Why did I start Mums’ English Circle, and where did the idea come from? Read on for the full story…

I’ve been an English teacher for over 12 years now. I used to work in London in public relations, and while I enjoyed that it was not something I wanted to do forever. I took a trip to Italy and went to Italian language school for two weeks. It was really fun. I’d always thought about becoming a teacher and when I thought about my Italian teacher I thought was a fun job that must be. So I went to evening classes and learnt how to teach English. Then I quit my job and joined an English school, as their newest, freshest teacher!

The first few weeks were terrifying but I really enjoyed interacting with the students and getting to know them. A few years later I decided to move to Japan to try teaching abroad. I thought I’d stay in Japan for one or two years….but nine years later here I still am!

I got married to a Japanese man, and when we had children I noticed a big change in my work. I wanted to work but most English language schools operate in the afternoons and evenings, after school and work has finished, of course, that makes sense. But that’s the time I wanted to be home with my family (plus daycare is only available 9-5). So I had a problem, a teacher with no students! I also noticed that it can be hard, as a mother, to be completely on time and regular with your schedule. While young children do love a schedule they also get sick a lot, so it’s hard to be completely regular. I needed flexible work.

Learning Japanese

I am also learning Japanese, and while I had been attending lessons, doing homework and studying a lot it wasn’t really working for me. I still didn’t feel very fluent, I couldn’t remember many words, I felt shy. So I decided to find a speaking partner, someone who wanted to speak English and let me practice Japanese with.

I didn’t actually feel very hopeful. But I went to conversation-exchange.com and put in my details, I searched for someone around my own age. Mostly it was students in their 20s and while we might be able to chat I couldn’t find much in common. Luckily there were a couple of ladies in the 30s so we made contact, and arranged to meet up.

3 years later we’re still meeting every week! This has really changed my feeling about Japanese. Before it felt very dry, academic, something that was necessary, and it was interesting, but not fun. Lessons were about what the teacher had prepared, not necessarily what I wanted to talk about. Now I could talk about real issues, and problems, and happy events in my life. It was fun!

But there was still a problem…


Here I was, an English teacher with only a few students, and a new feeling about learning a foreign language. And I wanted to tell everyone. So I started Mums’ English Circle. I wanted to help other women connect around the world. I know English is the global language, so it’s really ideal for learning about other cultures from the people themselves. I wanted it to feel safe, both to share our personal stories, and also as an online community for strangers to be kind to one another. I wanted to have flexible lessons, so it doesn’t matter if your kids are sick and you have to skip a lesson or three, and finally I wanted interesting topics to talk about so it’s not just like a lesson in school. These are the four reasons I started MEC.

Happy birthday!
I was so surprised when the first member joined! Now Mums’ English Circle is 2 years old and we’ve had members from 9 different countries. We meet 4 times a week, and we talk about all sorts of things from food to festivals, to women’s rights and politics. And it’s fun, and friendly, and safe, and brave and kind.
Happy birthday to Mums’ English Circle. To all the members, past and present, and future! Thank you for being part of the journey. Thank you for bringing your stories and big, open hearts!
If you’re a mum and you want to speak English more, you need to join us in Mums’ English Circle. Small group conversation lessons, online, join me and other mums around the world here.