Robot teaching


"Nao" humanoid robot, that offers basic service information, moves at MUFG branch in Tokyo

Japan wouldn’t be Japan if it was not exploring the use of robots in education. There are 30 schools in Japan experimenting with robots in English class to improve communication and pronunciation. It is part of the government’s aim to raise the (poor) knowledge of English. It will become a formal subject in elementary school from 2020 onwards. Apparantly the language skills of the elementary school teachers are also poor and the lack of funding to hire English native speakers in schools is ‘solved’ by introducing English-speaking robots as a cheaper and easier option.

Children involved in the pilot projects say it is more comfortable speaking to a robot than to a person. The developers state that robots can supplement teachers as conversation partners. This is one way of looking at the project. The comments on the newspaper article were mostly negative. Readers say that interactive skills of children are already poor (they prefer spending time on computer and games or reading manga) and the skills definitely won’t be enhanced by using robots. It woulf be better to  interact with humans or foreigners instead of with a piece of plastic.

So the question rises: is this indeed a step foward or, on the contrary, a step backwards?




Never too young…

Deze diashow vereist JavaScript.

… to go to a baseball game! Baseball is big in Japan – it’s considered the national sport – so we had to see at least one game while here. Nagoya Dragons were up against Osaka. Without knowing we had chosen a very special game, as it was the last game of two Dragon-players. It got really emotional, with lots of Japanese crying their eyes out during the goodbye speeches. The 40+woman that sat next to us wore a jacket of her favourite player covered in hearts and had a towel to wipe her tears.  But who drew the most attention was again our little blond haired, blue eyed ‘kawai’ kid. He got an initiation in the art of cheering and chanting by a true Dragon-fan. It was a fun experience for all of us and the 3,5 (!) hours flew by.

P.S. Nagoya lost big time, but that’s just a detail 🙂


“Wa doede gij daar eigenlijk?”

Maybe this is me, maybe not


Dit moet zowat de meest gestelde vraag zijn, zowel voor ons vertrek naar Japan ‘en, wat gade gíj daar doen?’ als nu we hier zijn. Telkens schiet ik in verantwoordingsmodus en probeer ik zo volledig mogelijk al mijn activiteiten op te sommen “ik zorg voor mijn kind en ik leer Japans, 3 keer per week heb ik les en ja zo wat wegwijs geraken, want alles gaat in het begin toch wat trager in een nieuw land en onze trips plannen daar ben ik ook weer even mee bezig want hier in Japan moet ge dat allemaal super lang van tevoren gepland hebben en we willen toch het land wat verkennen en dat huishouden dat pakt met een wasmachine op koud water (hallo vlekken!) en een bijna onbestaande vaatwas en een boodschappenmand met allemaal veel te kleine verpakkingen (hallo wortel met plastiek rond en hallo  minicourgette met plastiek rond en…) veel meer tijd in beslag dan in België, en ja dan probeer ik toch de blog bij te houden en die foto’s da’s toch een heel karwei en ik zou graag eens een boek lezen of een cursus volgen, maar daar heb ik echt nog geen tijd voor gehad….”

Lees verder ““Wa doede gij daar eigenlijk?””

The invisible scratch

Japanese are (in genereal) very dedicated, very disciplined, very safe and very clean. Except for the extensive recycling it also translates into not damaging anything, maintaining equipment, thorough cleaning and so on. Before moving into the apartement, the management company had already checked it. The only thing they could come up with was a ‘scratch’ on the inside of a built-in closet door. It’s almost invisible to me and I would never have discovered it myself. So there is a big blue arrow to draw your attention to it 🙂

Can you spot the scratch?

We are already trembling upon the thought of having the apartment checked when we move out, especially with a baby that starts crawling and will soon be walking around.

The upside of Japanese taking good care of their stuff is the excellent quality of the goods in the second hand shops. Flo says thanks for his toys!