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Working at an Eikaiwa – Pros and Cons

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Just like pretty much anything, working at an EIKAIWA has a few pros and cons.
How you percieve these is subjective.

Working Hours

The working hours at an EIKAIWA are usually more flexible than other office jobs.
It is especially so if you are either in a Semi-Full-Time or Part Time position.
You will have the option of sleeping in, joining club activities, the gym, or pursuing your other career dreams, by being able to choose your own shifts.
On the other hand, a flexible work shift is less attractive if you work in a rural area, since the variety of activities is limited and usually the store hours are shorter compared to large cities.
Although many EIKAIWA leave working on weekends as "optional", it is likely that you’ll have to work on a Saturday and instead get a random day off during the week.
Attending seasonal school events such as Halloween or Christmas parties is optional, advised, or mandatory depending on EIKAIWA.

Work load

Although this depends a lot on the school, you might need to do about 5 of 60-min. lessons in a row. Many new teachers find this quite tiresome. Many large EIKAIWA only pay teachers for the length of class time, so one of the common complaints of teachers is that they don't get paid for writing reports, preparing for the next class, dealing with back office staff, or talking with eager students who want to practice English even between classes.
There are some small or new EIKAIWA that pay teachers for those duties in addition to regular class hours, so compare the salaries and fringe benefits carefully when you have multiple choices. On the other hand, there are schools where you don’t have so many classes and your work load is relatively low in comparison.
The salary standard of EIKAIWA teachers is still reasonably good compared to other possible jobs you can get in Japan.

Small class sizes

Usually, the class sizes are roughly from 1-10 students per class. Small class sizes mean that students have more time to practice speaking. They are easier to manage and allow teachers to focus more on each individual student and their progress.
On the other hand, some teachers find the tension of private or semi-private classes with reticent or very nervous students very uncomfortable. Also, if the EIKAIWA you work for offer classes for young children, managing them could be hard work even if those are small classes.
Again, these are heavily dependent on the EIKAIWA. Some of them are understanding and try to assign you only the classes you are comfortable with. Some do not offer any classes for children.

Students’ motivation

This is not a problem for the majority of EIKAIWA. But if you work for the ones that offer classes for very young children to high school students, sometimes you may find you have unmotivated students in your class. As you can imagine, they are not only difficult to teach, but also could be a distraction for the other students. Usually, those unmotivated students come to class reluctantly because their parents pay for EIKAIWA and demand they learn English conversation. Turn them around around by giving fun classes, encouraging them, and helping them find the joy of learning English.
This can give you a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction as a teacher, but it is extremely challenging as well.

Am I a teacher or an entertainer?

No matter how shy, quiet or nerdy you are, you have to put a somewhat different persona on as an English teacher. It is especially so if you teach younger students.
You might have to sing, make over-exaggerated gestures, or weird facial expressions. Although that is great for keeping the attention of young students, it often seems that it doesn't have much to do with teaching, and is certainly not something everybody can, or would like to do.

Teaching English at an EIKAIWA has an aspect of entertainment. After all, students are also customers. EIKAIWA love happy students and therefore, the teachers who can make students happy. Communication skills required to make someone enjoy what they are doing, can come in handy, even if you are thinking about changing jobs in the future.
But if you are totally determined not to be an entertainer disguised as an English teacher, be careful to choose a work place that does not assign you any classes for young students.

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