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Nova’s crash: readers respond

Following are responses from readers on the collapse of language school chain Nova Corp. and last week’s Zeit Gist article, “Nova crash adds to ‘eikaiwa’ wage woes”:

Company run on exploitation

Sadly, I’m not surprised Nova has come to such an end. I was employed by the company at a Niigata Prefecture branch from 2003-05 as an English instructor, and witnessed a company run on exploitation.

The Japanese staff were bullied by area managers into working late, and when one staff member resigned she was told her colleague would not be promoted due to her betrayal.

During the Niigata Prefecture earthquake of 2004, the company docked instructors pay for the days we were in the refuge centers. Only when we kicked up did they pay us. But one teacher who had been with the company for seven years and had a family had to fight for any benefits. Later, my area manager told me it was a mistake to pay teachers for days they hadn’t worked.

So Nova, then: Japanese staff — good; English instructors — good; students — good; company and middle management up — venal.

Best wishes to all Nova branch staff and instructors.

Rob D., Hounslow, England

Confident about the future

I am an ex-Nova teacher, and I am confident about my future in the world of English teaching. I have been teaching English online (by myself) for the past year, and I want to help others to do the same thing. Check out my blog at HowToTeachEnglishOnline.com. The English market is huge, and we can all work together!

John Buchanan, Osaka

Freebies for Yokohama students

I am a certified Canadian teacher with 20 years of teaching experience. Presently I have my own school in Yokohama. I have about 100 students, 90 percent of whom have been studying with me for five years continuously.

It really breaks my heart to see the Japanese students who are paying big for one man’s greed.

I would like to make an offer and help some students who are in the Kikuna area who couldn’t get their money back from Nova by offering some free lessons. I wish I could do this for as many students as possible but my schedule is quite full so I have to limit how many students I can help. If anyone is interested, please contact me at (045) 432-2555.

Jean Aizawa, Yokohama

From a worried parent

I am very concerned about the situation with Nova. My daughter just went over in August 2007 to teach English with this school and has worried since the beginning about it’s stability. She was a committed, eager teacher who looked forward to a career with this school and now is scared and doesn’t know which way to turn.

I feel the government needs to step in and ensure the teachers get their wages so they can at least move on and possibly secure other living arrangements and employment.

A concerned parent from Canada

Seek students/teachers online

In the weeks leading up to the Nova bankruptcy we, findateacher.net, experienced an unprecedented surge in teacher sign-ups (over 250 in a week) and we expect this to continue with hundreds of Nova teachers stuck with no income and nowhere to go.

Findateacher.net is the largest online language-teacher introduction site for “gaijin” in Japan and has more registered teachers than any language school in Japan. Currently there are over 6,800 English teachers and over 3,000 other language teachers. Most of the new findateacher.net sign-ups are Nova teachers who are looking for ways to support themselves before either returning to their country or finding their next job in Japan.

We would like to let stranded teachers know that we can help them. By signing up with findateacher.net, it is possible to start getting private students (and income) very quickly. Students search for teachers on the Japanese language version of the site called SenseiSagasu.com.

Students can view which school the teacher works or worked for so be sure to include Nova so students are able to select you. Nova had a very good teacher training program and produced skilled teachers.

Language students should know that they can also support the stranded Nova teachers (and continue learning English) by selecting them from SenseiSagasu.com and studying with them. We are currently offering a ¥500 discount to any stranded Nova student who signs up. Chances are their former Nova teacher will be available for lessons (at a lower cost than Nova).

Sign up at: findateacher.net and http:.//SenseiSagasu.com

Reid Greco, Founder, Findanet Inc.

Teacher quality has improved

The quality of teachers available may have decreased generally in Japan, but Nova’s policy of hiring overseas has been effective in getting fresh, willing workers. Anyone who has worked at Nova more than a few years should have noticed a constant improvement/adaptation in the organization in terms of training and materials provided for the education process.

Yes, I know there are many possible criticisms, but teacher quality definitely improved.

Rob, Chuo Line

Article hits the spot

“Nova crash adds to ‘eikaiwa’ wage woes” hits the spot. Although I’ve never worked for Nova during my past 18 years in Japan, I’ve “been there, done that” in terms of all the areas mentioned in your article. It has been so frustrating for me to witness the deception that has been going on far too long.

I can recall a conversation I once had with a Japanese Nova salesman in a bar after he had a few drinks under his belt. He told me he wanted to kill himself because he felt he was a demon for knowingly selling a product that was defective. As I say — and as you put it in the article — “the teacher is the most important thing.”

Paul Sully, Osaka

Try walking in my shoes

As a teacher of Nova, I am quite befuddled by the comments made in the article, “Nova crash adds to ‘eikaiwa’ wage woes.”

First of all, yes, there are some major problems and we are pretty much up the creek, and yes, we’re all mad as hell about not getting paid. But because we’re the ones in trouble, don’t make us the butt of all the jokes.

I’m not asking for sympathy, just understanding. Granted, nobody asked me to teach TESOL, or if I am trained in it. This for me was a teaching job, one that I could finally use my degree for. For other English schools to scoff at us and ridicule us is demeaning and uncalled for. And I’m not in the majority of new teachers. I’m actually one of the older ones that has come over, in my 40s, looking for a fresh start, not looking for a vacation abroad. I actually wanted to — and still want to — stay in Japan, because it is a beautiful country, rich in history and culture. Who wouldn’t want to live here, except the few “youngsters” who don’t know what they want in life yet.

The things that were said (in the article) basically were meant to raise suspicion and ire against those teachers trying to stay and make a living here, and to let prospective employers know: “Don’t hire them, they’re from Nova and your company will fail just like they did.”

There’s a saying: “Don’t judge a man till you have walked a mile in his shoes.” If the authors have truly gone through what we have, then they should go back to square one and rethink what they said, as well as any who own schools.

All we’re asking for is the chance to prove ourselves, those that really want to teach.

Name withheld, Ibaraki Pref.

An epitaph for Nova

Halloween-Over! On the blackest night of deepest October, Goblins and ghouls started to gather, A shroud of evil filled the air, A child’s scream cracked the night.

While in an underground cellar, Guy concocted his terror, Shards of flames leaping from his eyes, The shadowy puma behind slinks by. A tree on fire, an icy whisper, A face at the window, a opening door, A flash of steel, a thrust of blood — The lights have gone out at Nova!

D. Baresch, Rutland, England

Send comments on this issue and story ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp