Starting and running an English school is very difficult. As some of you know, i have been teaching in Fukushima since 2006. i started out working for a very badly run English school, typically poorly paid and very restricted. A small school which had comfortable financial backing, poor leadership and no incentive to really improve, it eventually collapsed but not before teaching me a lot about how not to do things.
i had realized from the beginning that i could never work for a chain school, i understood it as a style of teaching that puts on the appearance of teaching and putting the student first, but is in reality all about making money. After my first few years in Japan, NOVA collapsed and became a shining case and point. Unsurprisingly, shortly after that, new companies moved in and replaced NOVA, operating basically the same but under new names and catching up ex NOVA students who for the most part had been groomed and accustomed to the NOVA way of things.
i realized early on then, that whatever i did, it had to focus on individual students. i accepted that i wouldn’t make a lot of money, but as long as i could survive, there would always be a chance to grow. i took advantage of the fact that working for a poorly managed private school i could develop my own teaching methods and material. i worked hard in the day for my then employer, and then doubled my efforts off hours for my own future. In those days i remember it was pretty difficult to make ends meet, i skipped many meals and lost weight but i never lost sight of the future which at that time was going to be English House.
After teaching in public spaces for a few years i finally was able to afford English house, a place dedicated to helping students keep up and improve their skills. English house had always been a very modest place but one with a really good atmosphere. i realized that though i made mistakes along the way, i was learning fast, my teaching and coaching was improving and my student base was steadily growing and my ability to speak and understand Japanese was reaching functionality. English house while now on the map, remained relatively quiet, hidden and known only through word of mouth but a home base was finally established.