Reading In Context To Improve

Hello dearest readers!IMG_7144[1]

Very often we think reading is just work and the value of regular reading is undermined by the boredom associated with comprehension difficulties and frequent trips to the dictionary.

Well, there is a better way.  Let me suggest another approach :  Reading in Context

The idea is not new and not my own, but it generally seems to be forgotten, and it shouldn’t be.  We still see students spending more time searching their dictionaries than actually reading for fun.  Put the dictionary away and try to GUESS the meaning of the word.  If you need to repeat the paragraph to double-check the context, no problem!  It is much better to read it twice than to take your eyes away from the book.  One important feature of these graded readers is that new vocabulary is presented in similar context many times, so once you get used to guessing, you’ll have another chance to verify your estimate when you see the word again later.  English conversation students at the Smith’s School of English in Kotoen スミス英会話 甲東園 are welcome to borrow any extra reading material as they like and there is a lot to choose from!

Enjoy reading!nice Smith's logo

Martin Werner Zander


Smith’s School of English 月謝制 Kotoen 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

Hankyu Tsukaguchi Station Attendant Gives Amazing Service in Tsukaguchi

fullsizerenderThe other day I got off the train at Hankyu Tsukaguchi Station with my family. We walked to our bicycles which were parked near Smith’s School of English Tsukaguchi. There, I realized that I had forgotten my daughter’s schoolbag on the train. I went to the information desk at the station and told a Hankyu Railway attendant what had happened. He asked me which train I had taken, asked me questions to pinpoint the location of the schoolbag on the train and also had me describe the schoolbag. Once this was done, he called the Hankyu staff at Hankyu Umeda Station, the final stop of the train I had taken. Soon after that he informed me that the schoolbag had not been found on the train I thought I had been on and that perhaps I’d taken an earlier train. That train was going to stop at Hankyu Tsukaguchi Station soon. He suggested that we check the train for the schoolbag while it stopped at the station. We hurried to the platform, arriving as the train was arriving. While the train was stopped (seconds), we quickly looked for the schoolbag. I did not see it but as the train took off again, I was relieved and happy to hear the attendant say he had found it and see him holding my daughter’s schoolbag! I thanked him for his help. Thank you, Hankyu Railway in Tsukaguchi! Amazing service! (^.^)

NASA JUNO Mission Update

In the past several years NASA, ESA and JAXA have all had their list of triumphs alongside a IMG_0269[1]small number of failures, but never before have we seen so many consecutive achievements as those coming from NASA.  Last year there were the hugely successful DAWN and NEW HORIZONS missions, both of which gathered a ton of media attention even at a time when space exploration was once again beginning to seem like a frivilous endeavor to so many people.  The stupendous CASSINI, MARS RECONNAISSANCE ORBITOR and MARS SCIENCE LABORATORY missions continue to impress even the most jaded observer.  All are operating flawlessly years after their accomplished primary mission objectives.  CURIOSITY in its fourth year of operation has already become the most successful and most famous robotic device in history.

This summer NASA successfully racked up another winner : the JUNO mission designed to orbit Jupiter for a few years and study its cloud bands and Galilean Satellites in detail.  Will JUNO discover new objects and enlarge the official count of 64 Jovian satellites?  Will the oceans of Europa, the land masses of Ganymede or the volcanic activity of Io unveil important new understanding of the formation of the Solar System, perhaps even find evidence of organic compounds?  As soon as a close orbit is established, JUNO’s formidable array of instruments will get to work and let us know!nice Smith's logo

Martin Werner Zander


Smith’s School of English 月謝制 Kotoen 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

Mars Jupiter Saturn Observations

IMG_5844[1]Not long ago, in a previous report about the Mars Opposition on May 22nd, I happily commented on the general improvement in post-El Ninyo atmospheric conditions this year and the subsequent need for an optical set-up of extremely high precision to take advantage of what’s on offer.

English Conversation students at the Smith’s School of English in Kotoen スミス英会話 甲東園 look forward to another chance to have a look, and at least one outing this fall is on the books provided a suitable schedule can be determined.  Everyone needs to be available on a night when there is no work the next morning, there are no clouds, there is no wind, and the moon is only in crescent phase.  Checking the astronomical charts tells me that this is going to be a challenge this fall, and exactly one opportunity exists on the last Saturday in September.

After September, the solar system objects all become too small and faint to be interesting until next March when the cycle picks up again, but soon in November the winter Milky Way starts showing its deep sky wonders, extraordinry objects such as the Orion Nebula M42 and the Pleiades M45, otherwise known as Subaru!  Let’s watch and stay tuned!

Martin Werner Zandernice Smith's logo


Smith’s School of English 月謝制 Kotoen 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

Torihan in Kotoen 甲東園

IMG_7283[1]As I have often said with delight, there are a great many excellent restaurants and izakayas in the Kotoen area and it should be pointed out that instead of chains, nearly all of the successful places are owner-operators.

Just before the Obon break, I had the pleasure of bumping into a former English Conversation student at the Smith’s School of English in Kotoen スミス英会話 甲東園 who with great enthusiasm invited me out for beer and yakitori.  We went to our favorite yakitori place, the owner-operated Torihan near the south-west corner of Hankyu Kotoen station.  The staff were very glad to see us again.

My host has had restaurant businesses abroad for over 40 years, and has by necessity spent most of his time away from home.  He is a firm believer in helping out your fellow man, supporting local entrepreneurs whenever possible, and avoiding multi-national chains.  Kotoen is just such a neighborhood where this way of thinking is evident and an unwritten regulation clearly dictates the types of businesses that will thrive here.  He says that without our local support, the owner-operator will not only fail to pay rent and feed his family, but will need to concede the space to a chain business which does nothing for the health and prosperity of the local community.

His motto is clear and profound.  He believes local operators work harder to deliver better quality and better value in the face of immense competition and vast economies of scale.  We as consumers have become too adapted to price and convenience and that we have sometimes forgotten the meaning of quality and value, and in the case of food, the value in healthfulness and care.

With a Smith’s School of English franchise, you can do the same in your chosen neighborhood and become a respected, contributing member of the community.nice Smith's logo

Martin Werner Zander


Smith’s School of English 月謝制 Kotoen 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

Sea Day 2016

This summer I spent the Sea Day holiday in Maizuru, Kyoto.
On the first day I went to HashiMasa Tonkatsu ( 橋政 とんかつ)in Nishi Maizuru. I ordered the pork cutlet with deep fried shrimp lunch (ヒレカツ・エビフライ定職) and it was the best pork cutlet (とんかつ) that I have ever eaten in my life! The pork was very juicy and the outside was very crispy. Delicious!!
On day 2, I went to Mitsumatsu Beach (三松海水浴場)to have a BBQ and to go swimming.  The weather was wonderful, the beach was clean and the water was cool.  We had a very nice day enjoying good food and the beach.
In the evening, we went to an izakaya called Gachimaya (がちま家)in Higashi Maizuru. Once again, the food was great and the owner Monchi was very entertaining. We enjoyed eating tonpeiyaki (とんぺい焼き), beef spareribs (スペアリブ), baked potato with bacon and cheese (じゃがベーコン), chicken wings(手羽先), and noodle soup(ラーメン). I was very very full after eating all that food but it was delicious.  I highly recommend that go to HashiMasa Tonkatsu ( 橋政 とんかつ) and Gachimaya (がちま家)if you go to Maizuru!

Helping a Smith’s School of English Tsukaguchi Student Prepare for a Stay Abroad

FullSizeRenderI earlier wrote about helping a Smith’s School of English Tsukaguchi student prepare for working and studying abroad in Smith’s School of English Tsukaguchi Helping a Student Achieve His Dream. Recently I finished helping another student of English prepare for a stay abroad where he will be doing a homestay, studying English and playing American football. His name is Mihiro. He studied English with me in Tsukaguchi for about 7 months to prepare for a 10-month stay in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.A. Mihiro is just 15 years old but looks older because he is big! He is already in Phoenix now with his homestay family and speaking English every day! Before going to the U.S.A., he trained hard at his school’s football practices and weight trained hard getting ready for his trip. On Thursday nights, he came to his Smith’s English lessons and studied English conversation. I taught him as much English as I could during our short time together to get him ready for living in the U.S.A. He did a great job and his English improved. It was a pleasure teaching him English. I wish him all the best with school, football, his homestay and life in the U.S.A. I’m sure his English will improve even more while there. I hope he’ll continue studying English at Smith’s School of English Tsukaguchi when he returns to Japan! (^.^) Have fun, Mihiro!


Attending The Big Ones

IMG_3688[1]Of all the giant fireworks festivals in Kansai, PL in Tondabayashi on Monday Aug 1st is the undisputed summer centerpiece.  Having an estimated 70,000 rockets on display, and more is possible, it will attract between 600,000 and 800,000 people depending on the weather!

Yodogawa and Kobe Minato could be considered tied.  Taking place on the same night, Saturday Aug 6, it is a deliberate attempt by city authorities to separate the nearly one million people in attendance.  And this is for everyone’s good.  Kobe Minato will have the usual 10,000 rockets and 270,000 revelers while Yodogawa will show 20,000 to a draw of at least 410,000.

Biwako on Monday Aug 8 is expected to display 10000 pyros to a whopping 350000 humans.  This could be considered the largest congestion.  The unfortunate cancelation of the Ujigawa Festival by the city of Uji highlights how a crowd this size could be a problem so great care and patience are necessary.

For the sake of safety, scout the area and try not to go where most people are expected to congregate.   Arrive very early if and only if you intend to leave last.   If you have a need to get home on time, I strongly recommend arriving last and leaving two minutes before the climax has finished to get ahead of the crowd.  Always make sure you have enough water to stave off dehydration and have a snack for your drained energy, and definitely avoid coming anywhere within 10 kms by car!   Walk if you can, which is what my wife and I did last night to and from Ashiya!  We walked 9.5 kilometers last night.  For Yodogawa, arrive from Route 2 at the Hanshin end.  Enjoy and be safe!nice Smith's logo

Martin Werner Zander


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

スミス英会話 甲東園校 甲東園 仁川 門戸厄神

She Did It Again!

Pride in a Student

I wrote about Hiroko some time ago (see link above), and how proud I was that she had conquered some of her fears. Since then, she has taken a trip to London by herself, which is a huge achievement, however, I am astounded with her latest. About six months ago I told her that her English was good enough to work in an English-speaking environment, and suggested applying for jobs at the nearby military bases, so she began the process. She failed her first two interviews, then I realized it was time for some serious coaching. Each week, for about two months we worked hard on interview techniques. She did a ton of homework between each lesson and came back better and more confident each week. She failed two more interviews. Then, to my delight, I received this email from her yesterday:

I have gotten a job offer from Camp Zama yesterday! I will work as an administrative specialist in the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate from Sep.1. While I still can’t believe that I passed the interview, I’m really stirred that they recognized the skill of my work and my enthusiasm.
I can’t thank you enough. Without your help, I couldn’t have written the resume successfully and passed the interview. Through the lessons for the interview with you I gained confidence and that made me keep trying. Now I feel I need to study English for business harder. Please continue to coach me as ever.

Thank you again, and see you next time!bigstock-D-Knob-Confidence-Level-46141444-583x437


So very proud of this young woman. Congratulations Hiroko!

Jim, SSE Hashimoto



2016 Summer Festivals in Kansai

Hello readers!IMG_0315[1]

Another summer has come at last and a great many festivals are expected in the Kansai area.  Although several major traditional events have been canceled in these recent few years, there are plenty more small events in local villages definitely worth attending.  Local events will attract only modest crowds and can be extremely enjoyable and safe, but rather than publishing so many of them here, you might like to investigate happenings in your own area of interest.

Following is a list of the major Kansai events expected to attract more than 10,000 people:

July 23 Sat Ashiya ,  Ayabe Minazuki and Otsu, Shiga

July 25 Mon Tenjin Matsuri    July 31 Sun Minato Maizuru Chattamatsuri

Aug 1 Mon PL Tondabayashi    Aug 4 Thu Nagahama Kita Biwako Hanabi

Aug 6 Sat Yodogawa , Kobe Minato Kaijo Hanabi     Aug 8 Mon Biwako

Aug 16 Sun Miyazu Toronagashi    Aug 20 Sat Inagawa    Aug 24 Wed Tamba    Aug 27 Sat Itami

Kameoka has not yet confirmed.  Fukuchiyama, Takarazuka and Uji-gawa are unfortunately canceled this year.

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 仁川 門戸厄神

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