Working For A Chain: NOVA In Japan

**Update**As of October 2007, Nova schools are not operating; read about Nova’s bankruptcy and the teachers it left hanging here.

If you’re thinking about working for a chain, you have probably come across NOVA, which operates in Japan. I don’t have any personal experience with (or connection to) NOVA – what follows is a summary of what they offer and how they work based on information on their website and comments from the Japan message boards at Dave’s ESL Café. Use this as a guide, but know that you need to do your own research before making a decision.

Nova places teachers in over 800 schools throughout Japan. Their website says they offer some flexibility with schedules (up to 28 hours in 5 days) and gives examples; some schedules involve weekend work. There are a range of class type such as general (with a maximum of 4 students), kids, TOEFL/TOEIC preparation, and voice, which seems to be an informal conversation session. They offer an orientation, three days on-the-job training and both follow-up training and continued support such as observations. NOVA helps arrange visas and recommends those interested apply three to six months prior to their desired start date (this is the recommendation for US applicants). Local recruiting offices exist in Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco, as well as in a number of other major cities around the world. A four-year degree is required and you can apply online.

Messages on the Japan board at Dave’s ESL Café mention that experienced teachers or those with certificates might be frustrated with the lack of flexibility or books, but they also note that the methods and books used mean that there is no preparation time outside of the 28 contact hours per week. Some posts mentioned the ease of getting overtime work, if desired, and others said that Nova offers more flexibility with holiday time than AEON, one of the other large chains in Japan.

Please note that the Nova website (which I must admit is pretty cool) does not lend itself easily to linking – which is why only a link to the main page is included here.

Come back to the TEFL Logue soon for profiles of other EFL chains such as AEON and INTERAC in Japan, and International House, Berlitz and English First internationally.