USA States requiring 3-day hotel quarantine in Japan

List of states in USA that require a 3-day stay in a hotel (Japan pays) upon arrival. Note that there are restrictions for other countries mixed in here, and yet other countries have restrictions for 6 days and 10 days, and still others are banned completely.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs source. Blacklisted states are in yellow. Delisted states in green. Note: Kanas was delisted, then listed again later.

Some odd things about this list. Once the state is on it, it is hard to get off. But no sign of states like Florida, Georgia, or Alabama. This has me curious as to how this list is compiled. If anybody know, please share it.

Airline travel between USA and Japan

After 4 hours at the airport, and a 45-minute bus ride, we were presented with another set of handouts before we could get our keys and crash from exhaustion.

It’s 5:09 AM and I have been up for 3 hours in a tiny business hotel (APA) next to the Sumo Exhibition Hall (Ryogoku Kokugikan) in Tokyo. Here is a quick timeline on how I got here.

A 30-minute check-in after a 45-minute bus ride from Haneda, after 4 hours of paperwork, spit tests, waiting, immigration, and baggage. All were observed carefully by at least 200 employees, mostly young women, and through about 20 stops, or stations to cover six steps for the entry process. Because I was visiting Colorado, I won a 3-day paid holiday at this hotel with a daily spit test, and 3 box lunches a day.

All this was preceded by a 10-hour Delta flight (ironic, the name) with about 20 people on board. Before that, a 3-hour layover in Seattle with a little northwest clam chowder. My 3-hour flight to Seattle from Denver started with an hour Uber ride from my brother’s house at 4 AM. So all that totals to close to a full 24-hour sojourn. All masked, and continually enforced, especially in the airplane, even though all the passengers had negative covid tests.

I just ordered some snacks from Amazon because my stomach is not on the box lunch schedule. They should arrive later today, and will be checked before being delivered to me. No alcohol, no tobacco, no pizza, or fried chicken lest I have some fun or set the room on fire (how do you do that with pizza? The grease?)

The blizzard of paperwork started before my trip (July 23) after I had finished my vaccination here in Japan. Regardless, the US required a Covid test, which meant $250 and two trips to a clinic. Arrival in the US was pretty much the same as pre-covid (again with only about 20 people in the flight on the first day of the Olympics), with a cursory glance at the test at immigration.

Preparing for the return, I found a nice family clinic with travel covid tests. It seems these tests are free for most people, but I had to get the official test results on a paper form from some Ministry here in Japan, so it cost me $50. I made a new friend, the doctor, a Russian Japanophile, who went the extra mile to do all the checkmarks and signatures and stamps the document required. She may visit when Japan opens up. She may reconsider after reading this post.

Timing is very important on these tests. The results have to be within 72 hours of your flight. Beware of weekends, if you have to return. Some send you pdfs by email to hasten the process, and generic reports are OK for US entrance, and I think Japan would accept a generic test. I had time, so did the fill Ministry-approved form, which was checked carefully by at least 3 of the stations at Haneda.

Boarding in Seattle, I was given a 10-page handout with instructions, but no link to an electronic version. I filled out 4 forms there, and prepared to deplane. This became a bureaucrat’s wet dream. Every form had to be re-entered electronically, at different stations. At one point I got another 20-page handout that the bored staff tried to get me though, even though half the time there was no time to actually read the stuff. About halfway through, I got a green card to put on my wrist when they learned I had been in Colorado. Some states are like that. A woman I had recommended the clam chowder to was from Japan and she suffered the same 3-day incarceration, as did another woman from Kansas. The list of locations seems to be getting longer as I had not noted Kansas, but did note that neither Alabama or Florida were on it when I checked about 10 days ago.

I did a spit test and waited for the results, called to the podium by announcement. I wondered whether they chose the staff by because her numbers, in both Japanese and English, were practically unintelligible. As we proceeded through the process, the trend was away from bilingual announcements to Japanese only. I guess they figured were all either natives or long-term transplants here.

I was instructed to download 2 apps to my phone. You must have a phone and it has to be in working order. The apps check your location when they call at random times during the day (and night?). The other app allows them to see your face to make sure it is you. The guy wanted to download and set up the apps for me, but when he reached for my phone, I resisted. He walked me through the process with an eagle eye and jabbing fingers. Reading the terms and conditions was out of the question. The next lady checked to see if everything was working with test messages.

This will last 14 days.

After my 3 days at the hotel, I will return to Haneda, where my daughter will pick me up in our car. Some people rent cars or get very expensive limousine services. No public transport allowed, not even taxies. Then 11 more days at home with the electronic ball and chain.

Your vaccination status is never considered or brought up. It is irrelevant. I’ve read about some kind of vaccine passport, but nobody had one in our group.

TBLT Prep: Layers and Points

After a few days “off” getting up to speed on my new semester here, back to a serious third reading, adding ideas for leading the upcoming course. No more bedtime perusing, but morning attacks. Adding layers and points to the plan, allowing for accordion-like flexibility.

Let’s be honest, a lot of research is a little dry. A straightforward grad-school seminar class format is not what I am looking for. To knit the research together, we can look for layers, build in layers, and then add points.

This will change, but the layers I am considering right now include, but are not limited to:

1) Dimensions Matrix. See the previous post about ASQ: Agreed/Surprising/Questionable, in 3 levels, Task/Language/Science.

2) Connected to what? How does each chapter of TBLT connect with vocabulary acquisition, the Dogme approach, textbooks, teacher training?

3) Task of the Week (research): We pick out a representative task that we drill down on. Maybe even start a star-graph evaluation system.

4) Task of the Week (teaching): We pick out a task, probably from the Activities for TBLT by Anderson and McCutcheon. (Listen to Neil’s interview on to take a close look at.

5) Developing experts: My high school lit teacher appointed me the Vonnegut expert. Another got to be the humor expert, and so on. Here, we cast about for expertise in experimental design, statistics, application, and teacher training.

6) If this study were a movie (or an animal): Taking a look at one particular study and trying to draw as many metaphors out from it.

7) Author of the week: See who shines in each chapter. Look at their other work, how they got there, and where have have gone since. (Scroll back to a previous post about The Rewatchables podcast, where they look a the star and see what part of their career they were in the movie: aka Apex Mountain).

8) I used to do that: Tales about encountering different forms of TBLT in our careers.

I am going to hold off with a few more until these settle down. See you soon.

Background: I’m preparing an 8-week course about TBLT for iTDi as part of their Great Minds series (not mine, the ones in the book). I am blogging about the process of preparation mostly for the fun of it. I was inspired by Cory Doctorow, an SF writer that does this with all his books. But it also helps me focus. This is even more exciting than teaching a grad school course. I’m looking forward to it and hope this might spark an interest.

Categorized as TBLT

TBLT Prep: 4 Qs

Preparing for the iTDi panel, I answer the 4 questions posed.

Panel discussion on April 10 at 3PM Japan time, both on Zoom and Facebook, with Steven Herder, Dorothy Zemach, and Scott Thornbury.

Why did you choose your Great Minds in Language Education book?
I had taken courses on iTDi, one from Dorothy about publishing eBooks, and the Dogme course from Scott. My career has been what I’ll call TBLT adjacent. I teach grad school courses in Vocabulary Acquisition, Psycholinguistics, Methods and Materials, and Teaching with Technology. I’ve tended to focus on different areas like CALL, SLA, and Intercultural Communication.

Last December, when Steve proposed this idea of facilitating a group of keen people on a subject, I thought of TBLT, because it has been nagging me for years. I don’t really have a good handle on it. I feel like one of the blind men encountering an elephant. Is it a wall, a rope, or a tree trunk? The best way to learn something is to teach it. TBLT was on my “to-read” list.

The best part of this book is that it looks at TBLT from 5 perspectives: Cognitive-interactionist, Psycholinguistic, Sociocultural, Psychological and Educational. It’s the perfect answer to the blind man problem.

It’s also a great balance of Theory and Practice, the subtitle. It really looks at the science and how it is applied. Mind, it is not a “how to teach” book, but it does give you a solid background. It gives you an almost complete grasp of the field. It’s kind of like Ellis’s earlier book on language acquisition, what grad students would call “the purple monster” because of the color of its cover.

You shared your favourite quote from the book … can you tell us a little more about it?
“Nevertheless, problems still exist with the definition of a task. Van den Branden (2006) distinguished seventeen definitions of a task, which he divided into those that define a task in terms of language learning goals and those that define it as an educational activity.”

Ellis, R., Skehan, P., Li, S., Shintani, N., Lambert, G. Task-Based Langauge Teaching: Theory and Practice. Cambridge University Press. 2020. Page 342.

This quote shows how the state of the field has changed in the last 15 years. It comes from a book with almost the same title. Now, there are even more definitions, but the great thing is that they are aligning, congregating around a few principles.

I’ve just finished my second reading of the TBLT book. The first reading is like a participant, to get the feeling of the book and how it feels to discover so much new stuff. The second is a deep dive, reading some of the related literature in the 45-page bibliography. There were 11 meta-analyses, for example. The third reading is to build the content of the course, the paths of action. It’s what I do for my graduate courses. This quote encapsulates progress and lack of it in TBLT. It gets at the central question of the quest. What is a task?

What do you think Ts can get from your GMILE course?
I’m just beginning my 3rd reading, for teaching. It depends. There is a nice balance of theory and practice in the book and, depending on participants, we can shift in one direction or the other. Another organizing principle has a burning question for each week, for example, “What is a Task? How do we handle Corrective Feedback? What about Motivation?” Yet another organizing principle could be to look at the main people in the field, the five authors, plus Robinson, Dornyei, and ask why some like Nunan and don’t appear so often. We may even try a mix of those. Keep updated on my prep at If you sign up, I may contact you before the course starts for tailoring.

How do you plan to approach your course?
It will be a mix of 2 formats. Start with a grad seminar, sitting at a round table, no head. I’m a facilitator and the less I talk the better. I just lay the groundwork. This works for me, smoewhat. But I have tiny classes. With only 2-3 it is more like a conversation, not a lot of discussion.

The second ingredient comes from a podcast about old movies. The Rewatchables. It’s not like your traditional critic, being analytical and holding things at arm’s length. It’s a small group of guys that know a lot about movies. They get excited. They love and hate things. The other thing is a set format. You can always find the Apex Mountain. Was that movie the best of the actor’s career? Then you have the Test of Time. Has the movie held up over time? There are a dozen others in each podcast. Listen to the one. Pick out a classic movie you’ve seen and listen.

Like that, I ask participants to bring 3 things each week from their reading and experience. ASQ. Agree, Surprise, Question. Something Agreed, Surprised, Questionable.

  • Agreed (correct, you agree with, is both important and valid, a “right on”)
  • Surprising (new, unknown, raises your curiosity)
  • Questionable (doubtful, wrong, demonstrably false, or something you disagree with)

Note that none of these necessarily indicate the theme of the reading. They could just as easily be about a small divergence in the reading. These are what each participant finds important. Ideally, we get the Agreed part done online, before the session. Surprise usually takes up most of the session, then we deal with the Questionable with the time left over or online.

After the first week or two, we can add a new dimension, three tiers Tasks and teaching, Linguistics and SLA, and Science. So that makes a matrix of 3×3: ASQ in 3 columns, with 3 rows of Tasks, Linguistics and Science. Like this:

TasksIn TBLT, the learner is thus the agent in the learning process, and teachers or course designers serve to facilitate this process through planning and implementation of learning opportunities.(p. 155)Such devices are what Sabet and Zhang (2015) refer to as vague language, which functions to create pragmatic meaning such as tentativeness, self-protection, collaboration and cooperation. (p. 167)Language is seen as a by-product or artefact of successful task performance. Task performance in Long’s sense is thus trainable and measurable in terms of objective criteria that apply to all learners. (p.185)
Language & SLAEngagement has been a mercurial construct in L2 research and has tended to piggyback on trends in research on information processing and cognitive – interactionist theories of SLA . (p. 171)Ellis makes a clear distinction between task – as – workplan and task – as – process. (p.196)Unlike Long and Robinson , Ellis ( 2009a ) defines ‘ task ’ not in real – world terms , but as a language learning tool. (p.196)
ScienceLittle work has been done to systematically address the issue of learners’ interests in the sense the term is used in Dewey’s theory of experience. (p. 156)Dewey defines feelings as mental states that do not lead to further action on the part of the learner , and he argues that it is a mistake to orient instruction towards learners ’ feelings. (p. 158)
Example participation matrix for Chapter 6: Educational Perspective

That about wraps it up for now. I am looking forward to putting this course together. If you have any input or ideas, I am all ears.

Background: I’m preparing an 8-week course about TBLT for iTDi as part of their Great Minds series (not mine, the ones in the book). I am blogging about the process of preparation mostly for the fun of it. I was inspired by Cory Doctorow, an SF writer that does this with all his books. But it also helps me focus. This is even more exciting than teaching a grad school course. I’m looking forward to it and hope this might spark an interest.

Categorized as TBLT

TBLT Prep: Meta

I get the first inkling that I have a handle on this book. The mountain of meta-analyses is not so high. It is all starting to come together.

That feeling that you finally understand the book, the topic, what the authors are trying to get across. If you are older, you might use the term “grok” (from Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land). Things just start fitting together and everything becomes a little easier.

There are 46 references in TBLT (the book) about “meta.” 44 are about meta-analyses. They lead to only 11 studies, 3 of which are by Li, one of the authors of the TBLT book. I am going to skip the meta-analysis of neuro-imaging (Jobard 2003). This is a manageable read before my deadline for the second reading, April 10. I hope I can find them all.

On April 10, I switch to the 3rd reading, my favorite, preparing materials for the participants.

April 10 (Friday, 6AM GMT, 3PM Japan, Thursday evening in the Americas) is a panel discussion for the Great Minds series of courses. Course leaders (and I would argue the others are great minds themselves), Scott Thornbury, Dorothy Zemach, Steven Herder and I will talk about why and how we chose our topics and books. Not to miss (it will be recorded).

Today Reading (0:56 Ch. 1) and Blogging (0:24)

Previously: Announcement. Book. Selection. 3Readings. FirstRead. BloodBrainBarrier. Serendipity. SecondRead. Interview. Bibliography. Authors.

Background: I’m preparing an 8-week course about TBLT for iTDi as part of their Great Minds series (not mine, the ones in the book). I am blogging about the process of preparation mostly for the fun of it. I was inspired by Cory Doctorow, an SF writer that does this with all his books. But it also helps me focus. This is even more exciting than teaching a grad school course. I’m looking forward to it and hope this might spark an interest.

Categorized as TBLT