She took a trial lesson with me nearly five years ago and I was sure that she wasn’t going to join. Why? Because she was so very shy and nervous. To my delight and surprise she joined as a private student. I took her first ten lessons or so very carefully, very structured. She aced every one of them, so at about three months in I decided to see how she could really communicate and did something purely conversational. She told me she had a TOEIC score of 600. So I changed things up and started less-structured lessons and began to see some confidence coming out. I understood that her lack of confidence was not only in her English ability, but life in general. “Why don’t you take a trip abroad?” She was reluctant at first, but went off to San Francisco by herself, came back, and confidently said to me – “I did it!” Then the next year she went to London. Amazing progress. She challenged the TOEIC again and scored 770. I was stunned at everything she had done so far, realising her potential, I suggested applying for jobs at Camp Zama, a US Army base nearby. It was January, and we began practicing for interviews. She did her homework and came back every week impressing me with her dedication to a new goal. We did this for a few months. I was honest with her and told her that she would likely fail a few interviews, but that she would learn from those disappointments. That is exactly what happened. Finally in June or so, she passed her fourth or fifth interview and was bound for a job working in the Staff Judge Advocate Office at Camp Zama Japan with a start date of September 1st. I was elated, and she was beaming when she told me. Sayuri has been working in an English speaking environment for nearly two years now and keeps on setting goals for herself. We just finished practicing techniques for the Eiken Grade 2 Test, which she easily passed a week ago. Last week she told me that she wants to try the Pre-Grade 1 Test in October, so that is what we will begin this week. I have watched this young woman go from “nothing” to something very big. She is on fire! She gets grammar homework every week, and also writes an essay of her choice. Sayuri is an amazing example of someone who never gives up and never stops challenging herself- a goal setter. And it is my absolute pleasure to be a part of her success; so proud of her. This is what I love about my job as a coach with Smith’s School of English. Stay tuned, she isn’t done yet.
Jim (SSE, Hashimoto)