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In Search of Answers

Old news is fun! The Japan Times reports on Yano Research's survey on the foreign language learning market in Japan, which I wrote about this at the beginning of August and touched on again earlier this month. The only difference with today's article is that the JT spoke with somebody at GEOS.

Susumu Ikegami, a spokesman for Geos Corp., which runs English-language schools in Japan and other countries, said they have been facing a serious decline.

"As the number of students decreased, the number of classrooms also declined," said Ikegami, who declined to give the figure for the classrooms.

Ikegami said the market's downward trend began about five years ago, although the reason is hard to pinpoint. However, he pointed out that the bankruptcy of Nova Corp. in October 2007 had some impact.

It's amazing that Ikegami can't figure out why business is down. You can try and blame NOVA, Lehman Brothers, or swine flu, but you can only wring so much mileage out of those excuses. The article ends with this brilliant plan:

However, Ikegami of Geos said the overall outlook for the language-school market in Japan doesn't appear bright.

"We have 53 schools overseas, and they are doing pretty well. So, while there is the chance of growth from a global outlook, we don't really have a good picture for the Japanese market. Rather than getting more students, we are working to run the business more economically," Ikegami said.

Things don't look good down the road, so let's cut costs? That's it? The market has been sliding for years and GEOS is still at the cut costs/efficiency stage? The article is titled "Few answers for the language market." Is the problem about finding answers to the downturn or the dreadful way in which eikaiwa schools conduct business?

My guess is that it's the latter, with NOVA being the straw that broke the camel's back. All the schools really care about is putting bums in chairs and vacuuming their students' wallets, and NOVA was the poster child of this kind of behavior. METI's press release describes it in vivid detail, from pressure sales to exaggerated advertising to underhanded refund practices to outright thievery and deception. Other schools have tried to blame its instructors for the failings of the company or sue them for exercising their right to strike.

But the bad behavior doesn't stop at eikaiwa. Dispatch teaching is just as bad. Not only does the job have no benefits, instructors are disposable employees that boards of education pick and choose from and discard at will. Although teaching English looks promising in elementary schools, it should not be forgotten that the potentially lucrative job scene hinges on school budgets. BOEs with no money are more likely to stick with a Japanese teacher than hire an ALT.

The homestay business is more of the same. Gateway21 tore a page from the NOVA playbook with 950 million yen vanishing into thin air as the end result.

To put it bluntly, the rot is extensive, and teachers and students know it. But if the Susumu Ikegamis of the business can't understand why business is bad, then there's not much hope for them. What's the answer that eikaiwas should be looking for? How about: Stop abusing your employees and ripping off your customers?

Comments

Shawn said "Stop abusing your employees and ripping off your customers"

Amen brother!

Managers and Eikaiwa PR people like Mr. Ikegami should realize that the reason why eikaiwas are in a decline is not due to fact that its swine flu, the downfall of Nova (beating the dead horse theory), and other excuses is not going to get you new students. The teachers who are working for these schools should look for other jobs or become qualified. The companies will never admit that it is THEM who fucked up. Customers are not ripping off the company and teachers are not fucking over the company. If I would ever meet this Ikegami fellow, I would tell him to look in a mirror and ask what do you see?

GEOS is blaming the downfall of NOVA...why?? Because they didnt capitalize on the pissed off Nova students and teachers. Blaming the other guy gets you no where.

As for the dispatch company cocksuckers...these companies will continue to fuck over the ALT as long as the ALT lets them. I have been seeing too many ALTs who just take it up the ass...why? I wish I fucking know. To all of the ALTs out there...all the dispatch companies dont give a droplet of shit for you. You are completely disposable in their eyes. People need to WAKE UP and get something done. Scream from the rooftops! Join a union if you want to!! Stop working there! Become qualified! Apply your skills to other job fields! Improve your Japanese skills! There are many things that we can do.

I blame the stingy and totally unprofessional presidents and managers of Eikaiwa companies such as Geos and Puppy Kids Club... They hire total idiots and brainless people who can only fake a smile at the interview stage so of course they are responsible. As a teacher I've worked with pedaphiles, pschopaths and a pair of ugly stupid and emotionally unstable sisters. Lots of weirdos. Do the gullible Japanese students and customers know all about this? It's the truth!

Dont worry, all the Japanese Eikaiwas scams will be bankrupt soon, (Nova/G.Con/Aeon etc) they are all basically con artists. Lets all hope only the Gaijin-run Eikaiwa survive - they are the ones being fair to the customer - and looking after the gaijin staff in general, too.

HERE'S ROOTING FOR THE GAIJIN EIKAIWA SCHOOLS! DOWN WITH THE JAPANESE OWNED ONES!

Yes, like Smith's School of English. Mark Smith takes care of the gaijin community really well. So many people can confirm this.

The fact is, that Eikaiwa is a service based Industry, and it specializes in serving Native Spoken English to advance fee paying Japanese customers. Speak your mother tongue, get paid, go home, simple. Enjoy! In many ways, you are lucky to be paid anything at all, simply to speak to Japanese customers in English. I thus condemn most participants on this blog as being ignorant, too ignorant to realise, what a perk it is, to live in Japan, and collect money simply for talking. I for one, thank the Lord Jesus Christ, for every day that I am granted, where I simply have to share stories of my native land, with forever willing and eager Japanese listeners, in my native tongue, to get paid. I celebrate the cultural insight that such a privileged and soft position affords me. Rather than complain, I reach out, and share as much as I can, for that is what I am actually paid to do. I am paid to talk, and share my experiences, all in my native language, in a cross-cultural world with no boundaries, that eikaiwa has created for me. I don’t hang out in the teacher’s room between lessons. I go to the foyer between my lessons, and give it my heart felt best, to any Japanese customer willing to listen, and share with them the infinite joy of my eikaiwa world. In fact, one could say, eikaiwa is like a box of chocolates, you never know which one you are going to get. Smile, smile, and be happy, and stop the whining and complaining. Do any of you have any idea what a unique and wonderful place Japan is, and how lucky you are to be, to be a part of its cross-culturalization and internationalization? Just a little gratitude, that’s all I ask. I had a great eikaiwa day today, and I think most of you probably did to, but you just don’t know it.

I celebrate the cultural insight that such a privileged and soft position affords me

I go to the foyer between my lessons, and give it my heart felt best, to any Japanese customer willing to listen, and share with them the infinite joy of my eikaiwa world

Do any of you have any idea what a unique and wonderful place Japan is, and how lucky you are to be, to be a part of its cross-culturalization and internationalization?

LOL!!!

The Ripper

I'm a teacher and from my experience, most so called teachers were uneducated knuckleheads who had low IQs. They were just plain lazy people who were treating the McJoke Eikaiwa job as a vacation, living from paycheck to paycheck. It's true that if you had a genuine and passionate heart and brain for teaching then you wouldn't complain about the crap pay and work conditions. Unfortunately most Eikaiwa losers are fakes and don't have that, and that is why they complain.

It's ture that if you had a genuine and passionate heart and brain for teaching then you wouldn't complain about the crap pay and work conditions.

You say that you are teacher? Where do you work? At an eikaiwa/university/high school? If you are eikaiwa teacher, PLEASE PISS OFF!!

If you would be passionate about teaching, why the fuck would you be working for an eikaiwa? There are some many better jobs out there then slaving away at an eikaiwa.

Unfortunately most Eikaiwa losers are fakes and don't have that, and that is why they complain.

The people who complain about working conditions are either:
1) People who like to bitch and complain because it gets them off.
2) People who are concerned and care about their jobs.
3) People who have an ax to grind with someone.

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