. The Japanese verb 'maneku' (招く・まねく) means to invite and that is what the cat is doing; inviting good luck or customers into the business or home. If the right paw is raised, the cat is inviting in luck, if the left paw is raised, then the cat is trying to draw money (customers) into the business. Each of the two types of cat has a different kanji character on its chest. One is the character for luck and the other for money. Have a look at the photos in the cooliris wall below and look for the difference (click on a picture and then the icon at the bottom of the wall, in the middle, to start the slideshow).

For the story behind the "maneki neko", read Old Japanese Stories - the real Maneki Neko.

Posted via web from Js Nihongo

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Revising with Web2.0

Whilst trying to work out a way to embed some listening and speaking practice (Japanese) into our Yr9 class wiki, as their Yearly Examinations are fast approaching, I came across a link to Yodio in my delicious bookmarks. I had toyed with the idea of trying to add audio to google maps (I still have no idea if you can do it or not) and also creating another video like this one (with Windows movie maker) for listening comprehension but Yodio seemed to be what I was looking for.

Yodio is very simple to use. Once you've registered, it allows you to:

  1. Upload images
  2. Upload audio either from your computer or directly from your phone (to a US number, so best to only do this if you live in the US).
  3. Combine the images and audio into "Yodios". Each yodio can contain several images with a separate recording on each.
  4. Share your yodio via email, the website or embed them into your own website
Being able to add audio to images is a powerful tool for language learning. Not only can it be used to create simple listening revision tasks for students, as I have, but students could create all sorts of digital stories around particular themes. Voicethread is also a wonderful tool for this and has the added bonus of allowing for collaboration. I have not yet investigated the terms of use for yodio or fully examined implications for student use; however, a quick look at some of the yodios in the Education (Language courses) category, shows that there are students and educators out there using it.

Some ideas for using it:
  • Describe your daily routine
  • Take people on an audio tour of you school, house or neighbourhood
  • Describe people / family members (physical description / what they are wearing)
  • Describe what you did on your holiday
  • Describe the weather
  • .........
Here's one I prepared earlier...

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Student task: "Strange animal"

I love it when students take an idea (or piece of work) and run with it.
On the class wiki page the "Task" came under the banner "Time to CREATE!!!", and they did. The task was given during a unit of work on descriptions and body parts and is as follows:

You are a Japanese newsreader presenting the evening news. The item you are reading is in relation to a new species of animal that has been recently discovered in the mountainous forests of central Japan.
Part A: Write the description of your ‘new species’ for the news report, before getting it checked by the teacher.
Part B: Practice reading the report before either (i) recording yourself saying it OR (ii) make a video of the news report.

Students were given the option to work in 2s or 3s. Below is one finished product. Admittedly, the students who created the embedded video chose to bypass the "before getting it checked by your teacher" instruction, but they were immediately forgiven. The video is in Japanese.