First wireless bungee jump. Real or fake?


キャプチャHave you ever tried bungee jumping? According to Collins dictionary, bungee jumping is a sport in which a participant jumps from a high bridge, building, etc, secured only by a rubber cord attached to the ankles. The English word “bungee” doesn’t have a clear origin, some sources suggest that “bungee” means “anything thick and squat” from West Country dialect, other sources indicate that it is from “bungie”, slang for India rubber or just unknown.

It was in the city of Bristol, where the first modern bungee jumps were made in 1979 from the 250-foot (76m) Clifton Suspension Bridge until New Zealander  A.J. Hackett made his first organized commercial jump from Auckland’s Greenhithe Bridge in 1986. Read More »

Star Wars versus Star Trek

star-trek-vs-star-warsThe upcoming release of the next Star Wars movie brought up interesting English conversations at Smith’s School of English Fukushima and because of this, I felt compelled to do some research about it.

“Are you a Star Wars or Star Trek fan?”, “Who will win in an all-out battle? ” are some of the titles that you can find by just googling a few words.

I was exposed to Star Trek at the age of 7 because of my father, a fan of classic Sci-Fi movies and TV series (Dune, Blade Runner, Back to the Future, 2001 A Space Odyssey, Planet of the Apes, E.T, Tron, and so on) although my generation fits better with the Star Wars films, I am a mixture from both sides of this Sci-Fi nerdiness. At home, there are three topics that should never be discussed at the dinner table: religion, politics, and the relative merits of Star Trek and Star Wars.

On one hand, Star Wars and The Force and on the other hand, Star Trek and Mister Spock’s charisma. What crew would you be willing to join in? Read More »

The Sounds of Winter’s Coming

Winter Sounds: The creak of the ski-lift's cables!As Autumn rolls on, the sounds of the coming winter are becoming more and more common. In Canada, you might hear the sound of firewood being split and stacked, or lakes cracking as they start to freeze over. In Japan, you might hear the jingles of the oil delivery trucks or sweet potato trucks rolling through your neighbourhood. The signs of the changing seasons can come from nature, but often in this urban world, they are human sounds. Living in a foreign land, one gets to experience the sounds produced by the local culture and every season we can enjoy a myriad of different sounds. In November we can hear people walking along tree lined streets, chatting away happily while enjoying the Autumn leaves, the colours of the leaves filtering the sunlight onto the path below the tree branches. The rustle of my neighbours raking the fallen leaves is another sound I hear, marking the end of Autumn. Yet another sound is the whistle of the sweet potato truck’s traditional wood fired stove as it lets off steam, rolling around Otsu selling giant, piping hot foiled wrapped natural sweets.

Shiga prefecture, where I live, is more rural than neighbouring Kyoto, Osaka and Nagoya and as such we have many farm related sounds as well. In this season farmers are clearing the rice fields, preparing them for the winter freeze, their tractors blocking the roads as they move from one field to the next. People are starting to pull out their ski and snowboard gear, the sound of them scraping off last year’s wax music to my ears. Children are playing in the parks, the last chance before it’s too Read More »

Smith’s School of English Kawanishi English Teacher Looking Forward to Beautiful Autumn Leaf Colors

CAM00234I am looking forward seeing the beautiful colours of the Autumn leaves. I had a great time last year taking breathtaking photographs of the scenery around Kansai. I will once again be headed out with camera in hand and my walking shoes on.

But even more enjoyable is my time at Smith’s School of English in Kawanishi. I have been given the privilege to coach English to many students from all over the Kansai region. Seeing them smile and make strides in confidence in speaking English, is much more meaningful than all the pretty leaves.


The Annual Rice Harvest in Shiga

大津市滋賀県の信楽 Rice Harvest 1Hi, this is Chris in Otsu.  As many students here at Smith’s School of English Otsu know, I am living in the countryside in Shigaraki (just south of Otsu city), farming and trying to be self-sufficient while working only part-time.  And while this lifestyle has its challenges, it also has its joys, one of which is the rice harvest which for us happened over the last two weeks.

We are farming rice almost completely by hand, with totally organic no-till natural farming methods.  As such, planting and harvesting the rice takes a long time and the more people who help the easier the work and the more fun everyone has while doing it.  Luckily for us this year over twenty people came to help us harvest the rice over two weekends.  Some of them were friends that I have had for a long time, others I had just met the day before!  Some had lots of experience farming, while others were doing it for the first time.  But no matter how long I had known them or how experienced they were at farming I was amazed at how much fun they seemed to be having and how well such a diverse mix of people got along and worked together while enjoying time in nature!  I was especially encouraged by all the children that were present and watching the young kids playing freely in nature and, for many of them, experiencing farming for the first time, was a true joy!

Read More »

Language is not Static

Language Learning Nerd!Language is always changing. Anyone who studies linguistics knows this fact well, anyone who has studied a 2nd language would also learn this in the process of acquiring proficiency in that language. For the average person, the changes that occur in any language can be seen over time- words you used when you were young are no longer in use, words you use now are new and weren’t around (or weren’t popular) when you were young. New words enter a language, old words fade away and eventually disappear. Meanings change, usage changes, popularity grows or wanes with each generation.

I recently read an article about the Japanese word “yabai”. Traditionally, this word meant “dangerous or risky”. Recently however, this word has had a news meaning: “especially great”. The new meaning is almost the exact opposite of the old meaning. The article, printed in The Japan News, explained that the new Read More »

Smith’s School of English Tsukaguchi English Teacher Enjoying Japanese Culture

IMG_0791I have learned a lot about Japanese culture by speaking English with students of English at Smith’s School of English Tsukaguchi. On October 25, I was given a chance to expand that knowledge at Japanese Culture Workshop Day (日本文化まるごと体験DAY) at Kansai University in Osaka. This annual event gives visitors of Japan the opportunity to experience various fields of Japanese Culture within one day. It’s free and the teachers are volunteers. At this year’s event, I experienced 5 out of 10 fields which were offered: Ken-Dama, Chigirie, Samurai Sword Fighting, Japanese Confectionary and Tea Ceremony. The event finished with a Japanese drum concert which was entertaining. My family and I had a great time!  I thank Japan-America Society and Kansai University for holding the event and all the volunteers that gave us this great opportunity to experience various fields of Japanese culture. I would like to attend the event again next year with my family to experience more fields of Japanese culture! (^.^)


Are you a human interaction lover?

スミス英会話福島校 Human Interaction LoverARE YOU A HUMAN INTERACTION LOVER?

Hello everyone,

When Mark asked me to join his students’ lessons, I did not expect such a variety of exciting conversations. The different people with interesting backgrounds makes it enjoyable and worth it.

At Smith’s School of English in Fukushima, the student range varies greatly but all of them share the same goal: to improve their English skills. I consider myself a human interaction lover.

In my opinion, language is not a matter of letter, words and sentences but rather of people interacting. Language teaches us about different cultures and life perspectives, giving us a better Read More »

Kyoto Gosho – October 2015 – スミス英会話 甲東園

Kyoto Gosho

Kyoto Gosho

This coming October promises to have better weather than last year and autumn activities are already in full swing.  For those of you who have not made the trip to Kyoto for the annual autumn opening of the original Kyoto Imperial Palace, I recommend adding this to your itinerary this fall.

This will be about my tenth visit.

English Conversation students at the Smith’s School of English in Kotoen スミス英会話 甲東園 are well aware of how much my wife Yoko and I love going to this site, and although in the past the weather has not always been good, it has always been just as wonderful to go.  Indeed, even in the rain, there is a certain aura.

Since the forecast promises to be much better, the crowds will increase accordingly.  This will be especially noticable on the Sunday and the Tuesday, when long lines of seniors line up outside their tour buses!  Expect and prepare for delays by arriving plenty early!nice Smith's logo


The dates are:    Friday Oct 30th to Tuesday Nov 3rd.

Go on Monday Nov 2nd to avoid the throngs of tour buses.  Take the subway north two stops from Hankyu Karasuma.

Martin Werner Zander


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

Welcome Everyone to スミス英会話 甲東園

Hello everyone!

Let me tell you all how much I love my job and that I hope to see you at the Smith’s School of English in Kotoen スミス英会話 甲東園 for new lessons this fall.  The Kotoen school is now nearly  thirteen years old and there is no place I would rather be when I do my job.  It is a wonderful, relaxing and comfortable place to work and for students to study.

Recently I’ve been promoting the value of doing a small amount of review homework, and some students are actively involved in regular reading and writing exercises outside of class.  There is a large library of graded readers from easy, easy starter levels up to high intermediate Level 6.  English conversation students at the Kotoen school have access to a large reading library for all tastes and levels and are welcome to take home what they wish.  Some students read one book a month, others read two a week!

There are no pressures nor due dates for when homework must be done!  I custom-design homework to meet each students needs.

Please come and take a look!   I look forward to meeting you!  Of course there is no obligation, just walk in on the ground floor entrance and say ‘Hello’ !

Martin Werner Zandernice Smith's logo


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

スミス英会話 甲東園 甲東園校 門戸厄神 仁川

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