Totally Unprofessional - Two Teachers Talking™ Podcast - Student Download Page - English Portal 

I used to teach…

Now that retirement is here, it seemed a good time to try something radical: separating personal and “professional.” Or, maybe post-professional. I will not be updating the Download or the Portal pages, but they will remain accessible (links at top of page.)


When I come across items that I think may be of interest to my former students and colleagues, I’ll share them here. Please share suggestions and comments: tonysensei@me.com


Please stop by from time to time, and feel free to visit my personal page, Totally Unprofessional, as well. 


Us and Them: An Intercultural Communication Textbook for Japanese University Students and Their Teachers. http://tony-silva.com/usandthem/usandthem.html 


A Quick and Dirty Guide to the Japanese Business Meeting. http://tony-silva.com/japanesemeeting.html 


June 16, 2021 - You’re studying wrong

Lots of links today to help you study effectively for the end of the semester. If the topic interests you, I can recommend the book I’m reading now, Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning, Peter C. Brown, Harvard University Press. http://bit.ly/stick-learning. I’ve included the US amazon link as it’s a lot less than the same ebook on the Japanese amazon site.

From the old download page 

"Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits" http://bit.ly/studyhabitsnyt

“You're Probably Studying Wrong”  https://bit.ly/2RZQTVb 

Some videos on the same topic:

“Study LESS, Study SMART” https://youtu.be/AL08YZCYShc 

“How To Study Smarter, Not Harder” https://youtu.be/H-DJEU9N1y4 

Don’t give up on studying abroad. Gaikoku ho! https://japantoday.com/category/national/japan-to-prioritize-students-heading-abroad-for-covid-19-vaccinations? 

Interesting prompts for essays and speeches. I often used these New York Times lists for my topic suggestions for students. http://bit.ly/prompts2021 

NYT Vocab challenge. An interesting collection of vocabulary words. Test yourself! http://bit.ly/nytvocab2021

Finally, a heartwarming teacher story. Shoes: http://bit.ly/gradshoes 

June 3, 2021 - Friends

I was very happy to come across this article. Over the years I used some episodes from Friends in some of my classes. Often, students would ask about how and where more episodes could be found. Some shared stories about how they later enjoyed watching episodes with their parents. It was certainly one of my favorite TV series, and there were times when the “back home” cultural connection made some days here in Japan easier for me. It was nice to get confirmation that the series has real value for English learners. Of course, I give it four stars. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

How ‘Friends’ Helps People Around the World Learn English

Language teachers say the show is a near-perfect amalgam of easy-to-understand English and real-life scenarios that feel familiar even to people who live worlds away from the West Village. http://bit.ly/tonyfriends 

May 27, 2021 - Time passing / Time management

I don’t know why I stopped to check, but I was shocked when I did and saw that the semester was approaching its halfway point for many of you. I know you may feel differently, but for me, it seems as if the semester - YOUR semester - had just begun, along with the usual Golden Week interruption and the very unusual COVID-19 burps and re-directions. It can’t be easy, and I do feel for all of you. Hang in there, it will pass, it will get better…eventually.

To be honest, I thought that by this time I might very well be in Mexico. The pandemic has certainly derailed those plans, and I won’t be going anywhere until entry to and departure from Japan becomes manageable. Spending weeks in quarantine at either end of the flight just doesn’t make sense. I hope to get vaccinated by the end of July, but, even then, I’m not sure how much easier that will make things.

Meanwhile, I am going through old textbooks and teaching materials, tossing most of it (boxes and boxes!), but at my own pace. I pick up my guitar more frequently, I correspond or talk with old friends more, I’m reading books, listening to music, cooking, taking it easy. I wish you had some of that leisure time and space to relieve some of your pressure.

Time management. This is something we could not cover in classes last year, but  there is a simple tool (The Eisenhower Matrix) that can help you make your lives run much more smoothly. It’s a very simple idea that might help you organize and prioritize all the things that seem like they need to be done NOW. I hope it’s helpful. 

If you have TOO MUCH time, I invite you to my personal website or my teacher podcast.

Stay safe, stay healthy.

May 13, 2021 - Free Ebooks, now easier on the eyes

I likely introduced you to Project Gutenberg (https://www.gutenberg.org) in our classes. It’s the volunteer site that has been scanning and sharing copyright-free books for over 25 years. I recently learned of another interesting resource. Standard Ebooks (https://standardebooks.org) takes those Project Gutenberg scans, proofreads them for errors, cleans them up, and posts them for download, free. 

Also, a cartoon I thought you might appreciate: https://xkcd.com/557/ 

May 3, 2021 - Happy Golden Week

Hope you’re all having a great Golden Week.

I know you all do lots of reading. Here’s more, but it will help you appreciate all the good the reading is doing you. https://entrylevelrebel.medium.com/this-is-how-reading-rewires-your-brain-according-to-neuroscience-132fcc26307b

Also, if you’re smart enough to be checking this web page, here’s some good news for you: https://medium.com/the-masterpiece/why-iq-determines-everything-in-your-life-the-sad-truth-650ab95fa94d 

Two fast reminders. 

If you are now teaching at a juku or if you are considering a career in teaching, I’m pretty sure you’ll find this interesting: http://twoteacherstalking.com 

I also keep a personal web page, intended for friends in general, and I welcome you to have a look: http://tony-silva.com

Stay healthy, stay safe, and have a great Golden Week break. Don’t be afraid to reach out if you have questions or need help.

April 24, 2021 - Don’t give up

Of course, you’re confused and disheartened. Again, you have been let down by those in power of Japan’s educational system. Don’t give up. You and your teachers will make this work. 

Two bits of humor to help you through: 

Hang in there, folks.

April 10, 2021 - Language oddities and the Rule of Thirds 

OK, folks, break’s over. Well, I hear some schools are having a tough time getting started.  Good luck, stay healthy…miss you guys.

Below are two episodes of Lexicon Valley podcast. I think they will be of great interest to all language majors. The host does talk quickly, so I suggest using a podcast player (Overcast, Downcast, etc.) that allows you to adjust the playback speed so that you can slow things down a little. Still too fast? A transcript is available on each page. It’s OK to skip the music if it’s not to your taste. Worth the time and effort–very interesting.

There is also an article about how pronouns in English are changing (maybe). Finally, a little reinforcement of the Rule of thirds.

April 3, 2021 - A new school year 

This is no April Fool Joke, people.

The number of COVID-19 infections in Kansai is very high and increasing each day. (See? Number is, infections are, but the subject is number.) Universities are pushing hard for face-to-face classes. The semester’s classes probably begin this week for you.  My opinion is that this is a recipe for disaster. As hard as last year was for all of us, I am relieved that I am not part of what is happening this year. Please stay safe and stay healthy.

However, on a lighter note, some fun for the beginning of the school year: 

Stay safe.

March 24, 2021 - Let’s get real

Yesterday I visited one of the universities where I have been teaching to clear out my stuff: books, records, etc. With incredible luck, I was able to meet one of my students from last year (2020-2021 - the Zoom year). I was having a small snack in a green area before going to the office, when I saw a young man with a familiar pair of eyes bounding toward me. When he pulled down his mask, I recognized him immediately, even though we had previously only seen each other on Zoom. We had a great talk. He is the ONLY student from last year that I’ve had the chance to meet in person. I was glad it was Ryo. He was a great student all year and always did his best. He is the ONLY student from last year that I’ve had the chance to meet in person. 今年も、がんばって、亮さん

(Link to English Portal fixed.)

March 19, 2021 - Writing and vocabulary

“One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you’re maybe a little bit ashamed of your short ones. This is like dressing up a household pet in evening clothes. The pet is embarrassed and the person who committed this act of premeditated cuteness should be even more embarrassed.”

On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft by Stephen King, 

March 18, 2021 - Open the windows / When it began

Next month some of you will be attending face-to-face classes. This video can help you stay healthy. Please take its warnings seriously. 

A year ago, on Two Teachers Talking, Charles and I sat down with a group of Osaka University students to discuss our early experiences with university life in the pandemic era. I think it’s worth a listen: Two Teachers Talking, Episode 123.

March 13, 2021 - One year of COVID-19 

Yes, this was a hard year. You’ve heard me say it many times. Here’s what your counterparts in the US are saying about it: http://bit.ly/covidnonen

March 8, 2021 - Racism and discrimination

In several classes we discussed racism and discrimination. As I hope I made clear, wherever there are human beings, you will find racism and discrimination. This video of a South Korean woman in Germany illustrates that point: https://fb.watch/42DDxJHXM2/ 

March 5, 2021 - Relocating / Getting a job / Working less

These are the most desirable countries and cities for workers looking to relocate in 2021: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/03/04/these-are-workers-top-countries-and-cities-for-relocating-in-2021.html

If you say any of these 6 things during the job interview, don’t expect to get an offer:

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/12/15/if-you-say-any-of-these-things-during-job-interview-dont-expect-an-offer-says-career-expert.html

 The idea of a four-day work week has been discussed since before I was a university student. Some European countries are experimenting with it now, and here’s some hope that the practice will  become more widespread. I suppose that will be one positive result of the pandemic. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-03-02/four-day-work-week-gains-popularity-around-the-world 

February 24, 2021 - Why study abroad?

In some of our classes we discussed the advantages of studying abroad. Since classes ended, I’ve talked with some of you about lessons you, your acquaintances, and your family learned while living overseas.

A great example is Momoko Nojo, who started an online groundswell that brought down Mr. Yoshiro Mori, former Olympic Minister.  No surprise, as Ms. Nojo, a 22 year old student at Keio University did a year of study abroad, in Denmark. 

https://japantoday.com/category/national/don%27t-be-silent-how-a-22-year-old-woman-helped-bring-down-the-tokyo-olympics-chief?

The lessons you learn living and studying abroad return with you to Japan, follow you wherever you go, and enrich very day of your lives.

February 19, 2021 - Hello, World

I’m not in the classroom. Actually, because of the pandemic, I haven’t been in a classroom since February 2020. No matter. As I’ve told my students this past year (2020-2021), you, they, I have overcome the obstacles and had a successful year of learning together.

Now, I have retired.

However, I realize that I will always be a teacher.

So, for now, this will be my medium. My old student download page will remain online, but I will no longer be updating that page. Nevertheless, there is much I encounter, learn, read, and hear that I know will be of benefit to students of English in Japan, and anywhere else. To their teachers, too.

I will share those things here. I hope you find the posts informative and useful.

One last time…huge THANK YOU-S  🙏🏽  to this year’s students and the students of all my years of teaching for adding so much to my life.  You’ll be forever in my memories, forever in my heart. 

My first offerings:

Visit Dan’s House

Students often ask how to improve their English. There are no secrets. Practice and hard work. For inspiration, I suggest this video of a man in Russia determined to learn English. Listen to Dan talk about his house in Russia: https://youtu.be/3INRUnTWd2o Give him some likes 👍🏽 and some encouragement.

Grammarly alternatives

Any of you who had written assignments from me have heard me talk about the utility of a good grammar/spell checker. Grammarly has gotten too expensive for most of us, but here is a list of free or mostly free alternatives. I haven’t tested them all, but I hope you can find one that works well for you.