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Sucks to be involved with Nova right now

October 29, 2007

I don’t know how big news this is overseas, but around June or thereabouts, Nova publicly got into all sorts of trouble. Nova is the biggest eikaiwa (English Conversation School) in Japan. They run classes for all ages and hire foreigners from all around the world to come and teach for them. Which is an insane number of people.

It came to light around June that they had some dodgy contracting jargon with the students who signed up. It looked like if they weren’t happy with the program, they could pull out and get their money refunded. But actually, they couldn’t. Some guy took them to court, the contract was found to be unfairly written, and the court ordered Nova to pay back the course fees for anyone who wanted to quit the program. Lots of people did. Nova suddenly had to pay a whole lot of money. Then it turned out, they didn’t have any.

I don’t really know the details, but apparently somebody had been diddling the books. Nova had nowhere near as much money as it was supposed to have. And things started going downhill. Presumably because Nova figured that if anyone was going to stay with the company come hell or high water, it would be the teachers – seeing as they were in a foreign country and would be kicked out without a job – pay for staff got delayed, and delayed again. As the reputation went sour, students started taking their business elsewhere, meaning a reduction in income for the company (and possibly extra repayments they had to make), and teachers started jumping ship where they could, leaving lessons and classes in shambles.

Now, the business has officially closed. Today students and teachers around the country went to their classes and found the buildings closed. The director has been dismissed by the Board. They will probably file for bankruptcy. Teachers haven’t been paid in months. Nova’s estimated debt is in excess of 44 billion yen. I haven’t yet talked to any Nova teachers firsthand about this, but I’ll bet they’re absolutely hating life at the moment. It’s a disaster.

Luckily, I don’t work for them. So, I’m still trundling along in my High Schools. And, I’m looking to improve my position further! As such, I’m attempting the JLPT again! Some of you might remember that I took the Level 3 of this last year (1 being the most difficult, 4 the easiest), and failed. Well, that was only natural considering I had only been in Japan for two months at the time, and had never studied Japanese before arriving. So, in keeping with my purely idiotic and totally groundless self-confidence, this year I’m attempting Level 2.

Level 2 is, in a word, really really hard. I’ve bought a couple of books to help me try and study for it – one being all about kanji and vocabulary, and the other being all about grammatical constructions. I’ve showed the grammar book to a couple of Japanese people. Two of them have picked questions at random, attempted them, and gotten them wrong. It’s tricky.

In order to sit Level 2, apparently I should have mastered grammar to a relatively high level, know around 1000 kanji and 6000 words, and be able to converse, read and write about matters of a general nature. This level is usually reached after studying Japanese for about 600 hours, and after completion of an intermediate course. I’ve still never taken a single Japanese class.

So, that’s where alot of my time is going at the moment. Frantic study! Any good wishes you guys can send my way would be appreciated. I’ve got another 5 weeks to become a Japanese master. Ganbarimasu.

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