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Thread: The Unbiased Truth About Nova

  1. #1
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Arrow The Unbiased Truth About Nova

    This thread is dedicated to the discussion of the article The Unbiased Truth About Nova written by Brooker.

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  2. #2
    Anjin Brooker's Avatar
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    Thanks for posting the article Maciamo! I hope people find it useful.
    For information on the pros and cons of teaching at Nova English schools in Japan, check out

  3. #3
    Manga Psychic PaulTB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    This thread is dedicated to the discussion of the article The Unbiased Truth About Nova written by Brooker.
    First impression - before having read it - any article titled "The Unbiased Truth About" isn't.

  4. #4
    Finally Enlighted One Buddha Smoker's Avatar
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    I love hearing all the stories about Nova and reading the articles....It's nice to see the mixed opinions of companies like Nova....I just don't care for those companies but that is my opinion. I have met people who absolutely love Nova which is good because it means they enjoy it.

  5. #5
    Manga Psychic PaulTB's Avatar
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    Well after having read the article the only think I think it lacks is addressing some of the common NOVA (rumours/slanders).

    A little section of Q & A's like ...

    "Q. I've heard that ____ is that true?"

    with a short statement as to whether (to his knowledge) it (has no foundation/is possible/happens).

    This site A guide for those considering teaching English for Nova in Japan addresses common 'NOVA Myths'.

    I found this news article in a quick Google search.
    - American teacher takes Nova to court over dismissal

  6. #6
    Finally Enlighted One Buddha Smoker's Avatar
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    I think one of my favorite parts was this.

    Being a Gaijin in Japan
    The experience of living in a foreign country always comes in three stages :

    Stage #1: Euphoria - Everything is so new and exciting. Even going to the supermarket is an adventure.

    Stage #2: Depression - This is mostly caused by missing Stage #1 as it fades away. This stage is short, but very intense.

    Stage #3: Acceptance - In time you become comfortable in your new surroundings.
    I've seen this is so many cases. Never happened to me and this is my home now but I find it amusing even though it might not be.

  7. #7
    Dog Youkai playaa's Avatar
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    I went through each stage of the above, but I wouldnt say depression lol..
    "Kanpeki to chau, jinsei no shuushi
    Puramai zero da nanteba honto ka na?
    Shinu made ni tsukaikiru, un no kazu
    Semete, jibun de dashiire wo sasete
    "

  8. #8
    Recall Arch's Avatar
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    Wow thx for posting that ! great info , espicially as im looking for that sorta thing in japan. I have heard all sorts from Nova. I dint know teachers werent alowed to sorta hang out with students. My friend dint have a good time with nove, maybe that because he dated one the students !. However im looking for a temp work experience placement i guess, and it isnt proving easy, however im sending e-mails to quite a few companies.

  9. #9
    Anjin Brooker's Avatar
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    Wow, what a response! Thanks everyone!

    PaulTB wrote....
    Well after having read the article the only think I think it lacks is addressing some of the common NOVA (rumours/slanders).
    To be honest, I'm not familiar with what all the rumors and slanders may be (they certainly didn't want to spread that kind of thing around while I was working there) or I would have addressed them. If you have any particular examples, I'd be happy to address them here.

    Playaa wrote....
    I went through each stage of the above, but I wouldnt say depression lol..
    A friend of mine who'd lived abroad told me about "the stages" before I went to Japan. It could have been a self forfilled prophecy (which I kind of doubt) but when it did happen to me just like he said it would it helped me to understand what I was feeling and helped me to not feel like I was going crazy. I remember thinking, "This is terrible, going to the supermarket does nothing for me now!"

  10. #10
    Finally Enlighted One Buddha Smoker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brooker
    Wow, what a response! Thanks everyone!

    PaulTB wrote....


    To be honest, I'm not familiar with what all the rumors and slanders may be (they certainly didn't want to spread that kind of thing around while I was working there) or I would have addressed them. If you have any particular examples, I'd be happy to address them here.

    Playaa wrote....


    A friend of mine who'd lived abroad told me about "the stages" before I went to Japan. It could have been a self forfilled prophecy (which I kind of doubt) but when it did happen to me just like he said it would it helped me to understand what I was feeling and helped me to not feel like I was going crazy. I remember thinking, "This is terrible, going to the supermarket does nothing for me now!"
    I know the adjustion to Japan can be difficult for most foreigners just because it's not what they are used to. Also, if it takes a while to make friends then I can understand why the depression sets in. The thing is to make friends and enjoy yourself while you are here but enjoy yourself in a mannerly way too.

    I've seen tons of my friends go through the depression stage...I never had any problems but everybody is not like me either.

  11. #11
    __________ budd's Avatar
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    i was depressed when i CAME BACK to america (the first time, i deal with it better now)
    ttp://www.tcvb.or.jp/

  12. #12
    Omnipotence personified Mandylion's Avatar
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    Just a small correction, under the "Conclusion" section, JET is listed as a "other large company" along with Berlitz, ECC, and the rest.

    JET is a government program run in partnership with a private organization and local administrative bodies (like most setups in the Japanese government) and the wages are paid from taxes, like any other public servant. JET is not a profit oriented organization like NOVA etc.

    Not a big point, but it might save some Google users a bit of confusion.

    Otherwise, great article Brooker
    "It's a d**n poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word."


    - Andrew Jackson

  13. #13
    Japan Blogger
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    Re: NOVA--from what I have picked up from speaking a a good number of people who taught at NOVA schools (including my sister-in-law, who worked at two different branches), the chain is somewhat of a hit-or-miss proposition. Many NOVA schools are clean, well-operated and respectable; many, however, are as bad as the stories you hear. My sister-in-law, for example, worked for one of the better branches at her second office, but her first was a mess. Many of the "slanders" were in fact true, and the biggest problem was the complete lack of professionalism among the teachers and the "meat market" attitude that the students were open for sexual pursuit.

    Other basic problems annoyed many people, especially those who were familiar with better terms at many other language schools. Probationary salary, being docked for sick days, and other cutbacks in the early 90's that were likely prompted by the economic recession and collapse of the market which many schools were deeply involved in (e.g., the "Bilingual" school).

    Personally, I lost respect for NOVA back in the whole drug-testing dispute. One teacher who worked for a Kyoto branch was caught with marijuana and arrested in 1994. NOVA thereafter required their teachers to undergo drug testing. IMHO, that's a huge no-no. It assumes guilt on the part of any and all teachers; it is an invasion of privacy; and worst, at a time when Japanese saw foreigners as being criminals and drug addicts, it reinforced that stereotype and affirmed discriminatory beliefs. Teachers who failed to comply were either fired or let go at the end of that contract (as compliance with drug testing was introduced as part of the new contract).

    That policy prompted the formation of a union which still exists to this day (find the web site here.) Having worked at two institutions that suffered union organizations, I am rather strongly adverse to such organizations as they form here in Japan for schools--they tend to filled with angry, petty and vindictive people who are more interested in revenge and vitriol than in finding solutions. But if I had been a NOVA teacher at that time, I likely would have joined.

    And as distasteful as unions are, they do tend to force the schools to clean up their act--though a side-effect is often over-regulation and a complete lack of flexibility. But it may be that if NOVA is a better place to work today, the union may be one of the reasons why.

    Another point about NOVA is the whole McSchools issue. I earned a degree in TESOL and have some respect for educational standards, and from what I have heard, NOVA is not the best place for real learning. And it is possible--I worked for two different conversation schools that actually took the entire issue seriously, hiring people with real training and experience, sending teachers and staff to TESOL conventions, holding teacher meetings to discuss improvement of the curriculum. Maybe NOVA does this nowadays, I don't know--but they certainly did not do this always.

    -------------------

    Re: stages of acceptance in a new foreign home--that's a very normal and universally accepted set of stages, I remember discussing the exact same thing when I first moved to Japan, and I am sure people have noted it for a long time.

    What I find less discussed but even more important is terms of motivation in regards to integration. Those who come to a new country to make money and leave (or other such reward-driven motives) can be said to have "instrumental" motivation; those who come and immerse themselves in the new culture, learn the language, make native friends, etc., can be said to be working under "integrational" motivation.

    Ever known your teaching co-workers in Japan to be highly insular, only going out to pubs and places with their gaijin friends, not learning the language or really knowing the people, and saving as much as they can for going back home? These tend to be the same people who are incessantly immersed in *****-and-moan sessions about how bad Japan is and what's wrong with Japan. People who come to the country just to get paid and don't try to integrate, in my observation, tend to be almost universally unhappy in Japan and negative about their experiences in general.

    Contrast that to those who integrate, take on a Japanese hobby, learn the language, make friends--they tend to be highly positive and enjoy life in Japan.

    So if you plan to come--or if you are here and find yourself in the former group described above--do your best to learn, accept, immerse and integrate. It will almost certainly improve your experience here.

    Just my two cents.

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  14. #14
    Anjin Brooker's Avatar
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    BlogD wrote....
    Personally, I lost respect for NOVA back in the whole drug-testing dispute. One teacher who worked for a Kyoto branch was caught with marijuana and arrested in 1994. NOVA thereafter required their teachers to undergo drug testing.
    My understanding was that Nova tried to institute drug testing, but was never allowed to for some legal reasons. Throughout my time at Nova, I never heard any mention of drug testing.

    That policy prompted the formation of a union which still exists to this day
    Wow, I had no idea Nova had a union. That's weird. I never joined or paid any dues (to my knowledge) because I didn't know it existed. None of my bosses or coworkers ever mentioned anything about a union. I wonder if it's either something they try to keep quiet or if it's just that the union is very ineffectual.

    Another point about NOVA is the whole McSchools issue.
    I do think this is one of the main drawbacks of Nova.

    Contrast that to those who integrate, take on a Japanese hobby, learn the language, make friends--they tend to be highly positive and enjoy life in Japan.
    Well said. It's all about your motivations and attitude. I felt that only a small percentage of complaints about Japan were legitimate and the rest came from people in the "instrumental" group.

  15. #15
    Regular Member senseiman's Avatar
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    From an article in the Japan Times, it seems that NOVA's drug testing policy is still on the books, though thanks to the formation of the union and an Osaka bar association ruling against it, it has never been used.

    I'm not surprised a lot of NOVA employees haven't heard of the union, the company does its best to supress knowledge of it by transferring or not renewing the contracts of employees involved in union activities. I've read quite a bit about it here:

    www.letsjapan.org

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    Hello.

    My first post here. I've been lurking for quite some time and I thought I'd post something concrete. But before that, I'd like to thank Brooker for a fine job with the Article. I'm an English teacher, currently working for Nova. I've been working there for 3 years, I'm on my fourth. I've only lived in Kyushu so I don't really know how it is in Honshu and other places.

    Anyway, we just recently got official word that Nova will be updating it's Textbook by October.

    That's all.
    shoganai ne

  17. #17
    Regular Member senseiman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue 3

    .

    Anyway, we just recently got official word that Nova will be updating it's Textbook by October.

    That's all.
    Isn't the book they use now so old that it has references to the Soviet Union and Bay City Rollers in it? Does updating mean getting a new kind of textbook or just a slightly less out of date version of the old one? Curious minds want to know!

  18. #18
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    I should add that I haven't used it yet. I'm sure that they tested in somewhere in Tokyo and/or Osaka. Maybe someone else can follow up on that. There is a phase out period which, I assume, means that it would be fairly similar to the old book structure wise.

    Yes, it's true...There are references to the Bay City Rollers and even smoking sections on Airplanes.

    I'll update when we receive a copy.

  19. #19
    Cute and Furry Ewok85's Avatar
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    NOVA thereafter required their teachers to undergo drug testing. IMHO, that's a huge no-no.
    If you have nothing to hide then wheres the problem? I'd be there the next day with a bucket of my own fluids willing to let them test it to pieces (oops did i spill it on you? sorry. OH god, all over the floor now, ah well, i'll bring some more tomorrow. No? Its ok?)

    I found the union a while back while looking for info about Japanese work laws (knowledge is power and all that). Seems like a good deal to me

    Edit: I did like this bit "Don't work for Nova if you have claustrophobia"
    Now Japan is hell on earth for people with claustrophobia. I remember being in the foreign teachers lounge in a Japanese High School during lunch, myself and a friend, 2 same aged Jet teachers from england, first week in Japan, and the 45yr old verteran American teacher. He was a legend. Anyway, so were chatting away cramped into this tiny room full with filing cabinets and 3 desks jammed in. Barney, the american is writing notes and us others are gasbagging away (talking) when a small earthquake hits. These young american girls FREAK OUT and start looking around as if the roof would cave in. Barney doesn't even look up and put his hand out and supports the filing cabinets from falling down until the quake stops and then goes back to work. Myself and Julien just laugh at Barney's non-reaction and these green English girls freaking out over a small earthquake!

  20. #20
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    Regarding Schedules:

    Actually, there are 3 shifts available at the moment for full-time teachers.

    Early Shift 10:00 - 5:40
    Middle Shift 11:40 - 7:20
    Late Shift 13:20 - 9:00

    with 2 consecutive days as days off.

    This i know to be company wide with certain exceptions. For example, some Nova Branches are inside shopping malls that close earlier or open later. Another example is when the school is not that popular which means that it's closed certain days. This means that the teachers will be working at another branch nearby.

    There are options for people who do not have their University diploma. They can work Part-time. This means that they are a different contract very similar to a working holiday contract. The shifts that are available to them are as follows:

    Flex Shift 5:00 - 9:00

    Usually, Tuesday to Saturday. In some places they work a full-time shift on Saturdays as overtime.

    The contract is very different between the Full-time Teacher and the Part-time teacher. PT teachers make less money but they have more free time to find themselves. PT teachers are more available to do overtime which can add up if the demand exists. There are usually more OT in the Big Cities.

    People who've been with Nova after a while tend to get the shifts they want. Some teachers like "Titled Instructors" and other trained teachers don't have to teach a 8 regular lessons. They sometimes teach Toeic or Travel or Business classes or Kids or Voice(freestyle conversation). Smaller schools typically have plenty of free lessons to go around for everyone.

    I'm tired, i'll write more about vacations later.

  21. #21
    Anjin Brooker's Avatar
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    Blue 3 wrote....
    I'd like to thank Brooker for a fine job with the Article. I'm an English teacher, currently working for Nova. I've been working there for 3 years, I'm on my fourth.
    Thanks. I'm glad you liked it.

    Actually, there are 3 shifts available at the moment for full-time teachers.
    The schools where I worked didn't offer the middle shift. Is that a new thing?

    There are options for people who do not have their University diploma. They can work Part-time.
    My roommate was a part-timer. I think he had a diploma, but going part-time allowed him to get hired earlier in his case. He had a lot of free time and saved a lot of money (he, in particular, was very motivated to do so) and he did overtime whenever he could.

    Ewok 85 wrote....
    If you have nothing to hide then wheres the problem?
    I've heard this argument many times and it fails to "hold water" with me. Lack of guilt doesn't mean that your privacy and rights should be sacrificed. Like the Patriot Act (kind of a tangeant here), but if the government, or anyone, wants to bug your house they'd better go through the appropriate steps. If the power and control of the company you work for is not limited, the company will surely be happy to watch over and control every aspect of your life if given the chance. I've taken drug tests for jobs before (without incident) but I don't like the idea that standing up for your rights and privacy is sometimes viewed as being some kind of admission of guilt, when, if you believe in something, you should stand up for it whether you're guilty or not. If there's a good reason to suspect an employee is using drugs (because it's affecting his/her work performance or something) a test might be in order, but testing everyone automatically seems a little paranoid.

  22. #22
    Cute and Furry Ewok85's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brooker
    Lack of guilt doesn't mean that your privacy and rights should be sacrificed.
    They want you to pee into a cup man! Is that too much to ask?
    If they test everyone and it comes up negative what have you lost? Not alot. Whats the company lost? A fair bit of money from having to run all these tests and looking stupid at a huge pointless exercise.

  23. #23
    無修正! m477's Avatar
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    Yeah seriously, WTF is wrong with a drug test? You people realize that every time you change jobs for the rest of your life you will probably have to take a drug test? I'm starting to believe that the people that complain the most about NOVA would say the same things about ANY job because it hasn't really hit them that they aren't in college anymore.

  24. #24
    Manga Psychic PaulTB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by m477
    Yeah seriously, WTF is wrong with a drug test?
    Depends whether you like poppy seeds on your roll or not...

    http://www.a1b2c3.com/drugs/test2.htm

  25. #25
    Anjin Brooker's Avatar
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    Ewok85 wrote....
    They want you to pee into a cup man! Is that too much to ask?
    I don't really take issue with drug tests (although I don't see the point in automatically testing everyone) what I took issue with is the line of reasoning you used.

    If you have nothing to hide then wheres the problem?
    To make a parallel to another issue.... I'm not a terrorist, but I still don't think the books I check out should be traced, my home should be bugged, my movements should be monitored, etc. I'm not one to think that the government is watching me, but I believe in protecting the rights of myself and others. Also, if you're not a drug user and they have no reason to suspect you of being one, why should you have to bother to take the test?

    But this is way off topic, if you'd like to continue this, maybe we should do so elsewhere.

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