With the recent failure of the largest corporate English school in Japan, I have come to wonder, shall I say “hope” that those 400,000+ students will take a hard look at how they were treated by this corporate school and decide to find a monthly tuition school like Smith’s so as not to be burned again. Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of lesson points that were not refunded or given as lessons prior to the bankruptcy must quality this school as one of the biggest corporate robbers in the history of Japan. Of course some students may go right back to the successor school who is trying to pick it up from the ashes, but I really hope most do not. After all it really depends on the teacher who is providing the true value that they get from the lesson. It is not the name, the TV ads, print ads on the train or posh executive quarters that count for the students. Those are all just costs that were being paid with the advance tuition fees that were never paid back. Teachers also need to be wary and realize their true worth instead of running back to become a “worker bee” for such a company. But alas, it is much easier to work for a company than to do it on you own. Yes, but the rewards are certainly much more limited. Being a part of Smith’s School is much easier than going it totally alone.
So who is Smith’s? They are us, the owner-teachers who work each day to provide a good lesson for a fair price. We are the best alternative for those students who have been severely ripped off; not another company school who asks for big money up front and for a long term commitment.
Just think how many of those students would have learned English without losing their money if they had sought out a Smith’s School instead of being enticed by the TV ads they were paying for instead of lessons. It is a sad story but there could be a better ending for them if they finally take a trial lesson and join a Smith’s school. We are here waiting for them to make a better choice. Joining another corporate school is not the right choice. The time is NOW to choose the right direction at last! I hope they will do that this time.
Al Bartle (Smith’s School of English – Okamoto)