2014年 01月 15日 インストラクターブログ

I’d like to introduce our staff and instructors, who know the fun as well as the difficulties associated with studying other languages.
This time is…….Garry!

Q1: What languages have you studied before?
A: I have studied Japanese, a bit of Greek and some French.

Q2 Have you ever been to a language school?
A: Not a language school, but I studied French at university and Greek at school.

Q3: Do you often read foreign books or watch foreign movies?
A: I like a lot of foreign films, particularly small-budget independent films. But, of course, I need to read the subtitles. I also read a lot of Greek and Latin books, but mainly in translation.

Q4: Have you ever taken a language exam?
A: No, never. But I think I should take a Japanese exam someday to test my level.

Q5: Do you have any tips for studying languages? Also can you recommend any books or movies for study?
A: I think everyone has a particular style that suits them best, but what I recommend strongly is trying to create opportunities to use language in real-life situations. I learnt most of my Japanese simply by listening and repeating what I heard around me, but for language students in Japan it’s not so easy. Watching TV, listening to music and reading are all important tools for language learning, but be sure to use materials that capture your interest. Another option these days is making friends on social-networking sites. This can give you a chance to use your new language, which can then inspire you to study more and improve further.

Q6: What language would you like to study next if you have a chance?
A: Latin. I know a little, but I’d really like time to learn it thoroughly.

I hope this help you with your study! My next blog will be…..an interview with Adrian! Hope you enjoy it!


Q1 : 何語を勉強しましたことがありますか?
A: 日本語と、ギリシャ語とフランス語を少し勉強したことがあります。

Q2 : 語学学校に通ったことはありますか?
A: 語学学校ではないですが、大学でフランス語とギリシャ語を勉強しました。

Q3 : 外国語の本や映画はよく読みますか?
A: 映画はとても好きです。特に低予算映画が好きです。でも、もちろん字幕つきですが…。ギリシャ語とラテン語の本も沢山読みますが、殆ど翻訳の為の読書です。

Q4 : 外国語のテストは受けたことがありますか?
A: いいえ、一度もありません。でも日本語のテストは自分のレベルを知るのに一度受けるべきですね。

Q5 : お勧めの勉強方法は?また、勉強にお勧めの本や映画はありますか?
A: どの人にもその人に合った勉強方法があると思いますが、実生活の中で外国語を使う機会を増やすことが一番のお勧めです。私の場合は、周りから聞える日本語を、単純に聞いて、真似して繰り返して…というふうに勉強しましたが、日本の生徒にとってはそうは簡単ではないと思います。TVを観たり音楽を聴いたり本を読んだり、どれも語学習得にとって大切な学習方法ですが、自分に興味のある教材を使うことが大切です。また、最近ならソーシャルネットサイトで友達を作るのも良いと思います。そこで新しい言語を学ぶ機会を作り、勉強しようという意欲を持つのです。

Q6: 機会があれば、これからトライしてみたい言語は?
A: ラテン語です。既に少し知識はありますが、もう少し全体的に勉強したいです。


Damn you autocorrect!

2013年 12月 11日 インストラクターブログ

Following the boom of the mobile phone industry in recent years, text messaging, a.k.a. SMS, has become the medium of choice for millions of people around the world. It’s simple, it’s quick…and it’s free! I, for one, hardly ever call my friends on the phone or send them e-mail anymore: I ‘text’ them instead. Besides, text messages aren’t just text anymore. You can now send pictures, voice messages, funny stamps and so much more, all via SMS.

Another remarkable feature of text messaging – and, actually, of most word processing software – is called autocorrect. As far as I know, it doesn’t exist for the Japanese language. Therefore, if you have never typed a message in a foreign language, you may have never heard of it. So, what exactly does it do? Well, if I misspell a word because I’m typing too fast or because I don’t know the correct spelling of the word, autocorrect “guesses” the word I’m trying to write and corrects the spelling. Let’s say I’m trying to type the word friend, but my finger slips twice and I type f-r-u-w-n-d instead (u is next to i and w is next to e on the keyboard). When I move on to the next word, the software will automatically change that word to friend. As a result, although I tend to type very fast on my phone, the messages I send contain very few – if any – typos. Brilliant, isn’t it?

However, the downside of this is that a lot of SMS users now rely too heavily on autocorrect and push the Send button without checking their messages. Unfortunately, autocorrect isn’t quite foolproof. If your finger slips a little too much on your phone’s keyboard, or if you are writing an unusual word, like a person’s name, autocorrect may guess the wrong word. For example, the Japanese name Fumie isn’t recognized by autocorrect and changes to Rumor. When that happens, your message may not make sense anymore, or it can sometimes mean something very different than what you intended and lead to very awkward situations.

So, if you ever write an SMS in a foreign language, make sure to carefully re-read your message before sending it!



他にもテキストメッセージにはスゴイ機能があります。それは自動訂正機能。私が知る限りでは、日本語には予測変換機能はあっても訂正機能はありません。多言語でタイプしたことがある人は聞いたことがあるかもしれないですね。タイプするのが早すぎて間違って単語を打つと、自動訂正機能が単語を推測して自動的にスペルを訂正してくるという機能。例えばfriendを f-r-u-w-n-dと間違って記入した場合でも、自動的にfriendと正してくれます。結果、早く文字を打っても間違った言葉をそれほど打たなくて済むのです。素晴らしい機能だと思いませんか?




Get rid of the clutter

2013年 11月 16日 インストラクターブログ

“A man’s home is his castle”. This common saying expresses the idea that no matter what troubles a person may face during the day they can always find refuge within their own home. But what happens when your sanctuary becomes overrun with clutter?

According to experts, this lack of free space can cause you to feel tired and depressed, make it difficult for you to relax, and perhaps surprisingly waste money.

So, when my wife suggested, yet again, that we reorganize our apartment, I looked on it as an opportunity to get rid of a lot of clutter. To begin, I sought some simple advice on how best to achieve an uncluttered existence. There is a lot of information on the subject out there, but most experts seem to agree on 3 main ground rules:

1. Everything you own should have value, either because it's functional or beautiful or you just love it. To determine if something is truly valuable, ask yourself this question: if your house were on fire and all your family and pets were already out of harm’s way, what else would you grab? It is unlikely that you’d rush back into the house to save your blender, for example. Considering this scenario will help you determine the true value of an item.

Every item needs a place to "live". Simply dropping things on the coffee table or kitchen counter creates piles of clutter and confusion. Experts suggest we ask ourselves questions such as, "Where do my keys live?” If we can provide a clear answer (“They live in a bowl next to the front door"), then we are doing things correctly. If we can’t, we need to become more organized.

2. Focus on one thing at a time. Trying to clear out an entire apartment at once is a daunting task. You are likely to give up halfway through and leave things incomplete and more confused than when you started. Focusing on one room at a time is a much more effective technique.

So far, I have been able to discard a lot of unwanted junk and make my apartment more relaxing – though it is still a work in progress. If you are looking to simplify your life and make your home more relaxing, I recommend you follow these guidelines, too.


“A man’s home is his castle”(人の家は城塞である。)この良く使われる諺は、どんな困ったことがあったとしても、避難場所はいつも自分の家の中にあるという意味です。ですが、その「避難場所」が不必要な物で散らかって戻れなくなってしまった時、あなたはどうしますか?








Autumn pleasures

2013年 10月 29日 インストラクターブログ

With the sudden bout of cold weather, the mountains have turned almost overnight from green to all the autumn colours, red, orange and gold. It’s getting dark earlier, so no more late afternoons in the sun, and most likely we’ll soon be rushing home after work to get out of the chill.

So with less hours of daylight and more time spent indoors, what are best ways to pass another autumn-winter season?

The first thing to do is go to your local park or your own garden, if you have one, and jump in a big pile of leaves. I know it sounds childish, but it’s a shame to waste all the effort trees go to provide us with huge piles of crisp colourful leaves. Go on, jump and roll around in them…let your inner child run free.

The second thing is to start reading. I’m not talking about magazines and newspapers, get to a bookstore or local library and find the biggest, longest book you can, settle in your favourite chair and get reading!

A third thing, which goes well in combination with 2 above, is start to experiment with your beverages. Forget the instant coffee and tea-bags, cold weather means that it’s time for hot chocolate. Check this website for some interesting variations: http://startcooking.com/12-twists-on-instant-hot-chocolate

Last, autumn-winter is a great time to start a new hobby. Christmas is just around the corner and just imagine how nice it would be to give your friends handmade cards or hand-knitted gifts? If you aren’t good with your hands, you could start learning a language . . . like English!!

So summer has gone, and we now have 6 months of cold and dark to look forward to, so let’s use our imaginations and make the most of the time, even if it’s just a fun afternoon spent jumping in piles of fallen leaves.






3番目に、今言った2つとよく合うと思います。お気に入りになるような飲み物を見つけることです。インスタントのコーヒーや紅茶ではなく、寒いに日はココアです。このサイトにはココアの色々な飲み方が載っていますよ。 http://startcooking.com/12-twists-on-instant-hot-chocolate

最後に、秋冬は新しい趣味を始めるのにベストな季節です。クリスマスはもうすぐそこ!友達に手作りカードや手編みのプレゼントなんて素敵だと思いませんか?手が器用でなくても、語学を習い始めることだってできますよ。例えば… 英語とか!!



To pet or not to pet?

2013年 10月 02日 インストラクターブログ

Life is full of dilemmas. Coffee or tea? Fork or chopsticks? Mc Donald’s or Mosburger? A recent visit to a friend’s house revived just another one for me. Should I get a pet or not? My friend happens to have the sweetest cat there ever was. It’s a 2-year-old purring black ball of fur named Milo. Though adorable and affectionate he may be, he is also quite obviously desperate for attention and in need for long tummy rubbing sessions as his master is often away from home working. So, although meeting him made me want to have my own pet, it also reminded me of the poor plant wilting in my living-room. Could I make a pet happy?

Riding the subway home that day, I started listing the pros and cons. On the one hand, pets are an affectionate and friendly presence for a single man like me coming back home after a long day at the office. Studies have even shown that pets help to reduce the stress levels of theirs owners. Besides, I like feeling responsible for a living creature. In a way, it adds meaning and purpose to my own life. On the other hand, an extra responsibility is not exactly what I need at the moment. Furthermore, most pets require a lot of time and care and incur expenses, not to mention the heartbreak it is when they die.

As I went to bed that night still pondering things, I decided to put off my decision of buying a pet for the time being. The only thing I’m sure of is that, if I ever have kids, I’ll definitely want them to have a pet. And maybe this is where I should start…I should have babies first! All jokes aside, I’d love to know how you feel about pets? What kind of pet do you think I should get? Why? I look forward to reading your suggestions.








Fantasy Sports

2013年 08月 22日 インストラクターブログ

During my first few years in Japan, whenever I met someone for the first time, the conversation would quickly turn to hobbies. When asked, “What do you like to do in your free time?”, I would answer immediately, “I love playing sports.” It was who I was – a sportsman.

Now, when I am asked the same question, I tend to hesitate. I still love sports, but you see, my life has changed. Greater responsibilities at work and home mean I no longer have much spare time. And, to be honest, I am not as young and healthy as I used to be. So then, what is an aging sports-fan supposed to do? The answer: fantasy sports.

Fantasy sports leagues are usually based online and cater for all sports. There are fantasy leagues for US Major League Baseball http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/fantasy/fb/info/index.jsp, American Football, NHL Ice Hockey and, of course, all major soccer leagues, including the English Premier League soccer http://fantasy.premierleague.com/. It is even possible to play Fantasy golf! http://www.pgatour.com/fantasy.html Right now, I am currently involved an Australian Rules Football fantasy league with players from 3 countries.

Each game has its own unique set of rules, but they all allow you to create your own team, select your favorite players, and compete against your friends and coworkers. You score points according to how your selected players performed in their real game, and the fantasy team with the highest score wins. In this way, you can savior the joy of victory and suffer the agony of defeat. In short, you can still be involved in all the fun and exciting parts of sport without all the hard work and time.

In many countries, the popularity of these fantasy games has grown to the point that they often become the main topic of conversations in the office and at social events. Even sports announcers now refer to them during live broadcasts of the actual game.

However, I have not heard much about Japanese fantasy sports and would like to know more about them. Are there leagues for Japanese baseball or soccer? How about sumo? If so, why are they not more popular? I wonder if it is simply because there are only a few such fantasy sports sites here in Japan, or if it reflects a more significant cultural difference.

Please share any comments or advice you have about fantasy sports.




答え:ファンタジースポーツ です。

ファンタジースポーツリーグとは、通常、オンラインで全てのスポーツを提供します。ファンタジーリーグには、アメリカのメジャーリーグhttp://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/fantasy/fb/info/index.jsp 、アメリカンフットボール、NHLアイスホッケー、そしてもちろん、イギリスのプレミアサッカーリーグを含む、メジャーなサッカーリーグhttp://fantasy.premierleague.com/ などがあります。ファンタジーゴルフさえも可能なのです!http://www.pgatour.com/fantasy.html 私は現在、3カ国からの選手たちからなる、オーストラリア式ルールのフットボールのファンタジーリーグに関わっています。






Songs of Summer

2013年 07月 21日 インストラクターブログ

Summer’s here at last, and how great it is!!! Nothing beats waking up to bright sunshine and blue skies with nothing to do all day but relax and enjoy it.

But whether you’re at the beach, enjoying a drink somewhere or just out driving around, what is summertime without great music? I’m sure we all associate certain songs with summer, and when we think back to summers past, those songs of summer provide a soundtrack to our great memories.

Let me tell you about two songs that always spring to mind when I recall summers long gone. The first is “In the summertime” by Shaggy (featuring Rayvon). This song was a hit back in 1970 for the British band Mungo Jerry, but I love the Shaggy cover released in 1995 from his album Boombastic. Shaggy’s Jamaican style really adds to the summer feel. It still sounds great even 20 years on. Give it a listen

The second song that really reminds me of summer is from 1984 – “The Boys of Summer” by the former Eagles, Don Henley. A haunting song with a cool repetitive riff, it has a great nostalgic feel and seems to call up the ghosts of summers past . . . I loved it in 1984 and I love it still.

Of course there are tons of great summer songs . . . why not add your favourite to the list? I look forward to listening to it!



長く過ぎ去ってしまった夏を思い出す時の歌を2曲紹介します。まず最初はShaggy (featuring Rayvon)の“In the summertime”です。この歌は1970年代、イギリスのバンドMungo Jerryによってヒットした曲ですが、私は1995年にリリースされたShaggyのアルバムBoombastic に入っている、ジャマイカスタイルのカバー曲がより夏の感じがして好きです。20年たった今でも好きな曲です。ぜひ聞いてみてください。

もう一つは、1984年から夏を思い出させる曲―イーグルスのメンバー Don Henleyによる“The Boys of Summer”です。 繰り返されるかっこいいリフの忘れられない歌、すごく懐かしい感じがして過去の夏の幻影を呼び出すようです。。。1984年、私はこの曲が大好きでしたが、今でも大好き曲です。



Tips for pronouncing the French ‘r’

2013年 07月 07日 インストラクターブログ

If you have ever tried to learn some 101 French words such as ‘Merci’ (=Thank you), ‘Bonjour’ (=Hello), or ‘Au revoir’ (=Good bye) to prepare for a trip to a French-speaking country, I bet that you have struggled with the sound of the French ‘r’. First, let me start by saying that there isn’t a sole ‘r’ sound, rather a variety of sounds made by the letter ‘r’. Depending on what region of the French-speaking realm a person is from, or where the letter ‘r’ is in the word – at the beginning, between two vowels, at the end, etc – the sound will differ. The following tips aim to help you practice the most common, standard French ‘r’ sound.

Unlike the Italian or Spanish ‘r’, it isn’t produced by vibrating the tip of your tongue (rolled ‘r’). Nor does it come from the back of your throat, like many people think. What you need to do is try to bring your tongue backward so that it almost blocks your throat and exhale. The passage of air between your tongue and the top of your palate will cause your uvula to vibrate. That’s what makes the ‘r’ sound.

Easier said than done, right? Well, here is what you can do to practice.

1. Gargle! When you use mouthwash and throw your head backward, your tongue will naturally move back to block the throat so that you don’t swallow the liquid. It is then in the same position as for the correct pronunciation of the French ‘r’ sound. I recommend trying this with a small amount of water, in order not to make a mess.
2. The ‘r’ sound is most easily pronounced between two ‘a’ sounds, because it forces you to open your mouth and lower the tip of your tongue. Try repeating the word ‘ara’ – a kind of parrot from the Amazon rainforest – for practice. To keep the tip of your tongue low and quiet, you can put a pen on it.

If you try these tips, you should start feeling what you need to do to produce a perfect French ‘r’ sound. Have fun!



あなたがこれまでにフランス語「Merci=ありがとう」や「Bonjour=こんにちは」、「Au revoir=さようなら」のような基本的な言葉を、旅行に備えるために学ぼうとしたことがあるならば、きっと「r」の発音に苦戦したことでしょう。まず最初に、「r」の音はたった1つだけではなく、むしろ色々な音が「r」で作られます。フランス語圏のどの地域からの出身であるかにより、または、「r」が単語のどこにはいっているのか― 言葉の始め、2つの母音の間、言葉の終わりなど― により音は異なります。次のヒントは、最も一般的な、標準の「r」音の練習に役立つでしょう。



1. うがい!マウスウォッシュを使って、頭を後ろにする時、あなたの舌は自然に後ろへいって喉をブロックして、液体を飲みこまないようにしますよね。その時のその状態が「r」を正しく発音する時と同じ位置にあります。失敗した時のために、少量の水で練習することをお勧めします。



A special book

2013年 05月 23日 インストラクターブログ

I am a reader. Nothing feels (or smells) quite like a book, well printed on quality paper. Like most readers, I have a number of favourite books – books that I go back to, time and time again, books that have a special meaning for me, although a meaning that often changes as I grow older and approach the book from a new perspective.

John Steinbeck’s The Winter of Our Discontent is one of those novels. Generally, I’m not a fan of American literature, but I make an exception here. Perhaps it’s not a great novel, but it is special to me. I’d like to tell you a little about it, and maybe encourage you to read it for yourself, even in translation.

The Winter of Our Discontent was Steinbeck’s last novel before his death. Much of his earlier and more famous work was set in California, but this novel was set in New England, and on one level it deals with the moral decay of the US. On a more personal level it is the story of a man afraid of success – afraid of what kind of man he might need to become in order to become successful in a country in moral decline.

I don’t want to spoil it for you so I won’t tell you any more of the plot. Let me say, however, that as we grow to adulthood, we all need to make compromises between the person we want to be and what society and our friends or family expect of us. I have often turned to this novel and its protagonist (not quite a hero), Ethan Hawley, when I needed advice on my own conduct – I guess that’s why it is so special for me – because it has never yet failed to set me on the right course.

Anyway, that’s about it – I hope you have the chance to read The Winter of Our Discontent, and I hope it might become a special book for you too.



ジョン・スタインベックの「The winter of Our Discontent」はそれらの小説の1つです。一般的に、私はアメリカ文学のファンではありませんが、これは例外です。すばらしい小説ではないかもしれませんが、私にとっては特別な本です。今日は、これについて少しだけ紹介しましょう。たとえ翻訳されたものであっても是非お勧めします。

「The winter of Our Discontent」はスタインベックの生前最後の小説でした。彼の初期のもっと有名な本の多くはカリフォルニアの設定でしたが、この小説はニューイングランドで、アメリカの道義の退廃について扱っています。これは成功を恐れる男の話です。―道徳的な衰退国で成功を収めるために、どのような男になる必要があるのかを恐れています。


まあとにかく、そういうことなのです。―みなさんも「The winter of Our Discontent」を読む機会があるといいですね。そして、あなたにとっても特別な一冊となりますように。


My best holiday incident

2013年 04月 21日 インストラクターブログ

With the temperatures gradually rising and Golden Week approaching rapidly, I have started to muse about exotic travel adventures. A lesson about travel hassles I taught recently reminded me that it’s often the little problems we inevitably encounter while traveling that end up making the best memories.

Let me take you back 22 years ago, in 1991. I was still in Junior High School at the time and had a full head of curly brown hair – yes, it’s me in the picture, in Prague. On a sunny July morning, my family and a family of friends – that’s two heavily loaded cars, seven overexcited children and their parents in all – set off towards the Czech Republic.

It was an amazing journey filled with interesting visits, surprising encounters, and loads of fun. However, my most vivid memory of our expedition remains an incident that occurred as we were crossing the German countryside on our way back to France. We had stopped for lunch in a rest area and were ready to hit the road again when I felt an irresistible urge to go to the bathroom. When I came back to the parking lot, everybody was gone. Since the kids had often been switching cars during the 3-week tour, no one had noticed I was missing. They had abandoned me.

After going through all the emotions of the rainbow, I made the decision to try and follow the cars. “After all, two vehicles with French license plates and big roof boxes won’t go unnoticed,” I thought. So, I started running on the side of the road, asking anyone I met if they hadn’t by any chance spotted the cars. And it worked! I was able to follow their track for what seemed like very long but very thrilling kilometers. It was my own adventure and I was the hero. Until it started to get dark…but I was so elated that even that didn’t damp my spirits. I ran into a farmer on his way home from the fields and, after I told him my story, he generously offered me a shelter for the night. I was about to follow him into his home when I saw the headlights of a car coming toward us. And sure enough, it was my mother looking for me. Talk about lucky timing! After thanking the kind farmer, I got on the car and was soon reunited with my family. However, the story wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t tell you how they realized I was missing. After arriving at the hotel we had booked for the night, they started looking for me…because I was the only one who could speak German!

So, if you are going on a trip this year, don’t stress too much over the planning. There’s always going to be that little grain of sand that grips even the most thorough organization. Instead, learn to enjoy the unexpected and think about the good stories you’ll be able to tell your friends when you come home. One more piece of advice, if I may. Parents, always count your children before you drive off. And children, always tell your parents to wait for you when you suddenly need to answer nature’s call.