The School – We are a private English conversation school with 2 branches in the Yoyogi Hachiman/Tomigaya area of Shibuya, Tokyo, one for adults and one for kids.
Established in 1997, we are a part of an international network of schools licensed to use the Speak Your Mind (SYM) English course for adults and the iSpeak mySpeak course for kids from the age of 7, both created by Mr Iain McInally, owner of the Speak Your Mind School in Verona, Italy.
Opening Hours – We are open on weekdays from 08:20 to 12:30 and from 18:20 to 21:30 and on Saturdays from 09:20 to 12:30. We are closed on Sundays and public holidays.
The Method – The SYM course has been developed and tested in classrooms over the last 27 years and is designed to receive both teachers’ and students’ approval. Lessons are dynamic, fast and fun for both students and teachers alike and achieve real results.
The course has a proven track record. Many of our students started with us as complete beginners and now use English in business meetings, with friends from abroad or while travelling on business or for pleasure. Around 20% of our students have been with us for over 5 years or more while students stay with us for an average of 3½ years.
Presently, the oldest student we have started with as a complete beginner 14 years ago. I remember when he got his dream job with a major German car maker and had to speak English for 40 minutes with a panel of 6 interviewers. They told him afterwards that all 35 people they had interviewed had claimed to speak English but that he was the only one who actually could.
We have never advertised, instead getting new students by word-of-mouth, or people passing have seen the school and dropped in, or they have found us on the internet.
Student Enrollment – We believe we are unique in our approach to new student enrollment. Every prospective student is given a thorough placement test, lasting between 25 and 50 minutes, in order to find the upper level of conversational English at which they can function. They are then offered 4 trial lessons in a class at their level, with students of the same level.
After they have taken 4 trial lessons, if they decide they do not wish to continue, they are free to leave without paying a single yen. If, on the other hand, they decide to continue they pay for the 4 lessons they have taken, plus a once-only enrollment fee and for the text book they will use. Thereafter, they pay monthly in advance.
We believe in making sure students enroll through informed choice and that they continue studying with us because they approve of what we do and not because they are locked into any form of long term contract. We believe in offering an ethical service to both students and teachers.
Importantly, with this approach teachers can be sure that the students in their classes are there through choice and this in turn makes their work far more enjoyable.
Teaching with SYM – While fun and extremely rewarding, teaching well with SYM is no walk in the park. In order to do it well teachers need aptitude and training.
Teachers need a good ear for what sounds natural and what doesn’t. They need to enjoy teaching and find it worthwhile and interesting. They need to be responsive and quick thinking: they can bring energy, enthusiasm and expertise to the classroom and thrive on the reward of learner progress. They need to be good listeners, good communicators and naturally able to make people feel at ease. They need to be interested in the people they work with.
Working as a teacher at any SYM school starts with a 35-hour paid training course during which they learn about the history of the method and course and the theory behind it, as well as get a lot of teaching practice with volunteer students. It’s hard work as there is a lot to learn.
Following the training there is a probationary period during which new teachers spend half an hour preparing for each 50-minute lesson taught. As they gain in experience, so does the amount of preparation needed for teaching decline, until 2 or 3 minutes before a lesson is all that is needed to get ready. There is no preparation necessary outside paid working hours.
We offer a real challenge and considerable job satisfaction as well as real and continuing improvement in teaching skills. We also offer career development (to course director, school manager) to those so inclined and suited.
The Speak Your Mind School, Shibuya – Simply Speaking – Simply Different