Finding a purpose to study English conversation is not easy for everyone. Wakana has been with Smith’s School of English here in Sagamihara, Japan, for over 12 years. She tells me that she hated English when she was in Junior and Senior High School. In fact, she found it so difficult and useless that she avoided universities that required it on entrance exams. Wakana just didn’t like English!
A Reason to Study English Conversation
In 2004 her husband was assigned to a 1-year job in Monterey, California. She wanted to go with him, so she quit her job and began her journey. Upon arrival, she knew that she needed to adapt to a new culture, and that included learning English. She found an English school, which was free to those in the area that needed help. Students could stay for an hour, or all day. Wakana stayed all day.
Within that English school there were people from all over the world- China, Taiwan, Thailand, Mexico, El Salvador, France, Turkey, and Eastern Europe. They were all in the same situation, and their common language was English. Wakana finally found a good purpose to study English conversation.
While living in the USA, she had built a solid base of international friends that changed her life and way of thinking. She didn’t want to leave, but they had to return to Japan. Her husband’s next work assignment took them to Iwate Prefecture.
English School Student to English School Teacher!
Coincidently, just across the street from their home in Iwate was an English school. She studied there for a year, and was later asked to teach kids, junior and senior high school students at the same school. She took the challenge, which motivated her to study even harder. After teaching there for several years, she had the unfortunate experience of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in March of 2011. Her life changed again. They needed to leave Iwate.
Clear Purpose to Study English, Friends, Hobbies
In June of 2011 she came to Smith’s School of English, Sagamihara for a trial lesson. Deciding which level for her to start was easy for me- “Yellow-” our most advanced group of students! She has plenty of purpose now; mainly for the friendships made in California. Still in touch with many of those people, she’s visited Taiwan twice to see friends, Shanghai, and California again to see friends. Some even came to Japan for a reunion in Tokyo, which she organized. Studying English has changed her life. I am happy to be a small part of it.
Her hobbies include cycling…
the art of kimono…
Japanese Tea Ceremony…
…and volunteering for the city of Sagamihara. She continues to help Sagamihara Oyama Community Center with her website-building skills. Whenever they need to advertise something, she is happy to put it on their webpages. She even once volunteered to be “Sagamin-” Sagamihara City’s character/mascot!
As a world traveller, she’s been to more than 20 countries- another reason to study English conversation! Her travel stories in class are always interesting.
Why Smith’s School of English?
As an advanced English speaker, our lessons are purely conversational. I listen, respond, and offer her new vocabulary and more natural language when I think she could use it. She chose Smith’s School of English “Powerful Course”so that she can reserve lessons when she wants to. I asked her why she liked Smith’s School of English. Her words- “It is a kind system for students. I can change my schedule if I need to. Sometimes my class is one-to-one with the teacher, and sometimes there are other students. I like the mix. Listening and talking to other students in English is fun! My fear of speaking English is gone.”
So her purpose to study English is now very clear. She has achieved communicative confidence in English at her own pace. She’ll never stop. It’s hard to believe that she once “hated English!”
And finally, Wakana is also an avid blogger, having written about her life and adventures for many years! Her personal website and blog is called “Wakana’s Bar.”
Please have a look at that. It is very interesting!
I have written about 5 or 6 of my students over the years. It’s enjoyable because it always becomes “a project” between myself and that student, and within that project lots of good conversation comes out! Every student has a good story. I wonder if anyone is next?
Thanks for reading!