Mum and Daughter at Lewis, 29 Years Apart!

Mum Tomoko and daughter Sayaka at Lewis School, 1993 & 2022!

We always feel greatly honoured when a student recommends their close family to come and learn English with us. It feels like the best compliment we can get!

Over the years, we’ve welcomed lots of students who have come here on the recommendation of a brother, sister, cousin, wife, husband or parent. This month, however, we have the wonderful story of Sayaka, whose mum, Tomoko, was a student here nearly 30 years ago. It’s surely a Lewis School record!

What’s more, Sayaka met two of her mum’s former teachers – Andrew, who she’s been having 1:1 lessons with, and Alistair, our school’s owner and director. It’s a lovely story that we can’t wait to share with you!


Tomoko came to Lewis from Japan in 1993. A recent graduate and a talented pianist, she wanted to experience another culture before beginning her career. She stayed a whole year at Lewis School and it made a big impression on her.

When I spoke to Sayaka, she recalled that her mum had told her how happy she was at Lewis. She found the teachers very kind – “they love their school and their students” – and that the school had its “own way of teaching”. This teaching style was communicative, interactive and fun – very different to the English lessons she had had at home.

The teachers are kind… they love their school and their students

In particular, Sayaka remembered that her mum had told her that Andrew had been a “great teacher in her whole life.”


Sayaka’s story is a little different. She’d already gained a very good level of English, having spent a few months at a high school in London. Furthermore, she’d recently received a conditional offer to study a postgraduate degree in sports management in Australia (Sayaka is an accomplished lacrosse player who was in Japan’s national team at the last World Championships). All she needed was a high score in her IELTS exam.

She took the IELTS exam in Japan and then went on holiday with her family to Switzerland. Unfortunately, during her holiday, the result arrived and it wasn’t the score she needed. Her mum’s reaction was quick and decisive. She told Sayaka that instead of continuing her holiday, it would be better to go to the UK, take some more IELTS lessons and retake the exam. Tomoko then thought of the Lewis School, and saw that her former teachers were still there. Sayaka’s course was booked on the Friday and she started the following Monday!

Photos Past and Present

Alistair and Andrew both remembered Tomoko vividly, even after all these years! Tomoko emailed Alistair to tell her the news about her daughter coming to study, and was kind enough to send some photos from her stay in 1993.

For a bit of fun, we decided to recreate one of them (at the top of this page)! The original photo shows Tomoko at our reception with Alistair (right), Andrew (middle) and Kathy (left), who taught at Lewis for many years. The 2022 version features Sayaka in place of her mum, Alistair and Andrew striking the same pose, and Suzie in place of Kathy.

If you’ve been following our blog, you may remember that a few years ago, we did something similar with another former student, Miki.

Is Lewis School What Sayaka Expected?

Having heard so much about Lewis School before coming, I wondered whether the reality matched Sayaka’s expectations.

“Completely!” said Sayaka. “It’s fun to learn English here.” She likes the size of the school and the small classes that allow for lots of individual attention. She particularly enjoys the discussions in class, as these are a good way to improve her English. As well as group classes, she’s been having one-to-one IELTS lessons with Andrew, which she’s found really useful in developing exam strategies.

Finally, I couldn’t resist asking Sayaka how she felt about her mum’s idea that she should study at her former school. Was she ok with the idea of quitting her holiday to come here?

“Mum is always right!” she said, with a smile!

Indeed, Sayaka has now retaken her IELTS exam and achieved the score she needs! Well done and good luck with your degree!



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