KA VOICECAST for Saturday, March 15th (2014)

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STORY TIME—Lamb Stew A traditional Irish Folktale


KA News for Saturday, March 15th

The KA Spring Event is scheduled for Monday, March 31st so if you haven’t saved the date and made plans to attend be sure to do so.  It should be a fun day for all and a great opportunity to meet with students from other KA schools.  For more information, please speak to one of the KA staff or to your teacher.

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.



In English rules, we look at some of the rules of the English language, as well as discuss why English rules, as a language.

What is a limerick?

Limericks are poems named after an Irish town by the same name.  These poems can sometimes be funny, bawdy, or even naughty depending on the subject. Their history can be traced back to the fourteenth century English but were only popularized in the 19th century.

Limericks are one of the most fun and well-known poetic forms.  The reason limericks are so much fun is because they are short, rhyming, funny, and have a bouncy rhythm that makes them easy to memorize.

Limericks, like all poetic forms, have a set of rules that you need to follow.  The rules for a limerick are fairly simple:

Limericks are only five lines long.

Lines 1, 2, and 5 rhyme with one another.

Lines 3 and 4 rhyme with each other.

They are often humorous and have a distinctive rhythm.

There was an Old Man with a beard

Who said, ‘It’s just as I feared!

Two Owls and a Hen,

Four Larks and a Wren,

Have all built their nests in my beard!”—Edward Lear

“Hickory, Dickory, Dock” is a good example of a nursery rhyme/limerick:

Hickory, dickory, dock,

The mouse ran up the clock.

The clock struck one,

And down he run,

Hickory, dickory, dock.”

New limericks are still being written today. For example, the Nickelodeon TV show, Spongebob Squarepants featured a limerick that went:

There was an old man from Peru

Who dreamt he was eating his shoe.

He woke in a fright

In the middle of the night

And found it was perfectly true.”

If you’ve ever thought about becoming a poet, limericks are a great way to get you started.  Newspapers and magazines often have contests that offer cash prizes to the best limerick submitted.  There is also a “Bring Your Limerick to Limerick” competition held at the University of Limerick in Ireland every year.  Anyone is welcome to enter so why don’t you give it a try?  If you are interested in joining in the fun, have a look at the link below and submit your version of limerick.

It’s true that English is vexing,

Grammar and spelling perplexing,

Rules that apply,

In the classroom don’t fly,

While tweeting, facebooking, and texting.”—Sumi Watters

Let’s talk about leprechauns.  If you’ve ever seen an advert for Lucky Charms breakfast cereal, you may know what a leprechaun is.  But for those of you who haven’t, here’s a quick lesson.

Leprechauns are a type of fairy, although these fairies of Irish folklore are not the cute, Tinkerbell-type  we all associate with fairies.  Leprechauns are lustful, nasty, cunning, capricious little creatures that are often described as bearded old men dressed in green, smoking a pipe, and wearing buckled shoes.  Early Irish folklore, describes this mischievous being quite differently.  According to the 1831 book titled “Legends and Stories of Ireland” written by Samuel Lover, Ireland’s ancestors described leprechauns as short beings dressed in red who wore a cocked hat.

Researchers say that the word leprechaun may be derived from the Irish leath bhrogan, meaning shoemaker.  Although leprechauns are often associated with riches and gold, in legends, they are humble cobblers or shoemakers.  Each leprechaun is said to have his own pot of gold, which can often be found at the end of a rainbow.  According to Irish legend, anyone lucky enough to find a leprechaun and capture him can barter his freedom for his treasure.  But leprechauns are cunning pranksters and may easily cheat their captors out of the promise.

There are people who claim to have actually seen a leprechaun as recently as 1989.  Pub owner P.J. O’Hare claimed to have seen one in the Irish town of Carlingford.  According to his story, he was selling some land when he heard a scream in a nearby well.  He found a leprechaun’s clothes and the bony remains of the creature.  He has since put these on display in his pub.  And believe it or not, according to a law filed with the European Union, leprechauns are actually protected from destruction under European law.  The hilly areas around Carlingford, when the pub owner claimed to have found a leprechaun, serves as the official protected land for the country’s 236 remaining leprechauns!  There are signs dotted all along the trail that read “Hunters and fortune seekers will be prosecuted.”  But that doesn’t stop the people of Carlingford from holding an annual leprechaun hunt in which thousands of people take part.  They don’t hunt for real leprechauns of course—that would be illegal.  A hundred ceramic leprechauns are hidden in the hills and one lucky winner will find the “jackpot” of 2000 euros hidden underneath!


Story Time

Lamb Stew

An Irish Folk Tale

Brian pushed his way through the thick masses of ferns growing between the trees and bushes. A damp mist hung over the ground, making the rocks slippery beneath his bare feet. When he came to a clearing, he saw that there was a ring of mushrooms growing in a large circle around the edge. “Ah, here you are,” Brian muttered. He’d been searching for mushrooms for the last hour. “And big ones too,” he smiled. He pulled a worn and rather dirty cloth bag out of his pants pocket. He squatted and began picking them. “You’re a fine one,” he said, holding a large-capped mushroom up. He sniffed it. “Fresh.” He took a wee bite out of the stem. “Delicious. You will taste good in tonight’s stew.”

Brian picked as many mushrooms as his bag would hold, and then filled his pockets up too. As he was stuffing the last mushroom into his baggy pants, he noticed something moving behind a tree. “What was that?”

He rubbed his sapphire blue eyes. “The mist is playing tricks on me,” he whispered, but then he saw the movement again. “Is it a deer? Maybe it’s a fox.” When it moved again, he noticed that it wasn’t brown or red, but green. He crept silently towards the trees.

As he went deeper into the forest, he heard the sound of someone or something digging. Quietly he moved towards the noise. “A leprechaun,” he said softly. He stood watching as the green-clothed leprechaun dug a deep hole. On the ground above him was a black kettle filled with shiny gold coins. “A pot of gold,” Brian whispered.

The leprechaun dug deeper and deeper while Brian watched. He was content to wait. He sat down under the tree in a pile of emerald green clover. He spotted a shamrock and picked it. “My lucky day,” he said, holding it up in front of his face. He stuck the shamrock into his tattered shirt pocket. Just then he heard crying coming from the hole. Brian stood up and went over to it. He peered down over the edge.

The leprechaun was sitting in the bottom of the hole, crying and rubbing his eyes. “I’m stuck. I’m stuck,” he whined.

“Here, let me help you,” Brian said, surprising the leprechaun. “What’s your name wee one?” he asked.

The leprechaun looked up at Brian. “My name’s Shamus. Help me out, would you?”

Brian reached his arm down, grabbed onto Shamus’s jacket and pulled him up. He set him down on the grass next to the hole. “Well, well! I’ve found myself a wee leprechaun named Shamus and he’s got a pot of gold.”

Shamus shook his head and begged, “Please, don’t tell anyone where my gold is buried. The other leprechauns would make fun of me if they knew I’d been caught. Besides that, the pot of gold has to stay here until a rainbow appears and someone finds it.”

Brian thought about it for a minute or two. “Your gold is safe with me, wee man. Here, let me help you put it in the hole.” Brian stood and helped Shamus up. They lifted the kettle of gold and lowered it into the hole, covered it with dirt, and patted it down. The two then sat down on top of the mound.

Brian looked at Shamus. He was wearing kelly green pants and a jacket with shiny gold buttons down the front. His tall hat was flat on top, green, and had a black band around the bottom with a gold buckle in the middle. His shoes were shiny black leather with large gold buckles. He had a long gray beard and twinkling golden eyes.

“Here you go,” Shamus said, reaching into his pocket and pulling out two gold coins. “These are for you. Thanks for helping me.”

Shamus took the coins. He could use them to buy himself some new pants or some shoes, or some lamb for stew tonight. “Your secret is safe with me, Shamus. Thank you.”

“Well, I’d best be off now,” said the leprechaun, “the others will wonder where I am, but watch for the rainbow; if it ends here, the pot of gold will be yours.” Brian shook his hand and the two parted.

Brian headed towards the market. He bought himself a pair of brown leather shoes and a new pair of pants with no holes in the pocket. He walked down the street a little further and came to a butcher shop. He went inside and bought himself a big piece of lamb. After that he searched for a grocer and when he found one, he bought a few onions, carrots, and turnips to go with the lamb stew. That night he made a huge pot of Irish stew. He chopped the crisp orange carrots and tossed them into the pot. He chopped the yellow onions and added them, along with the purple and white turnip. He added the chunks of lamb and then chopped the mushrooms that he’d found in the ring and tossed them in. The stew simmered for hours in the fireplace of his small cottage. Picking up a piece of soda bread, he sat in his wooden chair and ate two large bowls full of stew. It tasted delicious.

When Brian woke up in the morning, he saw it was raining. It rained all morning and well into the afternoon. At last it stopped and the sun came out. Brian went outside. The clouds parted and then, much to his surprise, a rainbow appeared in the sky. Brian walked through the ferns and rocks and followed the rainbow to its end. There was the pile of dirt where he and Shamus had buried the pot of gold. Brian dug it up. He pulled it up to the grass and sat, remembering how Shamus had fallen in.

Just then he heard some noises. He looked up. There was Shamus behind a tree, with two other leprechauns. Shamus winked at Brian. Brian waved and carried the pot of gold home. From that day on he had lamb stew with carrots, onions, turnips, and mushrooms every night!

What are the rules of the Leprechaun world?

In the story, it is implied that Leprechauns must not be seen by humans, and they most certainly must not be caught.

“Well, well! I’ve found myself a wee leprechaun named Shamus and he’s got a pot of gold.”

Shamus shook his head and begged, “Please, don’t tell anyone where my gold is buried. The other leprechauns would make fun of me if they knew I’d been caught. Besides that, the pot of gold has to stay here until a rainbow appears and someone finds it.”

It is also implied that they must never reveal where they bury their pot of gold.  And according to Shamus, the pot of gold has to stay where it has been buried until a rainbow appears and someone finds it.


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