Healthful Eating is Easy in Japan

IMG_3424[1]Hello everyone, it’s Martin Werner Zander from the Smith’s School of English in Kotoen スミス英会話 甲東園 checking in.  マーティン・ワーナー・ザンダー  Check it out below:

http://www.smithweb.co.jp/school/kotoen.shtml

I’m writing to remind how important it is to eat properly.  Don’t take in too much trans fat, sugar and salt and avoid preservatives whenever possible.  Dairy cholesterol may well be one of the biggest health food debates in history and for those who oppose dairy, a variety of good options exist.  For me personally, having grown up in a strong dairy environment in Germany, milk, cheese and butter are necessary staples, but for vegans or someone with lactose intolerance, I can understand why some might disagree.

The Thai curry vegetable stew my wife Yoko made is set apart from the usual by its list of ingredients.  Other than the white chicken meat, the rest of the dish in 100% vegan.  The spice mix was created at home from scratch using tumeric, cumin, dried chilantro, a pinch of garlic and one or two other little exotic herbs, and the bullion was made at home.  Just enough pure salt was added for taste and not a grain more.

Yoko usually makes a 5.0L pot full of this sort of stew, and while taking several days to eat up with boiled potates and bread or poured over rice like a Thai donburi, the flavor matures and gets better and better.  I actually prefer the left-overs!

Martin Werner Zandernice Smith's logo

マーティン・ワーナー・ザンダー

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

Tsukaguchi English School Students Taking Action

Trial lessons, also called demonstration lessons, are an opportunity for a person thinking about studying English conversation to see how well they fit into an English school’s teaching system. I teach at Smith’s School of English Tsukaguchi and for me, one of my greatest pleasures is helping a person gain the confidence to actually begin the studies they have been thinking about. Often people think about doing something to improve themselves but never actually do those things. I know I often think about going to the gym but unless I actually go to the gym my physical health will not improve. I often think I really want to study at a university again but unless I actually go to a university and enroll my mind will not improve. To improve we must think and then take action.

When a person arrives at my English school for a trial lesson they have thought and taken action. If I give a bad lesson then I could stop that action and that person will lose a fantastic opportunity to improve themselves. If I give a good lesson that helps them improve their English and they also feel comfortable in my classroom, they will probably decide to study English.

I always do my very best in every lesson. It is my job and my passion to help people improve once they have taken the effort and action to improve.

Derek

Toyama Fire Department – Hokuriku Routes 156 and 158

110813_1220~0001Hello readers, it’s Martin Werner Zander from the Smith’s School of English in Kotoen スミス英会話 甲東園 reporting on a another road trip you absolutely must take.

Again this summer we took a trip into the Hokuriku district, probably our fifth trip into a vast moutainous area filled with tradition and history.  From Nishinomiya or Takarazuka the best way up is along Route 173 through Kawanishi over Rurikei and at last onward to Ayabe.  From there Route 27 runs through Maizuru and along the very happy Fukui Prefecture seaside where many people stop for beach activities.  From Kyoto or Takatsuki the nicest drive up is all the way over Route 162 originating in Kyoto city from Route 9 or Gojo as locals call it.  This road passes through several interesting old villages on the way to Obama where it meets up with Route 27 at the beach.  I’m always amazed by why the vast majority insist on paying money to drive on crowded expressways and experience nothing on the way up.

Into Gifu Prefecture, the all-important junction of Routes 156 and 158 stands at Shiratori.  From here you just absolutely have to drive up north through Shirakawago (UNESCO Cultural Heritage) and right into Toyama Prefecture.  The regions in Toyama within an hour or so north of Shirakawago are mostly overlooked by the throngs of tours buses, and this is exactly where the charming experiences are to be had.

Drive slowly and take your time because the roads are not always in the best condition, and on weekends the curvy stretches are populated by motorcyclists eager to demonstrate their Daytona prowess and skill.  Another reason to go slow is not to miss the ancient villages dotted throughout the region, each of which sporting a unique sub-culture.  Enjoy!

Martin Werner Zandernice Smith's logo

マーティン・ワーナー・ザンダー

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

 

2014 Biwako Cup Hockey Tournament

Ed Hockey SmileLast weekend I attended the annual Biwako Cup Hockey tournament in Otsu, Shiga. My team, the Hikone Lakestars, has entered the tournament every year. This year we were in B-pool, with 3 other teams: Fukui Club, Torspor from Osaka and the Bam Bam Bigelows from Kagawa! We played 3 games, losing the first 2 and winning the 3rd. The 1st game we lost 2-1 versus Fukui Club. It was a close game with neither team giving the other any chances. It was a real nail-biter, right to the bitter end. It was also a wake-up call for us, having beaten the same team a week earlier by a score of 6-0, we realized that we needed to play better. The next game was versus Torspor, who beat us in last year’s tournament as well. Knowing they would be a tough team to beat, we came out flying but unfortunately we just couldn’t beat their goalie. One of the members of Torspor is a retired professional who played Read More »

The Pleasure of Living in Japan and Teaching English

NishikoriI’ve lived in Japan for a total of 16 years including eight years from 1978 to 1986 and eight more years from 2006 until now. I’ve worked for 3 major Japanese companies, 6 years in Japan and 20 years in the U.S. during which I traveled back and forth several times a year. But this time, I have really enjoyed my life here, working as a teacher in Kobe. I’ve had the pleasure to teach over 320 terrific people at the Smith’s School of English in Okamoto since 2006. Smith’s has provided a very good setting in which I’ve been able to meet many Japanese people of all ages and have many fun experiences.

This week I joined all of my students in the euphoria of Kei Nishikori’s run up to the final match of the U.S. Open Tennis Championship. The semifinal match was especially exciting for everyone. Besides his outstanding and powerful backhand stroke what I was most impressed with was Nishikori’s relaxed and confident use of English in the interview following his match with Novak Djokivic. Here is the interview Link: Kei Nishikori’s Interview after Beating Novak Djokivic in the Semifinal match

As you can see, using no interpretor he answers the interviewer’s questions very calmly and confidently. He is truly one of the best examples of what Japanese young people should strive to become when they learn English from now because the real purpose of English or any language is communication. So I hope that more Japanese young people will see Kei Nishikori as a kind of role model for their generation and strive to become like him: skilled, calm and confident to speak English as a second language in the world. It is a great time to be in Japan, a great time to be an English teacher and I think, the best time to learn English for Japanese students.

Enjoy learning! Enjoy teaching! Enjoy life!

Al Bartle (Head Teacher and Owner, Smith’s School of English Okamoto)

Enjoying Japanese Donbori at NAKAU (なか卯) in Tsukaguchi, Amagasaki

Japan offers a wide variety of tasty dishes to enjoy. I am a fond lover of Japanese donbori. Dondori dishes are simple yet so yummy! When I eat out for dinner during a day of teaching English conversation at Smith’s School of English Tsukaguchi in Amagasaki, I often go to NAKAU (なか卯). It’s located just a few minutes from my English school by bicycle along a road called Gogo Bashi. At NAKAU, I enjoy tasty dombori dishes like katsudon and gyudon with miso soup and salad at very reasonable prices. You can see an example of a meal there in the photo. The medium gyudon cost me 350 yen and the miso soup and salad set cost 150 yen, so I got all that food for just 500 yen.  Great value and delicious! I love Japanese dombori! (^.^)

Derek

Practicing your Listening Skill with Movies

ディズニー壁紙_アナと雪の女王(エルサ)Everybody knows that watching movies in their original English language is a very good and fun way to practice your listening skill.  You can get used to the natural speed and pronunciation of native speakers talking to native speakers. If you do not understand so much, watching the pictures is still very interesting. You can also easily watch the movie many times over and over, or just a scene. You can watch it once in Japanese so you know what is going on, and then watch the same movie in English as often as you want. Even better, you can look for the original movie script in the internet, and if you are lucky, you can read everything that is said first and then watch it, and understand much much more. As I found out last week, the chances to find the movie script for the movie you like to watch are  actually really really good.

Last week, I was looking for the lyrics of “Let it go“, the theme song of the popular Disney movie “Frozen”. On of my students bought the DVD to practice her listening skill. She loves the song, as many of our girl students, and wanted to know the lyrics. While looking for the lyrics I was very much amazed to find the whole script of the movie on an official Disney site, also. It is a pdf, ready to download. Great service! With the script, she can actually read what is said ahead. It will make it much easier for her to understand, and she will also learn much faster to understand English because of this “discovery”! And anybody who likes the movie “Frozen” and wants to study his or her English listening skill with it can just follow her lead.

For me as an English teacher, this was just a start. Happy that I found the script of the movie “Frozen” thanks to the great service of Disney, I kept searching for all kinds of movies. “Frozen” is very popular in Japan, but my students like all kinds of movies. Next, I looked for the movie script of the classic love story “When Harry meet Sally” with Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal. Bingo! How about an action movie, like the now classic first movie of the X-men series? Here is the script. Found in less than five seconds. Just put the movie name and the word “script” into any major search engine and there it is. Soup? How about ER or the popular sitcom iCarly?

Not all scripts are as nice as the Frozen script from Disney. Some can be downloaded as pdf, but many cannot. Some include a description of the scenes, some do not even include the name of the speaker. However it is a great service for any learner of English. Do not only watch and listen to your favorite movies in English, read them as well! There is no better way to practice your listening skill. I for my part got busy telling all my students about this great opportunity.

A Day in the Life… of a Volunteer Fire Corps Member!

スミス英会話大津校消防団のエドワード先生On Sunday August 10th a large and slow moving typhoon hit mainland Japan. It made landfall and crept north across the Kansai district, which is where we live. Our city, Otsu, is located in Shiga prefecture, dead centre between the Pacific ocean and the Japan Sea. Because the typhoon was slow moving, it rained heavily and for a long time, causing waterways to fill up and the potential for disaster to increase.

At 10am I received an email stating that all Shiga prefecture fire corps members were on “home standby”, which basically means that we must stay within 30 minutes of our fire hall and be prepared to go to the fire hall should we be called. At 11:00 I received an email followed by a phone call, informing me that we were being activated. Our hall works with a phone tree system, so after calling the next person below me on the tree, I suited up and headed to the hall. About 15 members were available that day and once everyone had arrived we discussed strategy and then headed out. I rode in the fire engine with 4 other members, and 3 other vehicles were used. 2 were personal cars, used for patrolling the area and checking certain high risk spots. The other vehicle was a flat bed truck piled with sandbags. Everyone communicates through cell phone and we are in constant contact with the full-time fire fighters at Otsu City Fire & Rescue South Hall and also local community centre volunteers, who send us reports from their areas.

We patrolled for about 1 hour, stopping at each of the community centres within our area to meet face-to-face with local leaders. We stopped and checked areas that had been flooded during last year’s large typhoon. At this time all was well so we returned to the fire hall and Read More »

Kenrokuen – Hokuriku Road Trip

080815_1315~0001Hello readers!

This is Martin Werner Zander from the Smith’s School of English in Kotoen マーティン・ワーナー・ザンダー  スミス英会話 甲東園 !  I am hoping everyone has been enjoying their much-deserved time off during this Obon holiday season.

My wife Yoko and I wanted to go camping in Toyama and Ishikawa, but because of the unpredictable weather caused by Typhoon Halong (TS 1411), we just decided to stay in hotels along the way.  We took a drive up the Echizen coast of Fukui and Ishikawa Prefectures and came back down through Toyama and Gifu Prefectures, along Routes 156 and 158.  This is a drive that we have taken several times before, including two previous visits to the famous Wajima area in Noto-hanto and enjoy this environmentally clean and culturally rich region very much every time.  If you haven’t been, you really must, and allow for lots of time to explore the mountain roads and hidden villages.

Despite the less than ideal weather predictions, we saw more tour buses than ever before.  Tourists from China to Europe are flooding the region and we therefore recommend going during a quiet season.  Obon and Golden Week should perhaps be avoided if at all possible, but going at any other times will reward you with unrivalled experiences.

Drive safely and watch out for motorcyclists!nice Smith's logo

マーティン・ワーナー・ザンダー

Smith’s School of English 月謝制 Real Monthly Tuition English Conversation School

スミス英会話 甲東園 甲東園校 仁川

Street Presence At Smith’s Kotoen スミス英会話 甲東園

IMG_3428[1]Hello everyone!

I wanted to point out the good kharma that comes from getting known in the local community where you have your Smith’s School of English franchise スミス英会話.  At the Smith’s School of English in Kotoen スミス英会話 甲東園, there is a Family Mart convenience store on the corner at the main street, Nakatsuhamasen.  The peculiar habit of this store is allowing local produce vendors to set up a temporary food stall at the corner of the parking lot right alongside the sidewalk.  Those stalls are set up right next to my Smith’s tank and flag on the corner.

Every few weeks in the spring and summer the town officials send out hedge cutters to trim the hedges along the street, and in a good effort to avoid damaging my flag, the workers neatly moved the tank out onto the sidewalk, well away from their saws.  This was a pleasantly unexpected gesture.

However, when the workmen left, they accidently left my tank and flag standing out in the middle of the sidewalk.  What happened next is the real surprise …… one of the part-time workers from the food stall went over and put the tank and flag back into the correct position, properly visible and also out of the way of pedestrians.  This was much appreciated and I didn’t even have to lift a finger myself.

The school’s long-term establishment in the area is the main reason for this good fortune.nice Smith's logo

Martin Werner Zander

マーティン・ワーナー・ザンダー

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

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