Let's Japan seeks to debunk the beast known as eikaiwa, or English conversation in Japan. Our experience at GEOS left us disillusioned with the job. We were hungry for an opportunity to live and work and Japan, so we jumped through all the hoops and said the things we thought our employers wanted to hear.
Working in Japan was nothing close to the image presented to us back home. The reality was that we were salesmen, doing our best to keep students happy enough so that they would gladly keep paying for the privilege of speaking to us a few times a week.
We found the weakest link in the chain to be head office. Support, advice, training, leadership, all of these qualities that were scant to begin with evaporated near the end of our time there. Chris asked his so-called teacher trainer about the president of the company. He wanted to know where he was taking the company, what was his vision of the future of the school? The trainer answered, "I don't know. I've never met him. He's not at all interested in the educational aspects of the school. He likes to do the real estate stuff. He told us all to shut up once. The office staff were talking too loudly and occasionally laughing. I guess it's a cultural thing. You can't seem to be happy or else it looks like you're not really working."
Leaving GEOS was an eye opener because we discovered that there was a new world outside of eikaiwa. We met people who weren't over-the-top-gung-ho-suit-wearing-types. Just regular folks teaching and living. They weren't "fresh outta college kids" willing to make head office happy. They were people who taught according to their own styles- not some formula concocted by a bunch of twerps at head office.
When Chris and I would get together for beers, the conversation invariably turned to our experience at GEOS and all of the bitterness, anger, and humor that went with it.
We knew we wanted to write this down and share it, and maybe warn others of the dupe GEOS and eikaiwa as a whole is, so we set up a meager web page on GeoCities in 2000. It all grew from there. Instead of angry rants about the injustices of the job, our stories begat more stories, and others generously contributed their own experiences.
We have exorcised our eikaiwa demons, and our eikaiwa days are far behind us. This website is here to encourage a dialogue on the subject of teaching English in Japan and act as a soapbox for whatever else is on our mind.
We hope the stories we've contributed inspire you to write or respond or whatever. You can get in touch with LJ by commenting on posts or emailing us via the Email Let's Japan link.