バックナンバー of the SQ1 Reader – Issue #6 

From the Library

The Last King of Scotland by Giles Foden, retold by Chris Rice, is a blend of fiction and history. Most of the novel’s key historical moments are accurate, but the story is told through the eyes of a fictional character, a young Scottish doctor.

The original novel won the prestigious Whitbread First Novel Award in 1998. The novel was later made into a star-studded movie that was very well received. Indeed, Forrest Whitaker won the Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of Idi Amin.

This is a level 3 story, yet much of the vocabulary is around the A2 level. The story is well told, and the number of characters limited so it doesn’t get confusing.

Chris Rice has managed to keep a good sense of urgency in this retelling of the novel. I think most students will want to finish the book in one sitting if they can; from cover to cover.

A perfect challenge for lower intermediate students.

Visit the SQ1 Library by clicking here.

SQ1 Original Content – Ed Balls Day (CEFR B1-B2)

Social media is a very divisive topic.

It can provide enormous benefits to people. For example, a person who is passionate about a niche topic can find other people who are also interested in that topic.

It can also be a horrible and angry place. People seem to enjoy leaving rude and nasty messages for people they have never met. Trolls, as such people are known, can make the internet an awful place to spend time.

However, sometimes the internet can create a shared moment that is just right. It’s embarrassing, but not too embarrassing. It’s funny, but it isn’t mean spirited. Most importantly, the person being embarrassed goes along with the joke and isn’t really hurt by it.

April 28th is Ed Balls Day on Twitter. And it is such a moment.

On the 28th of April 2011 a British politician called Ed Balls sent a tweet. The tweet simply said “Ed Balls”. The internet was delighted. The assumption is that Ed Balls didn’t really know how to use Twitter. And so, when he tried to search for his name on Twitter, to see what people were writing about him, he accidentally tweeted his own name instead. Whoops!

Rather than delete his mistake, Ed Balls left it online. Indeed, he himself sends out the tweet “Ed Balls” every 28th of April to celebrate the silly mistake he made.

11 years later and the joke continues. Even his wife, the politician Yvette Cooper, is in on the joke.

It’s a little late, but Happy Ed Balls Day to you dear reader!

Study Tips – NPR Podcasts

I love podcasts. I am a podcast addict. I could listen to them all day long. I travel a long way to work most days (2 hours each way) and if I didn’t have podcasts I don’t know whether I could do it.

I also think they are an incredible free study resource. Especially for students who want to make the jump from intermediate to advanced.

So, why study with podcasts?

First of all, they are almost all free. All you need is a device to listen on.

Secondly, the voices are beautiful. These are professional journalists and the quality of their voices, and their choice of words is exceptional.

Third, the journalist is your friend. Textbook listening comes with questions. It has to be a bit difficult to understand so teachers can check student understanding. Real radio however, wants you to understand. They want the news, the ideas, and the opinions to be as clear as possible. They don’t want to confuse you. They want to support you.

Finally, transcripts! You can read the words as you listen. You don’t have to struggle to catch a word you cannot quite hear. It’s on the page in front of you.

Start with the Indicator from NPR. It’s a short (about 10 minutes) podcast about business and economics. It uses idiomatic English, so you may need to google some phrases, but it is entertaining, and very informative.

Thanks for taking the time to read Issue #6 of The Square One Reader.

If you enjoyed the newsletter, please recommend and share The Square One Reader with friends, family, and colleagues!

See you next Monday!

Matt Keighley

Representative Partner @ Square One Japan Ltd.

バックナンバー of the SQ1 Reader – Issue #5

From the Library

Jim Smiley and his Jumping Frog and Other Stories, is a collection of short stories written by Samuel Langhorne Clemens. Perhaps you know him by his pen name, Mark Twain? (マーク・トウェイン) Or from his most famous literary works, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn?

Indeed, Huckleberry Finn is considered by many to be THE great American novel. I might be more surprised if you had not heard of him or his modern classics.

In addition to his fame as an author, Mark Twain was, and still is, a giant of American pop culture. He has been depicted in fictional form in art, film, comic books, literature, and television.

I think my own first encounter with him might have been in the science fiction TV show, Star Trek: TNG when I watched it as a child. At that age, I probably just thought he looked like the founder of KFC, Colonel Sanders.

This collection of short stories is a nice introduction to the famous author’s work. In particular, The Other Side of War, A True Story, and A Dog’s Life were very moving tales.

Mark Twain was a larger than life figure in American culture. If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting him yet, please do pick up one of his novels.

Visit the SQ1 Library by clicking here.

SQ1 Original Content – Raining Cats & Dogs & Carp (CEFR B1 )

As I write these words it is bucketing down outside. It is pouring rain. The puddles on the road have joined together to form a small stream.

When it pelts it down (rain heavily) like this, a waterfall takes the place of the steep bit of road by my house. It resembles the Olympic Kayaking course. I am tempted to go for a paddle.

And though it is raining cats and dogs it’s another creature I worry about in this weather. I fear the koi carp might escape the local ponds and rivers. I worry they will escape to freedom down the highway. It happened once in Saga a few years ago, you know. The fish made a daring escape. They made a break for freedom.

Maybe someday, if there is a large enough downpour, the carp at Mishima Grand Shrine will swim all the way down the old Tokaido road on a big adventure. Pixar and Disney would probably make a movie about it, don’t you think?

Study Tips – Bilingual Websites

One thing that frustrated me a lot upon moving to Japan was that despite my best efforts to learn Japanese, my dictionary almost never gave me the word I was really looking for. It was good at telling me what a new word meant in English, but searching for a word I wanted to say in Japanese was, and is still, much harder. I believe my students often have the same frustration.

In such cases, we should rely on the hard work of others. In particular, the hard work of professional translators.

I sometimes read articles on www.nippon.com

Or on https://www.bbc.com/japanese

You can also visit https://www.japan.travel/jp/ and then switch to English for many articles.

Translators do much more than the typical language learner, they think carefully about how to convey the meaning of the words and the intentions of the writer in another language.

They do a lot of work so we don’t have to.

I guess I owe my translator friends a cup of coffee or two as a thank you.

Thanks for taking the time to read Issue #5 of The Square One Reader.

If you enjoyed the newsletter, please recommend and share The Square One Reader with friends, family, and colleagues!