KA VOICECAST for Saturday, February 1st (2014)

KA VOICECAST for Saturday, February 1st (2014)

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STORY TIME –The Chinese Zodiac Story: The Great Race




KA NEWS for Saturday, February 1st


Kikokushijo Academy’s new schedule for the 2014 academic year is now available for you to view on the KA website.  Please follow the link below.  Calendars will be distributed at school.

Kikokushijo Academy Class Schedule 2014 

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.

The KA Kids International Preschool officially opened its doors in September 2013 and applications for children aged 3-6 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.




Listen for the answers to the following three questions as you listen to Dan:

1)   What are the first 15 days of the Chinese New Year known as?


2)   The Chinese calendar is based on the Lunar Calendar.  How does this differ from the western calendar?


3)   What do Chinese children receive as gifts during the New Year period?




New Years is celebrated all over the world, but each country has different ways of bringing in the New Year.  There are cultural reasons behind why celebrations vary so widely.  In some cases, the date on which the New Year is celebrated differs too.  Take China for instance.

According to western calendars, the Chinese New Year will fall this year on January 31st and last through to February 18th of 2015.  Traditionally, the Chinese New Year festival is a time to honor deities or gods as well as their ancestors, and is celebrated over the first fifteen days of each new year of the Chinese calendar.  In China, this time is also known as the Spring Festival.

The date changes each year because, unlike the Western calendar, which is based on the time it takes the Earth to go around the sun, the Chinese use a Lunar calendar, which is based on the time the moon takes to go around the Earth.   The lunar cycle is about 29.5 days, so in order to “catch up” with the solar calendar, the Chinese insert an extra month once every few years.  Generally, the Chinese New Year will fall sometime between January 21st and February 21st, commencing at sunset on the day of the second New Moon following the Winter Solstice.

Traditionally, decorations are placed on doors and windows of Chinese homes.  The colour red  represents happiness, good fortune, longevity, and wealth so if you were to visit China in the next couple of weeks, it’s likely you will see a whole lot of red.  The Chinese celebrate the New Year in many other ways.  Fireworks, thought to scare off evil spirits, are set off, and every village, town, and city will hold some kind of parade or street festival in which performers of all ages will sing and dance.  You might even come across a dragon or two.  And unlike western children, who receive wrapped gifts at Christmas, Chinese children will receive red envelopes full of money from family and friends.

You may have heard of the link to animals often associated with the Chinese calendar. This year, according to the Chinese, will bring in the Year of the Horse.

Why are the years linked to animals?

The link between animals and the Chinese lunar calendar originates from an ancient legend that states that the gods ordered that animals be designated as symbols for each year.  The first twelve that arrived were selected.  The animals were the Rat, Dragon, Monkey, Ox, Snake, Rooster, Tiger, Horse, Dog, Rabbit, Sheep (Ram or Goat), and Dog.   These twelve animal signs are divided into four groups of three, based on the belief that the three grouped animals have similar ways of thinking and similar temperaments.

According to the Chinese Zodiac, the animal that represents the year of your birth is said to offer insight into your personality.  It’s said that the Rat, Dragon, and Monkey are action orientated and show traits of intelligence.  The Ox, Snake, and Rooster are deep thinkers and are always conscious about attaining their objectives.  The Tiger, Horse, and Dog enjoy their freedom and have a strong sense of personal ego. And the Rabbit, Sheep, and Pig love peace, believe in mutual cooperation, and are sympathetic.

The Year of the Horse is said to be a year for those who are ready for a thrilling year.  It would be a year of opportunities in which a person must grab, if they want a prosperous year.

So, whether you celebrated New Years a month ago on January 1st or are welcoming the New Year according to the Lunar calendar, let’s hope that this year—2014 or the Year of the Horse—is, in fact, a thrilling one.

Happy New Year.


1)   Q:   What are the first 15 days of the Chinese new year known as?

A:        In China, this time is also known as the Spring Festival. 

2)   Q:  The Chinese calendar is based on the Lunar Calendar.  How does this differ from the western calendar?

A:        The date changes each year because unlike the Western calendar, which is based on the time it takes the Earth to go around the sun, the Chinese use a Lunar calendar, which is based on the time the moon takes to go around the Earth.

3)   Q:        What do Chinese children receive as gifts during the New Year period?

A:        Chinese children receive money in red envelopes.




OBLIGING—syn. helpful, accommodating, dependable

CUNNING—syn. clever, shrewd, devious

DETERMINED—syn. strong-willed, steadfast, committed

ALTURISTIC—syn. compassionate, kind, selfless

RESOURCEFUL –syn. ingenious, enterprising, capable

INNOVATIVE—syn. inventive, ingenious, creative

PRAGMATIC—syn. practical, sensible, rational

EASY-GOING—syn. relaxed, carefree



The Chinese Zodiac Story

The Great Race

Long, long ago in China, the Jade Emperor decided there should be a way of measuring time.  On his birthday he told the animals that there was to a swimming race.  The first twelve animals across the fast flowing river would be the winners and they would each have a year of the zodiac named after them.

All the animals lined up along the riverbank.  The Rat and the Cat, who were good friends, were worried because they were poor swimmers.  Being clever, they asked the strong Ox if he would carry them across the river.

“Of course,” said the kind Ox.  “Just climb on my back and I will take you across.”

The Rat and the Cat jumped up and were very excited when the Ox took the lead.  They had almost reached the other bank when the Rat pushed the Cat into the water leaving him to struggle.  Just as the Ox was about to win the race, the Rat leapt on his head and on to the bank to finish first.

“Well done,” said the Jade Emperor to the proud Rat.  “The first year of the zodiac will be named after Rat.”  The poor Ox had been tricked into second place and the second year of the zodiac was named after him.

Shortly after, the exhausted Tiger clawed his way to the riverbank to claim third place.  Swimming across the river had been an enormous struggle for him against the strong currents.  The Emperor was so delighted with his efforts that he named the third year after him.

Next to arrive was the Rabbit, who hadn’t swum across at all.  He had hopped across on some stepping stones and then found a floating log which carried him to shore.

“I shall be very happy to call the fourth year after you,” the surprised Jade Emperor explained.

Just then, the kind Dragon swooped down to take fifth place.  The Jade Emperor asked, “Why didn’t you win the race, when you can fly?”

“I needed to make some rain, because some people and animals needed water to drink,” the Dragon explained.  “Then I saw a little Rabbit on a log in the water and I blew a puff of wind so that the log would float to the riverbank.”

“Well, that was very kind of you.  You will have the fifth year of the zodiac named after you.”

The next thing the Jade Emperor heard was the sound of the Horse’s hooves.  Just as he was thinking the Horse would be the next animal to arrive, a sneaky Snake wriggled out from around the Horse’s hooves.  The Horse was so surprised that he jumped backwards giving the Snake a chance to take the sixth place in the race.  The poor Horse had to be satisfied with seventh place.

Not long afterwards, a raft arrived carrying the Goat, the Monkey, and the Rooster.  They explained to the Emperor how they had shared the raft that the Rooster had found.  The Goat and Monkey had cleared weeds and pushed the raft to shore.

The Emperor was very pleased that the animals had worked together.  He said the Goat would be the eighth zodiac animal, the Monkey the ninth, and the Rooster the tenth.

The next animal to finish was the Dog.

“Why are you so late when you are one of the best swimmers?” asked the Jade Emperor.

“The water in the river was so clean that I had to have a bath on the way,” explained the Dog.

His reward was to have the eleventh year named after him.

There was one place left in the zodiac and the Emperor wondered when the last winner would come.  Finally, he heard a grunt from the Boar.

“You took a long time to cross the river,” said the Emperor to the boar.

“I was hungry and stopped to eat,” explained the Boar.  “After the meal, I felt so tired that I fell asleep.”

“You have still done well,” said the Jade Emperor.  “The last year of the zodiac will be named after you.”

As for the Cat who had been pushed into the water by the Rat, he finally crawled out of the water but was too late to have a year named after him.  He felt very cross with the Rat and since then Cats have never been friends with Rats.

From that day to this, the Chinese Zodiac has followed this cycle of years named after these twelve animals.





CUNNING—The Rat and the Snake


ALTURISTIC —The Dragon and the Horse



PRAGMATIC—The Monkey or the Goat (or Sheep)

EASY-GOING—The Dog and the Boar





KA WORDCAST: Idioms and Phrasal Verbs

Starts Tuesday, February 18th!