Japanese Kindergarten

Language Learning 101Welcome to 2016- The Year of the Monkey. 2015 was a big year for us- we welcomed our 2nd son into the world and most of our year was dedicated to him. Babies need a lot of attention! Also in 2015, our 1st son entered kindergarten. This has been such a wonderful experience for all of us, and an especially eye-opening one for me. Being in an international relationship means that one of you is away from your childhood home. As I am the one who is living away from my home-country, I get to experience Japanese kindergarten for the first time.

Japanese kindergarten is one of the main reason that we live in Japan, for 2 particular reasons. The 1st is that Japanese kindergartens are really well run and the level of care given is very high. The 2nd reason is for our children’s language acquisition. As my wife and I are both highly proficient in English and English is our primary household language, we know that our children will be 1st language English speakers. We also knew that becoming fluent in Read More »

2016 Goals : Regular Homework

Hello Readers!

Remember to do your homework !

Remember to do your homework !

Welcome to 2016!  We at the Smiths School of English Kotoen スミス英会話 甲東園 wish you all a happy and prosperous new year.  The school is open and ready for new lessons and to continue from where english conversation students took a holiday break before Christmas.

We should all take a look at our study goals for 2016 and decide how much regular homework review we will be able to do this year.  Review is essential to success but work and other responsibilities can sometimes seem more urgent!  Some amount of homework should be a priority so let’s all begin with a really quick and easy weekly homework right here:


I would like to welcome you all back to lessons this week and good luck!

Martin Werner Zander


Smith School of English Kotoen 月謝制 Real Monthly Tuition English Conversation Schoolnice Smith's logo

スミス英会話 甲東園 甲東園校 仁川 門戸厄神

Japan: Land of Parks

スミス英会話大津校 Japanese ParksAlthough we live in a big city with a relatively high population density, we have ample opportunity to go outside and play. The reason? We live in the land of parks. Allow me to elaborate. In Japan there are prefectures, which contain cities. Cities are broken up into districts and towns, which are further divided into communities and sub communities. Every level has a group of officials who organize their area. Part of this organization includes the building of parks. So every prefecture builds prefectural parks, every city builds municipal parks, and so on. The result is a huge amount of parks, of a variety of sizes. From my home, there are 8 small parks within 5 minutes on foot. These are either built by local communities, usually adjacent to the community centre, or built as part of a major Read More »

Japanese Hospital Hospitality

Hospital RoomJapanese Hospital Hospitality
By Edward, Smith’s School of English Otsu

At the beginning of December I got sick. It was serious enough to warrant being hospitalized. At first, because the doctors didn’t know what had caused my illness, I was put in a private room (quarantine). After a few days the doctors had figured out what it was, determined it was not contagious, and I was moved to a group room.

While in quarantine, I couldn’t leave my room and I couldn’t have visitors. My room had a private toilet and bath, sitting area, small kitchen and of course a bed and TV. Nurses, doctors and other staff came and checked on me regularly, bringing me medicine, checking my condition, bringing my food and drinks and even offering to get me anything I wanted from the day room or vending machines.

Once in a group room, I was able to move around and get things for myself and yet still received Read More »

Coaching at Smith School of English Kawanishi

FullSizeRenderEver since my first trip to Japan I have enjoyed so many things. I have walked around Kyoto seeing the classic gardens and visited the Manga Museum in summer. I have taken a boat ride down the Osaka River, while viewing the lovely Cherry Blossoms during winter. I have so many fond memories.

But the most memorable experience I have and continue to make is coaching English at Smith’s School of English in Kawanishi. With the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games approaching, I feel fortunate to be part of helping many people from Japan reach their dreams of speaking English at a greater level. Like the coaches that train the athletes to perform at their best. My pleasure is seeing my student reach higher and using English with confidence. So let’s continue to strive for the gold medal. Together we can make it happen.


Wonderful Holiday Surprise

20151210_140003One of my former long term students from Smith’s Eikaiwa Kyobashi had stopped studying English and had returned to university.  She came to the school today. I was very surprised to see her and even more surprised when she gave me this beautiful handmade holiday card.

I enjoy the relationships that I have built with my students, and I am so happy to think that they can continue even when a student needs to leave. It is an added reward to what I do and another point in a long list of reasons why I love living in Japan and being an English coach at Smith’s Eikaiwa.


20151210_140019[1]I really cannot think of anything that I would rather be doing than what I am doing now; helping people to achieve their goals of language improvement and confidence.  I am looking forward to spending many more years in Japan with Smith’s Eikaiwa, and with my students; old, existing and new.

Good Food Good Area

Kyobashi is a trendy, busy and convenient ward in Osaka and it’s a great location for Smith’s Eikaiwa. I love this area for the many shops, restaurants, and izakayas that are in the neighborhood. One of the things that I really appreciate is Coms Gardens. It’s an amazing mall that has many places to eat as well as an open area for sitting in the sun on those hot Osaka summer days.

20151212_114512On the second floor of Coms Gardens is Saizeriya. It’s a very low cost Italian restaurant with friendly staff as well as delicious food. One of the favourite things I like to eat when I go there are these chicken wings. I usually bring them back to my school, but I have stayed and eaten from time-to-time.

So if you love Italian food and saving money, then I recommend a trip to Saizeriya, and if you see me sitting by the front, there is a good possibility that I’m waiting for chicken wings. So wave, say hello and enjoy your meal, I always do.

English Rakugo

ShinoharuTokyo2016Hello Everyone!

Have you ever experienced English Rakugo?

As an English coach in Fukushima Smith’s English School, I highly recommend you this English Rakudo  performance for English conversation training.

On the 21st January 2016  there will be a Japanese traditional  performance by Rakugo Performer, Shinoharu Tatekawa. ” English Rakugo 2016  by Shinoharu” will be Shinoharu’s largest English Rakugo performance in Japan, welcoming over 200 guests of diverse backgrounds.

Rakugo is a traditional Japanese art of comic storytelling that started in the Edo Period. It is best described as stand-up comedy  in a story-telling style, established in the late 18th century. As a performance art, a storyteller usually wearing a kimono (Japanese traditional clothing)  entertains the audience by playing several characters on the stage. Read More »

First wireless bungee jump. Real or fake?


キャプチャHave you ever tried bungee jumping? According to Collins dictionary, bungee jumping is a sport in which a participant jumps from a high bridge, building, etc, secured only by a rubber cord attached to the ankles. The English word “bungee” doesn’t have a clear origin, some sources suggest that “bungee” means “anything thick and squat” from West Country dialect, other sources indicate that it is from “bungie”, slang for India rubber or just unknown.

It was in the city of Bristol, where the first modern bungee jumps were made in 1979 from the 250-foot (76m) Clifton Suspension Bridge until New Zealander  A.J. Hackett made his first organized commercial jump from Auckland’s Greenhithe Bridge in 1986. Read More »

Star Wars versus Star Trek

star-trek-vs-star-warsThe upcoming release of the next Star Wars movie brought up interesting English conversations at Smith’s School of English Fukushima and because of this, I felt compelled to do some research about it.

“Are you a Star Wars or Star Trek fan?”, “Who will win in an all-out battle? ” are some of the titles that you can find by just googling a few words.

I was exposed to Star Trek at the age of 7 because of my father, a fan of classic Sci-Fi movies and TV series (Dune, Blade Runner, Back to the Future, 2001 A Space Odyssey, Planet of the Apes, E.T, Tron, and so on) although my generation fits better with the Star Wars films, I am a mixture from both sides of this Sci-Fi nerdiness. At home, there are three topics that should never be discussed at the dinner table: religion, politics, and the relative merits of Star Trek and Star Wars.

On one hand, Star Wars and The Force and on the other hand, Star Trek and Mister Spock’s charisma. What crew would you be willing to join in? Read More »

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