Going Paperless Going Green

Hello Readers!IMG_7146[1]

One of the most practical and worthwhile accomplishments at the Smith’s School of English スミス英会話 in recent history is Going Paperless.  This is an important trend taking shape at some of the most progressive companies genuinely worried about the state of the Planet Earth environment, and there is already a general pride of achievement throughout our organization in this effort.

In order to worry about the Planet with real conviction, however, it is critical to make such efforts sustainable.  At the Smith’s School of English in Kotoen スミス英会話 甲東園, for example, a concerted, sustainable effort toward going Paperless has already been noted by the English Conversation students there.  Fewer than a dozen pieces of paper are in regular use, down from probably more than two hundred just three years ago.  There are a very small number that actually should be on hardcopy, but even these can be in the form of a reusable template written in pencil and later erased, or something on heavier paper that can and should last.  The point is that in either case the paper should be reusable whenever possible, just like a good old-fashioned book!

Just the other day the fax machine let me know that it was out of ribbon.  I had completely forgotten that the fax machine even needed ribbon, and that it ran out only because it was busily making a single copy that saved a student several minutes time taking notes.  Five rolls of fax ribbon used to last about half a year.  How long will these new five last I wonder?

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

Travel Souvenirs

スミス英会話大津校 世界地図 1We have a lot of wonderful students at our English conversation school in Otsu and many of our students love to travel. They almost always bring us some sort of gift from their travels. Over the years (this year marks 20 years since Smith’s school first opened it’s doors) we have received so many wonderful gifts. Some are small, such as fridge magnets or sweets, others large and fancy, such as slippers, sports jerseys, welcome signs and more. Our English school franchise branch in Otsu opened in 2000 and since then we have been able to decorate our school with a variety of wonderful souvenirs. A few years back we bought a huge wall map for one of our classroom and decided that it needed a frame. Copying an idea we saw at Smith’s school of English in Katsura (thanks Tom!), we decided to frame the map in postcards from around the world. We asked our students and they were very happy to help us out. In a little over 2 years we managed to completely wrap the map in postcards, and more are still being brought in. Our students have visited some very wonderful places and these postcards are true “souvenirs” of their travels. By the way, do you know what “souvenir” means? It’s a French word which literally means “a memory”. Happy travels!

Edward, Smith’s School of English Otsu

Smith’s School of English Tsukaguchi Joins a Smith’s School of English Seminar in Osaka

On February 21, I from Smith’s School of English Tsukaguchi joined other Smith’s franchise school owners for a Smith’s seminar in Osaka, hosted by Smith’s School of English founder Mark Smith. Mark always puts a lot of preparation into these seminars to make them as helpful to us as possible. Several things were covered such as how to further improve our Internet presence, personal goals and why we stay with Smith’s. These seminars are great for seeing how much Smith’s has developed since it first began offering English lessons with a monthly tuition payment system to Japanese  in 1996. They are also great for sharing ideas with Mark and fellow Smith’s English teachers on how to further improve the Smith’s franchise system and English lessons for our students of English. The seminar was held from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. but Mark stayed an extra hour afterwards discussing Smith’s curriculum ideas with some of us. This just shows you how much Mark cares about us and our students of English. We are lucky to have him. Thank you again, Mark! The seminar was great! (^.^)

Derek, Smith’s School of English Tsukaguchi

Big JAXA NASA Achievements

スミス英会話 甲東園 JupiterHello Readers,

It’s Martin Werner Zander from the Smith’s School of English in Kotoen スミス英会話 甲東園 updating on two recent and very important achievements by JAXA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and NASA.

Prior to December 8, 2015, JAXA’s Venus Probe AKATSUKI had been in limbo for five years following a missed attempt at Venus Orbit Insertion in 2010.  The mission was successful on the second orbit insertion attemp last December and Akatsuki is now settling into an orbit which will allow first-ever studies of Venus to take place over the next few years.

Following up the dozens of successful missions over the past 20 years including Dawn and New Horizons last year, NASA will have its JUNO mission enter Jupiter orbit this coming July.  Juno will study Jupiter and its very interesting Gallilean satellites in great detail and may even set the stage for a lander on a future mission.

Well-educated English conversation students at the Smith’s School in Kotoen will be discussing this topic this week.  On of the great things about operating a Smith’s Franchise in a well-established area like Kotoen is that its people have vast knowledge and experiences to share.  The Coach will also learn!

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 甲東園校 仁川 門戸厄神

Job Stability in Japan

スミス英会話大津校 エドワード先生I moved to Japan in January of 2007. At that time I had a job with Nova, which was the largest English conversation school, and the biggest foreign employer, in Japan. I came to Japan on a 1-year visa with a 1-year contract with Nova. At the end of that 1 year, I had decided to stay in Japan, however things had changed. Within my 1st year in Japan, Nova went bankrupt and out of business, Geos (2nd biggest in Japan) starting collapsing, 6000 foreign teachers lost their jobs and the English conversation school market shrunk. As a foreigner with an undergrad degree only, I was ineligible for most university jobs and the public school sector was flooded with applicants.

In my desperate search for employment and a visa renewal, I came across Smith’s School of English. My wife and I went for a meeting with Mr. Smith at the company’s head office in Osaka and within a few weeks I was Read More »

Hot pocket patch : kairo

yjimageWhile chatting with a student at smith’s school of English Fukushima the funniest thing happened. She opened her bag and onto the desk fell a “Kairo”. Now as I was wearing two in my shoes, I thought, this must make an interesting English chat.

Have you ever heard about the Japanese “kairo” in your country? Very probably not, it is a quite interesting product that you can find almost only in Japan. It is a portable hot patch and they are really popular here and it seems the students at Smith’s School of English Fukushima are no exception. So many I find are using Kairo!

Before I came to Japan I could not understand just how much this country can teach me. I usually motivate myself with “if you can imagine it you can do it” but a better choice in the case of Japan would be “if you can imagine it you can find it”.

These heating patches come in so many varieties and shapes, You can find them heaped in boxes on sale in bizarres or nicely piled up by the clerks at convenience stores.

In this case I find myself in the role of the student and join the English conversation about these fascinating items. Check out some of these kairo shapes.


Japanese Gift wrapping

Why I love Japan : Japanese Gift Wrapping  PB050192

An English conversation student I often have the chance to chat with in English at Smith’s Fukushima School, works full time as a present wrapper. A present-wrapper? I hear you ask. Yes it is a profession here in Japan. Her dedication to this task is fascinating and quite frankly the pride with which she explains her art is inspiring.

I guess I should not be so surprised at the lengths these wrappers go to in order to be qualified for front counter work. Most of the larger department stores in Japan offer a wrapping service and most have very serious training that staff must undergo in order to be accepted as a wrapper. These days training may also include an English test as Japan sees more and Read More »

The Small Farm Advantage: Quality vs. Quantity

スミス英会話大津 Rice HarvestHello from Chris in Otsu again!

Thank you for all the nice comments about my previous post about farming in Japan.  Further to that, one interesting thing I have noticed while farming over here, when I talk to other farmers and tell them I am American they all tell me how much they envy American farming, with its big tractors and large plots of land!

Yet in my eyes it is the small manageable size of plots of land here in Japan that makes farming accessible to common people.  Even many of these same jealous farmers then go on to tell me how they can’t make any money from their farms because all the profits go to maintain their machines.  Still more friends who would be interested in farming say they can’t do it because they can’t afford the equipment, all while more and more farm land in Japan goes unused.

Meanwhile my family farms our land with nothing more than a shovel, hoe and scythe which all combined cost well under ten thousand yen.  Granted planting rice takes a lot more time to do when its done by hand, but done in the company of good friends, it turns into a

Read More »

Dr. Yellow, are you a Smith’s train?

Dr.YELLOW, ARE YOU A SMITH’S TRAIN?doctor-yellow-shinkansen

“Look teacher! Mr. Yellow! I took a picture coming back from Tokyo today, it seems like Mr.Smith’s English School shinkansen”- this is how a conversation at Smith’s English School in Fukushima began today.

If you have not visited Japan yet, you probably do not know what I am talking about when I say things like shinkansen (bullet train), or magical phrases like “going and coming back from Osaka to Tokyo in a couple of hours without delay” (fantastic), and of course , Dr. Yellow. Who is Dr.Yellow

In England, there is another very famous “Yellow” The Beatles – Yellow submarine but I think possibly the Beatles yellow may not be as popular a “Yellow” as Dr. Yellow in Japan.

Before chatting with this student of English conversation in Fukushima I was of course aware how frequently people use shinkansen in Japan but, Dr. Yellow, is a very special shinkansen which you can see only Read More »

Baby Steps

Baby Steps with Support スミス英会話大津校As a parent I get the pleasure of watching my children as they grow up step by step: rolling over for the first time, crawling, taking their first steps. Learning to walk is one of the most wonderful milestones in a little person’s life, but it doesn’t happen all at once. Babies need to first stand with assistance, whether it be holding onto the sofa or holding their parents’ hands, some support is needed. With time and practice, the baby will take his first unassisted step, then several unassisted steps, then more until finally they can walk solo, albeit with lots of wobbles and falls. These wobbles and falls are sometimes cute, sometimes painful, but always necessary in the process of becoming a solid walker.

Learning a new language is no different. At the beginning, full support is required. Next we need practice with support before finally trying to fly solo a little bit. Mistakes are made, but these can be fixed with a supportive coach helping us to see them. Eventually, with support and hard work, we can go for a walk or a talk or an adventure all by ourselves, knowing that we can do it, albeit not perfectly at first. The key is to have the right kind of support and always take baby steps.

Edward, Smith’s School of English Otsu

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