Japan: NOVA unable to pay its employees

James at Japan Probe reports the news that NOVA, Japan's largest chain of English schools suffering from a deepening financial crisis, has postponed paying its English teachers this month.


  • ClKnox

    My daughter is a supervisor at one of the NOVA schools outside of Tokyo. She says the teachers have been paid but none of the supervisors have. She tells me she now has $6 in her bank account and doesn’t know when she will be paid. What can we do?

  • Joi

    I’m a supervisor too and have $4 in my account. I know how your daughter feels and hope for all our sakes that Nova will in fact pay us on Tuesday else myself and fellow ATs (which is what your daughter’s title at Nova is, or else she’s a BT) in my area are going on strike on Wednesday.

    There is some good news though, if Nova do go bust, we can claim unemployment insurance which is paid by the government and the information can be found here:


  • mike

    NOVA broke? Get a new job….down under.

    I read on one of these boards that 5000 of the current Nova teaching staff are Australians. With this in mind, I thought I’d post on the ESL situation back home.

    First thing you need to know is that there is a teacher shortage at the moment. Most schools are finding it hard to get the teachers they need. It’s been that way for a couple of years now, but the shortage has been particularly acute the last six months and will only get worse as the peak study season rolls around.

    Although ESL teaching is quite different from Nova’s patented “4 bunnies in a box” approach, many of the things you picked in Japan will stand you in good stead back home. (For starters, ex NOVA-ites are usually pretty good at keeping a up conversation with low level learners and have usually picked up a fair bit of knowledge about how English works and how it can be taught).

    Within Australia there are dozens of schools in each capital city: more than 100 in Sydney alone. The ESL industry in Australia is regulated by the Federal Government’s ESOS Act 2000. Aside from compulsory insurance to protect students if schools go under, schools are accredited by a body called NEAS that ensures schools, teachers and curriculum are up to scratch. You can get information/addresses on accredited schools from NEAS at http://www.neasaustralia.com

    The reason for the teacher shortage at the moment is probably because the general job market is so strong. Schools are finding it difficult to get good teachers and some of them a resorting to poaching them off each other. Salaries are around $35,000 to $65,000 per annum (I think that’s 3,5000,000 to 6,5000,000 yen), depending on your experience and qualifications.

    Speaking of which, to work at a NEAS school you will need a minimum of a Degree and a legitimate TESOL qualification (deemed to be a Certificate IV in TESOL or a University TESOL Post Grad Cert/Dip or an RSA CELTA). Once you have these things you can pick up work pretty easily. You can even get recognition for the work you did in Japan which should reduce the length and cost of getting a Cert IV TESOL through a process called RPL (recognition for prior learning). One Cert IV TESOL provider in Sydney is Greenwich College (www.greenwichcollege.com.au ) And there are others in NSW and interstate.

    For jobs … you can approach schools directly (see the NEAS website) or contact job hunting sites like http://www.eslstaff.com who should put you in touch with jobs. General job hunting sites like mycareer.com or seek.com run ads too.

    Non- Australian teachers can join in too. Pretty much all schools are happy to take native English speakers,a variety of accents is even viewed as a bonus. If you’re under 29 years old you can get working holiday visa unless you’re from USA (coz the US govt doesn’t like WH visas) or New Zealand (coz Bondi is a New Zealand suburb, so our Kiwi bretheren can live here anytime they like). You can get info from http://www.immi.gov.au/media/fact-sheets/49whm.htm

    The teaching itself is pretty different from NOVA; students study for 20- 25 hours per week in mixed nationality classes of up to 18 students using a set curriculum and text books that werent published in the cold war. Most classes run five days a week from 9am to 3pm with an hour off for breaks. Decent employers usually pay for lesson preparation time (using a daily rate).

    So why am I putting all of this down? Well, I used to work in Japan (including 12 months at NOVA) and I can appreciate the stressful feeling of working in a company that’s on the ropes. However the main reason is that I am now the director of an ELICOS College and am finding it hard to get teachers – so if you’re thinking of calling it quits at NOVA, then get in touch! (blueterrace-AT-hotmail-DOT-com)

    PS For stat junkies, you can see the size of the ESL market in Australia by looking at the government statistics http://aei.dest.gov.au/AEI/MIP/Statistics/Default.htm Students numbers are up in every market except Japan which experienced a 5% decrease (another sign the English bubble has broken??) . Another good site is English Australia http://www.elicos.edu.au

  • Tristan

    Nova didn’t pay ATs(assistant trainers,supervisors) today,the next deadline is for the (mainly)Japanese&permanent(for now!)staff on Thursday the 27th,which looks dicey,to say the least;everyone in this situation should have already contacted their Embassy/Consulate if they need assistance&spread the word in their home country to avoid nova,as it seems nova recruitment centres are not mentioning anything about the impending bankruptcy http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10465542
    ;you should also contact either The General Union in the Kansai area/Chubu,or NAMBU in Kanto,but you need to realise that a financial(some union dues)&time training commitment is expected(with the information you receive that helps you, you are expected to help the next person with,in an each-one teach-one process,as these Unions don’t have the staff to deal with 1000s of people)The payment of Unemployment Insurance(which the Union forced Nova to do) depends on the nature of your work change,the time worked&your age.Getting unpaid wages from a Chapter 11(Bankruptcy) Auditor is another thing.
    Great post by Mike there,good to see people caring&disseminating valuable info.

  • I notified NOVA, in writing, that OUR branch teachers at NOVA Itami, Hankyu are as dedicted as always to teaching quality lessons (as far as is possible at a moment’s notice). Even whilst having no money to pay this month’s bills on the day, we (my pregnant wife and I)will remain loyal to our students who risk losing their pre-paid points if we do not show up to teach.

    However, being as NOVA was never a caring company, one must expect the worst for it’s teachers’, whichever country they are from. It was not obvious that the illegal dealings of NOVA was to have such an effect on the government either. Perhaps Prime Minister Abe simply resigned his position because he wasn’t aware of the Japan/American policy in the Middle East, which he took on, but didn’t reckon on the NOVA crisis, and the fundemental change to the International Teaching Business Industry in Japan and the knock-on effects.

    Surely it hasn’t gone unnoticed that Gordon Browne – A Prime Minister, of (what’s left of) Great Britain is reading well off the page. He did a good job, and I hope he will back up his support for the Buddhist monks in Bhurma within twenty-four hours.

    Any stalling to put down any threatened insurgency by these buddhist monks must be discussed, agreed and ratified by democratic leaders like Gordon Browne and Tony Blair.

    If the military breaks up a peaceful protest, then there will probably by a high price to pay – doesn’t DEMOCRACY reconize TIANAMAN SQUARE?

  • Chickenhero

    I too am an AT but i dont believe that loyalty to students is a problem with most teachers. NOVA has always been a fair company and generally speaking conistant. Most problems arise when people start working for them and realise that it is in fact a job and not some day hang out spot that they get paid to attend. I believe this misconception is a problem that stems from the recruiting process.

    NOVA has done everything they promised when i joined up. However, now my train pass has run out and i dont have the money to buy a new one, and i refuse to borrow money from friends, especially when im not sure if or when ill be able to pay it back.

    Supervisors have still not been paid. And now when foreign personnel is called they are saying “well, we have been told it will be today but im not sure if you really should believe that”.

    I do find it a little confusing that teachers are still being brought over though. that is something that needs to be addressed given that now our pay is almost 2 weeks late and many can be forgoven for being a little pessimisticabout the future of their jobs and the company. Not even the Japanese staffs pay was delayed for that long last month.

  • Hurnderock

    My roommate and I are shocked and horrified by this crisis. It is quite clear that the company is broke. We have spent more money on travel to Japan than we have made on the job, as we have only been working here two or three months. Where are the cries for lawsuits? The Nova CEO would never send his own relatives halfway around the world to work for a company going broke, yet he has no problem recruiting new teachers every day.
    We feel we must go home, but how can we as teaching staff force Nova to reimburse us for the thousands spent coming here?
    Nova teachers are not delinquents. We are all college educated. And since when did a college education become free?
    For those who have no money to get home, the best thing to do is to contact the relevant embassy immediately. My roommate and I are fortunate enough to have enough funds to get by, but we would like to express our deepest sympathy to any teachers trapped in Japan. Our prayers go out to you.To Nova, with all the deepest and most sincere emotions we are able to muster, we say thanks for nothing and kiss our multi- racial Ass!

  • Tyler Durden

    Mr Sarihashi is hanging out today on 23rd floor of the NS Building. Now is your chance to go and talk to him

  • JG

    I am a brand new recruit at Nova, about a week. I am still in the middle of my training. So far my experience with the company has been great, if a little uncertain at times. But I wonder, if Nova loses thousands of students, won’t those students lose their teachers too? I hope the demand for english teachers remains high and can only hope to pursue other avenues of english teaching, despite the potential difficulties of a flooded market. Hey, there’s always Korea!

  • Sheila Gayes

    It is unfortunate to read of the difficulties within the Nova chain. Hopes are that this can still be turned around though with diminished staff and schools. What Nova is doing by still recruiting foreign staff is wrong both fiscally and morally.
    This said the water is excellent in South Korea. The best jobs are public school positions, guaranteed job security, pay and back up in the classrooms. However, if your dazzled by higher pay with risks, try to the private academy route. Do research ahead of time and don’t let Koreans bully/pressure you into anything.

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