Getting Your TESOL done!

Hello and greetings from Takamatsu, Japan! I hope you are doing well and life moving smoothly along.


I expect that if you are visiting this page it is because you are curious to know about TESOL certification and whether or not you need it for yourself. It’s a good question, so I hope I can be as candid and straightforward as possible about the need for and usefulness of a TESOL certification.

If you already have a four year degree in Arts (English, History, Linguistics, Education or any similar field) OR have a good amount of experience as a teacher you likely DO NOT need a TESOL or TEFL certification. I do not recommend that you use your time, or invest money in a certification program. The benefits may not line up with your goals.

But if you are from a non-teaching background, need certification in TESOL/EFL/TESL/TEFL for visa application purposes or for looking for work purposes, a certificate program might be something to take a look into. If you think you need one, I highly recommend you do some shopping around and compare shop as much as possible.

You will likely hear the same sales pitches too:



The hard truth of it all is that virtually all TESOL organizations have affiliation and certification with other TESOL or EFL international groups, and as such have enough discussion and interaction to make them all virtually of equal value. Just because a talking head on YouTube says that they are “high quality” and “internationally recognized” and “affiliated with the top ranks of the TESOL authorities of TESOL-land” doesn’t mean much to potential employers, schools, and as far as we know, immigration authorities. They want to see degrees, work experience, certifications that are real, and then that is it.

There are a good number of TESOL certificate offering places that are very keen to separate students from their money. The costs for many programs are over 1000.00 US dollars. I understand that people need to run businesses, but there are better ways to do this, in my opinion.

At this time we work with iTTi, out of New York as they are equally affiliated and certified with all the big boards and organizations. Getting your certification with us is just as good as anywhere else.

But here is the thing, and this is the best part. Running TESOL programs and getting tuition from students is not my primary business. Tuition dollars are not how we run our company or our schools. We have regular students for that, and things are running very nicely. The reason that we became very interested in having a TESOL course to offer is to look for potential teachers that could work with us in our schools. That’s it. Beyond that, there is no motive on our part. Of course, if we can help people get through their TESOL certification program in a speedy, timely, and economically efficient manner we will consider that our “good deed” for the day.

And as such that is why we keep the cost of our 120 hour program as low as we are permitted to do so. We can keep the cost for an on-line course (120 hours) at $235.00 US (untutored) or  $350.00 US (tutored). If you are in Japan, and in the area you are most welcome to do the tutorial hours in our classrooms, and get some time to see how the job really gets done efficiently and honestly. No one in our company is interested in emptying your pockets, but if we can, we would like do see you succeed and help get you going to your next career destination.

If you have questions, just give me a shout via email: 

Have a great day!


JET Program

I often rave about it as the best way to come to Japan as an English teacher because it really is. I was on JET from 1992-95, then I was the JET Alumni President for my local Canadian chapter, and I was on the interview panel as well. I have seen a lot of people come on the JET program and it has been the kick-start to a lot of careers.

Of course there are those who say it was not a good fit for them, or that it was just something cool to do while they were gearing up for something different. And all of that is perfectly cool. JET is not meant to be a career, but it can be something that you can springboard off of.

I made a couple of videos on the JET program and I encourage hopeful newcomers to Japan to really explore this option carefully before just signing on with any ALT contract that gets thrown at you.

YouTube: Self Introduction

I think that if you are considering taking a TESOL course with us, you should at least hear the voice of the guy who is “behind the curtain”. I apologize for my monotone voice, and for the general boringness of my personal character. I’ve been working on making video content for Youtube to talk about issues and processes in coming to Japan as a language teacher. There is also a book in progress too (has been for several years….. still not done….). So, come on over and take a peek.


Thanks so much for coming by. If you have questions, please ask away! If you have comments, fire away!

Have a good one!


The High Cost of TESOL Certification

applied-linguisticsAs an employer and an owner of a chain of language schools in Japan, I am very much involved in the hiring, training, and supporting of English teachers. Right now in our company, englishbiz, we have an OUTSTANDING team of teachers. Not a single bad apple. Everyone is good, and kind, and thoughtful, and helpful to their teammates. I don’t know what we did right, but we certainly had to go through a lot of frogs before we got our royal team of instructors.

Getting to the start line of the teaching profession is a HUGE challenge. I get a lot of CVs and resumes in my email (almost daily) and many of the applicants have the same credentials. All potential hires have a university degree, or are in the process of getting it done. All have some experience as coaches, tutors, or mentors, if not direct teaching experience itself.

And then there is the one thing that separates the applicants. Some have ESL certification, TESOL certification, or some sort of paperwork that shows they have EFL/ESL/TESOL knowledge. For immigration authorities, this is key. And whenever we bring applicants to them for visa processing we get asked whether or not the applicant has this kind of certification. To them, it seems, whether you are CELTA, TESOL, or whatever, it is not a big concern. They want to see a company like ours support the applicant, plus the paperwork they ask for.

When, as a company, we decided to get into the TESOL/EFL certification market, we shopped around. There are a LOT of companies out there doing this. So, it is very confusing for people to decide what to do, or what not to do. Some resemble real educational institutes, and some resemble multi-level-marketing scams. How can you possibly tell one from the other?

Furthermore, they were all over-priced. To sit in a classroom with someone whose own educational qualifications are questionable for a course that will cost you between $1,500.00 to $2,000.00 (plus transport there and lodging and food etc), just seemed too much. And then those same companies try to sell you their T-shirts, coffee mugs, water bottles, and trash. Sheesh…

I decided that we will do things different. We are not in the TESOL market as a business. I already own a business and it does pretty good, so I don’t need TESOL to pay my bills. What we will do instead, is to drop the price of our program as low as we are allowed to. I think that we should do this as a SERVICE to new teachers and the next wave of student-loan abused graduates.

So, dear reader, here is the deal. Contact me for the most economic way to get your real TESOL certification done, and we will get you going on that. The price for on-line certification (120 hours) is $235.00 (untutored) and $350.00 (tutored). If you can study alone and complete the lists of tasks that is great. Go untutored. If you need my help to shepherd you through go tutored. There is a certification fee of $70.00 ($60.00 for the company in NY and $10.00 to ship it to you). And that is it.

If you have doubts, questions, concerns, just let me know. Our mission from the very start with our company is to help others, to teach kids the right way, and to help our fellow teachers. I hope that I can be of some good for you, so let me know what you think.

Standing by,



Teach in Japan on YouTube

YouTubeJapan-300x214I had long resisted putting video of me talking about teaching in Japan on YouTube. There are so many hundreds of similar things out there, albeit many of them from people who are relatively new to the teaching in Japan experience.

I think that those are very helpful things to see, and I check them out frequently. Things have changed. I’m older than when I first arrived in Japan, and new teacher’s ideas and needs are different from when I came. So, I need to listen carefully and try to understand better.

Things have also changed that I am now on the “other side of the table”. I hire people. I give jobs to new teachers, and my company helps them through the visa renewal and extension process. I need to figure out what it is that our new teammates may need if they come and join us at englishbiz.

But I also hope that the Youtube channel can help new teachers prepare themselves a little for what is needed to make it work, how to navigate through the interview processes, and to avoid some of the dangers, scams, and pitfalls that are rife in the eikaiwa world.

Anyway, here is the first in a series. Please check it out!

First Students!

So it finally happened. We have students for the TESOL course. This is a very exciting time for us, and we are absolutely determined to do a good job for the people who have entrusted us to get them through their TESOL certification.

imagesA couple of things I want to make clear for anyone new who is hopeful to start on their own TESOL certification. The first is that we are very serious about SUPPORTING our students. This is not just a “Rah Rah! Go get ’em and GOOD LUCK”, but it is more than that. We will make sure that you get some real educational value out of your experience in working with us. Furthermore, we are going to add elements to the program such as how to teach kids, give opportunities for you guys to come to our classrooms and check it out first hand, and to also point you in all the directions we can to get you that first job in Japan. That is our commitment. We don’t promise a rosy future in all you do, but for our part we are going to help as best we can.

The second thing is that we are going to keep the costs of our program down. I know that the going rate for some courses are pretty steep. You can check out our prices and see if that is more attractive for you. I remember very clearly the rough road I took to get through university. I worked 3 days full-time in a windowless warehouse, driving forklift and pallet-jack, unloading train boxcars of dog food, crates of canned goods, and all the non-perishables you see in supermarkets. That was a hard way to go, and I could have used a bit of help on the way. Keeping costs down is my way of trying to do something right for the next generation of teachers and professionals truly struggling under MASSIVE education debt.

So welcome to this site, and welcome to our program. Contact me with any questions that you have. I’ll do my best to help you get what you need.

Mark Groenewold

President, englishbizgoal-without-a-plan-750x466-cf

Doing it Right

We have an “Inside the House” expression in our company. It is pretty simple and direct:

Do it right.

That means no shortcuts, no taking advantage of someone, no short-changing anyone, and not taking the easy way out. It sounds a bit “SPARTAN” I suppose, but that is really how Kazuyo and I run our company, and it is a guiding principle with our teammates in our schools too.

So, I am looking around at the TESOL courses that are offered here in Japan, and there are a few out there. Not many. But some. A couple look pretty good, and they look like they are well organized and devoted to helping people get through the program. There are others, as in many things, that look a bit shady. I would very much like to show you exactly what I am talking about, but when one company tries to do that to another, it can be a legal issue, also things escalate into nonsense and name-calling.

I think that we can do better. I think that we can do more. So, I want to take a few lines here to let you know the kinds of things that we would like to do to ensure that your experience in dealing with us will be to your benefit.

The first is that we want our tuition to be reasonable. Covering costs of the venue, the teacher’s fee, travel costs, and administration are a must for any company and a reasonable profit margin so that we can develop and grow. We treat all elements of our company in this way, and because we are committed to education for kids the profit is pretty much just plowed back into our budget to expand, grow, and make better materials for the next academic year.

The second is that we want our course to be interesting and engaging. We have great teachers and we work with only real pros. No one is going to talk down to you, lecture you, or insult your intelligence. Much of our work and education is in a conversational/team-building context so you can bet that our time together will be well-spent. You are going to learn what you need to get the job.

That brings us to the third point. So many certification programs are very happy to receive your money, but after you go through the course they will “wish you all the best” tell you to “go get ’em tiger!” and that is about it. We are committed to work with you to help you land that job that you want to get. We have a rather extensive network of people who own language schools, work for bigger programs that hire teachers, and know several recruiters who are already asking us for names and CVs. Naturally we cannot guarantee that you are going to get your dream job right away, but I want to assure you that we feel that we have a responsibility to follow up with you as best we can to get your foot in the door, the interviews lined up and prepped for, and documents in all working order. From there it will be up to you in the interview, but we are going to do our best to help you when the last day of our course is finished.

I think that for us that sums up “Doing It Right!”

I believe that I have been tremendously lucky to have this life that I do in Japan. It has enriched me in ways that I cannot properly describe. I want that to be something for you too, and I want to do my best to help you chase your dream.


Have a great day friends and neighbors, and if you need to get in touch with us, please drop me a line at . I am very much looking forward to meeting up with you.

Best regards,



Kids getting ready to dance in their school festival

Get Some Advice!

As you are planning to get from where you are to Japan you need to have some kind of strategy. I suppose that it is easy for an old guy like me to tell you all the things you need to do, and you may not believe me. That is very understandable. In the West, particularly to the newly graduated from university, you have not been given the advantages you should have received. Crushing student debt, “internships” which amount to unpaid volunteer labor, and very little access to the jobs you want that will get you to your future goals are common.

So, I dug around on YouTube a little and found some people who are in the process of getting their futures in order, and planning to come to Japan. Check these out!


Get the information you need. Shop around. There are a LOT of TESOL granting agencies out there. You need to find the one that will suit your budget and your timeline. Of course, we can help you out here in Osaka, but we are not the only ones. And to be completely frank with you, when you apply for your working visa at the Japanese Embassy, or at Immigration here in Japan, the officers in charge of your file will want to see that you are indeed a university graduate, and that you have a TESOL or CELTA or something similar that looks professional.

It may take a little more time than you bargained for to get to Japan, but you can do it. We are cheering for you like crazy on this side of the ocean. If you need someone to talk to about your process and what you are doing to make it Japan, drop me a line. I will be glad to be of service if I can.

Have a great day!

Getting to Japan, Staying in Japan

I know it seems like a very far away place. For people in North America and Europe and the Middle East, Japan is seemingly on the “edge of the world”. But the truth is, Japan is not as far away as you might imagine. A day of travel and waiting around in airports, and a lot of coffee will find you in Tokyo or Osaka pretty soon.

But once you get here, you need to figure out what you are going to do. You need to stay somewhere. You need to figure out how you can get a job, and how to keep that job, and how to navigate all the things you need to know. It can seem rather overwhelming, but you can do it. If you take it all in small pieces, in bite-size pieces, you are going to be all right. You are going to be okay.

When you decide to make the step to get your TEFL Training with us and iTTi Japan, you’ve made an important first step. Spend the month with us in Osaka this year. Get to know the culture a little, get out and stretch your legs as you walk around Osaka castle, try the food, get away on the days off to Kyoto and explore that city.

But during our session times, when you are learning all about how to be a good teacher, do your best to pay attention. Make notes, ask questions, and get involved in the group discussions. We have a lot of ground to cover in such a short time. But when you are through the coursework we will also spend critical time looking at job placement for you as well. And this is part of our “package” deal for our students.

While a lot of TEFL/TESOL/ESL/EFL courses on-line and elsewhere promise the moon and offer very little, we are deeply committed to helping you realize the job placement and getting your foot in the door here in Japan, or is that rice-paper sliding door?

At any rate, we are very serious about getting you in the job you need, and well prepared for how to design your Japan-friendly resume, how to ace the interview, and how to go about getting the job you need. I hope you will take it from us. We hire teachers and have been involved in the interview processes for schools and government here in Japan for over twenty years. We can help you and we will help you.

Our first course is in Osaka of July 2018. Contact us via email at and we can get the registration process started.

Looking forward to seeing you here!


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