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Meet the Teachers (Brent ‘s English School) 

◆Brent’s English School◆  Mr. Brent Long  (Tokyo)

Brent1b.jpgI am often asked why I came to Japan. In 1999 I stopped studying French. I had been studying for more than four years but after a two-week trip to Paris I came away feeling like it was time for something new. I had lived in Germany when I was younger and could still speak German fairly well. My mother’s side of the family was Mexican and many of my relatives could speak Spanish. I didn’t want to study something common though. So I chose to study Japanese. There wasn’t any one big reason, but rather many small reasons. I liked Nintendo, ninjas, martial arts, kanji and the challenge of learning a language that most people around me thought was too difficult.

Over the 14 years that followed I continued studying. I’ve spent time studying in every way I could find, using different methods, different textbooks, different teachers and trying to keep the good habits while discarding the bad. I understand the frustration that comes with learning a difficult new language and feeling like your studying just isn’t efficient enough.

In 2004 I joined the U.S. Air Force and moved to Yokota Air Base in Tokyo. I had many good adventures but in 2008 when I was forced to choose between leaving Japan or leaving the military, I left the Air Force and started my new life as an English teacher.

Brent3.JPGWith my experiences studying though, it was very important to me to not be just some average teacher. I wanted to be the best teacher possible and open my own English school to give my students the fun, effective learning that I had been looking for in my own studies. I wanted my students to come away from each class feeling like it was time well spent and that I was truly helping them reach their goals. And to get to that level of teaching I had a plan to spend five years training as a teacher. Every year I would switch schools, learn new approaches, teaching styles and business models, before finally opening my own school. This is now year number five and I have worked with a fairly large number of students at eight different schools over that time. As I get ready to start up my own school in Tokyo it’s finally time to start putting what I have learned to use and deciding upon how I’m going to be teaching in the future.

While I started off teaching adults with a good understanding of how to learn a language, I had no clue what to do for kids. My first month of teaching kids was depressing and I felt like I was failing my students. But one day I found a Let’s Go teacher’s guide sitting on one of the school’s bookshelves. It was my first introduction to the MAT method and though I wasn’t very good at it there was an immediate improvement in my teaching. The following year I was sent to the IIEEC teacher training seminar and got to see the MAT method in action, demonstrated by teacher trainers who really knew what they were doing. That was an absolutely eye-opening experience and gave me a pretty obvious choice when it came to what teaching style I would be using in the future with my own school. I love how it gives my classes a fun, high-energy pace with some really effective learning for all my kids. And the more I practice my MAT skills the better my students learn. It’s been so helpful in fact that I went back three years later to go through it again. That was definitely a good idea as they updated their training and I needed to polish up some of the skills I hadn’t been practicing.Brent2.JPG

Of course, I’m still pretty early on in my life as an English teacher but I’ve learned some great things and I look forward to going to class every day and sharing everything I can with my students.