January 23, 2019

Last week we talked about jobs now and in the future. Today I came across an interesting article:

What is Conversation Design, and How to Design Your Chatbot

Conversation Designers will be the next wave of jobs in digital marketing. Here’s what they do, and how to create a strategic chatbot.

January 16, 2019

I have counted your votes for the next week’s discussion topics and compiled the results IN THESE LISTS.
There is no work to be submitted, but, obviously, the more reading, thinking, and preparation you do about the topics, the more interesting the discussions will be.
Final oral exams will be given on 1/31 and 2/7. They will cover these topics:
  • Death 12/20
  • Study Abroad 1/10
  • Career Choice and Work 1/17
  • Contemporary Topics 1/24

The Air France strike I mentioned was in 2015. (See, I don’t make this stuff up.)

More video: https://www.france24.com/en/20151005-air-france-set-unveil-thousands-job-cuts-workers-strike

The break will be here soon, but I know many of you are very serious learners. If you want to turn that downtime into something productive, maybe one of these classes would appeal to you: https://qz.com/1514408/400-free-ivy-league-university-courses-you-can-take-online-in-2019/?utm_source=nextdraft&utm_medium=email

January 12, 2019

First, congratulations to those of you who might be celebrating their coming of age on Monday. おめでとうございます! Be careful in your partying! Seriously, alcohol poisoning is a real danger.

This week (1/17) we will be discussing work and career choices. The study guide includes a priorities chart that can be a useful tool when making complex decisions. Remember it for the future. There is also an interesting table showing the results of different money-saving strategies over a lifetime.

Also of  interest:

See you all Thursday!

December 31, 2018

Happy New Year!

I’ve added your suggestions to the list of topics for our January 24 class and made THIS FORM (http://bit.ly/2BNnEJa) to collect your votes. Submit your choices before January 16. I’ll announce the topics in class Thursday, January 17.

Calendar for the remainder of the semester:

1/10 Study Abroad – STUDY GUIDE
1/17 Career Choice, Jobs, Working – STUDY GUIDE (added 1/4/19)
1/24 Mixed Contemporary Topics
1/31 Speaking Test and Final Discussions
2/7 Speaking Test and Final Discussions

See you next week.

December 16, 2018

Below are some possible discussion topics for our January 24 class. Please send your ideas to tonysensei+topics@me.com before January 1. I’ll add your suggestions and post a link to a voting site. Avoid issues we have already discussed. You may get some ideas from the textbook chapters/topics that we did not cover in class.

  • Gender equality (male, female, other) Too close to “Discrimination”?
  • Rise of nationalism around the world
  • Imperial succession: the end of Heisei and the start of a new era
  • Transportation: Is the personal automobile dead?
  • The future of social media and its impact on society.
  • Internet security and privacy
  • The Japanese family: past, present, and future
  • Sports: sports medicine, injuries (boxing, American football), performance enhancement (robots-athletes)
  • Japan: isolationism, turning inward
  • Japan: Have young people really stopped dating?
  • Getting old: Taking care of Mom and Dad. And what about you?
  • Handai: Nearing the end of your first year, what are your thoughts on the university? What is different from what you imagined? How can things be improved, either by your own actions or by external changes?
  • What is something you would like to accomplish in the future?
  • What is your biggest fear regarding the future?

Again the idea is to set up nine different “topic stations.” Students switch stations every 15 or 20 minutes. I’ll also poll your preference on the time allotted to each topic.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!



December 13, 2018

Today you made your presentations for the Fall Semester. It was  disappointing to see how many students did not apply lessons from last week’s Presentation Zen video to their own presentation slides. Some of you did, and did a very good job. Overall, the afternoon classes did much better. Thank you!

Many of the same points from last week are covered in this YouTube video of Garr Reynolds talking Presentation Zen to Google employees. If you were absent (or sleeping) last week, I STRONGLY recommend taking the time to watch it. It’s no longer relevant for our class, but there are important things in the video to be learned for the presentations you will be making in the future.

Students who were absent will have the opportunity to do make-up presentations to the (half) class on either of the two test days at the end of the semester (1/31 or 2/7). Please remind me then that you need to mkae up your presentation.

The DEATH STUDY GUIDE IS HERE. Submit your weekly preparation work as usual to the ts.shukudai address for your class.


Classes seemed uninterested in class Christmas activities, but if you are curious about western Christmas observation and tradition, please ask at the beginning of class next week.

Many of what we now consider Christmas traditions originated with this poem/story from the mid-nineteenth century:
“‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUzIF4eYRkg
Bonus fact: the slide show is made from scans of a book that I read as a child.

The Break

Check in here from time to time. Over the break I will be posting some way for you to give your input on the contemporary issues discussion as well as a way of voting on the final topic selection.

No other assignments (well…preparation for class Januray 10). Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


  • January 10 – Study Abroad
  • January 17 – Career Choice / Jobs / Working
  • January 24 – Comtemporary Topics Discussions
  • January 31, February 7 – Final speaking tests

December 10, 2018

I’ve made some guidelines to help you with the scoring of the presentations this week. “Preparation” should be used as the tie-breaker.

Scoring considerations

  • Preparation – Was the presentations memorized, well-practiced? Was there sufficient effort put into visual support?
  • Voice – Was the speaker loud enough? Could you understand everything the speaker said?
  • Organization – Did the structure of the presentation make it easy to follow?
  • Content – Did the topic interest you? Did the speaker make the topic appealing? Do you think the topic was a good choice? Was the scope of the topic realistic for a five-minute presentation? Was the topic too broad and general?
  • Slides – If the presenter used slides, did they support what the speaker was saying? Did the presenter have too much text on the slides, forcing you read them? Did the presenter read from his/her own slides?