OC English by the numbers

I’ve finished putting almost all our relevant information in spreadsheets, and have some statistics to share about the school we’ve owned and operated for the past 11 years and 9 months.

  • Number of students: 276
    • Number of regular students: 217
    • Number of business students: 59
    • Number private: 34 (among regular students)
    • 42 students took more than one class type

As I said before, we had a small school.  Some others in our industry have this many students at any given time.  Read on for more, and if you’re curious read more about how I feel about leaving here, here, and here.

  • Percent female: 53.9%
    • % female among business students: 3.4%
    • % female among private students: 62.8%
    • % female among TOEIC students: 50.0%

Gender is as salient a variable as you can find in analyses of the English teaching industry in Japan.  Our school seems to represent a clear break from what has been considered the standard model for our industry.  I was particularly surprised to see that our TOEIC class had exactly even enrolment of men and women.  Actually, I remember two of our first TOEIC students were a pair of college students, both female – and both (counts fingers) about 30 years old now.  I am not surprised, nor should you be, to see that I had a whole 2 female business students.

It is noteworthy that our private students were mostly women and in two cases elementary school girls.  The percentage of private students that were female jumps even more if we exclude kikokushijo (children educated abroad), which were split about evenly between boys and girls in our case. Maybe this says something about eikaiwa as a feminized pursuit?  We had at least a few stereotypical housewife/hobbyists among our private students.

  • Average duration of enrolment (out of 10.84 years total that the school was open):
    • Avg enrolment for adults: 2.66 years

      • only female adults: 2.87 years
    • Avg enrolment for kids: 4.31 years

      • only female kids: 4.04 years
    • Avg enrolment for TOEIC students: 2.06 years
    • Avg enrolment for private students: 2.82 years

      • Avg enrolment for private students less than 20 years old: 4.53 years
    • Longest enrolment: 10.67 years (started in preschool, ended in JHS)
    • Shortest enrolment: 21 days (0.06 years) (TOEIC)
  • Average date of enrolment: 6/16/2009
  • Average date of quitting: 8/26/2012

These numbers are only for regular, not business, students.  Business students are excluded because in almost all cases they came for exactly 6 months, and at the same time every week.  I have left them out of the rest of the statistics on this page.  Everyone else had 47 lessons per year, 50 minutes each starting on the hour.

Not exactly shockingly, our average enrolment for kids, a little more than 4 years, was about 60% longer than for adults.  I should note that these numbers reflect the average enrolment for people who were in those classes for any part of their tenure – so someone who started with us in elementary school and quit in college would have their enrolment included in both the kids’ and adults’ averages.  Our high schoolers were classified as adults because of the way we ran their class websites and homework.  Interestingly, female adult students stayed longer than average while girls had shorter tenures than boys.  Not to draw too large a conclusion from this, but it does fit with the stereotype of eikaiwa being seen as an investment in social advancement for kids but a repository for disposable income for adults (adult women frequently live at home until marriage).  Our regular adults also had longer tenures than TOEIC students, reinforcing my impression at least that the integrative/instrumental motivation dichotomy is still relevant.

Our highest average length of enrolment, surprisingly considering the cost but not surprisingly considering the demographic, is younger (<20 years old) private students.  Most of these were kikokushijo (children educated abroad) and tend to see eikaiwa as the only option for keeping their English up to its former levels, or at least preventing it from disappearing completely.

  • Average age at first enrolment: 16.15 years
    • Average age at first enrolment, adults: 27.45 years
      • Average age at first enrolment, adults over 20 years old when started: 34.18 years
    • Average age at first enrolment, kids: 7.43 years
    • Average age at first enrolment, TOEIC: 28.57 years
  • Correlation between age and length of stay: -0.38
    • Only kids: -0.32
    • Only adults: -0.11

Again, these statistics include anyone who was a member of that group during any time they were our students.  That is why the average is much higher for adults when restricting the calculated values to those from students who started on or after 20 – it excludes JHS students who later came to adults’ classes.  Adults were also much more likely than kids to sneakily leave their birth year off of our intake forms, and that may lessen the validity of these numbers.

The correlation numbers are a bit interesting – a negative correlation between age of first enrolment and length of stay means that the younger students were when they started, the longer they generally stayed.  This supports the effectiveness of the common practice in this industry of recruiting as young as possible – even if they don’t learn much as babies, they’ll probably stick around into elementary school when the lessons will begin to stick a bit more.  I still regard this as unethical but I understand the reasoning behind it.

On to statistics of who came when:

  • Busiest day: Thursday (31.8%)
  • Least busy day: Saturday (15.2%)
  • Busiest time: 9 PM (27.65%)
  • Least busy time: 1 & 2 PM (3.23%)
  • Day with most kids: Wednesday (27.9%), least: Saturday (4.5%)
  • Day with most adults: Thursday (32.0%), least: Saturday (10.7%)
  • Day with most private students: Saturday (31.9%), least: Tuesday (8.5%)

Busiest days & times:

  1. Thursday 9 PM: 9.2%
  2. Thursday 8 PM, Wednesday 8 PM, Wednesday 6 PM: 8.0%
  3. Tuesday 5 & 9 PM, Thursday 4 PM, Friday 5 & 9 PM: 6.0%

We were open Tuesday-Saturday, 1 PM – 10 PM by the way.  The percentages are of students who had classes on those days or at those times during some part of their tenure.  A student who moved from Friday at 7 PM to Tuesday at 9 PM would be counted toward both of those percentages.

Some of these hours carry quite a legacy in my mind – Thursday at 8 PM had a long stretch of young working adults with unusual hobbies like DJing and flamenco who for some reason often worked in the pharmaceutical industry.

Our Saturdays had been mostly reserved for kikokushijo, other private students, and the TOEIC class since 2009 or so.  In fact most of the private students on Tuesdays had multiple reservations per week, also coming on Thursday or Saturday.

Most common surnames:

  1. Mochizuki (望月), Sano (佐野): 8 students each
  2. Endo (遠藤): 7
  3. Kato (加藤), Watanabe (渡辺, not 渡部 or 渡邊), Akiyama (秋山), Sato (佐藤): 5
  4. Takahashi (高橋 or 髙橋), Suzuki (鈴木): 4

Mochizuki and Sano are both extremely common names in Fujinomiya.  At one point our Thursday 8 PM class was entirely composed of Sanos – and what’s more, unlike our Satos Akiyamas and Takahashis, none of them were related.  For comparison, here is how those names are ranked nationally:

  • Sato #1
  • Suzuki #2
  • Takahashi #3
  • Watanabe #5
  • Kato #10
  • Endo #40
  • Sano #97
  • Akiyama and Mochizuki do not appear in the top 100

Some common kanji from surnames:

  1. (meaning “wisteria”, read “fuji”, “to” or “do”) : 23 occurrences
  2. (meaning “field”, read “no”): 21
  3. (meaning “mountain”, read “yama”): 22
  4. (meaning “river”, read “kawa” or “gawa” ): 16 (alternate kanji 河:3)
  5. (meaning “village”, read “mura”): 11
  6. (meaning “gate” or “entrance”, read “kuchi” or “guchi”): 10
  7. (meaning “middle”, read “naka”): 7

Lots of names in the Fuji-Fujinomiya area include 藤, aside from the rather more famous 藤原 Fujiwara.  Among these are 遠藤 Endo, 加藤 Kato, 後藤 Goto, 近藤 Kondo, 工藤 Kudo, and 佐藤 Sato.

These prevalences don’t mean much but every small business owner in Japan eventually comes to have a much higher proportion of one name or another among his/her customers.

Some common kanji from first names:

  1. (meaning “child”, read “ko”): 23
  2. (meaning “beautiful”, read “mi”): 21
  3. (meaning “true”, read “ma”): 10
  4. (meaning “boy”, read “ro”): 8
  5. (meaning “sturdy”, read “ta”): 7
  6. (meaning “big”, read “tai” or “dai”): 6
  7. (meaning “village”, read “ri” or “sato”): 5
  8. (meaning “love”, read “ai”): 4

You see far fewer 子 (as in “Akiko”) names as you go down in age.  In fact kids’ names nowadays are rather random.

Non-Japanese Nationalities Represented:

  1. Brazil: 4 people (of which all 4 were Nikkei)
  2. Nepal, China: 2 people
  3. Thailand, Peru: 1 person each

This isn’t a whole lot, but does exceed the proportion of foreign nationals in the general population.  I usually liked these students but they clearly had culture clashes with their Japanese classmates – often of the “why are they being so quiet/loud” variety.

Other random statistics:

  • One student had another’s first name as his last name.
  • We had 8 instances of at least 3 members of the same family enrolling.
  • 2 former students have died.
  • Most of our kikokushijo lived in Ann Arbor, MI.
  • One of our adult students had 9 siblings, the youngest of which was as old as his daughter.
  • I have no idea how many came from other schools or how many went to other schools after quitting.
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3 thoughts on “OC English by the numbers

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