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Four Years After the "Nova Shock"

The Japan Times has a mini-retrospective on Nova four years after its collapse, with yours truly given a chance to flog Nova's corpse.

For added measure, there's also a piece on the horrors of working for Gaba.

According to William, his troubles began back home in the States when he was interviewed for a teaching position at Gaba by webcam.

"They told me I would be legally required to teach 160 lessons per month for visa sponsorship at a rate of ¥1,500 per lesson. But that didn't happen."

William says that rather than the 40 lessons he was promised, he averaged only around 25 — 30 on a good week, and sometimes as low as 10. "This was a source of conflict between myself and my management," he says.

Despite the fact he was teaching what amounted to a part-time schedule, he had to be in the workplace 40 hours a week or more.

"I would be sitting around in a booth — they would call it a booth, but I would call it essentially a prison cell — and you are expected to sit there until something falls off the cart," he says.

Japan: 

Comments

I am particularly surprised that the Gaba situation is what the Japan Times reports. The company has put forth that what they are doing with "gyomu itaku" is totally above-board:

http://hoofin.wordpress.com/2011/09/21/what-is-the-general-union-up-to-a...

And still they come to Japan knowing full well of all the dodgy companies operating here.

Man, and I thought working for GEOS was bad. Reading that article about GABA made my skin crawl. You guys out there slaving away for them have my sympathy!

I believe that under their contract, legally the teacher is fully entitled to negotiate the fee directly with the student.

For a company not to at least pay transport is lousy beyond reason. Magic, ain't it? Treat your staff the same level of regard as a Toyota Hiace packed with day labors, yet expect them to act like full time professionals.

If you work at GABA now, use it to get what money you can and actively seek other work. Don't worry about your VISA. When it comes for renewal, get your new employee to sponsor you, or go for self-sponsorship.

GABA found a niche alright, at the expense of foreign labor. Look into their history; very shameful.

Another poor innocent persons' utopian ideology of Japan has been battered into oblivion

As an "independent contractor", I would have thought that, once you're matched with a student, then everything else is up to you - you negotiate with the student over the lesson fee, location, materials, even length of class.

As soon as GABA have any say over any of those things - e.g. you have to teach the class on GABA premises, the teacher receives a fee set by the company, or has to use a certain text set by the company - then you're no longer a contractor, you're an employee. The courts so far have recognized that.

As an independent contractor, I'd say you're well within your rights to take the students you teach at GABA on as private students. Tell them that you can offer them a better deal, e.g. Y3,000 a class. They save Y5,000 per lesson, and you get paid twice as much. Everyone wins.

You know, the whole GABA dodge about being an employee is particularly dangerous for an American. If you are not covered under the Japanese pension system, you owe 15.3% Self Employment Tax on any self-employment (independent contractor) earnings in Japan.

When (not if) the IRS gets down to cracking down on Americans in Japan who don't file (some say this is already occurring, but I just have anecdotes about that), the IRS is going to want to know where that 15.3% of the GABA earnings is. What are you going to do, say that GABA was the employer?

To all those parasites who have benefited greatly from foreign teachers in Japan working for sub-standard pay in pathetic conditions, feeding off the naivety and enthusiasm of new arrivals; to all those dispatch companies with their greedy mitts firmly in the pockets of those who actually face the students, usually headed by some elderly nobody with delusions of gradure, who gets the same contracts year after year by drinking the same cup of 'kiss ass' green tea with the same people; and to all those piss-ant little nobodies who very falsely believe they are sombody and are headed for the exexutive suite by continuing to be the ones to actually keep the gaijin in line; and to all the pricks who never see any of this shit, but reap the financial rewards...

MERRY SYPHILIS AND A HAPPY GONORRHEA!!

1 above. Its all just different shades of the same shit

And still they come to Japan knowing full well of all the dodgy companies operating here.

Exactly. I no longer have any sympathy for people who come over here without doing some basic research into what they're getting into.

It is easy to find information on 'Gaba' and the scam that it basically is. Yet people try to claim that they had no idea about the company. I don't buy it anymore ...

I think when young, or at a loose end, the idea of going over-seas and having a job / any job, is just so exciting, one remains blind to the well spelt out reality of the "game". It's a bit like being possessed by the mating urge. There are many people who, fuelled by the excitement of copulation, end up in someones bed, only later wanting to chew their arm off ("Oh my God, what I have done?"). That's why all those pip-squeak dodgy companies serving up native language entrails, in their recruitment efforts, put so much focus on living in mysterious and unique Japan - they know how the minds of suckers work.

I grow tired of the complaints of the poor conditions for teachers of English in Japan.

You ALL know FULL WELL you are not English Teachers – you masquerade as language teachers, while not having the first clue about it, and then bluff, giggle, and fumble your way through jobs, picking up just a few concepts here and there, knowing from the outset your employer is dodgy, and that dodgy operators plague the industry.

You know you are FRAUDS, working for FRAUDS, and then you cry as if you have been hard done by.

It’s no different to frequenting a brothel, and then crying into the arms of your best friend, because you ended up with a dose of the clap.

If you don’t want to have dog shit on the soles of your shoes, then please don’t stand in dog shit, especially when there are signs all over the place saying “There is Dog Shit all over the place here, so please don’t stand in it”.

Idiots, the lot of you.

I grow tired of all the Garth Saxtons who think that everyone who comes to Japan to teach is an unqualified undersexed loser. People come here for all kinds of reasons. I, for example, am fascinated by all things Mizu Shobai, and, to ensure I can stay lurking around Kotobukicho as long as possible, I make sure my teaching credentials and qualifications are up to date and up to scratch, and take my teaching seriously. Therefore, as I did when I first came here in '87, I remain fairly happy with my job, and prospects of continued employment. Thankyou.

You ALL know FULL WELL you are not English Teachers – you masquerade as language teachers, while not having the first clue about it, and then bluff, giggle, and fumble your way through jobs, picking up just a few concepts here and there, knowing from the outset your employer is dodgy, and that dodgy operators plague the industry. You know you are FRAUDS, working for FRAUDS, and then you cry as if you have been hard done by.

Oh yeah? You're not a fraud then? So what are you doing with yourself?

That's why all those pip-squeak dodgy companies serving up native language entrails, in their recruitment efforts, put so much focus on living in mysterious and unique Japan - they know how the minds of suckers work.

Some people do come over to do more than eating, drinking and copulating.

What would you recommend for someone coming over to Japan for the first time with regard to their lifestyle and activities?

Oh come on Mr X, don’t live in denial.

You know full well the booths of Eikaiwa are full of fake teachers without qualifications, performing on-call daily like circus monkeys, and that they just about all knew, from places like this, that is EXACTLY what they were in for, and they do it, simply for beer or travel money, while spreading their primordial juices around, like soya sauce being squirted over take-away dim-sims stuffed in brown paper bags, AND while doing all the other classic stuff that the good ole “right of passage” first overseas thingy experience entails.

No-one gives a shit.

Some however, do the right thing by their charlatan employers, by those gai-curious wet-pussied, tissue carrying, giggling nitwit chicks, and by those stench breathed, rotten toothed, tobacco smelling middle aged salary men nut-jobs, because they know full well the theory of differing brainwaves, and thus, the importance of their jobs.

Oh come on Mr X, don’t live in denial.

You know full well the booths of Eikaiwa are full of fake teachers without qualifications, performing on-call daily like...

And so on and so on. I'm not denying anything you say, but you didn't answer my question. What are you doing with yourself that gives you the right to look down your nose at anyone else?

Everything Garth says is true, but is couched in a way that indicates he has a big hang-up with eikaiwa.

Most people move on and put it behind them after they quit, but mentally he seems stuck in an "eikaiwa warp".

Everything Garth says is true, but is couched in a way that indicates he has a big hang-up with eikaiwa.

Actually, if there's any reason for people not to take this site seriously, it's posts like "Garth's". There are serious and valid criticisms to be made of eikaiwa but he just re-hashes and re-phrases the same old rants that get posted here all the time - teachers are performing monkeys, it's all a rip-off, etc etc etc. There's no substance or detail, e.g. about how totally worthless NOVA's level system is, how little the Japanese managers know about teaching or how crap its books are compared to anything produced by reputable publishers. His posts give eikaiwa managers a good excuse to say that people who post here basically just whine, rant and talk crap.

when she needs to replace one of us. We go on a trip and then she puts an ad in Fukuokanow! saying she's hiring. Same old trick. She just needs a sub.

FCC uses stooges to substitute
when she needs to replace one of us. We go on a trip and then she puts an ad in Fukuokanow! saying she's hiring. Same old trick. She just needs a sub.

.

Who or what is FCC? What the hell are you talking about?

I think the guy's lost his grip on reality. This is what can happen to people who spend years drifting along in dead end English "teaching" jobs abroad. They get cut off from home, cut off from their environment, and end up in living in the "eikaiwa warp", often aided and abetted by daily alcohol intake to fill the void.

I think the guy's lost his grip on reality. This is what can happen to people who spend years drifting along in dead end English "teaching" jobs abroad.

Yeah, yeah. Whatever. If you had a bit more imagination your aliases ("Garth Saxton," "Peter Sutcliffe" etc) wouldn't all have slightly unusual, properly capitalised full names. There must be other ways you can find to play with yourself.

The warp is real!

I have a couple of pals I left behind when I left years ago and they have stayed on. I swear to God they have both become hermits. One guy in particular I am really concerned about.

Last year when the tragic Tsunami and nuclear disaster happened I contacted him (as he lives in the Tohoku region) to check how he was doing. Basically he was annoyed that the reputation of Japan was being besmirched in the international media. He tried to claim the events in Fukushima were trivial and that no one was in danger. He was super defensive and kept bringing up things that aren't great in the US (I totally agree with his points about the US) but it was just his removal from reality and his ardent defence of the Japanese government and TEPCO that alarmed me.

Anyway my point being that I notice people who stay there too long go more than a little nuts!

Yeah, yeah. Whatever. If you had a bit more imagination your aliases ("Garth Saxton," "Peter Sutcliffe" etc) wouldn't all have slightly unusual, properly capitalised full names. There must be other ways you can find to play with yourself.

You too, "Mr X", you too.

Hey, "Mr X", are you by any chance stuck in a dead-end English "teaching" job in the backwoods of Japan and going crackers?

Just a thought. Perhaps you should get out more, and stop playing reverse psychology sock puppets on here.

He was super defensive and kept bringing up things that aren't great in the US (I totally agree with his points about the US) but it was just his removal from reality and his ardent defence of the Japanese government and TEPCO that alarmed me.

Anyway my point being that I notice people who stay there too long go more than a little nuts!

I've noticed a similar thing in the way some people get very proud and defensive about Japan, and even start slagging off their home culture as being inferior to the superiority of Japanese life and culture, and how they wouldn't live anywhere else.

Thing is, it is curable, basically by getting some sort of career direction, learning the language, and getting out and about more. Find a few hobbies or activities you're interested in where you get to mix with the native population. It's not difficult.

Hey, "Mr X", are you by any chance stuck in a dead-end English "teaching" job in the backwoods of Japan and going crackers?

You call yourself "Peter Sutcliffe" and you talk about other people going crackers? Don't you think that's just a bit sick? In any case I doubt you could even articulate what makes one teaching job more of a dead end than any other.

And this coming from someone that calls themself, or sock puppets under the name, Mr X.

Go on then, do your worst and let's have a debate - what constitutes a "proper" teaching job over a "pretend" one?

Here's your chance to articulate yourself.

Accusations of sock puppeting would carry a bit more weight if they came from someone with a registered username. Anyway, why don't you articulate yourself? You're the one throwing around terms like "dead-end teaching job," "fake teaching" and so on, but there's no indication you even know what you're talking about. There are countless posts here all saying pretty much the same thing, which makes your posts just even more of the same old generalisations. Incidentally, you do know who Peter Sutcliffe really is, don't you? I assume it's not your real name, but bad luck if it is. If you picked it at random you really might want to re-think it. If you picked it deliberately then you're a waste of skin, and really not worth responding to.

I'm not sure what your beef is, or why you're getting so upset, vexed, confrontational and critical.

Instead of bandying about accusations and letting off your aggression, give us some reasoned, articulate argument and debate, and give us your thoughts on what constitutes a proper teaching job. Put your money where your mouth is, and liven these board up a bit from the useless, jaded, repetitive posts that you're complaining about, and stop dragging the boards down with your aggressive, judgemental bile, you hypocrite.

As for names, Christ, where do I start? I suppose you're the type of hyper-sensitive, new age, progressive leftie that gets upset by a band calling itself Joy Division.

Yes, but you're not Ian Curtis, you're just someone posting on a website. Anyway, it's not as if they called themselves Einsatzgruppen. As for aggressive, judgmental bile, who was it that said:

I think the guy's lost his grip on reality. This is what can happen to people who spend years drifting along in dead end English "teaching" jobs abroad. They get cut off from home, cut off from their environment, and end up in living in the "eikaiwa warp", often aided and abetted by daily alcohol intake to fill the void.

I'm a hypocrite? I never called anyone a crazed alcoholic. It's that kind of comment that really drags down the quality of discussion here, not to mention stupid expressions like "fake teaching." What does that even mean? "Real" teaching consists of telling people about a topic or how to do something, and then assessing how well they have understood the topic or how well they can do the task by themselves, either through exams or continuous assessment. Even in eikaiwa they have some notion of that, and eikaiwa schools do sometimes employ people who actually have ELT or other teaching qualifications, and some eikaiwa employees go on to have quite respectable ELT careers. For instance, Grant Trew, who wrote OUP's TOEIC textbooks, used to work for NOVA. Not that this makes up for everything that's shoddy and third-rate about English teaching in Japan, not to mention education in Japan in general.

I read the first few lines of your post and started composing a reply that began with "Go away troll".

Having read the rest of it (once you got some more off your chest), I'll focus on the second half and ignore the beginning just this once.

Would you doubt that any of the cut-and-paste you reprinted from my post is true? I've seen and heard of several eikaiwa teachers who either went weird and crazy in Japan, and/or ended up alcoholics (one guy I knew of spent over 15 years at Nova until it crashed, then died of liver failure not long after). I'd put it down to doing an aimless, dead end so-called teaching job in a very different country where they're not assimilated with their environment, culturally or linguistically. This is the case with "real", qualified EFL teachers in any country. I had a buddy that taught "real" EFL in Eastern Europe and North Africa who talked of the very same phenomenon.

Why does that make you so annoyed? This is an actual phenomenon. Perhaps I'm touching a raw nerve with you, I really don't know.

With regard to the idea that eikaiwa can involve "real" teaching and learning, I think that when you bring assessments and exams into it - and not just some crappy, Nova-type "in house" test, but one that counts for something in the "real world" - it moves away from mere "English conversation", and therefore shouldn't be referred to as eikaiwa in my opinion. And I do know that eikaiwa teachers go on to have "respectable EFL careers" outside of eikaiwa, not with an eikaiwa school. I don't know of any eikaiwa schools that are respected in the EFL world. Ask any EFL teachers with credentials and experience and they'd tell you that most eikaiwa are rubbish.

Sorry if that patronizes or offends you.

The individual doesn't matter very much at all. All you have to do is look at the real qualified teachers who did in fact work for Nova to see that. They were even more sucked into the system than the rest, because (apart from the principled ones who left within short shrift when they realised what they had got into) these 'qualified knowledgable people' would be the first to be offered promotional opportunities and readily took them.

No, individual credentials and background are not the main issue at all with eikaiwa. The issue is the environment. The eikaiwa environment is a fake educational environment in which it is next to impossible to teach effectiviely - in the sense of going for and achieving authentic sustainable results that correspond to the needs of the student - no matter how much you may know in theory.

You have to give people like Grant Trew a pat on the back for having looked after himself nicely at the expense of thousands of dissatisfied customers, I suppose. But my hats go off to people who write great textbooks at the culmination of a successful teaching career. The fact that Mr Trew did not have such a career is why he simply wrote another gaming the system strategies based text with some vocabulary thrown in. This like most of the other examination preparation texts has little or nothing to do with actual teaching or learning of a language.

With regard to the remarks on alchoholism in English language teachers overseas, it is worth noting that this phenomenon is not limited to the world of education. History is replete with tales of the hopelessly adrift expat and these characters can be found in all fields of work. They do, however, have in common one characteristic: the idea of going back home is an even bigger nightmare to them than putting up with a deadend pointless life somewhere else.

When I said that people who'd worked in eikaiwa schools could go on to have decent EFL careers I didn't actually mean at eikaiwa schools. Hence the OUP reference. Neither did I specifically say that I thought much real teaching goes on in eikaiwa - I might have said they have some vague notion of it - or that I thought there was anything of intrinsic value in in-house assessment systems like NOVA's. I tend to be of the opinion that students who want to get a useful and meaningful assessment of their ability out of English lessons are wasting their time unless they're aiming for a qualification like TOEIC, TOEFL, Eiken or IELTS.

As for people going weird and crazy, I don't doubt it but I wouldn't assume as much about someone on the basis of a few online comments, much less say it. That kind of thing just leads to pages and pages of "anonymous" posters hurling dumb insults at each other, which quickly becomes extremely tiresome.

Yes indeed. Take a trip to Lamma Island next time you're in Hong Kong and you'll see the crazy expat brigade.

http://jp.linkedin.com/in/granttrew

Grant Trew had a 17 year career at Nova before joining OUP in 2006. Would you call that a "successful" career? I'd say that that's a waste of 10-15 years, spending so much time with a charlatan outfit like Nova, when he likely could have worked for OUP much sooner, and thus advanced his career and done something more worthwhile.

I grow tired of the complaints of the poor conditions for teachers of English in Japan.

You ALL know FULL WELL you are not English Teachers – you masquerade as language teachers, while not having the first clue about it, and then bluff, giggle, and fumble your way through your jobs, picking up just a few concepts here and there, knowing from the outset your employer is dodgy, and that dodgy operators plague the industry.

You know you are FRAUDS, working for FRAUDS, and then you cry as if you have been hard done by.

It’s no different to frequenting a brothel, and then crying into the arms of your best friend, because you ended up with a dose of the clap.

If you don’t want to have dog shit on the soles of your shoes, then please don’t stand in dog shit, especially when there are signs all over the place saying “There is Dog Shit all over the place here, so please don’t stand in it”.

Idiots, the lot of you.

And what's so great about working for OUP ELT section anyway. All those guys do is churn out more and more of the same rubbish 'help the teacher who can't help themselves' texts. The whole publishing side of this industry is allmost as sleazy as the the teaching side in my opinion.

Just want to let you two pansies know your childish on-line tiff reminds me of two retarded mountain goats, living on the cliff edges of Mount Eikaiwa, relentlessly head-butting each.

LOL! LOL!

I'd say that that's a waste of 10-15 years, spending so much time with a charlatan outfit like Nova, when he likely could have worked for OUP much sooner, and thus advanced his career and done something more worthwhile.

Possibly. But neither was it impossible to move on from NOVA having wasted so much time there. Thing is though, if it really was such a total waste of time, why would OUP want to give him a job? Surely they'd give it to someone who'd spent the previous decade doing something more meaningful?

And "Garth Sexton"? Ever wondered why it says "Let's Japan.org Debunking Eikaiwa" at the top of the page? If you don't like people posting comments about eikaiwa here piss off and post your worthless troll crap somewhere else.

And what's so great about working for OUP ELT section anyway.

What, compared to working for NOVA? I'd have thought that was a bit obvious.

It will never accept the humiliation, the humiliation of being, of being defeated, time and time and time and time and time again.

It can never accept it.

It will always come in here, and make a prime time jack-ass out of itself, trying to inch its way back into the circle of those IN THE KNOW, oblivious to the fact that ALL AND SUNDRY, can see it, can smell it, from a country mile away.

The only choice we, we in the know, have, is to continue to ignore it.

Agree. It is time for the Whackerollo troll to be dealt with once and for all. It ruined things in here in 2011. United in 2012, we can all defeat it. Don't, don't, don't feed the makcorello troll. Ignore it, even if it hurts.

Just watch how it responds to this.

Possibly. But neither was it impossible to move on from NOVA having wasted so much time there. Thing is though, if it really was such a total waste of time, why would OUP want to give him a job? Surely they'd give it to someone who'd spent the previous decade doing something more meaningful?

So you're saying that working at Nova was "meaningful"? I'll give you that it perhaps wasn't a complete waste of time, in that one or two of the big shots there (such as Stephen Farley for example) have used their Nova "experience" to continue their career post-Nova.

In itself though, the Nova product was pap. Overseeing a bunch of drones spewing crap at another bunch of drones ad infinitum. There's certainly not much "meaning" in that.

BTW, I second that registration is brought back. Where do these nutcase trolls crawl out the woodwork from? Get a life and find something better to do during the week, you silly little man.

So you're saying that working at Nova was "meaningful"?

Goodness, of course not. I thought I'd made that fairly clear.

I'll give you that it perhaps wasn't a complete waste of time, in that one or two of the big shots there (such as Stephen Farley for example) have used their Nova "experience" to continue their career post-Nova.

That's all I'm saying. There are better ways to spend a few years than at NOVA, but it doesn't necessarily kill off people's chances of moving on to better teaching jobs, as has been the case with a few people that I know.

In itself though, the Nova product was pap. Overseeing a bunch of drones spewing crap at another bunch of drones ad infinitum. There's certainly not much "meaning" in that.

Indeed. The whole idea that people can just drop by for a class any time they like, take lessons in a totally random order from 'instructors' who don't really know what they're doing and still somehow learn something is just laughable.

BTW, I second that registration is brought back.

I thought it had been but now it seems we're back to any munchkin being able to post any inane garbage they like. Pity.

What this guy actually did, amongst other things in Edu Planning, was the Nova TOEIC course. Most people know that the Nova TOEIC course was shite for the simple reason that it wasn't a course at all just a set of lesson plans that the teachers were supposed to make into a course. All of this stuff was about strategies. None of it was about actually becoming better at English Just techniques to game the test. The more conscientious of the teachers may have actually tried against the odds to construct a course of some kind for students who signed up for TOEIC classes. However, in delivery, everything became totally random and the student typically wasted their money.

Anyway, during his 17 years of planning an education that wasn't for hundreds of thousands of students, clever Mr Trew thought: well while I am supposed to be working on this stuff for Nova, AND getting paid for it, I can secretly develop my own book and jump ship. Which he did. Then off he goes to OUP and shows them his stuff, which looks the part because it's basically just a rehash of all the other stuff they've already got. More tecniques in how to game the test without learning any English. So of course they love it. After all, if people don't learn anything then they have to buy more textbooks for the test right?

Not only does Mr Trew have some readied up materials to offer, but he speaks Japanese, he has Asian connections, so he can do sales and promotion type stuff for them in Asia too (called euphemistically 'lecturing'). And he got a job. That's the kind of people most of the publisher's reps in Asia are.

How many years of real teaching experience, does Mr Trew have? How many people has he actually taken through one of his books personally to see what kind of results he gets with it? A pilot course or two at maximum is all I'd say. Actual results are not necessary at OUP. On the contrary, bogus educational experts like Grant Trew suit them down to the ground.

As I remember it, the TOEIC course involved sitting there going through the TOEIC book, with the CD, one question after the other. That was about it. I tried to give a bit more bang for the students buck by giving them some advice on answering questions under pressure, based on my own experience of taking such tests. But that wasn't something Nova required, or trained you to do.

As for the merits or de-merits of OUP's English language learning material, I don't think there are many other publications that are of arguably similar quality (Cambridge and MacMillan are the other two that spring to mind), so if they are as bad as you say they are, then the English teaching industry is well and truly stuffed.

And I'd agree that Grant Trew is likely a "bogus educational expert". I don't think 17 years at Nova, and being involved in developing Nova in-house materials, is going to do much, if anything, for one's educational and materials-development credentials.

Well yes. I do personally believe that the whole language industry is pretty stuffed and that the publishing industry with its never ending stream of help the teacher who isn't a teacher books has a great deal to answer for in that regard. It was Cambridge, wasn't it, who invented the CELTA. It's full title is the Cambridge Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults. The whole premise being that you don't have to know shit to teach your own language, all you need is our latest set of 'how to' books and our certificate of four weeks teacher training education. Then you are set to go (for a year or two until you burn out trying to make a largely unworkable teaching system work. And yes, I do believe that the communicative methodology itself is flawed.

In this view, then, Nova's system (if you can call it that) was a particularly flawed and sleazy application of a methodology and business that is generally flawed and sleazy.

The Cambridge and Trinity courses are just initial courses to give you a very rough and ready idea of teaching with which to begin a "career" with. The Nova "methodology" won't even give you that.

I do wonder though about the way they've turned EFL into this "serious", "academic" pursuit with a "career path" to it. There's teaching and linguistics, fair enough, but then creating this whole specialized area of EFL is pretty bogus.

Organizations like the British Council and International House, who've been at the forefront of developing this "specialism", use EFL first and foremost as a diplomatic tool to enhance relations with foreign countries and spread Western liberal values (or, for Marxists, to spread imperialism across the globe). Language learning is a secondary consideration with which to achieve that aim. The whole "specialism" of EFL has been cooked up in order to give more credibility to that.

Anyway, during his 17 years of planning an education that wasn't for hundreds of thousands of students, clever Mr Trew thought: well while I am supposed to be working on this stuff for Nova, AND getting paid for it, I can secretly develop my own book and jump ship. Which he did. Then off he goes to OUP and shows them his stuff, which looks the part because it's basically just a rehash of all the other stuff they've already got. More tecniques in how to game the test without learning any English.

It's worth noting that the Oxford Tactics for TOEIC books were approved by ETS, which suggests to me that they're all quite relaxed about the possibility of "gaming the test." I'm inclined to suspect that the tricks and shortcuts are deliberately written in and the books just tell you what they are. In any case, while a good TOEIC score might look good on a CV as a measurement of English ability it's seriously flawed.

Absolutely. ETS is totally in on the game! They have about some 3 or 4 versions of the test known as TOEFL running at the same time for Christ's sakes. Why is that? Money from tests from every quarter, that's why. A sleazier bunch you could not find.

Ha ha ha

The Cambridge and Trinity courses are just initial courses to give you a very rough and ready idea of teaching with which to begin a "career" with. The Nova "methodology" won't even give you that.

I do wonder though about the way they've turned EFL into this "serious", "academic" pursuit with a "career path" to it. There's teaching and linguistics, fair enough, but then creating this whole specialized area of EFL is pretty bogus.

That's right. But in my opinion these CELTA courses set you off on the wrong track from the start with all this cut down teacher talking time and raise student talking time stuff. I mean how can anyone seriously believe that putting people into a pair or group and getting them to practice teaching eachother their mistakes while the teacher wanders around passing them the occasional correction will lead to them learning a language? It won't.

They might get a little better at using what they already have but they won't learn much new like that at all. The whole thing is bogus in my opinion and people are for the most part better off studying through online reading and listening without a teacher of any kind.

Well this is why they teach you "monitoring", "feedback" and "correction" techniques in order to correct mistakes that students make in class. Also, giving written homework questions and providing correction on grammar helps with that as well. There's only so much correction you can give in class though without disrupting the flow, or bombarding someone with too much correction.

Certainly reading and listening is where all language learning begins and ends. You get onto speaking and writing when you've absorbed grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary through the "receptive skills".

Most correction is ineffective in my opinion. And for every correction that is made there is a veritable host of uncorrected stuff that is in danger of being copied by 'partner' students.

As I say, classes are generally unnecessary for the motivated learner in my opinion. However, if people must go, then in my opinion the teacher would spend their time better by doing most of the talking so that students could get more receptive input and ensuring that this input is high quality, rather than fussing around trying to make them do output exercises as much as possible. Instead of 80% Student Talking Time and 20% Teacher Talking time it should be the exact reverse of this.

Certainly in the early stages, that would be the best approach. Do lots of listen and repeat (which you can easily do at home with a recording and a script) to practice pronunciation and basic sentence structure. Once you get onto intermediate, do some very simple, Q&A-style controlled speaking, and build it from there. Once you get to advanced, then you can start having free talking and discussions.

Speaking is thrown in so early so as to satisfy the students' desire that they're getting some concrete results, even if, like you say, the "results" are little more than runny porridge.

Most correction is ineffective in my opinion. And for every correction that is made there is a veritable host of uncorrected stuff that is in danger of being copied by 'partner' students.

Unfortunate but probably unavoidable, especially with students in big classes doing independent speaking tasks in pairs or small groups. This may indeed result in mistakes being made that the teacher doesn't catch and other students copy, but on the other hand hearing the students talk to each other using language that's been taught in the class is important for checking they have understood it.

As I say, classes are generally unnecessary for the motivated learner in my opinion. However, if people must go, then in my opinion the teacher would spend their time better by doing most of the talking so that students could get more receptive input and ensuring that this input is high quality, rather than fussing around trying to make them do output exercises as much as possible. Instead of 80% Student Talking Time and 20% Teacher Talking time it should be the exact reverse of this.

If there's going to be 80% teacher talking time it has to be top-quality stuff or else the students just aren't going to get most of it. There are classes, often at NOVA, where there is 80% or more teacher talking time, but most of it's just random waffle. How would you ensure the input was high quality?

Unfortunate but probably unavoidable, especially with students in big classes doing independent speaking tasks in pairs or small groups. This may indeed result in mistakes being made that the teacher doesn't catch and other students copy, but on the other hand hearing the students talk to each other using language that's been taught in the class is important for checking they have understood it.

This is why, if you do speaking activities at lower levels, they need to be completely controlled, focussed on a particular grammar point, using strict sentence patterns, and not allow any "free speaking" or making it up (which is where the waffle and mutual reinforcement of mistakes comes in). Maybe a little bit of free speaking is OK at the end of a lesson, just to allow people to run with it and make mistakes regardless, but that should only be a footnote.

Teacher talking time is essential, but has to be pitched at the right level, and the majority of what the teacher says should be based on language already taught up to that particular level, but with some extras thrown in to make it more challenging, and introduce new language that will be taught later on.

Lots of words, some of them well considered, but regardless, lots of words, which could be written more efficiently as follows:

Eikaiwa is a bullshit industry full of bullshit products, which by and large employs bullshit artists (whether those bullshit artists are aware of their bullshit artist status or not).

I tried reading the words of the “increase teacher talk time” advocate, but had to stop, because the ignorance buried within that huge volume of diatribe gave me a migraine.

Peter Sutcliffe, a question for you.

Have you ever considered someone might just be taking the piss out of you, and gets a perverse thrill from the time and energy you put into well thought out, well considered, and mostly correct replies?

The reason I ask, is surely, the person you are corresponding with, in such a careful and considered manner, can’t be that stupid.

At the end of the day, your opponent in this great debate proves one thing, and that is, Eikaiwa is a bullshit industry full of bullshit products which by and large employs bullshit artists (whether those bullshit artists are aware of their bullshit artist status or not).

"If there's going to be 80% teacher talking time it has to be top-quality stuff or else the students just aren't going to get most of it. There are classes, often at NOVA, where there is 80% or more teacher talking time, but most of it's just random waffle. How would you ensure the input was high quality?`

That is exactly the point. The people who run the CELTA courses can't do their become a teacher in 4 weeks thing working to something like that. The publishers can't sell their millions of unneccesary books working to something like that, and the owners of for profit conversation gulags with a high staff turnover can't run their businesses if that is the deal.

Becuming good at high quality input is largely dependant on the motivation of the individual teacher and takes years to develop. Since, as a customer, you have a probability of not getting a teacher like that when you sign up for a course, in many cases you would be better not signing up for a course at all.

.

Mr X wrote: 'If there's going to be 80% teacher talking time it has to be top-quality stuff or else the students just aren't going to get most of it. There are classes, often at NOVA, where there is 80% or more teacher talking time, but most of it's just random waffle. How would you ensure the input was high quality.'

That is pretty much the point. It is mostly dependent on the individual motivation of the teacher and it is a skill that takes years to develop. If that is the deal, then where would CELTA 4 week course purveyors get their busniness from? Where would the publishers of millions of unneccesary textbooks get their business from? And where would the owners of Language schools get their cheap, underpaid and burned out staff from? That's why this type of conversation is not happening in mainstream language teaching circles. That is why most of the research in the journals concentrates on things like minor (supposed) differences between two different types of correction or two different types of output task etc. etc. There is virtually no research out there studying the demerits of the communicative approach. The approach is taken as a given. Next time you hear someone complaining about a student who says: 'I don't want to talk. I just want to listen'. Ask yourself who is the one with the assumptions here? Who is forcing an agenda onto who.

Thanks for your well thought-out, considered words there. It really enhances the debate and I'm grateful for your input.

First of all, I agree - eikaiwa is a bullshit industry. I'm just trying to write it in a more "eloquent", "reasoned" way, rather than just "gutter talk".

Secondly, why are you asking me, rather than my "opponent" (who isn't really an opponent, as we agree on most things), whether he gets a perverse thrill out of watching someone write posts on "increasing teacher talk time", or "teaching" more "efficiently"? You already seem to know the answer to that one.

Thirdly, do you think I'm stupid enough not to have considered that "he" is "taking the piss out of me"?

NEVER underestimate your "opponent" ;-)

Eikaiwa is a bullshit industry full of bullshit products

If you have been following along, you would notice that the 'long words' you are having trouble with are about the whole language teaching industry and not just eikaiwa. Althoug much of the academic community will not discuss the views I have given, they have been raised by one or two left field academics such as Stephen Krashen. If you think these opinions (which he shares) are so ignorant, then I suggest that you DON'T visit his site to learn more.

That is pretty much the point. It is mostly dependent on the individual motivation of the teacher and it is a skill that takes years to develop. If that is the deal, then where would CELTA 4 week course purveyors get their busniness from? Where would the publishers of millions of unneccesary textbooks get their business from? And where would the owners of Language schools get their cheap, underpaid and burned out staff from? That's why this type of conversation is not happening in mainstream language teaching circles. That is why most of the research in the journals concentrates on things like minor (supposed) differences between two different types of correction or two different types of output task etc. etc. There is virtually no research out there studying the demerits of the communicative approach.

The problem you've got there is that teaching does also involve assessing how well the students have actually understood what you're teaching. They could do write essays, take listening tests or take reading tests, but it's a fact that lots of learners do want to practice making presentations or delivering speeches, so they take English classes just like anyone who wants to sing takes singing lessons. At some point you actually have to just shut up, listen and see how well they can do it by themselves. You can maybe minimise mistakes by limiting the amount of language to be taught and being very specific about what you want them to do with it, and when they do occur they can be corrected, ideally in such a way that the students will be less likely to make them again. Whether they do or not is up to them. It's really no different from teaching reading, listening or writing skills - there's no point in lecturing about writing essays if you're not going to set or mark any.

Next time you hear someone complaining about a student who says: 'I don't want to talk. I just want to listen'. Ask yourself who is the one with the assumptions here? Who is forcing an agenda onto who.

To be honest I'd query whether they knew what they were getting into when they signed up for the class.

Have you ever considered someone might just be taking the piss out of you, and gets a perverse thrill from the time and energy you put into well thought out, well considered, and mostly correct replies?

That's a very strange thing to get a perverse thrill from "well thought out, well-considered and mostly correct replies". How does that work?

Personally I think Peter's talking a load of garbage, and I'll happily overdose him on diamorphine the next time he comes to my surgery.

At the end of the day, your opponent in this great debate proves one thing, and that is, Eikaiwa is a bullshit industry full of bullshit products which by and large employs bullshit artists (whether those bullshit artists are aware of their bullshit artist status or not).

I think the main problem with eikaiwa is that it's mainly run by clueless Japanese men who have got this idea it's a license to print money because you only need to speak English in order to teach it, which means they don't actually see the need to pay competitive wages to skilled, qualified people. I think all the crap stems from that basic premise.

First: the main problem is checking understanding. There are three main ways to check this and they are using gesture and/or aids of some type (visual etc); asking directly in the mother toungue and asking questions in the target language. Answers don"t necessarily have to be more thatn a single yes/no or one or two words. Second. Yes students want to do some output in class and should (around 20%). However, this 'all we want to do is talk' thing is something that was sold to them in the first place. Actually, all a lot of them wanted to do before that was study grammar. Why? because that was sold to them as well. Students usually want to do what has been sold to them.

I'd say 75:25 TTT:STT. That extra 5% can make all the difference between them being satisfied with the class, or wanting more.

To check understanding, I set up a controlled writing activity and check each member of the class individually. I then do listen and repeat of those sentences, then get them to do the same thing in pairs. At the end of class, I have them do a similar exercise but where they make the language themselves. I monitor the students (don't forget monitoring techniques), noting general mistakes, and try to give correction in the form of repeating and highlighting the error at them, allowing them to think about the correct language. I finish up with class feedback.

There, I bet he's jizzing in his pants over this.

Don’t get you knickers in a knot Mr Surfcliff.

The point of my post is that it easier to call a dog shit a dog shit, or a dog turd, rather than partially digested carnivore nutrition that has been masticated (noting our pointed toothed best friends can’t move their jaws sideways), subject to the mammalian peristalsis motions of the canine digestive tract, mixed with gastronomic juices made up of a range of enzymes along the way (noting dogs have no digestive catalysts in their saliva), and then excreted from those wolf like bowels, quite often on the sidewalk.

Capiche?

I don't believe you are an academic, or that you know what you are talking about, but that's beside the point.

Eikaiwa is bullshit, you know it, and that's pretty much it.

I don't see any need to window dress it. Many have tried, and all have failed. The Butt Ugly Business of Eikaiwa is in fact, worse than ever.

End of.

The Main Problem is that Eikaiwa is a bullshit industry, run by and large by crooks, which sells bullshit products, and employs bullshit artists, whether the bullshit artists are aware of the fact they are bullshit artists or not.

There is only one ethical thing to do.

DO NOT work for Eikaiwa.

Personally I think Peter's talking a load of garbage, and I'll happily overdose him on diamorphine the next time he comes to my surgery.

Give yourself a name like Peter Sutcliffe and it's not long at all before all the trolls are back, calling themselves Harold Shipman, Fred West, Ted Bundy and what have you.

Actually, all a lot of them wanted to do before that was study grammar. Why? because that was sold to them as well. Students usually want to do what has been sold to them.

It may interest you to learn, if you didn't know already, that the new owners of NOVA have decided that grammar is something that students have to study in seperate classes from the regular conversation classes, and pay extra money for. Ain't that grand?

Grand?

More like obscene.

It’s a bit like signing a mobile phone contact, but if you choose to speak into the phone, rather than connect with who you are calling, and just listen to them, then you have to pay extra.

I can’t believe, the Nova name, and the Nova products, still exist, and that they were able to attract a single customer, or a single person to work for them.

May be it just me, but I would rather eat my own shit, splattered over moldy bread plucked from the vomit of a drunk salary-man, than work for a company like Nova.

I don't believe you are an academic, or that you know what you are talking about, but that's beside the point.

Eikaiwa is bullshit, you know it, and that's pretty much it.

I don't disagree but if all you're going to do is repeat ad nauseam the same crude, lazy generalisation, it's a bit rude to accuse others of not knowing what they're talking about while giving no impression that you do.

Why bother? Mr. Surflciff and your good self, do that, ad nauseum.

I prefer to be more efficient, and to go straight to the heart of the matter, because it’s not necessary to conduct a pseudo-intellectual analysis of or have a quasi-academic discussion about a stinking dung-heap.

It’s a very simple thing.

Eikaiwa isn’t even the ersatz of language education. It does not even come close to it.

It is a TOTAL scam, and a TOTAL rip-off, and a filthy blemish on the face of legitimate efforts to teach knowledge / skills.

Do you work for Nova, Mr X?

If so, I would consider that, lazy to the extreme.

You are right. I am not an academic. I do have a Masters in Applied Linguistics. However, it didn't do me a lot of good to be frank. What did do me some good however, was seeing language teaching done a completely different way first hand. You can see it too, if you like at this website address:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H47hWgbAN6Q

Have you ever considered that someone might just be taking the mickey out of you with all this pseudo-intellectual academic babble about the "finer points" of EFL?

Just a thought.

Do you work for Nova, Mr X?

If so, I would consider that, lazy to the extreme.

Yes. So what? Why should I care about what you think if all you're going to do is spew bile and re-hash tired old stuff that's been said a thousand times already? Eikaiwa may indeed be bullshit, but without anything to substantiate your views it is very easy to dismiss your posts as bullshit as well. Someone looking at getting a job in Japan might read valid and well-argued criticisms of eikaiwa schools and rightly opt for something else. Why should they be persuaded by anything you say?

The question is - so what?

So what if eikaiwa is a stinking, rotten cess-pool of putrid slime?

So what if it's run by evil crooks, suckering in innocent victims with dreams of the Orient, or of meeting a foreigner, and having their every fantasy fulfilled?

So what I ask you, so what?

A few days ago, I said that in my opinion error correction was largely ineffective. Just today I read an article in a left field academic publication which gave an impressive critique of 3 recent error correction studies. This is a fine example what I meant when I contended that academia (along with the publishing world and for profit/state teaching establishment) is biased towards the status quo of communicative methodology.

You can read this interesting article here, if you like:

http://backseatlinguist.com/blog/p=39&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=e...

The question is - so what?

So what if eikaiwa is a stinking, rotten cess-pool of putrid slime?

So what if it's run by evil crooks, suckering in innocent victims with dreams of the Orient, or of meeting a foreigner, and having their every fantasy fulfilled?

So what I ask you, so what?

.I can't be bothered replying to sock puppets. You're just doing eikaiwa owners a big favour.

Is it not hyperbole, like you do, to openly admit Eikaiwa and places like NOVA are B/S, and then, despite their enormous history of B/S, and changes from worse to worse to worse, to then want to discuss in detail the issues regarding their texts? To me, it is a bit like discussing, ad infinitum, whether or not smoking causes lung cancer. It's pointless. You seem stuck working there, and you probably have your own good reasons for that, but most people can't be stuffed dissecting the corpse which refuses to stop wriggling - they get sucked in, stay there for while (6 months, a year, two at the most), and then get the HELL OUT OF DODGE, not giving a rats ass about their crummy texts - out those revolving doors they march, never to enter again. Potential newcomers are better off to see "DO NOT ENTER OR WORK FOR THIS CRAPPY PLACE", rather than paragraphs of debate about a book that everyone knows, is the dog's breakfast, and a sick and sorry joke. Sorry, but your Nova crap on is what you accuse everyone else's post of being - LAZY HYPERBOLE.

It's very strange that people keep talking about the difference between 'real' and 'eikaiwa' teaching, when it fact 'real' high school language teachers are constantly producing fesh crops of graduates with zero language ability.

It's amazing to be not only in Japan, but also Spain, France, Germany and constantly hear english speaking people with Zero ability, even after 6 years learning.

Some people are good and try there best, some people should be shot for their linguistic crimes.

Nice attempt to up the reputation of your average Joe Blow Eikaiwa Clown.

By and large, when people talk about “REAL” teachers and “EIKAIWA” teachers, in the language teaching sense, they are NOT comparing Eikaiwa Clowns with High School teachers.

Rather, they are comparing Eikaiwa Clowns, with qualified EFL/ESL teachers (who usually, don’t work in High Schools, but rather, work in properly accredited / reputable language teaching institutes which demand higher standards of their staff with regards to their education, and what goes on in the classroom).

Globally, the aim of High School is usually not to produce an entirely fluent speaker – high school is generally thought of, as a stepping stone, to a higher educational path (usually, University).

I wonder how well an awkward, giggling Japanese kid would go, being taught by your average Joe Blow Eikaiwa Clown, if they had zero English Education in High School, relative to how well they would go, with a properly qualified language teacher.

Sorry Eikaiwa Clowns, but whatever you try to dress yourself up as, you will always be Eikaiwa Clowns, used as nothing more than a performing monkey, to do language practice with, to provide amusement, or to flirt with, and more times than not, you do more linguistic damage than good.

You all like to think of yourself as Peter Sutcliffe, but when I see comments like the one I am responding to, well, you are not even at first base.

Oh, and if you don’t think that the Japanese Boards of Education don’t know, for example, that in places like the UK, where many students study French from the start to the finish of their school days, but still come out with very low levels of fluency, then you are kidding yourself.

Booth-time people deep down know they are performance clowns, feel awkward about being performance clowns, and feel they have little job security, so they tend to lash out at the Japanese Education System, as a way of feeling good about the “necessity” of their lowly, bottom of the dung heap go nowhere status.

One thing remains constant, through the entire process – in MOST cases, (not all) the average Joe Blow Eikaiwa Clown has no idea what he or she is really doing, and truthfully (whether they can admit it, or not) feels uncomfortable with it (even though they get away with it).

The reactions to that awkwardness are usually one of the following:

(a) Take it with a pinch of salt, have fun drinking and stuffing around in Japan, before pissing off home with a range of legendary drinking and pick-up stories
(b) Get themselves qualifications that are actually relevant
(c) Focus anally on things like, the pros and cons of the Nova Text, and seek to discuss that incessantly, like some kind of Mad Eikaiwa Professor

Whatever the case, nothing changes the fact the Eikaiwa is bullshit, that it sells bullshit (under false pretences), and employs any old dick to deliver their trashy tin pots into the market place.

It's very strange that people keep talking about the difference between 'real' and 'eikaiwa' teaching, when it fact 'real' high school language teachers are constantly producing fesh crops of graduates with zero language ability.

Quite so. However in Japan the problem is generally acknowledged to be particularly bad - consider the consistently low scores Japanese students get in TOEIC and TOEFL compared to students from other Asian countries - and that's not just because of "fake" teaching at eikaiwa.

Is it not hyperbole, like you do, to openly admit Eikaiwa and places like NOVA are B/S, and then, despite their enormous history of B/S, and changes from worse to worse to worse, to then want to discuss in detail the issues regarding their texts?

Um, scroll back, take a look at my posts and you'll notice that I don't really say much at all about the texts. You seem to be confusing me with someone else.

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