Why English?

Thank you for this chance to connect with you  through English learning.  We might not have met if you were into golf, or oil painting or jazz dance, since I’m not interested in those activities! You were drawn to this skill we call “language,” (and more specifically,) the English language, and now I can  get to know you. And I am grateful.


Let me tell you a secret. (This is not good advertisement for me, since I TEACH English ….) Ready? I don’t care if you can speak English or not.
No, really. I don’t!
I don’t even care if my own kids (who are raised in Japan) can speak English or not. I know it would be “nice” for them to be able to speak to their cousins who live in Hawaii, or maybe expand their future opportunities by speaking the international language.

But what I really look for : Are they enjoying the “self” that picks up the new skill? Does the learning process delight them? If the answer is “yes” or “maybe, with a little help,” then I want to be there for them!

I would never force a child to learn the violin, if they did not like the process of learning how to play.

I recently started playing the violin again after 25 years. I am not a good violin player. And even after 10 years of playing, I never got good. But even as a child,  I LOVED the process of learning how to play– I would keep at it for hours for the one or two beautiful notes that would occasionally sing out from my tiny violin.

It may be the same way with learning languages.
Look beyond WHAT we are learning and ask,  “Am I enjoying the process?”
Your “beautiful note”might the time you shared a smile with the English-speaking Canadian woman who thanked you for showing her how to get to Tokyo . Our powerful yet invisible connection to one another comes in and out of view because of your processing of all manners of learning, including new languages.

I’m here to help you love this magical process of language learning.
I want to help students see beyond the “benefits,” beyond the “what’s-in-it-for-me” reasons for language learning?

In my lessons, I try to move past the practical reasons and methods of learning. — I enjoy peeking under the “reasons for learning”lid, and celebrating the “person who IS learning.” 

So, how are you doing in your learning?

Are you feeling the thrill of new understanding?
Are you feeling the lovely tingle of connection to your fellow humans when you catch the deeper meanings of their words?

Language is but one gateway to deeper communication
But funnily enough, sometimes it blocks us/ shields us/ blinds us from seeing our common humanness.

As a teacher, I would like to see language for what it is:
Not a goal, but a cool by-product of something deeper, the lovely results from experiencing the “joy of learning and connecting.”

These are the thoughts that I have been exploring today.

My First ‘Udo’ and Eigo!

My First Udo, Slow

I bought my very first ”UDO”(oo-doh) (Japanese spikenard, or mountain asparagus) at the supermarket the other day!
I’m so happy.
My cooking teacher used it in a salad in a recent cooking class.
I have lived in Japan for 20 years, but I have never eaten”UDO”.
I loved the crispy, fresh, slightly bitter taste in my mouth as I ate the mouth-watering salad.
I enjoyed it so much that I bought this strange looking root at the grocery store the same afternoon.
 I thought that buying this new vegetable was like learning a new vocabulary word.
Strange new words are scary.
I don’t know the spelling; I don’t know the meaning; I don’t know how to use it in a sentence.
Until now, I had never seen this strange plant in the produce department, but I’m sure that it has always been there.
It was my new ‘vocabulary word’ in the cooking world.
I struggled to remember how my teacher prepared and cooked the vegetable.
It reminded me of how we often struggle  to use our new vocabulary words in new sentences.
I now know 2 ways to use udo: slice them thinly for a salad and stir fry the peel with a light soy sauce.
The next time I go to the supermarket, I will see this new vegetable “vocabulary” and perhaps will try  to create more delicious dishes or “sentences”  with it.
I hope you will also enjoy using your new vocabulary words, with new vocabulary ‘recipes’.
Perhaps one day you can share your new recipes with friends through deeper and more meaningful conversations!
Talk to again soon, goodbye!

My First Udo, Regular