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Teaching 'private' lessons in Japan? Is the demand strong?

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Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 43

PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2003 3:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"a windfall"? Compared to what country?

In Japan, people aren't stopping you on the street and offering you a truck load of money for the privelage of teaching them.
However, once you have established yourself and made some contacts, then yes, Japan can be very lucrative.

In fact, I would wager that a person living in Japan for over 3 years, has a good job, wants to do privates and values free time, could probably live better and save more money than in any other country in Asia.
That is assuming that the person is not a complete freak!
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Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2003 3:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Those terms "international economy" and "growing need" require some explanation.

Japan may be one of the top international economies in the world today, but how does that reflect on the consumer/citizen and his ability or desire to take language lessons in English? Realize that despite Japan's economic strength, it has huge amounts of unrealized money in savings collecting practically zero interest (most in postal savings accounts, not banks). Land prices are falling every day, yet banks constantly keep up outstanding loans to businesses who work on that land. Japan gives out tons of money in aid to various countries, yet manages to keep its people inside the borders of its own country (for the most part) rather than avoid direct confrontation with the underprivileged. Despite globalization, Japan's bureaucrats barely speak the universally accepted language -- English.

Can you see any connection between this and Mama Tanaka buying language lessons for her son or herself? Not me.

Point two: That "growing need" amounts to two things -- businessmen and women who need higher TOEIC scores to get promotions and/or positions in overseas branches, and kids who just lost their Saturday school schedule (mostly public schools) yet still have to face the same college entrance exams which are not focused on conversational English (so in a panic, Mama Tanaka sends the kids to more cram schools).

There are other reasons in that category of "growing need", but these are the two biggest ones.

Language schools are cutting back on teachers and/or programs. Is this because fewer people are willing to pay their prices? Probably in part. Many companies have given smaller bonuses in recent years, and these bonuses are normally HUGE parts of annual salaries. No bonus, fewer luxuries like language classes.

Despite all of this, I predict you will still see a need for private lessons, whether for Junior Tanaka to storm his way up the elementary, junior high, and high school levels into college (even though most private lessons don't focus on what the entrance exams do), or for Mama Tanaka to kill an hour each week just so she can get out of the house, or for Papa Tanaka to squeeze more yen out of his employer in the form of a promotion just because his company decided to make English a major part of the daily grind in his office. As the parasite singles population continues to grow, you might also see the younger crowd (mostly women) avoiding marriage and children longer and wanting to take English to look fashionable, or to communicate better on the overseas trips they can afford because they live at home where Papa Tanaka pays all the rent.

You might even see some poor elementary school teachers looking to private lessons as a means to get some training that they should've gotten last year when the government changed the curriculum with little warning and forced them to teach English.

However, don't expect to ask 10,000 yen per hour per head and get it like you used to do a decade or more ago. The going rate now is 3000 to 5000 yen per hour per head. I know some guys who charge only 2000 yen.

And, don't expect to make a living from private lessons unless you are willing to devote a heckuva lot of energy to them. Private classes with one or two people in each class will not be very profitable, yet it's not that easy to match up a group of 4-6 compatible souls that stay together for any length of time unless they've already done so in a formal language school (where teachers often pirate their privates). Most people mix private lessons with full- or part-time company teaching jobs in order to make over 300,000 yen/month. But, you will run yourself ragged with huge numbers of private lessons unless you can establish a single base from which to operate (not an easy proposition either).

Just remember:
Privates are not stable. (How many people take up a hobby and stick with it more than a year or two, especially if they have to pay 4000 x 4 = 16,000 yen per month (average lesson price)?)
Privates don't offer health insurance.
Privates don't offer paid vacations.
If you collect per session instead of monthly, you can easily lose income when someone cancels on you. (And, even the friendliest people do, often at the last moment.)
Privates don't sponsor or renew visas.
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