Heart English School
by Jonathan Schmidt
Also known as Heart Corporation.
Since this is my first company I worked for ever since I got here to Japan and reading up and hearing upon so many bad stories from other Foreign English teachers (and locals too), I won't want to judge other company when I don't exactly know the exact situation and also I don't want to judge them based on the stories I've heard.
It is an unfortunate situation to have a bad experience with a company, but I am sure (maybe I am also optimistic) that we cannot condemn all schools just based on one story. We also have to put into the factors like what kind of person or an employee the foreign English teachers are.
Putting cultural shock and my personality aside, let me focus on Heart English School; Heart English School has been around for quite a while, they have changed name so many times for so many years (that's what my trainer said). We are not sure the exact history of the school.
Just a basic background; I was an IT instructor and decided to expand my teaching experience by taking up a job here in Japan. I started as an ALT with Heart since April 2015. I got acquainted with the Japanese Teachers of English pretty fast, and I have bonded with the students of my schools. Even though I've been sent to a place which nobody knows it exists (even Japanese people don't know where this place is, true story!), I find that this small little countryside is livable, bearable and the people are friendly and warm.
I am currently looking for another working opportunity, so I want to leave some comment about this school for any potential future teachers.
First of all, the information about Heart English School posted here is 80% incorrect. It says
"Pay and Benefits:
Heart Corporation offers our teachers: Proper Visa sponsorship from within Japan and abroad. Permission to find additional work, within the specifications of your Visa. Comprehensive training before teaching. Company-arranged apartments. (Optional). Possibility of using a company car. An annual pay increase for every
Semi-Full Time Employee who remains with the Company for 12 months."
And since I have been working for the company for more than 12 months, I can assure you that me being a 'Semi-Full Time' ALT, I have never offered any pay increment. I remembered when I was signing the contract in their tiny room in Mito, I asked 'Is there a possibility of pay increment after staying for another year?' The HR girl said, 'No, because Board of Education decided the salary.' As a newbie in Japan being super nervous and anxious, I didn't question any further.
The contract is basically you get paid on the days you go to schools. Weekends, Public Holiday and worst of all, school holidays, you get paid 0. Nada. Zit. Nothing. Basically, on the month between September to October, you are hanging on the line.
Company's arranged apartment? Optional? They did help me, but I ended up pay double the rent. How do I know? I know how to read kanji and my Japanese is pretty alright, it got better being here and I searched apartments on the website and found who the realtor is, and they told me the exact rent amount. So, that's how I found out I was getting scammed.
Permission to find additional work? During the training, they specifically said that we are strictly not allowed to do other private teaching or work outside our job as an ALT.
So, I have no idea how long ago the post here is, but just to let everybody know that Heart's turnover rate is also really high. Within 3 years of contract here in this area, 3 of the elementary schools changed 6 ALTs. And because we get to interact with other ALTs, I would say those ALTs who left do have issues too; personal problem, characteristics, teaching methods and etc.
The current situation of Heart English School? They need foreign staff at their office because everyone left! I am not sure about the senior trainers that I met during my 3-days training, but I haven't heard about them since then.
So, there it is!