Smith’s School of English Tsukaguchi/Kawanishi Christmas Party 2014

Last December, I held a Smith’s School of English Tsukaguchi/Kawanishi Christmas party at my home in Tsukaguchi, Amagasaki. Students, friends and family attended. We had a potluck lunch. There was tasty food, talking and playing. We had a great time! (^.^)

Here’s a video on the event. Enjoy!  →


School Improvements at SSE Otsu

スミス英会話大津 Otsu Drink Bar 2Over the holidays, my son and I enjoyed building a new drink bar at our English conversation school in Otsu. In the past we offered drinks to students but we always served them ourselves and the selection was limited to either coffee or green tea. Over the winter holidays, we enjoyed building a new bar area so that students may serve themselves and enjoy more selection. We built a counter-top around 3 bookshelves. After we finished the counter-top, we rearranged the books and bought some baskets for the bottom shelves in which to organize things. We were very happy with the final product. So far, students seem to be enjoying serving themselves and we are enjoying being able to offer them a wide variety of drinks. I am happy to be able to offer some of my favourite drinks such as spicy chai tea, Earl Gray and fruity herbal teas. Our next project is building new shoe and slipper shelves for the entrance.I love building things and improving my school.
Edward, SSE Otsu

Growing Together

20140711_151317The little things sometimes do mean a lot and words can bring a sense of complete happiness beyond all imagination.  I have had a most incredible start to the new year.  There is a student who has been studying English with me at Smith’s Eikaiwa Kyobashi for only 6 months.  Over that time, I have seen how well his language ability has been improving. During the holidays, he traveled to the U.S. for a brief vacation.  At our first lesson of the year, he told me that because of his classroom time with me, he was able to understand a lot of what people were saying when they spoke to him.  He went on to say that he felt very confident communicating to English speakers as well.

Also, some years ago, he had visited The United States but was not able to communicate well and did not have confidence or the understanding he has today.

Hearing him tell me about this filled me with an incredible sense of accomplishment knowing that together we achieved the goal of not only improving his English, but also in building his confidence in speaking. Truly, there is no place that I would rather be or anything else that I would rather be doing. This is a great thing that we are doing because the rewards are plain to see.

Crisp Snow in the City

大津市に雪の夜!Over the holidays, I enjoyed playing in the snow. From January 1st to 3rd we enjoyed about 30cm of snowfall in Otsu city. On the evening of the 1st I went for a walk around 11pm to look at the fresh fallen fluffy white stuff. I took my tripod and snapped some monochrome pictures. The snow was white and the moon was full and the effect was that we could walk through the woods without a flashlight. Otsu city was still and quiet and the only sound was the crunch of my boots on the fresh snow and the click of my camera’s shutter. The next day, my son and I enjoyed sledding, making a snowman and having a snowball fight. This was his first time playing in the snow and he loved it. We went to a nearby park and played with other families. Afterwards, we went home and had hot cocoa and cookies. For me this was very reminiscent of my childhood winters. I was so happy to be able to make such memories with my son and I hope that when he is older he will look back happily on this Read More »

Happy New Year

IMAG1555_1Happy New Year! May your dreams and goals for 2015 come true.

I’ll make sure that I will reach my goals for this year.

I’m going to continue enjoying life in Japan and continue building communicative confidence to all my existing and new students.

Like in the previous years, by improving students’ English conversation skills I can help them to achieve their goals: business trips to foreign countries, study abroad or get a better TOEIC result. The goals may be different but they are all important in students’ lives.

It is my great pleasure to be a part of my students’ lives.
I wish you all to have a great and successful year!


Happy Christmas at the Christmas party in the Smith’s school of English in Fuse!

2014ChristmasCollageThis Sunday, December 14th, we had again a great Christmas party here at the English Conversation school in Fuse! Some families wanted to join, so we decided to have the party on Sunday afternoon this year. Some students brought sandwiches and doughnuts! This added to the great food from Shinkai made a small but nice buffet!

Some students came early to help, so we could start as soon as everybody showed up with greetings and wishing each other a merry Christmas. We went on to satisfy our empty stomachs with the delicious food. The children joining the party made sure everybody had a good time and the white boards were full of nice pictures all the time! Read More »

Snow Hiking Season

スミス英会話大津 滋賀県の山上り Snow Hiking in ShigaOpen-window season is over. Heaters have been turned on. Winter storms are starting. Hot cocoa and nabe (hot pot) are the best things for staying warm. To me, this season is the most beautiful season for hiking. Fortunately I live in Shiga, home to some wonderful hiking course. To the east of Lake Biwa is the Suzuka mountain range. To the west of Lake Biwa is the Hira mountain range. Many of the mountains in these ranges offer panorama views from the peaks. Most of them get snow in winter. All of them have well maintained hiking courses. Last year, I climbed Mount Watamuki and Mount Ryouzensan, both in the Suzuka mountain range. From the peaks we could see into Mie prefecture and Aichi prefecture. From the top of Mount Watamuki, we could even see the sea! This season I want to climb Mount Hira, which is not far from Ohmimaiko in northern Otsu. Less than an hour from Smith’s school of English Otsu by car and I can be in the woods enjoying the fresh air and crisp snow! Who wants to join me? FYI- The picture on the right is from the top of Mount Wakamuki, looking to the north-east over the Suzuka mountains.


IMG_6107There are many things here in this beautiful country of Japan that bring back memories for me.  Sometimes before or after class, I like to go to Coms Gardens; it’s a two minute walk from Smith’s Eikaiwa Kyobashi.  I like to go there and watch the airplanes as they fly low overhead. Seeing them reminds me of when I was a child in my original country of Barbados. My father used to take me to the airport to watch planes takeoff and land. I remember wondering at the time where the people on them came from or where they were going.

When I sit now in Coms Gardens, I still wonder who the people are and where they came from.  But I also wonder if some of them are Japanese travelers returning home and whether or not they used English while they were abroad. Some of my long term students love traveling and use what they have learned in class on their trips…hmm, I wonder if they are on that plane.

Luminarie Construction Kobe Dec 4 – 15

A big heads up for everyone !!  Luminarie starts today in Kobe.  This picture shows the construction crews up the other day and the event is scheduled to begin tonight, December 4.

It’s so nice that the rain is expected to stop around dinner time tonight, maybe 18:00 or so, and because of this I would expect extremely daunting crowds!!  But that shouldn’t matter because it’s just wonderful to have a little Christmas cheer already so early in the month.

My wife Yoko and I are dedicated festival goers, and although my work with all the conversation students at the Smith’s School of English in Kotoen is more important, we will be making the journey down Luminarie Lane as soon as we can get an evening free.  As far as tonight and tomorrow night go, we strongly recommend not attempting to drive anywhere near Sannomiya or Motomachi after 17:00 for the next two weeks, and this is especially true for the weekends.  In addition, planning to enter a café or restaurant within a block or two of the event will be met with extensive line-ups, long waits, messy tables and tired staff, so if you have a plan in mind that involves a romantic date or a handful of children, I would book something well in advance.

This is a sight that is not commonly seen:  a picture of Luminarie before the event even begins.  Probably it will be on by the time you read this, so get over to Motomachi as soon as you can and enjoy, take your time, don’t be in much of a hurry and take lots of smiling selfies for your facebook pages!

Martin Werner Zandernice Smith's logo

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


Presentation in English

Students at SSE Katsura(スミス英会話 桂) sometimes talk about Kyoto and Japan. A英会話桂 Student's Presentations a foreigner living here, I enjoy these conversations very much. Last week I was given a chance to learn something new again.

I found out that the first elementary school in Japan was opened in Kyoto. Not only that, 64 elementary schools were opened here between 1868 and 1869. And how do I know that?

For her Man-to-Man lesson my student Hisako prepared a presentation called: ‘The First Elementary School in Japan’. I was really impressed by her effort. Before she started I was told: “If you have any questions, please just ask”. I had many questions and Hisako answered and explained all I wanted to know. Wow!

She spoke in English for over 20 minutes. Talked about the beginnings of education in Japan and interesting historical facts. She also explained all main ideas and important people behind the big project. I was amazed how well prepared Hisako was.

All I had to do was to enjoy the story, look at prepared historical drawings and ask questions when I wanted to know little more. She was the teacher and I was the student. And what an amazing lesson it was.

At the end of the presentation we had a short discussion, went through some difficult English vocabulary and practiced pronunciation.

Thank you for your big effort Hisako. I enjoyed it so much and I’m looking forward to our next lesson. I know it will be fun.

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