Undergrad (classes

2013 fall courses

2013-07-28 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- In 2013 fall semester, I teach 2 kinds of classes. All classes meet on Wednesdays. Wed1 (the class in Wednesday 1st period) asks students to give brief presentations in front of class about a spot on Hokudai campus. Wed[234] (the classes in Wednesday 2nd, 3rd, and 4th periods) have identical content, and practice phrases for international travel.

Classes start on 2013-10-02, and meet every week (except during winter break) until 2014-01-22. We have a Halloween party on 2013-10-30, and a Christmas party on 2013-12-18.

To register for my classes, you must enter and win the course lottery. The lottery is open from 2013-07-24 to 2013-07-30.

grades are in

2013-02-03 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Attention all students:

Your grades are in!

Login to
Glexa to learn your scores and grades.

English Proficiency Index

2012-11-01 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- The English Proficiency Index (EPI) says that Japan and South Korea have “exemplary education but mediocre English” which is “particularly striking when compared to the astoundingly high quality of achievement in math and reading in these countries”. The EPI blames “an over-emphasis on rote learning, relatively low levels of exposure to foreigners in everyday life, and teacher-student norms which impede conversation practice”. That sounds correct. Access the EPI main page, from where you can follow links to the report I quoted above, Japan’s fact sheet, and the EPI full report for 2012.


2012-10-31 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Classroom E215 was a party house today. We celebrated Halloween all day long. Here are some pictures from the event. Our students can download more pictures from Glexa.

We decorated the classroom. Can you guess what I am?

Yuka was a farmer. She wore her ag (agriculture) team jumpsuit.

Keiko was my nurse today. She wore her real uniform. Nobuyasu was sometimes a wizard, sometimes a devil, and sometimes both.

Noriko was Keroppi of course.

Yoshimichi was a jack-o-lantern. Somehow he looked more like a tomato.

Wizard-devil, Dr Jellyfish, and Jack-o-Lantern.

Ting was Batgirl. Our class solved a Halloween crossword puzzle.

Lots of students wore costumes too. Lots of fun things to talk about in class.

Here’s our team! Left to right: Yuka the Farmer, Nobuyasu the Witch-Devil, Ting the Batgirl, Sirokuro as himself, Goh the Jellyfish, Kerokki as himself, Noriko as Keroppi, Yoshia the Wizard, and Keiko the Nurse.

Another team photo starring Yoshimichi the Jack-o-Lantern (second from left).

hokudai book reviews

2012-10-07 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- The Hokudai library has a program called “Reading nourishes your brain” (本は脳を育てる). Books recommend to freshmen by faculty are marked as such. If the library doesn’t have the book that the professor recommends, then they buy it.

From time to time, placed in one location so that everyone can see the varied, fascinating interests of our faculty. The next time this event begins is on 2012-10-23.

I have also recommended some books.

citation for course offering

2012-08-23 SAPPORO, HOKKAIDO -- We received a citation from Hokkaido University for the clarity and content of our course offerings.

Click the image below to view a full list of our citation along with those of my colleagues.

good luck and good bye

Thanks to all students, teaching assistants, conversation partners, guest speakers, and visitors for making our semester a success. Good luck to you all, wherever your adventures may lead you!

What now? 3 things:

(1) Your grades were sent to the registrar on 2012-01-27 at 19:30.
I sent you glexa mail about your class points, assignment points, bonus points, total points, and letter grade. Contact me by the “contact” tab above or by glexa mail if you have complaints, suggestions, or questions.

(2) Tell your friends about our class. Do you recommend our class? Or not? Either way, the best way the to learn is to match the student’s desires with the instructor’s abilities. Help your friends determine whether they and me make a team.

Our survey results are online under the “undergraduate” tab above. Tell your friends to read them in order to decide whether to take my class next fall. That’s 2012 fall semester, starting on 2012-10-01. My course offerings are listed on the “undergraduate” tab above as well.

book reviews

I occasionally write book reviews for the Hokudai library. Here’s a recent review of the following book:

新美景子 (著), 野口邦和 (監修)「カラー図解 ストップ原発〈1〉大震災と原発事故 」全4巻
大月書店, 2011年12月発売
ISBN-10: 4272408410
ISBN-13: 978-4272408412

The book will soon circulate at the Hokudai north library.


Japan lacks investigative journalism. Scientific journalism is almost as scarce. Read this series of 4 illustrated books for children. Familiarize yourself with the theory, history, objectives, advantages, and costs of nuclear energy. You may wonder why you knew so little before picking up these books.

I vehemently oppose nuclear power plants. You may agree or disagree with me. Either way, you owe it to yourself and the world to learn all about the issue, particularly the aspects that the government and industry strive to hide.

have a great summer

Thanks to all of you -- students, teaching assistants, technical staff, and instructors -- for making spring semester of 2011 a success. We earned the highest mean scores in TOEFL-ITP in the past 6 years. Test scores are not the reason why we learn, but they do indirectly indicate how we are progressing towards our objective. I’m glad that the quality and quantity of our learning experiences is improving.

lose those training wheels

A student wrote on an anonymous survey for our online English language course: “I want translations (from English to Japanese)”. My response: "Could you state the reasons why you desire a translation?"

Obviously, in the real world, translations are rarely available. But even when they can be obtained, for instance in language classes, I am unaware of convincing arguments for translations. If there is an argument for supplementing our courseware with translations, I would like to hear it.

In case the argument is based on sense of insecurity or ambiguity associated with communicating in an unfamiliar language, let me counter that argument by an analogy to math.

Say you wish to solve a math problem. For simplicity we'll assume we wish to prove the Pythagorean theorem. As you plan your solution (I heard there are 370 known proofs; maybe you can discover the 371st), do you translate that, say, to art or music? Probably not ... What is true and clear in your mind does not need to be transposed to another medium.

One goal in language learning is to achieve the same sensation of sureness that you have in math. How would you judge a person who solves math problems by translating them to music? (By the way, Pythagoras did precisely that on occasion.) If you value certainty in math, I am sure you would appreciate confidence in language. A corollary is that the longer you rely on translations, the longer it will take to build that confidence.

TAs wanted

Are you helpful, personable, social, outgoing, boisterous? Will you be on Hokudai campus during 2011 fall semester? Do you enjoy coaching Hokudai freshmen on their English language skills? Then consider applying for the position of teaching assistant (TA). Successful candidates will work with me and other conversation partners during class. Interested? Click on the “contact” button on the menu bar above.

campus fair

In between work, Noriko and I walked up and down the campus main street and enjoyed the fair. My favorites include the railroad society, and the astronomy society. I wish our ultimate team (frisbee team) put on a demonstration. Maybe next year.

mon4, mon5, tue3, fri3 survey results

Anonymous survey responses for my undergraduate classes are posted on their respective class web pages (mon4, mon5, tue3, fri2). Combined preliminary results are posted below.

Thanks to everybody for making this an exciting semester for your conversation partners.


  • 1.00 = 大賛成、全くその通りだ
  • 2.00 = やや賛成、かなり納得できる
  • 3.00 = 中立、回答できない、わからない
  • 4.00 = やや反対、あまり納得できない
  • 5.00 = 大反対、全く納得できない

  1. 1.55 面白い授業だった。
  2. 1.69 TA (teaching assistant) がいると授業が向上する。
  3. 1.70 一般に外国語の授業というものは、いつまでも日本語ばかり使っていても上達しないので、どしどし外国語に触れるべきだ。
  4. 1.75 TA若槻由加の「ハワイ大学交換留学体験」が聞けたのは有意義だった。(2010-11-08, 09, 12実施。当日欠席した人は「c」と回答してください。)
  5. 1.78 剛の授業に成績をつけるとすれば、総合して「秀」だ。
  6. 1.90 成績は絶対評価(基準さえ満たせば「秀」が取れる成績のつけかた。クラス間に成績の格差が生じうる)にすべきだ。
  7. 1.93 TAとの会話のチャンスが多かった。
  8. 1.95 コンピュータを活用した授業だった。
  9. 1.97 初対面の人と握手や挨拶を練習したのは有意義だった。
  10. 2.02 機会があったら、剛の授業を再び受けたい。
  11. 2.03 練習したいろいろな会話は、将来、役立つだろう。
  12. 2.06 以前できなかったことがらが、何か1つ以上できるようになった。
  13. 2.08 教材が授業内容に適していた。
  14. 2.11 授業参加の度合いを客観的に測るためにbonus ticketを今後も配るべきだ。
  15. 2.22 英語のみの授業を受けるうちに抵抗がなくなった。
  16. 2.26 この授業を取るように友人や後輩に薦めるつもりだ。
  17. 2.34 毎週たった2(合計180)の英語の練習では話せるようにならない。
  18. 2.39 授業や課題の指示が明解だった。
  19. 2.46 1回の授業を1学期間にわたり合計15回ほど受けるかわりに、連続3日にわたり英語だけで生活する合宿制の授業(English Camp)があったら、受講したいですか?(宿泊費用は実費約1万円、教材費無料)
  20. 2.48 Glexaによる予習が授業中の会話活動に役立った。
  21. 2.51 3ヶ月前と比べて英語力が身についた。
  22. 2.51 ビデオ・映画・音楽などをより多く用いるべきだ。
  23. 2.52 シラバス通りの授業だった。(シラバスを読んでいない人は「c」と回答してください。)
  24. 2.64 何かをやり遂げた気がする。
  25. 2.64 北大の1年生全員を対象に「コンピュータで英語を学ぶ自律学習型の授業」(英語2)が行なわれています。来年以降も続けるべきだと思いますか?
  26. 2.72 この授業をより高度にした内容の授業があれば履修したい。
  27. 2.81 native speaker (母語話者) を授業に呼ぶべきだ。
  28. 2.83 剛の指示が英語であるため理解しづらく不安だった。
  29. 3.07 「大学の英語とはこういうものか」と感動した。
  30. 3.39 剛が日本語をもっと話すべきだ。
  31. 3.44 課題の説明を含め、授業を全て英語で行なうべきだ。
  32. 3.48 現在、北大の英語科目は4人の異なる教員が英語1,2,3,44科目を教え、学生は毎学期2人の異なる教員から2つの異なる英語科目を学んでいます。もしも1人の教員が1年間を通して教えるとしたら、つまり1年間ずっと同じ教員が同じクラスに英語を教え続けるとしたら、その方が良いと思いますか?同一教員が継続して指導すると、個々の学生の能力を深く理解し、長期にわたる学習計画が立てられるという利点があります。反面、教員が採用する指導法が学生の期待と食い違うと、学習効率が劣化し、長期にわたり苦痛が続く恐れもあります。教員のシラバスや先輩のレビューなどから適切な教員を選べると仮定して、同一教員による1年間指導が望ましいと思いますか?
  33. 3.71 WEBごしの宿題よりも授業中に小テストを行なう方が良い。
  34. 3.71 語学の授業では、一般に、日本人教員の授業よりも、native speaker教員の授業が優れている。
  35. 3.76 授業内容が平易すぎた。
  36. 3.78 学生を指名して(当てて)発言・回答させるべきだ。
  37. 3.81 学生同士で課題を添削しあうべきだ。
  38. 3.87 クラスの人数を減らすべきだ。
  39. 3.92 成績は相対評価(「秀・優・良・可・不可」が取れる人数の比が定まっている成績のつけかた。クラス間の成績の格差がなくなる)にすべきだ。
  40. 3.96 日本人同士と英語を練習するのは気が進まない。
  41. 4.06 課題や小テストを増やすべきだ。
  42. 4.08 プリントやスライドではなく、一学期を通じて一冊の教科書を使うべきだ。
  43. 4.10 スライドショーはムダである。
  44. 4.11 授業の目的がわからなかった。
  45. 4.12 この程度の内容なら受けなくてもよい授業だった。
  46. 4.45 意味のない授業だった。
  47. 4.71 TAたちはムダである。
  48. 4.77 剛の英語力が低い。
  49. 4.82 剛の声が小さい。
  50. 4.83 剛の熱意が全く感じられなかった。

fri2 survey results

Survey results have been updated with the addition of write-in comments.

Our fri2 class (undergraduate class on Fridays 2nd period) ended today. Anonymous survey responses are posted on the
class web page. Thanks to everybody for making this an exciting semester for your conversation partners.


There’s much more than computers and offices. I should promise myself to spend at least half an hour outdoors daily. To view more, visit my “gallery” --> “hokudai in spring”.