When I arrived in Japan in November 1994, the best job option in Tokyo for a 25 year old Australian on a Working Holiday Visa was teaching. Despite no experience whatsoever I picked up a teaching position in a small Eikaiwa in Sumida-ku. My co-workers and I bonded to form a team of teachers who supported each other, observed each other’s lessons and shared ideas. My interest in teaching deepened considerably after beginning to teach in public elementary schools. I continued developing my teaching in this environment for 11 years. It was during this time that my colleague Ron Martin and I first hit upon the notion of “Non-Target English”. As NTE represented the only truly communicative English that students experienced during their lessons, I explored the phenomena, aiming to have my students express themselves as much as possible in English that they genuinely need.
My partnership with Hiromi began when we found ourselves working together at a pilot school in Tokyo’s Arakawa Ward. The similarities in our thinking towards student output, student creativity, student-centered learning, critical thinking, and self-esteem, as well as many other aspects of education, surprised even us.
With Hiromi’s departure from the realm of public education in 2005, I found little to be inspired by. I left a year later, and became a full-time teacher at a Tokyo preschool, teaching a daily class of 5~6 year olds, as well as after-school classes for elementary school kids. I was, by this time, an experienced presenter at major and local teacher development workshops and seminars, and I became a regular and popular presenter at APRICOT PUBLISHING’s Learning World Workshops, where my lesson ideas were received with enthusiasm. Workshop participants often expressed surprise at video footage of my classes, showing so many of my students, even those who attend classes just once a week, communicating in English so naturally.
The interest throughout Japan in the Non-Target English approach, and a desire among the country’s English teachers to make changes to their teaching in ways that have students feel success in genuinely using English led to me formalizing my partnership with Hiromi in English Uplift. I continue to dedicate my energy to supporting teachers’ ongoing development for the benefit students' future.
Mission/Vision: 「To have young people realize their potential – in English」