“If you can imagine it you can FIND it”

Hand holding a piece of paper with Teaching printed on it.

Before I came to Japan I could not possibly imagine what an enriching experience it would be teaching English at Smith’s English School at Fukushima, But here I am and my actual experience is way over the initial expectations.

There is not only the satisfaction as a person teaching another person the useful skill of English conversation, there is also a great reward as a teacher, coaching a student at one of the Smith’s English Schools in Japan.

Recently chatting with one of the students at Smith’s at Fukushima I explained the sentence “If you can imagine it you can do it” as a motivational slogan for her situation. Like all Japanese students, she needed to pass her University entrance examination, and as a passionate student of English conversation, who never failed to provide here “one point homework”, she managed a remarkable score in her University Entrance Examination English test.

I usually motivate myself with ” If you can imagine it you can do it” but a better choice in this case would be “if you can imagine it you can find it”

Have you ever thought about being an English teacher in Japan? I hadn’t before I came to Japan but maybe you, after reading this post will not be ready make the decision and join me in Japan.

How is winter in your country? Here is great, at Smith’s School of English we love the winter season. Sadly the change of season will start soon so probably you will not be able to enjoy winter in Japan this year, maybe next?

Self-Guided Travel Talk

Hi, Everyone!IMG_7143[1]

It’s Martin Werner Zander of the Smith’s School of English スミス英会話 甲東園 with a follow-up post regarding the intelligent use of paper.  In the last blog post, I talked about the good deal of satisfaction already gained in Going Paperless and progress in this endeavor is an ongoing process.

Having said that, one paper product that I believe ought to stay with us for a while longer is the good old-fashioned book, and not just any book, but one that contributes to our experience and knowledge in a profound way as well as being as portable as possible.  This could be a university-level physics text book, a 19-Century British Literature novel or a newly-updated travel guided tucked under your arm as you make your way through unfamiliar lands.

The reference library for travelers at the Kotoen School スミス英会話 甲東園 is extensive and English Conversation students there are actively encouraged to make use of them.  Guide Books with similar philosophies and repetitive organization become second nature for intermediate and higher levels to use and some of the more popular items have actually made the journey and back!

It is very rewarding to be able to do this kind of work in Japan and the Smith’s School of English Franchise system is a choice platform to facilitate it.

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

Kawanishi Matsuya Touchscreen Machine Offering Menu in English

FullSizeRenderYesterday between English lessons at Smiths School of English Kawanishi, I went to Matsuya (松屋) near Hankyu Kawanishi-Noseguchi Station for dinner. At Matsuya you choose what you want to eat and pay for your food using a machine. You get a ticket, hand the ticket to the staff and the staff serves you your food. Recently the machine was changed to a touchscreen one with a choice of 4 languages, one of the languages being English. This makes it easy for English speakers in Kawanishi like myself to buy food there. Thank you Matsuya! Oh and by the way, if you go to Matsuya in Kawanishi I recommend the set meal “Cheese in Hamburg with Demi-glace Sauce Set Meal”. It’s real tasty. Enjoy! (^.^)

Derek, Smith’s School of English Kawanishi

Japan Geography in English

Welcome back, readers!IMG_7166[1]

I have recently discovered an interesting little curiosity about the English language most of us have either never noticed or just haven’t given much thought to.  It has to do with the English spelling and pronunciation of place names in different countries.  When we talk about places in Germany, Italy or Greece, native English speakers tend to use names that have historically been translated into English. Sometimes the names were borrowed from Italian or French names.  Names like Cologne, Naples, Vienna, Venice, Munich, Athens and Rhodes are all obviously English or translations into English.  However, when discussing places with French, Portuguese or Spanish names such as Avignon, Nice, Salamanca, Sao Paulo or Madrid, the tendency is to keep spelling and pronunciation more or less consistent with the host language in question.  English Conversation students at the Smith’s School of English in Kotoen スミス英会話 甲東園 are aware that the name Paris cannot have the ‘S’ pronounced in French, but at least English spelling is consistent.

When we study the map of Japan, we find two important facts worthy of note.  Firstly, the Hepburn Romanized Transliteration is usually used to write place names in ‘English’, similar to how people’s names are written in passports.  With only a rudimentary understanding of Japanese hiragana pronunciation, it is actually easy to learn place names in Japan with surprisingly accurate pronunciation, even when alphabetized with Hepburn.

The map shown is a good place to start learning the names of the major regions in Japan.  Everyone already knows O-ki-na-wa!

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

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.


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