DISCUSS Starting an English school in Okinawa from scratch

chris

Well-known member
Founding Member
Hard to estimate or know for sure, but the tourist zones are, I'd say, about 30-40% operational with reduced hours and staff.

As far as English teachers go, there is still recruitment going on as well as schools offering lessons. While I know from experience, there has been a decline in new enrollments as well as a couple suffering some losses of students. However, it still doesn't stop smaller schools from profiting, especially with foreign teachers, as people are still willing to pay 10,000-40,000 yen per month for 4-8 lessons per month (higher when you go with the conglomerate schools), as their companies reimburse them for learning due to it being a vital skill for employees as tourism is heavily reliant on breaking the language barrier to garner new customers.
Ok Dave i agree with your businesses and tourist zones being open but i 100% disagree with your opinion on English teachers.
I disagree because i am an English teacher who is laid off. I can tell 100% truthfully there are no schools offering lessons and there are no English schools open at this time. I have been an English teacher on island for 10 yrs and i know for a fact that all English school businesses don't have any or maybe a few native English speaking teachers on island. Yes they are recruiting for new teachers but there is none available. Businesses that want there employees to learn English stopped last year, example holowork, if I spelled that right which i did that to, those companies have done away with those in house teachers and turned to a dvd classroom for English and for those companies to be reimbursed they should be arrested for stealing money and its a bigger scandal then you think. Problem Okinawa is having with Native Teachers is contracts and pay. The pay isn't what it use to be in fact it's lower pay now then it was say 5 yrs ago and the classes are not inviting enough to draw in new Native English teachers. Most all English speaking companies want teachers to teach kids in pre-school centers (day care) from ages 1 to 3 yr olds and teachers don't want those kinds of classes because its not just 5 kids to a class it more like 50 kids to a class and each class is an 1 hr long. For those 1 long classes you only make between 1,000 yen to 2,000 yen a class and by the time paychecks roll around its not what the teachers expected in fact there mouths drop from the site of that pay being so low and after they finish their 1 yr contract they must sign, they leave the company and leave Japan. Getting an English teacher a native English teacher in Okinawa is extremely difficult.
 
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David

Founder
Okinawa.Org Staff
Hey IC well i can tell you this rental businesses are open, tourist shops and some restaurants and i also saw which shocked me when me and the fam drove threw Naha at night i saw many bars open which are tiny in size and also really shocking was some soapland places are still running. Hows that for spreading!
I actually wanted to do a GoPro drive-through of these two specific areas and other such crowded areas to bring to the attention of Gov. Denny in order to have him publicly address these places and highly encourage people from staying away too.

As far as car rental agencies, still open. Live right next door to one that used to bus in and out 10+ times per day and rush 100+ cars in and out (many complaints about their driving that could endanger public). How many buses I've seen come in now? 0. But, there are maybe 5-10 rentals going out.
Ok Dave i agree with your businesses and tourist zones being open but i 100% disagree with your opinion on English teachers.
Sorry to hear. Please PM me if you're in need.
I disagree because i am an English teacher who is laid off. I can tell 100% truthfully there are no schools offering lessons and there are no English schools open at this time.
But here, I will have to respectfully disagree. Right next door to me, I know, in fact, there is an English lesson going on. I don't know the ins and outs of the corporate ones, but the private schools are still fairing well with just recently a Korean school opening for English lessons and the position closed. I can't tell you whether it was filled or canceled, but to know that a school was looking for a qualified candidate after the fact of "encouragements" tells me that the small schools are still thriving.
for those companies to be reimbursed they should be arrested for stealing money
I would disagree with you here. That is their money, earned income, they are using to invest in their workforce to get a better footing. Whether it is a tax write-off, I don't know. Either way, Japan is facing an uphill battle with learning English as it is a necessity (look no further than China) in order to gain a little more world power than they already do with 130 million people. It's an investment, if it is a write-off, in Japan's long-term succession.
Most all English speaking companies want teachers to teach kids in pre-school centers (day care) from ages 1 to 3 yr olds and teachers don't want those kinds of classes because its not just 5 kids to a class it more like 50 kids to a class and each class is an 1 hr long.
A little exaggerated with the numbers there, but point received. Learning at these ages is vital and classroom sizes need to be reduced for full benefit in the future. However, Okinawa having such low incomes can't afford the rates per child, so they do need to go up to 20-30 per class, which I wholeheartedly agree, at that age, is not a conducive learning environment, especially when you're charging 10,000 per month for that 45-minute session per kid.
For those 1 long classes you only make between 1,000 yen to 2,000
My advice to you is to get on a skilled visa to get a 1 room studio apartment. These rates are school rates. By opening your own school, yes, it is a bet, you would be looking at 2500-3500/50 minutes as a Westerner (American?).
finish their 1 yr contract they must sign
If you do open a school, go month to month with only 1 carryover.
Getting an English teacher a native English teacher in Okinawa is extremely difficult.
Getting a native English speaking teacher in Okinawa is extremely easy. Getting a native English speaking teacher that is dedicated to working and not play is the hard part as they seem to want to make their own hours (of course, the ones with their own visas and aren't controlled by a company visa, i.e. SOFA; they will show up when they want and quit when they want without hesitation or care in the world the impact it leaves on the company).
 
OP
chris

chris

Well-known member
Founding Member
My advice to you is to get on a skilled visa to get a 1 room studio apartment. These rates are school rates. By opening your own school, yes, it is a bet, you would be looking at 2500-3500/50 minutes as a Westerner (American?).
LOL I'm married 25yrs to okinawan so i don't need a skilled visa and a studio apartment but thanks for the suggestion.

Getting a native English speaking teacher in Okinawa is extremely easy. Getting a native English speaking teacher that is dedicated to working and not play is the hard part as they seem to want to make their own hours (of course, the ones with their own visas and aren't controlled by a company visa, i.e. SOFA; they will show up when they want and quit when they want without hesitation or care in the world the impact it leaves on the company).
Not sure where your located but In naha area and surrounding areas like tomigusuku, haebaru,etc southern part of Okinawa there are no native english teachers. very little or next to no english schools with teachers. IAC is one of the biggest english teacher recruiters on island and they are closed and have 0 teachers as well to keep their classes going. 2500-3500 must be for richy schools because in naha area the pay 1000 to 2000 per class for any teacher in english. I am currently doing nursery schools part time and the pay for me a licensed english teacher for 1 hr classes is 1500 yen best i can find. Those SOFA and VISA teachers your talking must sign a 1 year contract before they start any work and they must be on time for every class and they have a schedule that they must follow so they can't just take a class whenever they feel like it. They are controlled because they must sign the contract and thats been this way for years now. Unless your a freelance teacher then you have the luxury to choose classes other than that you have to have a contract in order to get a visa and be sponsored by that english company. They also cannot quit when the want because under contract you forfeit any pay thats due to you. Plus if you have english schools open by you i hope they have distancing in effect most building for english class dont have the space to this and with public schools being closed they should be closed as well.
 

David

Founder
Okinawa.Org Staff
Not sure where your located but In naha area and surrounding areas like tomigusuku, haebaru,etc southern part of Okinawa there are no native english teachers. very little or next to no english schools with teachers.
The southern border of Naha, and you'd be surprised. There is also CEO in Tomigusuku which looks to be doing just fine as well.

Private is where it's at. Make your own hours. Recruit your own students. Get up to 40 students and bank 400,000-500,000 monthly. The hours will be all over the place, but the money is great and can't be argued there.

I know schools are taking social distancing into consideration and it's a give/take. The fearful are quitting while the others aren't. It doesn't seem to slow down any because the overhead is so low teaching from a studio over working for the big guys. Also, the teacher/student is a meter+ apart and both wear a mask or not (it's rude for a teacher to wear a mask if the student takes theirs off, vice-versa as I've been told); alcohol is also at the door.

We should move this into the "Business" forum to discuss options for starting from 0 as we have experience there. :)
 

Okinawa

Okinawa.Org Staff
Okinawa.Org Staff
Official Account
@chris

There are plenty of ways to start your own English school in Okinawa, if under the proper visa (which we know you are, this is intended on being a general discussion on how to go about it for others thinking to make that move), with initial startup fees now being as low as $0 with social media (as high as $20 as you do need business cards) along with the overhead you will carry, whether you choose to start in a spare room in your home, or to rent out a 1K room for 30,000 yen a month (with a lease, which is important to add, as you must be serious about this if diving in headfirst).

If you go for the later, the overhead should be covered with a mere 3 students as you can charge up to 14,990 yen per student for four 50-minute sessions.

Though, I would wait on it until you get an even 10 students that fluctuate between 8 and 12, as you go month-to-month over a 1-year contract, prior to making a move in order to not incur debts if something such as COVID-19 does impact you.

In that case, you would lose anywhere from 30%-50% of your students, but, they will eventually come back. Either way, you will profit with time.
 
OP
chris

chris

Well-known member
Founding Member
The southern border of Naha, and you'd be surprised. There is also CEO in Tomigusuku which looks to be doing just fine as well.

Private is where it's at. Make your own hours. Recruit your own students. Get up to 40 students and bank 400,000-500,000 monthly. The hours will be all over the place, but the money is great and can't be argued there.

I know schools are taking social distancing into consideration and it's a give/take. The fearful are quitting while the others aren't. It doesn't seem to slow down any because the overhead is so low teaching from a studio over working for the big guys. Also, the teacher/student is a meter+ apart and both wear a mask or not (it's rude for a teacher to wear a mask if the student takes theirs off, vice-versa as I've been told); alcohol is also at the door.

We should move this into the "Business" forum to discuss options for starting from 0 as we have experience there. :)
Lol Dave i have no interest in starting my own english school business i would go nuts in a week. As far as Ceo doing well i have no idea where on gods green earth they got english teachers from but i bet most of them arent westerner native teachers.
 

David

Founder
Okinawa.Org Staff
Lol Dave i have no interest in starting my own english school business i would go nuts in a week. As far as Ceo doing well i have no idea where on gods green earth they got english teachers from but i bet most of them arent westerner native teachers.
It looks like @Okinawa addressed your concern about starting a school of your own at the same time. :D

This is just meant to be a general business discussion so that anyone prowling to find a way to stay in Okinawa can stay here and make a decent, and with the cost of living, decent is probably not the best terminology to use as you will make more than the average household with two working while working much less yourself.

By the looks of CEO, it looks like a retiree who started it. I haven't investigated, but the school looks proper with a lot more tech-focused, which is something new that is exciting to follow up with myself because having tech and English together could pan out to be a market needing to be filled.
 

island cyclist

Well-known member
Founding Member
Just curious, I see Chris is an English conversation teacher. Are there anymore here that make a living in English teaching business? Seems Okinawa would be like paradise to teach English in.
Here on the mainland, most English conversation schools seem to be still operating. But since the public schools have closed down and a State of Emergency has been in effect, I would think many have stopped operating at the moment.
Never thought about teaching in Okinawa, but if I did, I'd probably go with seniors that take it on as a hobby and work through community centers charging like 200 to 500 yen per person. No overhead. Just a whiteboard would be my only investment.
I wonder what a single apartment would cost there. Something in the dumps?
 

David

Founder
Okinawa.Org Staff
Are there anymore here that make a living in English teaching business?
My wife and I taught English together for a while. We had to separate as we just weren't good working together in that facet. However, we do good with Okinawa.Org. I suppose we had to just find something that we share in common: Sharing something that we love to the public together.
Seems Okinawa would be like paradise to teach English in.
Okinawa is paradise, period.
Never thought about teaching in Okinawa, but if I did, I'd probably go with seniors that take it on as a hobby and work through community centers charging like 200 to 500 yen per person. No overhead. Just a whiteboard would be my only investment.
That would be really noble of you as seniors don't get much attention. Although, you wouldn't be able to make much of living without an apartment.
I wonder what a single apartment would cost there. Something in the dumps?
It all depends on the location, condition, and view. You can get 2DK with a 2-3 minute walk to the beach for 30,000 yen per month, but built in the 1960s; or, you can get a 1K, with a more modern feel that has a nice view and a little farther away from the beach, but built a year or two ago for 50,000 yen.

In all honesty, any of these conditions would suffice for teaching English as a startup in as Okinawans are there to learn, not judge, as plenty of them live, or have lived, in those conditions themselves.

The only hurdle to overcome teaching at home is an overhead that I forgot: parking. You need two parking spots, either both vacant (such as you bike in, shower, and teach) or one for yourself and one for the student. Many use public transportation, but if you are away from a monorail station or bus stop, you will need to go after those that drive too. The added protection of a parking spot prevents potential problems with ticketing.
 

island cyclist

Well-known member
Founding Member
My wife and I taught English together for a while. We had to separate as we just weren't good working together in that facet. However, we do good with Okinawa.Org. I suppose we had to just find something that we share in common: Sharing something that we love to the public together.

Okinawa is paradise, period.

That would be really noble of you as seniors don't get much attention. Although, you wouldn't be able to make much of living without an apartment.

It all depends on the location, condition, and view. You can get 2DK with a 2-3 minute walk to the beach for 30,000 yen per month, but built in the 1960s; or, you can get a 1K, with a more modern feel that has a nice view and a little farther away from the beach, but built a year or two ago for 50,000 yen.

In all honesty, any of these conditions would suffice for teaching English as a startup in as Okinawans are there to learn, not judge, as plenty of them live, or have lived, in those conditions themselves.

The only hurdle to overcome teaching at home is an overhead that I forgot: parking. You need two parking spots, either both vacant (such as you bike in, shower, and teach) or one for yourself and one for the student. Many use public transportation, but if you are away from a monorail station or bus stop, you will need to go after those that drive too. The added protection of a parking spot prevents potential problems with ticketing.

Thanks for the info.
On a serious note, being retired and the wife says "do what you want to do", well, anything is possible as long as we both maintain our health. As far as teaching goes, I'm a self-starter so it would be very unlikely that I'd want to work for a school.
Are apartments any cheaper around the university. Here we have some with NPO as little as 20000 yen a month, sure they are ww2 dumps, but hey, its a roof over the head.
If I can make it to Okinawa when this virus crap blows over, I'd might check out things a bit more seriously. But actually the wife says "go". I guess she gave up on me. LOL
 

David

Founder
Okinawa.Org Staff
On a serious note, being retired and the wife says "do what you want to do", well, anything is possible as long as we both maintain our health.
The goal everyone should have. :)
Are apartments any cheaper around the university.
Surprisingly, university students wouldn't be a good market to tap. They're already paying in excess to go to school in one of the poorest prefectures of all Japan. While some may be lucky and be able to do both, this might be 1 out of 25. Your main focus would be housewives and those that work for companies in which English is essential as it would give them a 50+ yen per hour raise if they nailed a certain level on testing.
I guess she gave up on me.
Least you can make it here on your own baking awesome pizza. ?

...but to volunteer and do something like that at first would be a practical, and serious, first step. It would definitely let you know whether you like teaching English or not. However, you must separate the two: Do you like teaching English, or do you like helping others? If the later, you could probably just go play Othello with them and they'd be just as happy having someone around. ☺
 

island cyclist

Well-known member
Founding Member
The goal everyone should have. :)

Surprisingly, university students wouldn't be a good market to tap. They're already paying in excess to go to school in one of the poorest prefectures of all Japan. While some may be lucky and be able to do both, this might be 1 out of 25. Your main focus would be housewives and those that work for companies in which English is essential as it would give them a 50+ yen per hour raise if they nailed a certain level on testing.

Least you can make it here on your own baking awesome pizza. ?

...but to volunteer and do something like that at first would be a practical, and serious, first step. It would definitely let you know whether you like teaching English or not. However, you must separate the two: Do you like teaching English, or do you like helping others? If the later, you could probably just go play Othello with them and they'd be just as happy having someone around. ☺

Hi David. Thanks for your input about teaching. Teaching is an art. An artist with words that he/she paints with imagination on the artists canvas. In doing so, the student feels like he/she is now part of the painting.
My teaching style is based upon this: Totto-Chan: The Little Girl at the Window - Wikipedia

Your wife will know who she is. Yes, I have enjoyed teaching at all levels including at Yamaguchi Ube Medical University . For children classes (depended upon the season) they would bring their kites and sometimes we'd go fishing. We have a large field and the stream is 20 feet from our house. My students and parents would say one word about my teaching "unusual ". Many of the students I have taught now are adults and their children also have come back to my wife's school. So I guess I was doing something right.
Yes, I enjoyed teaching . Sadly, now very few people are taking up English conversation since it is now in school. My wife just closed her school due to the State of Emergency.
The secret to teaching is seeing the smile on the happy face of the student and the teacher, teaching with a smile. Very simple to understand.
 

David

Founder
Okinawa.Org Staff
The secret to teaching is seeing the smile on the happy face of the student and the teacher, teaching with a smile. Very simple to understand.
I could do this quite well when it came to sales, but, teaching, at least English, just wasn't my passion.

When I was in the Marines, I was a pretty good marksmanship coach and enjoyed that though. I think I enjoyed the benefits of being able to shoot off the excess ammo, as we'd have to do returns if there was any, better though. :)
 
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chris

chris

Well-known member
Founding Member
I could do this quite well when it came to sales, but, teaching, at least English, just wasn't my passion.

When I was in the Marines, I was a pretty good marksmanship coach and enjoyed that though. I think I enjoyed the benefits of being able to shoot off the excess ammo, as we'd have to do returns if there was any, better though. :)
Marksman! A PIZZA BOX COACH? nothing wrong with being a pizza box as long as you hit the target and stay in the corps lol
 
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chris

chris

Well-known member
Founding Member
Just curious, I see Chris is an English conversation teacher. Are there anymore here that make a living in English teaching business? Seems Okinawa would be like paradise to teach English in.
Here on the mainland, most English conversation schools seem to be still operating. But since the public schools have closed down and a State of Emergency has been in effect, I would think many have stopped operating at the moment.
Never thought about teaching in Okinawa, but if I did, I'd probably go with seniors that take it on as a hobby and work through community centers charging like 200 to 500 yen per person. No overhead. Just a whiteboard would be my only investment.
I wonder what a single apartment would cost there. Something in the dumps?
Hey IC yes i was conversation teacher actually i hold 3 licenses for english, 1 for public schools if i wish a real teacher, pre-school, business single apartments here are pretty reasonable and not dumpy by the way LOL I CAN CHECK HOW MUCH THE RATES ARE FOR YA IF YOU LIKE
 
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chris

chris

Well-known member
Founding Member
well whatever someone might choose for work i personally wouldnt recommend teaching english as it can get real boring real fast and sometimes real nerve racking if your teaching kids
 

David

Founder
Okinawa.Org Staff
Marksman! A PIZZA BOX COACH? nothing wrong with being a pizza box as long as you hit the target and stay in the corps lol
Hell no!

Most came out expert on the rifle and a little lower on the pistol. Our 2nd Lt was so impressed with our performance in such a short turnover period that he said he was going to put us in for NAMs if we could continue that or get it even higher. Which if you were in the Marines, wouldn't be a surprise: it didn't happen, even though we brought the numbers higher.

I was good enough to qualify for East Asia Division match and did a month of straight shooting M-F 0400-dark and couldn't see brass to pick up any longer.

Forget which target we used for the 500-yard line (A or modified B), but I passed it with all points possible at that point. Standing. From the 500-yard line.

We went prone at the 600-yard line. I had someone in the pits marking my target with a white disc, making me believe I was dead center; each shot making me more and more anxious for a perfect score. I had the tower call in on my 6th shot and ask where I was and they said about an inch too low. Needless to say, I was furious. I contested the round with the tower to reshoot when done since they were marking with white and my spotter was keeping score based on that.

I would've ended with a 247 on a competition course (as my first shot would've been off) and qualified for the marksmanship team, possibly a different medal than expert, and could've won an M16 Garand rifle if my pistol score was higher than the other peoples (it wasn't as I only got a sharpshooter there). Instead, I ended as a high sharpshooter instead of 4th or 5th time expert as they also made an executive decision to make the qual course our rifle training for the year. So, my DD-214 says sharpshooter/sharpshooter; but, my SRB has the 4-5 times expert recorded as I went any time I could (qualed 2 times in 1 year sometimes and only did 2 years, 11 months, and 10 days in).

My favorite to teach Marines lagging behind was a non-traditional standing position where you would stand normally, except wrap your handguard grip hand palm up and around the magazine. They'd instantly go from UNK (well, pizza box to at least a sharpshooter for that position only).
 

David

Founder
Okinawa.Org Staff
well whatever someone might choose for work i personally wouldnt recommend teaching english as it can get real boring real fast and sometimes real nerve racking if your teaching kids
Kids are the worst. I would only recommend 1 on 1 with kids if they are at least 9 years or older. Otherwise, if you're good with kids, a group of no more than 5 kindergartners could be okay (and 50,000 yen a week from just that group).

If you're not going private, but you can as you have a visa to work, you're selling yourself short here (COVID aside).
 

island cyclist

Well-known member
Founding Member
Hey IC yes i was conversation teacher actually i hold 3 licenses for english, 1 for public schools if i wish a real teacher, pre-school, business single apartments here are pretty reasonable and not dumpy by the way LOL I CAN CHECK HOW MUCH THE RATES ARE FOR YA IF YOU LIKE
Hey Chris, you sound like my wife. Although she might have been able to teach at a regular school, when we moved back to Japan, she was in her 40's and working for a private school is not all that secure when you hit the age of 40 in this country. At a public school, I don't know about that. And she too held a teachers license in English.
Of course, I'd like to find out what a cheap apartment would rent for. I mean just something that won't cave in to a typhoon. I'd actually like to live in Okinawa, but the wife isn't too keen to it. Right now with this virus wrecking havoc around the world and transportation back to the States is almost a no no at the present time, I'm stuck on this island and I've worked without much time off over the years and I just want to get out and see what I haven't seen. OK, hope to hear from ya.
How long have you been in Okinawa?
 

David

Founder
Okinawa.Org Staff
i hold 3 licenses for english, 1 for public schools if i wish a real teacher
That's pretty neat. I remember when the prefecture opened up 2 slots for junior high teachers and naïve ole 23-year-old me thought that I could get anything when coming back. Even then, they wanted a minimum of a bachelor's degree and a year or two in teaching experience. I now have an MBA, but I still lack the teaching experience... and I'm not a teacher, so there's that. ?‍♂️

I went through the meat grinder to get where I am today, trying just about everything.

However, combined, we have a lot of experience in starting a school from scratch. So. if anybody has questions in regard to that, I would be happy to share from where one should begin up until getting their first student as I wish everyone the best success here.

There are enough willing and wanting to learn English that the theoretical well won't dry up and, just like there's no need for bar rivalry, there's no need for teacher rivalry either.

In fact, if teachers worked together, they could suggest a new teacher to a student considering to quit learning English (with them) as the student is more likely than not going to move on to a new teacher anyway. It'd be best to network teachers and pass the same students around than let them go to the big guys that charge for books and other miscellaneous fees as well as overcharge them based on income while locking them into contracts.

I'm trying to get with business owners in Okinawa to do something of the sorts as there simply seems to be no cooperation among gaijin owned businesses as there are with Japanese owned.
 

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