Friday, February 16, 2007

Nova Does It Again!

The Japanese government is investigating my former employer, giant English school chain Nova. By Japanese law, when you sign a contract, there's a "cooling off" period where you can cancel it and get a refund.

Not, however, if you're a Nova student. Nova students have to pay in advance, and not only that but quite a few have recently complained that while they cancelled their contracts during the cooling off period Nova refused to refund them their money.

As I've written, my experience was generally positive working for Nova. I had problems with the sleazy nature of some of the teachers, the insular nature of Nova-culture, and the general weirdness of Nova as a company, but I really liked a lot of my coworkers (almost all of them in Hamamatsu), the Japanese staff, one of my bosses, and practically every single student.

Plus, it brought me to Japan and I had some exciting experiences and adventures. I like to think I grew up a lot, belatedly.

I still cast doubt on some of the worst horror stories, and cannot believe the vast amounts of negativity I encountered in the teachers' rooms. Still, when you read stories like this one, where the company is just hammering its customers in what I consider a highly unethical way, you have to wonder what the hell kind of people run the company.

It's definitely a good idea to read accounts by others who worked there if you're interested in working for them or you want to know what it was like for me and other teachers. Some of them are completely reasonable. I won't link you to the bullshit ones.

However... if you're a prospective Nova student (although if you're reading this and digging it your English is probably better than mine and not only do I salute you, but I also want you to teach me), and no matter how cute you think that pink rabbit is... STAY THE HELL AWAY FROM NOVA.

You can do much better.


ターナー said...

AEON is just as sneaky about getting money from students by having their foreign teachers endorse "extra" materials that students "must have to learn English, of course." Ridiculous.

I also disagree with many policies of the eikaiwas, but understand they're necessary for many people considering coming to Japan; setting up your visa, giving you housing, a bank account, a cell phone... the companies do make it pretty easy for the foreign worker, despite their rigamaroles for students.

Joel Bryan said...

Yeah, they do make it easier for someone who wants to move to Japan to head over. Nova took care of everything for me. For that, I'm grateful.

But yeah, what they do to students goes beyond things I was comfortable with. Also, the Japanese staff who worked long hours and were expected to spy on teachers. I really felt for them... the teachers didn't do much to make life easier for them, and the staff barely got any days off and minimum overtime pay.

Thanks for the comment!