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McEnglish for the masses


17 Jan 2004
While McDonald's is suffering in America, in Japan, it is quite popular. Here's an interesting article on the rise of a concept known as...McDonaldization.

American sociologist George Ritzer coined the term McDonaldization to describe how a method of production that originated in fast food restaurants is sweeping through every aspect of society.

Ritzer wondered why a system supposed to make life easier is slowly imprisoning us in an "iron cage" of rationality.

Efficiency and control reduce prices and increase access, but at a cost: McWages, bland products, and a rigid, controlled environment that drains all creativity from human activity.

Japan Times
Good article and worth a read

The thing is, in Japan they are always coming out with new products, and most of them are good. Not like that McRib sandwitch nonsense in the US a bit back. People also seem happy that you are there. A manager also forgot to give me change once and the man almost died of embarassment. He cave me a coupon for a free burger :) Go to a MCD's in the US and you get the feeling you are inconveniencing everyone by with your business.

Is it really any surprise business is exploiting their workers? They have to attract and keep students to make money. You do that by making lessons fun, not hard, and give the client a feeling of accomplishment. Since your product is crap you pull in money hand over fist - who cares how many teachers you have to replace. The job is so easy anyone can do it.

I think there is hope on the horizon. The Ministry of Education is moving to make college entrance exams cover practical English skills, not just memorizing. It is hard to become a practical English speaker at NOVA etc, so mothers are going to start sending their kids to someplace they can make real progress. When the bottom of the eikaiwa market drops out because they don't know how to teach, then you will see some big changes (I'm thinking in 7 ot 8 years. For change in Japan, that is just as fast as greased lightning).

-On a side note, the privatization of universities doesn't change anything. A few years ago, the government told its public universities to get rid of all its foreign professors who had been in Japan for a long time in favor of new, cheaper teachers. Tenure did save many. The same thing could still happen under the new system. One of the reasons that if I ever teach longterm in Japan I will work at a private university unless their are some big improvements in public education.
Ive met a few people who have had amazing english from going to eikaiwa schools and some who aren't as good. Theres also a big difference in public and private schools that you can really tell, thus the competition for private schools and universities.

Tho i must admit the private schools are more fun 😌 (kids have more time to play) 👍
Good point Ewok85.

In any educational system the most motivated are going to do the best. They have a real desire to learn and will make the extra efforts to go beyond the texts and classroom to learn. They will do well anywhere. Those are not the ones you need to worry about. You don't need to change the system to help them. You need to change it for all the others.
I've been teaching English in Japan for over four years now and I thought it was a good article.

There are a lot of problems with the 'Mcdonaldization' of an industry like English conversation. Because the schools hire from a pool of generally unqualified graduates, they can only offer a very narrow range of curriculum that will not be of much practical use to the serious student. If a student needs English for work, or needs to pass a test, then they would be almost as well off flushing their money down the toilet as they would signing a contract with NOVA, GEOS etc.

One thing I couldn't get around in the article was that the writer seemed to indicate that prices for lessons at the big four were cheap. They are definitely not. The standard price for a 50 minute private lesson at GEOS and AEON are generally in the 8,000 to 9,000 yen range. Even the contracts for small group lessons (3-5 students) average between 4,000 and 5,000 yen per lesson. And that isn't including the cost of overpriced texts, 'system usage' fees and the million and one other hidden charges the management add onto the price of the contracts.
A bit of a side track;

Have any of you seen NOVA's commercials lately?

The Nova bunny is a giant metal robot flying in the sky sucking up kids with some kind of a weird beam. Then it spits them out of it's mouth and they're all speaking English phrases. Assembly line mentality? Heh heh...
mad pierrot said:
A bit of a side track;

Have any of you seen NOVA's commercials lately?

The Nova bunny is a giant metal robot flying in the sky sucking up kids with some kind of a weird beam. Then it spits them out of it's mouth and they're all speaking English phrases. Assembly line mentality? Heh heh...

Are there any pictures or a site of this NOVA Bunny? :?
I remember when I went to Hawaii and almost everyone that went into McDonalds were Japanese tourists. The menu surprised me a little because of the rice and other japanese related cusine. The most intriguing meal was SPAM and Eggs. I guess SPAM is a big thing in Japan, huh? :p
I love SPAM! (The edible varity, not the online one, of course 😌 ) That stuff is sooo good. However, because of the cholesterol content, I don't eat it so often. :(
However, I still love that stuff, hands down. You may say I'm a friggin' spamaholic. Or, to put it politically correctly, a recovering spamaholic. :)
The thing about spam is that it is popular with the people who live in Hawai'i. They even have spam sushi!
Just to add to that even more, off-topic, but here's an article about the popularity of Spam:

Span Jam honors maligned mystery meat

The greatest culinary disconnect between Hawaii and the U.S. mainland isn't lomi salmon or lau lau or malasadas or ahi katsu or poi. Many visitors from other states enjoy some or all of these local foods. But hardly any of them understand Hawaii's love affair with Spam.

On the mainland, Spam is just spiced ham that Hormel puts in a can, an inexpensive cold cut held in marginally higher regard than the unsolicited e-mail that stole its name. But in Hawaii, a state where pork is cooked as nicely as anywhere in the barbecue belt, Spam is nonetheless a staple.

Wonder if this should be moved to the food section...?
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Eternal Wind said:
so,does any americans here feels boring to eat at mcdonald's nowadays?

Don't care about McDonald's. I prefer eating food bought from Trader Joe's (it's organic) or Costco. Or Los Cabos, which is a Mexican grill near my school, known for selling $1 a taco on Tuesday...
Mc D's? They're only good for one thing in my mind..... Anytime you're in Asia and need to find a clean toilet, just look for those golden arches!
I love going to Artic Cirlce. Use to be one just down the street by Smith's until they built a McDonald's across the street then about a year later they went out of business. I loved their taco salads. ^_^
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