KA VOICECAST for Monday, July 1st

KA VOICECAST for Monday, July 1st

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IN THE NEWS with Dan Blasor


PHRASAL VERBS and Expressions

STORY TIME—The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum.



KA NEWS for Monday, July 1st


KA is now offering our famed essay-writing course through e-mail for students in grade 4 of elementary school and above who currently live outside of the Kanto area. This is a serious, results-oriented program perfect for students who wish to pass essay exams for junior high, senior high, university, or the Eiken, TOEFL, SAT, or other 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 e-mail.

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

  • access to the Internet
  • a computer with Microsoft Word, 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 below.

KA will be offering a variety of Summer Courses at its 4 locations from the end of July through the middle of August.  Some of the courses on offer include Speech & Reading, Role Play, Juken, Art, TOEFL, and Essay Writing.  For more information, including dates, courses, and fees, please contact your school directly or follow the link below.

The KA KIDS INTERNATIONAL PRESCHOOL officially opens its doors in September, 2013. Applications for children aged 3-6 are 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. KA’s professional, well-educated and trained teachers are strongly focused on developing the English skills of the students. The goal is to create happy, native-level English speakers, readers, and writers, right in the comfort of the KA Tama Plaza school.  For more information, and answers to frequently asked questions, please follow the link.



With Dan Blasor


The monsoon season in India brought extremely high rainfall—the worst in 80 years– that caused widespread flooding throughout the country’s northern regions.  Flash floods have flattened hundreds of villages and towns, and landslides have blocked many of the major mountain passages throughout the Himalayas, leaving thousands of people stranded in remote areas.  Military vehicles and personnel, who had been dispatched to deliver supplies after the first round of landslides, are also now stranded, as the second bout of floods devastated roads, making it impossible to travel the return journey.  Sadly, the death toll in India currently stands at around 1000, and the search for more bodies continues, as rescue workers comb through the debris in many of India’s poorly constructed shanty towns, some of which, have been entirely washed away in the deluge.

Saddledome Stadium in Calgary, Canada

In the picturesque city of Calgary, Canada, unprecedented levels of rain caused rivers to burst their banks, forcing more than 75,000 people to be evacuated out of their homes.  The Saddledome Stadium on the city’s perimeter was flooded up to the 8th row of seats in the main arena, completely damaging everything below that line.  An estimated 30 million gallons of muddy floodwater had to be pumped out, and that’s just step one of the reconstruction process!  The floods also forced the city to initiate emergency plans at Calgary Zoo, which is situated on an island near where the Elbow and Bow rivers meet.  Lions and tigers were prepared for transfer, just in case, to prisoner holding cells at the courthouse.

The tsunami that hit Japan in March, 2011 was not only the costliest natural disaster in world history in terms of damage to property and possessions—the World Bank estimated that the economic impact of the tsunami cost an incredible 235 billion US Dollars—but it also tragically took the lives of nearly 16 thousand people.

The tsunami was triggered by an undersea earthquake caused by a shift in the plates that make up the surface of the earth. This phenomenon is known as a Mega Thrust Earthquake.  This particular earthquake was so powerful; it shifted the Earth’s axis by estimates of between 10 cm to 25 cm and moved the whole of Honshu Island 2.4m or 8 feet east!  If harnessed, the energy from this would power a city the size of Los Angeles for an entire year!

The US state of Oklahoma faced a record-breaking season of gigantic tornadoes with winds of up to 200mph.  The first tornado touch down hit on May 20th 2013, and was a category F5 storm on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the worst. The F Scale is based on the wind speed and damage caused by the storm.

The residents of the city of Moore, Oklahoma had no more than 16 minutes warning that the ‘twister’, was coming, and many struggled to find sufficient shelter. Sadly, 24 people died in a matter of moments, nine of them being children – an elementary school with no safe room or tornado shelter was among the worst hit buildings.  The total number of homes and businesses totally destroyed was huge with several hundred buildings reduced to piles of rubble. The destruction was unsurprising, considering that the tornado was 1.3 miles or 2.1 km wide at its peak and in just 39 minutes, it ran along the ground for 17 miles and caused up to 5 billion dollars worth of damage.

PHRASAL VERBS and Expressions

The phrasal verb LOOK AFTER means the same as take care of or attend to.  Listen to how it is used in the story.

“There’s a cyclone coming, Em,” he called to his wife.  “I’ll go LOOK AFTER the stock.”

The stock he is referring to is the farm animals such as cows, pigs, and horses.

The phrase CLOSE AT HAND in this instance means close in time or about to occur.  Listen to how it is used.

One glance told her of the danger CLOSE AT HAND.

Another meaning for CLOSE AT HAND is within reach as in:  The town and all its amenities are CLOSE AT HAND. 

Let’s move on to the next.  TO LOSE ONE’S FOOTING means to lose balance and stumble or fall.

…and the house shook so hard that she LOST HER FOOTING and sat down suddenly upon the floor.

The phrasal verb RUN ABOUT means to run around from here to there without any particular direction.

Toto did not like it.  He RAN ABOUT the room, now here, now there, barking loudly.

To GET OVER something means to recover from an ailment or an upsetting or startling experience.  It can also mean to overcome a difficulty.

Hour after hour passed away, and slowly Dorothy GOT OVER her fright.

And finally, the phrase IN SPITE OF means without being affected by the particular factor mentioned.  Other words and phrases with similar meaning include despite, regardless of, even though, and notwithstanding.



The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

By L. Frank Baum

Click here to access The Wonderful Wizard of OZ Well Read Audio Book

Uncle Henry sat upon the doorstep and looked anxiously at the sky, which was even grayer than usual.  Dorothy stood in the door with Toto in her arms, and looked at the sky too.  Aunt Em was washing the dishes.

From the far north they heard a low wail of the wind, and Uncle Henry and Dorothy could see where the long grass bowed in waves before the coming storm.  There now came a sharp whistling in the air from the south, and as they turned their eyes that way they saw ripples in the grass coming from that direction also.

Suddenly Uncle Henry stood up.

“There’s a cyclone coming, Em,” he called to his wife.  “I’ll go look after the stock.”  Then he ran toward the sheds where the cows and horses were kept.

Aunt Em dropped her work and came to the door.  One glance told her of the danger close at hand.

“Quick, Dorothy!” she screamed.  “Run for the cellar!”

Toto jumped out of Dorothy’s arms and hid under the bed, and the girl started to get him.  Aunt Em, badly frightened, threw open the trap door in the floor and climbed down the ladder into the small, dark hole.  Dorothy caught Toto at last and started to follow her aunt. When she was halfway across the room there came a great shriek from the wind, and the house shook so hard that she lost her footing and sat down suddenly upon the floor.

Then a strange thing happened.

The house whirled around two or three times and rose slowly through the air.  Dorothy felt as if she were going up in a balloon.

The north and south winds met where the house stood, and made it the exact center of the cyclone.  In the middle of a cyclone the air is generally still, but the great pressure of the wind on every side of the house raised it up higher and higher, until it was at the very top of the cyclone; and there it remained and was carried miles and miles away as easily as you could carry a feather.

It was very dark, and the wind howled horribly around her, but Dorothy found she was riding quite easily.  After the first few whirls around, and one other time when the house tipped badly, she felt as if she were being rocked gently, like a baby in a cradle.

Toto did not like it.  He ran about the room, now here, now there, barking loudly; but Dorothy sat quite still on the floor and waited to see what would happen.

Once Toto got too near the open trap door, and fell in; and at first the little girl thought she had lost him.  But soon she saw one of his ears sticking up through the hole, for the strong pressure of the air was keeping him up so that he could not fall.  She crept to the hole, caught Toto by the ear, and dragged him into the room again, afterward closing the trap door so that no more accidents could happen.

Hour after hour passed away, and slowly Dorothy got over her fright; but she felt quite lonely, and the wind shrieked so loudly all about her that she nearly became deaf.  At first she had wondered if she would be dashed to pieces when the house fell again; but as the hours passed and nothing terrible happened, she stopped worrying and resolved to wait calmly and see what the future would bring.  At last she crawled over the swaying floor to her bed, and lay down upon it; and Toto followed and lay down beside her.

In spite of the swaying of the house and the wailing of the wind, Dorothy soon closed her eyes and fell fast asleep.


Ten Wonderful Wizard of OZ Facts–Audio Blog

In this short little passage, L. Frank Baum makes reference to wind a number of times, but can you remember three different expressions he used to talk about the sound wind makes?


  • a low wail of the wind
  •  a sharp whistling in the air
  •  a great shriek from the wind
  •  the wind howled
  • wailing of the wind 


He used the verbs to wail and to howl, as well as some descriptive words, a sharp whistle, wail, and a great shriek.   We can infer from these descriptions that the wind was very strong and powerful.

In addition to the ones mentioned above, can you think of any other descriptive words for wind?

Some  words that come to mind include rustling, gentle, deafening, ferocious, breezy, blustery, gusty, bracing, and turbulent.   Each of these words conjures up different images of the intensity of the wind.   A gentle wind is probably quite comfortable, even calming and warm, while a blustery wind may force you to pull your coat tight around your body and face downward to protect your face from any flying debris.

So the next time you are asked to set the scene for a story, don’t say, “It was a hot day.”  Use the words balmy, scorching, uncomfortable, humid, sweltering, or tropical.  It’s not just cold, it’s freezing, biting, bleak, crisp, brisk, and frosty.

But don’t overdo it either.   You don’t need to string a lot of adjectives together to make your point. Be precise in your descriptions with as few words as possible.



Let’s Get Quizzical

In the June 15th episode of KA Voicecast, we talked about all things Shakespeare, and the Let’s Get Quizzical question was:

What was William Shakespeare’s father John’s profession?


John Shakespeare was a tanner and glove maker. 

A tanner is someone who converts animal skin into leather by soaking it in various liquids. Back in the 16th Century, lime, eggs, alum, and dog pee and poo were used to turn the leather soft. The family home was on the “High Street” and part of the building doubled as a glove shop and tannery, which means, Shakespeare grew up in a very stinky house.

This week’s QUESTION:

What percent of the United State’s electricity supply is generated by wind power?

Wind turbines for generating power

A wind farm is a group of wind turbines in the same location used to produce clean energy . A large wind farm may consist of several hundred individual wind turbines, and cover an extended area of hundreds of square miles, but the land between the turbines may be used for agricultural or other purposes. A wind farm may also be located offshore. Some of the largest wind farms in the world are currently in the United States and China, many other countries have started to rely on wind energy to supplement their electricity supply.


The next episode of voicecast is scheduled for Monday, July 15th


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