KA VOICECAST for Sunday, September 15th

KA VOICECAST for Sunday, September 15th

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ENGLISH RULES with special guest, Charles Knudsen


STORY TIME –Clockwork or All Wound Up by Philip Pullman



KA NEWS for Sunday, September 15

The KA Kids International Preschool officially opens its doors on September 17, 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. The new preschool is located within the KA Tama Plaza School and it has been decorated and equipped with loads of fun books, toys, and dressing up clothes to ensure your child has a fantastic experience while at school. For general information and answers to frequently asked questions, please follow the link to the KA Kids International Preschool Page.

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 Reading Competition has finished and winners for each school will be announced soon.  Thank you to organizers Lisa and John, and of course, everyone else for their support.

The next Eiken exams will be held on Sunday, October 13.  If you haven’t signed up already, please do so before it is too late.   Please contact your school for more information.

Juken Term Three is underway and this means there are only a few short months remaining before the exam season begins.  Please review all the material from Terms One and Two.  If you have any questions or are unsure about anything that has been covered so far, make sure you speak to your teacher as soon as possible.

Congratulations JoJo!

This year’s KA Winter Writing Competition will have students penning winter themed poems so put your thinking caps on and get your imagination juices flowing. Winning entries will be featured in the upcoming winter issue of KA Voices.  More details will be available soon.

Submissions for the winter issue of KA Voices are being accepted now.  Students are welcome to submit original stories, artwork, book reviews, poetry, interviews with friends, family and KA staff, original comics, and anything you are interested in writing about.  For more information, ask one of your teachers how you can contribute.

Lastly, Jo Jo  has recently passed and achieved Level One, or ikkyu, in the Japanese Proficiency Exam.  This is a tremendous achievement so be sure to congratulate Jo Jo for his success.



Studies show that children who are read to by their parents when young and continue reading as they get older do have an edge over those who don’t.  Reading at an early age is important.   Children who read have good social skills and a stronger sense of self-worth.  They are better prepared to be successful in life.  And as teenagers, children who enjoy reading are better equipped to avoid drugs and dropping out of school.

KA Founder and Principal, Charles Knudsen

Ms. Hendricks has asked:

My 7-year-old was recently assessed at school and her teacher told us that she is reading slightly below her expected reading level.  What are some ways, we as parents, can help her improve and get her more interested in reading outside of school?

Charlie’s answer:

There are a lot of ways to encourage your child to read.  First, it’s very helpful when parents make reading to their children a daily activity. Giving books and magazines as presents for children’s birthdays is also great so that the children think of books as prizes, rather than chores. Also, consider having your child read one sentence aloud to you every morning before school begins. After a few weeks of this, have your child read two sentences, then eventually an entire paragraph. Choose for this daily ritual sentences from a book your child might actually want to read. After a while, you may find that your child wants to find out what happens later in the book, and begins reading herself. Another consideration is the choice of reading material—find non-fiction magazines or books about things your child is interested in. It’s okay if your child doesn’t want to read chapter books now—all that matters is that your child reads. So a magazine or book about soccer, dolls, fishing, or bugs, is perfectly fine.

Ken asks:

My son, who is turning nine this school year loves to read.  He has read the first two Harry Potter books and would like to read the others, but according to the Common Sense Media website, the recommended age for some of the other books is 10 or above.  Do you think it is okay to let him read the books?

Charlie’s Answer:

If your son has read the first two books of the Harry Pptter series, then I’m sure he really wants to know what happens to Harry and his friends in the later books. He may not ever forgive you if you deny him that pleasure. Also, if he can read the first two HP books and understand and enjoy them, there’s no reason to believe he won’t be able to understand and enjoy the rest of the series. HP does gradually become more difficult as the series progresses, but your son’s reading level will also progress as he reads the later books. I think J.K. Rowling planned that–My only reservation is that content-wise, the Harry Potter series does get a little more mature in the later books. Dating and falling in love become themes in about book five, and dealing with death is the central theme of the last book, the Deathly Hallows.

More generally, though, I do think it’s a good idea to keep Common Sense Media guidelines in mind as you select books for your child. You have to remember the guidelines are just guidelines, not rules, so a discrepancy of one or two years between your child’s age and the suggested books is usually not a problem. Problems arise when children try to read books that are far above their reading and maturity level. This usually results in the child disliking the books, no matter how great the books are. If you give a seven-year-old a Harry Potter book before the child is ready for it, that child may end up not wanting to read Harry Potter even years later when that child’s reading level is actually high enough. And that’s a terrible shame.

Yoko asks:

I am a parent of kikokushijo (returnee) children.  They speak and read English very well but my English level is not very good.  I enjoy listening to English audio books to practice listening but I think that many audio books are read too fast and I cannot understand them.  Can you recommend anything else to help me with my English listening and pronunciation?

Charlie’s Answer:

I’m sure it would be useful as well as fun to have your children read to you, and I doubt that they would read too quickly. This would help to improve the English levels of both you and your children. You can also listen to podcasts, including the KA Voicecast, and the KA Wordcast, and Well Read audio books, which are stories read slowly for the English learner. With podcasts and other audio resources, it’s easy to stop the recording at any time, so you can practice your pronunciation, or back up the recording and listen to a passage again and again.


ESL Publishing offers a selection of Well Read Audio Books–classic and well-loved stories for children and adults read slowly for better understanding and clarity. Each downloadable audio book comes with a fully annotated downloadable eBook so you can read the book as you listen.  If you would like to learn more about ESL Publishing and Well Read Audio Books, please follow the link on this page.  The website is available in both English and Japanese.


WOW Words!





Real clockwork, I mean, springs and COGWHEELS and gears and pendulums and so on.

A COGWHEEL, or COG, is a toothed wheel that, when used with another toothed wheel or projection, changes the speed or direction of motion.


Real clockwork, I mean, springs and cogwheels and gears and PENDULUMS and so on.


A PENDULUM is a suspended weight that can swing freely back and forth under the influence of gravity.  PENDULUMS are most commonly found in grandfather style clocks.


Nowadays, time runs by electricity and VIBRATING crystals of quartz and goodness knows what else. 

To VIBRATE means to move continuously and rapidly to and fro.  Synonyms for VIBRATE include quiver, shake, waver, undulate, and wag.


Take a spring, for instance, like the mainspring of an alarm clock.  It’s made of TEMPERED steel, with an edge that’s sharp enough to draw blood. 

TEMPERED, in the sentence above, is an adjective that means made hard or flexible by TEMPERING, or reheating and cooling something.  Steel and other metals are often TEMPERED.


But with the help of a few gears and pins, and a little balance wheel OSCILLATING to and fro…

To OSCILLATE is a verb that means to move or swing back and forth in a regular rhythm.  Synonyms for OSCILLATE include swing, sway, and vibrate.


And once you’ve wound up a clock, there’s something frightful in the way it keeps on going at its own RELENTLESS pace. 

RELENTLESS is an adjective that is similar in meaning to persistent, continuing, and non-stop.



The door opened, and fat white flakes of snow swirled in, to faint away into water as they met the heat of the PARLOUR. 

A PARLOR is a room in a public building for receiving guests or a sitting room in a private house.  In America, PARLOR is usually used as a modifier to mean a shop or business that provides a specific service, such as a beauty PARLOR, ice-cream PARLOR, or funeral PARLOR.


The incomers, Herr Ringelmann the clockmaker and his APPRENTICE Karl, stamped their boots and shook the snow off their greatcoats. 

An APPRENTICE is a person who is learning a trade or occupation from an experienced employer.  APPRENTICES usually agree to work for a certain amount of time at low rages in exchange for their education or training.


‘What’s the matter with young thingamajig?” said the BURGOMASTER.  “He looks as if he’s swallowed a thundercloud.”

A BURGOMASTER is like a mayor in countries such as Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands.  A mayor is the head of a town, borough, or county council, who is elected into office either by the public or other council members.





By Philip Pullman


In the old days, when this story took place, time used to run by clockwork.  Real clockwork, I mean, springs and cogwheels and gears and pendulums and so on.  When you took it apart you could see how it worked, and how to put it together again.  Nowadays, time runs by electricity and vibrating crystals of quartz and goodness knows what else.  You can even buy a watch that’s powered by a solar panel, and sets itself several times a day by picking up a radio signal, and never runs a second late.  Clocks and watches like that might as well work by witchcraft for all the sense I can make of them.

Real clockwork is quite mysterious enough.  Take a spring, for instance, like the mainspring of an alarm clock.  It’s made of tempered steel, with an edge that’s sharp enough to draw blood.  If you play about with it carelessly it’ll spring up and strike at you like a snake, and put your eye out.  Or take a weight, the kind of iron weight that drives the mighty clocks they have in church towers.  If your head were under that weight, and if the weight fell, it would dash out your brains on the floor.

But with the help of a few gears and pins, and a little balance wheel oscillating to and fro, or a pendulum swinging from side to side, the strength of the spring and the power of the weight are led harmlessly through the clock to drive the hands.

And once you’ve wound up a clock, there’s something frightful in the way it keeps on going at its own relentless pace.  Its hands move steadily round the dial as if they had a mind of their own.  Tick, tock, tick, tock!  Bit by bit they move, and tick us steadily on towards the grave.

Some stories are like that.  Once you’ve wound them up, nothing will stop them; they will move on forwards till they reach their destined end, and no matter how much the characters would like to change their fate, they can’t.  This is one of those stories.  And now it’s all wound up, we can begin…

Once upon a time (when time ran by clockwork), a strange even took place in a little German town.  Actually, it was a series of events, all fitting together like the parts of a clock, and although each person saw a different part, no one saw the whole of it; but here it is, as well as I can tell it.

It began on a winter’s evening, when the townsfolk were gathering in the White Horse Tavern.  The snow was blowing down from the mountains, and the wind was making the bells shift restlessly in the church tower.  The windows were steamed up, the stove was blazing brightly, Putzi the old black cat was snoozing on the hearth; and the air was full of the rich smells of sausage and sauerkraut, of tobacco and beer.  Gretl the little barmaid, the landlord’s daughter, was hurrying to and fro with foaming mugs and steaming plates.

The door opened, and fat white flakes of snow swirled in, to faint away into water as they met the heat of the parlour.  The incomers, Herr Ringelmann the clockmaker and his apprentice Karl, stamped their boots and shook the snow off their greatcoats.

“It’s Herr Ringlelmann!” said the Burgomaster.  ‘Well, old friend, come and drink some beer with me! And a mug for young what’s his name, your apprentice.”

Karl the apprentice nodded his thanks and went to sit by himself in a corner.  His expression was dark and gloomy.

‘What’s the matter with young thingamajig?” said the Burgomaster.  “He looks as if he’s swallowed a thundercloud.”

“Oh, I shouldn’t worry,” said the old clockmaker, sitting down at the table with his friends.  “He’s anxious about tomorrow.  His apprenticeship is coming to an end, you see.

“Ah, of course!” said the Burgomaster.  It was the custom that when a clockmaker’s apprentice finished his period of service, he made a new figure for the great clock of Glockenheim.  “So we’re to have a new piece of clockwork in the tower!  Well, I look forward to seeing it tomorrow.”


If you would like to read more about the clockmaker and his apprentice, be sure to check out Clockwork or All Wound Up by Philip Pullman from the KA Library! 


Question from September 1st:

What team does baseball legend Ichiro Suzuki play for currently?


Ichiro plays for the New York Yankees. 

Originally a player in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, Ichiro moved to America in 2001 to play Major League Baseball for the Seattle Mariners.  He played with the Mariners for 11 seasons before being signed on to play on the East Coast for the Yankees in 2012.


This week’s question:

According to the Common Sense Media website, what is the recommended age for the book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows?


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