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English Express International School Overview

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Yokohama, Kanagawa (Japan)
1 to 50 employees
Unknown
Company - Private
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Unknown / Non-Applicable per year
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English Express International School Reviews

  • Helpful (1)

    "A Great Program Marred by Factionalism"

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    Former Contractor - Teacher in Yokohama, Kanagawa (Japan)
    Former Contractor - Teacher in Yokohama, Kanagawa (Japan)
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    I worked at English Express International School as a contractor (More than a year)

    Pros

    The program and curriculum is great. I really got a good grasp of how to effectively approach preschool education and how to educate elementary students in various aspects of English. The program is well-rounded and doesn’t fall into the trap of overemphasizing on one aspect of English as competitors do. The challenge to be creative in conducting classes helped me build my arsenal of English games through brainstorming and the wisdom of others, which is much better than what ALT sites provide. I am also grateful for being given the chance to help create a part of the curriculum. As much as I was grumbling, it was a valuable experience that would come handy later.

    The relationship between teachers and parents are a strong one thanks to the efforts expected from the teacher. The bonus system, while pennies compared to the usual semi-annual bonus in mainstream Japanese companies, provides just enough motivation to drive foreign employees to create good relationships between clients and the company.

    Considering experiences from various employees with other companies, the leadership was, relatively speaking, not as terrible as other reviews have stated. This element is very controversial and has been the source for much of the polarization that will come later. With all the hate they have been given, there is a strong passion for what they do, which is a double-edged sword at times, more on that later. That passion is shared in the amount of materials bought for all students without cutting corners. If English Express is penny-pinching, from my experiences, other companies are MUCH worse. The folks in charge are well-qualified teachers, and students are always looking forward to a class with them. It a sign of a great amount of effort put in to what they do, which is something that I wish all foreign workers would do, rather than treat it as a teenage day job or a vacation. It’s a valuable asset that all companies would kill for.

    Cons

    As great a program it is, there are some major issues that aren’t being handled and ignored, judging recent reviews. The management is the factor most criticized. While it can be said that a bad review can be a disgruntled employee who had a bad experience, that fact that a few employees are consistently address about the same issue is a genuine problem that must be addressed.

    While I worked there, there was a tumultuous election year in the United States. I understand that, with the political tension and interesting characters back home, it can spill over. However, there seems to be a pattern of politics being openly discussed when the situation doesn’t call for it. For a leader, that’s a terrible decision. Politics should never be discussed at a workplace if the context doesn’t ask for it. Even then, it’s generally a bad decision for any leader to bring it up, aside from politicians and candidates.

    There is a very consistent issue of how female teachers are treated in the company. It would be one thing if it was one report of it, but this issue has been brought up many times over a span of years. Again, whatever a leader’s opinion is towards a race or gender, it should be completely irrelevant and independent from conduct at work.

    Another issue is a byproduct of the passion for teaching I mentioned earlier. That passion is very constructive when it comes to establishing a foundation for a curriculum, but it can also lead to zealotry and stubbornness. I can definitely say that it showed when many teachers had an issue with something, and when they addressed it, it was immediately brushed off. What seemed like a resolution was actually that group giving up with a disatisfactory retort, knowing that they are only wasting their breath. That’s not how any grievance should be handled.

    As with many Japanese international schools, there is a divide that is difficult to bridge between the Japanese staff and the foreign teachers. A lack of communication between the two departments is the main thing responsible for it. However, the zealousness of the management can widen that divide, upset that there is one to begin with, this causes stress for the Japanese staff, which spills over to others. I’ve been hot-headed many times out of frustration of their frustration, but it’s only that domino effect.

    All these issues combine to create a greater issue, one that all companies dread: cliques. These aren’t a group of friends brought together through work, but friend brought together by a common enemy. This creates a divide among the teachers within their own departments. Some teachers I could barely work with because they were so preferential to others. Since they would go almost exclusively to them, I barely had time to coordinate a lesson, so when the time came that all classes would come together, we would often butt heads. The divides they create DO affect the class being taught.

    Often times, these cliques don’t stay stay at the same company for long, which leads to the next issue: the frantic search for new hires. Since these people often leave mid-year, the search for a new teacher can’t afford quality control. Since the turnover ratio is pretty high, the need for new recruits is high too. There’s no time to figure out who is a good teacher or not. When I left (on amicable terms, mind), I was not satisfied with the new round of teachers coming in. I wouldn’t trust them with any young child let along a classroom full of them. This also beings up another issue, as the classes are manned by one person, there is no safety
    net if the new teacher is utterly terrible. At least the classes are kept small.

    Hours are long for the industry. There are some dodgy aspects to it, such as work hours and no overtime. Again, I’ve seen worse, much worse. I can’t complain much about that.

    Advice to Management

    If the management really wants the company to soar, they mustn’t ignore the issues and trouble that is constantly brewing. Employees are just as important as the customer when it comes to keeping a machine well-oiled. Simply ignoring car trouble will only lead to more problems down the road. It’s best to address any issue arising before it grows. That doesn’t mean give a retort and declare yourself the winner. That means acknowledging it and investigate. That doesn’t mean you necessarily have to change something, but it’s better than simply brushing off that’s said and ignoring it.

    When on the clock, be a manager. Politics and personal opinion outside of performance have no place in a school. A neutral leader is the best leader when handling human relations. That’s not saying you can’t be political, but hold of off until after a couple of beers after work. Avoid touchy issues at all costs when unnecessary.

    As for the company, transparency is key here. If employees feel cheated somehow, that means that something is not understood. To avoid more issues down the road, make sure everyone knows what this job ensues. Remind them at meetings if you have to.

    There MUST be better correspondence between the foreign and Japanese departments. I don’t want to be angry at them and I’m sure they don’t want to be angry at me. Make this happen by eliminating as much confusion as possible, and don’t assume that everyone knows everything already.

    I would like to close this to add that my recommendation is not an endorsement for the company itself. My recommendation is based on my personal experience. While I can’t speak for others, I can say that I learned a treasure trove full of material and methods for teaching students, more than any other place I’ve worked at. And that alone is worth a try. As for the business, there is a lot of work to be done before I can say it is great.

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English Express International School Interviews

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    Teacher Interview

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    I applied online. I interviewed at English Express International School.

    Interview

    Sit in a room with the interviewer and listen to him talk about himself. He'll also mention how much he likes Trump, will talk poorly about Japan, and will tell you how he doesn't usually hire women because they tend to get married or pregnant and then leave.

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