Ready to Soar Ready to Soar: is all about reaching our potential, always improving, growing and learning. I have always been fascinated with birds, their ability to travel where they want and soar at will. We too can soar if we want to. We all have so much potential and together we can all improve ourselves and the world in the process. It is not easy, but it is worth doing. We hope our site helps you in your journey of soaring through life.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Kevin`s English Schools, Serving Japan Since 1991

Kevin`s English Schools was established in 1991. We now have three schools in Kanagawa, Japan and teach over 150 students. Two of our schools are in Minami Ashigara City, and one is in Odawara`s beautiful Kamonomiya area.

Many schools in Japan are huge corporate enterprises, literally hiring a thousand teachers per year. Sometimes small is better!

We have a few teachers in very homey schools. We care about our students and teachers and from that attitude, we make money. We realize that the former leads to the latter.

In our schools it is common to find wooden tables and chairs. It helps to give the feeling of coziness we strive for. Teachers and students seem to enjoy the difference.

Kevin Burns and his wife Ikumi are both teachers. Ikumi not only teaches at KES, and at local junior high schools but she is the manager as well. Kevin teaches at KES and at Tokai University in Kanagawa.

About Us

"Share everything. Play fair...When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together."--Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

My wife and I established our first school in 1991: our Tsukahara School, and we now have four schools located in Minami AshigaraCity, Odawara and Hadano (Shibusawa Station.)

At these schools we have a huge collection of teaching materials,enough to rival or surpass many colleges and universities teaching EFL. All of our schools are equipped with a computer and students and teachers may use them. We have an EFL software library which studentsmay use at our schools. Students are also encouraged to borrow books,CDs and cassettes, from the small libraries we have at each school.

Most students come once or twice a week for 50, 60 or 90 minutelessons. As this adds up to only 8-12 hours per month or so ofEnglish study, we encourage them to use software, books, and videos athome. Slowly their time in the classroom and doing home study addsup, and reaches a point where there is noticeable improvement.

We have some classes for "returnees," or children who have lived abroad or speak English at home and are fluent or nearly fluent.

Pictured: Dustin Hoffman playing tennis with KES staff and students

In terms of curriculum, for the most part we allow our teachers to choose what teaching materials they will use. But for childrenaged 6-12 the first two texbooks they will use are Finding Out 1 and 2 by David Paul. If new students aged 6-12 can read well,then they can study in an existing class using a different textbook. So far we haven`t found a better method for teachingstudents to read than David Paul`s Finding Out method.

Teachers will betaking over existing classes, and they will need to finish the materials(textbooks etc) that were used by the previous teacher. Afterfinishing the previous teachers text, you would be able to chooseyour own textbooks subject to the approval of the manager`sIkumi and Kevin. We rarely veto a teacher`s choice however.

Currently, we use a variety of textbooks. The Finding Out series byDavid Paul is used in most of our children's classes. We alsoare using English Land in some. We also have the children read story books from our extensive collection. We supplement these texts with other activities encouraging speaking.

For adults some of the texts we use include: the NewInterchange series, Talk Your Head Off, J-Talk, Expressways, Passport and others. Some teachers use the many free articlesavailable on the internet as a point of departure for these classes. Many links to teachers resource sites can be foundin the forum for Kevin`s English Schools at Yahoo Groups:

We encourage all of our teachers to bring in materials which theythink are of value. If teachers use what they like, and believe in,what they are using, they will be happier about it, and will do abetter job of teaching our students. For this same reason we allowteachers to choose the next textbook they will use. We feel this alsomakes students happier too. They get more variety in their Englishlessons than if we dictated what book the teachers would have to useand how they would have to teach it.We don`t abide by the robo-teacher training method that some of theBIG schools in Japan espouse, of training otherwise good teachers toact like English teaching automatons; to take away their freedom toteach in the manner they think best, and to have them teach the sametextbook in the same way as all of their other teachers in Japan.While that leads to a uniform product for students, for teachers itleads to boredom and burnout. Perhaps that`s why the turnover ofstaff at the large chain schools is so high.

Indeed those schools offer exactly the same, very high pricedclasses to their students whether in Sendai or Fukuoka. Some studentslike that. Again some people like McDonald`s and some like a niceItalian dinner. But no one likes paying Parisien restaurant pricesfor a hamburger, yet that is what students frequently do, they aretaken in by the high priced advertising they see all around them.Sometimes small is better! Sometimes small means we care more aboutour customers, and our teachers; because if we don`t we go out ofbusiness.

Indeed, we try to offer an Italian dinner for the price of a familyrestaurant., and our prices and how you pay is very flexible. We arevery low pressure. Our company is not about sales, sales, sales. Wedo our selling by offering good teachers and good classes to ourstudents. Like the oldcliche, our classes sell themselves.

We try to keep our classes fun but every activity we do must useEnglish and have some kind of English goal, be it simply to practicequestions and answers or a more lofty one. Games are great as long asthey use ENGLISH and have a GOAL. Typically you would work 4-10PM with some morning classes twice a week or so. You may go off campus onceor twice a week to teach a company class nearby.

Currently our youngest students are three years old. Fuji Film and other large companies are located here, and many of our adult students tend to be highly educated professionals from companies like Fuji, engaged in various types of research projects. We also have homemakers and retired people studying here. You will teach a huge variety ofpeople and learn a lot about all walks of life in Japan just by teaching here.

Many of my friends are current or former students. I count myself lucky that I get to be paid for what I do. If you are the right kindof person,who enjoys people, enjoys teaching, is open-minded, and enjoys learning, then you willfind a position with our school chain rewarding.

In our children's classes we emphasize learning to read to a largeextent, as after they can read, they can do many things. Once theycan read, studying at home becomes possible. They can use a textbook in class which makes it easier to teach themand of course they can read storybooks. The ability to read in English opens upa whole new world. Those Disney books are now a possibility for littleHaruko, as is having a penpal. There is English all around us, evenin Japan, and now Haruko can read the signs. She can go on the internet to see her favourite Hello Kitty site in English. English becomes real for her and not some far off reality shecan`t understand. She is now experiencing it right in front ofher, and even she though she is only eight, realizes there is aworld outside of Japan that uses English.

Schools which don't emphasize learning to read from the start, tendto have students that are very parrot like and can regurgitate Englishon command but don't really seem to know what they are doing or why.Unfortunatelymany schools here are of this ilk. Students of these "repeat aftersensei" schools cannot read in my opinion. They can identify the word`dog` but cannot read `log` or `bog.,` because they haven`t beentaught phonics. We emphasize phonics very much in the first few yearsof study here., along with teaching all the other things one needs toknow.

We do emphasize learning to ask and answer questions, which areimportant to the children: "Do you like Pokemon?" Not: "How waswork today?"

Although we are one of the more reasonably and flexibly pricedEnglish schools here, English study in Japan is not cheap, and we needto havesomething tangible to show the parents after their children havestudied here for a year or more.

Indeed, English study is not like learning how to swim. With swimmingyou can take lessons for a couple of months, and then wow Mom and Dadwith your fantastic back stroke. This is not so when learning Englishof course. After two months of study you don't have much to show theparents. English study is more akin to learning classical piano thanlike swimming. It takes years to become fluent. Think of your ownexperience with high school Spanish or French. How many of us arefluent?

Now that I have depressed you, remember that all hope is not lost.Language study is really an art that one must spend years at. At riskof alienating our students and becoming destitute, we emphasize thispoint to all of our new students rather than hide it or white-wash it.Why lie to them? They should know what they are in for. We emphasizeit during our demolessons and in our classes. We also talk about it in Japanese in thearticle below, and on our front page in both English and Japanese.

We pride ourselves on honesty and doing our best to teach ourstudents. We don`t want to hide the truth of what students arecommitting themselves too behind glossy advertising.

We have two schools in Minami Ashigara City, Kanagawa Prefecture. Oneof them is called Tsukahara School.

It has a pleasant river side cottage atmosphere, with an all woodfloor, and wooden tables and chairs from Italy. There is a gardenaround the school with many trees and flowers to add to this ambience.There is even a giant chess board in the parking lot, and we have anannual chess tournament there.

Our Anne School, is a large Canadian, Victorian stylehouse. This is where my family lives and we also have a classroomhere. All of our teachers teach at "Anne" at least one day a week. Itis a great place to teach and study! I think we may have some of thenicest English schools to study and teach in, in Japan!

All the materials for our Anne School were imported from Cloverdale, British Columbia. It has oak floors, and all wood tables, chairs and bookcases. It is alocal landmark. There is also a garden around it with trees and flowers.

All of our schools are pleasant places to work, where we havesuccessfully created an "at home" atmosphere in each of them. Thatsets us apart from many of the schools that think arbarite tables andvinyl chairs are invogue.

On the down side, it can be a lonely place to work in that you donot have co-teachers in the same school with you usually. If having alarge teachers room with many teachers to chat with is imperative foryou, we are not the best choice. However,most have found they reallyenjoy the freedom, with support that we offer. Several teachers havecommented we are the best bosses they had ever had. "You are there,but not looking over our shoulders all the time," is what one teachersaid.

You will see us at least once a week. You will be living a shorttrain ride away from fellow K.E.S. teachers so you can always visitthem too. You can always pick up the phone or Email us or anotherteacher to get together for a coffee or a beer.

We have no rule against socializing with students. We like it infact. It is good for them and fun for you too. It is up to you ofcourse whether you want to socialize with them outside of class time.

Why are English Conversation Schools Necessary in Japan?

English conversations schools provide a valuable and necessaryservice in Japan. Not only do we help to internationalize a veryinsular and isolated society, but we provide another opportunityfor Japanese citizens to learn English.

If the other institutions in Japan were truly doing a superb job at this, perhaps English schools would not be needed. However, the way English is taught in Japan, with the lack of innovation at many schools, make English Conversation schools a vital necessity for Japanese English learners, and indeed for the future of Japan.

Furnished Apartments for Teachers

Kamonomiya School & Apartment

It is a 2DK apartment. One room doubles as the classroom and living room, with a wooden table and covered wooden chairs, as well as a Sony TV, and video machine. There is satellite TV equipment there so you can get hooked up for satellite TV if you are willing to pay the charges. It is a great space to teach in and relax in after class. The apartment is very clean and eight years old. It is a two story, four apartment building. The classroom and bedroom are 6 tatami mats in size and the kitchen isabout 6 tatami mats in size. So each room is 2.7 metres by 3.6 metres. There is a western style unit bath and western style toilet.There is a small laundry area next to the sink with a large washing machine. It comes fully funished with all your essentials right down to cutlery. There is a small garden in the back with a small patio. There is a supermarket about five minutes on foot from the apartment.

The neighbourhood is very nice and Kamonomiya is probably the most desirable area of Odawara. It is near the Robinson's, the largest shopping centre in Kanagawa. It reminds me of a Canadian shopping centre--it is huge with many great stores.On one side of it is a great department store Ito Yokado which sells everything. Also nearby, is The Odawara City Mall,featuring Nittori, Toys `R Us and a great 100 Yen store amongst others.You can even get your burger fix at McDonalds. There are many palm trees out front. As well there is a pleasant, tree lined main street running through the area with many interesting shops. It is as "left-bank" as Odawara gets. There are many little restaurants and shops. Kamonomiya train station is on one of the biggest train lines-The Tokaido line, which runs to Yokohama and Tokyo, and to southern Japan. It is a very long line.

For More on Living in Odawara See:
Odawara Living
Kanagawa Living
Japan Living
in our links section on the right of the homepage.

Pictured: Nora with students

Shibusawa School & Apartment

Pictured: Nora with her students in Shibusawa School

The school/apartment is located about one minute from Shibusawa Station on the Odakyu Line. It is in an attractive white, three storey concrete building. It is one of the few apartments in Japan to have double-paned glass. It is Japanese style with tatami mat floors. It is probably the nicest apartment to live in! The apartment is convenient to many stores as it is right downtown. The apartment is furnished like all of our school apartments. It is large by Japanese standards--a 2DK with a slight view as it is on the 2nd floor.

The classroom is to the right as you enter the apartment.

Hadano is a nice, mid-sized city of 163,000 people, with a meandering river going through the centre of town and many nearby mountains that are great for hiking and cycling. It is also convenient to get to Tokyo, Odawara, Atsugi, Yokohama, Izu, Mount Fujiand Kamakura.

In Hadano you can enjoy the many festivals throughout the year including the tobacco festival. Don`t worry it isn`t like it sounds! The city boasts a great public library, with hundreds of books and videos in English. You can search for books on the computers there by entering the title or author's name, or simply browse the stacks. There is also a great sports centre--The Hadano Taikukan. For 200 Yen you can play many sports in their gyms. They have very modern facilities so you have no excuse for not being in shape! (He writes while sitting like a sloth in front of the computer).

There are many people of different nationalities living here.

Pictured: Our "Anne" School in the snow. This school is located in the Iizawa area
of Minami Ashigara City


First Year Contract With Kevin's English Schools

This contract is made by and between Kevin's English Schools 2659-4 Tsukahara, Minami Ashigara City,Kanagawa Prefecture, 250-0117, Japan and Tom Smith.Hereafter called the teacher.

This contract will remain valid for the period of one year, beginning the 1st day of March, 2006and ending on the 28th day of February, 2007.

During the first twelve weeks probationary period of the contract, the teacher may be terminated byKevin's English Schools with one week written notice, for failing to perform his/her duties to the satisfactionof Kevin's English Schools. The twelve week probationary period clause can be waived if marked with an 'X'here__X_. By marking the previous blank with an "X" Kevin's English Schools agrees to waive the probationaryperiod. (This is sometimes done for teachers with previous training and/or experience.

The teacher agrees to use his/her skills and expertise as an English teacher at Kevin's English Schools andcooperate with Kevin's English Schools in attaining its' educational goals.Kevin's English Schools will renumerate the teacher and assist him/her to secure the proper visa status by guaranteeing her/his employment. After the probationary period, or if it has been waived, this contract may be terminated with one month prior written notice by either the teacher or Kevin's English Schools.

Kevin's English Schools shall pay the teacher a salary of 250,000 Yen/Month for up to 28 hours of teaching per week. Overtime shall be paid at the rate of 14,000 Yen/Month for work over 28 hours per week and up to 29 hours per week. Another 14,000 Yen/Month shall be paid for overtime work over 29 hours per week and up to 30 hours per week. A contract completion bonus of 100,000 will be paid after all bills related to the teacher`s apartment have been paid.

The teacher agrees to attend school events and staff meetings approximately once per month. The teacher isn`t paid any extra for attending these. School events may be parties, picnics, hiking trips, or other enjoyable activities. Theteacher will be paid the cost of commuting to and from these events.

*The teacher shall be paid for the cost of commuting to and from work. This will entail the payment of the teacher's public transportation costs. The teacher shall be paid train and/or bus fare to and from work.

*The teacher will not be paid for transportation to and from Japan.

The schools will have two weeks of holidays in August and during the Christmas/New Year`s period. Teacherswill be given exact dates later. The teacher will be paid her/his usual salary for these vacation days.

All Japanese national holidays are observed except for a few on Mondays. The teacher will be given a list of which Monday national holidays are work days.

* The teacher will receive the following regular days off: Saturday & Sunday.

The teacher agrees to never teach his/her own private lessons in any of our schools or apartments, nor to allow anyone else to teach lessons within our schools or apartments. The teacher agrees to not start her/his own English school (defined as five or more students taught English by the teacher) within 6 kilometres of one of our schools, for a period of up to three years after the termination or expiration of this contract.

The teacher may teach part-time at another English school, as long as her/his work performance is kept to a high level, as deemed by Kevin's English Schools.

The teacher agrees to encourage potential students to study at Kevin's English Schools, and to promote our schools ingeneral.

During the two week training period the teacher shall be paid 1,000 Yen/hr for the two weeks of training,plus transportation expenses to and from work and home. The training salary consists of the time the teacherspends in classes observing teachers, teach.

The teacher agrees to allow some events to be held in his/her classroom. This is required as the teacher is living inone of our schools. No pets are permitted in the school or apartment. The teacher agrees to keep the apartment cleanand in good order. The teacher agrees to pay rent for the apartment of 63,000 Yen/Month, and all utilities.

The teacher pays her/his own telephone fees.

The teacher does not have to pay key money.

This is to certify that this contract was signed this_______________day of____________, in the year,______________,by

Manager Teacher

Where We Are

"Finally found a place that I might like to live. Went to Odawara today. I've been torn because I have wanted to live near the Pacific Ocean and the mountains and have easy access to Tokyo. Odawara has all three and is so close to Hakone, Atami and Izu. Also, there are so many trains passing through Odawara....easy to connect to various cities."--Neil Stalnaker

Pictured: Odawara Castle Moat, one of the must-see places in Kanagawa, Japan

We are located about 80 minutes south of Tokyo and 60 minutes south of Yokohama by regular train. You can get to Tokyo in 40 minutes andYokohama in 15 minutes however. On this map we are located between Hakone andKamakura. Hakone is beautiful and well worth the 30 minute drive there. Hakone is in the mountains--the lake is a former volcanic crater I believe and Minami Ashigara and Odawara are in a picturesque river valley. There are many rivers in our valley. Kamakura of courseis a former capitol of Japan and has many historical buildings and temples.

Visit our Locations Page in the links section on the right of the site, to see where our schools are. The page is in Japanese but click on the links to see maps of our area. Some of the maps are bilingual and some are entirely in English.


Pictured: Saijoji Temple, located near our "Anne" School in Minami Ashigara City,

"To bring fun, friendship, and the joy of service back into teaching English."

Kevin Burns says:

To have fun while learning English. The experience of learning at KES should be fun for all. I subscribe tothe Patch Adams style of life and work, with David Letterman and Jay Leno thrown in for spice. Teaching andlearning English at our schools, should be a fun adventure.

Let`s laugh and learn.

To give teachers the freedom to grow and become the teachers they were meant to be. As opposed todictating what and how they shall teach.

To create an "at home" atmosphere, and with that a warm and cozy place to work and study.

To help Japan become a little more international in scope and thinking. To broaden our students minds.

To be good members of the community.

Pictured, Shibusawa School, our school in Hadano City, Kanagawa

Jonathan DeNardis says:

My objectives for this year are:

1. To condition myself both physically and mentally so that I become an inspirational teacher and motivator.

2. To foster an attitude of mutual respect between the students and myself.

3. To give the students a simple yet strong structural foundation in English. A strong foundation shall consist of:

A. The ability to speak, read, and write the alphabet.

B. The ability to pronounce, read, write, and spell a large vocabulary of words.

C. The ability to understand basic sentence structures.

D. The ability to read and understand books, short stories, proverbs, and maybe a poem or two.

4. To give the students a clearly defined set of goals and objectives:

A. Therein that they know what is expected of them both as a group and as individuals.

B. Therein that they be awarded as group and as individuals upon completion.


Pictured, the entrance to our Shibusawa School in Hadano City

One Year Contract -- Renewable

*Must have a University Degree. B.ed or other teaching relateddegree preferred but not necessary. TESL, TESOL, TEFL, RSA or other TESL or TEFL Training and/or previous experience preferred.

*Teach in a Canadian, Victorian House (materials imported from Cloverdale, British Columbia, a river-side cottage like schoolwith a Canadian style General Store on the first floor, and someother very cozy schools in Kanagawa, Japan.

Our Tsukahara School is in a cottage-like building a stone`s throw from the Kari River. Both of our Minami Ashigara schools are in a pretty river valley. This school has a cowboy townlike veranda surrounding the first floor`s General Store.

Our Anne School (Minami Ashigara) is a Canadian Victorian style house. The materials were imported from Cloverdale, British Columbia.

Our Hadano School is in a very nice and bright apartment in Hadano`s interesting Shibusawa area. It is conveniently located one minute from the train station.

Our Kamonomiya school is in the most desirable area of Odawara, near shops, restaurants,and the train station.

We try to create a very warm environment for our teachers and students.

Title of position:Fulltime Native English Teacher


____Iizawa 242-23, Minami Ashigara City, Kangawa Pref. 250-0122 Japan_

Telephone: _81-(0)465-74-4458_________________ Fax: ___Same


WWW address:

Contact person: ___Ikumi or Kevin Burns

Inquiries should include (please mark with an "X"):

_X_CV/resume __diploma(s) _X_letter of introduction __essay

__publications (# __) _X_photo __teaching certification(s)

__transcripts __letters of recommendation __video/audio Tape

__Other (health certificate, etc.) _

Describe position/duties: (please use additional lines if necessary)

We hire native speakers from all English speaking countries. One Year Contract.Teach children to adults and some company classes. 20-28hrs per week.Very attractive furnisheded apartment provided. Rent ¥63,000/Month No Key Money!

Free Japanese lessons provided while you work for us. Canadian owned andco-managed. The Canadian still teaches, so understands what it`s like "in thetrenches." No long crowded train travel!

You will not be a number! You will be a very important part of our team. It isour family business. If we don`t keep our teachers and students happy, we don`teat! Our business is not just about making money. We care about our teachers andstudents. When you finally leave us, you will probably shed more than a fewtears. Four weeks of paid vacation (2 weeks at Christmas and 2 weeks in thesummertime). No cliche! It is a great area to live in!

Special skills/requirements:

__Required: A university degree. We want people who don`t view teaching English as "something to do until they get a real job." This is a real job.

We want people who regard teaching English to Japanese people,as something that is very valuable to our students and to themselves asteachers; even if they don`t want to pursue teaching English as a long-term career.

Teaching English for our schools, should be something you really, really want todo. This isn`t just a job. It is an adventure. We truly believe that.

Application deadline:



Hours/week: _20-28Salary: _¥250,000/Month________Class load _20-28 hours per week.

*We also require part-time teachers who live in our area now, and can coverclasses when teachers are sick or on vaction. Contact Ayako Sugai if you are interestedin part-time teaching work: 74-4458. Give her your name and phone number and askher to keep you on file for vacation relief and sick leave work.

Minimum university degree(s) REQUIRED (please indicate all):

_x_BA _x_BS __MA __Ph.D. __Other _Any university degree is fine.*

We don`t accept diplomas, you must have a degree. We prefer someonewho has shown the intelligence and perseverence to complete a university degree.

University degree(s) PREFERRED

_x_BA _x_BS __MA __Ph.D. Other

Subject specialization (please indicate all):

__Education, English

Prfessional certification(s) REQUIRED (please indicate all):

__TESL/ESL __Teaching __RSA __Other

Professional certification(s) PREFERRED (please indicate all):

_x_TESL/ESL _x_Teaching _x_RSA _x_Other ___CELTA_

Experience required (years/level/etc.):

None, we will train you! We have a two week training program, in which youwill observe all of our teachers, teaching. You will be given some teachingmethodology books to study as well.

Japanese speaking ability not required.

Applicant's visa status (please indicate one):

We will sponsor and we will renew visas. *Commonwealth citizens 30 years of ageor younger can obtain a working holiday visa, which is a great visa to start with!

Accommodation is (please indicate):

_x_Included __Partially provided __Not included

__Other (or details) __x__Rent for our furnished apartment is 60,000-65,000 Yen/Month*Must pay 2,000 Yen per month leasing fee for furniture and utilities.

Position includes (please indicate all):

_x_Paid holidays _x_Completion bonus __Travel allowance

__Moving/relocation allowance _x_Paid vacation __Airfare

__Health insurance __Research allowance

__Other (or details) _____We don`t pay for airfare but you will get a \\100,000One year contract completion bonus after completing your contract.

*The best health insurance in Japan is Japanese National Health Insurance. That is what Ihave had for the past 16 years. It is very inexpensive and teachers pay for their own health insurance.

Contract information:

Length: ___1yr_____ Renewable? _Yes_______ How many times? _Until death.____

Instruct applicants to contact your institution by:

_x_Mail __Fax __Telephone _x_E-mail __In-person

__Other (or details) ______________________________________________

Other important information:

We are proud that we are very different from the large schools here. We feel that ourstudents and teachers recognize our caring attitude towards our business. Take a look at our homepage to see what I mean. Our schools are very homey and that empitomizes theteaching environment we have.

Our attitudes towards life and work are very down to earth. If that sounds likeyou then please apply!

I am a school owner, but I also teach, study yoga, write, play tennis and raisemy three beautiful children. One of our teachers Chris and I regularly playtennis together. Nora, Chris and I play soccer.

My wife Ikumi is the main manager of our schools. She is a loving wife andmother, and as well as play tennis, she paints, and does a lot of work for the kindergarten andthe community. She is fluent in English. She studied English in Scotland andCanada.

All in all, we have a great place to work.


WWW address:

Be sure to join our Forum, to see pictures of our schools and see what`s happening at Kevin`s.:

Contact person: Ikumi or Kevin Burns

Kanagawa Living will give you a good idea of what it is like to live and work here. Also you may wantto join the Japan Living Forum this is where we talk about living and working in Japan. You can postquestions there and many knowledgeable people will answer about life and employment here.

Head Office: Ikumi & Kevin Burns, Kevin`s English Schools, Iizawa 242-23, Minami Ashigara City,Kanagawa Pref. 250-0122 Japan Fax 81-(0)465-74-4458 You don`t dial `0` from outside Japan.Best to Email us though.

TEFL Articles

Advice on Teaching English to Japanese

by Chris Weber

Pictured: The Yano sisters and their mother on graduation day in Oklahoma. The Yano`s studied with us from age 14 until they entered university in the US.

1. Slow down your speech (you already know this! but I'll just mention it to remind you)

2. Give students more time to formulate a response. This includes all levels of students. Don't worry about there being an un-naturally long silence between you asking a question and getting a response. Just because they don't respond right away doesn't mean they haven't understaood the question, it's often because they are mentally rehearsing their answer in their head to self-correct any grammar mistakes (according to their current conception of English grammar). You'll get better at reading (from body language etc) when it's a case of not understanding and when it's the situation I've just mentioned, but in the meantime it's better to leave that extra space for the student to answer.

3. "...Make use of wrong answers to elicit the correct answer when the kids are sitting sliently not guessing at the answer to your question. Rather than giving them the right answer it's much better to make them say it. For example, if you ask "What is it?" (holding up a "dog" card) and for some reason nobody has answered you should ask them "Is it a hippopotamus?" or alien or something else (sometimes something funny or crazy is best) and usually that gets them joining in right away and you don't have to prompt them after that. On the other hand if you tell them "It's a dog" then they are less likely to join in with as much enthusiasm on the following questions.

4. When you assign homework for the youngsters make sure they know what to do. This might involve explaining the first question on the page, but before you explain it you should try and get them to tell you what it is. Then for the next question you try and get them to tell you only giving them the minimum amount of help and gradually they should be able to explain it to you without any more cues. Cos you're not gonna be there when they do the homework, if they haven't been able to demonstrate that they can do the qeustion verbally, then there is a high chance that they won't do it at home. Following on from this, sometimes when kids haven't done homework it's for this very reason, so if they tell me they didn't do their homework, I ask in a friendly way to see their homebook. I make sure they realise (by my smiling and tone) that I'm not angry at them, but I just wanna see their book. I don't use any Japanese at all, but they understand. Then, I get them to tell me the answers to the questions that they should have done for homework. Then you'll know if they need more explanation from you or whatever."

About the Author:
Chris Weber, former English Teacher for Kevin`s English SchoolsHe is also a professional jazz musician.
Pictured: Former KES students the Yanos, graduated from university in

Top secret: Teaching English in Some of Japan`s Top Companies

by Kevin Burns

Lucky for me, my Japanese is not very good. Because of this, I can teach in some of the most sensitive areas of Japan. I teach English in some of the top companies of the world. At one of them, part of the interview was conducted in Japanese. They wanted to see how good my command of the language was. It wasn`t to deal with problems that might come up, we have a bilingual office staff at our school for that. No, I suspect it was to insure the safety of company secrets. How much could he comprehend if he overheard something? That was their concern.

If you teach English at a Japanese company. You enter a secretive world. As you walk towards your company, you may notice what looks like a moat all around it. You can be forgiven for thinking you are entering a fort or some other military complex. In a way you are. You cannot enter freely. The enclosure is fenced in, sometimes with barbed wire at the top of the fence or at least with a wall and perhaps more. There may be video cameras. There is a guard house, and the security guards will decide if you can enter. You must report to them.

Being the company English teacher the guards get to know you and will admit you with a wave of their hand after a while, but still they keep track of your comings and goings. You are scrutinised by any new guards. Company secrets are worth money, and closely guarded.

When teaching at your Japanese company you may be politely asked to change classrooms some days. Sometimes it is simply for a lack of space, but sometimes it is to insure that company meetings stay secrets. Excuses are made: "This room is more comfortable," your student will politely say.

Plans are being formed for Japan`s newest assault on the world. No more does Nippon attack her neighbours, instead she ships her factories abroad and produces her products more cheaply in China, Malaysia, and Thailand. For new ideas, she sets up factories and research centres in the United States and other nations. These plans are well guarded though, and as an English teacher you are not privy to them. You can`t be fully trusted no matter how long you have taught there. I understand this. To some extent I work in a war zone. Business is war, and Japanese companies are battling it out for survival.

Shintaro slumps into his chair. He worked another twelve hour shift last night. Business trips to China and other locales require him to study English once a week with me. He is a good student. In spite of exhaustion, he comes to class with a smile. He was transferred to Odawara a couple of years ago. Due to this, he had to leave his pregnant wife back in Osaka, and wasn`t around when his mother passed away. Ironically, his son was born the same day. I admire Shintaro. He is a pleasant man. He obviously loves his wife and baby and is a nice guy to be around. He is loyal to his company and never complains. Many Japanese are like that. Gaman is a Japanese word that is entrenched here. It really means grin and bear it or do your best. It is said before a sports event and it is entrenched in business.

In a land with virtually no natural resources, the people are all it has. Her people become the most important asset of the country. Other nations pay lip service to this in presidential speeches, but all Japanese know this to be true. If her people fail, Japan fails. There is no oil money to fall back on.

It is common practice for Japanese companies to loan employees money to buy a house - a very expensive commodity here. The company often seizes this chance to promptly transfer the employee to a new city - perhaps in the countryside or up north. Being obligated to pay the loan, the employee can`t say no in most cases. She or he is usually trapped. The brand new house is usually rented, most often to another employee of the company. The employee then rents an apartment in the new town she/he has been transferred to. Five years later he may return to finally live for the first time in his house.

Often the wives and children do not accompany their husbands to the new locale. A friend`s husband is alone in China and has been for three years. This isn`t strange at all to Japanese. It is all too common. One can imagine what this can lead to. Fifty percent of Japanese women have affairs. For men the percentage is higher. The sex industry brings in billions of yen and even offers host clubs for women.

The ageing head of one company I work for feels English is unnecessary. I cannot understand why. Fortunately some of the general managers feel otherwise and hired me to crack the whip and get their employees in shape for negotiations abroad in arguably the most difficult language in the world. It is a Fuji-like uphill climb. The classes are largely occupied by unmotivated, unconfident English students. When I say unconfident, I mean they don`t believe they will ever be good at speaking English. With this belief, they can`t. I try to motivate by being friendly, witty and caring. I try to get to know them and take an interest in their lives. A few become pretty good students and attend class regularly. It is slow, but they do improve year by year.

I tell myself I am making Japan a little bit more international. I am educating the people about other nations. I am making this country a better place, and I keep the company secrets to myself. Not that I know any. My Japanese is still not very good.

About the Author:
Kevin Burns is the owner of Kevin`s English Schools. He teaches at KES and at a
university in Kanagawa. He also loves to write!

Pictured: The interior of our Tsukahara (Minami Ashigara City) School.
This was our first school, we now have four.

On Teaching & Studying English

by Eric Keuling

My purpose with this short article is to offer you advice on improving your English skills. Most importantly, please try to have fun along the way.I think in one respect, learning a second language can sometimes be like exercising at the gym. We all know it is good for us in the long run, but boy can it be both boring and tiresome!!! Studying Englishcan really be mentally and physically challenging. Whenever possible, we have to make learning English fun. Therefore, I think teachers need to strive to make their classes both productive and fun and enjoyable.

Now I would like to say a few words in regards to studying English. Without question, becoming a great speaker of English requires the interested learner to possess many positive traits. It requiresambition, motivation, commitment, time, energy, patience, and mostimportantly it requires the right game plan. You need a solid,well-conceived, organized plan in order to succeed. You must deservesuccess. As Winston Churchill told the British people during hisrallying cry back in World War II: "Hoping and praying for victory isfine, but deserving it is what really matters." Simply put, if youdo not contain the proper game plan, chances are you will not reachyour goals.

I would like to hear both your goals and "plan of attack" for learningEnglish. Feel free to send me a post. I will try to help you as muchas I can. Good luck! You can post about how you learn or teachEnglish here:

Eric Keuling is a former teacher of Kevin`s English Schools
Pictured: Our Shibusawa (Hadano) School

On Students Use of their First Language in the Second Language Classroom

by Stephen McAtamney

A short time ago a discussion point was submitted regarding students use of their first language in thesecond language classroom.I recently read a comment in relation to this point,connected with 'task-based learning', which is often how teachers present classroom activities to their students. The comment reads as follows:

"One of the problems connected with task-based learning is that students very often resort to use of their first language. How should you react to this? It depends of course on what they use the L1(FIRSTLANGUAGE)for.They may use it to exchange informationquickly on the lexis required for the task, with onestudent saying to the other "please, how do I say 'X'in English?'.They may use it to help organise and stage the task, saying things like 'You go first'.I don't think you should worry too much about this.By all means encourage them to use English, but do notinsist on this if you risk demotivating them altogether. When you first introduce tasks into the classroom you may find that the use of L1 predominates, but students will soon learn that it isvery difficult to carry out a task in L1 and then report that task in English. They will probably comeround to using English because, if you take the taskcycle as a whole, this is the most efficient way to doit".(Burmingham University: 2001)

I have at times worried myself at the escalating use of the students' first language in the classroom afterhaving been assigned a task, however, as the articlequote suggests, this is usually used just to get thetask underway. Students are well aware that they haveto eventually produce English to complete the task sowill alter their language accordingly.However if students, in the process of discussing a task, wanderoff the subject and begin general conversation intheir first language then this of course is adifferent matter that needs to be approached with cautionary classroom management skills.

by Stephen McAtamney a former teacher of Kevin`s English Schools. This article was originally posted at Kevins English Schools`sYahoo Group -- our main forum.
Pictured: Kevin and friends at the tennis court


1. Most obviously, do you have arrangements/positions for couples (with the assumption that both are more than adequately qualified for the position)?

It really depends. Sometimes we need to hire more than one teacher, and other times just one. We are a small chain of schools.

Our furnished apartments are suitable for couples.

2. When your page says that an apartment is "2DK", what does that mean?

2DK is Japanese apartment lingo for 2 rooms plus a dining kitchenarea. It means you get two rooms of roughly 3x4 metres anda dining/kitchen area of around the same size or a little bigger.Basicly apartments are small here. If you expect your apartmentto be small but clean, then you won`t be disappointed. Don`texpect the big North American style apartments we have back home.

3. If a teachers stays more than one year, does the pay increase?

Yes. If we rehire you then you get a raise. Or we may choose not to rehire you if your teaching and attitude is not up to standard.

4. Are their opportunities for promotion or more advanced positions?

Possibly. We are a very small company with four small schools.We might consider working with an ambitious teacher we know who wants to buy a Kevin`s English Schools franchise, but we would need to get to know you. We would need to know we can work together well. Then this teacher could start a Kevin`s EnglishSchool in another part of Japan and we would act as your advisorand office staff. We would sponsor you for a visa and take a percentage of your student fees for that service.

We might also need to hire a manager at some point. But we have no set plans for that at this time.

5. How much does that national health insurance cost in Japan?

I don`t know exactly. It depends on your individual situation.Please ask at some of the Japanese related forums on the internet, or best contact them directly.

6. Does the salary provided allow individuals to save any money (with the understanding that we are generally fiscally prudent)?

Yes it does. Some have saved a lot. Others have gone broke.It really depends on who you are. Japan is a very expensiveplace if you go out and party a lot. If you don`t you can savea lot of money. One teacher was able to easily save 100,000 Yen per month on our starting salary of 250,000, another teacher wasn`t able to save anything. So it really depends on the person.

7. Why do you require a university degree?

We and our students feel that at a minimum, a university shows a certain
degree of academic achievement. We also prefer some more advanced training
in TEFL. Some kind of training in TEFL is definitely preferred.

About Me

My photo
I am a teacher and writer. I own Kevin`s English Schools in Kanagawa, Japan. I teach at Tokai University. I have taught at: Keio SFC, St. Mary`s College (Nagoya), ECC, The YMCA, Columbia College, and Kwantlen Polytechnic University. My Japanese wife is a junior high school English teacher.