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Friday, August 26, 2016

Fall schedule

The fall TOEFL speaking schedule has changed:

Orientation for October classes will be 6-10 p.m. on September 24

Orientation for November classes will be 6-10 p.m. on October 29.

There are seven classes per week:

Monday: 7-10 p.m.
Tuesday: 7-10 p.m.
Wednesday: 7-10 p.m.
Saturday: 10:00-13:00 and 3-6 p.m.
Sunday: 10:00-13:00 and 3-6 p.m.

There are three TOEFL tests during October: 10/15, 16, and 22. Students who miss a weekend morning class because of TOEFL can attend a makeup class from 15:00-18:00 on 10/30.

There are five TOEFL tests during November: 11/5, 12, 13, 19, and 26. Students who miss a weekend morning class because of TOEFL can attend a makeup class from 15:00-18:00 on 11/3 (文化の日).

Monday, July 11, 2016

Independent Writing

As I've explained on the homepage, templates are not a good idea for writing (or speaking). On this past weekend's test, after the independent writing question, the directions said something like:
"Answer the question and do not reproduce an answer you have memorized. "
The Official Guide says the same thing. You've been warned!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Tuck Information Session

A former student who just finished Tuck asked me to share the link to their informal Tokyo Information Session.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Aug-September 2016 Class Schedule

Orientation will be 18:00-22:00 on Saturday, August 20, and attendance is required for all new students.

There are seven classes per week:

Monday: 7-10 p.m.
Tuesday: 7-10 p.m.
Wednesday: 7-10 p.m.
Saturday: 10:00-13:00 and 3-6 p.m.
Sunday: 10:00-13:00 and 3-6 p.m.

There are three TOEFL tests during this month: August 27, September 10, and September 11. Students who miss class because of TOEFL can attend a makeup class from 10:00-13:00 on September 25 (but availability is limited, so tell me soon if you have a schedule conflict).

Monday, March 14, 2016


We did a few months of IELTS speaking classes earlier this year, but we're discontinuing it for now. Here's what we found:

  1. Student levels in the IELTS class were quite a bit lower than levels in the TOEFL speaking classes. I think lower-level students self-select IELTS, thinking it will be easier.
  2. IELTS reading and listening sections seem easier than TOEFL; TOEFL speaking and writing sections seem easier than IELTS.
  3. We think that in the long-run, it's better to take TOEFL than IELTS. While TOEFL reading might be more difficult, it also prepares you for GMAT reading better than IELTS does. While TOEFL listening may be more difficult, it prepares you for studying in an English-language classroom better than IELTS does.
  4. We also think that universities are becoming aware that IELTS scores seem inflated. MIT Sloan Fellows recently told one of our applicants that he needed TOEFL 100 or IELTS 7.5 (rather than 7.0).
At any rate, our TOEFL speaking classes are typically at full capacity until October or November. If this year follows the same pattern as previous years, we can run an IELTS class next fall, but for now, we're going to focus on TOEFL.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Chicago Booth Unofficial Coffee Chat

One of my former students who is a first MBA student at Chicago Booth asked me to pass along this information on their Coffee Chat:

Chicago Booth Unofficial Coffee Chat

Date: 3/27 (Sun)
Time: TBD (based on aggregated preference of participants)
Location: TBD (Tokyo central area)

Three first year students will join the event to share experiences and advices in application, classes, school activities, recruiting, and Chicago life.

Please fill out the format below if you are interested in.

We hope everyone  interested in MBA apply for this chat event. Especially, we would like prospective students who are currently not interested in Booth to join the event as typically their impression in Booth came from misunderstanding the school.

As soon as we fix the location based on demand, we will inform the participants via emails registered in the form. However, please note that we would limit the number of attendees if it is too big to handle. In the case of excess demand, we will invite people first come first serve base.

Appreciate if you can also take a look at our new website.

Chicago Booth Japan Club Leaders

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Younger TOEFL test-takers

Since I started E4TG in 2007, I have never accepted many high school or college students. However, a high school graduate with good fluency and fair intonation applied in December 2015, and I invited them to join TOEFL speaking classes in January. It went well, so we will start to accept high school graduates who already have high-intermediate or better English speaking skills.

Here is the testimonial:


Saturday, October 3, 2015

MBA Interview Seminar

John Couke and Adam Markus are hosting an MBA Interview Workshop at E4TG in the afternoon of October 11. John was director of admissions consulting at AGOS, and Adam was director of admissions consulting at The Princeton Review Japan. You will not find better interview counselors in Japan. There are a few seats left. 

Please contact John directly to register!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Tuck Informal Session

The Amos Tuck Informal Information Session is coming up on July 11. Here's my former student's blog post with the information on it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


I got an interesting question from a student in the writing class, and I want to share it, because many Japanese people struggle with this issue:
Mistake: "Lots of employees left and freshmen didn't want to enter the company." 
Question: I understand that you can only say "freshman" for high school or college students, but how would you describe the 新入社員 in English? 
アルク gives many ways to say this, but the fact is that we don't use these expressions often.

This is a cultural difference, not a language issue. In Japanese culture, the idea of a place in the hierarchy (階層) is important and useful. Google has 21,000,000 hits for Japanese hierarchy society.

In American society, the idea is less useful, and we usually don't bother to express it. You could fix the sentence like this:
Lots of employees left, and the number of applicants fell dramatically.
Lots of employees left, and it was difficult to replace them because no one wanted to work there.
I am not a sociologist, but it seems to me that several basic concepts of Japanese society, especially 内・外 (such as 外国人) and 階層 (such as 先輩・後輩、エリート、 and 新入社員) are concepts that you should try to avoid using if you want to write or speak English well. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

I changed my mind

The expression "I changed my mind" can be difficult to use. We had a mistake in class tonight like this:
I tried to study English as Starbucks, but it was too noisy. So I changed my mind and decided to study at home.
The difficulty of using "I changed my mind" is related to the listener's knowledge. It's fine to say:
I went to MacDonald's and ordered a cheeseburger. But then I changed my mind and ordered a Big Mac.
This is OK because the listener knows the menu items at MacDonald's. The listener knows what your options are at MacDonald's.

The original mistake in class tonight can be fixed by telling the listener the options at the start:
I wasn't sure if I should study at Starbucks or at home. I tried to study English as Starbucks, but it was too noisy. So I changed my mind and decided to study at home.
That's fine.

Please use English well!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Harvard Kennedy School Japan Trek

A former student asked me to introduce the HKS Japan Trek 2015. The event looks like a great chance to find out more about this popular program. His blog is here, and I recommend it for anyone who is thinking about applying to HKS.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Much and Many

We find a lot of mistakes with the use of much and many. Actually, the mistakes are mostly with much.

With countable nouns (可算名詞), we use many, regardless of whether the sentence is grammatically positive or negative, or a question:

  • (+) She's got many friends.
  • (-) She has not taken TOEFL many times.
  • (Q) Will you apply to many schools this year?
You can substitute a lot of in any of the above sentences.

But with uncountable nouns (不可算名詞), we use a lot of in grammatically positive sentences:
  • (+) I have a lot of time this week.
  • (+) He made a lot of money last year.
However, we can use much or a lot of in grammatically negative sentences and questions:
  • (-) I don't have much time this week.
  • (-) I don't have a lot of time this week.
  • (Q) Did he make much money last year?
  • (Q) Did he make a lot of money last year?

Please use English well!

Monday, January 19, 2015

False Cognates & False Friends (vocabulary building)

Today's post is a cautionary note about words that look similar, but have different meanings.

The first mistake we had several times in class last week was complex misunderstanding of a task 5 conversation between two students.

  1. The woman planned to see her boyfriend's concert.
  2. Some students translated plan to 予約.
  3. They then translated 予約 to appointment.
  4. They then tried to use the verb appoint instead of the noun appointment, like "The woman appointed her boyfriend to a concert."

So instead of 彼女は彼氏のコンサートに行く予定がある they said 彼女は彼氏をコンサートに指名しました。

How does this happen?

False friends is the term we use for words that started out as related words, but the meanings have diverged over time. Both appoint and appointment come from the Old French word apointier, which means "to arrange." However, the meanings in modern English have diverged:

  • To appoint is 指名する.
  • An appointment is a plan to meet someone, usually a professional, like a doctor, dentist, accountant, or CPA.
What these students should have said is: "She plans to see her boyfriend's concert."

The second mistake we had last week was with the noun present (a gift) and the verb to present (to put before someone). Someone said, "I presented my wife a pink bikini."

Both the noun and the verb come from the Medieval Latin praesentare, which means to show something to someone for approval. The meanings diverged in Old French, and are still separate in Modern English:
  • The noun a present simply means "a gift." 
  • The verb to present means "to show." 
The correct usage for the verb is a talk show host saying "I now present to you Lady Gaga!" Followed by Lady Gaga singing a song live on TV.

What the speaker meant was "I gave my wife a pink bikini."

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

E4TG Listening Seminar

Listening is the most important language skill. It's impossible to score high on TOEFL if you can't understand what you hear. With this in mind, we had our first TOEFL Listening Seminar on September 14, 2014.

It was very successful. 24 out of 24 participants said that they would recommend it to a friend. So we're doing it again next month.

Date: February 15, 2015
Time: 10:00-13:00
Location: E4TG (八重洲)
Cost: ¥4,320 (税込み)
Limit: 20 students

  • Understanding tricky English sounds
  • How to extract the right meaning of expressions
  • How to avoid making wrong guesses
  • Effective ways of practicing outside of class

Instructor: Masako Uehara (上原 雅子):
  • 神田外語大学専任講師・早稲田大学非常勤講師
  • King’s College London (University of London) English Language Teaching and Applied Linguistic 修士課程修了。応用言語学修士。
  • 大学講師。ビジネスセミナー講師。英検面接官。大学・企業にて学生・社会人の英語指導全般に携わる。TOEFLテスト指導はTOEFL対策校および大学にて、大学・MBALaw School留学希望者を多数指導。
  • 著書『頂上制覇・TOEICテスト・スピーキング/ライティング 究極の技術』(20133月 研究社2 
  • 記事掲載『日経ビジネスAssocie 2013 June 賢いTOEIC テスト対策 p.74-79)』
  • 「最強のTOEFL iBT®入門」(コスモピア)
Student comments from the September 14, 2014 class:
  • The teacher taught us useful strategy how to practice listening, particularly “speaking loudly” and “visualizing” is important.
  • She taught how to improve the listening skills in detail.
  • Excellent. Good organized class.
  • Rule/mechanism on how English sounds change
  • A point of view of Japanese, not native speaker
  • Display concrete methods how to practice everyday
  • Can learn new tips to improve listening skills
  • She taught we a lot of useful ways to improve my listening skills
  • The class shows that a practice method for listening. Because I don’t do practice without strategy or stop, it was very helpful.
  • SV is important. Focusing on main sentence. Shadowing is not recommended.
  • Topic about connection of sounds
  • The good point is that she taught us how to practice listening.
  • It was good for me to recognize right process for improving listening skills
  • I’ve never taken a lecture about listening, so it was a good introduction for me.