The topic of lesson times grabs a lot of argument in the industry.
I have tested my theories for years with more than 40 operational English schools in Japan and can state clearly this subject is quite simple.
One piece of advice that is worth amplifying here is do not canvas people within the profile group and ask if they think the lesson time you plan to offer is fair. Potential students will always ask for too much. They will, with all the best intentions request you provide too much for too little. They are not business people. They are potential students.
Without going into all the possible errors that can be made by listening to potential students, allow me to point out just this one which is pertinent. How many minutes should a lesson be? Most students will answer that a normal English lesson will last 60 minutes. Over the years I have seen many schools start up offering 60-minute lessons on the advice of well-meaning Japanese friends and potential students. I have even seen schools offering kids classes to five year olds that last 60 minutes.
Within a very short period of time they have students upset that they are not getting the full 60 minutes attention as the teacher greets incoming students or says goodbye to those leaving. It is not possible to provide true 60-minute classes if you plan to run more than one class in any given teaching session.
Oh and should you ever decide on the 60 minute back to back schedule be sure you have a very strong bladder.
Considering many arguments and teaching styles, I arrived at a 45-minute lesson duration for adults in Japan. It works, it is competitive and it gives you a nice break between lessons to freshen up. Anything over 45 minutes is overkill.
Chairman, Smith’s School of English