ネイティブ講師に聞く!実践英語コースの魅力とは?

  • 2013.08.22 Thursday
  • 15:44

「効率よく英語力を伸ばしたいけど、どのコースを選べばいいの?」と迷う方も多いのではないでしょうか。サイマル・アカデミーでは、ネイティブ講師が担当する英語力強化のためのコースをいくつかご用意していますが、着実にレベルアップを図りたい方には「実践英語コース」が最適です!
今回は、ヘッドインストラクターのPetya Loweがその理由を教えてくれました
・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・
The SIMUL Academy PEP course has many great features and can be seen as a 'fast track' to improving your all-round English skills and achieving your English language goals much faster than by attending a once/week class.

 

For four hours a week, you are immersed in an interactive English speaking environment in which we focus on a complete range of language skills  (speaking, listening, reading and writing) with the majority of class time given to improving all aspects of speaking and listening.  Using a combination of commercial texts and tailor-made SIMUL materials allows us to help you fix your particular weaknesses while at the same time providing you with many opportunities to discuss various issues and expand both your language skills and general knowledge.  The use of authentic materials in class will allow you to discuss world issues with native speakers on equal terms without the knowledge/cultural gap.

 

Each PEP course is more specifically targeted to students’ levels and allows you to study with others whose language level is very close to yours.  The fact that PEP classes have 2 lessons / week  allows for faster progress - both because you will have more class time but also because you will be encouraged to do more homework and self-study.  It is sometimes difficult for students to know where to start or what to focus on in their home study, so our PEP course will give you useful methods and ideas for how to study by yourself.  In addition, due to having more class hours per week, in PEP classes you will get to know your classmates better and will benefit from studying with two different teachers as well as being able to study more intensively and cover materials in more depth.  Moreover, the PEP classes are great value for money!

 

And finally - remember the old often used English adage - "Practice makes perfect"?  While following this motto is helpful in learning any new skill it applies to learning a language even more because to become fluent in a foreign language, speaking that language must become a habit and you can do this far more easily if you use the language more frequently.


2013年10月コースに向けて、実践英語コースの無料体験レッスンを受付中です。
ぜひ一度ご参加ください!体験レッスンの詳細は
こちら
・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・

プロフィール

ヘッドインストラクター Petya Lowe

ブルガリア生まれ。後にイギリスへ。リバプール大学にて経済学とロシア語を専攻。日本での英語教授歴は25年の実績がある。現在は、ティーチングに加え、講師の採用・トレーニングも担当。

ヘッドインストラクターPetya Loweより、実践英語コースをご紹介

  • 2012.11.27 Tuesday
  • 12:30

数あるサイマル・アカデミーのコースの中でも、人気が高いのが「実践英語コース」です。
今回は、ヘッドインストラクターのPetya Loweが実践英語コース(Practical English Program)の魅力についてご紹介いたします!

・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・

Our Practical English Program here at Simul is directed towards giving students the skills they need to confidently use English in any real-life situation, whether social or business.


To this end we use authentic, real life sources for the material we specifically design and develop in-house for our courses at Simul. Our sources include
world news reports such as BBC as well as an extensive range of information from the internet.

 

Our approach is based on the principles of Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) and the idea that we learn how to do something by doing it. Therefore, our classes are very student centered and involve maximum participation, interaction and communication in class.

 

An important feature of the way we teach at Simul is that in addition to helping students improve all aspects of their English – such as listening comprehension, vocabulary, fluency and accuracy - we also incorporate in our curriculum exercises which develop many of the skills that interpreters make use of. These skills include gist listening, listening for details, note taking, retention, lexical substitution, paraphrasing, main idea identification, analysis of the meaning of the message and summarizing.

 

In this way, through the language training in our Practical English Program, students gain assurance and increase their all-round linguistic capacity, confidence and versatility. This in turn allows our students to participate with greater confidence in all international business or social forums - such as meetings, conferences, interpretation assignments and social functions.

プロフィール
ヘッドインストラクター Petya Lowe
ブルガリア生まれ。後にイギリスへ。リバプール大学にて経済学とロシア語を専攻。日本での英語教授歴は25年の実績がある。現在は、ティーチングに加え、講師の採用・トレーニングも担当。

Howdy

  • 2010.12.27 Monday
  • 15:13
BY Paul Gregg

 

My name is Paul Gregg and I want to talk to you about the huge benefits of joining a business class at Simul, for English students and interpreters.

 

I ran my own small business for 5 years while my wife was getting her PhD. It involved cold calling many different companies everyday trying to set up meetings to discuss if I could hold a safety seminar at their location or in their group’s meeting. After reaching someone I would either fax or email information to them about my program. Then I would go meet them at the company and try to convince them to set up a demonstration for their staff.  If I did a good job of getting over all the hurdles in front of me, I then would do an hour long presentation about crime and personal safety.  As you can probably guess this kept me pretty busy driving all over the Denver Metro area however it also gave a flexible work schedule so that I could do my primary function at that time which was proofreading my wife’s papers.  All of the above business activities and yes even proofreading are helping me to teach my favorite subject at Simul, Business.


My business class is all about the skills needed in a wide range of business situations that you might come across in your daily business life or in a place where you might have to interpret the English being used. The KEY point being you will also learn the verbal and nonverbal clues given off by the participants that they expect you to know to make things flow smoothly. A small nonverbal clue example; when the person with power or rank glances at their watch a couple of times in a short period of time, this means they expect the meeting to wrap up quickly so they can get on to their next appointment.  It is important that you pick up on this clue because if things keep on droning on about some small detail the person might become irritated.

 

When doing business we use a lot of fairly basic vocabulary but in different ways so business people need to grasp the nuance. For example; “I think we are being side tracked”, means that we are going off the main point of whatever situation is being discussed.  This is important, because it is being said to bring the focus back on to the correct point so that the process can be brought to a head in a timely manner.

 

Another situation you might be in is a negotiation of some sort where the discussion has hit an impasse on a point and things might start being repetitive or heated; this is where someone should say “let’s move on and come back to this later”. This is aimed at preventing the negotiation from stalling or even worse breaking down.  Both sides should clearly understand that the main objective is to keep this from happening and agree. Someone should suggest what the next point of discussion should be and go on; remembering that a negotiation ebbs and flows with the final goal being success for both parties.  Keep on trying to remove any road blocks one by one until either you reach a conclusion or don’t.

 

These are some of the points I try to teach and practice in class.  I hope that all of you will want to join; have some laughs, learn a lot of valuable vocabulary, and get a grasp of the practical situations that you face either in your business life or in the interpretation world.

 

講師プロフィール

Paul Gregg

アメリカ出身。オクラホマ州立大学で国際政治学、特に日本の政治学を学んだことがきっかけで1986年に来日。英語教授歴20年、ビジネス英語教授歴5年。『言語だけではなく、文化やビジネスの知識やスキルを踏まえた』ビジネス英語の授業は好評で、大手企業でビジネス英語を教えた経験も豊富。現在、神戸で奥様と3匹の猫と仲良く暮らしている。趣味はスノーケリング、相撲鑑賞、料理。

Getting married…

  • 2009.06.16 Tuesday
  • 09:39
 

BY James Steele

I’m from New Zealand and my fiancée’s from Japan, and we’re going to get married early next year. There appear to be a few differences between the way our two cultures approach weddings and I thought you might be interested in what they are. Here goes.

First of all, I don’t live with my fiancée. In New Zealand I would be looked at with confusion by someone if I told them that my fiancée and I haven’t lived together. We could call this the ‘try before you buy’ approach – we like to know what the person is like to live with before we live with them forever. I’m sure she will let me choose the TV channel sometimes though. We’ll see!

Weddings in Tokyo seem to have a package approach which I’m not used to. All of the venues we have visited want to look after all aspects of the wedding and reception, and it all comes on one bill. At home we would usually get married in the garden then rent the local hall for the reception. Buffets are the usual option for the meal, but it looks like things are a little different here. Definitely a ‘level-up’ situation!

The next point follows on nicely – cost. The package deals we’ve seen have prices that would make an average New Zealander cry. Especially with the way the exchange rate has been! I won’t tell my parents the cost until the NZ$ is up a bit more! I think you could get 3 NZ weddings for the cost ours will be. New Zealanders don’t give money at weddings either. We usually give household items as gifts, with the wedding couple making a list at a certain shop for guests to choose from.

Our ceremony is going to be Shinto style, so an obvious difference is dress. Honestly, I’m really looking forward to wearing the kimono, but the fact that I will change out of it and into a suit at the reception will surprise the foreigner guests. At home both the bride and groom stay in the same outfits throughout the day.

There won’t be any dancing at our reception or nijikai! I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing or not! There’s always dancing at home, usually to a DJ with a bad haircut playing classic pops songs, but sometimes to a band if the families are spending a bit more. At least I won’t have to see my parents dance at our wedding!

There will be more surprises in store for us as we get closer to the day. We’ll just have to keep an open mind so we’re both ready for what the other thinks.

Wish us luck!

 

James Steele

Nationality: New Zealand

Age: 28

University degrees and majors: BA in Politics, Post Grad. Diploma in International Relations

Time in Japan: 3 years total – 1 year in 2005, 2 years since April 07

Hobbies: Bass, guitar, drums, skiing, movies, cafes, bars

The power of words

  • 2009.04.28 Tuesday
  • 10:23
 

By Mark Twyman

One great, but woefully underused, study tool for students of English is using Graded Readers. All the major publishers, and some specialist publishers as well, produce sets which go from Beginner to Advanced level.

 

To get a taste of graded readers, you can borrow them from the Simul Graded Reader Library, or even better take the special course using graded readers, called Communicative Reading, offered at the Shinjuku school. How I wish we learners of Japanese had as good a resource!!

 

The Communicative Reading course will help you improve your reading and speaking skills and increase your cultural knowledge. With a library of more than two hundred graded readers to choose from, from all the major publishers, you are sure to find many books which will interest and excite you.

 

The focus of this course is on reading a graded reader for homework with a number of activities. In class, these activities will be reviewed and you will discuss the book you read. Therefore this course will help you not only with building reading skills and developing the habit of enjoying reading in English, but also you will increase your spoken fluency and accuracy since 90% of class time is devoted to speaking - discussing the books you have read.

 

The fabulous thing about using graded readers is that they have a number of different benefits. For me, the greatest of these as the that the reader’s enjoyment is central to using graded readers and the readers choice of what to read is the only thing that matters.

 

Of the practical aspects, one of the most beneficial is that readers read words and phrases enough times to reinforce their memory of these words and phrases. The other great thing is that words and phrases are seen in an infinite variety of contexts so that readers can get a wide exposure to how these words and phrases are used. All importantly, readers develop an understanding of how words and phrases collocate – that is which words and phrases often go together.

 

In addition readers gain valuable cultural knowledge – which helps when trying to learn any language. Finally, enjoyment depends on comprehensibility, so readers only read the graded reader that is right for them. The way to test this is read a page of a graded reader – if there are more than five unknown or ungues sable words on a page then it’s not right for you. Being able to read quickly, without a dictionary and with enjoyment really will build your confidence when using English.

 

Happy reading, you really won’t be disappointed.

 

 

Mark Twyman
Nationality: British
Major: Sociology & Education & MA in Applied Linguistics
Years in Japan: About 21
Hobbies: Art, music, books, cooking, movies and modern dance

Living Abroad

  • 2009.04.21 Tuesday
  • 09:51

By Steven Hunter

When I was a child in Scotland, it sometimes seemed as though I lived in the most boring place in the world. I would see a jet plane flying overhead and dream of life in another country – meeting interesting people, visiting beautiful places, learning new things.

 

If during my first year in Japan you had asked me what I found most new and surprising, it would have been difficult to give an answer because everything seemed so different from my own country. I had always thought, for example, that the stories about men in white gloves pushing people into crowded trains was a joke, until the morning I first took a train from Shinjuku station. Of course, British train commuters sometimes have to fight for a seat, but I had never before had to fight for oxygen, or travel with a stranger’s elbow against my nose or finger in my ear.

 

Another interesting experience was searching hungrily through a department store for a lunch without eyeballs or tentacles. It was something of a relief when I reached the bakery and bought two familiar snacks: a sausage roll and a jam doughnut. Unfortunately, when I bit into the sausage roll, I found it was full of custard. Shocked, I tried to take away the taste by biting into my jam doughnut, only to find that it was full of curry.

 

After two or three years, though, the things that had once seemed strange and exotic about Japan began to seem commonplace. If you had asked me at that time about the most surprising thing I had learnt from living abroad, I might have said that it was how different the people from the various English-speaking countries sometimes were from each other. Although we all share a common language, we often use it to express quite different attitudes and assumptions.

 

For example, Americans, Canadians and Australians – all people who come from huge countries – had sometimes surprised me with their ideas about distance. I remember being amazed when one American colleague told me about driving for five hours to see a friend who lived “fairly nearby”! In Scotland, anyone driving for five hours in a straight line would do the last three of them underwater.

 

All of this has made me re-examine my own attitudes and beliefs. Where do my opinions come from? Why do I think about things the way I do? If you asked me today about the most surprising thing I have learned from my life in Japan, I would answer that it is the realization that I really am Scottish after all.

 

When I lived in Scotland I felt “Steven-ish”, not Scottish. Everyone around me was from Scotland too, so I only noticed the ways in which I differed from them. It wasn’t until my life in Japan that I began to understand the ways in which I was also the same.

 

How strange to think that living halfway around the world has taught me something about my own country.

 

Steven Hunter

Nationality: British

Birthplace: Saskatoon, Canada

Raised: Scotland

Major: English Literature

Time in Japan: I can't remember exactly. About 12 or 13 years.

Hobbies: Playing guitar, Playing with my kids

Competence & Performance

  • 2008.12.24 Wednesday
  • 15:12

By Mark Twyman

Since starting the new term, one of the questions that has been occurring to me is: how well do people use a second language when they are under pressure?

 

At the moment I’m teaching an IIQ course – this is the very first level in the interpreting program and has a significant amount of English content. Since this is an interpreting course there is a special focus on performance – after all, interpreters spend their working lives ‘on show’ and being able to perform competently – and being seen to be doing so, is what, quite literally, they depend on for their livelihood.

 

So, we do a lot of recording, presentations, and quick summary and response work. This has been very revealing since it is showing up quite a gap between competence (this is what you know) and performance  (this is what you do). The difference has been very eye-opening. All the students in my IIQ class are judged to have a high level of competence in English – which is why they are able to take this course – but their performance is often below their competence level. The question I’m asking myself (and my students are asking me!) is: why?

 

I’ve done some research and drawn on my own and fellow staff and teachers’ insights and experience and have reached some partial conclusions. Firstly, my students are putting a huge amount of pressure on themselves and thus are very, very uptight when speaking. Secondly, the level of language they have to produce is very high: it is complex and involves both complicated concepts and complicated structures. Thirdly, they have very little thinking time. I believe that these three reasons together can be called ‘pressure’. And, under pressure, performance drops.

 

The next stage, having (at least partially) discovered ‘why’ is to consider what can be done to narrow this competence-performance gap. I have four possible ways to suggest: the first is to get used to pressured situations – quite literally, put yourself ‘on show’ as often as possible – this means such things as speaking up at meetings or going to karaoke. Secondly, perform – really – do something which involves you being on stage – join a drama or public speaking group. Thirdly, get used to speaking off the top of your head in English. I always recommend this but I believe it can help – so, join an interest group with foreign members – the easiest way to do this is take a look at meetup.com and see what groups are available. My personal recommendations are the talking groups – such as discussion groups – either like Socrates cafe (also known as Tokyo Talkers) or one of the many book or culture based discussion groups.

 

My final idea is something you can do at home, by yourself: basically, record and listen back to what you have said, noting down errors you made. That you can recognize your errors shows that there is a gap between what you know and what you do. In this way you might be able to monitor your performance more effectively and so close the gap between competence and performance.

 

Mark Twyman
Nationality: British
Major: Sociology & Education & MA in Applied Linguistics
Years in Japan: About 21
Hobbies: Art, music, books, cooking, movies and modern dance

Christmas is Different

  • 2008.11.25 Tuesday
  • 09:58

 By Matt Bigelow
     While Japan may have the decorations, the occasional church, and even Santa Claus himself, the essence of Christmas is quite different from that of the essence found in “The West.”

    
     The typical Western image of a Christmas gathering is that of a snowy neighborhood with smoke wafting out of chimneys. Snowmen stand on snowy front lawns, and houses glitter with lights.


     Inside one of these houses, next to a truck-load of gifts underneath a tree, a family sits around a large table adorned with steaming, home-made food. There may be a cross, or a symbol of Jesus, or not.  Grandmothers, Grandfathers, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, fathers, sisters, and mothers all chow down on roast turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy, and cranberry sauce on the side.  The children have soda pop and juice, the adults have alcohol.

While this image may be accurate for some, it isn’t for others.


     Petya Lowe, head of instructors at Simul, grew up in Eastern Europe during its communist days.

“[Christmas Day] wasn’t a big thing in Bulgaria – but we do exactly the same thing at New Year – the tree, the presents, everything.” she said.   Because Bulgaria was  communist when Petya lived there, Christmas was celebrated at New Year so as to distance the celebration from religion.
     Simul Instructor Ed Coleman, from South Africa, celebrated Christmas in the summery Southern hemisphere.

“[We would] lie around the swimming pool drinking beer, eating copious amounts of food.  Cold ham, cold turkey,” he said.  “Santa was in shorts.” 


     Christmas today is different.  When my Father was 10 years old, he received a puzzle on Christmas Day.   That was it. The Christmas tree came from the forest. Extravagant lights were rare.   In his mid-twenties, my father had one day off during Christmas season.  

When I was a child, I received electronic goods and action figures.  I ate piles of candy, and drank litres of soda pop.  Now, I get two weeks off at Christmas and spend too much money. I get my Christmas tree, made of plastic, from the hundred yen shop.
     Celebrations have changed over the course of time, culture, and economics. If someone celebrates Christmas in a non-traditional way – be it on a different day, or pool-side with a plate of cold meat, or in a hotel room with a bucket of Kentucky – it doesn’t matter, as long as it is celebrated with a loved one or with loved ones.  Of all the people on this planet who celebrate Christmas, very few do it traditionally. 

 

 

Matt Bigelow 

Profile 

Nationality : Canadian

Major        : Creative writing Journalism/Poetry

Years in Japan : 2.2 years

Hobbies    : Music, reading, writing, the sports gym

Culturally Speaking

  • 2008.08.05 Tuesday
  • 12:33
By Mark Twyman
Learning to talk in a foreign language is not only a matter of language but also culture. One of the things that many students of English here in Japan have trouble coming to terms with is the way that discussions in English and Japanese have very different interactive patterns. Most striking are the differences in turn taking, interruption patterns, back channeling and silences and gesture, space and stance.

When I first started teaching in Japan (nearly twenty-five years ago) the first time I ever tried to hold a discussion in a class it was an absolute disaster. Both sides prepared well and had their points ready. However, the first side started, with the spokesperson listing all their points while the opposing side listened politely until they finished. Then the spokesperson for the other side listed their points. End of discussion – actually, of course, there hadn’t been any discussion. The problem hadn’t been language but culture. I did some rapid research (not so rapid actually since this was before the Internet) and asked more experienced people and discovered that turn taking is different. In Japanese, we build a wall and then the other side builds their wall, in English we have a game of tennis.

So, the first thing I did was have students listen and reply to each other. After that, we played interrupting games to make students feel at ease with a culturally unfamiliar practice. We also practiced back channeling – this is the art of letting the speaker know that you are following them and are either in agreement or not. It also keeps you actively involved and therefore more ready to join in (via an interruption). Very quickly my students learned these essential dynamics.

Silences were a little more tricky. In Japanese, silence often indicates dissent. In English it’s quite often a pause for thought and it takes learners of English time to get used to the idea that silences aren’t always indicative of a negative reaction.

regarding gesture, space and stance: In English we tend to have more space between speakers but gesture more and use our stance to indicate engagement and wanting to interrupt – if you move forward you want to join in. In Japanese the space seems to be closer but there is often very little in the way of gesture (though, of course, personality plays a part in this) and most people’s stance seems to be fairly rigid and inflexible.

All of these are behaviors can be learned. Interestingly enough, if you talk to bi-linguals, they will often tell you that that their personality and behavior is different according to the language they are using. Sometimes this is down to a cultural difference in how language is used.

Finally one huge cultural difference I learned is that native speakers of English enjoy discussions and an exchange of views and often change their minds, native speakers of Japanese seem to hold their views in a much stronger fashion, sometimes as an integral part of themselves, so it was difficult for them to change their minds and, I was at first surprised to be told by my students that often a discussion would end with them bursting into tears – discussions in English don’t end in tears but compromise (and a drink in the pub).

For all those wishing to experience discussion in English, I recommend Tokyo Talkers which can be reached via meetup.com.

Mark Twyman
Nationality: British
Major: Sociology & Education & MA in Applied Linguistics
Years in Japan: About 21
Hobbies: Art, music, books, cooking, movies and modern dance

Actual business communication

  • 2008.05.27 Tuesday
  • 09:52
By Paul Gregg
I worked as a salesman in Denver for several years doing telephone calls and hour long presentations several times a day. I then came back to Japan and taught business communication to companies all over the Chubu area for 6 years. I have taught all levels of students; everything from simple business English to high level negotiation and presentation skills and I think this kind of training is essential for anyone who works in the international business field and most importantly for interpreters who want to be successful in the same area. Most Japanese think that the language itself is so important but I can’t stress strongly enough that the body language and culture background of the business members is of equal importance. All Japanese who want to be successful in international business endeavors must have some training about the vocabulary expressions or idioms, body language and facial expressions, and the American ( I say American because I am American and at the present time that is the largest market) culture of doing business.

One group of high level business executives that I taught meeting and negotiation skills for at a major company in Japan who all had MBAs from American Universities all came to me after the class ( over a glass of wine) and said that they finally understood why the American staff acted liked they did at meetings. They couldn’t believe the simple things that I advised them on that they could use immediately in their work so that could have more successful outcomes. The MBA programs all taught them wonderful business techniques but none of them taught the basics. One example of something that they learned was the time difference in pause times between international participants in meetings. Japanese people are more formal or polite and they wait an average of 4 seconds from when a person stops speaking and when they feel comfortable of being the next person speaking while Americans feel stress after 1.5 seconds of silence. They start to feel nervous at the silence (that’s could be one of the reasons all of the teachers in my school want to tell me to be quiet because I never stop speaking with my quiet {no loud voice, I am really very shy}). This is one major reason that Americans speak a lot more in meetings than Japanese. It is not that the Americans are rude (some like me are) but that they feel that silence is unnatural and that they must fill in the silence.

Please for all of you wonderful serious Simul students that are so good at speaking the English language please take business training and skills courses so that you can learn not only the language that you need but so that you can understand the body language and the culture of international business.

I hope to see you soon!

プロフィール
Paul Gregg
アメリカ出身。オクラホマの大学で国際政治学、特に日本の政治学を学んだことがきっかけで1986年に来日。英語教授歴15年。『言語だけではなく、文化やビジネスの知識を踏まえた』ビジネス英語の授業は好評で、大手企業でビジネス英語を教えた経験も豊富。
現在、神戸で奥様と3匹の猫と仲良く暮らしている。趣味はスノーケリング、相撲鑑賞、料理。

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