Undergrad (classes, jobs)

christmas party

2013-12-25 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- We celebrated Christmas a week early on 2013-12-18 in wed[1234] in room E215. We decorated the room and had fun all day long! Students, download your pictures from Glexa.


talks by guest speakers

2013-12-25 (originally 2013-10-31) SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Guest speakers give talks in my class. Everybody is welcome. No reservation necessary.

All talks are in the liberal arts building, room E215. Several weeks after each talk, the talks will appear on Hokudai’s Open Courseware project.

Our 1st guest speaker of the semester was Momoko Miyamoto, who talked about her adventures at TUM (Technical University of Munich, or Technische Universität München) in Munich, Germany. She gave her presentation on 2013-10-16 in wed[1234] (same talk repeated 4 times).

Our 2nd guest speaker was Hana Shimoyama, a Hokudai sophomore who has done volunteer work in Tanzania and elsewhere. She talked on 2013-11-13 in wed[14] (same talk repeated 2 times).

Our 3rd guest speaker was Keiko Okabe, a Hokudai postdoc specializing in ancient Latin manuscripts. She talked on 2013-11-13 in wed[23] (same talk repeated 2 times).

Our 4th guest speaker was Tsuneaki Nishimura, a Hokudai alumnus and licensed physical therapist, who works at the artificial joint division of Johnson & Johnson (visit their English website and Japanese website). He talked on 2013-11-20 in wed[1234] (same talk repeated 4 times). (HIs talk was originally scheduled for 2013-11-06.)

Our 5th guest speaker was Yuka Wakatsuki, a Hokudai 2nd-year master student, who spent a year in Hawaii and a summer in China and Russia. She talked on 2013-11-27 in wed[1234] (same talk repeated 4 times).

Our 6th guest speaker was Yuzuru Kubo, a Hokudai alumnus, who works on water quality issues in northern Kyushu island. He talked on 2013-12-04 in wed[1234] (same talk repeated 4 times).
Our 7th guest speaker was Shunji Imai, a Hokudai freshman who spent his summer in Finland and Germany on an exchange program. He talked on 2013-12-18 in wed2 to his classmates.

Our 8th guest speaker is being planned. She will probably talk on 2013-01-15 in wed4 to her classmates.

christmas party

2013-12-16 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- We’re having a Christmas party on 2013-12-18 in wed[1234] in room E215. Bring your friends! Wear a costume or hat. Bring a Christmas tree decoration.

These pictures are from last year’s (2012’s) party.


halloween party

2013-10-30 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- We celebrated Halloween a day early in our classes. Students and TAs decorated the room, and we had fun all day.

I dressed up as an ayakashi (yokai) named Hiiragi from “Natsume’s book of friends”.

This ayakashi -- Kaonashi from “Spirited Away” -- won a big cookie decorated by TAs.

My colleague Jeff Gayman brought his class over.

trace effects

2013-10-13 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- A group of English language teachers in the USA developed an interactive manga-style learning experience titled “Trace Effects”. Help Trace and his pals. Their website requires a browser plugin that installs quickly.

lottery for English language seminar

2013-10-02 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Students who wish to register for my wed1 class (the class in Wednesday 1st period) must enter and win the course lottery. The lottery is open from 2013-09-27 to 2013-10-03. Results are announced on 2013-10-07 at 08:30.

technical writing

2013-07-09 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- I produced a short video series titled “Technical Writing” for learning the basics of technical writing through writing captions for figures and tables. The 4-part video series is used in an English language course required of all 2588 freshmen at Hokkaido University. Students use Glexa’s peer-based writing tool to submit their writing output (see screenshot below). Watch the videos below. Total running time 56 minutes.


president's award for teaching excellence

2013-03-15 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- I received the Hokkaido University president's award for teaching excellence (教育総長賞). Although I am the only person named on the certificate, the honor is shared by Noriko and our fantastic teaching assistants. Everyone who guided our students over the years jointly earned this award.

The president's award for teaching excellence was established in academic year 2011 along with its sister award, the president's award for research excellence (研究総長賞). The president's award for teaching excellence is Hokudai’s highest honor in teaching, and is given annually to Hokudai instructors who, among various other qualifications, have received at least 2 first-place teaching excellence awards. For academic year 2011, 7 instructors received the president's award for teaching excellence, of whom 3 teach languages (1 each from Chinese, French, and Japanese), showing that language teaching is strong at Hokudai. I do not know yet who all the recipients are for academic year 2012. I do know that 2 colleagues (sociology and English language) whom I respect won this award.

My sole disappointment is that receiving the president's award for teaching excellence permanently disqualifies us from receiving further teaching excellence awards. This limitation creates vacancies in award positions so that others may follow. While I agree with the spirit, I will miss the pride of having our future TAs mention in their resumes that we taught award-winning classes. (Maybe there is a way around this restriction. If I find one, I'll exploit it.)

Thank you, students, for the opportunity to assist you. Thank you, colleagues, for recognizing my teaching team.


Personal interview

2013-01-24 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- This announcement is for my students in wed[1234].

Update: As of 2013-01-27 12:20 Japan time, I am no longer accepting requests for personal interviews.

If you missed your final exam, you must see me for a personal interview. You are responsible for contacting me for an appointment. Send me mail via Glexa. You must see me on or before 2013-01-28. Contact me now because my schedule is rapidly filling up.

Update: As of 2013-01-25 09:30 Japan time, nobody has contacted me for a personal interview. If you want to see me, then send me Glexa mail now.

teaching excellence award

We received a Teaching Excellence Award for an English language course offered during 2010 fall semester!

The course that won an award was an elective course in English language conversation for freshmen, and placed 4th in category (courses with class sizes between 25 and 49).

This is the 4th award during the 5 years that we have been eligible. Hokudai gave its first teaching excellence award in 2005. Since then, Noriko and I were in Belgium for 2 years. That leaves 5 years of eligibility. Results from the last of those 5 years (academic 2011) will be announced in spring 2013.

Most of our team -- Nobuyasu Obata, Xin Li, Chifumi Goto, Yuka Wakatsuki, and my wife Noriko -- are in the picture below taken during a Christmas party in class.


SACLA (Sharing All Cultures and Languages) is a Hokudai student organization that socializes internationally. They are recruiting new members. View more information on their blog.

SACLA holds international lunches. This semester, I believe they start on 2012-04-11 Wednesday (but I may be wrong -- contact them). They meet from 12:10 to 12:50 at the International Student Center (留学生センター) 1st floor lobby. Bring your own lunch.


Internships are highly desirable, in some cases practically mandatory, to secure your dream job. The Hokudai career center is offering internships to undergraduate students. To be considered for this competitive opportunity, attend 1 of 2 identical workshops: (a) 2012-04-11 Wednesday from 16:30 to18:30, Clark Building, 1st floor, main lecture hall (クラーク会館、講堂), and (b) 2012-04-13 Friday from 18:30 to 16:30, the Humanities and Social Sciences building, room W203 (人文・社会科学総合教育研究棟, W203室). Both workshops have ended.

english online courses start

The first week of class starts 2012-04-10 Tuesday. The course "English 2” (英語II) is offered in 14 class periods in up to 4 classrooms for each class period. Check your classroom assignment because computer equipment and deadlines vary from class to class.

final exam

My undergraduate students must take their final exam during their last day of class (2012-01-25 and 26). If you cannot take the final, you must contact me to schedule a personal interview. The interview is a 30-minute English conversation. Use the “contact” tab above to reach me.

seasons greetings

Winter break starts on 2011-12-23 and ends on 2012-01-04. Regarding my classes, the last class day before winter break is 2011-12-22, and the first class day after winter break is 2012-01-05.

Have a great, safe, winter vacation!

no class

No class between 2011-11-19 and 2011-12-05 because I have business trips to Tokyo, Japan and Portland, Oregon. Read your class slides for details.


I’m a big fan of 侵略!?イカ娘 (watch the season promo) and the upbeat opening theme song for season 2 makes me want to take over the world!
If there’s time in class, we’ll watch During week5 of class, we watched an episode that aired last the previous week titled “
English じゃなイカ?” See you in class!

dropping wed1? or taking thu1?

If you decided not to take my wed1 class (English Repeat 4 英語再履修4), then contact me by using the “contact” link above, because I must remove you from my course roster (履修者名簿) so that you can register for other courses.

If you are taking my thu1 class (English Seminar Introductory 6
英語演習初級6) but were absent during week1, then you must see your TAs to learn about our class, and do assignments for week1 and week2. I extended the deadline by one week for week1’s assignment so that new students can catch up. If you were absent for both week1 and week2, then you are in trouble. Talk to your TAs in depth during week3 or you risk being left behind.

class registration closed

Registration from my courses during 2011 fall semester has closed. I will accept no more students.

registering for my repeat class

Do you wish to take my class that appears in the course catalog as 英語再履修ー4 (English Repeat, class 4), and is offered in Wed1 (Wednesday 1st period) during 2011 fall semester? You must come to our first class on 2011-09-28 Wednesday at 08:45. This is a rule for all repeat classes (as well as being common sense). You cannot register if you miss the first class. I do not know where our classroom is yet.

Registration is limited to 35 students. To register, you need my signature of approval.
I approve registration on a first-come, first-served basis. Come early to guarantee registration.

final exam

Attention all undergrad students

You must take the final exam. If you missed the final, you must see me for a personal interview no later than 2011-01-25. I am out of town starting 2011-01-26, and when I return to Hokudai, it will be too late to have an interview. You must see me before I leave.
If you miss both the final and the interview, you fail my course.


Sushi is popular. (Which causes problems that I won’t go into today. Suffice it to say that if you like sushi, enjoy it now, while there’s still fish left in the oceans.) Anyway, here are some sushi-related links.


But don’t believe all websites! How many mistakes can you find at the following website?


I found:
wrong: “malay”, correct: “japanese”
wrong: “ohyo” is pronounced “oh-yoh”, correct: “o-hyo”

winter break

Winter break starts on 2010-12-25 and ends on 2010-01-04. Regarding my undergraduate and graduate classes, the last class day before winter break is 2010-12-24, and the first class day after winter break is 2011-01-07. My grad class on 2011-01-05 will be delivered as an online lecture, not as an in-person class.

Have a great, safe, winter vacation.

yuka wakatsuki talk on hawaii

On 2010-11-08 (mon4, mon5), 2010-11-09 (tue3), and 2010-11-12 (fri2), Yuka Wakatsuki will talk about her experiences in Hawaii. Yuka went to the University of Hawaii, Hilo on the Hokudai exchange student program. She is currently a junior in the school of agriculture, and one of my teaching assistants (TAs). Her talk will include slides and descriptions. Come to my classes to learn about the Big Island of Hawaii, the Hilo campus, and the exchange student program.

accessing glexa

Contact me if you need an account or password for glexa. You may do your assignments at school (in the CALL rooms, IT rooms, or library) or at home. You need a microphone to do your spoken assignments. Our CALL rooms have microphones. The IT rooms and library do not (and you need to be quiet anyway).

exchange program talk

The following message is copied from Hokudai’s International Student Center. Hope you find it useful.


集まるのは、「持続可能な社会の実現(SD)」に力を入れている大学ばかりです。"Quality of life:いのちと人生の質を高める"という観点から、各大学がそれぞれ誇りとする「研究」そして「教育」を紹介します。


会   場:学術交流会館第一会議室
主   催:国際本部・国際支援課


visitors welcome

Visitors are welcome at any time. My students, teaching assistants, conversation partners, guest talkers, and I are eager to have you join us. You may drop in unannounced to observe or to participate under my direction. Should you wish to co-teach, prior coordination would be appreciated.

Past visitors have included: family members of students (parents, siblings), students (high school, college), teachers (middle school, high school, college), professionals (software engineers, journalists).

study abroad program

Hokudai’s International Student Center (留学生センター) advises and accepts applications for Hokudai’s Study Abroad Programs (exchange student programs). Deadline for programs next year is 2010-10-27. Programs vary in destination and duration. Visit their website, and click on “Study abroad programs for Hokudai students” link.

hokudai's new entrance exam

Hokudai’s undergraduate entrance exam and the curriculum for the freshmen year are changing radically in spring of 2011. View the overview for details. Advise your friends and underclassmen who are considering applying for Hokudai.

teaching certificate workshop

Hokudai’s career center offers a series of workshops aimed at students who wish to become middle school and high school teachers. The 4th workshop (titled 論文指導1/個別面接指導1) is on 2010-08-03 Tuesday from 13:00 to 16:00 at the Information Technology Education building 3rd floor auditorium (情報教育館3階多目的中講義室). All students planning or considering earning teaching certificates should definitely attend. The first of many courses required for teaching certificates should be taken during fall semester of your freshmen year. Delays add to your workload. Don’t wait -- act now.

intercultural internship

Internship Opportunity for College Students (basically for 4th year students) to Help Intercultural Exchange Program for 8 days This Summer
This internship opportunity is for only six college students (3 female and 3 male) to work closely with staff members of World Youth Japan (NPO in Hokkaido), World Learning (NPO in USA) and program participants (mostly North American high school students) to organize/run the intercultural exchange program, and to help the participants to learn Japanese language and culture this summer.
 If you were a college instructor, please let your students and/or other instructors about this internship opportunity.
About internship program:

1.      The term: July 2 – July 9
2.      Time: usually from 9 am until 17:00 to 21:00 (ending time depends on planned activities)
3.      Internship is basically for 4th year students.
4.      Interns will be insured for injuries during the internship.
5.      Jobs include: meeting participants at Chitose airport, guiding the participants to their accommodations, guiding them in downtown, assisting Japanese language teachers and World Youth Japan/World Learning staff members in language and culture programs, managing/supporting other student volunteers, and others.
6.      Interns necessary expense such as, transportation and meals, will be provided.
7.      Deadline for applicants: June 9.
The internship guideline and application form (written in Japanese) can be downloaded from the website below:
Please feel free to contact me at any time with any questions or concerns that you might have regarding internship program.
Sonoyo Ishikawa
NPO World Youth Japan
Sonoyo Ishikawa
Tel: 090-2057-6635
Skype: SonoyoIshikawa

undergrad course "english 2" starts week of 2010-04-12

The first week of class starts 2010-04-12 Monday. The course "English 2” (英語II) is offered in 14 class periods in up to 4 classrooms for each class period. Check your classroom assignment because computer equipment and deadlines vary from class to class.