Why I’m an English Teacher in Tsukaguchi

FullSizeRenderThis week some Smith’s School of English Tsukaguchi students asked me why I was teaching English in Japan instead of working in Canada. Great question!

After completing my university studies in Canada I longed to travel abroad but needed to work too. I’d read about teaching English as a second language (ESL) in Japan and Japan seemed like a great place to work teaching English. Being an English teacher in Japan seemed like a great opportunity for someone like me coming out of university. I could earn a good living, experience Japanese culture and hopefully pick up the Japanese language too. In addition, by being Canadian I could get a 6-month Japan working holiday visa which could be renewed once, for a maximum 1-year working holiday in Japan. I decided to go for it and came to Japan in 1997.

I first went to the Osaka Working Holiday Center there which lead to me getting a job teaching English in Yamaguchi Prefecture. I later taught English in Tokyo. Once my working holiday ended I wanted to stay in Japan because life was good. I easily got sponsored by English schools for working visas. I eventually ended up back in the Kansai area where I’ve been teaching English since 2002 at Smith’s School of English Tsukaguchi in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture. Being owner and English teacher there has given me the greatest satisfaction to date and my students of English have been a joy to teach.





Pets in japan

Hello everyone,IMG_7523

Recently I was sitting with Mark Smith at Smith’s School of English Fukushima chatting about pets. He gave me this photo of his dog and I couldn’t resist showing it to many people in Fukushima-ku. Some of those people but not all are students of English conversation but all loved this cute photo.

I myself am an animal lover and Japan is a great place for our pets to live. I am quite sure Japan is in the Top Ten Internationally for dressing dogs in adorable outfits and posting photos of dogs, cats, birds, fish and all sorts of pets on the Internet.

Speaking in English with students at Fukushima there are interesting differences in how cultures express this love. The first thing we realised was that Japanese dogs seem to live a fantastic life. Food, grooming, veterinary support and of course lots of pretty clothes are all here.

Nearby the school, I see people walking in what appears to be an impromptu dog fashion exhibition. In Japan, you can see pets dressed in frilly clothes, being pushed around in baby carriages and being taken into cafés. Pet products and services available in Japan are huge!

I heard from a student of English that in Tokyo there are cafés where owners and their dogs can eat together,with a special dog menu that included tiny waffles. And there’s a chain of hotels especially for people who want to stay with their dogs. There is also a gift shop to buy a souvenirs for our pets including rice crackers made with the special local beef.

Did you know that in Japan it is possible to hire a professional to pretty up pooch paws with nail polish and glue-on stones?. The service to ask for is doggu neiru arto (“dog nail art”) or sometimes just doggu neiru (“dog nail”). Unadorned nails, whether human fingernails or animal claws, are just plain “tsume”. If you have a party or special event you can also match nails with your adorable pet : a personalised pet-i-cure service is available in Japan.

Walking on my way to Fukushima’s English school, I saw an amazing array of pet snacks, all beautifully packaged, ranging from strawberry flavored nibbles for rabbits to low-fat chicken strips for dogs. There’s even a new category of mini snacks for mini dogs. Probably Mark Smiths’ dog “Candy” would love them.

I think the pet culture in Japan is amazing. It is so easy to enjoy your life in Japan with your pet. Don’t you agree?

Dreams Do Come True in Kawanishi

IMG_3532We all have dreams and goals. So what is the key to achieving them? We could strive and try to reach them on our own strength. But many times we may feel as if we are not getting anywhere or worse yet falling behind.

So whether your goal is to travel abroad, get an advance job position or help other people achieve their dreams, the best way to do that is to find a mentor, someone who can coach you at each step towards your goal.

I have been blessed to be able to work at Smith’s School of English Kawanishi. I have learned more than I thought I would. Being an English coach has taught me to see beyond mere grammar and instead to try to find that dream in each student and then polish it like a fine piece of jewelry.

I love to help make my English students’ dreams come true at Smith’s School of English Kawanishi.


How safe is Japan?

I used to work teaching English at Smith’s School of English Fukushima-ku, while I was on my working holiday here in Japan. These days I still love to spend time hanging around Fukushima-ku and with the students at Smith’s. While chatting with some students in English we arrived at the conclusion that by comparison with many other countries Japan is a very safe place to live.IMG_7515-e1452762810153

Imagine, unsupervised small kids can walk to school and after school activities including English Conversation classes safely; even in big cities such as Tokyo they take the subway and run errands by themselves. Japan has a very low crime rate, which is surely a key reason parents feel confident about sending their kids out alone. Furthermore, although Japan is densely populated there still exists a very strong village-style support system. The children move in groups and we know many adult eyes are watching out for their safety. Parents offer their children great independence and freedom. By giving them this freedom, parents are placing significant trust not only in their kids, but in the whole community. Japanese kids learn early that, ideally, any member of the community can be called on to serve or help others. This ethic extends to public spaces, such as the vicinity of Smith’s School of English Fukushima where you can see small kids on their way back home after school.

Recently some countries are debating gun laws. Here in Japan armoured cars don’t carry guns. Moreover, banks employ part-time, often retired, people to help out in the lobbies of the banks. These people may greet customers and help vet their needs as they come in or they may help customers use the functions of bank ATMs. They’re also alert to potential suspicious activity.

In Japan, young women can happily walk around at night in comparison with others countries where this is considered a dangerous move. You still need to be careful, however the chance of being approached or harassed by a stranger while walking home at night is very low.

Students at Smith’s School of English Fukushima consider Japan one of the safest countries in the world. And you?

Smith’s School of English Fukushima.

Healthful Hobbies at Home in Japan

Hello readers! スミス英会話 甲東園 Healthful Hobby at Home スミス英会話 甲東園

My wife Yoko and I have fully and permanently committed ourselves to eating really healthfully and avoiding junk food.  We have maintained this rule for about three years now and have in this lifestyle change made a short list of restaurants in our favorite areas that are equally committed to serving honest food.  It is amazing to me, at my age, how energetic and strong I feel since we adopted this basic rule.

One of our new little home hobbies we do for fun and for our general wellness is growing potatoes in our sunroom.  Although the variety and quality of potatoes we buy at our local market are wonderful, growing our own at home feels like having a lovable pet!

The diagram at the right shows a very simple method of growing potatoes indoors and almost throughout the whole year.  Some of the English Conversation students at the Smith’s School of English in Kotoen スミス英会話 甲東園 have expressed interest in this method and one lady has even committed to trying it herself.   It’s great fun and feels like we’re gardening inside our city apartment.  It even smells good.

We recommend you to try this for yourself.  It has been a lovely surprise!

Martin Werner Zander

マーティン・ワーナー・ザンダーnice Smith's logo

Smith’s School of English in Kotoen 月謝制 Real Monthly Tuition English Conversation School

スミス英会話 甲東園 甲東園校 仁川 門戸厄神

Smith’s Tsukaguchi and Kawanishi School Christmas Party 2015

FullSizeRenderHappy New Year everybody! I wish you all good health, happiness and prosperity this year! (^.^)

On December 23, I held a Christmas party for the Smith’s Tsukaguchi and Kawanishi schools at my home in Tsukaguchi, Amagasaki. Most attendees were Smith’s students of English. We had a potluck, so we could enjoy a large variety of tasty dishes people had brought. Christmas music played in the background. For dessert, I served everybody some cake I’d bought at COSTCO in Amagasaki with tea or coffee. Afterwards, I asked attendees to introduce themselves in English. I also played some classical guitar (mostly Christmas pieces) and we sang two Christmas carols together with me accompanying us on my guitar. We had a great time! (^.^)

Check out my video on the event! Enjoy! → http://youtu.be/kGpAwhGiPwU


New Years trip at Smith Azamino School


Me and my student Tai

This year we had another successful trip to Vietnam where 11 students and their family joined.  The youngest was 1 years old and the oldest was 66. Most of them came for about a week, but a family of 4 traveled with us for the entire 15 days, how fantastic.  We had an amazing timetouring several world heritage sites, and many cities.  We first visited the capital city of Hanoi, and enjoyed site seeing, eating delicious food, and experienced the nightlife.  During this time we also took a day trip to the amazing temple of Trang An and took a boat tour down a river and through many caves.

Trang An

Trang An

Then we went to Hai Phong, and spend 2 days in a small village and experience the local life.  After that we went to Da Nang, and relaxed on the beach, ate a lot of sea food, and got a massage nearly every day.  We also took a day trip to the historic cities of Hoi An and Hue.  Overall it was a wonderful trip and my students really got to experience another culture unlike a package tour.  They were also able to get the confidence to do a similar trip by themselves, not to mention got to use their english every day. Our best trip yet!!!



Owner/Teacher (英語の先生/フランチャイズ店のオーナー経営者)
Smith’s English School  (スミス英会話 あざみ野校)

Da Nang

Da Nang

Baby Party/Baby Shower

IMG_8021One of my long-term students at Smith’s Eikaiwa Kyobashi is expecting a baby this month so myself and another student that she studies with decided to surprise her with a baby party. In English we call it a Baby Shower. We bought her some flowers, a cake and a nice gift.


IMG_8022It was great to see the smile on her face when we brought in her surprise. I enjoy doing nice things for my students; celebrating their special events and times in their lives. I like them to know that they are more than just students to me.


IMG_8023After we enjoyed the cake, we had a fun and very enjoyable English conversation lesson.



Myself and her fellow student will miss her while she takes care of her new baby. We looking forward to hearing that she had a safe birth and are excited to see her again and to meeting her baby.

Happy Monkey New Year

スミス英会話大津校 嵐山京都 The Year of the MonkeyHappy new year! We have now entered a new year: 2016 The Year of the Monkey. The monkey is the 9th animal of the Chinese Zodiak. Like the Greek zodiac, there are 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac. Unlike the Greek zodiac which follows a 12 month cycle, the Chinese zodiac follows a 12 year cycle. The monkey has a certain character and people believe that people born in the year of the monkey have these particular traits. The monkey is considered aggressive and wild, confident and energetic. As such, people born in the year of the monkey tend to become very successful. The monkey sign is further connected to the 5 elements: earth, wind, fire, water and metal. 2016 is the Year of the Fire Monkey, the most aggressive of the 5 symbols. The fire monkey is also considered to be flamboyant and charming.

Taking this into consideration, I intend to be an energetic teacher this year. I hope to inspire and push my students and thus see great improvements in their confidence. I will do my best to be charming and if I act flamboyantly in class, we should all have a good time. I look forward to buying some cute monkey goods this year and bringing them to class for decoration and good luck. The monkey will be our guide throughout the year!

Science Topics スミス英会話 甲東園

Hello everyone.スミス英会話 甲東園 M33

Some of you may know that one of my major personal interests is astronomy and surprisingly there are several English Conversation students at the Smith’s School of English in Kotoen スミス英会話 甲東園 who are also interested.  Vocabulary is probably the limiting point in most cases so the required vocabulary for the following lesson is studied first.

The science of astronomy is likely one of the most complicated topics there is, but the beauty of it is that it does not need to be difficult and not much study is needed in order to be a part of it.  Practical astronomy is fun.

The Smith’s School of English in Kotoen スミス英会話 甲東園 plans to have two star parties this year to make up for all the poor-weather cancelations in 2015.  The desire was there, but mother nature couldn’t let us follow through with our hopes.  In a post-El-Ninyo year, it is quite possible to get improved sky conditions and so 2016 promises to be better.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed!

Martin Werner Zandernice Smith's logo


Smith’s School of English in Kotoen 月謝制 Real Monthly Tuition English Conversation School

スミス英会話 甲東園 甲東園校 仁川 門戸厄神

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