New Year, New Japanese Traditions 英会話・英語 アミック

I learn something new about Japanese culture everyday. As the new year is quickly approaching, I’ve said じゃね to learning about Christmas facts and 抗日わto New Year traditions in Japan. Last year, I learned that Japanese people visit their local shrine on New Year’s Day for hatsumode, or the first prayer of the year. People line up to pray starting at 10 P.M. at the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo in preparation for the midnight prayer gong!  This year, I was happy to learn about the Japanese tradition of hatsuhinode, or viewing the first sunrise of the year. In both Shinto and Buddhism tradition, the god of the New Year, Toshigami, arrives with the sunrise on January 1st to grant your New Year’s wish. Tokyo Skytree is very popular sun rise watching destination in Tokyo as well as Goryokaku Tower in Hokkaido Prefecture. While most people in America will be watching the ball drop and then partying ‘til the sun rises, I like the idea of quietly watching the sun rise with a hopeful heart. Maybe my Western traditions will take a backseat to Eastern sensibilities this year and I’ll tone down the partying enough to stay awake past midnight! Although, I’m not sure I can stay awake until 7:00 A.M. regardless of when the partying ends. Although I live in a relatively flat part of Matsuyama, I’m thinking of climbing up the hill to my local shrine to catch the first golden rays of the new year. Who knows? Maybe Toshigami will bless this poor Westerner with a hangover cure and a nap! 


英会話 英語 アミック Christmas Songs

Name one new Christmas song that has made it big in the last couple of years? In fact the last Christmas hit that I can remember is Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You – and that was released almost a quarter of a century ago. To be fair though, I don’t listen to an awful lot of current music.
I don’t know about you, but I love the nostalgia that Christmas songs bring. I was an avid churchgoer in my mid to late teens and singing Christmas songs every Sunday in December is a memory I will cherish forever. I never grew up writing letters to Santa because my parents told me about the idea of him (the idea of giving) when I was young. I no longer attend church, but never fail to listen to Christmas music around this time. 
Some of my favorite songs are:
-Little Drummer Boy
-O Holy Night
-Silent Night
-12 Days of Christmas
-Joy to the World
…the list goes on.
What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?



The Story of Eggnog – 英会話・英語 アミック

In anticipation of questions from my students about popular American Christmas traditions (and mostly because I don’t actually know), I wanted to scratch my own itch and ask and answer: what is eggnog and why is it so popular in America?

By Dinner Series - https://www.flickr.com/photos/dinnerseries/6554389497/in/set-72157628525251275/lightbox/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20412118

What it is: According to Wiki, eggnog is a rich, white beverage made from milk, cream, sugar, whipped egg whites, and egg yolks. Spices like cinnamon and nutmeg are often added as a topping. Many adults like to also add spirits like rum, brandy, or whisky to kick it up a notch. Some people make it at home, but it can also be found in any supermarket’s dairy section around Christmas time. 

How it became a thing: The history of the word is disputed: some argue the name comes from a 17th century English word for beer (nog); others think it’s a slurring of ‘egg’ and ‘grog (an old word for rum); while even more trace it to 18th-century America.

No matter its etymology, the drink itself was popular among Englands’s lower classes and eventually made its way to the Americas in the 18th century. Although today the drink comes alcohol-free by default (in stores, anyway), in early America the opposite was true and it contained whatever hard alcohol was available, including rum, whiskey, bourbon, and sherry. During the Christmas of 1826, heavy consumption of the drink even led to a literal eggnog riot at the U.S. Military Academy. 

How Americans feel about it: Eggnog is a very polarizing beverage and many Americans have strong and nuanced opinions about it: some think the homemade version is heaven in a glass but despise the processed supermarket versions, while others will happily drink any variety as long as it’s ‘spiked’ with alcohol. Either way, there’s apparently enough of a market for the stuff that soy, coconut, and even tofu-based versions are now available. 

Even if you pass on the drink itself, the beverage’s flavor can be hard to avoid: seeing nog-flavored treats like waffles, ice cream, and cookies isn’t uncommon, making egg nog’s presence around the holidays almost as ubiquitous as cinnamon and peppermint’s.






『Once upon a time』・・・ 昔々
「Once upon a time in the middle of winter,・・・・」で始まるSnow White and the Seven Dwarfs(白雪姫と七人のこびと)の絵本がきっかけでした。小学生の頃、祖父母がいつかの海外旅行のお土産でこの絵本を買ってきてくれました。

まだ辞書の引き方も知らなかった私ですが、初めての大きなカラー絵本に、よく分からない外国語が並んでいるクールさに感動し大切に保管しました。ストーリーの最初のラインがこのOnce upon a timeで始まるのですが、中学でやっと辞書の使い方を覚え、いざonce, upon, a, time と一文字ずつ辞書で調べましたが全く意味が取れず最初は分からないと放棄していました。その後、Once upon a timeを熟語として辞書で「昔々」と見つけた時の発見といったら衝撃でした!

こういうストーリーは日本の昔話と同じように「昔々」から始まるんだろうな〜とは薄々気づいていて、それがきちんと辞書に掲載されてあることで、大げさですが、自分の予想と意味とが繋がり、とても嬉しかったのを覚えています。この経験から、Once upon a timeを見るたびに白雪姫を思い出します^ ^



『Sour loser』・・・負けず嫌い

最近子供たちとカードゲームをしていた時のこと。まだゲームが終わっていないのに、一人の子がもう負けると泣き出しゲームを放棄してしまいました。この出来事を、外国人たちに英語で説明しようとしました。「負けず嫌い」という表現を知らなかった私は、「ゲームが終わる前に泣き出してしまって、負けるのが嫌いで・・」と長々と説明していると、ネィティブから一言。She is a sour loser.




『Unconditional love』・・・無条件の愛


毎日通勤時に英語のラジオを聞いているのですが、先日ラジオから「・・George W. Bush always said that what he got from his father was “unconditional love,” ・・」と流れたのを耳がキャッチしました。皆さんもご存知の通り、先月第41代米大統領ジョージ・H・W・ブッシュ氏が死去され、そのニュースが流れていました。前後の文章は曖昧にしか聞き取っていませんが、Unconditional loveの箇所は、これまでのうる覚えの蓄積が手伝ってアンテナがキャッチしました!ブッシュ氏が父親から受けた愛というのは、愛は愛でも・・深い、無条件の愛!という推測をしました。










What do Beyonce and a Hindu priest have in common? 英会話・英語 アミック


Have you ever heard the saying, “You have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyonce”?  Beyonce juggles being a wife and mother, a world-famous musical icon, a brand ambassador, and social activist seemingly without breaking a sweat while the rest of us mere mortals are over here complaining about having to go to work AND schedule a dentist appointment in the same day. Obviously, these days Beyonce has a lot of assistants to help her accomplish all her day to day errands. However, I’m sure when she was just a fledgling pop star she had something quite a few of plebeians lack: discipline and focus. After all, you don’t become one of the world’s best-selling artists of all time by sheer luck.   

I struggle with keeping focused every day. If I have ten minutes to kill, I mindlessly scroll through Instagram instead of doing something a bit more worthwhile.  Enter Dandapani, an Australian Hindu priest, who coaches people on self-development. Dandapani states that people are easily distracted and lose focus because we are training ourself to be easily distracted. Every time our phone buzzes, we race to check our notifications, which makes us a slave to our mobile devices. Dandapani isn’t anti-technology, he just doesn’t believe that we must be connected at all times. If we want better focus, we must train ourselves to be more focused by “keeping our awareness on one thing at a time”.  But how do we practice focusing our awareness? Dandapani recommends giving all your attention to a spouse, friend, or partner while they are speaking. If you start to lose focus, bring your attention back to the speaker! Trust me, it’s easier said than done. Here’s a short video by Dandapani on how to control your focus. Let’s play a game; try not to get distracted for the entirety of this  6 minute video! 



Interesting, right? Do you think you can practice giving someone or something 100% of your attention? Who knows, maybe the next amazing pop star is in you, waiting for you to realize your potential. 








ところが、Alex先生は帰り際のあいさつをされたのだと勘違いして”See you!”と答えていました。シールとシーユーって発音がちょっと似ているんですよね。











Not So Holly Jolly Christmas Music – 英会話・英語 アミック

Christmas music usually has themes of spreading holiday spirit, merrymaking, and peace on Earth. While that’s good and all, sometimes you just want to feel an emotion besides sweet saccharine joy during the holiday season. Mariah Carey, Nat King Cole, and any “Carol of the Bells” rendition will always have a soft spot in my heart, but when I want to explore other feelings the Christmas season gives me, I put on these not-so-jolly and less well-known Christmas songs. 

“Christmas for Cowboys” by John Denver

Growing up, my parents had a well-worn mix tape of Christmas songs that would live in our family mini-van’s tape player every Christmas season. Sandwiched between Dolly Parton and Burl Ives was this gem from John Denver that I’ve never heard played anywhere else. While most Christmas songs celebrate being together with friends and family, this ballad highlights how even when you are completely alone on the holiday (which I have been) that doesn’t mean the day has to be any less special. 

“Christmas at 22” by The Wonder Years

When you’re young, Christmas is about spending (even more) time with your family. But when you grow older and move away to college, the holiday becomes a time when you get to go back to your hometown and see your best friends from high school and how much everyone has changed (or hasn’t). Some may roll their eyes at the song because it hits about every pop punk cliche imaginable (pizza, AIM away messages, hanging out with my friends), but I think it perfectly captures what that point in your life—Christmas at 22—feels like. 

“The Fairytale of New York” by The Pogues 

Somehow I managed to go almost 30 years of my life without ever hearing this song (despite it apparently being the UK’s most played Christmas song of the 21st century), but after discovering it last year I don’t think I’ll ever go another Christmas without it. The song has dark themes–drug abuse, gambling, domestic disputes, homophobic slurs–and yet still presents an air of hope for a better life in the way only Christmas can.

“Won’t Be Home For Christmas” by Blink 182

Let’s be honest: as an adult, Christmas can be a giant pain. Whether you are working at Toys R’ Us and getting sworn out by deal-crazed grandmothers or are spending hours cutting paper stocking decorations that are going to get thrown away in two weeks, Christmas can you make you feel like a big Scroogey-Grinch at times. There’s nothing profound in the lyrics of Blink 182’s Christmas contribution, except that yeah, you’re not alone in sometimes wanting to grab a baseball bat and send carolers running from your front door. 















アミック・イングリッシュセンターは、1998年に愛媛県重信町(現東温市)で英会話スクールとして創業し、愛媛県松山市と東温市を中心に、これまで18年間誠実に英語を教えて参りました。最近のグローバル化に伴い、英会話スクールの必要性はますます増加しております。特に、スピーキング・リスニング・ライティング・リーディングの4技能をバランスよく持つ人材が必要とされており、英検など4技能対応型の試験への期待も高まっております。小学校の英語必修化や資格試験を重視する大学入試の大幅な変更もすぐそこに迫って来ている中、 アミック・イングリッシュセンターとしては、英検やTOEICの対策にも力を入れており、優秀な外国人及び日本人講師を積極的に採用しております。