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Postby Guest » Tue Feb 24, 2004 9:35 am

cool article in today's JP. quotes from the union guys.
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/get ... 0224zg.htm

a snippet
Japan Times wrote:American sociologist George Ritzer coined the term McDonaldization to describe how a method of production that originated in fast food restaurants is sweeping through every aspect of society.


Ritzer wondered why a system supposed to make life easier is slowly imprisoning us in an "iron cage" of rationality.

Efficiency and control reduce prices and increase access, but at a cost: McWages, bland products, and a rigid, controlled environment that drains all creativity from human activity.

If the eminent professor could see the state of English-language schools in Japan today he'd surely smile smugly and say, "I told you so."

While cheaper and more plentiful than ever, much of the English taught here is about as nutritious as a bag of salty fries, say those involved.

Lessons have morphed into sleek, bite-sized delivery systems staffed by teachers who are being transformed into the pedagogic equivalent of burger flippers.

Not surprisingly, the teachers are heading for the door in droves.


read the article for the rest.
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Postby Smurfette » Tue Feb 24, 2004 10:06 am

One manager at an English school for children in Tochigi Prefecture keeps her staff busy in between classes by having them clean the leaves on potted plants in the school reception area, congratulating them on how "green" the foliage looks when they've finished.

Others at the school are made to clean the soles of slippers left by the entrance for students' use.


Excuse me? Clean the plant leaves??? :shock:

I would certainly believe the part about the falling wages. At Interac Nagoya they were threatening to do that before I left, and I'm told they continued to threaten after I left.

One question: in the article, Bob Tench is quoted as just a teacher, but isn't he head of the NOVA Union...or something like that. It seems like i have heard his name on this board before.

Interesting article...thanks Fetus. :wink:
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Postby Thanatos'_enbalmed_botfly » Tue Feb 24, 2004 10:14 am

Most firms employ teachers on 12-month renewable contracts, an arrangement that strays into a legal gray area after three years, when they are obliged to consider making staff permanent.
"obliged to consider", a rather amorphous choice of words... very bloody interesting though...

"In one case in Hirakata City, the school pays 23,000 yen per day per teacher to a dispatch company, but the teacher gets just 10,000 yen."
bugger me, welcome to our future.

Are you a teacher or student of English?
Send your tales of life inside and outside the classroom to community@japantimes.co.jp and if your story gets printed, we'll send you a 2,000 yen voucher for Tower Records.
hey, MARC, took the wee liberty of submitting Melodious Thunk's contest entry with YOUR name on it! Good work!
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Postby Shawn » Tue Feb 24, 2004 10:20 am

Smurfette wrote:Excuse me? Clean the plant leaves??? :shock:


Sure, Smurfette, why not? When I worked at Pizza Hut in my teens, our manager stressed that if you didn't have anything to do, look busy. Polish the brass even if it didn't need polishing. Why should eikaiwa be any different? :wink:

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Postby Ojii » Tue Feb 24, 2004 10:55 am

Fetus, is there anyway you can place that article in the front page so it won't get buried in the board? That article is one of the best, relating to the teaching situation in Japan, that I've ever seen.

I saved myself a copy. It is definately something every 'newbie' or 'old-timer' should read.

Good work!
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Postby Smurfette » Tue Feb 24, 2004 11:10 am

Ojii, where's your avatar? I really liked it! :noluv:
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Postby senseiman » Tue Feb 24, 2004 5:45 pm

Good article all right. We ought to send in some stuff about our Eikaiwa experiences, a lot of people here have posted some pretty good stories that could get printed. Might be nice, even if all you get is a Tower Records coupon.
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Postby ShonaiBen » Tue Feb 24, 2004 6:23 pm

McEnglish=McEikaiwa

Fetus:
This is a must read for all newbies even thinking about coming to Japan.
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Postby iwantmyrightsnow » Tue Feb 24, 2004 8:32 pm

Just checked and Bob Tench has been head of the Tokyo Nova Union since late last year.
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Postby Drac » Tue Feb 24, 2004 8:53 pm

D McNeil scores a hole in one.
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Postby Ziggy » Tue Feb 24, 2004 10:25 pm

Fetus, good fin. Really hits the nail on the head!
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Postby duma » Wed Feb 25, 2004 1:04 am

The Japan Times wrote:"In one case in Hirakata City, the school pays 23,000 yen per day per teacher to a dispatch company, but the teacher gets just 10,000 yen."


Will the last English teacher to leave Japan please turn out the lights?
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Postby Drac » Wed Feb 25, 2004 7:57 am

duma wrote:
The Japan Times wrote:"In one case in Hirakata City, the school pays 23,000 yen per day per teacher to a dispatch company, but the teacher gets just 10,000 yen."


Will the last English teacher to leave Japan please turn out the lights?


And don't forget to prune the pot plants.
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Postby MARC » Wed Feb 25, 2004 10:56 am

That's really a good article. I wonder what DEPORTATION and his russian sailors would say about that...

"As soon as you finish a class you're got 10 minutes to do the paperwork and pull the file for the next student out of the drawer.


Actually I only get 5 minutes, maybe I should review my contract. :?

hey, MARC, took the wee liberty of submitting Melodious Thunk's contest entry with YOUR name on it! Good work!


No, but I put MY name on it, and when I get the 2,000 yen voucher I'll buy you a George Michael CD!
いっぱい聞けて、いっぱいしゃぶれる...
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Postby Ojii » Sat Feb 28, 2004 11:18 pm

The J Times will move this post within a few days. It will be difficult to find. I thought it would be good to cut & paste it here, just in case.

Here's the entire article:

McEnglish for the masses
English teaching in Japan has mushroomed over the last decade, but at what price

By DAVID MCNEILL

American sociologist George Ritzer coined the term McDonaldization to describe how a method of production that originated in fast food restaurants is sweeping through every aspect of society.

Ritzer wondered why a system supposed to make life easier is slowly imprisoning us in an "iron cage" of rationality.

Efficiency and control reduce prices and increase access, but at a cost: McWages, bland products, and a rigid, controlled environment that drains all creativity from human activity.

If the eminent professor could see the state of English-language schools in Japan today he'd surely smile smugly and say, "I told you so."

While cheaper and more plentiful than ever, much of the English taught here is about as nutritious as a bag of salty fries, say those involved.

Lessons have morphed into sleek, bite-sized delivery systems staffed by teachers who are being transformed into the pedagogic equivalent of burger flippers.

Not surprisingly, the teachers are heading for the door in droves.

"The largest eikaiwa school has a staff turnover of 70 percent a year," says Dennis Tesolat, vice-chair of the General Union, which represents hundreds of teachers in Japan.

"They have guys whose job is it to go to the airports just to pick up new teachers. And that's because the teachers have a grueling schedule of eight lessons a day, with a 10-minute break between each. It's worse than a factory."

Old timers who stumbled into teaching in the 1960s and 70s will tell you they found an easygoing world of often amateur-run schools catering to large classes of earnest students.

"When I began teaching in the mid-1970s, I had 20 students but pay was 3,000 yen an hour and we worked just 20 hours a week," says Ken Noda, who teaches at a top eikaiwa chain in Tokyo.

"We worked half the average working week for the same wages. But this changed dramatically in the early 1990s."

With growing pressure on Japan to "globalize" and expand language-teaching, the government relaxed visa regulations and introduced guidelines for schools, setting pay at a minimum of 250,000 yen a month.

The initiative, and the general expansion of services in the 1990s, had dramatic results: The number of people entering Japan officially as "foreign humanities specialists" (including language teachers of all shades) mushroomed from about 15,000 in 1988 to over 44,000 in 2002, while the guidelines set a de-facto standard wage.

"When the government says minimum wage this of course means maximum," laughs Noda. "So pay came down, although the most striking change was the rise in working hours."

With labor expenses dropping as a percentage of total operating costs, the schools could bring what was once a luxury -- small classes -- to the masses.

The standard three-on-one ratio of students and teacher swept the country as the industry expanded and consolidated, and mass advertising re-branded what was once a fairly serious, bookish pursuit into a cheap and trendy pastime.

The eikaiwa industry today bears as much resemblance to its 1970's version as a sports utility vehicle to a Model-T Ford.

Of course, there are still prestige schools catering to niche markets, some still offering high wages (over 300,000 yen a month) and good working conditions, but the size and reach of the chain-schools tends to set the standard, say industry experts.

"The best way of describing the business over the last decade is that it has matured and consolidated," says Mark McBennett, Editor of English Language Teaching News.

The Big 5 of NOVA, Geos, Eon, ECC and Shane are now very efficient recruiting machines. "But very few students who attend the schools have a realistic idea of what it takes to actually master a language."

Like the ubiquitous fast-food restaurant, eikaiwa schools can now be found next to the station in most neighborhoods, bringing a convenient but low-nutrition product, often delivered by stressed, overworked staff.

"It's really tough," says teacher Bob Tench.

"As soon as you finish a class you're got 10 minutes to do the paperwork and pull the file for the next student out of the drawer.

"And in my opinion the quality of teaching suffers as a result," he says.

Teachers' responsibilities can sometimes extend beyond the classroom.

One manager at an English school for children in Tochigi Prefecture keeps her staff busy in between classes by having them clean the leaves on potted plants in the school reception area, congratulating them on how "green" the foliage looks when they've finished.

Others at the school are made to clean the soles of slippers left by the entrance for students' use.

At the other side of the classroom table, the students sense something is amiss.

"The teachers change a lot so you never get used to them," says Sugako Fujita, who attends a chain eikaiwa school in Kanagawa.

"I'm often put in classes with students of different levels just because we can make the same time. You can tell it's difficult for the teachers too."

The spread of McContracts means no effort is spared to make eikaiwa jobs as insecure as possible. Most firms employ teachers on 12-month renewable contracts, an arrangement that strays into a legal gray area after three years, when they are obliged to consider making staff permanent.

"The company knows it could get stuck with you for life," says McBennett. "So some are giving contracts for 364 days a year to avoid this."

In some of the bigger schools the working week has doubled to almost 40 hours, while others keep hours to below 30 to avoid having to pay public insurance, says Tesolat, who claims things are set to get worse as others, including public schools, copy the fast-food model.

"This is not even the beginning. We're starting to see the 250,000 yen threshold disappear. There are places now where you are getting 200,000 yen or 180,000 yen.

Public schools that used to hire directly are now hiring through dispatch companies. The people hired directly used to have paid holidays, insurance and other benefits, but now they're working 3 days a week.

"In one case in Hirakata City, the school pays 23,000 yen per day per teacher to a dispatch company, but the teacher gets just 10,000 yen."

Are universities safe from McDonaldization?

Not likely. Student numbers are falling, budgets are being slashed, and the Diet passed a law last summer converting all the nation's state-run universities into independent corporations, effectively making the 120,000 public servants who staff them into private employees.

More short-term contracts and dispatch hiring are sure to follow; and the writing is already on the wall.

"The last really good offer I had was six years ago, when I was offered a full-time tenured position," says Steve Ross, who teaches part-time at a number of top Tokyo universities. "It's not something you can plan your life around."

Where is all this heading? A large school points to one possible direction.

Operating a one-to-one teaching system, the school specializes in hiring non-native speakers, all on part-time contracts, from the Philippines, India and other low-wage economies.

Would you like fries with that English lesson?
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Postby sirwanksalot » Mon Mar 01, 2004 1:23 am

At ECC they are offering coffee at some schools.
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Postby Ojii » Mon Mar 01, 2004 2:59 pm

sirwanksalot wrote:At ECC they are offering coffee at some schools.


Well, it's good to see that conditions are improving.

By the way, do they give you free refills, like McDonald's?
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Postby LeBlueBoy » Mon Mar 01, 2004 4:19 pm

Thanatos'_enbalmed_botfly wrote:bugger me, welcome to our future.


No. McDonalds is a throwback to the good old days. The new profit model is Microsoft and the tech industry.

"Screw the customer....the primary stockholders are never wrong."

It seems like once Microsoft stopped providing free support for its products, everybody complained, but no one stopped buying their software. Now it seems like all the tech companies have decided that the customer will continue to buy the service or product regardless of how they're treated. This attitude has leaked into a lot of other American companies and industries.

Real customer service is a thing of the past in the U.S. McDonalds is a quaint antiquidated old idea that gives most techies the warm fuzzies reminiscing about the days when at least the customers were happy.

Helloooo India.
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Postby Examination_Hell » Mon Mar 01, 2004 8:04 pm

sirwanksalot wrote:At ECC they are offering coffee at some schools.

Is that to keep the teachers awake? :P

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Postby sirwanksalot » Mon Mar 01, 2004 9:09 pm

Ojii wrote:
sirwanksalot wrote:At ECC they are offering coffee at some schools.


Well, it's good to see that conditions are improving.

By the way, do they give you free refills, like McDonald's?


You have to pay for it.
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Postby sirwanksalot » Mon Mar 01, 2004 9:16 pm

Examination_Hell wrote:
sirwanksalot wrote:At ECC they are offering coffee at some schools.

Is that to keep the teachers awake? :P

EH


With "senseis" like me at the wheel it must be to keep the "students " awake.
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Postby Drac » Wed Mar 10, 2004 12:06 am

Japan Times just got reader feedback from the article:
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Postby Shawn » Wed Mar 10, 2004 9:39 am

Interesting feedback. The best line belongs to Richard:
Richard wrote:If there's a foreigner in the room talking, it must be an English lesson." This is the philosophy of the eikaiwa.
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Postby senseiman » Wed Mar 10, 2004 6:11 pm

I thought the one from "Kenny" in Hokkaido was funny. That was the one where he slammed the Japan Times for running such a horrible pack of 'liberal' lies attacking the integrity of the highly respected Eikaiwa industry.

I'm a big fan of Kenny. I think he may be the same Kenny from Hokkaido who always writes letters to the editor to the JT advocating teen abstinance and other christian causes. He's my hero, I'm sure he'd be the life of any party if he wasn't so completely off his rocker.
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Postby sirwanksalot » Thu Mar 11, 2004 2:29 am

Minoru is a bad mother fucker!

The student that you want !

So far and few between.
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Postby Drac » Fri Mar 19, 2004 12:06 am

JT - with fear?

Well the articles are still on the database, but have suddenly disappeared from the site search engine. Effectively burying story and follow-up. Bloody typical. Let's gutless and happy happy PR nation.
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Postby MacGyver » Fri Mar 19, 2004 9:52 am

Haruka wrote:When I talk about this with my friends, some ask me: "Can you speak English well?" This question seems nonsensical to me. In Japan, there is tendency to measure ability in English by comparing to native speakers. This is not a realistic measure of English ability.


I guess its Haruka's way of saying she can't speak for shit.
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Postby AndreBone » Fri Mar 19, 2004 10:11 am

MacGyver wrote:
Haruka wrote:When I talk about this with my friends, some ask me: "Can you speak English well?" This question seems nonsensical to me. In Japan, there is tendency to measure ability in English by comparing to native speakers. This is not a realistic measure of English ability.


I guess its Haruka's way of saying she can't speak for shit.


Forget about Haruka's English ability, this is Haruka's way of saying, "I'm an idiot."
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Postby amerikajin274 » Thu Apr 01, 2004 10:38 pm

I won't argue with the fact that the eikaiwas are fast-food style English "schools" and that the effect on the students is detrimental. At the same time, it's up to the consumer to recognize what he or she is buying. Part of the problem is that the Japanese never complain. They just sit and suffer in silence. The only time they do complain, the eikaiwa administration always find a way to make sure that it falls on our laps. So rather than taking a step back and analyzing the standard eikaiwa pedagogical approach, they just fixate on the individuals in front of them delivering the lessons. The system sucks, in part because the consumers allow it to suck.

As I see it, the biggest problem with eikaiwa isn't the fact that it has a bulky administration (referring to the guys who pick us up from the airports). The biggest problem is that they don't keep enough teachers in place. The turnover destroys the student's progress.

Whether the big eikaiwas realize it or not, it's going to destroy them in the long run. They'll simply be cannibalized by others who do it cheaper and with more style, as opposed to substance. All Nova, Geos and ECC need to do is take a look at what's happening to McDonald's right now: they're losing more and more share of the market, and they'll never get that back, either. So their share of the market will decline, so will their profitability, and so will their net worth. It won't happen overnight, but it'll surely happen.

At the risk of sounding like the banned one himself, I think some of the article is just plain nitpicking.

Teaching English is "hard"? Since when? It's a f_cking racket when you think about it. You can come here, hump it with Nova for three to six months and then move on to greener pastures. Most of us have termed contracts, provided we show up to work on time and perform up to a minimum standard. That shouldn't be too hard considering our
"professional skill" is something we've acquired by virtue of our birth. And if that wasn't enough, we can earn more than $40,000 (USD) a year doing it. On the other hand, I know guys back home who have a wife and kid to support, house payments, car payments, student loans, rising gas prices, wondering all at the same time if they're going to keep their job past next month. Now THAT's hardship.

I do feel for the guy who's been here ten years, is a certified teacher, and banked on the fact that he'd be able to put away money for retirement on the income he has here. But one constant in this world is that times change. I'm not trying to start any sh!t or anything, and I admit, I haven't worked here as long as some of the vets on this board, so maybe I'm missing something. I don't have as much invested in it, either, I guess. But I for one am just glad I've had this opportunity to goof off for a few years until I figure out what I want to do when I "grow up". If that ever happens :lol:
Last edited by amerikajin274 on Fri Apr 02, 2004 12:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby MacGyver » Wed Apr 21, 2004 9:16 am

Fair enough too. Most of these pricks don't want to talk to you or get to know you. All they are interested is speaking Engrish. If that's the case then charge the cunts. If the boot was on the other foot, most of them would just ignore your gaijin ass.
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