General Union has a long history in eikaiwa, with a strong presence in the foreign teaching community. During discussion of issues raised by our foreign members, there has been an underlying and growing concern for problems faced by their Japanese colleagues. With this in mind, we are working to meet with Japanese language school workers and discuss core issues from their perspective – and hopefully, how to best resolve them.
In our inaugural Japanese Eikaiwa Workers Forum in October, we fostered discussion on the lack of clear guidelines for working and conflict resolution, including issues arising from customer care and between colleagues as a result of the language and cultural differences.
While foreign teachers often prioritize enthusiasm and energetic lessons to satisfy students, Japanese teachers face a distinct set of challenges. The absence of a language barrier places them at the forefront of criticism and complaints, necessitating a unique approach to maintain and improve student satisfaction – to respond appropriately in order to retain and improve student numbers. This often means that Japanese teachers and staff are faced with a certain amount of hostility that foreign teachers rarely, if ever, have to face.
At the same time, it is necessary to communicate with non-Japanese teachers – but with limited English and even more limited time during which to resolve issues, there are often communication gaps that lead to unnecessary tensions between Japanese and foreign workers.
During the October forum, we explored the complexities of this issue, recognizing the need for meaningful dialogue and strategies to enhance the learning environment. Our productive conversation provided valuable insights and created a foundation for further discussions for solutions to common problems. It is our aim to have this serve as a rallying point for workers seeking fair treatment and a supportive work environment.
As we move forward, our goal is not just to discuss workplace issues but to actively confront them. We aim to empower Japanese eikaiwa workers with the tools and knowledge they need to advocate for their rights and create positive change in their workplaces.
Our next meeting is already in the planning stages, scheduled for February. This upcoming session will build on the foundations laid during our recent event, focusing on practical strategies for addressing workplace issues head-on. We invite all interested parties to join us as we continue our journey toward a more equitable and supportive work environment.
In the spirit of collaboration and empowerment, let’s navigate this path together, ensuring that every worker’s voice is heard and respected.