A teacher who once had to leave her job after she posted videos on YouTube in English to help other students in her native language said she would soon have to move abroad to take care of her family.
Rina Yamanaka, a native English speaker, has been teaching English to Japanese students at a government-run school in Tokyo for nearly a decade.
She has posted videos of her English lessons on YouTube to help others with their Japanese and English, she told Reuters.
“I think I’ve made a lot of friends, especially with people from other languages,” Yamanakas first video posted in January 2017 showed.
She said the videos had helped the students, and also to gain new friends, who are now taking advantage of the free tutoring service offered by the government.
Yamanaka’s experience has been replicated across the world, but her home country of Japan has taken the biggest hit.
The number of English teachers teaching in Japan fell by almost 30 percent last year, to about 11,000, according to the Japan Education Agency, with more than half of those teachers retiring.
The government has promised to recruit more English teachers to meet the demand, and the Education Ministry says it plans to offer online tutoring for those who can’t get into the country.
But the agency is yet to set a target.
“Japan is a big country, but in this particular sector, there are only a handful of English-speaking teachers,” said Masahiko Takahashi, director of the Institute for the Study of Japanese Education at Kyoto University, who researches the social impact of foreign language teachers.
Yaganuma, a teacher in the capital Tokyo, said she had become frustrated after learning that her online tutors could not communicate with students.
“They could not read, they could not write, they did not understand basic English, and they did something very, very bad,” she said.
Yamaomi, a mother of three who has taught English at a university in Yokohama, said the number of students who asked her to write their names was down.
“Now I’m worried that it will spread,” she told AFP.
In some cases, students said they had to write out their names on a piece of paper, so they could get help from tutors, rather than their parents.
The online service is free, but costs ¥8,500 ($1,850) per month.
The government has no plans to expand the service, and Yamanaki said she was reluctant to do so.
“The problem is, when you have no money and your children are starving, then you have to pay a high price for your services,” she added.