Why become a Teacher-Owner of your own English Conversation School in Japan at this moment? Because the largest corporate English conversation school in Japan, which had 60% of the market share went out of business three months ago after a 21-year build-up, and left hundreds of thousands of its students with little to show for the Yen equivalent of over $500 million of lesson fees that they had paid in advance. Many of those students, for the first time in years, are looking for a reasonable alternative. Also 60% of the new students who enter the market next year, all of whom would have joined that behemoth corporate school, will be out there looking for another school that is not collecting huge up-front fees. That is where we small teacher-owned schools come into the picture. We offer students a chance to learn English for a reasonable monthly fee with no fear of paying for something that they may never receive.
A few months ago that school boasted over 900 schools throughout Japan and over 400,000 students. The company employed between 5000 and 7000 foreign teachers at its peak. The company who proposed to the government administrator to try to raise that defunct company from its ashes has opened up approx. 126 of the original schools and hired back about 600 teachers so far on the way to opening about 200 schools within the next year. This is a valiant effort so far but it is not yet clear that it will succeed as that company is again taking on the same kind of exorbitant costs that lead to their predecessor’s failure. They are doing that without collecting the huge advance fees that kept their predecessor afloat and allowed them to do huge TV and print ad promotions.
So there is a huge opportunity right now! If a person has the dedication to teach and do what is needed to start up and promote a school, then he or she can succeed. Warning: the challenge of starting your own school is not for everyone. Some are better to take the safer path of working for one of the corporate schools for a seemingly more secure albeit limited salary. But beware that a corporation need not pay your salary when times get rough. They can always file for protection as the largest corporate school just did. So which is better? It is up to each of us to decide. A Smith’s School is one viable alternative which provides franchisees web presence, a courteous Japanese staff manning the phones, training, visa support and the basic procedures and curriculum to get you started. The rest is up to you.