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    Japan is a stable, highly developed parliamentary democracy with a modern economy. Tourist facilities are widely available, except in coastal areas of Northeast Japan still recovering from the aftermath of the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami. Below is a comprehensive list of all the information you should read before visiting or relocating to […]
  • Experience a New Culture When you Teach English in China May 21, 2012
    The human desire to help others is an innate one. This is why, despite the negative aspects, people are still very attracted to the profession of teaching, notes Thomas Galvin. It has been regarded for centuries as a very noble job, and no doubt this will continue for centuries to come. Many teachers these […]
  • The Importance of Vocabulary Roots in AP English April 16, 2012
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  • The worst ELT interview questions… and how to answer them March 12, 2012
    Some friends of Naturegirl123 were talking about interview questions that they got. Here are some difficult ones to answer and suggested answers. What religion are you?/ Are you X religion? This could be a legit question if you’re applying to a religious school. If you have the same religion as the school, simply say […]
  • Invoice factoring as a way of financing your language school March 12, 2012
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  • Language Classes… Heat Up Careers! March 9, 2012
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Make money in Japan – Build your own school

By Richard J Graham

Live in Japan and ever dreamed of having your own company? Rather than working for the big chain schools and making them rich, why not work on your own financial future and start your own private English school. It’s easier than you think.

But there are so many schools out there, it’s too crowded and it’s too difficult to get new students, you may say.

Whilst Japan might not have the immediate growth potential of China, Korea or even language teaching in US, and there is so much more competition, it is still a hugely positive and as yet still untapped market. For example:

* Kids Lessons: With the recent comments from the Education Minister, compulsory English in Elementary School has been delayed for a least a year, probably two and maybe longer if the current Prime Minister stays in power. This has taken away a huge, free, competitor.

* Adults Classes: Every time I sit in a coffee shop I can almost guarantee that the conversation of at least one group around me will turn to “I’d like to speak English”, and invariably ends with “But it’s so scary approaching a school”. These are usually women in their 20s or 30s who don’t have to, but would like to learn English in a casual, relaxed way. Where are the easy-to-walk-in-to-for-just-a-chat-about-joining schools?

* Silver Eikaiwa: There’s a huge market of “silver” (the Japanese word of the moment!) retirees with cash to spend and a thirst for travel. How many silver courses are there out there?

For the actual mechanics of setting up a business there are hundreds of books and websites, just do a quick google search.. What you then need is the best product (i.e. really good lessons), fantastic service and great pricing. That’s not to say building your own school is super easy, but it’s almost always worthwhile. Finding other teachers is very tough, but if you’re happy to be the main teacher yourself, you’ll have a very viable business set up in no time. Advertising is easy; it will all be word of mouth from super satisfied students.

Pricing is a big part of it, and that’s where the art and magic is. You’ll always have customers who say “That’s too expensive” or “Why don’t you do everything for free?”. In most cases those customers wouldn’t buy the product even if it was free. But look at those women in the coffee shop talking about wanting to learn English. If you ask them they may say they can’t afford lessons maybe, but they are sat there sipping 400 yen cappuccinos that only cost 50 yen to make! The key is the extras that you give. At Starbucks you don’t pay for the coffee, you pay for the ambience, the artwork, the music, the sofas and the Wi-fi. AND they also have the best coffee in town. You need both.

I’ve seen some pictures of schools on the net and as an adult learner some of them would make me run a mile (bright white lighting, straight boring desks) and some of them just look so inviting that I’d sign up for lessons just to enjoy the atmosphere!

You just have to make sure that if you charge XXXX for a lesson, the student walks away with XXXX + alpha worth of value. It’s the extras, the smiles, the lollipops for adult learners (not for kids anymore sadly!), the interesting artwork on the walls, the personal attention, the music in the lobby, the jokes, the atmosphere that make this extra bonus.

Japan’s a great place to be, teaching can be a great way to make a good income and unlike selling arms to Africa or anything like that, you’re always making a difference in the World, you just have to decide how big you want it to be.

About the author

For all your teaching ideas, supplies and even online training videos see the author’s website at

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