I think about this question a lot. It is a very important question that we Smith’s Teacher-Owners must always keep in mind. We must strive in everything we do to make joining our schools the best choice for prospective students. The basic differences between Smith’s School of English and other privately run schools or from the run-of-the-mill corporate school in Japan are shown below. But on top of these we must constantly seek to improve our methods to assure that we deliver the best service for our students. There can be no rest for those who want to succeed and to continue to succeed. This must be our driving philosophy.
- Smith’s curriculum was developed especially for Japanese students of English. (Japanese students have a considerable amount of knowledge of English, especially grammar and vocabulary given at least 6 years of English in middle and high school). The Smith’s curriculum includes the review of grammar points, vocabulary and phrases that will help the student master the ability to practice and use what they have learned. It also includes some unique methods that assure that the students work to acquire the natural ability to tell a story or explain what they did or are planning to do in the future.
- Class size for group lessons is limited to a maximum of 3 students with a maximum difference of one level. So the students can easily work together to practice English
- The goal for student talk time is 75%. This is important because students really need to get the maximum practice possible. (Time using English is perhaps the most essential ingredient to master the language.)
- Man-to-Man students can have their lesson tailored to their needs and the lesson price if very reasonable.
- Smith’s schools are teacher-owned. Knowing the importance of providing a completely beneficial lesson for the student and wanting to see the student continue to attend is an powerful incentive for the teacher-owner to make sure the student is satisfied with the lesson. Also, any part-time or hired teachers are sure to be closely supervised by the teacher-owner to assure lesson quality and student satisfaction. On top of this, being a monthly-fee based school assures that the teacher must do a good job each and every time. For the student this equates the very best value that can be had in English conversation instruction in Japan. The teacher-owner truly has a vested interest in their success.
- Being a franchise, there is an important level of standardization of procedures and this also assures a more consistent level of support for the students than could be expected from a non-franchised school. Larger corporate schools have standardized procedures but the teachers, not being owners, may not be so concerned about following the procedures or about the consistent quality of their lessons. They have nearly no vested interest in the success of the student. This inevitably brings down the quality of the lesson that the student receives.
Smith’s School of English is a chain of over 40 English schools throughout Japan which are owned by the teachers who are native English speakers. As these teacher-owners are serious about the success of their schools, students at these schools can be assured of getting the very best coaching and English training that can be had in Japan. Joining a Smith’s School of English is the very best thing Japanese students can do, because we Smith’s teacher-owners know that our success depends on their success.
Al Bartle (Smith’s School of English – Okamoto)