No more Nova?

First I hear a rumor that Nova is going belly up, and then I hear more specific but still pretty dramatic details that they’re closing a high percentage of stores while being behind on salary payments. Are they really done for? Are the years of labor code violations and shady business practices finally paying off? What will thousands of unemployed and untrained foreign teachers do?

[Update] Asahi is reporting some specific information, and since it’s in Japanese I’ll provide the gist of it here:

  • The General Union, largely composed of foreign teachers in Japan, has sent a letter of warning to the Nova CEO.
  • They demand Nova to end their practice of late pay to their employees.
  • They also demand that Nova return the deposits of students who have properly cancelled their contracts.
  • Nova is “studying” a plan to close 200 of their 900 schools; the union wants this the closings to be arranged with adequate time for both staff and students to make proper arrangements.

More information is available at the General Union web page, but for the time being most of it is in Japanese, and since I’ve got several hour of paid translation work to do tonight, I won’t be doing any more here today. Anyone with information they would like to share is welcome to comment below.

Oh, and this is the letter the union sent to Nova CEO Sahashi.

株式会社 ノ ヴ ァ
取締役社長 猿橋 望 様
委員長 山原克二

警  告  書





And to clarify my initial snide comment, while I do enjoy seeing a despicably shady and exploitative company go under (hence the Shadenfreude tag on the post), I don’t actually enjoy seeing hundreds or thousands of innocent employees and students being screwed over.

2 thoughts on “No more Nova?”

  1. 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

    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 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 who should put you in touch with jobs. General job hunting sites like or 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 brethren can live here anytime they like). You can get info from

    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 in Sydney 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 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

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