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Wednesday, 31 December 2014

ウクライナー放射能漏れか、Facebookを通して兵士への資金集め、「 国境なき医師団」の懸念

Morning for my final post of the year. It is on Ukraine and talks about the situation with different things there. Have a look at the Ukraine Word List and YouTube clip to get you head around some vocab, then on with the stories. Remember that this blog is exactly the same as the YouTube above, so you can listen to me talking, and read along.

Here we go then. First up, and most concerning is the report of a radioactive leak at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant. This is a bit of a worry, no? There is talk of a leak at the plant, which is Europe's largest. A media outlet called 'Life Newswire' leaked documents from the government department in charge which apparently showed reports of an accident and spikes in radiation. Ukraine steadfastly denies this, saying the situation is completely normal. Two things for me. First, Ukraine is the home of Chernobyl - and we all remember what a disaster that was. Second, the government is denying reports of a leak. I think we have seen that a bit closer to home in recent years. Worrying stuff.

Next up, Facebook is being used to help raise funds for equipment for Ukrainian soldiers. Basically, the soldiers tell a lass from an organisation called 'Help the army of Ukraine' what supplies they need. She goes and pops it up on Facebook, and people wire money for her to buy the stuff. She buys the stuff and people drive it in and give it to the soldiers directly. Supplies like body armour, night vision goggles, sleeping bags and food. Apparently the soldiers will go to this site before they will ask the army for stuff as it is more effective.  The first thing that sprung to my mind when I read this was the movie 'The Hunger Games' when sponsors sent in supplies for the contestants.

Finally, the extremely busy folk at Doctors without Borders are concerned about Ukraine next year. They had already had their largest deployment in 2014, and that was before the whole Ebola thing kicked off. Next year their main concerns are with Ukraine, as they think the situation will deteriorate; and with Nigeria and those nasty, nasty people from Boko Haram. The bravest of folk at Doctors without Borders. Putting their own safety on the line to help others.

I hope it all turns out right for Ukraine next year. Thank you for reading and interacting with Vocab Voyage this year. Stick around for the learning ride next year.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

7 secrets on how to learn a new language

Fantastic page from the very wise folk at TED. TED is always useful, with listening and transcripts.

Seven secrets to learn a language.


Remember that his blog is transcribed from the YouTube clip above so you can read and listen and learn. The Hong Kong Protests word list will give you heaps of vocab about the protests, and the Hong Kong Protests YouTube clip gives you a verbal explanation of the words in the same order. Also, at the top of the PDF there is a link to the story which I got the 30 words from, again in the same order. How easy to learn!

But onto today. It seems that the Umbrella movement is all over (for now). Remember they were all protesting about China screening all the applicants for the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, and demanded that Leung Chun-ying resign immediately. Leung Chun-ying refused to listen to a word the students said, waited them out, and then shut them down. Crisis averted, and it seems that the big boy in Beijing is happy with his man. He reckons he is doing great at raising everybody's standard of living, promoting political reform, and bringing economic development. The final thing he said, which you have to wonder about is - "he hoped that people from all walks of life in Hong Kong would “achieve a common understanding” and preserve social stability". You just have to wonder what the common understanding is?

Now the Hong Kong police weren't born yesterday, so they are well aware that New Year's Eve could provide an opportunity for the students to get into their protesting game again. And they aren't having any of it. They are going to be out in force to sort out the wheat from the chaff - or the revellers from the protesters. They have got 3000 police on duty, including the heavies from the anti-triad squad.  They simply say that "Any unlawful activity, such as obstructing the flow of traffic, would be met with necessary and "resolute action". Basically, if people start sitting down on the footpath to obstruct people going shopping and watching the fireworks, they will be given a quick hurry up. I wonder what it will come to.

Now if it is too much trouble to go protesting in the street, a bloke by the name of Stephen Thompson has set up an 'Occupy Hotel' his apartment.  He has a replica of the protest site set up. People can pay a little cash and stay in a tent in the lounge. There is a cut out of Xi Jinping holding a yellow umbrella (the symbol of the protests). Finally - when nature calls - guests of the hotel can use toilet paper with the face of the Leung Chun-ying on it. That last one is quite a statement.

Thanks for reading/watching/listening and learning. Have a good day.

Monday, 29 December 2014

エアアジア墜落ー機内162人が死亡、今年度マレーシア三度目の事故、エアアジ アに関する質疑応答

In terrible news overnight, a flight carrying people from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore has disappeared. The plane hasn't been found yet, and is thought to have gone down in bad weather. The vocab for a lot of the news in this story will be the same as that in the Malaysian Airlines vocab list and YouTube clip, so use them to help you round the news.

Have a read of The New York Times to find out about what has happened with the Air Asia crash. Air Asia Flight 8501 disappeared with 162 people on board while travelling through stormy weather between Indonesia and Singapore. Most of the passengers were holiday makers from Indonesia. Singapore is a popular destination. The last communication was at 06:13 yesterday morning Indonesia time. One of the pilots asked air traffic control if he could go left and higher to avoid clouds. The jet was last seen on radar at 06:16, and was gone a minute later. Now the search begins. Terrible stuff. Terrible year for Malaysia, and south-east Asia for flying.

Here we have a story about just how terrible it has been. The article sums up the facts of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, and now Air Asia Flight 8501. It is a handy recount of what happened in the first two incidents, and a bit of a heads up on the present situation. What strikes me about the whole thing with these crashes is the amount of people from all over the world who have been affected. So many Chinese were on MH370. There were also Australians, New Zealand, Malaysia, U.S., Canada, Ukraine and many other places. Flight MH17 had many Dutch on board, as well as a lot more Australians. So many families having so much grief in so many places. Too sad.

Last story is a Q&A piece about Air Asia Flight 8501. It has questions answered like: What is known about the flight?, What possible causes will investigators be looking for?, What is the background of Air Asia?, and more.

That's all for today. Stay safe.

Sunday, 28 December 2014


Remember that this blog is transcribed from the YouTube clip above, so practice your listening and reading, and if there is anything you don't understand, ask me in the comments below. Cool.

We haven't looked at the Chinese meat scandal for a while. It's a bit old now, so this will probably be the last time I talk about it (until next time). We all remember the meat being dropped on the floor, the relabeled packages, the expired meat, everyone saying they were never going to McDs again. Don' t forget it was also KFC, which is the subject of two of the articles today. I remember going to KFC in China every couple of weeks when I wanted some western style food.

There was what happened above, and this other thing that was going on about the same time. There are areas of Brazil that have been hit by mad-cow disease. China obviously hadn't allowed the import of beef from Brazil since 2012. That didn't stop some devious folk from getting the stuff in and selling it. The companies would sell bona fide Chinese meat at the markets, and they kept the cheap Brazilian stuff in hidden freezers. If a butcher wanted a cheap deal they would deliver the Brazilian stuff. It was all labeled in English, so the customers couldn't read it. There are a bunch of other nasty stories at the bottom.

As a result, Yum Brands - owner of KFC and Taco Bell in China - warn that things may not pick up again so quickly for them. In fact they are talking about 'growth in negative single digits' for the next year. I'm not sure how that works. Growth in negative digits surely means a fall? They reckon it will be all rosy by the end of 2015. 700 new stores, and 130 stores getting a facelift. They have nice plants, bigger tables, cool posters. Going for the 'upmarket dining experience' thing.

In another step to get back the love of the customers, KFC is inviting customers to take tours of it's kitchens and factories to see just how good it is, and just how much they care about safety, cleanliness, and control. Around the world in fact, fast food companies are opening up their operations to show the customer that they are, in face, good guys after all. Remember the guy from Mythbusters doing a gig for McD's? I hope he got paid well, cause he lost all his credibility.

Thank you, have a good day. I have to go and move all the snow from outside our house.

Saturday, 27 December 2014


Here we go with today's blog. It's about food, so the Food Word List and YouTube clip may be worth checking out before you start. This blog is of course transcribed straight from the YouTube clip above. (actually the blog came first and I read off it for the YouTube clip). You can read and listen and check for understanding and go and read Food related news using your new-found vocab prowess. But enough. Let us begin.

First up today. Do you like meat? You know it comes from animals of course. Here is a prank that was apparently in Brazil. People were offered some beautiful tasting sausages in a supermarket, but what happened to them afterwards bought the whole concept of meat straight home to them. I grew up in rural New Zealand. While I never lived on a farm, I am well aware of how animals are slaughtered so we can eat their yummy meat. Many people aren't though, and although this YouTube clip is a bit silly, it kind of brings the whole animal killing thing a bit close to home for some people.

Food is always big news as it is essential for us to keep on living. The big issues in the food industry in the United States this year. A lot of them can be seen in many countries. 
What were they? Let's look.
1.  Gluten or no gluten. Gluten is the stuff that makes dough stretchy, and it can make many people quite sick. But many others are going gluten-free without any reason - which experts suspect may not be a good idea.
2. GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) Yes or No? It could be the solution to world hunger and many unhealthy aspects of eating, but is it alright?
3. What children are being fed in schools. Quality or cost? That is the question.
4. Wages - everyone wants their fast food as cheap as possible, and that is impacting on wages of staff at burger joints etc. And they are getting sick of it and protesting.

Finally, I know, and you know that Japan is famous around the world for coming up with stuff that is just a little bit strange. Especially when it comes to food. This article talks about the really 'disgusting' food combinations in Japan. It kicks off with takuan and mayonnaise bread, and carries on with curry and melon bread. At the bottom of the article is a link to another story at the bottom suggesting that melon and mayonnaise actually goes ok together.

Thursday, 25 December 2014


The YouTube clip above is almost the same as this blog - word for word. It's a transcription of the YouTube clip. Listen and read, listen and read.

Merry Christmas to you all. Have a look at the Christmas Word list and YouTube clip. Read the article linked at the top of the PDF to find the list words in the same order. Also find out about how a foreign guy made a lot of mistakes with his girlfriend at Christmas. Have a look at the YouTube clip to get some listening practice and further explanations going on. 

First up is an article about how Japan is one of the top places in the world to avoid Christmas. Some people don't like Christmas, and Japan seems to be a good place to avoid it. I kind of agree. Now that all the build over the last month - in the shops mainly - is over, Christmas day is here and it is kind of an anti-climax. If I was at home now it would be all on. It would be summer for a start. I would have gone to church with mum (dad only does weddings and funerals). I would have come back home and opened presents. Then a big Christmas lunch. Some people do lunch and some do dinner. We do lunch. That's just how we roll. Then I would have a sleep outside on the lawn in the afternoon if the weather was fine, and relax for the rest of the day. Here I am in Otaru, and my wife has gone to work at her office job. I am going to shovel snow then go into town to my mate's house for lunch. He is another kiwi bloke.

I am married to a Japanese woman, as many people from other parts of the world are. And it kind of presents problems around Christmas. As Christmas is such a big deal for us foreign guys, and not so much for our better halves (wives), there are different ideas about what Christmas should be about. (like in the story linked in the Word list). This article has a list of five things that Japanese women married to foreigners like least about Christmas overseas. And they are:

1. Christmas dinner issues. We love meat and cake and sauces and cream and sweets. The lovely Japanese ladies - not so much.
2. Choosing presents is a pain - That is the same wherever you go
3. Pushy present requests - What?! People send lists of presents they want? Whatever. I would hate that too. You get what you're given.
4. Wrapping presents - For sure. I went into Loft yesterday and loved the free wrapping. It isn't done so much, or so well overseas.
5. Getting stuck with presents you don't like - That is what the internet is for. You don't like it? Someone else may. Sell it to them. Just don't get caught.

Finally, Christmas for dogs. It is insane how well people take care of their dogs here in Japan. I know. We have a dog and he gets treated better than I do I sometimes think. An article all about doggie presents, cakes, onsens and heaps more.

Ok. Merry Christmas from Vocab Voyage. We look forward to bring you a whole lot more next year.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014


Have a look at the Ebola Word List and Ebola Vocab YouTube clip. Get your head around the vocab, then read on - explore the news about Ebola and boost your English.

The first story today is about Dr Thomas. R. Frieden, who is head of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. He has just been for a look at the Ebola affected countries. These countries are of course Sierra Leone (8939 cases), Liberia (7830 cases), and Guinea (2571 cases). These numbers are cases, not deaths.

He came back with some good news and some bad news. The good news is that he traveled to remote areas and saw good progress. A couple of months back there were no medical centres, and the locals didn't trust the health workers. Now both those problems are fixed, so they are making a start.
The bad news? He visited Conakry (Guinea's capital) and found there weren't enough beds for sick people. This is bad as the sick people stay in the community and spread the disease.

Next is the mystery about why some/most people die from Ebola, but just a handful seem to be immune to the disease. The scientists are studying these people to try and find out what it is about their bodies that creates immunity. What they have found so far is that in the people who die, the first-responder immune cells break down and don't work properly, while those with immunity have cells that identify the Ebola and create proteins that can kill it. The story goes on to talk about the risks that the nurses face. It's all scary stuff.

Finally, English folk who are bravely and selflessly going to the Ebola zone to help sick people and try and stop the disease spreading are facing all manner of problems when they go home. And they aren't happy. Not happy at all. What kind of trouble? For a start they can't take trips on public transport that last over an hour. So if your house is three hours from the airport, you have to 乗り換え twice. I know everyone is afraid, and we must be careful, but we just can't make life too difficult for those returning, or people won't volunteer.

Have a nice Christmas Eve.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014


This blog is a transcript of the YouTube clip above. It is almost exactly the same.  I also have a new microphone. I would love some feedback as to whether it is easier to hear me. Just pop a comment in the comment box. Cheers.

I was told by my wife this morning that the real Masan died today or yesterday. So sad. He made whisky such a big thing in Japan, and he didn't get to see the end of the show about him. R.I.P

We are talking soccer today. Before you start, have a look at the World Cup Soccer word list and YouTube clip to get some soccer vocab going on.

The FIFA Soccer Club World Cup has just finished. It was played in Morocco, and the final saw Real Madrid of Spain beat San Lorenzo of Argentina 2-0.
Unfortunately no Japanese club team made it to the final stages. The highest ranked Japanese club team is Kawasaki Frontale, who are ranked 136th. Real Madrid is of course ranked 1st. These rankings are from this website. Interesting for you soccer fans out there.

Real Madrid winning the whole thing surprised no-one really, they are that good. What did surprise people was Auckland City from New Zealand being on the podium at the end. They beat Cruz Azul in a penalty shootout to get the third place medal. The ranking list I mentioned before has Auckland City sitting in 645th place. These guys are semi-professional. They have jobs outside of soccer, so to do so well against highly paid professional clubs was quite an achievement. You can read an interview of Ivan Vicelich, and find out how 'bronze is their gold'. Go New Zealand!!! Of course, rugby is the most popular sport in New Zealand by a country mile - and the All Blacks are famous around the world.

Sunday, 21 December 2014


Talking about Nuclear Power in Japan today. Have a look at the Nuclear Power Word List and YouTube clip to get into the vocab, then read on. This blog follows the YouTube clip above word for word (mostly). This lets you read while you listen, or listen and check on your listening by looking at the text. Nice. As always, the link to the article where I got the words from is at the top of the Word list PDF, so you can listen, read the article and find the words in the list. It's all contextual, so it's English in real use.

Onto today. tells us the Japan's nuclear watchdog has approved two reactors at Fukui for restarting, after they gave two in Sendai, Kyushu the go ahead a while back. Very nice. Or not very nice if you are one of the 50% of people who were polled as being against nuclear power. Experts tell us that Abe is keen as mustard to restart the reactors, and after he won the election - which only 52% of people voted in - he is going to get his wish.

This next article from the Japan Times talks about public protest in Japan. We all heard about the 'state secret law' that was passed earlier this year. Lots of protest about that one. A man even self-immolated in protest, but NHK decided not to air it. Basically, with this law being passed, Shinzo Abe and friends can legally shut down any protest they like for no reason if it is arguing with something they don't like, or approve of. Like people protesting against nuclear power plants for example. The second half of the article goes into the anti nuclear movement in Japan. They have done some good things in the past. Japan is not so dependent on nuclear power. If we were we would have had to keep the reactors running straight after Fukushima. So the protesters have had effect. The problem with the nuclear protest movement now is that most people in it are in their 70s and 80s. Young people go along but don't find the meetings welcoming at all.

From 1991 to 2001, Japan built it's solar power generation by 500%. This article tells of that, and also has a very cool picture of the Solar Ark. So it was all go. Japan led the world in research and production of photo-voltaic cells, and it is kind of starting up again now, but in 2001 it all kind of went dead. Why? Nuclear power lobbyists and producers didn't like it, and they had more power than the renewable energy lobbyists and producers. Kind of sad.

Saturday, 20 December 2014


Everyone seemed to like it, so I am sticking with it. The YouTube above follows the text below, almost to the word. Enjoy. (and listen and check, listen and check)

Climate change. We know it is here. There are some who still deny it, but I think they are running out of arguments. How does it happen? Warmth comes from the sun, and gets trapped by the greenhouse gases instead of being reflected back into space. Everything gets warmer, polar caps start to melt, seas start to rise, and the weather gets ever nastier.
How can we change it though. Have a look at the Climate Change word list and YouTube to get into some vocab, then read on.

First up, the bubbles ships leave behind them as the move across the oceans. Scientists are investigating the idea that somehow making the bubbles smaller - using aerosol technology - can help reduce global warming.  If the bubbles are smaller, they reflect more sunlight/heat back to where it came from, thus reducing the warming effect. They even talk about ships with 'bubble generators' moving to particular areas, which may be able to change the weather for the better. Those crazy scientists. The very clever Japanese are already experimenting with bubble technology under ships to make them more streamlined and fuel efficient. Final fact from this story which I found a bit staggering - there are currently approximately 32,000 large ships sailing on the oceans. Madness.

Next, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UFC) are talking about Climate Change making some places have a limited future. They talk at length about Miami. I have been to Miami, and I assure you it is very low, and very flat. Many places that hold memories for people (churches, neighbourhoods etc) may be flooded out of existence. It finishes off talking about a 'Climate Change Bucket List', or places you have to go before they die. A bit depressing.

I am learning all sorts of things myself today. The temperature affects the performance of an aircraft taking off. The denser the air, the more effort it needs to get it's big, heavy, metal self up in the air. Hotter days, mean more weight restrictions. I never realised that when they are really mean about your bag being 2kg overweight, it may be because of the high temperature. Wow. They need solutions. Wings can't really be changed in shape as they are designed for cruising, where the airplane is most of the time. Two other options are longer runways, or moving flights to a cooler time of the day. One thing I am sure about - the airlines will find a way to charge us for it.

Friday, 19 December 2014


Have a watch of the YouTube clip. The blog below is read straigt from it. You can listen and check, listen and check. 

Good morning, to you all. Good morning to Friday also. It's my favourite day of the working week. Not like that Monday. 

Let's look at the Ukraine Word list, and the Vocab YouTube clip to refresh your vocab memory.

Given the situation in Russia at the moment, is it time for them to make up with Ukraine.
What's happening in Russia now? Let's have a look, with the help of CNBC.

a) Economic sanctions put on them by the west for going into Ukraine are hurting them
b) The price of oil has gone way down. Nice for us, but bad for Russia as they export a lot
c) The Russian currency - the rouble - has dived. More expensive to buy stuff from overseas
d) Russians are moving their money overseas. The government offered 17% interest to try and stem the flow, but it didn't help
3) Russia has $US30 billion of debt to pay this year, and $US150 billion of debt to pay next year.

What can we take from this? Economic sanctions have worked well. Too well it seems. Price of oil dropping is nice for us. Unfortunately the Yen dropping has undone a lot of that. Governments can't control the flow of money as much as they want. Seriously, who has the kind of money to lend $180 billion to Russia? If they can't pay there bills, who can?

That's Russia done. Onto the Ukraine. The Kiev Post has a fairly depressing story for you if you are living in the Ukraine. The economy is desperate for cash. There is 21% inflation. Without any cash I don't understand that personally I thought inflation came from people having too much cash? Big industries in Ukraine like steel and crops are down. Well crops are up, but prices are down, so less revenue.
Big companies like Chevron are bailing out of Ukraine. Chevron waved goodbye to a deal to build a big shale gas plant. Less inflow of money into an economy already starved of cash.
The banks are going bust. Banks need cash like we need oxygen. They die without it.
If that isn't bad enough, Ukraine's coal power plants which produce 42% of the country's energy need 3.2 million tonnes of coal a month to run. Ukraine's reserves stand at 1.4 million tonnes. They usually get it elsewhere, but can't due to the war.

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

The best vocab learning tips – Vocab Voyage は八つ使う!!!

If you have a look at this list of the top ten tips for learning vocab, you will see that Vocab Voyage uses seven of these ten tips (by my count).

単語が本当大切。 – Why you need to learn Vocab!

The folk over at The Art of Manliness have compiled a fantastic list of reasons why learning vocab is important. Have a look. It seems like a great website. I have already added it to my favorites.
As for learning vocab, what better place than Vocab Voyage. All our Vocab is sourced from present news articles.
Go to the Vocab Voyage website to find out how you can take a free month trial.
Vocab Voyage