English Express International School - A Great Program Marred by Factionalism | Glassdoor
  1. Helpful (1)

    "A Great Program Marred by Factionalism"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Contractor - Teacher in Yokohama, Kanagawa
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    I worked at English Express International School for 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.

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    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.

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    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 School2019-04-08

Other Employee Reviews

  1. Helpful (1)

    "Despicable"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Teacher in Kawasaki, Kanagawa
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook

    I worked at English Express International School full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    Curriculum is decent because it's created by the teachers working there. Kids were great. Some other teachers were nice to work with.

    Cons

    The atmosphere is misogynistic and bigoted. I had seen students be told that all Muslims are terrorists and women are second class. Allowed certain teachers to act and speak inappropriately toward children and female employees with no consequence. Claimed the school is a daycare to make everyone work 44hrs a week with no overtime. The bonus system is awful and are constantly trying to find ways to deduct... money from teachers. Constantly set teachers and Japanese staff against each other. Made the Japanese staff cry by verbally abusing them on an almost daily basis. It was not unusual to see them balling their eyes out or sobbing in the break room.

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    Advice to Management

    I don't believe any advice could help now, you've gone too far with your nonsense. The school had potential and was a fun place to work when I first started but you eventually tightened your grip too much and went too far in your penny-pinching and mistreatment of employees.

    English Express International School2019-03-21
  2. Helpful (5)

    "There are better companies"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Contractor - Anonymous Contractor 
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I worked at English Express International School

    Pros

    The curriculum is the best and most effective one that I have had the privilege to use in teaching English in Japan. I saw my preschool students speaking from zero English to being talkative English speaking three year olds. The students and parents are amazing and are the only reason you would come to work. My interaction with them meant the world to me and was the highlight of my preschool teaching career.... Some coworkers are super helpful, and are actually the ones who train you even when there are other teachers who are supposed to be training you, and tell you what you are doing great and what you can improve.

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    Cons

    As my title states, they made me come to work despite showing them medical records that I had a flu, which I got from working there after my students kept getting it one after the other. Granted it was the holiday season and we had to prepare for a school event so they simply had no choice but to make me come to work, you would think they would prioritize their students and staff's health over a school event.... They made me wear my hair up at all times, and the owner of the school kept passively informing me by way of the Japanese staff telling me that the owner is observing me through the cameras set up in the classroom and that the owner is very angry that I do not tie my hair, that as a Preschool teacher I have to show my facial expressions fully. Which is a good point, but when I asked one of the head teachers, "Shouldn't male employees not be allowed to grow their full beard?" the head teacher just laughed at me. To finally get me to put my hair in a ponytail, one head teacher lied that they're only making me do that, out of all the long haired female employees, because they saw a strand of my hair on a student's birthday cake. A birthday that I was not able to be a part of because they had to transfer me to a different location that is away from my apartment, even though they hired me for a position in a specific location where they said I will be a full time teacher in which I got an apartment for. Oh, also they had to transfer me because I had to replace a teacher that they just fired. In the end I tied my hair eventually, every weekday until I finally quit, to appease everybody because as the male teachers over there said, "Just put it in a ponytail." Coworkers who do not belong to your classroom, who come by announced to your class while you're interacting with students and tells you how to do your job. No training whatsoever cause everyone is so important and busy. They give you folders of papers to read though so that is super fun.

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    Advice to Management

    Treat your employees right. Some of them actually enjoy teaching your students and believe in the effectiveness of your program, and would have stayed at your company for a long time.

    English Express International School2017-12-14

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