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Martin's Room again & ACE ベストドレッサー賞発表!
2016 - In the rear-view mirror

I have no idea why my blog column is called “Martin’s room” as I don’t even have my own desk at ACE,
let alone a room. I used to have a plastic A4-sized tray, but Fumiko “lost it” when we moved the office
from the 14th floor to the 10th floor earlier this year. Yeh, right. More likely she burned it in some voodoo
ritual of revenge because after the move I had a really sore back for ages. And talking of revenge, although
it’s been a lot of fun power-harassing Tomomi this year, I think I’m going to have to be more careful
next year as the arsenic she puts in my coffee every day spoils the taste. And as for Tomomi getting
married this year - and becoming Mrs Yanagi - the only thing I can say is – finally! The good news is she’ll
be quitting soon to take care of her good husband, and to further populate Japan with little Yanagis in due

As for our students, there have been some stars this year (Miho in L5 and Tetsuro in L6 spring to mind here,
but there were many others who did well, too) which is always very pleasing. And, naturally, life would be no fun
without the Toshihiro twins (NT and DT) to entertain me at ACE.

The Toshihiro Twins: NT (Normal Toshihiro) and DT (Dangerous Toshihiro)

Of course, lots of things have happened in the bigger world outside ACE this year. Brexit and Donald Trump
probably being two of the most jaw-dropping events, balanced out by more positive things like the summer
Olympics in Brazil, and pineapples and pens in Japan. As for me personally, it’s been a pretty good year.
After all, I’m still alive and my best friend is still alive, as well. At 12 years old that’s no mean feat for
a golden retriever!

Any cats under here?

So what will 2017 hold in store for us? One thing for sure is with Donald as president, it’s going to be exciting.
It’ll be less exciting at ACE (I hope) but we are expanding the space in February by adding another room on
the A-side of our building on the 10th floor.

Hopefully, there will be enough room in it for my (new) A4 tray (?)

Thank you all for your support in 2016!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New year!



ここで毎年恒例 (になる予定) ベストドレッサー賞を発表いたします


Level 6 Yosuke Kunimatsu さん


記念すべき、第1回目のACEベストドレッサー賞 (Martinの独断で) 受賞です











それでは皆さん、よいChristmas & お正月をお過ごしくださいね

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Stating the obvious
Scaffolding is a fancy term in linguistics used to mean setting the bar a little higher than a student’s ability and thereby facilitating new language acquisition more easily. Of course, this is simply common sense and applies to almost all areas of teaching/learning that I can think of. Naturally, it’s the same in sports, too. If you’re going to be a weightlifter, it’s not a good idea to start out with a bar loaded up with 200kgs of weights.

So, the only difference between many aspects of linguistics (and a host of other “academic” subjects) and common sense is the level of paperwork required to explain the patently obvious.

I used an article in class the other day (from the Guardian Newspaper) which stated that every subject can be boiled down to two things (which are sometimes contradictory). One of the examples given was “driving”. Driving was summarized as: “Don’t hit anything” and “Don’t let anything hit you”. Get the idea?

So I decided to apply the two-point game to language learning. What are the two key points of language learning?

As any language student would tell you (if they actually took the time to think about it) language learning can be distilled into two simple points:

1. Study hard and continuously in your own best way


2. Use what you’ve learned in the real world

Of course many English schools claim to have “the best study method”. This is simply marketing and cannot be true. Why not? Because we all have our own “best way” of studying and our methods are all (at least slightly) different. The school’s method (by definition) cannot be your method so how can it possibly be the best method for you?

What many adult language learners seem to forget is that they already have good study skills (from other areas in life) and that those study skills are their preferred method(s) of studying. All they need to do is to adapt their skills to learning English.

As for using the English skills they’ve learned in the “real world”, well the Internet has largely solved that problem. Simply do all your online searches in English from now on. Okay, that might seem like putting 200kgs on the weightlifting bar from the beginning, but if you use your common sense a little, you can find lighter weights than that online – simply speaking use scaffolding

Just like I do in Japanese…

Ahem. Well, from now on

ACE Englishこちら

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にほんブログ村 英語ブログ 英会話スクール・教室へ
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テーマ: 英語・英会話学習 - ジャンル:学校・教育

Do-It-Yourself – the good the bad and the ugly
As mentioned in a previous blog, I was stupid enough to spend Golden Week building a couple of classrooms and some rough tables for our new study space on the tenth floor of our building. All I can say is, it’s lucky I have work as an English teacher.

I was forced to do most of the work myself because we only found out we could rent the space shortly before Golden Week and thus it was too late to arrange true professionals to take on the task. Of course, Fumiko (our ex-school manager) had thoughtfully scheduled classes in the new room for the first Tuesday back after Golden Week. (As a result, she was the School Manager, but is now Chief Toilet Cleaner) so no matter what, I had to finish by the deadline - and I was well outside my comfort zone.

Chaos in action
Chaos in action

As some of you know, I graduated from the Idiots School of DIY (have hammer, but no brain). Make-it-up-as-you-go-along may work if you’re shipwrecked on a deserted island, but this philosophy is severely lacking when it comes to serious building projects. Of course, I blame the government - there should be some kind of law banning English teachers from doing DIY projects larger than making a paper plane.

In the end, the job got done (minus the painting), but working on four hours of sleep, Starbucks coffee, and MacDonald fillet-of-fish burgers for eight straight days resulted in a bashed head, a bashed van and a 7kg weight loss. (Perhaps I’ve discovered a new dieting method?)

Bashed van
Bashed Van

So now you’re thinking: Well that was the bad and the ugly – but what about the good?

Don’t worry, I hadn’t forgotten. The good (actually great) is that Chief Toilet Cleaners earn about half as much as School Managers. So now I’m saving money every month on the salary bill.

Don’t you just love happy endings?



ACE Englishこちら

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テーマ: 英語・英会話学習 - ジャンル:学校・教育

The meaning of life  ~lessons one to four
Okay, so the title may be a bit grandiose, but recently I’ve found a great teacher. Furthermore, my teacher only needs body language to teach. Now how clever is that?

No doubt you will have guessed by now that my teacher is our adopted family dog, Spike . In the beginning, Spike worried about working with such a moron, but he didn’t give up. Then I realised that was lesson number one: don’t give up!

The second lesson was simple: we don’t need much in life to be happy: Healthy food, occasional play; regular exercise; some small feeling of achievement from time to time; lots of naps, and a few close friends is more or less all that’s required. Everything else is just tinsel.

Spike has also reminded me of the joys of enjoyable communication. On our morning walks, we come across a wide variety of people. Naturally, people react very differently to Spike. Some are afraid of him because he’s a big dog. Others obviously like dogs and want to chat. Almost without exception, the conversation is about the dog and goes something like this:

(Me) “Good morning.”
“Great weather.”
“Yes. What breed?”
“I’m British.”
“No, the dog.”
“Oh, he’s a Golden Retriever.”
“How old?”
“51 in June.”
”And the dog?”
“He’s 8.”
“Looks healthy.”
“Yes, very.”

As we part company, the person usually gives me the kind of smile people reserve for crazy people who sit next to them on the bus. And therein lies the fourth lesson and most important lesson:

If you want to avoid crazy people, don’t take the bus.

So if anyone wants to learn a few of life’s secrets from Spike, he’s available for his usual fee.

One large bone and a tummy rub.

Why work for less?

Spike cooling off in Muromi River.

ACE Englishこちら

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にほんブログ村 英語ブログ 英会話スクール・教室へ
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テーマ: 英語・英会話学習 - ジャンル:学校・教育

A star in the making
In January, ACE started an online booking system tailor-made for the school by Mariko Moribe, one of our level-4 students. Mariko is a true self-starter. After several years experience working for another computer systems company, Mariko set up her own company 5 years ago and uses her expertise to utilize technology to solve business problems.

As our student, Mariko had obviously noticed that technologically-speaking, I am a dinosaur. Of course, she was far too polite to mention that, but when she offered to help us computerize our class reservation system, I was delighted. Finally, I could fulfill one of my dreams. I could become digital man!

Mariko, computer expert with her future yakitori

Well, not exactly. This is top secret (and I know it will come as a shock), but I haven’t got a clue how our new system actually works. Fortunately, I have more digitally-minded staff who seem (or at least pretend) to understand the system. Of course, never one to miss an opportunity, F-chan said she’s prepared to teach me how to use the new system (so I can look good in front of the students) if I double her salary.

Fat chance.

Of course, there were some problems when the system first went “live” but Mariko worked tirelessly (and until the early hours of the morning for a few days) to iron out the early glitches. Within a very short time, the system was running smoothly and our students can now reserve their classes 24/7. Better still, I can now fire at least two of the staff because I don’t need them anymore

As well as helping to reduce personnel costs, I was very impressed with Mariko’s professionalism and clear-thinking approach to solving our problems. She added a tremendous amount of value to our first basic ideas and proved herself to be a very talented thinker. In my candid opinion, this is a lady with a very bright future.

So, if you need a fabulous computer system from a great thinker, call me!

I’ll tell you Mariko’s phone number.

For my usual fee

ACE English はこちら

ブログランキング参加中 ACEはいったい何位

にほんブログ村 英語ブログ 英会話スクール・教室へ
Thanks a lot for your kind support

テーマ: 英語・英会話学習 - ジャンル:学校・教育


ACE English

Author:ACE English
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