KA VOICECAST for Tuesday, July 15 2014

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KA TOP PICS—Maleficent



STORY TIME—If I Stay by Gayle Forman



KA NEWS for Tuesday, July 15th

All four Kikokushijo Academy schools will be running special summer courses from July 29 through August 22.  Courses include N.I.L.E, Photography, Art, Eiken, Speech and Reading, Vocabulary, Idioms, and many, many more.  Courses offered at each school differ so please contact your nearest KA school for more information or follow the link below.


The KA Tama Plaza school is pleased to announce N.I.L.E.—Narrative-based Interactive Learning Enrichment classes for children aged 8-12 and junior high and high school aged students.  Children who enjoy fantasy fiction will particularly enjoy taking part in this interactive course, which involves writing stories through games and other fun activities.  Class sizes are small, which will give your child the opportunity to improve their communication skills.  For class times, course fees, and registration, please contact the KA Tama Plaza school at 045 532 5338.

In the fall of 2015, KAIS International School and Kikokushijo Academy will be opening new facilities in Toritsu Daigaku offering a daytime international school for students grade 1-8 that will be called KAIS Elementary and Middle School (KAIS EMS). As the new building will not be available until 2015, KAIS will on a limited basis offer its grades 3-6 program at Kikokushijo Academy’s facilities in Jiyugaoka, beginning September of 2014. The facilities are adequate, with a fine library, functional classrooms, and an overall warm atmosphere. The program will be high-quality, individualized program utilizing a combination of traditional, proven teaching methods, including Kikokushijo Academy’s highly successful English program, as well as progressive and holistic educational practices focused on encouraging creativity, curiosity, self-confidence, and a general positive outlook on life. Small group homework tutoring for all subjects, including Japanese language, will be a key feature of the school, as will dynamic theme-based modules that synthesize literature, history, music, art, and other disciplines.

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 in Tama Plaza is accepting applications for children aged 3-6 for the 2014/2015 academic year. 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.


MALEFICENT—with Olwen Bartlett


Maleficent is the untold story of one of Disney’s most iconic villains from the 1959 classic “Sleeping Beauty”.  We all know the story of Sleeping Beauty, but who is Maleficent?  She is a beautiful, pure hearted young fairy, who has an idyllic childhood growing up in a peaceful forest kingdom, until one day an invading army of humans threatens the harmony of the land.

Despite her distrust of humans, Maleficent becomes friends with a young boy after she saves him when he is accused of theft.  Maleficent and the young boy, whose name is Stefan, remain friends as they grow and romance blossoms when they reach their teenage years.  The romance however does not last.

Many years later, Maleficent is a powerful guardian of the forest kingdom who battles with the king of the humans.  The King declares that whoever kills Maleficent will be appointed as successor to his throne.  It is Stefan who rises to this challenge and although he cannot bring himself to kill Maleficent, he betrays her in the most terrible way.  This betrayal at the hands of a human she once cared for leads to Maleficent’s pure heart turning to stone. Stefan is in turn crowned king of the humans and Maleficent, motivated by revenge, battles with the newly crowned king and places a curse on his infant daughter Aurora.  When the sun sets on Auroras sixteenth birthday, she will prick her finger on a spinning wheel and fall into an eternal sleep, which can only be broken by true loves kiss.

Devastated by the curse placed on his young daughter and fearful of the day it will come true, the king sends her to live in a secret country cottage hidden deep within the woods.   There, Aurora is watched over by three pixies.  Maleficent and her raven Diaval also keep their watch over Aurora as she grows into a spirited and lovable young lady.  Maleficent cannot fail to become fond of her and she regrets casting the curse upon her, yet she finds to her dismay, that the curse cannot be reversed.  Destined to prick her finger on a spindle wheel and fall into a deep sleep forevermore, Aurora prematurely returns to her father and his castle.

On the day of Aurora’s birthday, feeling restless, Aurora follows the sound of her name being called and finds herself in the dungeons of her father’s castle where all of the destroyed spinning wheels have been kept.  Unable to stop herself, she walks over to them and pricks her finger on the spindle, drawing blood and collapsing into an eternal sleep.

Can she be woken by true loves kiss?  Will Maleficent have to live with the harm she has caused to the young princess she has come to care for?  What will happen to the King? Will he avenge his daughter?

There are some quite violent scenes in the film, which may not be suitable for younger children.  But the film has some important messages including that we should treat people kindly, no matter how different they are from ourselves and how love will have a better outcome than revenge.  Is true love only possible with romantic love or are there others way in which we can truly love someone?




Children aged 8-10 may get a kick out of Judy Blume’s Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and other titles in her “Fudge” books.  Although the book was written more than forty years ago in 1972, even the children of today can relate to the book’s main character, Peter and his relationship with his bratty brother Farley, also known as Fudge.  If you enjoyed the Horrid Henry or Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, you will probably enjoy this book.  Judy Blume’s other titles include Superfudge,Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great and Blubber.

The Strange Case of the Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger is a middle-grade mystery about a boy named Tommy and his classmates who receive wise advice from a finger puppet of Yoda, which is worn on the finger of their loser classmate Dwight.  It’s a fun premise that continues in five further Star Wars-themed titles by the same author.  Be sure to look for it in the library if you love anything to do with Star Wars.

When the last Harry Potter book came out, many of us who are fans of the series felt a little emotional, thinking that that was the end of the wizarding world we had all come to love so much.  There are rumors that JK Rowling is working on a spinoff of the series, but in the mean time, there are several titles written by some devout Harry Potter fans.   The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Irish author Michael Scott is one such book.   If the name Nicholas Flamel rings a bell, you might recall that he featured in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.  This is his story, and because it is centered on magic and myth, it is a great follow up to fans of Harry Potter.  There are six titles in the series that should keep you busy throughout the summer!

If I Stay by Gayle Forman is a good summer reading book for the more mature reader.   The story is about a seventeen-year-old girl named Mia who, after a tragic car accident that kills her family, hovers between life and death.  In this state, she must make a decision to live and continue in this wolrd as a gifted cellist bound for Julliard without her family or should she allow herself to just let go and die.   Because of its mature subject matter, the book is recommended for children aged 14 to 18.   If I Stay has been adapted into a film, which is scheduled for release later this summer.

It’s important that you try to read for at least 30 minutes per day when possible, especially during school holidays when you aren’t exposed to school-time reading.   Summer vacation is quite long in most parts of the world so you want to be sure to keep up your reading so that you are constantly nourishing your brain with new vocabulary and well-written sentence structures.


WOW Words

FLUKE:   A FLUKE is an unlikely chance of occurrence or a surprising piece of luck.  Some synonyms for FLUKE include chance, coincidence, stroke of good luck or fortune, twist of fate, and serendipity.

FRAGILE: FRAGILE is an adjective that, when talking about physical things, means easily broken or damaged.  Synonyms for FRAGILE include delicate, dainty, breakable, and fine.

FUNDAMENTAL: FUNDAMENTAL is an adjective with several uses.  Generally, it means basic or forming the base or core of something.  Synonyms include essential, primary, central, underlying, root, rudimentary, and elementary

AFFABLE: AFFABLE is an adjective that means pleasant, friendly, and easy to talk to.  Synonyms for AFFABLE include amiable, likable, personable, charming, and kind.

HYPERVENTILATING: HYPERVENTILATE is a verb that means to breathe at an abnormally normal pace so as to increase the rate of loss of carbon dioxide in your bloodstream.   To heave, pant, and wheeze are some close synonyms.

MORTIFIED: MORTIFY is a verb that means to cause somebody to feel ashamed, embarrassed, or humiliated, or to suffer from wounded pride.  Synonyms include humiliate, appall, and shame. People often mistakenly say MORTIFIED when they mean to say SCARED or TERRIFIED.  It’s easy to understand why.  The root “mort” is naturally associated with death, as in mortician, mortal, and mortuary.  The etymological origin of MORTIFY is a late Middle English word meaning “put to death,” “deaden,” or “subdue by self-denial.”  Death is a frightening thought for most of us, which is probably why you often hear someone say:

I was MORTIFIED when I heard someone smash a window downstairs and break into my house.

This is incorrect: having someone break into your house is not embarrassing; it’s very frightening.  So the person should have said:

I was TERRIFIED when I heard someone smash a window downstairs and break into my house.




If I Stay

Gayle Forman

I played my first recital when I was ten.  I’d been playing the cello for two years at that point.  At first, it was just at school, as part of the school music program.  It was a fluke that they even had a cello; they’re very expensive and fragile.  But some old literature professor from a nearby university had died and bequeathed his Hamburg to our school.  It mostly sat in the corner because most kids wanted to learn to play the guitar or saxophone.

When I announced to Mom and Dad that I was going to become a cellist, they both burst out laughing.  They apologized about it later, claiming that the image of pint-size me with such a hulking instrument between my spindly legs had made them crack up.  Once they had realized I was serious, though, they immediately swallowed their giggles and put on supportive faces.

But their reaction still stung—in ways that I never told them about, and in ways that I’m not sure they would have understood even if I had.  Dad sometimes jokes that the hospital where I was born must have accidentally swapped babies because I look nothing like the rest of the family.  They are all blond and fair and I’m like their negative image, brown hair and dark eyes.  But as I got older, Dad’s hospital joke took on more meaning than I think he intended.  I was not like my affable, ironic dad or my tough-woman mom.  And as if to seal the deal, instead of learning to play the electric guitar, I’d gone and chosen the cello.

But in my family, playing music was still more important than the type of music you played, so when after a few months it became clear that my love for the cello was no passing crush, my parents rented my one so I could practice at home.  Rusty scales and triads let to first attempts at “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” that eventually gave way to fundamental etudes until I was playing Bach suites.  My middle school didn’t have much of a music program, so Mom found me a private teacher, a college student who came over once a week.  Over the years there was a revolving batch of students who taught me, and then, as my skills surpassed theirs, my student teachers played with me.

This continued until ninth grade, when Dad, who had known Professor Christie from when he’d worked at the music store, asked if she might be willing to offer me private lessons.  She agreed to listen to me play, not expecting much, but only as a favor to Dad, she later told me.  She and Dad listened downstairs while I was up in my room practicing a Vivaldi sonata.  When I came down to dinner, she offered to take over my training.

My first recital, though, was years before I met her.  It was at a hall in town, a place that usually showcased local bands, so the acoustics were terrible for unamplified classical.  I was playing a cello solo from Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.” Standing backstage, listening to the other kids play scratchy violin and chunky piano compositions, I’d almost chickened out.  I had run to the stage door and huddled on the stoop outside, hyperventilating into my hands.  My student teacher had flown into a minor panic and had sent out a search party.

Dad found me.  He was just starting his cool hipster-to-square transformation, so he was wearing a vintage suit, with a studded leather belt and black ankle boots.

“You okay, Mia Oh-My-Uh?” he asked, sitting down next to me on the steps.  I shook my head, too mortified to talk.  “What’s up?” Dad asked.

“I can’t do it,” I cried.

Dad cocked one of his bushy eyebrows and stared at me with his gray-blue eyes.  I felt like some mysterious foreign species that he was observing and trying to decipher.  “Well, that would be a shame,” Dad said.  “I’ve got a dandy of a recital present for you.  Better than flowers.”

“Give it to someone else,” I said.  “I can’t go out there.  I’m not like you or Mom.”