Original 2003 post:
Kids training in Totsuka (south of Yokohama). The provided map is a joke. We sing the alphabet song many times with the NOVA approved ending “sing sing sing sing sing with me” instead of the preferred “next time won`t you sing with me”. After training we hit the izakaya and are locked away in a private room with a karaoke machine. I successfully ruin music for everyone, and Mississippi Mike manages to sing Sugar Ray with a gangsta twist, followed by some freestyle Snoop Dogg. I sing Barbie Girl, and manage to barely catch the last train.
NOVA Kids was a reliable money making machine for the company, and the bane of my existence in as an English teacher. Regular adult classes would have 1-4 students who generally were paying good money to learn English. The kids classes were groups of 1-8 kids that were only there because their parents forced them to go.
When I took my training there were 3 groups for kids classes: 3-6 year olds, 6-9 year olds, and 9-12 year olds. NOVA later added a class for kids under 3, which I firmly refused to be trained on.
All of the kids classes had a set curriculum, which made lesson planning relatively easy. Classroom management was the tough part. There is a large difference in maturity and abilities between a 3 year old and a 6 year old. 12 year old girls are not interested in singing the alphabet song, while 9 year old boys just want to push each other.
I did learn 2 valuable things in the kids training. The first was the Japanese words for pee and poop. When a young kid tells you that they need to go in the middle of the class, you get them to a bathroom. The second valuable thing was that what you say isn’t as important as how you say it. The instructor told us that the classroom was an English only environment. Teachers were not allowed to use Japanese at all. I asked how could we tell a kid to stop doing something if they don’t understand English. The instructor stood over me (while I was sitting on the floor), crossed his arms, put on an angry face and said “NO!” sharply and loudly. It is something that any kid (or adult) would understand, regardless of language.
Training was interesting, and even a little useful, but the best part of the day was still karaoke.