Online Services From JENNY SILVER!!!

I've been writing and vlogging about Cafetalk from the perspective of a student, but now, I would like to introduce my services!


ONLINE lessons/services via Skype! 

Lessons are now offered exclusively through Cafetalk membership is free!


Check out all of the services that I offer! 

Services Include:
Personalized Travel Advising
Custom Itinerary For Your Trip To Japan
英会話 (English lessons)
Specialty Lessons
翻訳・添削 (Translation / Proofreading) 
And more!

Cafetalk offers an easy, automated scheduling system that adapts to wherever you are in the world! There are no hidden fees. This allows you to reserve a time or set a deadline that's compatible with both of our schedules! I look forward to talking with you.

Lesson 5 - "Conversation in Japanese!" with Issei

Welcome to the fifth installment of the "Cafetalk Diaries," where I will be blogging and vlogging about five lessons that I'll be taking on 

My fifth and final lesson, as a monitor, was "Conversation in Japanese!" with Issei.

Issei offers a wide range of lessons. I wasn't sure which one to take, so I took a trial lesson of his "Advanced Level (4)" lesson. He was able to customize that lesson for me, but we decided that "Conversation in Japanese!" would be a better fit. The lesson I chose was 90 minutes - quite long for a one-on-one lesson!

Issei has a lot of availability, even on the weekends! No matter where you are in the world, you can find a suitable time for your lesson, especially if you're in one of the North American timezones. 

Here is his profile:

And here is the lesson profile:

The version of the lesson that I took was 90 minutes. (There is also a 50-minute version) The 90-minute lesson is 3,500 Cafetalk points (currently about $38.89 USD). Since this is a free-talk lesson, there are no materials necessary, but he can work with you on something specific if you let him know before the lesson. 

Issei is from Osaka and currently resides in Canada. He's been living there for over 9 years and even has an MA from University of Western Ontario. He's very good at catering to your level, whether it's absolute beginner or advanced. His teaching specialties include English, Japanese, and philosophy. You can even kill two birds with one stone by having a philosophy lesson in your target language! Even those whose goals are not language-related, you can always talk philosophy with him and exchange insight.

I sent the lesson request immediately after taking his trial lesson. Cafetalk's lesson request feature allows you to attach a message to the request, so I let him know that I would love for him to come up with some topics and then fix my mistakes. He even took the time to correct my lesson request message. I think that many tutors are afraid to do this because the student might feel intimidated. However, he knew me from the trial lesson and knew that's exactly what I wanted!

I'm still having trouble with basic particles! He also gave me tips on sounding as natural as possible. Although he's helping me out by corresponding in Japanese, this showcases his ability to explain the finer points even in English.

Since I had already taken a trial lesson, he knew some of the problems that we could focus on. He prepared lots of good questions and topics. Issei loves when you ask questions! This is the sign of a great teacher. We talked about each other's lifestyles, a little bit of philosophy, and even being a tutor on Cafetalk. He even let me talk about my 恐怖症 "kyoufushou" (phobia) of house centipedes! I admit that the notion of medicinal cannibalism made me a bit squeamish, but I enjoy learning about history and other cultures. Although he's a new tutor, I think he's going to become very popular on Cafetalk.

He's very kind and easy-going, so the lesson time passed quickly. I thought I would be exhausted by the end, but I was just a little bit pleasantly tired. The corrections made during the lesson were done in a way so as not to break the flow of conversation.

Feedback is very important to me, and he gave me lots to study! He sent a main PDF file with my general feedback and two others that included review information. One was a review of the five kinds of keigo (super polite/business Japanese) and the other was a review on giving/receiving verbs. 

This is an excerpt from the five kinds of keigo PDF file that he sent. It might look complicated for those just starting out with Japanese, but if this were written in English (which he can do!), it would be very easy for a beginner to understand. He has a very organized way of giving explanations.

Here is an excerpt from the giving/receiving verbs review file. This is pretty much Japanese 101, but I've developed some bad habits! Sometimes I have a hard time combining verbs with giving/receiving verbs. The example that I had trouble with was 連れて行ってくれた "tsurete itte kureta" (they took me somewhere). I have no problem reading or writing this kind of phrase, but it just doesn't seem to come out while I'm speaking (or it might take a very long time).

I appreciate that he was honest with the feedback in a gentle and constructive way. Teachers are here to help us get better, and I really want to fix my bad habits. Here is the general feedback he sent:

He said that my Japanese is good, but I do make careless mistakes with composite verbs and particles and I get confused with how to use them. He recommends that we go over idioms and "jukugo" phrases in the next lesson. It might be more efficient to study vocabulary with specialized topics and questions that he would prepare in advance, rather than just everyday conversation. Below are some examples of the more concrete feedback he gave of what we talked about in the lesson:

Some of the topics we covered in the lesson were the Morikami Museum and Gardens (the original thing which sparked my interest in Japanese and all things Japan) and my YouTube channel. I would like to incorporate more Japanese into my channel in the near future, but I haven't had the courage yet. However, after taking these lessons with Cafetalk, I think I'm ready to take the plunge! So thanks to Cafetalk, I hope to appeal to a wider Japanese audience and perhaps help other language learners with their journey! 

I think for my next lesson with Issei, I'd like to focus on longer explanations and maybe do some particle drills. He's very flexible! It makes me feel comfortable knowing that he enjoys questions. Perhaps I'll ask to have it based on a topic for one of my videos!

Thank you, Issei! I will definitely be requesting another lesson! Stay tuned for the video version of my lesson, as well a review of my free "Ring in the New Year" lessons! (Several tutors participated in the "Ring in the New Year" promotion where they would offer a free 30-minute lesson from the end of December to January 10th.) Thank you so much to Cafetalk for giving me the opportunity to be a monitor. I feel like I'm headed down the right path, motivationally, and I've also thought more about myself as a Cafetalk instructor. 

Don't forget to watch my "Cafetalk Diaries" intro video and contact me for a FREE promo code for 1,000 points on Cafetalk! (Until Jan. 31st, 2015)

Thank you for reading, and good luck with your studies!


Lesson 4 - "60 Minute Japanese Conversation" with Runo

Welcome to the fourth installment of the "Cafetalk Diaries," where I will be blogging and vlogging about five lessons that I'll be taking on 

My fourth lesson, as a monitor, was "60 Minute Japanese Conversation" with Runo.

As I mentioned in my previous post, the most useful style of lessons for me right now is free-talk. I really need to fine-tune my speaking. Studying Japanese has always been personal, and there was a lot of self-study that led up to passing the JLPT. Of course, I feel very fortunate that I'd been given a solid base from my teachers in high school and university. I've developed some bad habits along the way, many of which I'm not even aware of. That's where teachers like Runo come in.

Here is her profile:

And here is the lesson profile:

As the lesson name suggests, this is a 60-minute lesson. It's a very reasonable 1,300 Cafetalk points (about $14.44 USD). She has solid Monday-Friday availability if you're on Central European Time, but there is enough overlap so that those on Japan Standard Time or North American timezones can find a suitable time.

Runo is originally from Fukushima Prefecture and currently resides in the Netherlands. In addition to her experience with teaching Japanese, she's also worked at some prime hotels in Tokyo, so she can adapt for customer service purposes. Our lesson was conducted in Japanese, but she can conduct lessons in English. I had to reschedule our lesson a few days ahead of our scheduled time due to a narration job, but it was no problem!

Before the lesson, she send me a questionnaire to fill out. This saved a lot of valuable lesson time and helped her prepare.

Runo was exactly the kind of instructor I was hoping for. She wasn't afraid to point out my mistakes or weaknesses (in a gentle way of course). She helped me see the proper ways of saying things without breaking the flow of the conversation or decreasing my motivation. In fact, I think it's been years since I've felt this motivated to improve my Japanese. I asked her to help me polish up my spoken interactions with agencies and studios. I want to make myself as professional as possible while on the job. It's important that I make a good impression so that they'd like to work with me again. We went through everything, step-by-step, from entering the studio to leaving. I was able to confirm proper manners with a customer-service professional.

Although our lesson was focused on the areas I asked her to help me with, it was very interesting to hear about her life in Holland! I was coming off of a nasty cold and she was very patient with me. That's one of the great things about Cafetalk. I definitely would have cancelled if I had to commute, but I didn't have to worry about spreading my cold.

We were able to do some role-playing based on my studio interactions, as well as repeating practice to improve my speech. Her voice was easy to understand. If there was a word that I didn't know, I could at least hear what she said clearly.

My husband was sitting in the same room during the lesson, and he was so impressed that he wants to request a lesson from her, too! We were both saying that the lesson was really helpful, but if she could provide feedback to help solidify everything, that would put her on a whole new level.

Boy did she deliver! She sent two PDFs loaded with advice and examples. I know that I'll be able to fix my habits in no time as long as I study them. I feel that she will be a good long-term investment for keeping up my Japanese and confidence. Ideally, I'd like to get to the point where I could use Japanese in my YouTube videos and appeal to a wider Japanese audience. I feel that lessons like these will help me get there.

She said that I didn't need to worry about my speaking so much and that I should speak with confidence. She started off with pointing out some of my good points, which were vocabulary and verb usage. My messages were conveyed and I had a nice voice. I didn't have much of a problem with business Japanese, but I can strengthen it if I study her file.



Now here come the points that I need to study. The three main things that I need to work on are:
1. Enunciation. I've gotten really lazy with katakana English and sometimes I'll just go ahead and say the word in English!
2. If I want to sound more confident (and less childlike), I shouldn't elongate the last syllables of sentences. For example, ありがとうございましたー "arigatou gozaimashitaaaaaa" should just be, ありがとうございました "arigatou gozaimashita."
3. Don't speak too fast and enunciate each syllable. This is similar to the first point, but I even do this with Japanese words. Greetings are very important in Japanese, especially on the job. Not expressing greetings well can have a similar impression to a weak handshake.  

Here is a sample of just some of the specific feedback she had for me. The blue font indicates her advice or explanations on how to use (or why you shouldn't use) the phrases in black. The red font indicates a correction of the previous sentence. Her examples are ones that I can read aloud on my own time and they apply directly to me!

My achilles heel when it comes to languages - particles! She also pointed out a habit that I was completely unaware of that is going to help me sound much less "textbook Japanese." I use the 〜ます (masu) forms too often in the middle of sentences. I should use the dictionary form until the very end of the sentence (where I can use the 〜ます (masu) form if necessary. There were even cases where I was talking informally and would use that form in the middle of a sentence and end with the dictionary form! Oops! Since this discovery, it's been a difficult habit to break, but I'm very much aware of it now. I'm sure I'll fix it with a little practice.

Here is a more concrete example of what I said (with the situation where it would be appropriate to use the 〜ます (masu) form in the middle of a sentence), and how I should normally go about phrasing it. So much clearer now!

And finally, she sent me a second PDF full of useful business Japanese phrases with their normal Japanese counterparts. The photo above shows a sample from that PDF. Please keep in mind that all of the photos I'm showing you in this post are just a sample of the treasure trove she sent!

This lesson was crucial for me to understand and unpack my self-study adventure from a few years ago that was designed for a test, not my everyday life. 

Thank you, Runo! I will definitely be taking your lessons as often as possible. I think next time I'd like to get her help with talking to my neighbors while walking my dog. I'd like to have more confidence with that and make more friends! Stay tuned for the video version of my lesson, as well as my next lesson, "Conversation in Japanese" with Issei.

Don't forget to watch my "Cafetalk Diaries" intro video and contact me for a FREE promo code for 1,000 points on Cafetalk! (Until Jan. 31st, 2015)

Thank you for reading, and good luck with your studies!


Lesson 3 - "Free conversation in Japanese - 50 minutes" with Aki B

Welcome to the third installment of the "Cafetalk Diaries," where I will be blogging and vlogging about five lessons that I'll be taking on I apologize for the delay with this post and thank you for waiting! Also, I've updated my lesson schedule for the "Cafetalk Diaries," which can be viewed here

My third lesson, as a monitor, was "Free conversation in Japanese - 50 minutes" with tutor Aki B.

Free-talk lessons are extremely useful for me and my current goals. I'm searching for an atmosphere where I can talk freely in Japanese and someone will guide me. You'd think that this would be a given living in Japan, but sometimes it's very uncomfortable to burden friendships and work relationships with language study. My focus as a monitor is on newer tutors and lessons, so I decided to request this particular lesson.

Here is her profile:

And here is the lesson profile:

As the lesson name suggests, this is a 50-minute lesson. (Although she gave me a little extra time!) It's 1,800 points (about $20 USD). She's not a full-time tutor, but she does have ample availability in the evenings (Japan time). She confirmed my lesson request very quickly!

I think she must be very busy! Aki B provides a variety of lessons, not only Japanese. She offers everything from web design counseling to card readings. Our lesson was conducted in Japanese, but she can conduct lessons in English.

She was very professional and I found her style to be motivational. She wanted the lesson to be focused on me, but I really enjoyed hearing from her as well. The lesson, at times, felt like a personalized counseling/motivation session and she encouraged me to take N1. She felt it would be benefit my studies overall and helped me realize that I studied hardest in the past when motivated by tests. It's definitely something to reconsider. I had lost interest because it's an expensive test and I don't really need it for my job at this point. 

I was able to ask her anything, and I wish I had thought of more specific questions ahead of time. I was never completely sure how to refer to my husband, so she said that I should stick with "主人" (shujin) or "夫" (otto). I often hear people refer to their husbands as "旦那" (danna), so even though this is a minor nuance, it's not always best to just copy others' speech patterns! 

Here is the feedback that she sent after the lesson:








She was very kind and gave wonderful overall feedback. I'm going to contact her again because even though she said there were no big problems with my speaking, I would still like to make it as good as possible. I feel like my current level of speaking in Japanese doesn't reflect that I've lived here for seven years and I've lost confidence. Her motivational skills and corrections of the minor concerns I had were a real confidence booster. I think I would ask her to focus on this in future lessons, as it was very useful for me.

She offered some tips on taking advantage of the fact that I'm in Japan to buckle down on my studies. I do listen to English more often than I should, and I usually get my news in English. She suggested using more Japanese media (which is basically free) to brush up. I've been trying to speak more with the neighbors. I can already see improvement, but I'm also becoming aware of the kinds of questions I'd need to bring to her in the lessons. I remember learning about this when I first started studying Japanese - Some students let their Japanese become a "fossil," meaning that they get to a point where it's "good enough" and then cease to improve. I had been so afraid of this happening, but I think it has! What a wake-up call!

She said that I'm pretty good with short explanations, but I'm not good at longer ones. I think this is true of me even in English! This is something I will need to work on.

She had very kind words to say, particularly about my job. It would be really nice to hear more stories from her. Her husband is Tunisian and she even spent some time over there! She works in Osaka as a freelance designer. She has a wide range of experience. My husband was in the same room while I was taking the lesson and noticed that I was getting a little tired toward the end of the lesson. Language learning can be a workout, especially when you're trying to access language that hasn't yet solidified.

It is good to get advice and motivation about my recent study slump, but I hope that she can provide more specific details. However, it is important that I become able to give longer explanations.

Thank you, Aki B! Stay tuned for the video version of my lesson, as well as my next lesson, "60 Minute Japanese Conversation" with Runo.

Don't forget to watch my "Cafetalk Diaries" intro video and contact me for a FREE promo code for 1,000 points on Cafetalk! (Until Jan. 31st, 2015)

Thank you for reading, and good luck with your studies!


Lesson 2 - "Let's write e-mail in Japanese." with Yucca

Welcome to the second installment of the "Cafetalk Diaries," where I will be blogging and vlogging about five lessons that I'll be taking on 

My second lesson, as a monitor, was "Let's write e-mail in Japanese" with tutor "Yucca." 

I decided to request this lesson to ensure that the emails I send to agencies are polite, error-free, and appealing. Usually emails are very concise in English and this has become a habit of mine. I often have to respond to emails from my narration agencies and questions about translations.

Here is her profile:

And here is the lesson profile:

This is a 40-minute lesson and it's 1,700 points (currently $18.89 USD). She's usually available from 8AM-8PM (Japan time) except for Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 

Yucca-sensei asked about the specific problems I was having and we even pulled up some of my email threads. The two main email problems I asked her to help me with were:
1. Responding to requests and inqueries from agencies. (Usually about scheduling)
2. Sending updates about visa information and new voice samples to agencies.

The lesson was completely customized. She listened carefully about concerns I had and what kind of emails I wanted to write. She sent me feedback right after the lesson, not only a general lesson note, but a 3-page .pdf attachment! Here were her general lesson notes, which I'll use to explain more about the lesson:








One of the things that she pointed out from my old emails is that I wasn't quoting the sender's original questions. I would usually just answer the question in my email without restating the original question. I just assumed the sender would know what I was talking about. But I need to take into account that senders might be extremely busy and bombarded with emails. So, I would need to use the ">" symbol with a cut-and-paste of their original question. In Japanese emails, it should look something like this:

>Jenny, are you available on the 15th at 11:00?
Yes, I'm available. 

Just out of curiosity, I asked her what is the ">" symbol called in Japanese. She wasn't sure, but said she would look it up for me. She told me in her general feedback, that this symbol is called, 「不等号(ふとうごう)」(futohgoh). This is not a word that the average person would know and I appreciate that she took the time to look this up for me!

In her general notes, she thanked me for the lesson and wrote the following summary:

"In this lesson, we focused on how to write emails in Japanese, particularly, how to write the sender's name and title, etiquette, honorific and humble forms, and past tense vs. present tense.
I've prepared a summary based on what was written in the chat box (on Skype). I'm attaching a PDF file, so please use it for reference."

During the lesson, she made sure to give me as much useful information as possible, including information about using spaces.
I had always just written "田中さん" or "田中様"... 
but it should be "田中 さん" or "田中 様" with a space between the name and "-san" or "-sama."

The .PDF that she sent me was filled with useful phrases and sentences that we had talked about. I like that she gave me alternatives to suit the situations and my style. She even wrote some notes and reminders in red. Here is an excerpt from her 3-page file:Thank you, Yucca-sensei! I will request your lesson again whenever I need help with emails or just want to polish them up! Stay tuned for the video version of my lesson, as well as my next lesson, "Free conversation in Japanese - 50 minutes" with Aki B.

Don't forget to watch my "Cafetalk Diaries" intro video and contact me for a FREE promo code for 1,000 points on Cafetalk! (Until Jan. 31st, 2015) 

Thank you for reading, and good luck with your studies!



Lesson 1 - "Let's Read Japanese Novels" with Mumusuke

Welcome to the "Cafetalk Diaries," where I will be blogging and vlogging about five lessons that I'll be taking on 

My first lesson, as a monitor, was "Let's Read Japanese Novels" with tutor "mumusuke." 

I decided to request this particular lesson because I wanted some balance over the course of my "Cafetalk Diaries." I think that free-talk lessons are the most useful for my personal goals at this point, but I would like to take a comprehensive approach. Part of my job is J-->E translation, and a good translator should always strive to become better. 

Here is her profile:

And here is the lesson profile:

This is a 50-minute lesson and it's 1,800 points (currently $20.00 USD) She has very good availability, particularly if you're in the JST time-zone.

This tutor was requested by none other than my own mother! Mumusuke, or Aya-sensei, is helping my mother learn hiragana. She came so highly recommended that I thought she would be a good fit for my level as well.

I was right, this lesson and tutor were a perfect fit! I sent a lesson request and received confirmation within an hour. Her lesson profile instructed me to let her know if I had any requests, but since I didn't really have anything in particular, I just asked if she could recommend something interesting. She sent me two .jpg files which contained a 4-page story. I was asked to read over it briefly before the lesson and gloss over parts that I didn't understand. It was about a con-artist who does phone scams. I won't post the other two pages because it's a surprise! If you'd like to know how the story ends, please take her lesson. :)

She contacted me just before the lesson and we started right on time. I enjoyed her bright personality right away! As you can see from the image, there is no furigana (phonetic readings of kanji) so she helped me whenever I got stuck or mistook a kanji reading. I realized that this is a new weakness! With translation, I don't pay attention to the readings as much as the meaning, so I need to work on that. That used to be one of my strong points when I was studying for the JLPT, but it's interesting how our language skills can change over time!

I was familiar with many of the concepts in this short story, but one of the words that really stood out to me was 地声 (jigoe). The main character in the story is a con-artist who can change his voice to sound like different people. At one point, he falters and his 地声, or his true voice, comes out. Aya-sensei further illustrated this concept of 地声 by imitating a friendly phone operator whose 地声 appears as soon as the hangs up the phone, 「ああ、つかれたー!」"Oh man, I'm tired!" Her scenario was very funny and well-done. I think she could be an actress! But examples like this ensure that I won't forget words like 地声.

Throughout the lesson, she used the chat feature to clarify certain words. We were able to talk about it as we went along, and sometimes there were tangents (my fault!). The fifty minutes absolutely flew by, but it was the exact amount of time to complete the story. I'm very glad that I didn't write this blog post right after the lesson was completed because I was thinking that it would have been nice if she had written some feedback. Sure enough, she sent me this feedback a little while later:


本のタイトルを もう一度書いておきますね。 
『4ページミステリー』 蒼井上鷹(あおい うえたか) 




I am familiar with the concept of ピンポンダッシュ (ding-dong ditch) that she mentioned in her feedback. I learned it the hard way when I was working at an elementary/jr. high school! I think it would have been fun to talk about that as well. We also discussed our own experiences with 振り込め詐欺 (bank transfer scams). I had also asked her about the book and she provided all of the information.

Thank you, mumusuke! I will take your lessons again! I want to try different tutors during the "Cafetalk Diaries," but I plan to take this lesson and her free-talk lessons. Stay tuned for the video version of my lesson, as well as my next lesson, "Emails in Japanese" with Yucca-sensei.

Don't forget to watch my "Cafetalk Diaries" intro video and contact me for a FREE promo code for 1,000 points on Cafetalk! (Until Jan. 31st, 2015) 

Thank you for reading, and good luck with your studies!

I've decided on my schedule!

I'm waiting for the tutors to confirm my lessons, but here is what I'll be studying:
(RINY = Ring in the New Year Campaign. This is a separate campaign, so I won't make full reports/videos on these classes) 

1/3 "日本語で自由会話" (Japanese Conversation) with KOHJI (RINY)

1/5 "Let's read Japanese Novels" with Mumusuke

1/6 "Let's write e-mail in Japanese" with Yucca

1/8 "Let's Try Italian" with Paolo (RINY) 
1/8 "Let's Try Osaka Dialect" with Erika.N (RINY)

1/10 "Free-conversation in Japanese" with Aki B

1/13 Successful Communication in Japanese

1/16 "60-minute conversation in Japanese" with Runo

1/20 "Conversation in Japanese!" with Issei

Blog posts will be up within three days after the lesson. Videos may take up to two weeks, but I will do my best to upload them as soon as possible.

So excited!