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japan today insight spotlight special feature

Managing gaijin teachers

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By Dean Rogers

Part Two of a series To read Part One, click here.

MANAGEMENT OF FOREIGNERS

The deep level of dissatisfaction of many foreign teachers and managers in Japan is the topic of this second article. Let me say that this article is not intended to be a Japanese management bashing article, but a sincere effort to articulate why there is such a gap between the foreign employees and Japanese management in the Language School Industry specifically, but applicable to other industries in Japan that employ foreigners.

POOR MANAGEMENT = BAD BUSINESS

The current level of dissatisfaction in the language school industry is partly the result of the management styles of the language school companies themselves. If you meet and talk to 10 teachers out on the street and you ask them what they think about working for their language school, you usually get a lot of negative responses (some quite strongly) to the tune of 9+ out of 10 in my general experience. The ones who are happy with their place of employment usually work in small family run schools and they feel recognized and lucky to work in such a place alongside an owner who sincerely cares about them, the students, and the quality of learning that exists in the school.

GOOD MANAGEMENT = GOOD BUSINESS

It is my belief both as a teacher and now a school owner that managing foreign teachers is not as difficult as it is being made by the management of the current larger schools in the market. The common management practices and approach to managing foreigners is a problem that has been building up for a long time, and the more recent and steady decline in the language school industry in Japan has only added fuel to that fire of dissatisfaction as the struggles have intensified.

THE CULTURE BARRIER

There are cultural differences relating to how foreigners expect to be treated and what kind of environment we expect to work in. In the language school industry, age and generation gap differences have exacerbated an already difficult management relationship between Japanese senior management and foreign teachers and employees. To put it in its simplest terms, the most common scenario is one where senior management in many companies tends to be "Analog Era" 50-60-year-old Japanese who are setting management policy for a work force that is 70-80% foreigners and almost entirely in their 20s and early 30s. The age gap is a contributing factor, the cultural gap is a major factor, and lastly the way in which foreigners are quite often treated as a disposable resource with no vision for career development and opportunities is also a contributing factor.

ARE FOREIGNERS TRANSIENT?

In my discussions with Japanese senior executives, foreigners are often viewed as transient, and thus likely to head back to their home country within a year or two. This has largely been the case in their experience. Most foreigners do head home after two years or less. Another common complaint from Japanese school owners is that foreigners are irresponsible.

Again there is some validity to this argument on a surface level as many new teachers coming to Japan are fresh out of college and being thrown into a foreign country and a foreign company culture where all of the other foreign staff are bad mouthing the company (in contrast to the great story of fun and adventure in Asia they were told at the recruiting desk back in the West) that they just joined. They end up being fairly irresponsible due to age, and work environment. Most young new foreign employees fall, or are pulled into that negative, dissatisfied employee culture immediately creating a vicious cycle that reproduces itself.

From the J-management point of view, their belief that foreigners are transient and not responsible is thus validated. Japanese management see this problem as foreigners being highly negative, non-group oriented selfish individuals.

BUILDING A GREAT COMPANY CULTURE

Building the right educational and corporate environment (you need both!) is an absolute must. People want to be appreciated, and want to be part of a group that is going somewhere and appreciates the contribution of the individual to the team, not just the team. Employees want to be shown appreciation and have their value recognized by their peers and their bosses. Retention and development of your (front line) best people is a must. Recognition and appreciation are not a luxury, but rather the essence of good management.

Great people set high standards and high bars that others tend to migrate and work towards, creating a virtuous cycle of improvement. When those top performers who carry a lot of knowledge, experience and passion leave the organization due to lack of recognition and value driven work environment it is a "dumbing down" of the organization and a major lowering of "the bar." If you have ever worked in a company where a pool of really motivated and talented people are working passionately towards a mutually agreed goal, it is like an unstoppable freight train with everyone being carried excitedly towards a place where the possibilities are unlimited and where output and achievement seem nearly effortless at times.

THE PERFECT STORM - Tribal Leadership Example

Good storm: Authors Logan, King, and Wright in their book "Tribal Leadership" define the point where a company is just about perfect as the following. "Your teams hardly ever refer to the competition, except to note how remarkable their own culture is by comparison, and how far their results outstrip industry norms. The time of communication is limitless potential, bounded only by imagination and group commitment. People in this culture can find a way to work with almost anyone, provided their commitment to values is at the same intensity as their own. They have resonate values. There is almost no fear, stress, or workplace conflict. People talk as though the world is watching them, which may well be the case, as their results are making history."

When was the last time you heard of anything near this kind of workplace in the language school industry?

Bad Storm: "In the worst cases most people talk as though they are alienated from organizational concerns. When they cluster together, they form isolated gangs that operate by their own rule, employees seem to not care about what's going on. They do the minimum to get by, showing almost no initiative or passion. They cluster together in groups that encourage passive-aggressive behavior (talking about how to get out of work, or how to shine the boss on) while telling people in charge that they are on board with organizational initiatives. The theme of their communication is that no amount of trying or effort will change their circumstances, and giving up is the only enlightened thing to do. From a managerial perspective, nothing seems to work - team building, training, even selective terminations appear to do nothing to change the prevailing mood. The culture is an endless well of unmet needs, gripes, disappointments, and repressed anger."

Sound familiar? If you have ever talked to an English teacher in Japan then this will sound very familiar and very likely if you work in this industry it will resonate strongly with you.

IS THE CUSTOMER REALLY KING?

In the greater Japanese marketplace, "The customer is King" is a common expression - ("Okyakusan wa kamisama") - which has clouded management's vision to the degree that the front line employees feel unimportant, and do not thus respect, and respond to the directives of management. If instructors are not taken care of, treated fairly, and motivated properly, then the teaching quality and service will continue to under-perform your, the customers, and the market’s expectations. In the case of teachers this has meant minimum effort being given by good people because they often feel “what’s the point?"

People in these kind of organizations go to work for a paycheck and do what they have to do to get by, but are often seeking that “missing something” that they are hoping they can find somewhere else. Some people may say that the individual has the sole responsibility to do the best they are capable of, but even good people can put out less than optimal effort over time when in an uninspired work place that suppresses creativity and contribution by the motivated individual.

The success of the employee is ABSOLUTELY the sole area of responsibility of the executives and management.

My question to managers who are constantly blaming employees for underperforming is; "Who hired them?" You did, or your company did, and you are a manager within that organization. If that is the case, then you are the person who is ultimately under performing in your role as a recruiter, mentor, and team leader. You choose the employee, or your company did, and you either made the wrong decision or you have not created an environment that is conducive to the individual or the teams growth.

In the case where you are “handed” your employees and have no choice in their selection whatsoever, you need to do everything you can to change that and be the decision maker to shape your team correctly. Unfortunately here in Japan, the gap is often so big between senior and junior management that, in the simplest terms, often companies give managers the title, the responsibility and supposed power, but completely strip them of any decision making power in the selection of their new employees.

A WINNING COMPANY CULTURE

The approach of successful schools in handling foreigners and their own Japanese staff that I have seen and tried to model our businesses after, has been to focus on creating a great work environment. This sends the message that management sees them as an important asset for the company. Caring is not a "strategy" it is something you do. It is shown in every action management takes towards its employees. It is usually clearly indicated by direct and consistent feedback, and honest sincere recognition from management. Failures are dealt with fairly and used as learning experiences guided by senior people who care for the development and well being of the employee.

FAR FROM NORMAL

To people working in the language school industry, this may seem so far from the "norm," that it sounds nearly ridiculous. The reality is that this is the way that things are supposed to function in a healthy organization. Simple, honest, sincere, direct praise in a face-to-face manner, or even via email when coming from people you like, trust, admire, and respect makes for powerful motivation for good people.

The fact that these types of actions are so lacking in comparison to other industries, and most especially in regards to foreign employees, to be honest is why I believe that at this time the opportunities in the language school, and service industry in Japan are greater than they have ever been. Manual mode management has left a lot of truly great employees, and teachers seeking but often unable to find, a new environment that is based on these fundamental business tenets. One axiom that I absolutely believe is that where the best teachers go, the students eventually tend to follow.

HOW TO MOTIVATE AND KEEP A FOREIGN EMPLOYEE

In the language school industry and in any service industry in Japan, finding management who actively work to develop their foreign employees, provide opportunities for, and honestly seek out feedback (which they listen to and sincerely take in) from their foreign employees about their performance is almost unheard of. Managers who are fair and legitimate while being focused on mentoring and helping the foreign employee succeed in their jobs is something that is quite uncommon. There are of course exceptions to this, and I hope some of the people who choose to comment on this article can provide some additional examples, and they would be most welcome.

EFFECTIVELY MANAGING FOREIGN EMPLOYEES

Getting back to our topic of language schools, the schools that effectively manage their foreign employees do this by inspiring their employees with involvement, opportunities and a career path that gives them legitimate opportunity to be part of something significant. The companies that do this inevitably find that their foreign employees choose to stay a lot longer, and give a lot more to their co-workers, customers and the organization.

To some degree in the case of the language school industry, I think it can be said that some companies not only embrace a high turnover of foreign staff, but to a degree encourage it to keep short term fixed costs low. The intangible costs though of losing someone who now knows your business and customers is hard to pinpoint in detail on a balance sheet, but the net results are unhappy customers, higher employee and customer recruiting costs, and an increase in stress for the Japanese staff which inevitably impact the sales and profitability of the business.

The Japanese staff stress load is greatly reduced if teacher turnover and associated complaints from students about teachers decreases due to effective sincere management. With effective management focused on retention, employee satisfaction, and motivation, the related costs of recruiting go down. The net customer oriented skill and intelligence increase. The environment of the schools can be changed dramatically to the benefit of EVERYONE who works and studies there.

The J-Staff - Native Japanese and foreign employees have generally different criteria for determining a satisfying work environment.

Using obvious generalizations (each person is of course unique so forgive me for working in generalizations here), most Japanese employees prefer to have a defined area of responsibility and not be asked to deviate from this very often without reasonably and sometimes not so reasonably extensive preparation and training. So when a foreign boss, as standard practice, asks a Japanese employee to do things that are not necessarily part of their ordinary responsibility or job outline repeatedly, maybe pushes them to make decisions independently, then the Japanese employee often times tends to find this to be very stressful and the work environment not particularly enjoyable.

The Gaijin (Foreign) Staff - On the other hand, many foreigners think the common Japanese way of going by the book and constantly limiting the scope of their work to ONLY what they have been trained to do is akin to production line work. This type of work is not fulfilling for many people from Western backgrounds, and most especially those who work in a service industry. Again, please forgive the generalizations here.

DECISION-MAKING PROCESS - LOW PROFILE VS HIGH PROFILE

Similarly, Japanese people and foreigners (especially Westerners) differ in their approach to decision making. Most Japanese employees tend to work well in groups and feel more comfortable having a group consensus on decisions wherever possible. They try to maintain a low general personal risk profile within the organization. The opposite tends to be true for your average foreign employee who generally likes to get involved and feel empowered when asked to make decisions and give opinions. Foreigners by and large as a group don't mind raising their personal risk profile a bit if there are opportunities to be gained.

“Pegged. I feel like I am working in a box with no wiggle room" - Most foreigners do not want to be pegged into one singular role with no ability to contribute, give opinions, be valued in other ways above and beyond their daily teaching. Foreigners in general tend to feel that they have value and can add something to the growth of the business outside of their hired job. Most often times they are right, and in the right environment and with the right leadership and motivation they can start to test their limits and contribute in new and exciting ways. In the language school teacher case, and in my experience, teachers are often told or at least strongly hinted at that they just need to teach, and keep out of trouble. When they try to contribute or offer constructive criticism or opinions, those opinions fall on deaf ears or are often squashed, sometimes quite harshly.

NEW EMPLOYEE ORIENTATION - EVERYTHING YOU SHOULD NOT DO

There are many schools that start out their new employees orientation process by giving them a whole orientation and several pages of documentation on all the things the teacher should not do. There are legal reasons for this as there have been problems in the past for example with teachers dating students and having bad break-ups that lead to contract cancellations and thus rules to limit or even forbid outside contact have been formed as a result. That they are trying to protect themselves from unforeseen liabilities, and litigation. I can relate to and to a degree can understand. But, on the other hand to start out your new employee's orientation with a huge chunk of it being all about "what not to do" is probably the worst thing you can do to a new hire. De-motivation, and deflation of expectations set in right from the very beginning.

HR “sending in a new hire” vs Direct Manager has final say - The branch manager ALWAYS in my opinion should ALWAYS make the final decision on the hire as he or she is the one who is making a commitment to that teacher/employee that “I choose you” and believe that you are the right person. There is no worse situation than having someone sent to you from “HR” that you believe does not fit your team and your culture in that school or office. Again, de-motivation sets in, frustration sets in, and often times the seeds for good people leaving are now planted at the very earliest stage of employment.

Teaching is a highly personal experience and the members of the team should be selected with care for each group, by the group leader. In our case, this is the branch manager who's job it is to develop and foster success for this new employee. Hiring people that you like, admire, trust and respect are a very important part of the budding work place relationship. Trying to "cookie cutter" the right kind of employee from home office HR is a major mistake. Hiring from HR and “sending in” the new staff often times results in failure as there is no commitment from the person who will be managing the new staff. Why? because he did not make the decision and is completely un-empowered in the process of selection.

COMMON SENSE?

This may all sound like common sense upon reading it, but it is quite amazing how little of this thinking is applied in service industry companies in Japan, and most especially in our language school industry. The big difference in the language school industry to other industries in Japan is the fact that a disproportionate percentage of the employees are not Japanese, they are foreigners. In our company, that ratio is roughly 7 out of 10 employees is a foreigner. The expectations of a foreign employee are different and their needs are different and the current generation of executives seem to be struggling to find any kind of viable foreigner oriented management philosophy and system. It makes for a most frustrating situation for both parties and something has to break.

The loss of experienced employees, who understand your business methodology, know the many idiosyncrasy's of your customers, and who have become an asset to the company and their co-workers is devastating to a business’s chance of sustainable success and growth. The reputation of a service company in employee circles dictates how successful that company can be at attracting real quality talent, and thus in the end retain customers. The quality of the people who work in this kind of service industry absolutely dictates without a single doubt the quality of the customer experience. How can you say you put the "customer first" if you are not first putting the people who work in your company first. They are the ones who deliver the service and if they are dissatisfied... good luck on having great customer satisfaction, retention, and in the end staying in business. This is a well documented failing of the current industry companies.

TALENT ATTRACTS TALENT

In closing, retaining your talent, and developing your new talent is the cornerstone of any good company. The net result is to increase a businesses productivity (in our case, it equals teacher quality and lesson quality) and effectiveness which benefits the employees and the customers and creates a fantastic cycle of steady improvement and satisfaction for all parties involved. The establishment and then steady nurturing and care of the companies reputation via being a great place to work steadily allows a company and in our case a school to recruit high integrity talent. Talented people set a high bar which very clearly sets expectations with current and prospective employees about what kind of work ethics and characteristics are rewarded. The end results are success and a great place to build a career.

CUSTOMER 2ND APPROACH

I debated a lot with our staff about putting our company slogan into this article. In the end they felt strongly enough that I have gone ahead and included this last section entitled "Customer Second."

I believe that customer second oriented customer service companies have the ability to have the best customer service, to the degree that our company slogan has always been "Customer Second." Yes, go ahead and read that line again... it never fails to get a "huh... is that a misprint?" Yes it is not a misprint. The concept originated with Hal Rosenbluth of Rosenbluth Travel. We believe this to the degree that we put it everywhere in our schools from the student brochures to posters on the wall. We consider this to be one of our greatest value propositions to our employees AND to our customers. We look to take it to a point where we know our competitors either cannot or will not follow. By doing so we have the opportunity to create a rewarding environment filled with great, motivated people that create success around them almost naturally. They care because they are cared about, and to a degree nurtured and cared for.

The legacy I inherited when I opened my doors in this industry was one of deep mistrust of employers. For many years in this industry there has been a persistent trail of bitter, angry, often time, legitimately disappointed employees and thus customers is a cycle that seems at times unbreakable.

In my humble opinion, unless the current range of large schools figure this out they are destined to struggle further and fail their employees and thus their customers. You cannot build a great service teaching business without FIRST having your employees totally on board and excited about what they are doing, together with the company that they are doing it for. The ones that do not will go the way of old NOVA.

© Japan Today

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.


111 Comments
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Wow! While there are a lot of good ideas the underlying reason for your poor workers is POOR pay. That is why you attract the worst. If you paid a salary like I have at my public university, then you would have the talent, the initiative, and the lack of problems with people heading home. But as the English language education gig can not seem to do this, the same old problems will be here until the end of time.

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While I agree with many of Mr. Rogers' points, if I were a customer, I don't know that I would want to entrust my English language training to a company whose owner writes so poorly.

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I actually rather liked this article.

However It makes me a bit uncomfortable that he keeps referring to Nova. Nova crashed because the owner was a jerk who spent students money and broke promises to the students. Not because of anything to do with the teachers. My Rogers seems to be echoing Sahashi in telling us that companies will fail because of gaijins bad work ethics and laziness.

Therat is right - the reasons teachers are angry and half-arsed about their jobs is because of the rubbish pay.

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that article is so good I am going to use it my year-10 business studies class. Very Good Mr Rogers.

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This article is long and not true about many things. It is that there are things that are NOT wrote that make the problems.

Firstly, it is issue of motivation of the gaijin worker. Gaijin are not a japanese so the expectation of hard work is less because natural motivation is less than japanese or other asian. It is true that the real reason for motivation to be in japan is onlly for a japanese girl I think too.

Second, the language problem is a big problem. Many gaijin can "talk" japanese, none really "understand" its nuances becuase they are not a japanese. It is peculiar to the special Japanese spirit I think. When a foreigner speaks japanese it always sounds like the looks of katakana. But when a japanese speaks it is like kanji, you know?

Third, managers should hire fewer and better gaijin with more pay. gaijin have strong creativeness as a race characteristic. We japanese should use these ones to aid in buisness and teaching.

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'TheRat' is probably spot on with what he/she has said... but then, at the same time, I guess it's not always possible to offer the same levels of salary that universities can - simply because of the different business models involved.

There are pretty much no long-term career opportunities available for English teachers and so, naturally, people are going to get fed up and leave at some point - 'dead end job' can be applied in most eikaiwa situations in my opinion. The knock-on effect of this, however, is that usually (language school) English teachers have no teaching qualifications/experience when coming to Japan - the loss/waste of experience through treating employess as a 'disposable asset' is shocking in my opinion!

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You don't sell genuine Louis Vuitton bags at 100yen shops, right? If I'm an owner, why would I pay more when I can employ any gaijin looking jobless man in Japan who's willing to work more with low pay? Some are satisfied with low salary if they love teaching. I think the owners' job is to give them better working condition and job security, then it's gonna be a win-win situation.

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When a foreigner speaks japanese it always sounds like the looks of katakana. But when a japanese speaks it is like kanji, you know?

I blame 'Minna No Nihongo' for that...

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Low pay is the main problem I would say. I've met lots of teachers who say 'why should I put in such an effort for such crappy pay?' Raise the wages and get proper teachers.

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Most English schools in Japan want silk for the price of cotton,,The average salary for a 35 hr week eigo sensei native is still 250000 Y per month, that,s what it was 25 yrs ago.......Employ decent native speakers pay them accordingly ,and managing gaigin teachers would,nt be much of a problem...........

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Second, the language problem is a big problem. Many gaijin can "talk" japanese, none really "understand" its nuances becuase they are not a japanese. It is peculiar to the special Japanese spirit I think. When a foreigner speaks japanese it always sounds like the looks of katakana. But when a japanese speaks it is like kanji, you know?

"none"???? "...peculiar to the special Japanese spirit..."???? This is such a huge myth. While much about the Japanese language is entwined with the country's culture, society, and history, it is no more unfathomable than any other language.

Imagine these English teachers telling their students "Well, I can't really help you because you don't understand the special American (or English, or whatever) spirit..."

Whew, talk about living up to your chosen handle.

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Second, the language problem is a big problem. Many gaijin can "talk" japanese, none really "understand" its nuances because they are not a japanese.

To be a good teacher you must also be a good student and understand both roles = for a language teacher you should be able to grasp both languages completely -easily.

If these language schools don't get their act together there will be no students to teach = students will move onto other productive ways to learn (DVD, computer, cell, videogames)

Good teachers seldom need to worry about gaining good students. -IT's a natural connection. Bad teachers must worry.

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First off, stop using the word "Gaijin." It sounds like you have no respect for yourself. Its "Gaikokujin." Secondly, dont just offer 1 year contracts to your teachers; Thats proof you dont give a squat about them. Thirdly, provide the proper benefits. Companies are always finding ways to pro rate salaries and create bogus hourly working schedules to avoid paying benefits. Lastly, the foreign Ive had have all been on a power trip and had no people skills. They would always accuse or blame the teacher for everything. Teachers arent paid to be psychologists. So,if managers want loyalty from their teachers they should reciprocate loyalty also. It might be a good idea to stop hiring recent uni grads, too.

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Dean Morgan has the Hummingbird pronunciation schools as one part of their business.

Hummingbird was a small school chain with its main school in Shibuya for several years til about 2008. The selling point for the students was a textbook using the IPA(International Phonetic Alphabet) and some DVD materials based on the idea that repetition of sounds utilizing "correct" mouth and tongue positions will help the Japanese speak English with better pronunciation and improve their confidence using the language.

My honest opinion after working for them for a couple of years is that most of what they do can be done at home by students using study materials available at any decent-sized bookstore. The Japanese teachers I worked with did their best, but it's not a system that really promotes improvement in the overall English ability of its customers.

They sell a package of lessons that convinces students they will progress in the book if they are diligent, ultimately reaching the goal of speaking "beautiful English"!

I wish the people still working for them the best of luck, but, unless some dramatic improvements have been made in materials and methodology, it isn't worth the time and money they say it is.

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correction:

the foreign managers I`ve had ...

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"Second, the language problem is a big problem. Many gaijin can "talk" japanese, none really "understand" its nuances becuase they are not a japanese. It is peculiar to the special Japanese spirit I think. When a foreigner speaks japanese it always sounds like the looks of katakana. But when a japanese speaks it is like kanji, you know?"

Of course "gaijin" can't "really understand" due to lack of practice. There are plenty of "gaijin" who can speak fabulous Japanese thanks to their many years of hard study.

It's like English schools in Japan. How many Japanese have studied English over the years and still have trouble saying basic things? The greater majority I think.

People should think a little more before posting inane comments like this.

Anyway, a pretty good article. I don't agree with it all, but overall pretty good.

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When you write english it looks like youre still learning your abcs but when a foreigner writes it looks like heads, shoulders, knees and toes - get the nuance? Simple solution - Pay for articulate, qualified teachers and see results, pay peanuts and get monkeys.

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Heads up to the author:

Don't write "in closing" if you are going to blather on for another three or four paragraphs.

Businesses succeed or fail based on the marketplace, nothing else. Eikaiwa is like fast food, and the workers are like minimum wages workers at Mcdonalds. If you managed a Mcdonalds and spent all kinds of effort worrying about the experience of your employees, you wouldn't sell too many burgers. When people buy a big mac they don't give a rip about the order takers experience.

If you wanted to attract better workers with higher pay, you'd have to raise the price of the big mac, and you wouldn't sell as much.

Eikaiwa is fast food. Don't try and pretend that it's actually high level language learning, and you'll be OK.

Certain industries simply mean crappy conditions for the workers, based on the marketplace. Eikaiwa is on of them.

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Dean Rogers;

You made several good points, just about all of them are obvious to anyone who has worked in the industry for more then a few weeks. Really nothing new!

I have heard this "We listen to our teacher and welcome their input" many times over the past 19+ years I have been here and nothing has changed!

I did notice you avoided any reference to the pay and working hour!

I don't know how your schools work but some pay only for lessons taught and that equates to long hours and low pay. Others pay monthly but the teacher is still a contracted employee and gets no benefit and are often reminded that their contract can be terminated at any time if they disagree with any schedule, policy and wage changes!

You said that your employee ratio is about 7 foreigners out of 10 employees! Could you let us know what percentage of these foreign employees have full employment with health insurance, guaranty for their apartment rental and unemployment insurance, versus what percentage of Japanese employees get these benefits?

Because in most of this industry it is simple to calculate: 0% benefits for the foreigners and 100% benefits for the Japanese employees!

We await your response!

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I did some consulting work for back office processes for a large eikaiwa a few years ago. The inefficient and often archaic approach to management was hard on everyone from teachers to sales people. I don't think I met more than ten out of dozens of people who felt like the job would have any lasting potential. And this applied to both foreign and Japanese staff.

I think the following are some good solutions for a smart company willing to change for long term viability.

Become truly customer centric. Don't imagine what your clients want, find out by asking them and make this an ongoing part of your business. If you understand what customers want you can develop ways to effectively deliver it. Involve everyone from front line teachers and managers to your back office people who handle the business side. And always ask, "Is what I am doing what my customers want.?"

Two types of teachers. There are people who want to make a career of teaching who should be treated like serious long term employees and empowered to be involved in the welfare of customers and the company. Let's call these Career Teachers. Then there are energetic young people who will work short term. Develop programs that emphasize this and recruit accordingly. If you see potential to transition a Short Term Teacher to Career Teacher, then develop programs to assure that these individuals are well trained and invested in the welfare of customers and the company.

Inclusion: Teachers are not pencils. Treat them like intelligent and involved people and they will step up to the challenge and better support your customers.

Salary: 250,000 is fine for a Short Term Teacher. But for someone wishing to raise a family and make Japan and teaching a permanent life, this is not adequate. Compensation and investment in the company are key to gaining teachers who will contribute long term.

Change the image of the industry. Bottom line, if you do the above steps you start the process of change. But you need to follow it up with substantial efforts to be effective and engaged companies. Interact with the community on more than just a sales/service level. Refine how you work to make your company as efficient as possible. Empower your employees and get them involved. Listen to your clients and adapt. And make sure that someone joining the school today can, with average effort, expect to walk away in a few months far more empowered to speak, read and write than when they came in. And make sure your customers know that your goal is to achieve their language goals. Not lipservice, but genuine committment from talented instructors.
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people leave and are viewed as transients because there are no permanent posts, absolutely no guarantee of job security, and the pay never goes up. all issues whic you fail to address in your pitiful attempt to represent the foreign language teacher industry. get on this message board and address some of the real issues. i know that grass is green and the sky is blue. who is it you are actually writing this for? if you want to be a voice for these people, start demanding that action be taken. Start fighting for the very people you are supposedly trying to speak for here.

RESPOND NOW

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and under no circumstances should you be using the word gaijin. what's wrong with you???

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Yeah, why don't you tell us how much you pay your teachers?

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What's with the GAIJIN in the title? The article refers to foreign teachers so why not the headline.

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Firstly, it is issue of motivation of the gaijin worker. Gaijin are not a japanese so the expectation of hard work is less because natural motivation is less than japanese or other asian.

Seriously? I think a more accurate statement would be foreigners are more motivated when they see a benefit for themselves in the form of higher pay, promotion, or even a simple acknowledgement of a job well done. To many Japanese this would seem to be selfish. But coming from a culture where you are rewarded for bringing success to your company this produces more motivation from someone who wants to get ahead and earn more.

However in Japan where you're not rewarded for your work, but are a part of a seniority based promotion style where the person in front of you could be a complete moron but still get the higher position because they're older than you, where's the drive to work that much harder coming from?

It wouldn't be fair to ask a Japanese worker in a foreign managed company to be creative and use your initiative to come up with ideas or opinions on something. Why is it fair to ask foreigners to work in a Japanese style environment? Just because we're in Japan?

Those who complain about low wages should concentrate more on earning your pay rather than expecting to be paid what YOU think you're worth then doing the job. If you're not happy with your wages leave and go where you'll be appreciated.

Second, the language problem is a big problem. Many gaijin can "talk" japanese, none really "understand" its nuances becuase they are not a japanese. It is peculiar to the special Japanese spirit I think. When a foreigner speaks japanese it always sounds like the looks of katakana. But when a japanese speaks it is like kanji, you know

No I don't know what speaking Japanese has to do with teaching or learning ENGLISH.

It is true that the real reason for motivation to be in japan is onlly for a japanese girl I think too.

Jealous?

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For those asking about salary,I went for an interview last year and was told this 200,000yen for five days 1600yen for an overtime lesson no paid holidays (10 unpaid days are ok) no health or pension benefits

I said that it wasn't for me and got out while I could. They seem like a nice group but those benefits are awful

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bamboohat, spot on.

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How about not calling non Japanese people gaijin, it sets a bad example to people wanting to learn english. I understand you are also gaijin but if a Japanese person says gaijin over gaikokojin it is equal to the N word in my books.

Moderator: Readers, the word "gaijin" is acceptable on Japan Today. Please focus your comments on Mr Rogers' commentary rather than the "gaijin" versus "gaikokujin" debate.

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A teacher once told me management (in Japan) can do anything they like. Proper regulation of the industry by government including reviews of management systems and practices as part of a regular inspection process, together with a national body (union?) for language teachers at registered and approved schools would help to protect their pay, conditions, job satisfaction and real learning outcomes for students. The English conversation industry employs mainly young foreigners on 1 year contracts (with low pay and no benefits - not sure if that is case by case or generalization) and are powerless. Not surprisingly dissatisfation by many teachers and students is apparently high. Job security and wages are falling (another generalization?), which actually helps short term profits at some schools(companies) /outsourcing companies. The industry operates in an environment which seems to be going in one direction - down! The government of Japan doesn't act to introduce real quality assurance systems even as schools go bankrupt and teachers and students get short changed (they don't care?) In contrast with NZ/Aus, who very much care about student numbers and satisfaction as part of a strategy to grow a long-term sustainable industry, have regulations as part of a strategy which Japan (and most of the rest of Asia) are yet to copy.

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Dean, Seriously. You should have a copywriter review your work before submitting for publication. You mix up the word "Tenant" and "Tenets", you misused an apostrophe in idiosyncrasy's, and your sentence construction is...well, speaks for itself. Please for your sake, have a NATIVE English professional rewriter correct your future articles. This article and the previous one are not doing you or your business justice.

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"Why is it fair to ask foreigners to work in a Japanese style environment? Just because we're in Japan?" You're here. Its Japan. Get used to it.

"How about not calling non Japanese people gaijin, it sets a bad example to people wanting to learn english." Again. Get used to it. That word isn't going to magically dissappear from the lexical stock any time soon.

"Start fighting for the very people you are supposedly trying to speak for here." Again. This is Japan. No fighting.

"No I don't know what speaking Japanese has to do with teaching or learning ENGLISH." Ahem. Right. Try dealing with non-English speaking staff for one. Try minding unruly kids or those that can't comprehend a word you've just said using only English. Just learn teh Japanese.

Relating to Japanese in business and daily life is not brain surgery if you become as astute and observant as "they" are of "us."

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"colorfullife at 10:02 AM JST - 17th February For those asking about salary,I went for an interview last year and was told this 200,000yen for five days 1600yen for an overtime lesson no paid holidays (10 unpaid days are ok) no health or pension benefits"

200,000¥ for 5 days ($2000) = GTE = call me Great Teacher Eikaiwa!! Where do I sign up?

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First, this guy uses 500 words when 50 will do. I finally started skimming because of his deadwood verbosity. Rewriting is good writing, Dean! Edit yourself, man, and don't submit your first draft.

the way in which foreigners are quite often treated as a disposable resource with no vision for career development and opportunities is also a contributing factor.

replace 'quite often' with 'always' and this is a salient point. ESL teachers here shouldn't delude themselves into thinking this is a career.

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My bad. 200,000yen a month for five days a week

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Lots of complainers here. Some of you should get together and open up your own schools. But you would need to speak Japanese well, as when Mommy brings little Ryo in to sign up, the conversation will be in Japanese as will the contracts.

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Lots of complainers here.

For good reason. eikaiwa and even 'better' schools like Berlitz were, are, and will be a young person's or backpacker's temp job while they 'do' Asia. The wages, benefits (huh?) and job security (double-huh?) of eikaiwa will see to that. What does Rogers' own school offer? More of the same.

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I think the biggest problem is people dividing Japanese and non-Japanese staff.

I think this clouds the hierarchy because Japanese people don't take orders from gaijins and gaijins don't take orders from Japanese people. In eikaiwa environments it often leads to in-fighting.

How do such hierarchy's work? Ages ago I was the only full-time member of staff at an eikaiwa, and on the top worker's salary by a mile (the Japanese staff were part-time and on 1/2 what I was, if lucky.) A number of part-time Japanese workers (including a bus driver) decided that because they were Japanese, they were my boss. The senpai rule didn't seem to exist to them when it came to gaijins... they then proceeded to call me lazy and bark orders at me. Needless to say I quit, and got a sensible job.

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Truth be told, most Americans don't write well, who cares! If you can speak that is what's most important. I could care less about how this article is written movintotokyo! i guess people are right most of you english teachers are just plain jerks! teach them how to speak english, they can learn writing in school. SPEAK!!!! and get over yourselves. I think Dean puts out some great information in his articles.

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The writer, Dean Rogers, is a self-professed CEO and business consultant. I think it's reasonable to expect him, in those roles, to read, write, and speak English perfectly. Especially, he needs to write coherently. Am I asking too much?

Moderator: Mr Rogers' style is easily understandable. Please focus your comments on the points he is making in his commentary, which is the purpose of the discussion board.

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Wow! While there are a lot of good ideas the underlying reason for your poor workers is POOR pay. That is why you attract the worst. If you paid a salary like I have at my public university, then you would have the talent, the initiative, and the lack of problems with people heading home. But as the English language education gig can not seem to do this, the same old problems will be here until the end of time.

TheRat,

The cushy University job are no longer safe either. The problems you are describing are now infesting the University system as well. Because Universities are hiring fewer full-time employees. Those who are have to find a new job after there contract expires a lot of the time.(2-5 yrs) Folks are starting to divide their time between several jobs to make ends meet. More and more long term folks are getting MEd. As more Master's Degree folks enter the scene it will only get worse. The secure jobs aren't there unless you move to Boondocks of Japan! That has been the trend.

The whole industry is in peril unless changes are made.

It appears crap floats upstream!

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Thanks to everyone who contributed constructive commentary. TheRat: Thanks for the good ideas comment. I am less trying to focus on the ideas, and more on the current situation of the industry as a whole, and the management of "gaikokujin". Pay is relatively poor for highly experienced, highly qualified teachers as a pure teacher. To this I would largely agree. For senior instructors, and managers the pay increases, as does the responsibility. sk4ek: Ouch. Shufu: I have tried not to refer to NOVA too much, but to be honest it is hard to avoid. The management ie.. Shacho etc.. and the environment and business philosophy. If you read more carefully you will see that I do NOT believe that foreigners are either lazy, or have poor work ethic, but that the management styles have created work environments that do not foster hard work ethic.

JmannGod: Glad you enjoyed it. Idiots: Not everyone came here for a girl. Not all foreigners lack fluency in Japanese. I think you might be surprised if you came around our schools how many near fluent, or fluent foreigners work in our schools. Not everyone of course. Nearly all of our foreign staff and teachers are studying. We provide Japanese lessons to our teachers by the way.

Tokyochris: Agreed on the salary post. Eikaiwa is more of an entry level position for most teachers getting started. They gain experience and qualifications, and some take on more managerial roles as they grow with the company. As solely a teacher the pay will never be unbelievably great given the current state of the economy and the industry. On the other hand, University pay is (not always) usually higher as a "teacher", but your ability to move up into a managerial position (and higher pay) or a more senior position is almost zero. bisoy: Yes and no. It is hard to pay top dollar as a small school and small business. Low pay vs high pay is a matter of perspective, but minimum in the language school industry is roughly around 250,000 yen in Tokyo. Our pay base pay has increase just about every year for starting teachers. People who have been with us for a year or two have seen their incomes and opportunities increase. Thepro: Pay goes up as the business can afford it. I agree with your general idea. But just paying people more does not insure the best people, but sure can increase the odds you will get more candidates. sk4ek: Agreed. Badsey: Very much agree. If you don't already then you should be studying if at all possible. We do look for people who either speak Japanese at a decent level, or are studying it. It is not a requirement, as we have some really great teachers who can't speak a lick of Japanese. = ).

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pointofview: Point well taken, and yes I incorrectly use Gaijin, when I should be saying "Gaikokujin" as a foreigner myself. I will change this in future articles as it is a valid correction. At the end of last year a large chunk of our teachers became "employees" not contract employees. For the contract part time employees yes we still do 1 year contracts, which I do not think is out of line with being part time. pathat: Most language learning can be done at home for those who have the discipline and ability to do so. I do think that working with an instructor within a method allow for guidance and feedback that is difficult to get working alone. The system is built around pronunciation, no "kaiwa" per say. To be honest as a new student of Chinese, I wish there were a Hummingbird Program for Chinese pronunciation. There are many Japanese who are high level speakers who have a low level of Native fluency ( in terms of how they sound ). Hummingbird is quite effective in its ability to help those people break through some of their pronunciation mistakes. betting: It all depends on the "gaikokujin" and their respective understanding of the language and its nuances. Some can speak amazing Japanese. THanks for the "pretty good article" comment. NambanOnigiri: Ouch. The article is about managing foreigners and some of the issues that plague foreigners working with Japanese management. bamboohat: Point taken. "Eikaiwa in on of them". Love to get corrected on my English "in closing" then see the same commentor make spelling mistakes. = ). You are correct though in saying my "in closing" was premature. I disagree with the McDonalds argument. If that works for you, then that is fine. Limboinjapan: Things do change, but they take a voice of change, and an industry the size of the language school industry will not change overnight. I teach about 600-800 lessons myself per year. How many CEO's in this industry do you know that do that? Change starts with getting involved and caring. The wiping clean of the establish standards I would say is already well underway. Don't expect overnight changes, but bit by bit. Pay and salary have not been avoided, but I have tried to focus on the issues not "us" as much as possible. tkoind2: Become customer centric: Agreed. For us that starts with our people wanting to deliver the best customer service. That is a pipe dream if the people who actually deliver your service are treated poorly and go unrecognized. 2 kinds of teachers: Very much agree. Inclusion: Agreed. Salary: 250,000. Agreed. As a starting young person coming to Japan this is a reasonable start. From there, if the company provides opportunities the salary should be reflective of higher performance and added responsibility.

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Change the image of the industry: This is why I am here putting my neck out on the line. I agree 110% with your thoughts here. Substantial efforts: Agree. Community: Agree - we do this through charity work ongoing. We do not advertise it anywhere in our brochures etc.. but even a percentage of the ad revenue from articles on JT here are going to our company charity. Better left unspoken and just done because it is the righ thing to do. Basically I agree with everything you said. Thank you for the wonderful post. sharpie: Name represents the tone of the comment. Change happens but not always at the speed at which we all hope. I am starting with our company first and letting that speak for itself. I am sorry that your experience in this industry so far, has so obviously been a raw one. yabusama: Welcome back. Agreed with your comments whole heartedly. colorfullife: 200,000 was for a 4 lesson in the evening 4x weekdays, and 1 weekend full day 8 lessons. Part time job at DMA not a full time job and the pay is quite decent for the hours worked. As the business grows and we raise prices our teacher salaries continue to rise. We had 1300 applicants for the job by the way, and none of the people we have hired have left. Some have come on full time at a different pay structure. This was an entry level position, which had some overqualified people accept the jobs. geronimono2006: There is a huge movement right now behind David Paul which I am involved in where all of the small schools are joining together to form a standards association. There are hundreds of small schools paying to join the association. These are small schools with hard working and caring owners. We all are not interested in joining the current "kyokai" due to the fact that most believe the major companies that are members will not be around for too much longer". Why join something that just stains your name? To be honest to have the Japanese government regulate English Teaching quality is a scary concept. If they hired a council of both foreign senior instructors and Japanese respected professors to govern this "association" then absolutely 100% in support of the concept. Have any of you been in to a government office lately and had a good "customer experience"? movingtokyo: ouch, and not unjustified. inTheKnow: ouch again. It is never easy to write when your audience is full of teachers. Again not unjustified, nor is your commentary unfair. No you are not asking too much.

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I think the author is trying his best in a tough environment. Many teachers i found here were even less educated than myself, which is not easy to be from a western country.

Glad he will stop using "gaijin", so many insults i`ve suffered here in the stick , the word really irritates now.

If you havent got the ability to teach well and arent a scholarly type, tyhen there are opportunities for foreigners in Japan. You may need to save up a few hundred thousand Yen first, but the openings are there. Just try not to exploit, and you will earn respect. Too many think of easy money from Japan and i have seen many grow rich at others expense.

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Dean, Perhaps Ive made too much of the punctuation etc., but as a professional instructor (read: a whinging, snobby TESOL MA degree holder ha ha), I'm a stickler! Obviously, you make offer some very intuitive comments on the state of the industry. It is tought to write to an audience of pissy instructors... I disagree with some posters about needing Japanese to start a company - just hire a J. My personal rule of thumb is that if you want to earn more, you have to start with ownership. That certainly is difficult to achieve for the typical Gaijin (sorry, Ive got no problems with the terms Gaijin, Gaikojin, foreigners)here in Tokyo. Let me return to this post later, must go to class...

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movingtokyo, Gaikojin is the correct term. If you lived in the stick you might understand why the word is objectional. For anyone starting abusiness in Japan, you may need Jpaanese fluency or employ a native speaker (if costs allow). Always surpised at how many very young come here with wads of cash after never working.

My business is all done in English as i export worlwide and only buy in Japan, which is very easy for the gear i flog.

If you come here to open up a school, just study the country and the market first. For many like myself, English teaching is not viable or fair on the student as i couldn`t do a decent job of it.

Anyone who opens any type of business,especially outside of Japan should grow a thick skin, you`ll find some idiots tring to annoy you sometimes.

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Great article, Dean. Well written, too. Armchair editors need to try and run their own busineses before slapping an English lesson down on one who does. I run 3 businesses here and once out from under the umbrella of Japanese "management", I have never looked back. "Always be consulting."

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Excellent article. I would recommend all to thoroughly familiarize themselves with its content. I may even use a couple paragraphs on a student this evening. While he is grasping the ideas, I will be imagining all my clients and associates have such articulate command of English.

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Dean Rogers:

So you had 1300 applicants for a low pay job an none of the ones you hired have left! All that tells us is that jobs a hard to find and that even the worst job is better then none!!

Your response was whimsical at best and nonsensical at worst! You didn't even attempt to answer my questions, you just spew out some philosophical babel!

Could we get a direct response to these question!!

Does DMA pay insurance, act as guarantor and hire foreigners on as full time employees?

If not why?

Does DMA's Japanese staff get the above benefits and if so why?

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Thank you Dean for sticking your neck out and attempting to analyse the present state of the Eikaiwa industry in Japan. Your insights are informative, although you stirred up a hornet's nest. All those self-rightous critics out there hiding behind their JT pen names should submit their own analysis to JT for publication.

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I tried reading some of this but it read as though there were 3 hrs left in a deadline and 1000 words awaiting. Eudora Welty, now, that was some good stream of consciousness.

Expecting professionalism from the ranks of these language schools is like expecting Nordstrom service at Wal-Mart. It's. Just. Not. There.

Still, that aspect is not surprising at all, since most of the "staff" are recent grads (likely with little formal grammar skills) who are trekking the world for a few years before they embark on finding a real job. Unbeknownst to them, they will have lost a few years to their peers back home who by then will have amassed the beginnings of a decent CV. And then these folk are stuck bouncing from country to country "teaching" or working in the service industry.

W/re: small shops. Someone I know who does this kind of gig has had little luck with the "mom and pop" shops. From what I gather, they are like headless chickens -and their finances are pretty much hand to mouth.

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“Pegged. I feel like I am working in a box with no wiggle room” - I'm not the best English teacher in the world. But honestly, I'm the first one there and the last one to leave at any establishment or company for which I am representing. Every day the children see my heart and compassion. I'm not a lazy gajin/ short term backpacker etc. I teach these kids to open up their hearts and find themselves. I actually care about what kind of quality work I put in for helping & caring for children. I worked hard everyday of the week. Sometimes weekend, holidays, and off days to help children learning English.

>by the group leader. In our case, this is the branch manager My manager couldn't manage a wet paper bag. I would like to share my experience, it's a heart warming tale. Last year I applied for a job that I thought would let me work in Tokyo. But the HR tricked me, because they were going to send me to replace a teacher that was fighting ( physically ) with a J-Staff member. I didn't know that at the time. I just heard rumors & innuendo. I went to an school which is 2 hours away from Tokyo. Two hours ( also an additional 30 minutes for the bus ) ( 15 minutes waiting time and 15 minutes to get there ) away from where I lived. I walked into a nightmare, the manager ( mid 40's ) behaved unprofessionally (acted & talked like a high school girl) and the staff member (she's mid 40's year old lady) yelled at me a couple of times and had bad training skills. The manager didn't have control of the school, the staff member that gotten into a fight with the previous teacher controlled things. Every time I had a new idea or a new approach, she was the one that put a stop to my ideas. She's not the manager (she's an assistant mind you ) An idea destroyer, she some how avoided termination from a fight. She has a mental defection. A real nutter !!! But if I was in that position both would be fired. After observing her skills and personality. She's unsuitable to work with young children. I left that company because I really do not want to be apart of the nonsense and get into trouble if a child is injured at that school. I my opinion she's a dangerous risk for that company. I used to work for a keeds international school. To find the name of the school replace the two ee's and add an i. Alot of dirty laundry needs to come out about that school. I'm sorry for the teachers working there. This is a great article. I will keep working in Japan providing children with high quality education. Encouraging them to dream & turn their dream into goals.

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Learn how to write. This is a prime example of why eikawas are horrible.

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English schools are ok for some, but most i`ve met who run them are obsessed with easy money.

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Dean Rogers, I have never heard of you or your schools until now, but I am filled with admiration for you. Although I don't necessarily agree with every little thing you say, I thank you for sharing your knowledge with us. I look forward to reading your posts.

It's so refreshing to read non-whiny, pro-active gaijin posts for once.

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Lovely stuff you've written, Dean, but it seems pie in the sky - how are things in real life?

Trying to do your best for your teachers. Great. Why not hire people experienced or qualified in teaching? Such people demonstrate commitment to their work. This would also create an image of professionalism.

Can you really pay teachers well? Where is this money coming from? What do you offer that other English-conversation schools do not? Students (or their parents) will pay more to try to reach a stated goal - are you prepared to publish results, along the lines of "83% of our students passed Level 2 of the Famous English Exam".

The word "gaikokujin" is not English. Why are you slipping Japanese into your article? The English word is "non-Japanese": you should know this; further, both of the G words are unpleasant.

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Gotta say if I was running a ekaiwa shop I would be less than concerned about hiring permanent staff. I doubt he customer would care that much and the cost would be higher.....

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One point that was not mentioned about Japanese management of foreign workers was the Japanese Tatemai approach (Useless flattery)aimed at teachers for all purposes. Teachers are often told from the day they land here that they are "Great","Sugoi" "ii sensei". When really they havent done anything special at all. This unrealistic attitude causes more harm than good when suddenly a simple complaint or misunderstanding arises and the teachers are not so "Great" anymore. True sincerity is disregarded in this country. A bad teacher could become a good-one if mistakes are pointed out timely and corrected appropriately. They got teachers all over Japan thinking they are God's gift to the English language, only because they are told so by their J-counterparts.

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I am not a teacher but used to be. I think you people need to chill a little and give Dean some credit for putting is analysis out, then responding you your some good and some dumb comments.

Asking him to have perfect English on a posting board because he owns a company is silly. He is not writing the textbooks. We all make errors, relax already.

I do have one problem, Dean. Please stop using Japanese words words in romaji. That is very annoying. I won't slam you for errors, but at least please use English. Gaijin, genki, eikaiwa.. These words are annoying in English sentences. Please stop.

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I have to agree with most of this article. I am a foreign English teacher living in Rural Japan teaching at a technical high school. I am employed by JET (not a private company, I know its a little different).

The first 3 days of the job when we come are workshops on how to adjust to culture and life here in Japan. There is a support line open for us always. Each year we have mid-year seminars with educational workshops for improving our lessons. We have opportunities to get involved beyond the classroom as regional representatives and at events in communities. As a new teacher I see many of these things as opportunities to improve my employability after this job.

On a local scale, the school where I work is great. With two of the English teacher I work with I am given full responsibility to develop lessons and activities. I therefor become more invested in each class that I do. I want it to go well, I want the students to enjoy it and find it useful. One of the vice principles is always coming to my desk to show me stuff and ask me questions. "Here's a festival you should go to" and the like. One teacher that I work with is the other type... In her classes I find that I have stopped trying. Every suggestion I make is turned down. But she is just one teacher.

What I am trying to say is that who you work with and for, and if they respect you as a professional (and treat you like one) makes all the difference. I was planing on only staying for 1 or 2 years but I'm now thinking about a third. I'd hate to leave this great job!

I appreciate what this article is trying to achieve and I hope some management will read this and think about what they're doing in the office.

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Great article Dean. I work in corporate HR and couldn't agree more that the final hiring decision needs to happen at the line.

Regarding your writing style, its refreshing. Who says we can't borrow words from our host country language into our own? You are sensei of this topic and I think your communication style has impact.

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If nothing else, I think the author should be commended for coming on here and responding to the criticisms. It's certainly an interesting article that offers up insight from several perspectives; not everyone will have such an 'obvious' grasp of the issues, as some here claim.

While I don't want cynicism to creep in, I've witnessed enough empty corporate platitudes proffered from above to know better. For the sake of every one of those customers and employees, genuine and earnest in their desire to learn and grow, I hope you're sincere in your efforts to improve their lot going forward. Good luck Mr. Rogers, I mean that.

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i would say that in my experience, regardless of your opinion about the matter, the article is quite accurate

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J gov official numbers for the industry as provided by mr. rogers last time are quite indicative:

in 2000 (earliest data) you have 4,000 regular employees (seishain) versus 1,400 others (part, short term) and then at the end of 2009 (latest) there's 2,300 regulars and 3,000 smt of others.

any insiders care to share their thoughts on reasons or background to this?

from outside it certainly seems as if the whole industry is being "fast-fooded" as suggested by some on the previous thread.

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Thanks Mr. Rogers for your article and views. I found it most interesting and didn't care too much about the minor mistakes that people seem to be complaining about. I also think that the long term teachers who are genuinely doing a passionate job and have been with the same company for a few years, should be rewarded well with pay raises and at least permanent status or a longer contract than 1 year with fully fledged benefits that all the Japanese staff get. One could be with the same company for 15 years and still be signing one year contracts, sounds silly to me. I've always heard that teaching is not a high paying job and that people do it for the love of teaching and not the money but there should be other incentives to keep teachers happy. It need not be money incentives, those hungry only for money need to look for a job in a different industry. I look forward to your remaining srticles and wish you and the teaching industry the best.

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This "contract worker" status is really at the heart of what needs to be eliminated. It should maybe be 5yr degree/unionized type of program Jet 1-2 yrs, student teaching and college last part. For the ones that are teaching in rural areas the university work can be done over computer.

Not just for English, but for most foreign languages. -this type of program will only help the people of Japan learn language skills. By getting organized you are helping yourself and your profession ridding yourself of the fast-food brain wasting contract employer demons!

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Bholder;

The answer to your question is: "WORKING HOLIDAY VISA"!

The number of countries that Japan now has this "exchange program" with has increased and certain companies had or now have recruiting offices overseas that BS about how easy it is to teach short hours an make "great" money while visiting Japan! They tell these naive people how to apply for this visa and get them to sign a totally bogus contract!

Once here and a in a bit of a trap, that is when they find out it is not the "happy go lucky" job that was sold to them! Often they are put up in a company apartment (shared) and charged way over the going price right off their pay and in one particular company the number of paid classes are usually way bellow what was promoted! You can try leaving but usually most are not prepared for the very steep fees that one has to pay to get in to an apartment here and if you quit well they are not going to give you time to fine another place.

So these young gullible "kids" (for lack of a better word) are stuck and because they just don't have the funds and their "contracts" can and are changes as the companies please under the not very subtle "sign or you're out today" method!

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Interesting thoughts, Mr. Rogers. Surely language education - both government and private - needs to be shaken up to it's core in Japan, so any new ideas like his are better than old techniques. Let's face it - Japan as a nation has been abysmal at picking up foreign languages - aren't they ranked 2nd last in all of Asia on most measurements of English proficiency? (Only beaten, I believe, by North Korea - which only has a sporadic system of English education from what I understand). But Japanese CAN absolutely become very competent foreign language speakers with the right assistance (and STUDY! Many dont seem to realise this, but studying the language is quite important rather than just showing up at a school/eikaiwa).

Good luck with your eikaiwa schools, Mr. Rogers. May your business prosper, expand and eventually be seen in or near every station in every city in Japan. And have a cute pink animal as a mascot. (Just kidding)

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Thanks Dean for sharing your experiences on this forum. Having taught at eikaiwas myself, I find it quite interesting to read about this from the point of view of someone who is running them.

I don't think there really is any ideal business model that suits all schools. So it's more a question of trying to make it clear what works for a particular school and find staff that fit into that mold.

A lot of Japanese run schools seem to consider their teachers as risk fact. Their business strategy is to make their teacher replaceable, and try to document experience about company culture and teaching experience so they won't be dependent on the experience of an individual. I agree that this is demotivating to the foreign teachers. But for those small schools who's recruitment isn't much more sophisticated as running an advertisement on gaijinpot or ohayo sensei, it may well be the most appropriate model for the kind of people they end up employing.

For those who have greater ambitions and want to be bigger than NOVA ever was without repeating their mistakes, a more corporate model may be more appropriate, but I don't think most school owners have such ambitions.

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From a managerial perspective, nothing seems to work - team building, training, even selective terminations appear to do nothing to change the prevailing mood.

So, "selective termination" is the new buzz term for giving workers the sack? Who on earth invented this nonsense? Here's hoping we all won't get "selectively terminated" this year!

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Good luck to Dean and Noel. What he has said in both articles is true of the culture they have in their schools. I worked there when I first came to Japan and was probably a bit heckle and jyde as an employee due to not really liking teaching after 6 months at it. In a way I feel bad that I was hired for that reason.

They were good, honest, and patient with me through out. A few months later I found what I really wanted to do and am still at it, happily 2 years later. I am only sorry that I could not contribute more to their business at the time.

They have had audacious goals pursued in a cautious, sensible manner since I have known them. If you are happy to be an English teacher, and you give your heart to your job, Then DMA/SALA can most likely provide a future for you.

All I can recall is a happy management team pursuing a common goal and a tight group of students of whom some are still my friends, and business associates to this very day.

I say thank you to Dean and Noel for paving a way for my future in Japan. As for Dean, What he writes he lives and breathes as gospel. If any of you meet and talked with him, you would understand.

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I think all of you whining about Japanese words (that you know the meaning to no less) being used in this article are way to sensitive!

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The cushy University job are no longer safe either. The problems you are describing are now infesting the University system as well. Because Universities are hiring fewer full-time employees. Those who are have to find a new job after there contract expires a lot of the time.(2-5 yrs) Folks are starting to divide their time between several jobs to make ends meet. More and more long term folks are getting MEd. As more Master's Degree folks enter the scene it will only get worse. The secure jobs aren't there unless you move to Boondocks of Japan! That has been the trend. The whole industry is in peril unless changes are made. It appears crap floats upstream!

No, not really, littlelittlebigboy; the difference is in what is called "TENURE" and unlike ANY private language school, public institutions offer job security. And with tenure, you can start focusing on your job instead of looking for the next job prospect. You can also start buying big things like cars because you know that you have a job next year. While there are more experienced teachers each year, this does not mean more job insecurity, and thus, the idea "of better get used to it!" Dean Rogers nowhere mentions this fact, and he has no plans of offering long term contracts because it is not in his limited business mentality to do so. At the end of the day, it is just more spinning. And little bigboy, the fact that I am where I am for 14 years shows that crap does not float upstream. Crap gets tossed out the window, which might be one reason there is so much turmoil in English language schools. Part of the problem is that such schools like crap. They want that turn over. If you hang around too long you might become a wise guy and start your own school, avoiding the mistakes of the "master."

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Everyone knows in Japan "okyakusan wa kamisama" is not true at all. If you want a language school example, my last Japanese teacher refused to teach me certain grammar topics because it was too complex for her and said I should study them by myself...wtf. It was fun to fire her though.

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TheRat: I agree with much of what you wrote but the part about "public institutions offer job security" is only limited to "tenured professors"! Most city or prefecture elementary, junior/senior high schools are outsource contracts and the few that do direct "hiring" do it on a one year contract basis!(usually renewable)

Been in Japan for many year and for the largest part of that time I was in another industry but taught part time for pleasure! But since my divorce, the collapse of the industry I was in and raising 2 children on my own, teaching became my main source of income.

Due to the fact that I have 2 children I cannot work in the "Aikaiwa" business because I cannot work the late hours, so I have been an ALT, the company that contracts me to city schools pays crap but at least they will hire me seeing that every other place has turned me down due to my AGE (over 40 not just limited to the English teaching industry but everything in Japan)!

Well I just got the news that my company has lost the contract for the city that I am working in (lowest bid wins every January) so I am now out ofwork as of March. I feared this and had already been applying for other work and despite having recommendations form the Japanese English teachers and 2 school principals, I have been turned down again and again because of age!

This is the reality now in the English industry the company that has won the contract is known to use only 2 particular ethnic groups mostly wives who's husbands work and they don't mind working for 7000 to 8000 yen a day!

They are far from native speaker and the teachers and principals have all protested but as far as the city administration is concerned it's a done deal!

So does anyone out there know what or were a 40 something single father of 2 can find a new job?

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A refreshing perspective on the industry. Thanks to Dean for making the effort. I agree "talent attracts talent". Being "valued" as an employee is vital but MONEY-how much and how you are paid is also important. I am in the early stages of setting up a school and will soon to be looking to take on a part time teacher for 1 day a week (6 hours work). I want to pay a fair hourly rate but also include incentives and be able to make a profit.

It would be extremely useful and enlightening if Dean covers this topic in future discussions or I would welcome any constructive suggestions.

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Same old story from so many of you college graduatates! You think your better than everyone else so you can easly say, you need to have a degree to teach, amazing! Their is a sad thing going on in the world, this push to get a degree from a university or college when what we really need is more technical schools. I would rather bring an 18 year old into my company and train them they way I want them to work then some 4 or 5 year college student who knows what? what exeperience do they have, NONE! I assume Dean that your company offers some type of training for your teachers. It is such a mistake for English schools and the other big companies not to have a training program set up to help their employees learn more and get better. Majority of the students in the world who have a love to do something cant because of people like some of you on here here who cry, degree, degree, degree! Most people in the world can't afford a college education.

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this article hits on lots of good points. the problem is most of the foreigners here already know about these obstacles. this article has to be translated & put into the japanese media. easier said than done of course, but...............

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Foreigner comes to Japan, turns on Japanese TV, sees a foreigner dancing around on TV and thinks that is how foreigners are suppose to act, most new to Japan are teachers. Students learning English also think this so unless you fit the dancing super genki gaijin mantra you're not a popular teacher.

After a few months all the "sugoiiiiii"'s and "nihongo jausu desu ne" it goes to the teachers head and they become a gaijin diva and impossible to manage as they think the world revolves around them and that they are fit to be the CEO of any major fortune 500 company.

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Useless article..

Moderator: Please explain why in a mature manner. That, after all, is the purpose of the discussion board.

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limboinjapan, thanks for your insight. i never considered people recruited from abroad. also, i'm very sorry to hear about your situation. age discrimination as perceived by a lot of "westerners" does seem to be the norm in japan in any industry i know of. the only difference would be some forms of unskilled light labor where they prefer reliable and desperate retirees over cocky 20something freeters. i hope you will be able to find smt and earn enough for you and your kids although it's gonna be quite a feat for sure. as i am between jobs at the moment myself i can certainly relate. good luck!

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Wow! I can't believe people only get paid 250,000 per month for teaching English. I get paid over 400,000. That's a decent job considering the economic conditions.

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Frankly, in the years I used to teach, the teached without a college degree were more liked by the students than the ones with a degree. They were not as snooty and crappy as the degree holders, and mroe fun to enjoy. Face it, English is a by-product for some of these students who go to English schools partly to be entertained.

I have a degree, but I would do my job just as well with out it.

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bicultural: You wouldn't care to share the name of your employer!

I just tried for a direct contract position with a city in Chiba at 320,000 yen a month over 300 applicants, didn't get it was told they really liked me but worried about my age! So at 47 I must have one foot in the grave!

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limboinjapan that is the most uncouth response from an employer. Fine they do not want to hire you, but they cannot allude it to your age. So what 47 years and you can easily teach for another half a century. My Japanese teacher is 78 years old. He is not a teacher by profession but an engineer. Trust me, with the experience he has in life, he teaches me things that I will never find in a university text book. I have been reading the life expoerience you have shared in the other threads, and I am sure you would be a wonderful teacher. I hope entrepreneurs like Drogers will take the initiative to have people who have special experiences and qualities. It does matter a lot in the lives of the students. Many assign undue importance to age and qualifications. Yes, you need to have something to show that you are a good teacher. Qulaifications are important but in some cases not necessarily.

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Same old story from so many of you college graduatates! You think your better than everyone else so you can easly say, you need to have a degree to teach, amazing! Their is a sad thing going on in the world, this push to get a degree from a university or college when what we really need is more technical schools.

Well, I don't think I am better than anyone else without a degree--I get along with many of poor neighbors. I do think that a degree does give you ideas, experience and methods to teach someone. I teach a lot of technical English to mechanical, civil, electrical, chemical and computer engineers, and instruct them in thesis writing and powerpoint presentations, etc, etc, and do research and design my own textbooks (technical English and conversational English). I also do a lot of reviewing for JALT, and have been an editor, and have published many times. I think, in the end, this is very helpful to the industry and to the student. I do not think uneducated people, who only know how to speak English, can teach English, no more than I know how to build a house because I see a house, and can go into a house. At the end of the day, you want smart people in control and in teaching, otherwise, what you are getting is just slapstick, hodge-potch, nonsensical "entertainment." You always wanted educated doctors, lawyers, and engineers, and wow, like educated politicians--sorely lacking in the U.S. now, but at least Obama is educated. Anyhow, too many of these teachers in English language schools that seriously because they never, never see it as a career. The managers are also to blame because if their teachers got to smart, they would be telling them how to do things, and that breaks the rules of "management." As for limboinJapan (great name considering your situation) check out http://www.gaijinpot.com/; if you are in Kyushu, I could name a few places. Maybe Mr. Dean Rogers could hire you. That would be interesting!

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TheRat & womanforwomen ;

Thank both for your comments and suggestions (sorry in Tokyo) as for Dean Rogers, I knew him before and when he was starting his school and new his reasons for it at the time, so I have some insight as to the man. He would probably get me in but as I also know that 80% of DM's classes are in the evening that would be very difficult for me to take proper care of my children! So I need a day job!

I just spent the day telling the students and teacher at my 2 schools that I cannot return in April.

It was a very emotional scene teachers and students crying! They have had many ALT's over the years but I guess the fact that my daughter is in Japanese J high I knew what they needed and gave it, I was the J teachers helper and support (not their teacher) and to the students the ALT that was funny but who also would but them in their place if needed!

I did not just do the 2 to 5 classes a day and then just sit around like previous ALTs, I helped during cleaning time (they had never seen this before and no one ever offered), when I wasn't in class I was coaching my 3rd years for their "Juken" (High school entrance exams), all this was unheard of! (most have passed even some that I was surprised at did)

But all this fell on the deaf ears of the administrator of the BOE at city hall all they care about is body count and cost!

The problem we have here in Japan is simple if you ask and pay for the minimum that is what you will get!

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limboinjapan, I really feel for you in your current situation. I now find myself in a similar predicament. I am 26, so I guess youth is on my side, but sadly I have become a victim of Japanese office politics and ignorance. I work as a direct hire ALT for a city board of education. The job was difficult from the start, mostly due to the inflexibility and lack of support from city hall, and also the total lack of student discipline in the schools, nothing new there, I know these things are the norm in most areas of Japan. Although the contract stipulated 20 lessons per week, we frequently go over this as the BOE have cut back the number of teachers to the point where everyone can find themselves working at 3,4 or sometimes evn 5 different schools in a single week. Of course, naturally, this led to a great deal of stress amongst the group. My contract stipulated that we were allowed 5 sick days, and an additonal 20 days of "special sick leave" Sadly, last summer I was diagnosed with depression. The doctor ordered me to take at least a month off to recover. He later extended this by another month when I showed no initial improvement. I evetually returned to work at the end of October, after an absence of some 6 weeks. I had been recieving almost daily phonecalls from city hall harassing me and demanding to know when or if I was coming back. The atmosphere at my schools was extremely harsh from the outset. The BOE had done nothing to cover my classes while I was on leave, and as such, even now, I am still teaching 5-6 classes most days. I often had to put up with snide comments from co-workers (both foreign and Japanese) asking how much I enjoyed my "holiday". There was also the usual gossiping about my mental state and my fitness to be teaching children. My co-workers dont realise just how much Japanese I can understand. Things came to a head a few weeks ago when I was told my contract would not be renewed. The BOE's evaluation system is nothing short of baffling. Basically we are given assorted comments, supposedly written by our co-workers, and then an arbitrary grade of A-E is awarded. The comments given to me were a combination of exaggeration, fabrication and downright lies. I was not given any opportunity to defend myself, nor will the BOE provide any written evidence of these accusations. So, I will unemployed as of the end of next month. Anybody got any ideas what I should do? Ive been told that I would have a case for wrongful dismissal, but as a foreigner, I should probably forget any chance of winning if it went to court. The thing is, I really loved my job before I got sick, and now its been taken away through something of which I had little control. Any comments or suggestions are appreciated.

Moderator: Back on topic please.

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Third, managers should hire fewer and better gaijin with more pay. gaijin have strong creativeness as a race characteristic. We japanese should use these ones to aid in buisness and teaching.

Your stupidity is only exceeded by your idiocy.

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Useless article = Article of no value or impact, No valid point, and will not affect anything in society...

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Wow! I can't believe people only get paid 250,000 per month for teaching English. I get paid over 400,000. That's a decent job considering the economic conditions.

bicultural, I get paid over 450,000 per month FOR TEACHING ENGLISH! I can't believe in your job you would settle for 400K. Anyone else care to up the ante?

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Basically, the entire industry became very unattractive to work in once the mandatory 250,000 yen a month pay was required to sponsor a work visa.

What amazes me is that in the west teachers make a whole life career out of it and schools have no trouble employing teachers for 30 years. Why don't Japanese education boards and English schools simply find 1. people who want to live in Japan and 2. people who want to be professional teachers and treat them accordingly with correct pay and employment incentives.

The reason is simple. Most schools are run by people who want to make as much money as they can ripping of Japanese people while simultaneously exploiting non-native visitors to Japan who have a lack of knowledge about the law and their rights, and their ability to enforce them.

Teaching English in Japan is a multi-billion dollar industry that treats the people that make all the money like dirty unwanted dogs.

I put my money on it that Dean doesn't hire any English teachers (don't call us Gaijin as you are not Japanese and it's a ridiculously stupid term that make Japanese sounds like bigoted morons) on full time contracts, paying full medical insurance, unemployment insurance etc. at a decent rate of pay on par with professional teachers in Japan.

If he doesn't then everything he says is just talk. Prove to all the readers that you just aren't just another dude trying to make a fast buck and post on this forum exactly what conditions you offer your employee's and how that pay compares to what you charge your students and what an equivalent Japanese professional teacher in Japan earns.

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correction: Basically, the entire industry became very unattractive to work in once the mandatory 250,000 yen a month pay was required to sponsor a work visa was removed.

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My wife is an ALT I hear these stories every month!!!! And this is far better than the world of English language teaching which Dean describes, in which, with at least one case, a teacher lasted two months due to the private education system. I tell you about private education. It is a freaking scam! My first year at a private university in Honshu told it all--I could NOT fail a student as the student was a customers. Customers are not "here" to be failed. So, no failing grades even if they deserved it. Even if they barely showed up for class. No 'F's" period! I broke that rule because one student, on his audiotapes, (I did audiotapes to actually evaluate student ability) did nothing but insult his fellow classmates. But that is private education! I bet ole Dean will never fail a student! Nothing, like "hey you, your English is terrible, you are repeating a class." But at my pubic institution, I have no pressure to do that. In fact, I will have around 8 students in their first year repeating their compulsory English, and have flunked at least 1/5 of my elective students. In my opinion, my "strictness" is a sign that there are at least STANDARDS. You would never want 100% of all medical students graduating, would you, from a medical school. But katana6783, my heart goes out to you, and if you need any leads, let me know.

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bicultural, I get paid over 450,000 per month FOR TEACHING ENGLISH! I can't believe in your job you would settle for 400K. Anyone else care to up the ante?

@BurakuminDes Yeah but mate you have the advantage of an extremely civilised and sought after accent to teach with that not all of us have the benefit of possessing.Enjoy!

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Prove to all the readers that you just aren't just another dude trying to make a fast buck and post on this forum exactly what conditions you offer your employee's and how that pay compares to what you charge your students and what an equivalent Japanese professional teacher in Japan earns.

BINGO, Space Monkey. Well, said! Bet he doesn't take you up on that proposition. Nor will he ever, ever fail a student.

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@BurakuminDes Yeah but mate you have the advantage of an extremely civilised and sought after accent to teach with that not all of us have the benefit of possessing.Enjoy!

Too right, mate - I've been told by students I sound like a cross between Steve Irwin and Russell Crowe.

BTW I was being a tad sarcastic about making 450K - trying to illustrate that salary should not really be a pi$$ing contest. As freelance, some months I do very well...other months (between semesters or on hols) nothing! If someone is happy with their job on 250K - all power to them.Sadly, there are now dispatch teachers (full-time) on substantially less.

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space monkey wrote:

Basically, the entire industry became very unattractive to work in once the mandatory 250,000 yen a month pay required to sponsor a work visa was removed.

Very true.

I put my money on it that Dean doesn't hire any English teachers (don't call us Gaijin as you are not Japanese and it's a ridiculously stupid term that make Japanese sounds like bigoted morons) on full time contracts, paying full medical insurance, unemployment insurance etc. at a decent rate of pay on par with professional teachers in Japan.

Spot on.

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Spacemonkey & TheRat: I already posed the question of "foreign" workers status and benefits VS. Japanese staff to Dean and his first response to my post avoided that part so I posed it again and have not had any response!

Like I said I was around when he was in the process of starting D&M and I know the answer, I just want to see it in writing from him!

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Interesting comments by TheRat and space_monkey which is so true in this industry. When I worked in Eikaiwa before I found out that it was an utter rip-off for the students, we were specifically told to write positive comments in the students' evals even though they were completely terrible. I shouldn't really call them students because they were treated only like customers not learning students. Teachers are told to sell, sell, sell and meet monthly goals and sales targets.. And yes the teachers, oops, entertainers were treated like disposable nappies by management.

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Well here we go again! One more English school caught cheating and coercing students! Fortress/ Zenken career center/ Linguage Corp. ordered to suspend operations!

Feel sorry for the students but you know who the real losers are going to be! The "contracted" teacher! I don't expect they will see their last pay!

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iI put my money on it that Dean doesn't hire any English teachers (don't call us Gaijin as you are not Japanese and it's a ridiculously stupid term that make Japanese sounds like bigoted morons) on full time contracts, paying full medical insurance, unemployment insurance etc. at a decent rate of pay on par with professional teachers in Japan. nsurance etc. at a decent rate of pay on par with professional teachers in Japan.

If memory serves me correctly there is No health insurance. Travel fee is capped at 5000yen per month which means you will lose money if you don't live in shinjuku. Contracts were only one year rolling contracts. It DID seem like a nice place to work however and if what dean says is true about everyone now getting more money and better contracts then I guess it's still worth looking at. Are there any teachers from his school who can give an honest answer about the salary increases?

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Wow. I get paid 600,000 yen a month for teaching English. I can't believe anyone would settle for less.

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Wow. I get paid 600,000 yen a month for teaching English. I can't believe anyone would settle for less.

Way to go upping the stakes! You are one hell of a superstar Gaijin Eikaiwa teacher, Boris!

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Boris, is that a permanent, tenured position with no crappy contracts to sign? If so, then you are so lucky!! That 600,000 yen/month is tempting me from my tenured position.

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@BurakuminDes Yeah but mate you have the advantage of an extremely civilised and sought after accent to teach with that not all of us have the benefit of possessing.

****Throw another prawn on the barby!

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You would never want 100% of all medical students graduating, would you, from a medical school.

Once you've entered medical school, barring a mental breakdown, you are pretty much guaranteed graduating. Since we pay 9/10 of their education, I'd say, "YES" we want them all to graduate.

Funnily enough, we had a Nova assistant trainer who dropped out of medical school after three years.

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Thanks everyone again for all of the great comments. I am on the road traveling all this week and will get back to the comments piled up above later next week.

WANNA MEET UP? For those who would like to join me at the first Gaijinpot event of its kind. The "First Keg is Free" party at Hobgoblin in Roppongi on Thursday the 25th of Feb at 7pm, I will be there.

FROM THE HORSES MOUTH.... For those of you who join, you can fire all the questions you want at me personally. I will be there from 7-10pm having a drink with other teachers , and non teachers in attendance. There are a lot of things happening in the industry now referred to above, so there should be some great conversation.

http://livinginfo.gaijinpot.com/feature/hobgoblin-roppongi-2/3640

Some of our staff and teachers will be there as well, so you can ask them yourselves what the benefits/or not.. of working at DMA are.

Cheers everyone,

Dean

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Idiots: Wow, Japanese superiority complex much? Maybe you should learn to write correct english before you come in criticizing others. Saying that someone who is "gaijin" can't "understand" japanese is a crock. What about the second- and third-generation Koreans born in Japan? Their native tongue is japanese, but Japanese society still labels them as "gaijin" for who-knows-what ill-thought out line of reasoning. Never mind that they might hold Japanese passports or even be citizens.

Anyways, the article on english teachers in Japan was interesting. I used to work in that field and hated every moment of it too. I eventually got out and am much happier now (yes, I am still in Japan working, but in a field not related to education in the slightest). I really don't believe in the saying that as a foreigner, you have no right to try and change the country you live in. Instead, let's rock Japan, and make it a much more productive, forward-minded country! Foreigners are a great way to bring in new ideas and to globalize the world. It's not about US as a country, it's about US as a world these days, and it's high time Japan (and other countries) started thinking that way!

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It's not about US as a country, it's about US as a world these days, and it's high time Japan (and other countries) started thinking that way!

That is very imperialistic of you.

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The problem of Gaijin is that they think they understand Japanese but most of time it is in wrong way and only looking things from gaijin point of view. When you see other culture you got to move your point of view pararel to the object. Someone mentioned about low paid, you better be serious since most of English teachers in Japan are NOT really teachers. Gaijin is lazier statement of the writer is extremely correct. It is definitely not because of the pay, I believe anyone would get higher motivation if the pay is higher, no matter if they are Japanese or gaijin. As you can see on that comments, most of time I have experienced and seen the hypocritical and self-justifications from gaijins unfortunately, excuse me for generalization but I would say 95%of them in small or big contexts. They tend to seek the reason or fault always outside of themselves with blinded self-justification, the problems are always outside them and try to change others but not themselves see the history even what is happening now. I would like to mention ANY japanese use the term 'gaijin' with discrimination intended. It is simply means: Caucasian, Black, Middle eastern and etc (non-asian) It does not also mean outsider as most of you often think. I would say, untill being able to speak its local language fluently you dont even know half of it. The trick is that you think you know, most of westerners get trapped there, as people from English speaking countries naturally tend to be extremely bad at profoundly understanding different customs and value in different culture. I would recommend to study harder and at least try to make your point in Japanese before you pretend that you know something about it. Maybe you should go back to your own countries and work in some corporation and come back, see the level of responsibilities. Well, only if you can land those kind of jobs..;)

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