Sign o' the times

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In The Know
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Sign o' the times

Unread post by In The Know » Tue Aug 02, 2016 4:20 am

Let's Japan began as "The site devoted to debunking eikaiwa." But these days it seems the Eikaiwa thread is the least-used one on the forum! Falling interest in learning English, plummeting Japanese birth rate, ongoing Japan recession, online English lessons replacing human teachers in NOVA boxes? I don't know. What say ye, veteran Let's Japan sages?

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senseiman
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Re: Sign o' the times

Unread post by senseiman » Tue Aug 02, 2016 11:27 am

Its an interesting question. I would be curious to know how many people are employed in the Eikaiwa industry, unfortunately the government doesn`t publish statistics on that (or on related areas from which you could infer numbers, like how many specialist in humanities visas they issue).

I assume the number is much less than it was 10 years ago, but probably not as bad as the complete silence of the Eikaiwa forum here would suggest.

To give my 2 cents as a former Eikaiwa teacher from the good old days on each of your hypothetical causes:

"Falling interest in learning English"

Might be a bit of it, though the opposite trend is also evident - companies like Rakuten going all English for example is something that creates an obvious demand for English but didn`t exist a decade ago.

"plummeting Japanese birth rate"

The birthrate is actually stable and increasing a bit, but that is just nitpicking on my part since it is still way below replacement rates. This is definitely a factor since each year there is a smaller number of children. Since kids lessons are a huge part of the market, and the burgeoning elderly consumer market is probably a lot less willing/able to spend money on lessons, this demographic trend is probably eliminating Eikaiwa jobs, albeit at a relatively slow rate over time.

"ongoing Japan recession"

Japan isn`t technically in a recession, but if we are talking about economic issues in general then probably the increasingly precarious situation of the workforce here is another contributor. The Eikaiwa industry clearly bases its business model on targeting middle class consumers with some disposable income, but the proportion of the workforce with stable long term employment has fallen a lot in the past 20 years, while the number of people working in non-regular jobs (who generally can`t afford the luxury of Eikaiwa lessons) has correspondingly increased.

"online English lessons replacing human teachers in NOVA boxes"

That is probably another contributing factor, but I`m not sure how big it is. For some consumers there is clearly added value in attending a school and interacting with teachers/other students in person, and for those consumers online lessons aren`t an adequate substitute. On the other hand, other students probably place less value on those things and would value the convenience of taking lessons at home, so it probably does eat into the potential student body of traditional Eikaiwa.

Another point which might be worth mentioning is that while the number of traditional Eikaiwa teachers is probably dropping, the number of foreigners in Japan has been increasing significantly in recent years, both in terms of tourists and in terms of residents. This probably has some effect too. Foreign faces on the street have become much less of a novelty now than they were when I first arrived in Japan (in 1999), at least in urban areas. This probably has three effects. One is that the appeal of being able to talk to a real life actual foreigner (!!!) which makes up such a big part of Eikaiwa`s marketing is probably a lot lower than it used to be. The other is that having all these foreigners around gives people a lot more opportunities to practice their English on the cheap without paying Eikaiwa prices. The third is that since Eikaiwa is a market with extremely low barriers to entry if you are a native speaker, its pretty easy for the increasing number of long term native speaker residents to compete with Eikaiwa, and anecdotal evidence just from this forum suggests a fair number of former Eikaiwa drones (including myself for a couple of years) entered the market in competition with their former employers. 30-40 years ago when the big Eikaiwa chains were getting established there was nowhere near as many long term foreign residents who were native speakers as there are now, so they didn`t have to worry about that.

All in all it seems like there are a lot of contributing factors to the decline of Eikaiwa. My personal opinion is that the business models of the traditional big chains (ECC and AEON being the last two remaining) probably isn`t sustainable in the long run owing to all these factors and they`ll probably end up folding at some point.
祇園精舎の鐘の聲、諸行無常の響あり。娑羅雙樹の花の色、盛者必衰のことわりをあらはす。おごれる人も久しからず、唯春の夜の夢のごとし。たけき者も遂にほろびぬ、偏に風の前の塵に同じ。

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ShonaiBen
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Re: Sign o' the times

Unread post by ShonaiBen » Tue Aug 02, 2016 12:56 pm

In my neck of the woods we are still feeling the effects of that big quake 5 years ago.A lot of students had bigger priorities than studying English so gave up their studies or put them on hold.
Also the exodus of many of the teachers didn't help matters either.
I personally have lost some of my students and find it increasingly difficult to get new ones.
Shit Sticks to the Wall.........

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BergKatse
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Re: Sign o' the times

Unread post by BergKatse » Wed Aug 03, 2016 10:42 am

senseiman wrote:My personal opinion is that the business models of the traditional big chains (ECC and AEON being the last two remaining) probably isn`t sustainable in the long run owing to all these factors and they`ll probably end up folding at some point.
Long-standing rumour has it that ECC's eikaiwa operation and its other vocational schools are unprofitable but ECC Junior brings in enough money to cover those losses. That's just rumour, of course, so it might be wildly inaccurate, but it seems plausible.

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senseiman
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Re: Sign o' the times

Unread post by senseiman » Thu Aug 04, 2016 10:29 am

BergKatse wrote: Long-standing rumour has it that ECC's eikaiwa operation and its other vocational schools are unprofitable but ECC Junior brings in enough money to cover those losses. That's just rumour, of course, so it might be wildly inaccurate, but it seems plausible.
Sounds plausible. I remember when I worked for GEOS and AEON it seemed that their Kids schools were the real money makers.

Given the declining population of children in Japan that doesn`t bode well for ECC`s future....
祇園精舎の鐘の聲、諸行無常の響あり。娑羅雙樹の花の色、盛者必衰のことわりをあらはす。おごれる人も久しからず、唯春の夜の夢のごとし。たけき者も遂にほろびぬ、偏に風の前の塵に同じ。

scanman
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Re: Sign o' the times

Unread post by scanman » Wed Sep 07, 2016 10:08 am

Wow! Another month has gone by without any postings. Things must be pretty quiet and peaceful in the schools.

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