Saijo Temple in Minami Ashigara City, Kanagawa Prefecture

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Teacher Testimonials on Teaching at Kevin`s English Schools

Pictured: Rugenji Temple courtesy of Fuji Film Staff

Kevin and Ikumi are great people to work for. They let me experiment a lot with teaching ideas and in my first and most important year of teaching I learned a lot about what to do and what not to do. It was a great place to get started.

Jonathan DeNardis

Ian Slesinger on Teaching for our schools:

On a typical day at Kevin's English Schools you work from about 3pm to 9 or 9:30pm although some days are longer or shorter. You get weekends off which is nice, since you have to work Saturdays at most English conversation schools.

The job involves teaching a very diverse range of students in terms of age and ability level. I teach everything from preschoolers to business classes for engineers. This instills flexibility as a teacher and allows you to gain experience in many areas of teaching. It also provides an excellent opportunity to evaluate your preferences and strengths and weaknesses, which is helpful if you plan to pursue a career in EFL.

The majority of work tends to be with elementary students and junior high school students. The position would be apt if you enjoy working with children.

In most classes teachers use textbooks and supplement them with other games, songs and activities.

Working for KES you have freedom to develop your own teaching style and to try out new ideas. Kevin gives you a lot of control in designing your lesson plans and choosing material as long as you generally follow a core curriculum from the textbooks.

Special emphasis is placed on phonics and reading for children. The main textbooks we use are the Finding Out and English Land series for elementary school students, Side by Side for teenagers, and New Interchange and Cutting Edge for adults.

Sarah O`hagan on Teaching for Kevin`s English Schools

Choosing to work for Kevin's English Schools was the best choice I made in terms of my employment in Japan. It's difficult to decide which school to go with as there are so many out there - and most of them sound really good on paper, or when you speak with them on the phone. But I can guarantee you that this school is different than most and that's why I stayed with them for 3 years!

KES more than a school, it's like a tight-knit community. Teachers and students regularly go sightseeing, play sports, and go out for meals together outside of class time. Of course you are not required to do any of this, it just seems that's the way things unfold!

Kevin and his family warmly welcome new employees into their lives and are always there for you. Teachers need not worry about resources as they are provided. However, the great thing about teaching for Kevin is that he gives you the freedom to choose your own materials and textbooks, so long as they are reasonable.

The apartments KES provides for their teachers are clean, comfortable, fully equipped, and conveniently located. The rent is reasonable and, most importantly, there are no hidden fees or deposits (common among rental units in Japan) that can put you out thousands of dollars.

If you are looking for a casual yet professional teaching environment where you can form strong bonds with your students and other staff members then you should seriously consider Kevin's English Schools.

Chris Weber, Australia on KES:

As Kevin mentioned, I'm an ex-employee of his and we've become good friends too. He's a really great guy and as a boss he gives the teachers freedom to have their own teaching style and implement their own lesson plans (within reason).

At the schools there are many text books and materials to use, so you don't need to worry about having to start from scratch using your own materials.

I'm very glad that I worked for KES as my first job in Japan. I stayed with them for 2 years and only moved on because I wanted to see what it was like to work in public elementary schools. I often go back to the area around Odawara and now that I don't live there I appreciate even more what a nice place it is. It's near the coast and hasmountains and forests nearby, so the air is much cleaner than where I live now (the South of Saitama Prefecture, right near the Tokyo border).

I can't really give you any more advice except that my 2 years with KES gave me some great memories and certainly a better introduction to Japan than if I'd worked for one of the big companies like Nova etc, which have a reputation for being more like fast food companies in terms of the turnover of staff and students. KES is more like a family-run restaurant with a friendly atmosphere and more personal approach with students and teachers alike.

If Kevin and Ikumi do hire you, I have to give you my congratulations as I'm sure that you'll feel at home there.

Good luck


James Pelikan on Kevin`s English Schools

Dear Kevin- I was just remembering how you were a good boss to me, and I wanted to pass that thought on. I coudn't have been a better one myself. Please believe this. And I hope you and Ikumi are doing very well. Also, if you remember, say hi to my host families and Masahiro. with care, - James

Originally Posted at the forum for Kevin`s English Schools: In fact you can still find this post there.


Kevin on TV

I will be on TVK Channel 42 during the last week of June.
They filmed a documentary of one of my students and interviewed me very briefly.


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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Teaching Young Children

“….teachers are finding themselves at a perplexing crossroads
between teaching and playing.”
--Tania MacDonell, English Teacher

Our newest teacher at Kevin`s English Schools is a natural children`s teacher. He has a knack for being a big kid himself and that comes across in his classes. It is something that cannot
be taught. We all have that inner child inside of us and some are better at connecting with it
than others. He is an allstar. Doing our best to connect with this child, will help us to be better
teachers of children in general and young children in particular.

Dr. Montessori felt that by allowing children freedom in an environment that suits them, they will blossom.

*For all your students, learning and remembering their names is very important. How would you like to be called “Bib” for a year when your name is Bill? Some of our “phopaws” of name mistakes have meanings in Japanese, sometimes negative meanings. Children will quit
if you don`t learn how to pronounce their names. Ask them to teach you how to pronounce
their names, it will show that you care.

The ESL teacher should endeavor to make his or her classroom inviting. One thing one can do is organize materials so that the children are free to choose what they will do next. They will
be stimulated by the spoken language around them.

We should also remember how much bigger we are. Crouching down to get at their eye level
makes us less threatening, and more of a friend.

If parents are allowed in the room, the parents must speak only English. Allowing parents to
speak Japanese will diminish the impact of the class. It is extemely important for young children to hear their parents attempting to speak English.

Get into a routine that the children and mothers enjoy. Repeated positive experiences form strong connections in the brain and give a child a sense of security. (2002) MacDonell

Some recommended activities for teaching young children aged 3-5:

Play doh: Used for introducing and repeating new vocabulary. Ie)

“Have you made a red crow?”

Making a cake with play doh:

“Can I have some?” “Here you are.” “Thank you.” “You`re welcome.”


Reading to them opens up a whole world to them. It helps with pronunciation, intonation, and vocabulary.


Making a collage individually or together. Praising all works of art is important.
“Making a collage is ideal for 3-5 year olds according to Tania MacDonell.

Mixing Bowls:

Using mixing bowls and a spoon helps to draw a connection for the child between what they are doing with this activity and what Mom and Dad do in the kitchen.
The English taught during this activity can be reinforced at home by the parents.
The activity helps them form a sense of belonging in the class.


“They begin to develop an understanding of task completion and perseverence. If the puzzles are self-correcting, then no adult intervention is required…The language that
occurs is as varied as the puzzles used. But when a child chooses this kind of activity it would seem he or she is moving away from the interactive atmosphere to work alone. This choice should be respected.”—Tania MacDonell

At our schools we have puzzles with many different themes including: the farm.
A lot of activities can go around that. English teacher Ikumi Kishiya has often
told a story about it or asked what various animals or people are doing. Of course
this depends on their ages and abilities.

Blocks and Building:

Use building blocks to build things and play and talk about them as you do it.

Cut up old boxes –fashioned by the children into cars, tunnels and peek a boo houses
Also generate cheap, effective play equipment.

OLL – Outdoor Language Learning:

Take them outside! Children get restless and need to move around. Take them to the park if possible and teach them vocabulary on the way. “Show me a ___________.”
is an effective activity on the way to the park and at the park. Question/Answer
tag is a long time favorite of my classes. I pre-teach the children questions and they
ask a question after they tag a student. The student answers then they are it and do the
same thing. To increase the English being spoken, in large classes of six or more I
often make two people “it.”

This article is based on an article which appreared in Snakes and Ladders, Summer
2002, “Learning Through Play: Language Teaching Techniques for Very Young
Learners,” by Tania MacDonell, and some of my own ideas.

Kevin Burns

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