Smith’s Otsu Teacher Profile: Chris Mungioli

スミス英会話大津校 クリス先生 1 This is Part 2 in the series Smith’s Otsu Teacher Profiles. Part 1 can be read HERE.

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 introduced was Chi-Yow Lee from the United States. The second coach we will introduce is Chris Mungioli. Here is his self-introduction:

Leaving Katsura (桂)

英会話 桂 cup and cardYesterday I had a last lesson with my student Yuka. It’s always sad when a student leaves, but it also makes me happy to see Yuka reaching her goal. When she came to Smith’s Katsura (スミス英会話 桂) my job was to coach and improve her English conversation skills. And she’s now ready for another challenge: to live and study in an English speaking country.

Yuka is moving to England next week. She will stay there for a year, possibly two. Yuka is planning to deepen her English skills so when she comes back to Japan, she can find a job where English language is used every day. Actually, her biggest dream is to one day become a translator. I wish her all the best in pursuing her dreams. Good Luck Yuka.

And thank you for your thoughtful gift. I’ll keep the coffee cup in the classroom as a reminder of your success.


Finding My Kawanishi English School via the Internet

The Internet is truly wonderful. Not only is it a great way to communicate with people, it is also a great place to find something  you’re looking for. I’ve been teaching English in the Smith’s School of English franchise system for 13 years now. When I started we didn’t have a Japanese web site but now we do. People seeking an English school in their area can now easily find us on the Internet. It’s fantastic. For example, just today at Smith’s School of English Kawanishi I gave a trial lesson to a man who had found us via the Internet. He lives in Toyonaka, Osaka on the Hankyu Takarazuka line and was looking for an English conversation school that was along that line. My English school, located just across the street from Kawanishi Noseguchi Station along that line, was what he was looking for so he came to Kawanishi  and I had the pleasure of meeting him and teaching him English.  The Internet is great! (^.^)



It’s Cherry Blossom Viewing Time! 花見の時です!

スミス英会話大津校 滋賀県の琵琶湖
March ends and April begins. The cherry blossoms are usually expected around this time. In Otsu and all around the southern part of Lake Biwa, they have just started to open. Full bloom in Kyoto and southern Shiga is predicted for Saturday the 4th of April. This week, and especially this weekend, is the best time for hosting a cherry blossom viewing party, known as hanami (花見) in Japan. Our school, Smith’s School of English Otsu, will be hosting it’s 8th Annual Hanami Party this weekend at a lakeside park. We are hoping for sunny weather and full bloom. I believe the blossoms will be perfect, but I’m not sure so I’ll check the JMA (Japan Meteorological Agency) website daily for weather and blossom updates. No matter what the weather and blossom conditions, we will enjoy chatting, eating, drinking and playing under the wonderful pink trees, next to beautiful Lake Biwa (pictured above). We hope you will also have an opportunity to do so sometime this week or next. It’s Cherry Blossom Viewing Time!
Edward, Smith’s School of English Otsu

Torinosuke Kotoen – とりのすけ 甲東園

とりのすけ 甲東園English Conversation Students at the Smith’s School of English in Kotoen スミス英会話 甲東園 need to unwind after a long day at work.  Those long days are then followed by an English lesson and other evening activities before finally retiring in the comfort of one’s home.  One of the best ways to do the unwind is to invest JPY3,000- for an all-you-can-eat AND all-you-can-possibly-drink experience at Torinosuke とりのすけ in Kotoen 甲東園.

The festivities are particularly good in the month of March because the vast numbers of university students who consider this type of entertainment important to basic life skills are away and so there are no line-ups.  In April the crowds will be back!

Torinosuke has great food and cold beer.  For the small price of JPY3,000 you will get refreshed and satisfied any time of the year.  Orders are served to the table upon request and the most difficult part by far is knowing when you have had enough.  Everything is so great that having to stop is a real disappointment!

Students often have a plan to go on Saturday and Read More »

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)

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