THE PERFECT ENVIRONMENT
We think that learning should take place in a warm and comfortable environment. The more comfortable you feel, the more you’ll be able to relax, and studies show that when you’re in a calm state of mind you learn more. That’s why when we built our new building in 2009 we wanted it to have a bright, open and warm, home-like feel. Our classrooms are large and have many windows and the neighborhood is residential and quiet.
Many of our young learners choose to play in our enclosed courtyard before and after classes. Mothers, while they wait, enjoy coffee, cakes and cookies and chatting with other mothers. The smell of fresh baked cookies and coffee help to create the feeling of home and the laughs and chatting create the perfect background for learning. i2i is a place you can’t wait to get to, and don’t want to leave.
OUR TEACHERS AND CURRICULUM
Lessons are designed to be first, and foremost, fun and interesting. If the student is not motivated by the lesson then it's difficult for any learning to be retained. Secondly, lessons are designed to repeat the target language (i.e. vocabulary, grammar point or conversation), because we know that in order for a student to really learn something they must repeat it frequently. The challenge then becomes, how do you have repetition without losing motivation? This is where the plethora of teaching materials, a well-developed curriculum and experienced teachers come in. Our lessons have the student repeating without becoming bored or losing motivation. They enjoy and are challenged to learn and remember new material.
Once the student has mastered the target language, we then try to personalize the learning to the student’s daily life and give the words context. For younger learners it might mean learning fruits and vegetables, asking them what fruits and vegetables they like and then finally role playing a shopping trip to the fruit and vegetable market. For older elementary students, it may mean studying days of the week and school subjects and then creating their own dream school schedule to share with the class. For junior high school students it could mean studying sequencing, researching a recipe and then heading to café lingua franca’s kitchen to make cheesecake. We call these final, end of unit lessons, capstone lessons – they give real-world meaning to the vocabulary and grammar, inspire the student and make the learning more memorable.
Our lessons have been very well received and fine-tuned. But a great lesson on paper is nothing if it doesn’t have a great teacher to bring the lesson to life. i2i teachers, first and foremost, care about the student. They are people of high character who like teaching. Their primary concern is to create the right environment for learning. This means creating an environment where everyone feels comfortable. Each student learns in a different way. It is an i2i teacher’s job to find the best way to balance each student’s uniqueness with the rest of the class to make sure everyone moves forward. Sometimes, this requires using Japanese in the classroom. Which is why all of our teachers can speak Japanese. Although it is used as sparingly as possible, when an issue arises, students are relieved to know they can communicate with their teacher.
At i2i, you’re always sure to have the best and most up-to-date learning materials available. Recently, huge progress has been made with technology and learning. i2i has embraced these opportunities. The classrooms are equipped with 52” and 46” televisions and Apple TVs. Teachers and students have access to iPads and MacBook Airs that hold hundreds of educational songs, videos, photos, slideshows and apps. Additionally, students from 5-14 are subscribed to a variety of online educational offerings that can provide additional learning opportunities at home.
Of course, we also value the traditional teaching materials. i2i has over 300 English children picture books and countless English novels and reference books for older learners. Whenever possible, books are integrated into the curriculum, especially for our younger learners. We have a large number of purchased educational games and flashcards, but often, we make our own. Our teaching materials room is stacked with i2i’s original teaching materials. This ensures that we always have just the right materials to reach each and every student.
We have three events a year, which you will definitely want to mark on your calendar! Our events try to recreate western traditions as closely as possible so that students can, in addition to learning the language, get an understanding of the culture of English speaking countries. Our events are based on three Western holidays and the American version of these events: Easter, Halloween and Christmas. *As a quick note, while all of these holidays are or were based on religious events, we only celebrate the secular aspects of these holidays.
For Easter, every spring, we go to nearby Kushigata Park for an old-fashioned egg hunt. Early the morning of the event, our Easter Bunny hides over 1,000 plastics eggs throughout the park. At 10:00 sharp, the children are sent out to find them all. Which they do, in about 15 minutes! Inside the eggs are tiny pieces of candy. Upon returning from the hunt, students can have their picture taken with the Easter Bunny, receive other goodies from our staff and then sit in the park and enjoy eating their treasure. After the event, many families choose to stick around and enjoy a picnic or head over to the playground and continue the day in beautiful Kushigata Park. This event usually takes place at the end of April.
This is our largest event of the year. In fact, you may have read about it in several newspapers. We almost always attract some media attention with this event. As is Halloween custom, children come dressed in costume. We see a lot of witches, vampires, princesses and super heroes! After signing in, families are given a map of the neighborhood surrounding i2i. Around 20 or more houses volunteer to serve as Candy Stations for the event. These houses are marked on the map. You choose how many you want to go to, just a few, or all of them if - you have the energy! When you arrive at the house, knock on the door. When someone answers say, “Trick or Treat!” and you will be given a candy treat. When your bag is full, or whenever you get tired, return to i2i and enjoy the many Halloween games we have prepared for you. Moms and Dads can warm and refresh with our Halloween offerings at the café. This is the event that kids are waiting all year for. What will you be? This event takes place the last Sunday in October.
Something we believe very strongly in is the importance of creativity. That’s why our theme for our Christmas event is Creative Christmas. We bake over 300 Christmas sugar cookies in all different Christmas shapes: a snowman, a candy cane, a bell, a Christmas tree, a gingerbread man, etc. You choose your three favorite and find a table to decorate them with colored frosting and assorted sprinkles. When you’re finished head over to the craft classroom where our staff has prepared various paper crafts and Christmas tree decorations. If you’re lucky you may be able to get a snowman painted on your face, or, your nails decorated with snowflakes. When you’ve finished creating, you can share your creations with the whole family. Well, maybe not the cookies!
All of our events, in addition to presenting American children’s favorite holidays, are designed to bring the family together. Anyone can join in. Many people bring the whole family and share in the fun. And because we know you’re busy, you can come and go whenever you please - truly Western style.
LEARNING FOR ADULTS
Although a majority of our students are young learners, we also have a large number of adult students who learn with us.
For adult students who are interested in brushing up their English skills before a big trip abroad, or for those who have just returned from studying abroad and want to keep their English polished, for students who have a big presentation at work that they need to give in English!, or for someone who just wants to chat and learn about other cultures and customs in English – we recommend our Conversation Club.
The Conversation Club is a ticket system that allows students with a busy and ever changing schedule to find the time to come in and use English. It works like this: Students purchase a ten or twenty lesson tickets. We will take your email address and send you a weekly email telling you the upcoming week’s schedule for Conversation Club classes. The email also contains a fun little English quiz! If there’s a date that you would like to come for a lesson, send us a return email. We will mark you on our calendar. Please be sure to email us 24 hours before the lesson so we prepare accordingly. Then, just come to the lesson at the agreed time. Each lesson includes one free drink from café lingua franca. Sit down with your coffee and enjoy a fun lesson based on topics in the news, a student’s questions, cultural differences and so on. Every lesson will have a different number of students of varying levels and experience. Grammar and vocabulary will be taught as needed, but the focus on the lesson will be on conversation. Come join us! It’s always fun!
Adult students who are looking for a more structured English lesson should ask about our private lessons.