Learn to TEACH English with TECHNOLOGY. Free course for American TESOL students.

TESOL certification course online recognized by TESL Canada & ACTDEC UK.

Visit Driven Coffee Fundraising for unique school fundraising ideas.

Texas ISD School Guide
Texas ISD School Guide

Travel, Teach, Live in Asia

Shane Schools Japan - know what you're letting yourself in for
By:Martin Lang

I'm a DELTA-qualified teacher. In the last 13 years, I've taught in five different countries. Beyond a doubt, teaching in Japan was the most frustrating experience of all.

Most Japanese employers do not want to sponsor employees for visas. As a result, your choice of school is very limited if you are applying from outside Japan. Inevitably, you'll end up in one of the eikaiwa - conversation schools. These are huge organisations which have a stranglehold on the English-teaching market.

English lessons in Japan are by a long way the most expensive I've ever come across. Students pay enormous amounts of money to be able to afford just one hour of lessons per week in group classes, and half an hour a week in one-to-one classes. They are paying for teachers who, for the most part, have little or no experience.

Shane is not as big as some so-called conversation schools. It provides quite a stable position for teachers, regular pay, accommodation and paid holidays. (It does not provide Japanese lessons.) However, it must be understood that Shane can make you work 7 days a week. Although it's rare, it does happen. In the first year, your chances of having 2 consecutive days off a week are vitually non-existent. On your day off, you can be asked to teach, and you often will be.

You will not have the same rights as an employee at Shane as you would at a UK company, and you will often be made to feel it.

Like all such schools in Japan, Shane takes money out of your salary if you are off ill. If you work a day extra, you will make about 5,000 yen extra, but if you're off ill, you'll lose about 13,000 a day. The logic behind this was never explained to me or to any teacher I met.

And like all such schools, Shane has lots of schools spread throughout the Tokyo and Saitama areas. Each school has one or two classrooms, as well as a Japanese manager; a different manager for each school. I usually found myself working in a different school every day of the week.

The Japanese manager is there for many reasons, such as dealing with customers and trying to recruit new students. But one of their responsibilities is to keep an eye on you, the teacher, and they are required to report their observations back to the Japanese department of Shane. Neither the school manager nor the Japanese department of the school have teaching experience. Yet they are in effective control of you and your teaching. If a manager does not like you, you will know it. There's nothing really you can do about it, even if what they've said about you is untrue. I experienced this, and saw it happen on a number of occasions. It left me feeling very powerless. Many school managers are friendly and helpful, and are a joy to work with. But others will try to interfere with your classes and teaching.

There is a very good chance you'll be asked to work at a franchise school. You are working for Shane, not the franchise owner. Again, I had good and bad experiences of this. I remember one particular franchise owner who I got on with very well, and teaching in his school was the highlight of my week.

Unfortunately, I also experienced the other type of franchise owner, the bully who tried to interfere with my teaching and how I carried out my job, who claimed to pay my salary.

Franchise owners have invested a lot of money in their franchise school, and of course want to control what happens. You need to be aware of this, because there's a very good chance you'll have to work with one of them.

In theory, and Shane does try to make it a rule, albeit ineffectively, it is only your Director of Studies or Assistant Director of Studies who are supposed to comment on your teaching. Despite this, there is a very good chance other, non-qualified people will be doing it. Knowing who is effectively your line manager is sometimes very unclear.

The teacher is almost insignificant for Shane, as they can recruit at will. A teacher is just someone who can be in the classroom. There are no particular skills required. The fact that the vast majority of their teachers are in their first teaching job, and have no expectations of how a school should behave, means that teachers have far fewer rights compared to teachers in any European country. Teacher development does exist, but is the poorest I've come across in any school I've worked for.

The materials used are awful. Materials for adult groups are produced by Shane, as are materials for many children's groups. They are embarassingly bad; full of mistakes and often lacking in focus, challenge and logic. Ultimately, they made my job more difficult, and are very expensive for students who are obliged to buy them. (That being said, I did enjoy the materials for very young learners.) Despite Shane's claims to teach British English, be prepared to be using an American English course book with some teen classes. (But it's far better than Shane's own materials.)

Complaining to your DOS can sometimes result in a happy outcome. Ultimately, however, a DOS does not have much power to control a school manager. And it's a complete lottery whether or not you have a good DOS - or one who it is very difficult to have any respect for.

Messages In This Thread

Shane Schools Japan - know what you're letting yourself in for -- Martin Lang

Go to another board -