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Monster app for learning katakana and hiragana

Want a fun game to teach yourself hiragana or katakana?

Like monsters and manga? Check out these fun apps!

A few months back I had the pleasure of working with Jessica Perrin on Japanese language and culture workshops for Year 9s.

Jessica’s husband is also interested in Japanese and has just released two apps designed to help learners of Japanese hiragana and katakana alphabets.

Attack and whack!

Called Kana Attack (for iPad) and Kana Whack (for iPhone), they use Japanese yokai monsters, including the tanuki, kappa and more.

Players are rewarded with specialities from each Japanese prefecture and the screen backgrounds are borrowed from famous Japanese art. Plus there are flash cards, study charts, and you can hear each kana pronounced properly.

All this and cute monsters too? Yee ha! Yokai are everywhere!

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More top teaching resources from the Dept of Education and Hyogo Centre’s Year 9 Japanese workshops

Hyogo Centre Japanese workshop team

The team pose in front of the money tree, where each leaf holds a message of hope from students and represents a donation to the Pray for Japan cause.

This month I’ve been working with the team at the Hyogo Prefectural Government Cultural Centre on some workshops for Year 9 students of Japanese.

The workshops were great fun and involved:

– lots of useful Japanese,

– some spooky Japanese art and culture (thanks to the Art Speaks Japanese language resource kit from the Japan Foundation Sydney), and

– a fun chance to combine both in a Make Your Own Monster exercise.

PLUS…raising student awareness of jishin and tsunami in Japan

Jessica Perrin (kneeling second from left in the front row) also ran some very relevant and emotional sessions created to raise student awareness of the tsunami and earthquake disasters in Japan.

Jessica is a Japanese teacher and scholarship recipient of The Japan Foundation Short-Term Training Program for Foreign Teachers of the Japanese Language.

Scroll down to download Jessica’s lesson plans and resources

Jessica created a list of teaching resources to go with this workshop session, as well as three lesson plans (see below), and she has kindly agreed to let me post this on this blog…thank you Jessica!

Disaster Resource – I love you baby,_Fukushima: A lesson plan that looks beyond the nuclear disaster at Fukushima to explore the natural and cultural beauty of this prefecture. Includes lyrics to the YouTube hit “I love you baby, Fukushima.” (lesson created by Jessica Perrin)

Disaster Resource – Jishin: A lesson plan covering jishin, the Japanese word for earthquake, including information on earthquake training in Japanese schools. (lesson created by Jessica Perrin)

Disaster Resource – Daijyoubu: A  lesson plan introducing the Japanese phrase daijyoubu and its deeper cultural meaning and many uses, in good times and bad. (lesson created by Jessica Perrin)

Japanese Disaster Resources Project
Compiled by Jessica Perrin

A number of links are listed below for your reference to learn more about the disaster and the response of the Japanese people. This is a small selection of the resources that are being gathered to help you to engage and inspire your students.

20 ways to teach about the disaster in Japan across the curriculum: Developed by the New York Times newspaper the site aims to build student understandings of the damage and effects of severe earthquakes and tsunamis with “ready-to-go” lessons plans.

Japan quake map: See the depth, size and location of quakes since March 11.

News footage as the quake struck: This short news clip clearly shows the force of the quake with how much the buildings shake.

Japan’s earthquake history: Peter Aldhous at the New Scientist produced an interactive graphic showing the location and information of all of Japan’s earthquakes.

What to do in an Earthquake: A great resource in easy Japanese with pictures for discussion

Discussion-stimulating video material: A very touching montage (also in English).

Hope Letters: Hope Letters aims to deliver letters of hope from all over the world to communities affected by devastation in Japan. Volunteers will translate letters and deliver them in a manner that limits burden on resources and infrastructures devoted to disaster relief. Through technology, Hope Letters aims for each letter to be read by multiple readers and to be preserved for future generations.

Pray for Japan: this website has a fabulous selection of posters created by Japanese children and
children from around the world with encouraging words.

• Singing Relays: Japanese company Suntory has organised two singing relays to give hope (here and here).  They say there are 30 different versions with 71 different people.

Let’s keep on sharing… Let’s keep on doing our part…….

Japanese Disaster Resources Project
Thanks Jessica!

This workshop was part of ongoing work by Ms Yuko Fujimitsu, Japanese Language Advisor for the Department of Education as part of the National Asian Languages and Studies in Schools Program (NALSSP).

And while we’re sharing ideas on teaching resources, the following is a news clipping from the West Australian that celebrates some of the work of some students and teachers of Japanese in Perth: Well done everybody!

Students speak for quake victims with their art


There’s a tanuki in the classroom! Japanese language learning and yokai demons

Shingo the tanuki and the money tree

The Hyogo Centre’s Melissa Luyke with professional actor Shingo Usami in disguise as a tanuki.

Creative language teaching ideas

Today I was at the Hyogo Prefectural Cultural Government Centre as part of a series of workshops organised by Ms Yuko Fujimitsu, Japanese Language Advisor for the Department of Education as part of the National Asian Languages and Studies in Schools Program (NALSSP).

We worked with Year 9 students from three schools (including my own school, Leeming Senior High School!) and spent the entire day in a Japanese environment…

…speaking Japanese, eating Japanese, thinking about Japanese geography and culture.

Yokai wall of fame

Yokai wall of fame

And that’s where I was lucky enough to come in, because a big part of Japan’s culture is its mythology, history and folklore, showcased very nicely in some of Japan’s ghost stories and yokai tales.

Language learning through art, literature and drama

There was a big emphasis on new or different teaching techniques and ideas for introducing ordinary grammar into the classroom.

The day’s activities included:

Tanuki Shingo Usami and presenter Cristy Burne compare bellies

Tanukis love to use their large bellies as drums. I’m using mine to grow a baby, but still, Tanuki Shingo’s belly is bigger!

– watching GeGeGe no Kitaro (perhaps the most famous yokai in the world) fight the awesome gyuuki (or ushi-oni).

– folding and pinning origami leaves onto a money tree (for donation to the Pray for Japan cause),

– language learning through drama (led by actor Shingo Usami), art (using the Art Speaks Japanese language resource kit put out by the Japan Foundation Sydney), and literature (me and some of the Takeshita Demons)

– Japanese story-telling and song-singing

– Lots of practise in listening and speaking Japanese, especially when it came to lunchtime (no polite request for a bento box lunch in Japanese = no bento box lunch!)

It was a great day and we have more schools coming tomorrow…