Some January thoughts


Since coming back to Aizu on January 7th after a winter break on the beach in Thailand, I have been pleasantly surprised by the lack of snow so far this winter in Aizu.
Normally I have to clear away snow from the six parking spaces in front of our school in Nakajima Machi most mornings in January and February which can take an hour or so of hard, sweaty work but this year I have had very little snow-clearing to do. As you might be able to sense, it is not a job that I particularly enjoy.

January is also a time to consider plans for the coming year, such as school trips abroad to English-speaking countries for our students, their relatives and friends. At the start of the month we were thinking of taking a group of students to the UK during the summer holiday to attend a wonderful residential summer school for two weeks but, after making a few enquiries with some of the travel agents we regularly use, we have had to postpone this trip. The reason for this is that the London Olympic Games will be taking place this summer at exactly the same time as we were planning to go there. As a result, flights to the UK and accommodation there in late July and early August are very difficult to obtain.

We still want to be able to give our younger learners the opportunity to practise their English skills naturally outside the classroom and we still want to organise a school trip which is affordable for most people so we are considering a school trip this summer to Hawaii for one week. We plan to take a group of young learners (from 10-17) to the summer camp at the YMCA of Hawaii where they will be able to enjoy a wide range of sports, games and other activities in English with other children of the same age who live in Hawaii and who come from the mainland USA as well as lucky children from other countries such as Spain, India etc.
We went on a similar school trip two years ago which was a wonderful experience for our young learners.
Meanwhile older students can join our group and spend a week studying English at a Waikiki language school or just enjoy the fantastic beaches and Polynesian atmosphere of Oahu island along with us.

This month we have also been planning our schedule of English examinations for 2012. I am always very keen to promote the Cambridge ESOL exams not only for the students at the Windmill English Centre but also for any other people in the Aizu area and beyond who would like the challenge of passing truly international standard English examinations. Professional English teachers understand that Cambridge ESOL English examinations test all four skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing) equally and accurately in English that is natural and practical. This is why they are the standard English exams in reputable language schools in English-speaking countries.

Finally, this month we have been considering organizing a sightseeing trip to the UK for our students and friends in October after the London Olympics and when airfares should be easier and cheaper to obtain. We plan to take a group sightseeing around London and to London’s theatre heartland, the West End to see a musical, to the beautiful university city of Cambridge (my hometown) and to see the lovely green English countryside, picturesque villages and historical stately homes.

All in all, we hope that 2012 will be a very good year for everyone connected with the school!