Nova is in trouble

The gist of this advertisement is that Nova is going to raise their prices and ostensibly their level of service as well. We all know this is BS. I have met some pretty cool people that have worked at all of the main eikaiwa companies in Japan including Nova, but Nova seems to attract a lot of sub-par, loser gaijin while offering second-rate english conversation lessons. Nothing is very likely to change, except for a price hike.
This has to be one of the stupidest advertisements I have ever seen. Who should have to pay more for an already over-priced, inferior service? Unfortunately, it isn’t common knowledge to Japanese people that Nova isn’t one of the better franchises. Marketing does work, but will people really buy this?
To their credit though, Nova is a good for getting you a working visa in Japan, for generating unbelievably funny baka-gaijin stories in bulk, and sometimes for networking. Other than that, it is a company that regularly passes out packets of tissue paper for free at most of the places heavily used by pedestrians in Osaka.

10 thoughts on “Nova is in trouble”

  1. Hi, just found your site searching for blogs involving Oita. Thoroughly enjoyed reading about your adventures and am fascinated by the hashing phnomenon. Do you still do much of it in Osaka?
    As for Nova, as was a bit startled to see this ad on the train myself. It seems a little counterproductive to defend a move like this before they do it as if they know they’re doing something wrong. Do the Japanese think the same, I wonder?

  2. I saw that ad the other day on the Nishitetsu train. So basically they’re going to raise their rates after you sign up because their service is already too cheap. And they’re advertising that expecting to attract customers!

  3. It’s cool to see that people are finally starting to document Kyushu more through their blogs- it’s such an awesome place.
    Haven’t been hashing lately, but it looks like there are two groups who meet up regularly in Osaka to hash. If you’re up here and want to try it, they usually put an advertisement in the Kansai Flea Market. I’m looking forward to seeing what you come across in Oita.
    I’m not sure what the point of the advertisement is really. Many people believe that NOVA provides the best service, but then again many people are easily persuaded by clever marketing.
    Unfortunately, I can’t think of a way to measure the public perception of this campaign, so speculation will have to suffice for now.

  4. heya, i found your blog through ronan’s site:
    i interviewed for nova today. i was feeling a bit negative about it, after hearing alot of bad stories (mostly online) about nova. but from ppl who have worked there, it doesn’t sound as bad… it seems like the negative stories are the ones you hear about online, and in person, i hear generally good/ambivalent things.
    i think the interview went well and i learned a bit more about their materials and process. i am realistic; this is not university level language education… if i got offered the job, i would take it.
    i can see how as a teacher, one might be discouraged about having no chance of developing in-depth knowledge about a student’s learning needs; and hence, the possibility of never having that satisfaction that comes from a good teaching experience. however, i think they are incredibly organized and centralized, and are trying to offer an extremely ‘flexible’ product for people who want that. (come in when you want, no set classes, etc).
    i hope i’m not the type of loser-baka gaijin you’re speaking of. i’m just someone who is here in japan, looking for a working opportunity, and a visa.

  5. Hey Heather,
    I can’t speak with great authority about the company because i have never worked
    there, but I have some close friends who have. NOVA is a decent place to get
    started in Japan because, as you point out, it provides many benefits: The job
    will get you a visa, it is relatively flexible regarding the schedule and
    overtime, and you will meet people. However, this is a company that is trying
    to maximize profits. Common complaints about NOVA include but are not limited
    to being overcharged for housing, mentally instable workmates, questionable
    rules, arrogant upper-management, being forced to sell materials to students
    that may not be the most useful to them, no vacation for the first six months
    of employment, and no hanging out with students on your free time (I think this
    may have changed in the past year or so. The people who tend to stay in Japan quit NOVA and find employment afterwards, but some people really do like working there. I haven’t really met any of those people, so my views about NOVA are likely skewed to reflect those of the people that I know.
    As for baka-gaijin, I’m referring to these type of things:
    NOVA has a policy that when you’re teaching, you can’t take a break even if you
    have to go to the restroom. At the Osaka headquarters, according to a friend, there were incidents of feces being found in the hall on a few occasions (again, I didn’t
    see this first-hand, but it makes for a good story).
    Many people spend years in Japan, and seem to enjoy complaining about Japanese
    people and culture. They’re the ones that you’ll find in the gaijin bars
    bitching about the same things over and over with anyone they meet, never talking about the good things to be found in Japan. Often, they
    can’t speak Japanese and don’t have a good understanding in the culture because
    they aren’t interested in these things. Everyone gets frustruated with Japan, and although it’s perfectly OK to live over here and not be interested in the culture or language, I think it’s stupid to spend your time in a country that you don’t like. Especially if you hate working with your students and co-workers. It’s the students who pay the greatest price in these situations.
    After living in Japan for a while, a guy’s ego is likely to grow in a land where just being different can get you attention. Some take it too far and end up acting foolish in a very loud and obnoxious manner, even when they’re not drinking. I see this more that the average gaijin because I blend in and many times others have tried to bully, take advantage, or often say offensive things to or in front of me because they assume that I can’t understand them.
    This being said, I am guilty of being a baka-gaijin on occasion. Especially on my first year of JET.

  6. (i sent you an email, but wanted to respond a bit in the space also)
    I guess part of being ‘baka’ is being uninformed, so- Thanks for the information!
    I had heard Nova was run by Yakuza, though I had not heard they don’t give you a toilet break! “Feces in the hallway” LOL. OK, I have never heard that one! I wish I knew that for the interview- just as regards the no breaks policy. If I get the job I will certainly ask them more questions.

  7. Meeting up with other local bloggers sounds like a lot of fun. If I were up in the Oita area, I would definitely take you up on the offer. Alas, I will be living here near Fukuoka for a number of years to come though.
    From your time in Kumamoto, you’re also likely to be aware of how few foreigner groups like that exist here in Kyushu. When I first moved here last summer I was really big into digital photography and wanted to meet up with other ethusiasists. Sure there were some groups and associations locally, but none, not one, specifically for foriegners, nor “English friendly”. Of course my Japanese was not up to par then, nor is it exceptionally great now, but this was disheartening. So I started my own, albeit, small group. Perhaps that is the solution for coming up with a local blogging community too.
    In regards to NOVA, my perceptions of them are just as skewed as yours, since I haven’t worked for them either. Surely I hear a lot about them, but no personal experience. When I was a recent college grad and considering working for one of the major Eikaiwa here, I completely passed up NOVA and instead looked at GEOS and AEON. In the end though, I bypassed all of them and went straight to a private school. A few things that stuck out in my mind were that: a) I didn’t need a corporate sponsor for a visa and consequently b) I didn’t want to have to abide by whimsical work rules. For example, GEOS would not allow you to drive a car in Japan if you worked for them. Ah yeah, nope, that doesn’t fly for me living out here in the country.

  8. Hi there,
    I am currently a NOVA teacher, based in a Satellite School in Higashi Hiroshima (about 30 minutes train ride from Hiroshima) and am about to start on my 2nd year.
    Before I came, I too read stories about how NOVA teachers had experienced all sorts of horrors. However my time has been nothing of the sort. I guess being in a Satellite School, with a chilled out boss and really nice Japanese staff has kept us away from the interfering Corporate arm and beauracratic bullshit.
    I find lessons are simple, and allow a lot of flexibility as you become more comfortable with them. I also have the luxury of getting to know my students and me and my fellow teachers can assess each ones need and see real progress.
    I have experienced baka-gaijin and sadly I still work with one…I mean she’s been here 9 months and the other day walked into our local pharmacy with a headache. Instead of looking in a phrase book or asking for the NOVA Japanese staff to give her a phrase, she proceeds to talk in LOUD, S-L-O-W English as if she’s talking to a retarded baboon and banging her head to indicate the headache!
    Its certainly been the source of much amusement in the staff room!

  9. hello. i was recently hired by nova. i am currently trying to decide if i am going to accept the position or not. i am looking for an exciting year abroad. i want to meet interesting people and i thought nova would help make that possible. i have read through all of the information provided by nova and understand it will be hard work and little vacation time. i am not only prepared for that, but ok with that. now i am just looking for advice from people who have actual done it or are doing it. there is a lot of negative talk about nova out there in the blog world and i am not sure if i should take it seriously or not! any words of wisdom? i have a small bladder and tend to pee a lot! no bathroom breaks – i can’t think of anything worse. are these myths???

  10. As someone who spent a considerable time working for Nova(No vacation),I would advise you to take the job if you are interested in some adventure and studying the language. Don’t spend more than a year with the company because it isn’t a career course unless you want to live the rest of your life in Japan. You will receive a reference from Nova when you resign,but it’s a standard reference that basically states you worked for the company. You will have to get used to the fact that you are only a number and you can be replaced by another recruit. As for the rules-yes they are quite petty. Nova run a very strict organisation and there are salary deductions for being late or missing a shift. Should you feel sick,you have the opportunity to call in sick but you forfeit a days pay. Regarding the toilet breaks-the staff and students don’t generally take kindly to you leaving the classroom for anything,although I’m sure it’s ok if you explain the reason to the students and give them a task to do while you are in the bathroom. You will be given a 15 minute break between classes so it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Overall,I would recommend this job to a young person who is seeking some travel and life experiences. You will meet some wonderful people from all over the world,go out drinking alot after work,but then again you will also meet the “zero to hero’s” who are primarily male and are interested in sleeping with every female student. Some of the losers from mainstream society also tend to work their way up into management and can be “little hitlers” because for the first time in their lives they have some “authority”. If I were you,I would check out Berlitz because it’s not a Japanese company and is therefore a little more sympathetic to the westerner.

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