Monday, October 29, 2007

R.I.P. Nova:

I had a few emails this week about my opinion on the Nova issue here in Japan. I worked for Nova many years ago in Otaru when I was about 22 and 23. I was not a full time employee. Actually, I was working in another private English school at the time when I was suddenly contacted by Nova to help them out. They had only 1 forienger in their school at that time and that person was quitting. So they needed a “gaijin” to be in their school until someone else was hired on. So I decided to work there as well. I already knew some of the management there.

At that time Nova was pretty much the king of English conversation schools in Japan. I found Nova to have a lot of money and a lot of resources. This was much different than teaching at a smaller private school. But my experience there wasn`t good or bad. I guess just typical. The school pretty much treated its teachers like a piece of meat. It was impossible to take a day off. The rules were very strict and just pretty much not flexible at all. But I found this same situation at a lot of schools. At that time I felt it was a little too much at Nova. Looking back I am not so sure. But I do know that the school did have issues with the way it treats its teachers. I know many teachers who were very disrespected and treated a little harshly. I also know teachers who loved the experience. Basically for me I felt they didn’t treat the teachers very good. Also, from the very beginning、 I didn’t like the pricing strategy there. I had many many students who were a little stressed out over their strategy. But I wouldn’t say they were much more expensive than other schools. Just the way they charged for lessons was a little different. But many schools have copied that same system. So all in all I thought my experience in Nova wasn’t good or bad.

Do I think the school is effective in teaching English and getting people to improve their English?? YES! But I say this because I think anytime a person has a chance to speak with a native speaker and learn and practice their English with someone who has natural speaking ability is necessary. So going to Nova and speaking and learning from someone who has native speaking ability will improve your English. But other schools do the same. My point it just being able to speak and learn from someone with native speaking ability will improve your English. Nova’s learning system was no better than other systems at some other schools in my opinion. But if you are comfortable in their system that is good. Students need to be comfortable. I think that’s important. So Nova as a school in my opinion is really no different than other schools. Just that it had money and resources.

But one difference as of late….. bad, dishonest, and greedy management. This is what is killing the school. (There are other issues too.) This is the sad fact. Nova provides a good service. But the way it has been providing it is very selfish in my opinion. It’s sad and frustrating to see a company who gets too greedy and forgets who the customer is.

How do you feel about the teachers now at Nova? How do you feel about their qualifications? As for the teachers of Nova, I feel sorry for them. They have been treated completely unfairly lately from the company. Some of the stories I am hearing are unfair. But in a sense I am not so surprised because that is kind of the nature of the business. But I think everyone eventually will be ok. I don’t think too many Nova teachers made a career out of teaching there. In my experience it was kind of a place people would work for a couple years at the most and then continue on in life with something else or somewhere else. But that’s just my opinion. I still feel sorry for the people who haven’t been paid and now find themselves in a foreign country without and money and job. I think the outcome of this can’t be very good. So I hope some good decisions are made quickly for everyone. As far as qualifications, I make no comment. Some teachers in Japan are there to teach. Some are there to earn a quick buck. Nova`s teachers are no different than teachers in many other schools. But not all schools are the same.

Someone asked me in an email the other day if I felt Nova is really needed these days? My first reply is yes. I think they are needed. There are many people who still desire and need to improve their English schools. English as a global language is very important. There are English language school in the United States that helps Native speakers with their pronunciation and accents. Many people are surprised to hear this. But it’s true. This is because there is a desire even in native speaking countries for people to improve their communication skills. So anyway if you have confidence in your English and feel you don`t need to improve then I guess you don`t need to worry about it. If you feel you want to improve or need to improve of just have a hobby of studying English, then yes language schools are needed.

So now I hope I have answered all the questions. Its an intersting topic which I am happy to discuss anytime since I am working and interesting in teaching English.

Now on to Sports.... Rockies lost...!! $#&%!! But the Red Sox are too strong. I think they have a really good chance to win again next year.

For tonight... GO DRAGONS !!!

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