It’s the second quarter of the year now. It’s getting hotter, the cherry trees have bloomed, and I have begun working on several new projects. One of the projects that I am currently working on involves the information sessions that Youyou conducts regularly. We have information sessions for Japanese-language programs frequently, and last year we began doing them for English-language programs, as well. Over the past year, I have been giving these information sessions about Japanese universities’ English-language programs in order to disseminate information about those programs and build interest in them, and Youyou offers support for students who wish to attend these schools’ programs, but parents and guardians are welcome to attend, as well. As my native language is English, I have been giving these information sessions in English, but I feel that it is possible to also conduct these information sessions in Japanese, as well, as that will allow more parents of students to attend the information sessions, thus helping more parents attend and benefit from our knowledge. This is something that my colleague and I will work on together this week, and we hope to expand the number of people who can benefit from this. If, for example, a student is occupied during the time of my presentation, their parents can attend instead. Having a Japanese version of the same presentation, or perhaps a two-person presentation with an English speaker and a Japanese speaker, will help more people than having just one language. Hopefully this will allow [→続きを読む]

One subject that I have recently been discussing with one of my coworkers on a somewhat regular basis is usage of words in English. He has been consulting with me frequently in order to check word usage, which is something that non-native English speakers can sometimes have difficulty with. Some of my students have also struggled with this, so I think I’d like to talk about my recent discussions about the topic. I have noticed that many students tend to make the same mistakes. For example, some students have a tendency to use words that are not commonly used in English, causing their essays to read rather unnaturally. The disparity between their word choice and their overall level of vocabulary makes me think that they used a dictionary, or perhaps some sort of electronic translator, to help them translate from Japanese to English. These tools can be very helpful, but using them correctly is important. When using tools like dictionaries to learn words, I think it is important for the user to do some research to learn whether or not the word or words that they learned are in use today, as it comes across as very awkward when I read rather simple sentences with mostly simple words but then suddenly face a word that I myself have never even heard of or understand. Words that a native speaker, such as myself, do not use in regular speech might not be the best choice in many situations, not only because [→続きを読む]

Recently, I have been involved with shooting new videos for our company YouTube channel, so I think I’d like to talk about that today. Our newest YouTube series involves explaining the entry requirements of various schools, with me explaining the requirement in a manner that is easy to understand but that covers everything in a concise manner. Some of the schools that we’ve covered are Keio PEARL, International Christian University’s liberal arts program, and Ritsumeikan APU’s APM program. We have since filmed several more videos, and we just finished filming another one today. I do hope to add more videos in addition to the ones we have published and the ones that we have shot today and last week, so we will work to make some additional videos, as well. I find this to be a unique challenge, as although I am generally good at public speaking and can give presentations with little to no effort, I have found that when recording footage I tend to do many retakes to get everything perfect. For some videos, it was easy for me to do everything perfectly on the first attempt, but for most of them, I would end up doing multiple takes. Sometimes I would redo the entire video from the beginning and other times I would just restart where I was, depending on how well I felt I was doing before making a mistake. While I had difficulty doing this at first, I have gradually gotten better at it and [→続きを読む]

I think that one of the things that Japanese students have the most difficulty with is writing in English in a way that reads naturally to native English-speakers. I think I would like to take the time to discuss this. I have found that many students tend to write in a way that does not seem natural, and I think that part of the reason for this is that they do not have anyone around them that can tell them that their writing is unnatural. When actually learning another language, having someone who is fluent in that language who can check your work is a very valuable resource. These types of people will be able to tell you about the quality of what you have written, or what you say, in case you are asking for critique of your speech. This is very valuable information, not only because it helps you learn what you are doing wrong, but also because you can learn how to identify what you are doing wrong. Without such a person present, it may be difficult or perhaps even impossible to determine if you are making mistakes or writing in an unnatural manner, which in turn makes it difficult to correct this. I think one additional aspect that may be contributing to this is that many Japanese-speakers might try to translate what they are thinking directly to English or even use a machine translator to help. In truth, sometimes this can be helpful, but there are [→続きを読む]

2022 has begun, and it snowed here in Tokyo on Thursday. The snow only lasted for a few days, but it was nice to see it. This year, we have several new projects coming up. First are the two new information sessions, which I wrote about last time. In addition to this, however, I also have a new project that I am hoping to start soon, one that will hopefully provide students with useful information about the schools that they are interested in. We will be publishing the information for the new information sessions soon, so please check our website within the next few days. It has only been about a week since the year started, but, like always, we hope to make this year a success for our students.

Today is the last business day of the year for us. We will soon begin our typical 大掃除, the end-of-year cleaning. After today, we will resume business on the 6th of January. There are several English information sessions in the second half of January, and the websites for those events will be posted in the near future after business resumes. Hopefully the world will begin to go back to the way it’s supposed to be next year, as it will be quite nice when the current global pandemic is over. As it’s just about time to start cleaning, I’ll cut this short post here and start to get ready. I suppose I will see you next year!

Perhaps it’s a bit early, but I want to talk about some of the upcoming events in January. Basically, there will be two new English information sessions that we will do in January. For the majority of 2021, what I have done is to give our regular liberal arts information session every month along with another topic, which has occasionally varied by month. Some of the past topics were on English-language business and economics programs at various Japanese universities and how to improve your TOEFL and IELTS scores. I felt that I was interested in trying a few different information sessions, and because I’ve historically focused on more general topics, I decided to have one of the new information sessions focus on one specific school this time. In this case, it’s Waseda University, and my goal is to highlight several of the programs at Waseda University for prospective students. Waseda has some great programs, and it is one of the best schools in Japan, making it quite popular among students. The other information is a more general one, and it will highlight several programs at different schools. In this sense, it will be somewhat similar to the regular liberal arts presentation, but since my goal is to add some variety, this new presentation will feature some programs that I have not discussed in an information session yet. I’m looking forward to both of these information sessions, as I’ve found that I rather like doing them. As for the regular liberal [→続きを読む]

There are a few things coming up for us in December that I think I’d like to talk about very briefly today. First, we have two upcoming events in English. The first is this Saturday, the 4th, and it’s going to be a seminar on how to improve your TOEFL and/or IELTS score. This will be the second time that we have had this presentation, and although registration has closed, it is possible that it will be held again in the near future. The second is our regular information session that discusses English-language liberal arts programs at Japanese universities. The programs are Waseda SILS, Sophia FLA, Keio SFC GIGA, ICU, and Rikkyo GLAP. As usual, each program’s entry requirements will be covered in detail. There is also a section for general information related to writing admissions essays, interviews, TOEFL and IELTS, and more. Finally, we will be adding additional English-language videos to our Youtube page. I’ve been working on some English content for our Youtube channel together with some of my colleagues, and it should be ready shortly, so please look forward to it. In addition, I plan to start shooting footage for another project this week, as well, so please look forward to that as well.

Recently, I have had a lot of students for interview support for various different programs. A lot of these students have told me similar things, like that they are not confident in their English, and one thing that many of them have told me is that it has been some time since they last practiced speaking in English. There are some things that I do that have helped me to learn, and while I have written about this topic before several times, these things are always relevant and always will be, so I’d like to talk about them again today. The first thing that I want to talk about today is confidence. Many of my students have recently told me that they lack confidence in their ability to speak. For the purpose of admissions interviews, or any interviews, for that matter, being able to express yourself confidently is an extremely important skill that you must be capable of doing. Having confidence does several things for you; it makes you sound more confident, which in turn makes you sound more convincing, it makes you feel more comfortable in the interview, and it also can have an effect on how well you do in the interview. If you are not confident about yourself or what you are saying, it’s possible that you might be worrying about how the interview is going, which could then affect the quality of your answers. I myself have a large degree of confidence in my ability to [→続きを読む]

Not long ago, I discussed how Christmas in Japan is somewhat different from the way it is in the United States. Yesterday, I saw the first of those differences in person. Last night, I went to 7-Eleven. There at 7-Eleven, I saw an advertisement for something for Christmas stuck on the window. I don’t remember what it was, and I also couldn’t see it that well because of how dark it was outside, but it was there. Typically in the United States, advertising for Christmas things does not typically start appearing until much later than it does in Japan, as we have another holiday, Thanksgiving, in November. As a result, stores begin to stock Thanksgiving-related items and have Thanksgiving-related advertising in November. Once November is over, Christmas-related items and ads start appearing with greater frequency. One other aspect to Christmas in Japan is of course KFC. Yesterday, KFC started accepting reservations for Christmas. In the United States, eating food from KFC on Christmas would be considered to be a very strange thing to do, as it is considered to be junk food in the United States and as such is not considered suitable for important holidays such as Christmas. In Japan, going to KFC for Christmas is of course normal. For several years after arriving in Japan, I wondered about what the association between Christmas and KFC is, but I didn’t research it until 2018. Researching it again just now seems to give conflicting reports of how this tradition came [→続きを読む]