What a surprise!

スミス英会話大津校 京都でオバマミシェルさんを見えました!Last week we visited some family in Kyoto. After the visit we decided to go for a walk along the canal. We wandered along until we came to Fushimi Inari Shrine, which is probably my favourite shrine in Kyoto. We decided to go into the shrine and enjoy the peace and quiet. We were quite surprised to see a lot of people at the shrine, more so than usual! As we got deeper in to the main area, we saw security guards and guard rails and police officers and lots of people with cameras. It seemed to us that everyone was waiting for something or someone to go by. We asked a young woman and she replied “I don’t know, but everyone seems to be excited so I am waiting too”. The next person we asked told us she was waiting for … Michelle Obama! My son was on my shoulders but became bored while waiting and he started to sing a little song. He sang “Misses Obama, Where are you?” over and over and the crowd around us enjoyed his singing and had a good laugh. It seems that the First Lady was in Japan as part of a brief Asian tour and we were lucky enough to arrive at Fushimi Inari in time to see her as she walked down the main steps. After a short wait more she arrived in front of us. It was difficult to take pictures as there were so many people but I managed to snap a couple. Although it was only a brief glance, it was a memorable experience being able to see such a famous and wonderful person while out for a walk in Kyoto.
Edward, Smith’s School of English Otsu

Smith’s School of English Tsukaguchi Students Speaking English to Foreigners

Rob from Smith’s School of English Azamino recently mentioned how he encourages his students  to speak English with foreigners any chance they get in Communication Confidence – スミス英会話 あざみ野校. I do the same with students at Smith’s School of English Tsukaguchi. Yes it may be daunting at first approaching foreigners and starting an English conversation with them, but there can be many rewards for this effort. Students can improve their English conversation skills, increase their confidence when speaking English,  learn about foreign cultures and maybe even make friends with English speakers, a great way to practice their English!

I’m very happy when students tell me they spoke to foreigners in English. Just this week in Tsukaguchi, 2 students told me they had spoken to foreigners in English recently. One student helped a foreigner read a map that was in Japanese. The other student acted as translator between an English speaking foreigner and a Japanese hotel front desk clerk. Great! I applaud both students on their effort. As an English teacher, that is my favourite thing to hear! (^.^)


Working Students at Smith’s Kotoen スミス英会話 甲東園

IMG_3429[1]The majority of English Conversation students at the Smith’s School of English in Kotoen スミス英会話 甲東園 are professional working people.  Kotoen is a well-established neighbourhood of families dating back several generations and the education level is very high.  Indeed, with many well-known universities and private high schools around, a culture of education has flourished in the area for a long time.

This is really good news for my Smith’s School Franchise in Kotoen.  These people have been positively affected by Globalization, by Abenomics or simply by a perceived need to improve and are studying English very diligently.  Some are already very competent speakers looking for focused coaching in a competitive environment.  An overwhelming percentage are insisting on one-on-one sessions with specific focus.

April is right around the corner and fiscal 2015 is about to begin.  Around Golden Week is a time to see a lot of fresh enquiry from Kwansei Gakuin University and other major schools in the Kotoen area, and private high school students looking for an edge are also welcomed!

Take good care everyone and let’s look forward to a great study season coming up!

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 仁川


Get Outside & Get Active

滋賀県のジュラシックパーク!Over the winter most of us tend to stay housebound but come spring, it’s time to get outside and be active. Last weekend was the spring equinox and the weather seemed to improve overnight. This means that it’s time for some exercise, time to stretch our legs and enjoy the fabulous spring weather. People talk about all the great shopping malls, traditional buildings, sightseeing points and so on; for me spring is all about the outdoors. Having children, the outdoors means parks, parks and more parks. As I have mentioned many times, I love Shiga, and Shiga has a veritable plethora of great parks for kids. In Otsu, where I live, there are several large parks, including Chausuyama Park (built on top of a keyhole tomb 古墳) and Ojiyama Park (right next to Otsu City Hall). Both are huge, both have a variety of different activity areas, both have free parking. They both also have fun and safe playground areas for kids of all ages. Playground equipment in Japan is especially wonderful- imaginative and fun and most importantly well built with children’s safety in mind. Long story short, I can relax while my children have fun. The picture on the left shows a dinosaur themed Read More »

Communication Confidence – スミス英会話 あざみ野校


The interview

The interview

At the Smiths English Conversation School(スミス 英会話 あざみ野校), we are always working hard to help students improve their confidence.  I always encourage my students to speak with foreigners every time they get the chance.  This of course is easy for me to say to my Azamino students(あざみ野の生徒さん), but what about me, the teacher.  Do I practice my Japanese by speaking to Japanese?  Yes I do, and I have the pictures to prove it!  The other day I was walking around in Tokyo with one of my students and I was stopped by a reporter from Nippon TV (channel 4).  They asked me to do an interview on TV in only Japanese.  Of course I felt nervous, but what’s the worst that’s going to happen?  I know it’s possible all of Japan may hear my “not so good” Japanese, but I also know the Japanese people will respect that I tried!  So tried I did!  Some of the questions they asked me, I just couldn’t understand, but there were several other questions I could understand and give a reasonable answer to This gave me more confidence as the interview continued.  In the end we were all laughing and it was overall a very positive experience.

Gene SimmonsTo make things even more interesting that day, on the way to the station we saw Gene Simmons from KISS.  So of course I had to stop, say hello, and ask to take a picture with him.  However, I always thought he was a taller than that…  Anyways, if I can do an interview on Japanese TV, and talk to Gene, you can speak with foreigners too.  We will always respect that you tried and are doing your best, no matter what the outcome.  This will boost your confidence, and you’ll enjoy meeting new and interesting people.  So I encourage all of you to do the same!!!


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)

Proud moment as an English teacher 英会話先生!

Teacher with Students

Today was a very proud moment for me as a teacher at the Smiths English Conversation School in Azamino あざみ野英会話.  One of the things that I really enjoy about my job is seeing my students become successful, especially when their English helps them achieve this success.  This afternoon I attended the going away party of one of my students in Shibuya who was chosen to go to abroad for JICA, in large part due to her English ability.  During the party she gave an English presentation, which she wrote all in English, and translated it into Japanese for an audience of more than 60 people.  Amazing to see how much progress she has made.  However it’s even more amazing how she’s going to use her English ability, and help people in a very poor country.  She truly has a big heart, and I know she is going to do amazing things in this program.  I am very thankful to have known her, and honoured to be her friend.  Another thing great about today was my other students coming out to support her too!  She will be very missed.

I wish her all the best, and I look forward to visiting her when she’s working abroad!!


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)

Smith’s Otsu Teacher Profile: Chi-Yow Lee

At Smith’s School of English in Otsu we currently have a team of 4 teachers working together. Each teacher is unique in their own way and they all bring different teaching styles to the classroom. I wish to take this opportunity to introduce the members of our team to you. The first coach we will introduce is Chi-Yow Lee from the United States. Here is her self-introduction:

MOSAIC BOX in Kawanishi

The area surrounding Kawanishi Noseguchi Station is a great shopping area in Kawanishi. It is also the area in which Smith’s School of English Kawanishi is located, making it very convenient for me to shop or eat out when I’m not teaching English.  I recently wrote about a shopping mall located there in the blog ASTE Kawanishi.  Another shopping mall located near my English school is MOSAIC BOX (モザイクボックス). I like to go there to buy school supplies, home supplies or to eat at a restaurant. I like going to The Daisō (ザ・ダイソー) and Daikoku Doragu (ダイコクドラッグ). I have been to the bookstore Books Kinokuniya (紀伊國屋書店) where I bought a map of Kawanishi. Restaurants that I’ve been to there are Jyo (城),  OOTOYA (大戸屋), CAFE RESTAURANT CORIN (カフェレストラン・コリン) and MAMENOHATAKE (豆の畑). Once at Jyo, I enjoyed an English conversation with a waitress who was interested in English. That was fun. OOTOYA had an English menu which was nice. The food was delicious at all restaurants.

MOSAIC BOX is a nice shopping mall for shopping or dining if you come to Kawanishi. Enjoy!





Perspective is Everything

スミス英会話大津校 Perspective Changes EverythingThe way we view the world. The lens through which we perceive things. The perspective we take. Our entire life is determined by perspective. I give my son a camera and he walks around the house taking pictures. Afterwards I flip through the pictures he has taken and notice how completely different they are from the ones I take. He is after all only 100cm tall, and this alters the physical angle from which he views our home. He is also 4 years old and he has a different set of values than I do. He takes 1 picture of me, but 20 pictures of the fridge. I ask him why and he responds innocently that there were 20 different pictures and notes and magnets on the fridge, but there is only one of me. Perspective is everything.

In class today I had a student tell me a long story about Abenomics and the current state of the Japanese economy. At the end of the story she proudly told me her opinion. She said “I think Prime Minister Abe is working very hard so I hope that his plans for the economic recovery will succeed”. This student had prepared this entire story so that at the end she could practice the weekly One Point lesson. I will surprised and impressed. She is the same student who thanked me for having given her 52 presents over the previous year. When I asked what she meant, she said that every week we had given her Read More »

Interesting discovery riding from Ichigao 市が尾 to Fujigaoka 藤が丘.


For a long time I heard the noise of a truck driving up and down the streets of Azamino あざみ野  playing a strange recording.  At first, I had no idea what these trucks were selling until the other night.  Finally while I was riding my bike from Ichigao 市が尾 to Fujigaoka 藤が丘 at 10:30pm I saw one of these trucks parked next to the station 駅.  It was a “Yakiimo” truck which was selling Japanese grilled sweet potatoes.  Mystery solved!  On the back of the truck there was a large wood grill full of potatoes. These trucks drive around cities playing music much like the ice cream man in the US.  Unfortunately for me, I had no way of bringing one home or I would have bought one.  According to one of my students 生徒さん at my English conversation school 英会話 in Azamino あざみ野 these yaki-imo vendors first appeared on the streets of Japan more than 100 years ago, using hand-pulled two-wheeled carts. Then, when automobiles arrived, the large cast iron grills understandably found their way onto the back of mini-trucks.  Really nice to see such an old simple tradition still going strong today.  I look forward to having a taste next time they drive by my house.



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)


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