10 years in Japan

Today I mark 10 years living and working in Japan. To commemorate the occasion, here is one of my first blog posts from October 2006:


Some things about Japan that I’ve noticed:

  • The plugs don’t have switches, so if you want to turn something off, you have to physically unplug it
  • Semi-automatic doors: they lack motion sensors and only open when you press the button
  • Pelican crossings have no buttons to press
  • When it rains, everyone uses an umbrella
  • There are little racks in which to put your wet umbrella when entering shops
  • The Japanese are incredibly polite: one night some of us got lost, and when we asked for directions, we were escorted by a stranger for a good half-mile to the train station, which was the opposite direction to which he had been walking
  • The local gaijin pub, Mattari, serves fish and chips
  • The Japanese like queuing even more than the British. You might even expect to find them queuing on the platform for trains
  • There are lots of bikes
  • Pachinko parlors: buy yourself a tub full of ball bearings and pour them into an inverted pinball machine. Adopt an expression of post-lobotomy desolation. These places are completely insane.

For a more comprehensive run down of the past decade, check out my post on TEFL Journey.

20 Tech Tips from Vocab@Tokyo 2016

  1. Tom Cobb’s venerable Lex Tutor now has a mobile interface
  2. Collins and Merriam-Webster both provide free online dictionaries
  3. The University of Texas at Austin provides a wide selection of free handouts (PDF) for teachers of English language writing
  4. Calibre is a comprehensive e-book manager and converter
  5. OmniPage and ABBYY FineReader are powerful OCR (Optical Character Recognition) applications
  6. The Lexical Research Foundation is “a not-for-profit organisation to promote excellence in lexical and vocabulary acquisition, description and pedagogy.”
  7. AntWordProfiler, Web VocabProfile, Range, and P_Lex (PDF) are tools for profiling lexical sophistication of a text, i.e. the proportion of advanced (rare) vocabulary…
  8. …while TextInspector can be used to measure lexical variation, i.e. the proportion of word types to tokens
  9. Michael Covington has developed a number of algorithms and tools for analyzing texts, including Moving Average Type-Token Ratio (MATTR)
  10. Paul Nation’s book, What You Need to Know to Learn a Foreign Language, is available as a free PDF download…
  11. …as are all his Vocabulary Size Tests (VST)…
  12. …which can also be taken online via Tom Cobb’s site
  13. Laurence Anthony’s WebSCoRE is “a free, parallel concordancer with a specially developed bilingual pedagogical corpus”
  14. Paul Meara’s Lognostics website “is designed to provide access to up to date research tools for people working in the field of Second Language Vocabulary Acquisition”
  15. Vocabulary Learning and Instruction (VLI) is an open access international journal for research relating to vocabulary acquisition, instruction, and assessment.
  16. Showbie is a great tool for keeping digital portfolios of students’ work
  17. Coh-Metrix is a system for computing computational cohesion and coherence metrics for written and spoken texts
  18. Lexile Analyzer can be used to compute the complexity of a text, including sentence length and word frequency
  19. Cambridge University Press’s English Vocabulary Profile (EVP) “offers reliable information about which words and phrases are known and used by learners at each level of the Common European Framework (CEF)”
  20. The CEFR-J website provides a series of “can-do” descriptors specifically for English language teaching contexts in Japan.