• Kyodo


An online English conversation school based in the Philippines is attracting Japanese learners by offering inexpensive lessons from college graduates who can’t find work amid the country’s economic slump.

“This is ‘intellectual fair trade,’ ” said Md Moin, founder of Pikt Corp.’s website. “Filipinos are able to earn their living as English tutors, while Japanese can learn high-quality English with cheap tuition.”

Moin, a 32-year-old Bangladeshi who has lived in Japan for 10 years, came up with the idea with a Filipino friend, Aireen Zaballa, 34. The two were classmates at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in Beppu, Oita Prefecture.

The online school uses about 50 tutors, including graduates of the prestigious University of the Philippines, to offer English conversational lessons to Japanese students via Skype Internet telephone service.

By using the Filipino graduates, the school can effectively undercut English-conversation classes offered by its Japan-based rivals.

Ten courses are provided for English-language students based on their proficiency, including some specializing in business English or tailored for children.

The tutors work four or five hours a day and receive the equivalent of about ¥45,000 per month, a reasonable salary in the Philippines.

Mafen Ramirez, a 41-year-old single mother, is one of the service’s Philippines-based tutors. She said the teaching, which pays better than other jobs she can find at present, has allowed her to provide more nutritious food for her three children.

“The tutors are good, it’s easy to make a reservation and a good opportunity to speak English” said Toshikazu Saito, a 43-year-old businessman in Tokyo.

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