2007-03-09

Nova pusher

My first job in Japan was with a company called NOVA. An okay job on the surface, but I lived with about 60 other NOVitiates in a gaijin house. We spent 60,000¥ a month to live in a tiny 6-mat room with a closet. We had to share the washroom, the kitchen, the TV room and drop 100¥ for 10 minutes every time we wanted to take a shower. But sitting around after work, no one had any money so all there was to do was bitch about your job. And the bitching was incessant.

I recall very little of my time there, except to realise how bad it was. Compared to other language schools, we worked longer hours, taught more lessons and had fewer vacation days than say, AEON or GEOS. (Little wonder that the nickname for NOVA amongst its staff is "NO VAcation".) It was the students that I felt sorry for though. Unless you were of a high level to begin with, I rarely saw anyone progress and one has to pay a huge sum for non-transferrable, non-refundable lesson tickets. It had a few things going for it, such as smaller lesson groups and you could show up to any NOVA in the country and have a lesson any time, provided you phone ahead.

The quality of the teachers is questionable. (I mean they hired me for goodness sake!) On their advertising, they sometimes boasted to have Oxford and Yale graduates as their educators, but most everyone I ever met had a Mickey-Mouse degree from tiny universities in any subject, not English. I got my degree at the University of Guelph in Psychology and had a 4-month college certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language from Humber. Others that I met from Australia or New Zealand, barely had a high school diploma thanks to a reciprocal agreement re Work Visas between Japan and those countries.

That's why it was no surprise to me when I read this.
Wow, NOVA teachers in trouble with the law. I am shocked! One pal from Canada worked at a Tokyo NOVA that had a teacher who would grab the boobs of his teenage students during the lesson. He was repeatedly reprimanded by the Japanese staff not to do so, but rather than firing him, their solution was to transfer him!

I could go on and on about that job, but it's so much easier to just check out this or go to the hundreds of other sites of disgruntled employees.

Granted, NOVA is a great stepping stone to get you into the country. I managed to get out with my sanity intact and my cynicism in check after only 6 months, but IF you are seriously considering coming to Japan to teach English, I'd try another language school first.

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