KA VOICECAST for Thursday, May 15th (2014)

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KA TOP PICKS with Olwen Bartlett




KA News for Thursday, May 15th

The KA Meidaimae and Jyugaoka schools will be offering special early summer courses throughout June and July for students who reside abroad returning to Japan for the summer holidays.  This is an eight-part course that runs during the early afternoons and is ideal for students who would like to either “jump ahead” or get “caught up” while Japanese schools are still in session.  International school students are also welcome.  For more information, please contact the KA Jyugaoka school at +81 3 3723 2380, the Meidaimae school at +81 3 3324 9903, or follow the link below.

Early Summer Courses Information (In Japanese) 

Early summer private lessons are available at all KA schools for students who reside abroad returning to Japan for the summer holidays or international school students.  90-minute long “man-to-man” lessons are available Tuesday to Friday from June 10 through July 18th between 13:30- 15:00.  Private lessons are tailored to fit the need of each student. For more information and to check availability, please contact your nearest Kikokushijo Academy school or follow the link.

Early Summer Private Lessons Information (In Japanese)

KA’s famed essay-writing course for students in grade 4 of elementary school and above is now available as a correspondence course for students who live abroad or outside of the Kanto area. This is a serious, results-oriented program for students who wish to pass essay exams for junior high, senior high, university or the EIKEN, TOEFL, or SAT exams. Distance Learning students will write and revise weekly essays, complete grammar assignments, and build vocabulary to raise the register and effectiveness of their writing. Each student will correspond with a Personal Writing Tutor, who will guide the student through the course by email.

Students wishing to participate in the Distance Learning course must have:

• Access to the internet

• A computer with Microsoft Word and Adobe Reader

• A strong desire to improve their writing.

For more information about this exciting new program, please contact Kikokushijo Academy or follow the link.

(In Japanese)

The KA Kids International Preschool officially opened its doors in September 2013 and applications for children aged 3-6 for the 2014/2015 academic year are still being accepted. Children who sign up for the KAIP program will be introduced to the fast-paced, advanced reading and writing program with teachers trained in the Read Write Inc. Phonics method, currently exclusive to Kikokushijo Academy. For general information and answers to frequently asked questions, please follow the link to the KA Kids International Preschool Page.

KA Wordcast: Idioms and Phrasal Verbs is now available for those of you interested in improving your knowledge of English vocabulary, idiomatic expressions, and phrasal verbs.  Be sure to tune in every Tuesday to take advantage of these extra English lessons available now on the KA Voicecast website.

The Spring Issue of KA Voices, the student literary magazine is now available.  If you haven’t picked up a copy, make sure you.  They are waiting for you at all KA Schools.   Submissions for the Early Summer Issue of KA Voices are now being accepted.     If you’ve got a story to tell or are interested in having your writing or artwork feature in the next issue, here is your chance.  Students are encouraged to submit original stories, artwork, book reviews, interviews with friends, teachers, family, or KA staff, original comics, and articles about anything you are interested in writing about.   Please speak to one of your teachers if you would like to get involved or alternatively, you can send you writing directly to kavoices@mail.com.  The theme for the Early Summer issue is Stories and Legends.


J.R.R. Tokien

J.R.R Tolkien is an internationally well-known fantasy writer known best for writing The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy.    He was born on January 3, 1892, in Bloemfontein, South Africa.  After his father passed away when he was only 4-year-old, he and his mother and brother moved to England and settled in Birmingham.  He went on to study at Exeter College in Devon.  While teaching at Oxford University, he published the popular fantasy novels The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  The works have had a devoted international fan base and been adapted into award-winning blockbuster movies.





With  Olwen Bartlett

 The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

The Hobbit is a story of adventure—a fantasy novel by author J. R. R. Tolkien first published in September 1937.  It has recently been made into a trilogy of big budget blockbuster films, the first of which was released in November 2012.   The second film, titled The Desolation of Smaug was hit the big screens in December 2013 and the third and final installment of the trilogy, The Battle of the Five Armies is expected to be in cinemas later this year.

The Hobbit is titled after its main character Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit living a quiet and uneventful life in the Shires.  Uneventful that is, until his peaceful existence is interrupted by the wizard Gandalf who visits him and invites Bilbo to join him on an adventure.  Although Bilbo initially declines the offer, he is soon visited by some dwarves and becomes somewhat unwittingly entangled in their scheme to journey to the Lonely Mountain to reclaim their Ancestral home and treasure.  Bilbo sets off in the company of twelve dwarves and Gandalf on a long journey to the Lonely Mountain.  The journey is far from easy.   Not only do the travelers have to contend with hunger and bad weather, they are captured by trolls who plan to eat them.  After some skillful stalling by Bilbo, they are thankfully rescued by Gandalf and continue their journey, finding shelter at Rivendell, the home of the Elves.  Having regained their strength at Rivendell, the group continues on their quest, only to come across the Goblins and find themselves captured once again.  Once again, Gandalf saves the day, killing the Great Goblin in the process and freeing Bilbo and the dwarves.

Here we come to a very important part of the story where Bilbo discovers a ring whilst making his way out of the goblins caves.  He unthinkingly slips it into his pocket, unaware that the ring bestows a very special power.   Bilbo encounters Gollum, an extremely unpleasant creature who will murder, and possibly eat, anyone who enters his cave.  Gollum is distraught when he realizes that the ring he holds so dear is now in the possession of Bilbo.  Once again, Bilbo uses stalling tactics and engages Gollum in a series of riddles.  Bilbo learns by chance of the ring’s ability to bestow invisibility to its wearer and manages to escape Gollum and the cave.

Bilbo and the dwarves continue their travels through the forest where they are rescued from the Wargs by eagles, only to then encounter a spider that traps them in her web.  With the aid of the ring, an invisible Bilbo once again is able to free himself and the dwarfs.   Eventually, they reach the Lonely Mountain where the dwarfs ancestral treasure and Smaug the dragon awaits.

The Hobbit is a thrilling read and as the story evolves, so does the character of Bilbo Baggins.  The homely, gentle and seemingly insignificant hobbit begins to show true bravery, loyalty, and guts.  Bilbo earns the respect and trust of the doubting dwarfs through his acts of courage, which will have  you rooting for him and willing him on to success.

I first read this book in my early teens and remember it vividly.  As I read, I would close my eyes and picture the creatures and places described in the story in my mind.  I remember being gripped by the twists and turns, the brushes with disaster, and the evolving character of Bilbo Baggins as he rose to each of the challenging situations he found himself in.

Martin Freeman as the Hobbit

When the film version was first released, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to see it.  I preferred the idea of retaining the imagines my own mind had created when reading the book all those years ago.  Could a film version live up to the book I loved so much?  Well curiosity and the lure of an all star cast, with Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, and Sir Ian Mckellen as Gandalf, got the better of me and I went to watch the film on the big screen.  The Hobbit is a long film, but in my opinion a great one.

The Hobbit and the Unexpected Journey is available on DVD as is the second installment of the trilogy, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.  The third installment, The Battle of the Five Armies, will come out later this year, but if you absolutely cannot wait to find out what happens to Bilbo and the gang, you can always check out The Hobbit from the KA library and read the exciting conclusion for your self.   And for those of you who want even more, make sure you check out the Lord of the Rings trilogy, also available in the KA library.

According to Common Sense Media the Hobbit is suitable for children of 8 years and upwards.  There is some violence and threatening scenes so parents are advised to read the novel first and decide whether the content is acceptable for their younger child.



Question One: How do hobbits like to spend their leisure time? 

The Hobbit

By J.R.R. Tolkein

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.  Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.It had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle. 

The door opened on to a tube-shaped hall like a tunnel: a very comfortable tunnel without smoke, with paneled walls, and floors tiled and carpeted, provided with polished chairs, and lots and lots of pegs for hats and coats—the hobbit was fond of visitors.  The tunnel wound on and on, going fairly but not quite straight into the side of the hill—The Hill, as all the people for many miles round called it—and many little round doors opened out of it, first on one side, and then on another.  No going upstairs for the hobbit: bedrooms, bathrooms, cellars, pantries (lots of these), wardrobes (he had whole rooms devoted to clothes), kitchens, dining-rooms, all were on the same floor, and indeed on the same passage.  The best rooms were all on the left-hand side (going in), for these were the only ones to have windows, deep-set round windows looking over his garden, and meadows beyond, sloping down to the river.

This hobbit was a very well-to-do hobbit, and his name was Baggins.  The Bagginses have lived in the neighborhood of The Hill for time out of mind, and people considered them very respectable, not only because most of them were rich, but also because they never had any adventures or did anything unexpected: you could tell what a Baggins would say on any question without the bother of asking him.  This is a story of how a Baggins had an adventure, and found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected.  He may have lost the neighbor’s respect, but he gained—well, you will see whether he gained anything in the end. 


Answer:   Hobbits enjoy the company of other people (or hobbits), based on the fact that this particular hobbit’s hallways are lined with “lots and lots of pegs for coats and hats—the hobbit was fond of visitors.”  He also has multiple kitchens, dining rooms, and pantries, which means that he enjoys food and dining and chances are entertaining.  If you answered, entertaining visitors and anything along the line of “eating,” well done.

Question Two: Listen for synonyms for the following words:



HUGE and MASSIVE –there are two examples.


By some curious chance one morning long ago in the quiet of the world, when there was less noise and more green, and the hobbits were still numerous and prosperous, and Bilbo Baggins was standing at his door after breakfast, smoking an enormous wooden pipe that reached nearly down to his wooly toes (neatly brushed)—Gandolf came by.  Gandalf!  If you had heard only a quarter of what I have heard about him, and I have only heard very little of all there is to hear, you would be prepared for any sort of remarkable tales.  Tales and adventures sprouted up all over the place wherever he went, in the most extraordinary fashion.  He had not been down that way under The Hill for ages and ages, not since his friend the Old Took died, in fact, and the hobbits had almost forgotten what he looked like.  He had been away over The Hill and across The Water on businesses of his own since they were all small hobbit-boys and hobbit-girls.

All that the unsuspecting Bilbo saw that morning was an old man with a staff.  He had a tall pointed blue hat, a long grey cloak, a silver scarf over which his long white beard hung down below his waist, and immense black boots. 




By some CURIOUS chance one morning long ago in the quiet of the world…”

In this sentence, CURIOUS means strange or unusual.  CURIOUS can also mean eager to know or learn something.


“…when there was less noise and more green, and the hobbits were still numerous and PROSPEROUS…”

PROSPEROUS generally means to be successful in material terms, which is synonymous with AFFLUENT.  But this sentence implies that once upon a time, many, many hobbits had roamed the earth and they had a flourishing or THRIVING (PROSPEROUS)civilization.


“…and Bilbo Baggins was standing at his door after breakfast, smoking an ENORMOUS wooden pipe that reached nearly down to his wooly toes…”

“…a silver scarf over which his long white beard hung down below his waist, and IMMENSE black boots.”

Both ENORMOUS and IMMENSE mean very large.


Question Three: How many visitors came to Bilbo Baggins’s house?


The poor little hobbit sat down in the hall and put his head in his hands, and wondered what had happened, and what was going to happen, and whether they would all stay for supper.  Then the bell rang again louder than ever, and he had to run to the door.  It was not four after all, it was FIVE.  Another dwarf had come along while he was wondering the hall.  He had hardly turned the knob, before they were ll inside, bowing and saying “at your service” one after another.  Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin, and Gloin were their names; and very soon two purple hoods, a grey hood, a brown hood, and a white hood were hanging on the pegs, and off they marched with their broad hands stuck in their gold and silver belts to join the others.  Already it had almost become a throng.  Some called for ale, and some for porter, and one for coffee, and all of them for cakes; so the hobbit was kept very busy for a while.

A big jug of coffee had just been set in the hearth, the seed—cakes were gone, and the dwarves were starting on a round of buttered scones, when there came—a loud knock.  Not a ring, but a hard rat-tat on the hobbit’s beautiful green door.  Somebody was banging with a stick!

Bilbo rushed along the passage, very angry, and altogether bewildered and bewuthered—this was the most awkward Wednesday he ever remembered.  He pulled open the door with a jerk, and they all fell in, one on top of the other.  More dwarves, four more! And there was Gandalf behind, leaning on his staff and laughing.  He had made quite a dent on the beautiful door; he had also, by the way, knocked out the secret mark that he had put there the morning before.

Answer:          At the start of the passage, Bilbo had FOUR dwarves in his dining room.  The doorbell rang and FOUR more came in as well as ONE other, who slipped past Bilbo when he was in the hall.  A few moments later, there came a loud knock and FOUR more dwarves, as well as GANDALF stepped in.  Bilbo Baggins had FOURTEEN(14)  visitors in his house!


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