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English school commercial as likely to make kids terrified as bilingual

10 Comments
By Casey Baseel, RocketNews24

The very first job that brought me to Japan as a gainfully employed adult was teaching at a private English school. While most of our customers were in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, we also offered kids’ classes, even for preschool-aged children.

With young learners, the first hurdle to get past was for them to not freak out about talking with someone from a different country. While that might sound horribly racist, there just aren’t that many opportunities to meet people from other cultures in Japan, especially in a child’s daily life, and the first meeting was usually a little intimidating for them (the company policy that didn’t allow foreign staff to speak Japanese in front of the customers probably didn’t help in this regard).

Thankfully, it usually only took a couple of minutes for the kids to see that non-Japanese instructors aren’t terrifying monsters. Unfortunately, this startling commercial for a chain of children’s English schools in Japan only takes 15 seconds to visually imply that, yes, actually, they are.

Seiha English Academy may not be as instantly recognizable as Aeon, Berlitz, ECC, and the other major players in Japan’s English education industry. Seiha’s been around since 1985 though, and in its 30 years of operation the Fukuoka-based company has opened more than 400 schools, predominantly in west Japan, to teach English to bright young minds ages 15 and under.

To celebrate its 30th anniversary, and to provide a visual metaphor of just how effective its lessons are, Seiha has put out the video below, which opens with a father and son walking across a parking lot.

“So, how’re your English lessons these days?” the dad asks his Seiha-going kid. The boy, obviously keen to show off his newly acquired linguistic skills, decides to answer in English. That’s not so weird, but his internal decision marks the last moment before the ad takes a sudden detour into Freaky-ville.

Sure, any Japanese parent would be impressed to hear their child answer with a hearty “I’m great!” in perfectly accented English, before going on to extol the virtues of Seiha’s teachers who are native English-speakers. Still, Dad would probably prefer to hear the words from his son’s own mouth, and not that of a foreign man whose head is protruding from between the kid’s lips.

We suppose we could also nitpick the fact that as the man says “I’m doing great!” in English the Japanese subtitles at the bottom of the screen actually mean “I’m having a lot of fun!” It’s doubtful that most viewers will notice the discrepancy, though, either because they’re not bilingual or too busy covering their eyes and weeping in terror.

There’s actually a method to this visual madness, though, as the company’s tagline later pops up on screen: “So much English skill that you won’t believe it’s your kid talking.”

Just before the ad comes to a close, the kid, trying to snap his parent out of his stupor, asks, “Are you OK, dad?” It’s quite telling that he doesn’t make any attempt to say yes.

Neither did these online commenters in Japan.

“Too startling, too creepy.” “Crazy.” “The heck kind of commercial did they make?” “Stop, please. You’re making my kids cry.”

After watching the ad, we’re feeling pretty traumatized ourselves, especially as the commercial doesn’t answer the most disturbing question it raises.

Is that smooth-sounding English-speaker a disembodied head, or is there a whole miniature person inside that boy’s esophagus?

Source: Reddit

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- What’s wrong with English education in Japan? Pull up a chair -- Japanese newspaper’s parenting tips include breaking your kids’ toys -- 27-year-old in Japan arrested for 3-D printed pistol, says he didn’t know it was illegal

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10 Comments
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Alien 6!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Lol. That kid is so cute. "Are you OK dad?"

2 ( +2 / -0 )

First off, let's dig a little deeper into Seiha English Academy. If you google the name and "review", you'll get quite the dirty laundry list of complaints. And I know most companies like Seiha have a bad rep, but not quite like Seiha:

"...It came time to sign the Full Time contract (which was supposed to be a salary of 250,000),​​ during the signing, they made up some 'excuse' as to why I didn't qualify and offered me 220,000, so basically they screwed me out of 30,000 yen a month."

"I also found out after 2 months that health insurance isn't 100% provided for."

http://forum.gaijinpot.com/forum/working-in-japan/teaching-jobs/98186-seiha-rabby-hilltop-all-the-same-company-avoid-them-all-terrible-bad-sucks

"The curriculum and teaching ability of most staff members is of a very low quality."

"No weekends off, must work Saturdays and at least 1 Sunday a month."

"Expect to have little to no communication with the parents of the kids you teach and to be shunned if you speak with a parent within or after work hours. "

http://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/Seiha-English-Academy-Reviews-E621845.htm

"Eikaiwas are generally a bad bunch (there are probably some good ones out there... Somewhere...) but Seiha has really proven to be one of the worst."

http://watashinokokoro.livejournal.com/217497.html

My advice to teachers and potential students, avoid Seiha. This commercial says it all.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

I almost applied for a job there but too many such stories as above came up, I found a different place.

The commercial is good for a laugh though haha!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@harvey.

Yep. I lasted four days, years ago. Utterly unscrupulous, unprofessional bunch. I heard that at one point they had management out in the street in front of the train station, asking any passing foreign-looking person to come inside and teach for them.

The contract I was offered included a clause to the effect that if I got sick, I'd have to pay them 10,000 yen every day I missed. The clincher was when I objected to such a ridiculous condition... " Okay, cross it out then, before you sign."

Jokers.

To be fair though, I've heard they've improved enormously in recent years.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

All these English schools & English mandated into national school curriculum, yet nobody here cant even speak it.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

"... nobody here cant (sic) even speak it."

Or write it....

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I worked for them on Saturdays for a year to pay off a loan about a decade ago. They were pretty typical of English schools as far as I recall, a little on the "cheap" side though. No idea what they are like now, or even if they are the same throughout the country.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The education system should implement similar system as in non native English speaking countries. They use people that are educated teacher.

This way the education would be become better. Since none of the " burger flippers " that comes to Japan ( or South Korea and China ) are educated as teachers.

They are here for other reasons than to teach English. However there are some few dedicated and good " burger flippers ".

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

“So, how’re your English lessons these days?”

“I’m great!”

The Japanese parent might be impressed but only because he doesn't recognise his kid's lack of comprehension of the question.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

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