Smith’s School of English Sagamihara City opened in Hashimoto in April of 2005. Shiro was the 8th student to join. Now into his 16th year, he remains “student #8;” studying privately with me for most of those years. Even after suddenly relocating this English school to JR Sagamihara Station a year ago, he didn’t hesitate to follow me. Why? So recently I asked him if I could write a blog about him. He was very willing and gave me permission. This month I decided to “interview” him in order to find out “why.” What follows are his words, not mine.
I hated all subjects in high school, including English. I didn’t like studying and was a bad student. In fact, I still don’t like studying. Learning things that interest me, and choosing how to learn is much more interesting. Textbooks didn’t do it for me.
I joined Smith’s School Sagamihara because I was in a job that required me to continually improve my TOEIC score. After joining Smith’s, my score went from 250 to 590 after a few years. Upon leaving the company some time later, my TOEIC score proved to be valuable because my present company had a score requirement of at least 500. But I don’t need English in this company!
Why Continue English? Goals?
I don’t need a goal now. I guess I have short-term goals every week; that is to come to Smith’s School every Saturday and speak as fluently as I can. During the months of April and May, Smith’s School in Sagamihara was closed due to COVID-19, so I lost motivation and didn’t study at all then. Smith’s gives me motivation to continue. I just like coming here. No goals, really.
Shiro is my (Jim’s) Japanese history teacher!
As I said, I like to choose my own way of learning. Most of what I know comes from reading manga (Japanese comic books), and then researching on the internet. We don’t know the whole truth about history. I find that manga writers often tell the stories that are not in textbooks, the truth that society doesn’t want us to know. I double check the stories with other sources on the internet and come to my own conclusions. And I enjoy talking about it in English. Maybe that is one of my goals.
I watch and learn from Youtube, sometimes TV dramas or movies. Smith’s Youtube channel has also been helpful. I am subscribed- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCy7k1VXpRjwdqH6ZZQUN72A. Of course I don’t understand everything I hear. When I’m listening to you, I can catch 70 – 80%. I can understand what is important, take a guess or don’t pay attention to the words that I missed, and then respond. Sometimes my response is wrong, but I don’t worry about understanding every word.
I like to read news articles on my way to work. Smart phones are really good for that. One of my favorites is “Japan Today.” https://japantoday.com I usually don’t write anything down. Sometimes I remember the new word, sometimes I don’t. It’s okay if I don’t remember it the first time.
(Jim). Like I said, Shiro has been coming to Smith’s School of English Sagamihara for many years, and remains the “oldest” student in this school. Perhaps the most rewarding part of this interview for me was when he told me that he no longer silently translates before speaking. He is thinking in English now, and that is a barrier that many language learners never break down. This is also another reason his fluency has improved so much. He often teaches me something, especially about Japanese history or culture, and that makes his lessons fun and my job interesting.
No goals, it’s a hobby now!
Not too long ago, I wrote a blog https://sse-franchise.com/smiths-school-english-sagamihara/ about “student diversity.” Shiro falls under the category of “engineer,” but from what I gather, he studies English for his own personal satisfaction. I am very happy to help him along every week, month, year, and soon to be another decade! Thank you Shiro, for your hard work and dedication to English language learning and Smith’s School of English. Your advice here, to other students is spot on! It really is my pleasure. Your success “speaks” for itself!
Thank you for reading!
Jim, Smith’s School of English, Sagamihara, Kanagawa, Japan