It was early May in 2015 when I relocated to New York for my work. It was for the first time in my life that I relocated to another country from Japan which is my home country. The city was so vibrant that I was very excited to start the new chapter of life there.


Soon after I started my new life, I realized the language problem. Although I had been studying English, it was basically for reading and writing. I rarely had an opportunity to speak and hear English. I was struggling to get my English understood in the office as well as everyday life places such as deli and coffee shops. It is a funny story that I tried to say my name Naoto, but it was often misunderstood as NATO, which is North Atlantic Treaty Organization.


For a working professional like myself, it was hard to take weekday English courses. While I was looking for the ESL courses, most of them are held on weekdays. Then I found an ESU’s course held on Saturdays in my neighborhood, and I thought it is a perfect choice for me.


As I join ESU’s courses, I met the teacher Tony. He taught me how to learn English literally step by step. How to pronounce words that are usually difficult for Asian people to pronounce, everyday slangs which are often do not appear in Japanese English textbooks, what are good practices to listen to English news, and so on. Not only one-to-one sessions but group conversation sessions were also held during the ESU courses. It was very motivating to get to know other students who are in a similar situation to learn English.


Not only how to English itself, but lots of interaction also made me find other important things. As we established our friendship through the courses, we visited each other’s homes in Manhattan and Staten Island with our wives. We talked more about the culture, our lives, work, hobbies among others. Thinking back, such moments were as important as learning English at ESU. Through such experiences, I learned more than what is written in English textbooks. It also motivated my wife to learn English, who has been not so interested in studying a second language. She also started learning English thereafter.


As I improve my English through ESU, I was motivated to take higher education in English. I worked as a tech business analyst in a Japanese bank, and I have been interested in learning Artificial Intelligence and applying it to Financial business and I wanted to learn in MS and MBA. Before joint ESU, it was not an option as I wasn’t ready for taking higher education in English.


Thanks to lots of training at ESU, I managed to earn a high score in IELTS and GRE although it was still challenging. Also, it was instrumental to elaborate English expressions in graduate school essays. As a result, I got offers from MS at Columbia University and MBA at the University of Oxford and from other prestigious schools. I think understanding cultural differences and diversity was definitely a plus to get an offer from such schools.


Without studying English at ESU, I wouldn’t have been accepted at Columbia and Oxford. That is why I appreciate the opportunity I could learn at ESU. Needless to say, learning English and becoming capable to communicate in English are very big assets now.