Regarding the purchase of a large English language school by another corporation, it is high time for Japanese foreign language students to understand the basics of the business of language education. First you have a teacher in a classroom or over the net teaching perhaps 2 to 6 students. The basis of what you will learn depends first on the teacher and curriculum, secondly on the student talking time afforded by the number of students and on the student’s effort in and outside the class.
Any school which presents itself as something better or special by renting expensive space near the station and running expensive print ads and TV commercials is quite obviously spending the new students’ large advance fees on nearly everything except the true quality of their lesson. On top of that, EIKAIWA is not such a profitable business that it can support an expensive executive management structure and sales staff at each branch.
The recent failure of the largest English Language School in Japan should serve as food for thought for all those who have been or might become involved with such a school in the future. It is time for the teachers to wake up to their true value to their students. It is time for the students to realize that the large upfront money they paid or will pay to such schools has not been and will not be spent to assure the highest quality lesson at a time which is best for them. It should now be obvious that the income from providing good quality language instruction should never be enough money to pay for local sales staff, print ads on the trains and TV ads. It cannot possibly, if doing things in a fair and equitable way for the teachers and students, be profitable enough to support an executive team whose CEO earns over $1,000,000 per year. The only way that the large corporate schools are able to do this is by collecting large amounts of lesson fees in advance and then somehow not actually teaching many of the lessons because the students are not able to use their points/tickets within the alloted time.
The teachers and the curriculum are the main ingredients. Expensive digs near the stations, expensive advertising, superfluous sales staff at all branches and high paid executive staff are not warranted and, in fact, only serve to assure that the student will not get the full benefit of what they paid for in the end. The proof of this is now obvious. So students and teachers, alike need to be wary that such corporate schools will meet their needs. To be sure, however, the teachers at those schools have done their jobs fairly well and students have learned and many were , are and will be happy with the lessons that they do receive. But somewhere someone has been, is and will always be short-changed by such point/ticket based systems.
Smith’s School of English provides the best possible alternative to students and teachers. It is fair for the teachers who are the ones who actually provide all the real value for the students. It is fair for the students as they are assured to get a consistent lesson with the maximum student talk time for a fair price without paying large sums of money up front.
Just hearing the word “corporation” associated with language instruction here in Japan should set off alarm bells and send students and teachers running to find a better alternative. We all need to keep in mind TANSTFL (there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch!). Beware of things that seem too good to be true because they always are.
Smith’s School is good for the students and the teachers! We owner-teachers are “the school” without all the useless fluff, high cost glitz and dead-weight (mis)management. A breath of fresh air! Breathe in the cool autumn air and keep on doing what benefits all, offer a good quality product for a fair price and we all win.
Great to be here in Japan, running my own school and doing what’s right for my students!
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