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

Language Learning is Like Mountain Climbing

スミス英会大津校 Climbing an English Mountain!At Smith’s School of English Otsu we have a student who is an avid mountain climber. Although he has always loved the outdoors, mountain climbing is something he started later in life. At first he would climb small mountains in and around Shiga, sometimes by himself and sometimes with a friend or two. Then he joined some climbing circles where he would climb with small groups. Eventually he decided to challenge himself by climbing the highest mountain in Africa: Mount Kilimanjaro. He joined a private tour group with professional guides and enjoyed climbing and camping for a week in Tanzania. Since then he has climbed the highest mountain in Russia (Mt Elbrus), the tallest in SE Asia (Mount Kinabalu), plus climbing in the Himalayas, Taiwan, India and Mount Fuji in winter! All of this he has accomplished thanks to the help of professional climbers and guides. His next goal: the tallest mountain in the Americas, Mount Aconcagua (6959m) in Argentina!

Learning a language is a very similar process. At some point in your life, you decide to try it. You start out by yourself, studying a little bit at home. Then you join an English circle or make a few English study friends. Finally you desire to really improve, to climb a higher mountain so to speak, and you seek out a professional. This is where I come in, this is my job. Every student comes to me with Read More »

Mars Opposition May 22nd

IMG_5063[1]English Conversation students at the Smith’s School of English in Kotoen スミス英会話 甲東園 have long known about my astronomy hobby.  It has been in a temporary hiatus because, thanks to El Ninyo, the atmospheric conditions in Japan have been poor since 2012.  Well, all that has finally changed with the general improvement evident since January.

Our third nearest neighbor in the cosmos will be at opposition on May 22nd, followed by a closest approach on May 29th.  Anytime between May 10th and June 15th is a good time to view it, though it never rises more than 30 degrees above the horizon so it will always be shrouded in a murky atmosphere.

Have you noticed a bright orange beacon in the low southern sky around midnight?  It’s Mars.  You’ll need access to a telescope and eyepiece of very high optical quality on top of a night of perfect atmospheric transparency, meaning no wind, in order to make out surface features.  The planet’s angular size of around 18.6 arc seconds and strong brightness are enough to make this possible, although upcoming oppositions in 2018 and 2020 will be better.

Martin Werner Zandernice Smith's logo


Smith’s School of English Kotoen 月謝制 Real Monthly Tuiton English Conversation School

スミス英会話 甲東園 甲東園校 仁川 門戸厄神

Language is Culture and Vice Versa

スミス英会話大津校 Language & CultureAs an English language coach, I am responsible not only for teaching the elements of the English language, but also the culture which is included with every language. In the case of English, this covers a huge range of cultures, from Europe to America to Australia and more. For example, when a student asks me why the Rolling Stones sing “I can’t get no satisfaction” instead of “I can’t get any satisfaction”, I have to explain the difference in British dialects and how the north and south of England are vastly different places, with different culture, which affects language. A student may also ask why we don’t have an English equivalent for the Japanese expression “having a cat’s tongue”. This expression refers to people who are sensitive to eating really hot food, i.e. people with sensitive tongues, like cats have. Here again, I have the task of explaining differences in food culture. Japanese cuisine includes a lot of cooking at the table, eating directly from the fire, hot and fresh food. Western cuisine is usually served in the kitchen and carried to the table, before being eaten. This means that even the hottest western food is somewhat cooled off by the time it reaches our mouths, whereas many Japanese dishes are eaten steaming hot. this has resulted in the above expression being prevalent in Japan, but not in the west.

This is an aspect of working at Smith’s School of English that I really love. Not only am I given the time and opportunity to Read More »

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