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Wednesday, May 15, 2019 marked the first time I, along with the English Weirdness team, met the English students of Sakata Minami High School in Yamagata, Japan, in an online video ‘class.’
As you may recall, in 2018 Sakata’s inspiring Principal Ms. Hiroko Nakahara and English Weirdness established a working relationship wherein the students of Sakata’s innovative and revolutionary English-as-Global-Skill program would view and study our videos as part of their English curriculum. In addition, we agreed to meet in an online video conference regularly, so the students could discuss the videos, and the language issues presented in them, directly with us. Wednesday evening was the first of these meetings. In attendance was myself, the original Weirdness team of Tomoko and Uriel, Nakahara-sensei, her colleagues Ikumi-sensei, Yokose-sensei, a contingent of local media there to cover the event, and of course, the students.
These students were very impressive indeed. We were all a little nervous, but after some interesting introductions in which the students explained their hobbies and interests, we began our discussion of English grammar and learning in general. The students were attentive, taking notes as I spoke. They were eager to ask questions, exactly what we had hoped for in providing the model of teacher-student interaction we depict in the English Weirdness videos. I’m not sure whether it is our model that has inspired this in them, or Sakata’s teachers and program, but it was encouraging to see, because it is often a challenge for Japanese learners of English to assert reveal their doubts by asking questions.
In addition to their interesting and insightful language questions, which I think I managed to comfortably answer, they asked me several interesting and insightful personal questions, which I managed to uncomfortably provide no answer for. Real stumpers! They asked me, for example, what my favorite song was, and I had no idea what to say. I guess I’m better at being put on the spot for grammar questions than questions about my own interests; something to remember when asking similar questions of my students.
The featured student-performer of English Weirdness episode 1, Tomoko, also joined in the meeting. As a Japanese student who came to Canada to study, the Sakata students were also excited to ask her about her own experiences. I think her responses may have inspired the Sakata students to think about studying abroad themselves, so maybe we need to develop a Weirdness exchange and host the student for a visit to Canada.
It was only the first meeting of what will be many. As each new episode of Weirdness is released and presented to the Sakata students, there will be more of these online meetings to review. But if this first one was any indication, the collaboration between us English Weirdos and the inspiring students of Sakata Minami school is off to a great start.
What part of English gives you headaches? What grammar still confuses you? What irregularity drives you bananas?
I’m planning new episodes and new seasons of English Weirdness and want your help. I want to address features of the English language that you guys want to learn about. So, tell me what grammar or usage confuses you, and your idea might become the focus of an upcoming episode of English Weirdness.
Use the CONTACT FORM on the sidebar to the right, or the COMMENT BOX below to share with me the grammar weirdness that baffles and confuses you. I’ll do my best to address it in an episode of the video series, or at least in a future blog posting.
I’ve begun a crowdfunding campaign through GoFundMe.com. If you would like to donate in support of our video series, please do so here. Or, share this link on your social media network; you never know who you know who might want to help.
Welcome to the new home of all things English Weirdness. Since it has become clear that EW is now its own ‘thing,’ I felt it deserved its own website. So, here it is. On these pages you will find information about EW and the people involved in it, news about recent EW goings-on, merchandise, and, best of all, every one of the EW videos, all in one place. Enjoy, and please comment or contact me if you have any ideas or suggestions.
Weirdness is made entirely with student and teacher volunteers. And recently, over a gruelling three days of weekend, the team and I shot two brand new episodes. I was moved and impressed by the tireless efforts of everyone who helped. From the performers to the crew, everyone worked around the clock to make this happen. Thank you for your dedication to the Weirdness, and for giving me your precious time.
As you may know, making these videos comes at a cost. It takes hundreds of hours and dollars to prepare, shoot, edit, and promote each one of them. Now, I’ll provide the hundreds of hours of work, but I need help with the rest. And, although our most recent fund-raising campaign raised enough money to cover the costs of these two episodes (thanks to everyone who contributed), to continue producing the series, we once again need help.
Please consider supporting this project. You can contribute any amount you like. You can use the “Donate” button on the website’s sidebar, or here:
Alternatively, you can become an ongoing supporter or corporate sponsor and Producer of English Weirdness through Patreon.com
Latest EW shoot
Weirdness team shoots latest episode(s)
It was a gruelling 3-days, but we managed to shoot two new episodes of English Weirdness. I am incredibly impressed with everyone’s performance, behind as well as in front of the camera, some not long after writing final exams at school. I am also deeply grateful for your sincere effort and for dedicating your weekend to me. Thank you all; you are an amazing group of Hammers.
Weirdness is cool, but you are even cooler!
It is with great excitement that I share this news. This past Wednesday, September 12 2018, in a live and online press conference coordinated with the local media in Japan, it was formally announced that my “English Weirdness” video series is to be used as part of a revolutionary English curriculum at Sakata Minami high school in Yamagata, Japan. Its dedicated and innovative principal, Ms. Hiroko Nakahara, has undertaken to provide us a sponsorship arrangement that will allow me to a full season of episodes over the next year.
This is all very exciting because it will provide the funding needed to make the videos, as well as increase our exposure to a new audience. Sakata school is located on the north west coast of Japan, an area not necessarily know for its innovation. Nakahara-sensei’s approach to running her school, however, certainly is. She wants nothing less than to revolutionize the Japanese education system and “save the children,” as she says. She believes the current state of education is failing to prepare the students for life in the context of a globalized Japan, and I tend to agree with her. It is my sincere wish that my English Weirdness series can not only shed some light on the strange aspects of English learning, but also demonstrate and model a new style of learning, one in which both teacher and student are participants in the analysis.
Stayed tuned for the next episode coming soon.