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Better For a Teacher Starting Out: Large or Small Eikawa?
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Monika13



Joined: 21 Sep 2012
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2012 7:51 pm    Post subject: Better For a Teacher Starting Out: Large or Small Eikawa? Reply with quote

Hi, I'm kind of caught between a couple of schools.

And I would like to use the seasoned experience of this forum to help make an educated decision, would it be better to teach at a huge corporate Eikawa or a smaller, private one?

From what I know thus far:

Huge Corporate Eikawa:
Cons
Is Very Strict (Wants teachers in a suit everyday)
Leaves very little time for a life outside of work
Wants the teacher to sell, sell, sell
Tends to be seen by other schools of wanting to take a lot of money from local families and having teachers sell books and tapes that are terribly overpriced and unaffordable
High turnover

Pros
Offers 20,000 Yen more per month
Subsidizes rent, so it is 10,000 Yen less a month for an apartment nearby than the smaller Eikawa
Has been doing it a long time, and this could be a pro and a con - could see teachers as easily replaceable, but knows the in's and out's of everything


Small Eikawa
Cons
Less money
More expensive apartment
Wants a year longer contract

Pros
Teachers are treated like a family
There is no sales expectation
Teachers are not required to wear suits (everything is business casual rather than business formal)
More hours for life in general
Helpful management that will translate for teachers
Really cares about the students and their families
Does not treat the school as strictly a "business"
Teachers have been around for 4+ years


What would you choose? Which is more important ~ the money or the work environment? Would you choose the small or large Eikawa?
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steki47



Joined: 20 Apr 2008
Posts: 653
Location: BFE Inaka

PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2012 8:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have worked at big and small schools and generally preferred the big schools.

Big:
Structured training and observations
Some consistency
Some infrastructure

Small:
Virtually none of the above
I was still a cog, just in a smaller wheel
Some eikaiwa owners are crazy

After bouncing around 2-3 small schools, I honestly began to miss Nova.

Then I became an ALT and that was the end of that.
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2012 9:56 pm    Post subject: Re: Better For a Teacher Starting Out: Large or Small Eikawa Reply with quote

First of all, get over the idea of having to wear a suit. Japan is a very conservative country. If you don't like suits, reconsider even coming here.

Second, how is it that an employer can "leave very little time for al ife outside of work"? You put in your 40 hours (classroom time plus prep/other duties) and then go home. Please explain what you meant.

When you say the big school "wants the teacher to sell, sell, sell", how is that? You are hired to teach. Please explain exactly what they want you to do (e.g., stand on a corner and hawk pamphlets?).

Quote:
Tends to be seen by other schools of wanting to take a lot of money from local families and having teachers sell books and tapes that are terribly overpriced and unaffordable
High turnover
These are the school's business choices. They will affect your own image outside of work as well as in (to some degree), but your main role is teaching. Students will like your style or not and choose to return based largely on that. How good are you?

You said the smaller school "wants a year longer contract". Don't fool yourself. You are hired and kept year to year. If either school doesn't want you, they will simply not renew your contract. You could be out on the street in the same period of time for either employer.

The small school treats teachers "like a family"? Uh, how? You are still a commodity to them. Don't ever forget that.

Quote:
Helpful management that will translate for teachers
Don't think that this will be a long-term thing. You should learn the language for yourself.

Quote:
Really cares about the students and their families
You don't really know this.

Quote:
Teachers have been around for 4+ years
This is definitely a good sign. What do those teachers say? How about the ones at the other school? You shouldn't listen to the employer for 100% of opinions.

Quote:
Which is more important ~ the money or the work environment? Would you choose the small or large Eikawa?
Peace of mind is everything. But how about the type of apartment, location (commuting time and surrounding shops to your home, paid commuting, type of teaching materials, mixture and placement of students, etc.)? On the surface you seem to have already made up your mind, and I'm not trying to talk you out of it, but look at things a bit more pragmatically.
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ssjup81



Joined: 15 Jun 2009
Posts: 534
Location: Tendo, Yamagata, Japan

PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 5:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well...I think it probably depends on how big and how small. I've never worked for a big eikaiwa. I'm currently working at a very small one. It's so small, that I'm the only English teacher employed there. If they had more than one, I wouldn't get the normal pay most English teachers get starting off. Not enough students for that. I get 260k a month and start off with a week of paid holiday time, which I took last month as that was planned way before I even got the job.

That aside, the main disadvantage I have, working for such a small place, is that I'm the only one, as I mentioned earlier. I wish they could hire on another couple of teachers so that I won't be by myself and maybe get help or more ideas as opposed to its always being me or my decision. I also hate the fact that it's a little less structured. I find this to be a slight advantage too, but it'd help if I had syllabus to go by as opposed to doing everything on my own, but only as far as the kids classes go. I don't mind so much for the adults. The materials are a bit limited also. Those are my main disadvantages. This, to me, makes the work more challenging and difficult to do. Oh, your groups are also small. For me, that is a disadvantage (slightly) because most of the ideas I may have, are better suited for larger groups of kids, but you may have this problem in a big eikaiwa too, small groups. My most challenging classes, is my one of that has a private lesson. He's a kindergarten student. Not bad or anything like that, but coming up with things to do (without a syllabus) is a real challenge, to meet the need of the student in question and the actual bosses of your school. I get along well with them, but when it comes to my teaching style (slow and steady), it's a problem for him. So...yeah... lol

As for an advantage, I don't have to "sell" anything. I've always heard that places like Aeon try to get teachers to "sell" their texts and learning materials. Luckily I don't have to worry about that. I get along decently with my bosses and the school's owner too, but this will definitely vary since not all bosses/coworkers are the same.

I would write out some more here, but I have to head back to work. Thursday is always my most frustrating day at the actual eikaiwa (in the mornings, I work at the nearby Kindergarten). All kids, and I actually like kids, but the problem is due to the disadvantages I mentioned, but getting down to it, kids will always be a challenge to get them engaged enough to want to learn in the first place.

If you want to do an easier job, though, I'd go with ALT work. Doing eikaiwa work, I'm actually starting to miss doing ALT work (at times).
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marley'sghost



Joined: 04 Oct 2010
Posts: 109

PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 6:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ssjup81 wrote:
.
I'm currently working at a very small one.
It's so small, that I'm the only English teacher employed there. ......

I get along decently with my bosses and the school's owner too,........


.


So how many bosses do you, the only teacher, have at this tiny eikaiwa?

And @the OP Money vs Work Environment, it's your call.
Or in other words, how bad do you need the money?
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ssjup81



Joined: 15 Jun 2009
Posts: 534
Location: Tendo, Yamagata, Japan

PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 9:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

marley'sghost wrote:
ssjup81 wrote:
.
I'm currently working at a very small one.
It's so small, that I'm the only English teacher employed there. ......

I get along decently with my bosses and the school's owner too,........


.


So how many bosses do you, the only teacher, have at this tiny eikaiwa?
My boss (I guess his title would be manager/supervisor) and then the owner and then the assistant (part-time) to the manager, that helps to run things at the eikaiwa and the kindergarten I work for. I don't see the owner often, but the manager I see everyday.
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timothypfox



Joined: 20 Feb 2008
Posts: 345

PostPosted: Fri Oct 12, 2012 12:02 am    Post subject: Re: Better For a Teacher Starting Out: Large or Small Eikawa Reply with quote

Glenski wrote:
Second, how is it that an employer can "leave very little time for al ife outside of work"? You put in your 40 hours (classroom time plus prep/other duties) and then go home. Please explain what you meant.


The # of hours of work tend to be long and more towards 50 plus hours a week - not 40, but there are ways to to reduce that or make it more ameanable to a happy life. In particular, consider: the # of hours of work, when the hours are scheduled (5 or 5 1/2 days a week, morning to afternoons or afternoons to late evenings), and hours physically required to be at the school.

I am going to guess that Monika13 is referring to the number of hours and days you are required to be physically at a school. My understanding is that this does vary from company to company. But, I am not entirely sure it would necessarily make a difference between a big school and a small school.

I have heard that with small school there is a possibility in some teaching situations that you will only need to be physically present at the school when lessons are scheduled. This is huge - because others schools will block you in for a 9 hour work day and may require assistance in interviewing prospective students a little outside hours.

There is also the issue whether your school is on a 5-day a week schedule or a 5 1/2 day a week schedule (generally meaning Saturdays are gone). For some teachers such as myself, it took a lot of anxiety to get over the fact that I had to work 5 1/2 days a week when ALTs I met taught only 5 days a week.

There is also the issue of when teaching hours are scheduled. This may have more to do with the age group of students than the size of the school. I don't think you would be teaching young kids late at night if your school focuses on young kids.

Some schools may block out a schedule from 12 noon or 1 pm until 9 or 10 at night. Though you may be working the same # of hours as an 8 to 5 pm employee at another school - the 12 noon to 9 pm schedule would conflict with the schedule of other teachers or office workers you might meet and want to hang out with. It may be hard to meet up with people outside work unless you are really into the night scene.

If you did ALT work by comparison, you would almost certainly fall more into the 8 to 5 pm schedule with the possibility of either a 5 or 5 1/2 day week.

So things to look for if you have certain scheduling preferences:

    Does the school focus on young children (maybe not late at night) or adults (scheduling most definitely will include hours up to 9 pm or so)?

    Does the school have a 5 day work week (in which case are the days off consecutive like a true weekend or broken up) or does the school have a 5 1/2 or even a full 6 day work week (can you handle this?)?

    Do you have a preference for work scheduled during the day (8 am to 5 pm) or work hours scheduled later (12 noon to 9 pm or 1 pm to 10 pm)? Certain demographics such as children may tend to have earlier lessons - but never say never... ALT work would certainly give you more "regular" day-time hours as would a Japanese private school with an ESL specialty program. True International school would as well. Just some thoughts.
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OneJoelFifty



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 463

PostPosted: Fri Oct 12, 2012 3:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What is your purpose for working in Japan, and how long are you going to be here?

I think an important thing is your current teaching experience. As was mentioned, at a big school you're likely to be provided with a curriculum, materials and maybe even some training. You'll be working with other teachers, some of whom should be able to share their experience with you. This could be very important if you're new to teaching, the difference between you liking the job or it making you miserable. Personally, if I'd found myself in a small eikawa when I first came to Japan and was just told "These are your students. Teach!", I'd have been way out of my depth.
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ssjup81



Joined: 15 Jun 2009
Posts: 534
Location: Tendo, Yamagata, Japan

PostPosted: Fri Oct 12, 2012 3:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do a four-day workweek, so just thought I'd share that. It's 40 hours (sometimes more, if I have to do extra work) a week.

My normal hours are 10:00 - 2:00 (Kindergarten, but I leave there at about 1:30) and the actual eikaiwa is (3:00 - 9:00). So pretty much, 10:00 - 9:00. I'm off Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.
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timothypfox



Joined: 20 Feb 2008
Posts: 345

PostPosted: Fri Oct 12, 2012 7:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ssjup81 wrote:
I do a four-day workweek, so just thought I'd share that. It's 40 hours (sometimes more, if I have to do extra work) a week.

My normal hours are 10:00 - 2:00 (Kindergarten, but I leave there at about 1:30) and the actual eikaiwa is (3:00 - 9:00). So pretty much, 10:00 - 9:00. I'm off Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.


Your hours are the exception - not the norm. But, interesting to know there are - if only a few - jobs out there with this schedule.

By the way, are you considered full time? Does your job include health care and national pension? You don't have to respond if you don't want as these questions are getting personal - but your job certainly would be a nice one if it did include these too. Benefits are a very important consideration for an ideal job (which I think this thread poster is searching for).
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Almond_Lover



Joined: 11 Oct 2012
Posts: 35

PostPosted: Fri Oct 12, 2012 5:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

over 9,000

Last edited by Almond_Lover on Tue Nov 27, 2012 8:08 am; edited 1 time in total
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Fri Oct 12, 2012 9:46 pm    Post subject: Re: Better For a Teacher Starting Out: Large or Small Eikawa Reply with quote

timothypfox wrote:
Glenski wrote:
Second, how is it that an employer can "leave very little time for al ife outside of work"? You put in your 40 hours (classroom time plus prep/other duties) and then go home. Please explain what you meant.


The # of hours of work tend to be long and more towards 50 plus hours a week - not 40,
How do you figure, timothyfox?

1. If the teacher takes work home to do planning, then I agree.

2. If the teacher is expected to be in the office more than 40 hours per week, then they should get paid overtime for it. I doubt that they are even expected to be there more than the standard 40, though, especially in these days of poor economy, cutbacks, and reluctance of employers to pay one yen more than they have to.
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ssjup81



Joined: 15 Jun 2009
Posts: 534
Location: Tendo, Yamagata, Japan

PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2012 3:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

timothypfox wrote:
ssjup81 wrote:
I do a four-day workweek, so just thought I'd share that. It's 40 hours (sometimes more, if I have to do extra work) a week.

My normal hours are 10:00 - 2:00 (Kindergarten, but I leave there at about 1:30) and the actual eikaiwa is (3:00 - 9:00). So pretty much, 10:00 - 9:00. I'm off Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.


Your hours are the exception - not the norm. But, interesting to know there are - if only a few - jobs out there with this schedule.

By the way, are you considered full time? Does your job include health care and national pension? You don't have to respond if you don't want as these questions are getting personal - but your job certainly would be a nice one if it did include these too. Benefits are a very important consideration for an ideal job (which I think this thread poster is searching for).
Yes, I'm full-time and I do get health care and the national pension (or whatever it is).

It is a bit of a disadvantage because of how small it is, though. As I said, I wish I had more teachers around to collaborate with. I also kinda miss my ALT hours when I did work as one. At least I cooked my own meals everyday. Now, since I get home after 10:00 (sometimes later, like for example, last Friday I didn't get home until after 11:00 pm), I don't feel like cooking and pick up a conbini meal. Last time I was here, I lost a lot of weight, this time I'm losing in some areas, but gaining in my middle. It was also easier for me to shop on days outside of just the weekend. Since being here, I've usually been busy on my days off, which means no time to shop for groceries. I can't shop before work (too early) and I can't shop after (too late). It's just opening when I head off to work and it's not open when I'm coming home from it. 9:30 - 9:00.
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joelackey92



Joined: 28 Feb 2012
Posts: 15
Location: Arkansas, y'all.

PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2012 3:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Get paid less while loving the job > Get paid more while being miserable
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Shonai Ben



Joined: 15 Feb 2003
Posts: 575
Location: on the floor

PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2012 5:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ssjup81 wrote:
timothypfox wrote:
ssjup81 wrote:
I do a four-day workweek, so just thought I'd share that. It's 40 hours (sometimes more, if I have to do extra work) a week.

My normal hours are 10:00 - 2:00 (Kindergarten, but I leave there at about 1:30) and the actual eikaiwa is (3:00 - 9:00). So pretty much, 10:00 - 9:00. I'm off Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.


Your hours are the exception - not the norm. But, interesting to know there are - if only a few - jobs out there with this schedule.

By the way, are you considered full time? Does your job include health care and national pension? You don't have to respond if you don't want as these questions are getting personal - but your job certainly would be a nice one if it did include these too. Benefits are a very important consideration for an ideal job (which I think this thread poster is searching for).
Yes, I'm full-time and I do get health care and the national pension (or whatever it is).

It is a bit of a disadvantage because of how small it is, though. As I said, I wish I had more teachers around to collaborate with. I also kinda miss my ALT hours when I did work as one. At least I cooked my own meals everyday. Now, since I get home after 10:00 (sometimes later, like for example, last Friday I didn't get home until after 11:00 pm), I don't feel like cooking and pick up a conbini meal. Last time I was here, I lost a lot of weight, this time I'm losing in some areas, but gaining in my middle. It was also easier for me to shop on days outside of just the weekend. Since being here, I've usually been busy on my days off, which means no time to shop for groceries. I can't shop before work (too early) and I can't shop after (too late). It's just opening when I head off to work and it's not open when I'm coming home from it. 9:30 - 9:00.


.......i was in a similar situation........cup noodle saved the day!
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