Writings from my Youth

Teaching English in Japan with Nova: 3 of 3

*** Please note this is from back in 2003-2004. If you are looking for current Nova information you’re in the wrong place ***

One of my biggest gripes with the teaching methods at Nova is the textbook. Published in the early 1980’s and designed for Mexican nationals immigrating to the US this is the book we are required to teach from. While Nova does allow a certain degree of flexibility in what you teach if you don’t use the book there is an increased chance of a student complaining. This is where my boredom problem came in, I didn’t want a student to complain so I would usually use the book at least a little bit in each lessons, with the exception of Man to Man lessons where I would give the student the choice of what they wanted to do. Now I will be the first admit that I am not a great teacher, but the above complaint is fairly common with all Nova teachers.

Me eating some Okonomiyaki

Another gripe I have with Nova is the fact that they take advantage of new teachers but over charging them on housing. For example in my apartment between three roommates we paid a total of 216,000 Yen. The apartment above us with the exact same floor plan paid 156,000. Now I realize they provide us with a furnished room but I would think a company of Nova’s size (which I am sure receives great deals on rent because of the raw volume of units they rent.) could at least charge us only the going rate to show their appreciation to us as employee’s. Heck, if they even gave us a deal it might actually promote company loyalty and they might have less employee turnover. Getting overcharged on housing is another widely felt resentment by most teachers.

So I worked for Nova for five months. I was going to try to make it six so I could get my paid holiday but it was just impossible for me to go on. I was tired of wearing slacks and a tie, I was tired of the factory work they call English teaching and most of all I was tired of not being able to openly forge friendships with students that I would see every day without lying about it. So I began to look for a new job and landed another part-time teaching job and got a bunch of private students. Now I am making the same amount of money in three days a week that I was making at five with Nova. Having the additional time off allows me to do other things in Japan such as enroll in Japanese language school, study aikido and form friendships with some of the people who I teach.

In hindsight the Nova experience wasn’t bad, it allowed me to pay down off some debt, provided me with a working visa, helped me find good accommodations. However, Nova still is a corporate machine and I have always had problems working for large corporations. I found that there is much more rewarding teaching work to be found in Japan. For anyone who is reading this wondering if they should come to Japan and work for Nova I would recommend they take the job. Everyone is different your experience could be totally different than mine. Who knows you might be the next 10 year Nova veteran.

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