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Horror in Hokkaido: EC Inc.

Guest post by John Russell

Thinking of teaching English in Hokkaido in Japan's most livable city, Sapporo? How about historic Hakodate or scenic Asahikawa with its large national park? Well, whatever you do, make sure that you make EC your absolute last choice for employment in Hokkaido.

Don't be confused by the name:
ECC: legitimate English school using professional materials

EC: a complete joke run by lunatic slave-masters that use so-called original lessons which are actually complete garbage.

EC's reputation is so bad in Hokkaido that they don't even bother recruiting teachers there. They interview in Tokyo or try to get people from overseas (especially Canada) because anyone who knows about the school would never work there.

Let's go through the process of becoming an EC teacher and then show you some of the fun in store for you when you finally have the "privilege" to work for this joke of a school.

(1) Training (???)
In their advertisement, EC claims that they provide TESL training. This is a complete lie. Nobody with TESL training would come near this place. EC requires all teachers to go through approximately 2 weeks of "boot camp" and if they don't like you after this 2 weeks, they tell you to hit the road. So if you're coming from a foreign country directly to EC, you could be stuck in Japan without a job after two weeks. ADVICE: never agree to more than 2-3 days of training at an English school in Japan unless you are paid full wages. It's only an excuse to pay you nothing for teaching classes. EC gives no salary for the training period and gives a whopping food allowance of 2000 yen/day. They provide housing but the place is a dive and the front desk people are actually spies for EC so if you come back late after drinking or bring a girl or guy back to the room, you will be reported to EC and fired. EC sends Japanese staff members to follow trainees during lunch and dinner breaks. Who knows what they think trainees will do during this time but that's the mentality of the place.

Once training begins, EC tries to screw with your head and destroy any self-respect that you may have so when you actually try and teach EC's garbage lessons, you think you are actually accomplishing something. The first week of training is spent with one of the Japanese managers, usually Mr. Eiichi Yamaya, and the second week is spent with a foreign "trainer".
One of the highlights during the first week of training is practicing the EC method of saying "Hello" to students. First, there is practiced under the watchful eye of said Mr. Yamaya. All you do is say, "Hello" to a poster on a wall, pretending that it is an EC student. The esteemed Mr. Yamaya gives such helpful comments as "You must smile more when saying 'Hello'",
"You must use your diaphragm more", and "Your 'Hello' must come from the heart". After a half hour of this nonsense, you are left alone in the room and told to practice saying "Hello", and only "Hello", for 60 minutes by yourself to the poster on the wall. Some training!

During training trainees are secluded from the staff, forbidden to talk to regular EC teachers, and kept until 10 or 11:00 at night (starting time 9:00 A.M.). Obviously, the reason is that most teachers will tell you that EC is the worst school to work for. MORE ADVICE: try and meet with current teachers from any school at which you are thinking of working. The good schools will be happy to comply. The joke schools, like EC, will not permit it.

The second week of training is done with a foreigner. This is the person that you want to be most wary of. Never confide your true feelings to one of these turncoats who has sold his soul to the devil. Normally, he or she will act like your best buddy, and after spending a week with the Japanese manager, this person will seem like the coolest person in the world. But be warned: don't trust any foreigner who works in some upervisory role at EC. These are lifelong losers who finally have some sense of power and will stab you in the back at any chance.

At EC, foreigners are simply a necessary evil with round eyes and big noses. Most Japanese students like to study English with foreign teachers so the Japanese owners and managers must hire foreigners but any foreign worker will be treated like a piece of meat. While not all Japanese-owned English schools treat their teachers this way, it's best to be careful when looking for work. Usually, the bigger the school, the worse they treat teachers.

EC requires all new teachers to go through a 2-3 month probationary period. This means that EC will not sponsor a work visa nor will they pay the minimum salary required by law, 250,000 yen/month. EC requires that you work using your tourist visa (US) or your working-holiday visa (Canada, Aus., NZ). The reason they do this is that so many teachers quit EC soon after they join because it's such a terrible place to work. MORE ADVICE: try to find out how long the teachers at a school have worked there. If a school has a majority of teachers who have been there 2-3 years, then most likely it is a reputable place. At EC the only people there longer than a year are losers that think they've died and gone to heaven compared to their last job of pumping gas in some hillbilly town.

(2) Now you're an EC teacher
Once you start teaching, you will be amazed at the garbage that EC gives you to teach. Most reputable schools use textbooks and other professionally prepared materials. EC uses "original" lessons that are actually nonsense written by past EC teachers. EC pays its teachers 8000 yen to write a lesson and the only teachers that write any are the money-hungry clowns that don't mind whoring themselves even more than they do by just working at this joke of a school. Most lessons have no value whatsoever and only make the teacher feel like a complete jerk for trying to teach them. After a few months of tearing your hair out trying to teach this garbage, most EC teachers simply lose all self-respect and turn into robots, just spewing out the worthless drivel day after day. The real losers are the students who are seriously trying to learn English and spend US$ 3000 to join this school only to be given completely useless lessons.

If you get sick, EC does not permit you to take paid sick days. If you don't work, then you don't get paid. So naturally, if someone is sick they come to work anyway in order to get paid and the other teachers wind up catching whatever illness the first teacher had. The law in Japan states that workers are entitled to 12 sick days a year, called Yukyu. However, EC illegally disallows its teachers from using this. Recently, a local magazine printed an article about a foreign teacher who had to return to America for two weeks because her mother was dying. She informed EC that she was taking her Yukyu, but when she returned EC fired her without any warning by claiming that many students complained about her poor performance. She is now suing EC for wrongful termination of employment. This teacher had been at EC for over a year and had learned about Yukyu from a teacher at another school. Rumor around Japan is that an English school will fire any teacher who even mentions Yukyu.

My personal horror story occurred when I had to enter the hospital for an operation on my elbow. Originally, the doctor suggested that I remain in the hospital for 2 weeks. Upon hearing this, the Japanese manager called the doctor and demanded that I be released after 1 week because "EC is very busy and cannot find a replacement teacher." As mentioned before, at EC foreign teachers are treated like pieces of meat. ADVICE: find out a school's vacation and sick day policy before working for one.

(3) Leaving EC
If you try and leave EC before the expiration of your first contract (1 year), they will try to pressure, threaten, and bully you into staying. They feel that any teacher leaving before one year disgraces their honorable school. One common ploy is to threaten to revoke your work visa by contacting the immigration office and saying that you are unemployed. Most foreigners fall prey to this act and stay a year. ADVICE: any contract that you sign does not require you to work there if you don't want to. So go ahead and quit any school that you don't like. However, one problem is that most apartments require foreigners to have their company act as a sponsor so if you quit, you must either find a new sponsor for your apartment or move.

EC does not want teachers to stay much more than a year or two. By then foreign teachers discover all the nonsense going on at EC and "corrupt" the new teachers. As the woman mentioned above found out, after one year EC will fire you faster than you can say "slavery lives in Hokkaido".

Well, good luck with your job search in Japan and do yourself and the English students in Japan a favor and stay as far away as possible from EC.


Glad I read this first! Going tomorrow for the interview. At least I'm prepared to say, "NO!"

I hope this is not a prologue of what is coming for those who want to continue at G. Communications new branches.

Thanks for posting. Hopefully it'll help people to avoid this place like the plague!

Beggars can't be choosers.

Look at the date of the original post. Five years ago?

I've been here for five months and I'm moving out! You Nova teachers can have my place! Assholes! Labour law doesn't apply! Need Human Rights! MINDFUCKING SLAVE DRIVERS!

Probably tomorrow ALL remaining teachers and staff at NOVA will be let go. Lawyers/EC will probably keep on a skeleton admin team to handle all the paperwork etc..but effectively THIS is the end of Nova as WE know it.

Separation papers for all by the end of the month.

UI for those who want it kicks in late December.

Shitfight begins to get lost wages although receivers promise to keep it moving. Still, don't expect anything for at least six months.

Towards end of November maybe early December EC will begin interviews for the thirty branches they are willing to take on. No one except possibly for some half decent ex-BTs should get their hopes up about getting a job. EC despite promises will be looking for fresh drones.

Those branches will be quickly gutted. Branches will NOT operate under the Nova banners and neon lights. Pink Rabbits, Diplomat, LMPs, the lot...thrown into the fire.

Some kind of grand new year? re-opening campaign will commence to attract students. Teachers without lessons will be down at the station and in the street hawking leaflets, doing maildrops, conducting heaps of trial lessons.

Time is of the essence though as rents are high at the branches EC want to keep.

Thankyou for your attention.

Information about what this company is like now (as opposed to five years ago when this article was written) would be much appreciated. Care to elaborate, E C G.Com Teacher?

Whispers from Hokkaido tell me that there is a growing number of teachers at EC connected with the G Squad (that's God Squad not Gambaru Squad).

USA recruitment drive in summer '07 of MM (that's Michigan Mormons not Multimedia)resulted in a batch of these people landing teaching jobs.

Spread the word brothers and sisters that at your upcoming interviews that along with your video introductions and helloability you are also advised to dust off the good book and I'm not talking about Diplomat!!!

Did things just get better for NOVA, or worse?

Names Dylan, check him out! (Did a commercial, before he came to Japan.)

Wonder if they used the same web page designer as NOVA.

This whole situation has become one big joke.
All those without jobs....i think its time to go home.

Can you honestly wait another 6 weeks from the schools opening for your first pay? Your basically going to be waiting until next year! 2008
Merry Christmas and a happy new year

I had all hoped for a better outcome...but it wasnt to be!

Saaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyooooooooonaraaaaaaaaaa Japan!!!

We don't have enough SENSEI.
Don't get cold feet. You can trust us! We will make you Gambaru for us.
Our boss very nice man. You can trust him! LOOK!

While the vitriol and hyperbole in this article are purely the writer's opinions, the facts mentioned are true. Saying hello to a poster for hours, 'training' in empty rooms to cardboard cut-outs and the prat Yamaya gurning at you all day are real problems, as is the segregation of new and old employees. The hounding of employees who quit early is a nasty, nasty business and can include a dozen pages of your documented misdemeanours turning up at your next employer's office. The lack of real sick leave is common to nearly all schools AFAIK - get sick and your vacation time will be eaten up.

Once you survive the ridiculous training though, EC is not significantly worse than any other language school, and probably better than 90% of NOVA placements.

I say all this as an outside observer as I haven't worked for either company, but I have been friends with 4 years worth of incoming/outgoing NOVA and EC teachers in Hakodate.

I am the big boss manager secretary and girlfriend. Trust me 100% he really nice guy who wears Armani Suit and carry Louis Vuitton man bag. He lots of manager experience in Yakiniku shop and a great teecher . He teach me English with his special technician teeching method- it really work talking to paper cut out people saying hello . We at EC G.communications give Nova teechers and staff everything we promisid except wages during our TEFL training course for 2 weeks. You will only have to wait 6 munths for this great oppurtunity. Trust us 100% we now wat we are doin.

The attempts at satire on this site are really tedious. I come here for news and opinions, not idiots trying to be funny by pretending they're Saruhashi.

I am living in Tohoku, finish with JET and decided to try eikaiwa as a change. I interviewed with the mainland Geducation/Nova and also with EC/Nova in Sapporo.
What a difference, I was hoping to live in Sapporo being one of the biggest cities in the North, but after the farce with EC/Nova Sapporo, I decided to take a job with the mainland crew in one of the bigger Tohoku cities. I am quite happy with the mainland Nova, they deliver what they promised in the interview and always courteous and respectful, its mutual, I dont understand all the hype.
EC/Nova on the other hand, were dicey to the extreme, they dont explain contracts, inferred I would get a job, and then played around with my time for nearly 2 weeks, completely oblivious to my need to secure a job, I simply wanted to know either way.
I cannot verify the above comments and some are old, but my experience led me to believe some are founded. Be careful if you commit yourself to Hokkaido, there is almost no work advertised in the city, ,I would have been at ECs mercy, and I definitely would not have enjoyed life with EC/Nova me thinks. They say they do things differently to the mainland Nova groups, but dont actually explain how in the least, tread carefully, nail everything down in contracts, though I imagine in reality they will not oblige at all, and get there back up, we are fodder for this schools management was my overall feeling. Hope this helps someone.

interesting, cant quite believe that nova on hanto are really up to scratch though, the japanese staff forget that if there are no native eng teachers, then there is no school, no jobs for japanese staff. Foreigners living here and opening up there own schools, chat cafes and the like are the likely future, these big schools days are numbered, they cannot sustain there fat overheads caused by unproductive japanese staff. big schools all over japan are losing students rapidly. yippee yaiyei mother ............s

I worked for E.C. for several years. Basically everything mentioned above is true, however it was definitely the best gig in town if you're not looking for a higher level of consciousness. It was by far the easiest job I've ever had, and it paid $3,500 a month by today's exchange rate for basically standing around being a brain dead tool for the genki, overworked Japanese teachers to whip out at their leisure. Biggest joke of a job I ever had, but quite possible one of the greatest as far as the memorable/ludicrous factor. Oh, this was my experience as a kids teacher for E.C. by the way. Teaching adults blows, don't do it. Get a job teaching kids there for real! Part time is even better for like 15-20 hours a week you get 200,000yen a month. Best gig in town. Oh, and they only hire attractive white Americans/Canadians or women.

I also worked for EC, and found almost all the above to be true as well. Working with kids is great. The management at EC is absolutely ludicrous, and if you can get past it, it is a fun, easy job that pays well. I was reading one of the above stories about the hotel that they put you up in during training, and we all felt the same. They were definately spying on us making sure we weren't staying out too late and making sure we didn't have a girl freind come to stay. They were like big brother reporting back to the mob boss Mister Ichikawa! He is an absolute lunatic, and if you work there you only get to meet him once. A freind of mine met him and sat in absolute silence with him for about a half an hour with neither speeking a word. It was like a mind game he was playing waiting for my freind to talk. Either way, putting up with their crap is pretty easy, and Sapporro is an amazing city and the snow boarding is amazing. I only stayed for six months and left before my contract was up. They made me feel like I had dishonored all of Japan by breaking my contract, but if I had to do it again I would do the same and I wouldn't even think about it. The winter i was there, it must have snowed 5 feet in two weeks and it was a winter wonderland.

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