Hamaotsu Summer Jazz Fest and BQ Gourmet

スミス英会話大津校 大津市のなぎさ公園 浜大津夏祭り日本語のはこちらです。

Last weekend my family enjoyed the annual Hamaotsu Summer Jazz Festival. We go every year and always have a great time. This year the Jazz Fest was combined with another event, called the BQ Gourmet, which I learned means B-Grade Gourmet. This is a food event involving over 80 Shiga area restaurants, each offering 1 dish. Dishes ranged from kebabs to hamburger to fried chicken, from Hokkaido style ramen to spicy Korean somen to beef udon. Many dishes included the local speciality beef, called Ohmi Beef. Though not as famous as Kobe Beef, it is nonetheless incredibly delicious. This festival is held over 3 days, from Friday to Sunday. Each day includes live events on the central stage, the food vendors, kids area and fireworks to finish each day. We enjoyed watching dance performance and eating on Friday. On Saturday we couldn’t attend because of work at our English conversation school (which is only a 5 minute walk from the festival location). On Sunday we enjoyed the whole day, including live jazz and food! Did I mention the best part about this festival? It’s held in Nagisa park, which is a lakeside park in Otsu, and the festival is free! Beautiful scenery, green space, live music and delicious gourmet food. Life is good.

Edward, Smith’s School of English Otsu

Coaching English in Tsukaguchi, Amagasaki

IMG_9948At Smith’s English schools in Japan, we do not call each other English teachers but instead Coaches of Communicative Confidence. We coach confidence in previously taught English skills, these skills being the English all Japanese are required to study in school by law in Japan or any additional English they have studied. All of my English language students here at Smith’s School of English Tsukaguchi have studied English for at least 6 years before coming to my English school. They have a good base in grammar, can read English and can normally understand some English when spoken to. However, they need work on their English speaking skills. As their English coach, my job is to coach confidence in their English so that they can eventually converse in English with ease.

I recently talked about this with Masami, a Smith’s student studying English here in Tsukaguchi, Amagasaki. She found it quite interesting. A few days ago, she gave me a lovely summer greeting card. On her card, she thanked me for coaching her for the last 7 months, said she could now speak English with a little confidence and that she enjoyed communicating with friends in English. I was happy to read that! Thank you again, Masami and congratulations! Keep up the great work! (^.^)




スミス英会話 甲東園 Student Homework

Remember to do your homework !

I regularly promote the importance of homework at the Smith’s School in Kotoen ( スミス英会話 甲東園 ) and about 80% of the English Conversation students do it.  Regular review is key to success, and the type and amount of homework usually reflects the student’s specific need or learning objective.

One homework I really enjoy focusing on is our very own weekly 1-Point.  Not only is it interesting and useful for the students, it also provides a measure of togetherness between us all.  It’s really fun.

It would be worthwhile to get every student doing regular review and I believe with proper guidance it should be possible.  Most of the students do it as a matter of habit.  However, while the majority of adults at the Kotoen School are high-intermediate level professionals, a percentage of the more senior folks are not especially Internet-savvy so I have been experimenting with different ways of directing their interest towards it.

One of the most rewarding things about our jobs working within the Smith’s School of English ( スミス英会話 ) system in Japan is the opportunities we create to allow people to improve their lives.  This traditional approach to learning person-to-person is timeless and sustainable.

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

Proximity Pros

滋賀県のキャンプ場が良かったです。 Camping in Shiga- Close at Hand!Summer is here and the sun is shining. It is officially time to get outside and enjoy ourselves. Barbeques, picnics, camping, hiking, going to the beach, and so much more. In this season school children have summer vacation, workers get Obon holiday, everyone has a little extra time for fun. What do you like to do? Where do you like to go? Personally I love hiking and going to the beach and there are plenty of great places for both right here in Shiga prefecture. Otsu city itself has a dozen beaches, all a short drive from central Otsu and most of which offer free parking! My favourite is Wani Hama, just north of Katata. Hiking? On the west side of Lake Biwa are the Hiei and Hira mountain ranges, on the east side is the Suzuka mountain range. Both east and west offer hundreds of hiking courses and dozens of mountains to explore.

This is the silver lining to living in a small country. People often complain that the country is too small. Frequently I am told how lucky I am to come from Canada, which is such a large land. Many people are surprised when I tell them that I have never Read More »

A Fantastic Train System!

スミス英会話橋本校 アメリカのAMTRAKLast April I returned to the United States for a two-week visit. It was a wonderful trip, enjoying perfect weather every day. However, during my time in New York City and New Jersey I was reminded just how great the train system is in Japan. There are no time-tables in the subways of New York, and New Jersey Transit was a real disappointment. Riding from New York to Philadelphia didn’t feel “right” to me. Delays happen more often than not, it was not clean, and very noisy-  mechanical noise of old, tired, worn-out trains made in the 1970’s. It was quite uncomfortable compared to what one can experience in Japan.

Upon returning to Japan I boarded the “Narita Express,” bound for Yokohama; clean, on time to the minute at every station, very quiet, and safe. I then easily transferred to the JR Yokohama Line, and again, precisely on time at every station, making it very easy to Read More »

A Lovely New Lunch Option

大津駅前のどんまるMy English conversation school is located just in front of JR Otsu station. Although this is the centre of Otsu and only a few blocks from the Shiga prefecture parliament buildings, it’s not exactly a hot bed of high end cuisine. In fact, there are very few options, especially for lunch. We have the basics: ramen, udon & soba, Chinese cuisine, and simple lunch fare such as curry & rice and sandwiches. What we have been missing is a quick, affordable and healthy option. As of this week, we have just that! A new shop has opened called Don Maru, which specialises in seafood rice bowl, called “donburi”. This restaurant offers take-out only, regular rice bowls are 500 yen (about $5), large size rice bowls are 600 yen, rice bowls with extra toppings are 700 yen. The wonderful thing is that all bowls are the same price, and they offer 84 types! A huge set of options which is literally overwhelming but actually so wonderful after years of Read More »

Watching ‘Terminator: Genisys’ with Smith’s School of English Tsukaguchi Students

FullSizeRenderMovie theaters in Japan usually have some movies that are in English with Japanese subtitles. This gives students of the English language in Japan a great opportunity to practice their English listening skills. These are important when studying English conversation. Listening and speaking work hand in hand, so improving English listening skills by listening to English is important when seeking to learn to speak English. Watching movies that are in English is one way to do this and for those who like movies, fun! For me, I love watching movies and having movies I can watch in English here in Japan is great!

I started going out to the movies with a Smith’s School of English Tsukaguchi student years ago when he (Yoshihisa) invited me out to see a movie with him. We have watched many movies together. Recently another student (Reina) has joined us too on some occasions so I guess we have a kind of movie club thing going on! (^.^) On July 24, Reina, another student (Hiroko) and I went to see ‘Terminator: Genisys’ at TOHO Cinemas Itami at AEON Mall Terrace in Itami. The movie was great and we had a wonderful time! I look forward to my next outing at the movies with Smith’s students! (^.^)




A Supporting Role

Edward, Smith's School of English Otsu CoachI am an English coach at my little English conversation school in Otsu. I help my small but dedicated group of students to excel in English, with a focus on functional communication. For years I have introduced myself as an English teacher because this is the most common and simplest answer. In reality this is not accurate, for what I do is not primarily teaching, but rather coaching. Allow me to explain.

A student joins my school. She tells me that she loves to travel but she can’t speak English well and would like to improve. She comes to class and I teach her a phrase, for example “Where is the nearest bank machine?” She says that of course she knew this phrase. She knew all the words and she could make this sentence, all before coming to my school. The government had done a great job teaching her the basics of the English language over 6 years of junior and senior high school, years before coming to my English conversation school. She had also studied on her own at home, she was intelligent and keen to learn.

What could I possibly add? What could I do to help her achieve her goals? What she lacked, and what I could offer her, was the opportunity to practice in a supportive environment. I guide her gently along, I give her little nudges forward, I cheer her on. I help her to realize that what she is doing is Read More »

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

11666221_932071690169403_3624753327076319272_nSmith’s School of English Kawanishi is just one of the many Smith’s English school franchises in Japan. Smith’s School of English seminars are an opportunity for Smith’s English coaches like myself  from different parts of Japan to meet in one place. Smith’s founder Mark Smith hosts these seminars. Mark cares a lot about Japan and Smith’s franchisees. At seminars, he updates us on the latest developments in the Smith’s franchise system and the English teaching industry in Japan. We really appreciate all the hard work that goes into preparing these seminars for us. Thank you, Mark!

On Sunday, July  5th, we had a Smith’s seminar in Osaka.  At the seminar, Mark talked about the history of Smith’s since its inception. We discussed where we were (as a company), what our purpose was and what our values were. It was interesting to see that Smith’s English coaches basically share the same values. We also did some training in how to teach some of the latest Smith’s curriculum using digital media. It was a great seminar. Thank you again, Mark!


Super Summer Sumo

スミス英会話大津校 Super Summer Sumo 1Once again it is summer and the Nagoya tournament is well underway. As usual, legendary grand champion Hakuho is leading the way. For those of us following sumo these days, we are witnessing sumo history in the making. Hakuho holds most of the individual sumo records and those he doesn’t hold yet, he is well on his way towards capturing.

I love sumo. To me it embraces so much wonderful culture and heritage. Most modern martial arts stem from sumo and those that don’t often borrow many concepts from sumo. Furthermore, sumo is one of the most sportsmanlike and honourable professional combat sport. The matches are short and usually not savage, and though wrestlers suffer from strains and sprains, they rarely suffer from direct contact or intentional injuries. The wrestlers compete for victory and honour, not simply to defeat their opponents.

Sumo wrestlers train hard for many years. they start young and live fully immersed in the sumo world. They eat, sleep and breath sumo for most of their young lives and through their Read More »

Bad Behavior has blocked 1231 access attempts in the last 7 days.