Studying English at Smith’s School of English Kawanishi and Becoming Bilingual Could Stave Off the Effects of Aging

bilingual brain workoutA Smith’s School of English Kawanishi student, who is in her sixties, told me that she was studying English for prevention of senility. I found this very interesting. There are many reasons why my students of English study English with me in Kawanishi. Some study it for their jobs, some for travel, some for English tests and some as a hobby. However studying English for prevention of senility (dementia), was new to me, so I did some research.

According to studies made, being able to speak a second language (such as English) could delay the normal cognitive decline that occurs with aging which can bring memory loss. In addition, should dementia occur, being bilingual can delay its onset. In the case of patients who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease (a common form of dementia), studies show that the onset of symptoms of the disease are delayed with bilingual people. Bilingual peoples’ brains seem to work better and longer after developing the disease than monolingual peoples’ brains. Why? Well it seems that using a second language improves the cognitive ability of the brain, keeping it sharp. Simply put, using two languages gives you a good mental workout which helps fight off normal cognitive decline and dementia. Very interesting! More great reasons to study English at Smith’s School of English Kawanishi! (^.^)


Japanese Soft Culture Around the World

Japanese Soft Power ExportsAs much as economists like to forecast doom and gloom in the world economies and the media worries about our aging society, Japanese society continues to dominate and grow in the soft culture sector. What is “soft culture” you ask? Soft culture are exported concepts, rather than exported goods. Soft culture is fashion, design, music, art and all the other cultural concepts that we share with the world. Japan is one of the top ranked “soft powers” in the world. Japanese soft culture includes video games (think Nintendo, Sega), traditional fashion (think kimono, samurai & ninja attire), sports (think judo, aikido, karate) and more. One aspect of Japanese soft culture which is truly exploding around the world is Japanese cuisine.

Thought by many to be one the keys to Japanese longevity, and also seen as incredibly sustainable (thanks to seafare, bean-based foods and local sourcing), Japanese cuisine has become a mainstay of food courts and town squares the world over. In my hometown of Nanaimo, BC and in nearby Victoria, Vancouver and Seattle, there are more sushi shops than there are hamburger shops! The amount of selection is truly astounding and many people are impressed upon visiting these cities to find such an abundance of sushi shops (as well as other Japanese restaurants). There are so many in fact, that many cities have annual “sushi contests” to select the best in the city. Check out this Top 3 Sushi Spots article by a local Vancouver radio show host, and you will see a sampling of the variety and unique types of sushi available in Vancouver.

What’s your favorite Japanese food? What’s your favorite part of Japanese soft culture? Let’s discuss this in class next time!

Edward, Smith’s School of English Otsu

Smith’s School of English Tsukaguchi Teacher Goes to Japanese Culture Workshop Day

IMG_2671Yesterday I went to Japanese Culture Workshop Day (日本文化まるごと体験DAY) at Kansai University in Osaka. This event is held by Japan-America Society of Osaka (JASO) and Kansai University to give foreign students the chance to experience fields of Japanese culture. Other foreigners are welcome too. When I attended it last year, I tried ken-dama, chigirie, samurai sword fighting, Japanese confectionary and the tea ceremony. This year I tried calligraphy, origami and manga. My favourite was calligraphy where I wrote chinese characters (kanji) using a special kind of brush (fude). I chose prewritten samples of calligraphy, which indicated the stroke orders, and copied them. The volunteer staff kindly showed me how to hold the brush and, holding my hand, wrote something to show me how it was done. I then practiced writing myself and enjoyed it. Calligraphy is a cross between writing and painting. I think it is a great way of learning how to write Chinese characters  too.

I found out about last year’s event from a Smith’s School of English Tsukaguchi student who is a chiropractor.  A customer of his is a volunteer at this annual event. This year, I was sent an email by Japan-America Society of Osaka (JASO) announcing this year’s event date. I thank JASO, Kansai University and the volunteers for this year’s event. It was fun!

How about joining next year? It’s free!

JASO web site address:

Email address:

Enjoy! (^.^)


Passion to Teach at Smith’s School of English Kawanishi

smith_logo-1During the hot Summer months, I am reminded of the word “PASSION” which for me it is a fire deep within each of our hearts. It drives us to reach higher and experience new things.

As an English teacher here at Smith’s School of English Kawanishi, I have the privilege to share my passion for teaching and coaching my students to reach their current goals. But more than that I encourage my students to reach higher. To use what they learn in class and connect that to how they can use it in the real world. Then continue to make new goals and pursue those.

The people of Japan have a rich and long historic culture. As I teach my students, I gain even more passion for teaching English here in Japan. I look forward to meeting even more people and sharing my passion with you.


Smith’s School of English Kawanishi

Enjoying Sunday Pancakes in Tsukaguchi, Amagasaki


IMG_2518The other day, I told a Smith’s School of English Tsukaguchi student how I loved having pancakes at home in Tsukaguchi on Sundays for brunch. My family and I used to buy pancake mix at Ikari, a supermarket in Tsukaguchi, Amagasaki. Ikari pancakes were delicious. However recently we buy buttermilk pancake mix at COSTCO in Amagasaki. The package has a great re-sealable plastic zipper and contains 4.53 kilograms of pancake mix. The buttermilk pancakes are delicious and my wife uses the large amount of pancake mix to make other tasty things like scones. In addition the price is good.

I like eating pancakes with Canadian Maple syrup and whipping cream. They are a delicious match! With those, I like having cut up banana, cut up sausages, fruit yogurt and home-brewed Starbucks coffee. My family gets Maple syrup at KALDI Coffee Farm at TSUKASHIN, a mall in Tsukaguchi, or at Amagasaki’s COSTCO. I get ground coffee at TSUKASHIN’s Starbucks. We get the sausages and whipping cream at COSTCO which sells whipping cream in a tall can that we like. I get us bananas at DAIEI, 7-Eleven or a LAWSON in Tsukaguchi and sometimes at COSTCO where you can get a big bunch of bananas at a great price. For yogurt, I like getting my family strawberry and aloe yogurt at 7-11. It’s creamy and tasty.

So does this meal sound good to you? Why not try it? It’s delicious!! (^.^)



Smith’s School of English Tsukaguchi

A Talk on Umbrella Usage in the U.S.A., Canada and Japan at Smith’s School of English Tsukaguchi

UMBRELLA!!!Today the topic of umbrella usage in the U.S.A. came up in an English conversation lesson at Smith’s School of English Tsukaguchi. One of my students of English there goes on business trips to the U.S.A. He was surprised when an American co-worker there didn’t have an umbrella. According to my student, all Japanese have umbrellas. Once when he was in New York City, he went shopping for an umbrella at a mall but couldn’t find a shop that sold umbrellas. Here in Japan, umbrellas are sold at many shops, including convenience stores.

I’m from Canada. I told him that umbrellas were not used much in Canada either. It doesn’t rain so much in Canada and there is no rainy season like in Japan. In Japan, many Japanese use trains to get to work. Perhaps umbrellas are easier and more desirable to take on the train. In Canada, people use cars or public transportation to get to work. Perhaps umbrellas are not used much because people need not be in the rain long. Perhaps raincoats are used more there than in Japan. My English student said that in Japan, raincoats are worn mostly by young kids who cannot hold umbrellas. I use both here in Tsukaguchi, Amagasaki.

Such differences between Japan and other countries are always fun to talk about with my students of English at Smith’s School of English Tsukaguchi. (^.^)


Heaven’s Kitchen +Plus 甲東園

There are a great many excellent restaurants and japanese izakaya pubs in the Kotoen area IMG_7282[1]and the variety is suitable for a any taste and budget.  One of the favorite italian places frequented not only by my wife Yoko and I, but by a good many of the English Conversation students at the Smith’s School of English in Kotoen, is Heaven’s Kitchen +Plus, just a couple of minutes straight west of Hankyu Kotoen Station.  (Check out the school here : スミス英会話 甲東園)

This restaurant works very hard every day to support a wide demographic.  Junior high school girls come for chatter and cold drinks, seniors come early for the fresh salads, couples come in droves for the great desserts and coffee, and families most likely for the hearty and nutritious meals.  The common denominator here is value, and that can be had in spades at Heaven’s Kitchen +Plus thanks to the generous portions and the low prices.

A new store front has fairly recently been added.  Perhaps some of you will remember the green motif that used to be there.  Regarless of which design you prefer, the essence of the restaurant itself has only improved with time and the owner deserves to be successful.nice Smith's logo

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

Smith’s School Kotoen スミス英会話 甲東園

IMG_6035[1]Hello, everyone.  Here’s a quick introduction to the school!  The building that the Smith’s School of English Franchise in Kotoen スミス英会話 甲東園 is located in is really a light gray color and finished in tiles for good protection against the elements.  It’s location, only a few short moments from Hankyu Kotoen Station, is easily found in front of the Shinkansen line blitzing by overhead, and only 40m west of the busy main road Nakatsuhamasen.  A free parking space is provided for so many of you wishing to come by car.

On some very unusually cloudy late afternoons to dusk, rainy days in which the UV index is 8 or higher, the building can appear deep blue in color, a charming hue which contrasts very nicely with the blue and yellow of our company flags!  There is an almost-neon glow to it!  Come to a trial lesson on such a day and a special coupon can be won!  I hope to see you and look forward to helping you achieve your goals!nice Smith's logo

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 仁川 甲東園 甲東園校 門戸厄神

The Japanese Rainy Season in Kawanishi and Tsukaguchi, Amagasaki

IMG_2493Last week a Smith’s School of English Kawanishi student told me that the rainy season had begun. In Kawanishi and Amagasaki where I teach English, the rainy season begins in June and ends around mid July. It can get a bit wet at times but with smart phones these days, it’s so easy to know the weather forecast and know when to keep an umbrella within reach.

According to what I’ve read on the Internet, Japan has 4 seasons. However it seems that in the minds of some Japanese, the Japanese rainy season does not automatically fit into any of them. For example this week at Smith’s School of English Tsukaguchi, I told a student that it was hot and that summer had begun. At first my student’s reaction (laughing) indicated she felt otherwise. I was intrigued. So was the rainy season a season in itself? Did Japan have 5 seasons? I asked her. She said no, it had 4 seasons and so the rainy season was part of summer. This example shows how the rainy season seems to be kind of special in the minds of some of my students of English. It seems to be more like a transition period between spring and summer. That’s interesting.

So do I mind the rain? Not at all. It doesn’t rain every day and there are plenty of nice days to enjoy. I enjoy wearing some shorts and a t-shirt every day now. (^.^)


Plenty of Nutritious Food in Japan

IMG_7301[1]Hello readers!

One thing is certain …… good food is something we can never really get enough of, and for this reason living in Japan is great.  Not long ago top quality food was very expensive in Japan but thanks to great improvements in food production and a simplification of the distribution network, prices are actually more in line with what you might expect in the EU.  Rising costs of food and a relative reduction in labor costs globally have resulted in some equalization of prices across the G7 and the EU.  It is common now to find buffet restaurants offering a diversity of healthful munchies at normal working-lunch prices, prices that make it even harder sometimes to justify cooking, at least only for oneself.  (Well, cooking at home is still better!)

At the Smith’s School of English in Kotoen スミス英会話 甲東園 students are committed to eating healthfully and the topic is quite naturally often discussed.  Surely nothing is more important if you really think about it.  One of the great things about this job is the ability to spend quality time with students, in particular people who live within 15 minutes walk of Kotoen, Nigawa and Mondoyakujin Stations.  There are so many owner-operated restaurants in these areas and many serve authentic, ethnic cuisines without cutting corners.  My only challenge is keeping my weight in check!nice Smith's logo

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

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