It has been a long time since I posted last. 2020 kept me extremely busy shifting my work online, and 2021 has continued this. In February, 2020, we shot the final episodes of English Weirdness, # 9 & 10. ( was released that spring, but 10 has been delayed ever since due to this shift I had to make. Forced into quarantine, I had to build a home tutoring business to support myself while the English language school industry all but collapsed.
Despite these challenges, I managed to keep hacking away at the final edit for episode #10 and it will release soon.
As well, I launched the Hard-Boiled English LIVE weekly show, which has been streaming on Facebook and Youtube since September 2020 and introducing Teacher Paul and English Weirdness to new viewers. In June 2021, I launched the first weekly Conversation Cafe, which allows viewer and learners to meet with me and my co-host, Aya Hioki, in a weekly conversational Zoom chat.
Thanks for all your patience everyone. I assure you that there is more English Weirdness on the way, so stay tuned.
One of the challenges with English Weirdness is that it is a long-from series that requires many people to produce and months of work. As a result, our beloved viewers get nothing to watch in between episode releases.
Therefore, I have decided to bridge the gap between episodes of Weirdness with several short-form series that I can produce on my own, and in a much shorter time.
The first one was last year’s FIVE-MINUTE MYSTERIES. There will soon be more episodes of this available. Now, I am releasing the first episode of ENGLISH CONFIDENTIAL.
In this series, I’ll give you the straight-up secret truth about English expressions that most people, including native speakers use incorrectly.
Stay tuned. More episodes are on the way. Thanks for watching.
Exciting news: I have signed an agreement with a Toronto company, Mcintyre Media, Inc, to become the sole distributor of the ENGLISH WEIRDNESS video series across Canada. Mcintyre is a well-established media company that licenses video content to elementary, middle, and schools, universities, libraries, government institutions, and other venues, across the country. If you’ve used any learning platform and seen a video on it, chances are good that platform licensed it from Mcintyre.
What this all means is that a new audience of language learners will now have access to the Weirdness videos, and our unique style of English language learning. Whereas our previous marketing campaigns had focused on bringing Weirdness to learners outside of Canada (and will continue to do so), the partnership with Mcintyre will allow Weirdness to be seen by countless new learners, including young students who permanently live within Canada, but for whom English is their 2nd language.
This is exciting because it all means that more learners will see and hopefully enjoy, the English Weirdness series that myself and the Weirdos team have worked so hard on for the past 2.5 years. As the video become integrated with various platforms, I will update you on their whereabouts. in the meantime, if you haven’t seen it yet, take a look at your most recent episode, #8.
I recently had the honour of being interviewed on not one, but two podcasts. The first one, The James Rice Show is now available. Mr. Rice’s show focuses on all things education, with a particular lean toward English language learning. It is available on Spotify, Spreaker, iTunes, and GooglePodcasts.
Episode 8 of English Weirdness, entitled, TOSHI-SAN VS. THE REAL (AND UNREAL) DEAL” is now showing on Youtube. This episode investigates the confusing aspects of conditionals usage in English grammar. Included in the explanation is a chart displaying the 4 basic conditional grammar forms. Below, you can download your own free copy of this reference chart, in .jpg form.
Hope this helps you improve your conditional usage and English!
That’s the most unusual and engaging approach to teaching English that I’ve ever seen))) thank you so much for your creativity !!!!!
-Larisa P. , Educator, Ukraine.
Originally shot in the summer of 2019, episode & certainly took some time to get to its fans. We’ve had delays and challenges, not the least has been my own ongoing commitments to teaching English in the classroom; I love it, but it does consume time I would otherwise devote to editing each episode. However, Larisa’s response cited above is any indication, however, it seems to have been worth the time it took.
This episode features outstanding performance by its two leads, Camila and Vivian. Both former students of mine who have since gone on to college, they hadn’t met each other in a long time when they came together to shoot this episode. I have to say though, that you wouldn’t know that from the intensity they brought to their characters. I don’t know how the rest of our shooting crew felt, but when these ‘besties’ cranked up the tension, the room got pretty icy.
Also a stand-out in this episode is Luis Arturo Aulestias Sosa, another former student who plays the boyfriend “L.A.” Luis isn’t actually the type of guy his character is, but he sure turned on the schmaltz like a pro! And, in case Luis seems familiar, it’s likely because you’ve seen his fantastic salsa orchestra, the Wasakaka All Stars, performing somewhere in Vancouver or elsewhere. If you haven’t go see them the next time they play.
Thanks for watching episode 7 everyone. Episode 8, 9, and 10 are on the way, so stay tuned, SUBSCRIBE to our Youtube channel, and keep spreading the Weirdness!
I’ve just returned from a most amazing trip to Japan. I visit usually once a year, to visit my wife’s family, and my friends there, sightsee, and enjoy the great hospitality of Japan. This trip however, also included something I’ve never done before. It took a lot of planning, but I paid a surprise visit to the students of Skata Minami High School in Yamagata.
Over the past year, I have been enjoyed a fruitful partnership with Sakata Minami. They helped me produce ENGLISH WEIRDNESS, in exchange for their licensing its use as part of their curriculum. When each episode is released, the students of Sakata watch the video, discuss it in class, and then together we follow up with an online class in which the students and I meet online using internet video conferencing. They ask me questions, and I help them understand the English at work in the video.
Our online classes are always interesting and always fun. The first time we met, the students were tentative, and hesitated to speak English with me. But with each meeting, they grew more confident and more eager to ask me questions, try their English, and learn from interacting with a native-speaking English teacher, me. in other words, I think the students grew more confident as they grew more comfortable with me.
They probably never expected that we’d meet in person. But this is exactly what we did. On Thursday morning, February 20, 2020, the students opened their laptops in class, expecting that we would meet online, as it was our scheduled time. They had no idea, that behind the scenes, their Principal, Ms. Hiroko Nakahara, and I, with the complicity of the class teacher, Ms. Honma and special advisor, Mr. Yokose, had been planning my visit.
The trip from where I was staying at my wife’s family home outside Nagoya, in central Japan, to where the school was located in northwestern Japan, was long and involved trains, buses, and a long ride on the Shinkansen (bullet train). It would prove to be well worth it though.
When the students tried to connect with me online as usual, they found that I was not on the other end of our usual internet connection. From their desks, facing the large monitor they usually observed me on, it must have appeared that something had gone wrong with our connection, or our scheduled meeting….we had had some technical challenges in the past. That’s when Nakahara-sensei entered the room with me, and said, “Hi, Teacher Paul!”
The students spun around in their seats. I will never forget the astonished look on their faces as they saw me in person for the first time. Prior to that moment, I had been nothing more than a two-dimensional image they had only ever seen in English Weirdness, or our regular online classes. There I was, standing before them. It was hilarious to say the least.
Once the shock of seeing me subsided, there were laughs and giggles, and lots of chatter. We then moved to a large conference table, and brought in some whiteboards, and I did an impromptu class with them. For three hours, the students asked me questions, and I answered them using the whiteboard. Our topics often began, as they tend to in all my classes, with a simple grammar question, but ranged off into tangents of history, culture, philosophy and psychology. They took notes and seemed eager to absorb everything they could.
After the class, we shared lunch together, took photos and selfies, and then the students went off to work on their hobbies, projects and school activities. For the rest of the afternoon, Nakahara-sensei took my wife and I around Sakata City and showed us some amazing sites, including a tea house and Maiko (apprentice geisha) performance, a museum of Takehisa Yumeji’s paintings, and another museum that held the collected works of photographer Domon Ken.
Later that evening, we were joined by our co-conspirators, Yokose-sensei, Hanma-sensei, and Sugaya-sensei for an amazing dinner at an restaurant outside the city that has been serving its special type of BBQ skewered dishes for over 160 years. Coincidentally, there, with no planning involved, we met one of the students, Michiru-san, and her family, who were also there for dinner. They must have been as surprised to see us there as I was to see them. Our chance meeting added to the special level of astonishment the whole day was infused with.
The following day, my wife and I continued on our travels, and headed off to Tokyo. it was an amazing visit to Sakata. Not only was it a beautiful part of Japan I had never seen before, the chance to meet these young students with whom I have been working was very special. In person, it was clear that their English had improved a great deal, owing perhaps in part to our meetings, but mostly to the school’s unique Global Class program, spearheaded by their innovative principal, Nakahara-Sensei.
And, there is another satisfying outcome of my visit. The school and I confirmed a new agreement to maintain and expand our relationship. I will continue working with this inaugural Global Class group this coming year, as well as a new, incoming group. It’s all very exciting, and I’m extremely grateful for this partnership. it’s a great honour to work with these diligent students, and their teachers and advisors. And thank you, Nakahara-sensei, for being such an inspiring leader, educator, and friend. Both your students and appreciate everything you’ve done for us. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to participate in your amazing program.
In the late winter of 2018, Uriel, Tomoko and I made our first video together, a little sample of my teaching style, intended to promote my online tutoring service. Shortly after making it though, we saw its potential as an educational series, and set about building on it. ENGLISH WEIRDNESS was born in that moment, and here we are, two years later, having wrapped shooting on the final two episodes of what became a 10-episode season.
And it almost didn’t happen. A little less than than a month ago, Uriel and I had accepted that we would not make it to 10 episodes, that the 8 we had shot already would be as far as we could take the series, having run out of the financial backing we had been given by our partners at Sakata Minami high school in Japan, and time with which to shoot it. He and I both had travel planned, and he will begin film school at the end of February.
It was then that my beloved wife Yuka came forward and suggested financing the completion of the series with her own resources. Could we really do it? There was one weekend available on which Uriel and I would both be in Vancouver. That is, if he returned from his family vacation in Mexico a bit early. We decided to go for it. He’d return a few days before his family, and we’d shoot the final two episodes.
But wait, there was no script. The original scripts I had written for eps. 9 & 10 were useless because they involved performers and locations no longer available, or not yet available until summer. I did have, however the commitment from Aya, a co-star in episode 4 with whom I had planned to eventually feature in an episode. She committed to starring in the new episode. So, with her in mind, I began writing. Like crazy.
The result was a final, two-part single episode now called AYA MOVES THE BIG CITY, and, surprisingly, it features, I think, some of my own best writing.
The, it was finding Aya a co-star. When teaching colleague of mine, Rafael, agreed to be in it, I was able to revise the script to fit him more closely. After a short volunteer campaign, we had built a crew of students who committed to the project. Logistics came next: scheduling, arranging props, organizing costumes, and clearing everything with my employer, who kindly allows us to shoot on its campus, food, supplies, and choosing the camera rental package. It was a ton of work, but when the day came, we were ready.
The shoot itself was grueling. Pressed for time to cover the material and access the locations, limited by the availability of the stars, and tested by the capricious Vancouver weather (the script called for exterior city scenes), and the parchingly dry air inside the school ‘studio’, over three days, the volunteer Weirdos, Uriel, Aya, Rafael and I managed to pull it off.
There were frustrating compromises, as always. Several pages of dialogue were cut from the schedule, and we ran out of time to shoot some coverage that I had really wanted to help bring the dramatic scenes to life. This, however, is the nature of filmmaking: you never get exactly what you envisioned, and the artistic challenge is to use what you DO capture to make the original vision come to life, and not just the way you intended, but better. That’s now my job. Over the next few months, I’ll be working hard editing not only this episode but the remaining two that were shot in the summer.
Thus, it will be some time before AYA MOVES THE BIG CITY is released. But, thanks to all the tireless support from our financial backers, and student volunteer crew, the great performances by Aya and Rafael, and of course, the creative and technical contributions of my most amazing collaborator from the start, Uriel, I can now say with certainty that this final episode will be a wonderful way to end this little video series that grew.
We don’t know what the future holds for English Weirdness, whether or not we’ll make another season of it. I’m going to try in the coming year to take it to the next level, and see what is possible, but nothing is guaranteed. I’ll also focus on making short-form videos in the “5-MINUTE MYSTERIES” series. As for Weirdness, all that is certain is what we have accomplished in these past two years, because the results are plain for anyone to see on Youtube and other platforms. Together the Weirdos and I have created something that might outlive all of us. That’s pretty cool. And a little weird.
So, to all of you who have supported us, participated in shooting, donated funds to us, encouraged us, or simply watched our videos, from the depths of my heart, thank you.