English schools in Japan
The history of the incorporated school itself isn’t lengthy, yet the background and relationship of its founders extend to twelve years. In 1989, an Australian born in Brisbane found herself working for a year contract at a small English Conversation School in a small country town called Kuwana in Mie Prefecture, Japan, after graduating from a B.A degree majoring in Japanese at Griffith University, Brisbane. This contract teaching work was due to the introduction of two ladies, one of whom was to become her partner in business many years later.
Mrs. Mitsue Tashiro, who is one of these ladies, had a very high profiled background appearing on television during and after studying at a well-known university in Tokyo named Aoyama Gakuin Joshi Tanki Daigaku. She appeared with famous Japanese actors in several dramas and commercials during which time she aquired a teaching degree in Japanese language. More notably though was her work for NHK Educational Television where she worked with 2 others teaching handicapped children singing and dancing for 3 years and co-hosted a science program for Tokai Television for 5 years.
It was at this time that Mitsue believed that English was necessary for her career since she traveled to many countries across the globe with work. After her marriage to the producer of the science program, she moved to Kuwana to live and there she privately continued her study of English. Several foreign teachers would gather at her home with other friends interested in learning English.
In 1989 one of these foreigners was Mary Thompson, the Australian whom she assisted in finding work at an English Conversation School in Kuwana due to her relationship with its’ owner. Thus began the close friendship of Mitsue Tashiro and Mary Thompson. Mary would teach Mitsue English, while in return received Japanese lessons and eventually she found herself living at the Tashiro residence for 9 of her 12-month working contract.
Mary returned to Australia to enter Queensland University, Department of Education, to study for a Diploma of Education majoring in Japanese and Junior History. Immediately after the completion of her teaching degree, she commenced work as the Head of the Japanese Department at a well-known Private Girls’ College in Brisbane, namely Moreton Bay College.
There she worked for 6 years, during which she kept contact with Mitsue who still continued her English studies. Mitsue became very proficient in her English and it was in 1996 that she decided to start teaching the language to one young Japanese girl who was in Year 4 at Primary School. (This student is still attending lessons even now with Mitsue and is about to sit external examinations for several top-level High Schools in Kuwana and Yokkaichi) It was with this one student that Mitsue Tashiro made a name for herself as a very good teacher of English throughout the neighbourhood, and before she knew it, she had over 10 students by the year 2000.
Throughout this time Mary found work through contacts with a Japanese nun and left Australia to commence teaching at a Private Catholic Girls’ Junior and High School called St. Ursula Gakuin in Sendai, Miyagi for 3 years from 1997. It was during these 3 years that Mary and Mitsue would often meet up with each other and discuss the possibilities of extending Mitsue’s student list and teach together in the future.
This in fact came true in August 2000, when Mary completed her working contract in Sendai and moved to Kuwana to start teaching with Mitsue. Slowly during that year the number of students rose to 25 and they named their school “New Age English Conversation School”, continuing to teach in Mitsue’s Japanese room where she first started. Then in the new school year in April 2001, with one advertisement only there was an overwhelming response and the number increased to 70 students a week.
Two months later June 1, Mitsue and Mary decided to formerly register their business and become a company recognized by the Legal Affairs Bureau of Japan. They changed their name to “New Age English School Inc.” and by chance the house across the road from Mitsue’s was placed on the market. Due to good negotiations and the close relationship between Mitsue and the owner of the house, “New Age English School Inc.” moved to a new location and redecorated gradually both floors of the rather large 2-storied house. In August 2001, Mitsue and Mary officially began at this house with a student body of 76, and 42 other students on a waiting list. The school runs 6 days a week, some days commencing at 11am and finishing every night at 10pm.
Without any extra advertising at all since April 2001, the number of students continued to grow, due to word of mouth and introductions from present students. Incredibly too, some of those who were still waiting to enter “New Age” have introduced others to the school.
In a short period of time, from April to June 2002, the number of students grew to 130 per week with two other extra staff members assisting. New Age English School Inc. is presently aiming at extending staff as the reputation of the standard of teaching continues to stand firm. As of October 2004, student numbers were 190 and growing, with a present number of 5 full-time teachers and 3 part-time.
June 2004 marked the 3rd anniversary of the school as a registered company, and now Mitsue and Mary are facing more challenges together. April 2008 marked the 7th year of New Age English School with Mary changing her visa status to a “Permanent Resident” allowing her to become the manager of New Age and Mitsue, the Director. 2008 brought a new curriculum made public from the school which stated the full commencement of Baby Classes.
The youngest student is presently a 6 month baby boy, and the eldest is in her 50’s. Challenges are always coming Mitsue and Mary’s way, yet they are always looking to employ other native speakers of English and Japanese teachers, who are dedicated to teaching English to the Japanese of all ages, including babies.
They seek staff that is determined to work hard and continue this school’s exceptional reputation and high quality English teaching to those in this growing community of Oyamada, Kuwana.