Practical English CenterPractical English Center

Jonathan Phipps

Jonathan Phipps


My name is Jonathan Phipps. I graduated with honors from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) with a BA in history and Japanese and obtained my MS.Ed. from Temple University in applied Linguistics. My areas of interest in research are the relationship between self-efficacy and attribution as they apply to student motivation as well as identity construction in language learning. I am currently enrolled in doctoral program at Temple University to further my understanding of language acquisition. I have been living and working in Japan as an English teacher for over 10 years and I have worked as an assistant language teacher in public elementary and junior high schools, as a classroom teacher, teacher trainer, and program director at an international preschool, and most recently as a university teacher.


One question that often arises in education is, “How can I improve….?” The blanks can be filled in with many ideas: “How can I improve my speaking?”, “How can I improve my writing?”, “How can I improve my TOEFL score?”. The key to improvement in learning is the same key to all success in life – hard work. There is nothing in life worth having that can be obtained without hard work. How much time and effort you put into something dictates what you will get out of it. The greatest lie people tell themselves is that people who are held up as the “greatest successes” did so by some natural gift. Ichiro Suzuki, one of the greatest baseball players of all time, did not become great by “magic” or “special ability”. He got there from hard work. When he was elementary school he was spending upwards of four hours a day practicing! If I could tell you all one important thing, it is that your “ability” is only one part of the picture… what determines your success is how hard you work to get it! Learning a language is difficult and you will struggle and make mistakes, but as Sir Winston Churchill one said, “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” You have to keep working! Finally, I will leave you with one of the best quotes I have ever read from Ichiro himself –

“In baseball, even the best hitters fail seven of ten times, and of those seven failures there are different reasons why. Some are personal failures, others are losses to the pitcher. You just get beat. In those personal failures, I focus on what I could have done better.” – Ichiro Suzuki

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