ECC Co., Ltd.
Derek Huber
Head Coordinator, Corporate Relations

Makiko Igarashi
Corporate Relations

 

Q: A little background on ECC, please?
A: ECC is now over 50 years old, having started in 1962, and now operates all over Japan. ECC CES (Children’s Education Section) deals primarily with kindergarten visits and after-school visits (to kindergartens).

Q: How many branches does ECC currently have?
A: From Hokkaido down to Kyushu, we currently have 1,925 branches. We are the largest contractor for kindergarten English lessons in Japan. This part of the company continues to grow rapidly.

Q: Kindergarten English; is that standard now in Japan?
A: Not standard, but a growing demand. Parents increasingly want their children exposed to English at a younger and younger age. For kindergartens, it’s an important selling point in their effort to attract parents.

Q: So are these kindergartens public or private entities?
A: They are for the most part privately owned. Some are run by cities, but most are private, as are nursery schools, which cater to basically the same age group (3 to 6 years of age). We also offer English courses at nursery schools.

Q: How frequent are the visits?
A: Each contract is different, and is sometimes as infrequent as a Christmas party and a Halloween party. The average is about two to three times per week.

Q: What kinds of attributes are you looking for in the instructors you hire?
A: We are looking for individuals to really enjoy interacting with children, have an interest in child education, are basically fun people, and can working within our system.

Q: What is the breakdown by age, gender, nationality, etc.?
A: We don’t have any restrictions on age, but instructors need to be native English speakers. Most applicants tend to be males. We welcome more female applicants, but do not discriminate.

Q: What is the interview and hiring procedure like?
A: We ask that applicants take a grammar test, and perform a mock demonstration along with the standard interview process.

Q: Is there a training regime?
A: There is a training process that takes place over a span of two weeks, whereby we introduce the ECC method — how we present vocabulary, how we set up a game, etc.

Q: Is hiring done domestically or abroad?
A: For this aspect of the company’s services, higher is done exclusively domestically. So basically it’s for people who are looking to earn extra income.

Q: Are Japanese language skills also required?
A: Essentially no. The ability to converse with kindergarten staff is a plus, but for the sake of the children’s education, we prefer that remain as ‘immersive’ as possible, which by definition, means English-only.

Q: So visa sponsorship is not an option, correct?
A: Yes, we don’t offer any visa sponsorship, as the positions are all part-time.

Q: How are teacher evaluations handled?
A: We are to do a lot of the quality assessment at the point of interview, especially with regard to the teacher’s ability and willingness to implement the ECC system. But we also do periodic observation of live classes. The kindergarten staff also provide a lot of feedback including suggestions for lessons, such as songs etc.

Q: Is knowledge of other languages besides English a plus for the applicant?
A: At this stage, not really. Right now our focus on English language acquisition.

Q: Is there any standardized assessment of the students’ ability to retain what is being taught?
A: No. Our emphasis is mainly on the ‘fun’ aspect of English, having fun while learning English, meeting a foreign speaker for the first time, etc.

Q: For a lot of the kids, these classes probably represent the first time they have ever met a foreigner, yes?
A: That’s correct. We service areas from population-dense cities to less-populated rural areas. And so the immersive effect can work both ways. But primarily, we are looking to hire people who are currently living in those same areas. So, we don’t send people into areas they do not already know.

Q: What is the average tenure of your instructors?
A: About two years.

Q: Derek and Makiko, how long have you been working at ECC?
A: Eleven years (Derek), and three years (Makiko), respectively.

 

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