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Thread: Heart Corporation/Heart English School

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    Default Heart Corporation/Heart English School

    Several weeks ago, someone in the JET Rejects thread suggested that I start about my experiences with Heart Corporation and I'm just now getting around to it. Heart is an ALT dispatch company, but why the two names you ask? Heart operates a small English conversation school out of its Mito headquarters but its main business is supplying ALTs to various boards of education. I'm currently an ALT in Miyagi prefecture.

    If you want a rundown on what the company is and does, I highly recommend their website: http://www.heart-school.jp/en/index.html .
    They've changed it in the past few months and added a bunch of stuff to the FAQs. If you're thinking about working for Heart, read the FAQ closely as it's actually pretty honest about what you're getting yourself into. Especially concerning the salary and initial paycheck, they state clearly that it's a long time until the first check (October 20 for folks who start in September, to be exact) and that the salary may not be sufficient for those trying to pay off debts or save up money.

    The locations section of the site is incomplete. Being in Miyagi, I know that Heart has positions outside of the Kanto region. They have pretty much taken over Yamagata city and other towns in that prefecture, as well as having scattered contracts elsewhere in the Tohoku region and Hokkaido.

    While my experience with Heart hasn't been terrible, it hasn't been all sunshine either. I can say it's good enough that I'm signing another contract with Heart once my initial 7-month contract ends in late March. Hopefully I can provide a balanced view of what it's like to work for this dispatch company. So, feel free to ask me about anything from the usual start dates to the fun, fun time I had riding my bike 45 minutes to school and subsequently fighting for a company car.

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    Thanks for this thread. I don't really have any specific questions or concerns. I know ESID but I'm wondering what you're experience is like so far. Like the amount of students you have, the number of classes you teach a day, and what age group?

    My wife and I leave in exactly a month for training in Mito City. What advice can you give someone whos has never had formal ESL experiences? I've only worked in children's programs and taught lessons in the past.

    Not knowing where we'll be living is driving me crazy, but at the same time the anticipation is exciting. I think it'll be a good experience regardless of what happens.

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    Default Re: Heart Corporation/Heart English School

    I teach at one junior high school and two elementary schools. The JHS has 200 students, elementary #1 has about 300 kids and elementary #2 has only 30. I also visited a kindergarten once but that's not a regular thing. I teach four periods a day, five days a week. I go to elementary #1 twice a week and teach two grades each day (four class periods). I go to elementary #2 once a month and teach the whole school over 3 periods (that school is so small that they combine grades). I wouldn't have 4 classes a day at the JHS but for the fact that they do English (and Math) in half-classes there.
    That said, Heart also has high school positions which are a whole different situation.

    I didn't have TEFL experience either, or any teaching experience aside from tutoring a couple of kids in Math. If you think you'll be visiting an elementary school, try to pick up some books with ESL/EFL lesson ideas, games, etc. And kids' CDs like Wee Sing or something. Some elementaries have an English plan, but mine has nothing so I have to write all the lesson plans and decide on an appropriate song or activity for elementary lessons twice a week. I would pretty much be sunk if I hadn't brought books and CDs and my predecessor (who was a JET) hadn't left tons of JET lesson books. Once you get to Japan, you may be able to find some bilingual lesson books which will save you the trouble of translating or pantomiming lesson plans for homeroom teachers.

    Heart might tell you where you're going before you leave (I found out a week before leaving the US) but most people found out at training. Oh, and depending on how much experience you have in Japan, training will be incredibly dull or a riot of new information and you'll scramble to take notes. Do you have your visa and health check already taken care of?

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    Site Owner curtaineater's Avatar
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    Default Re: Heart Corporation/Heart English School

    im wondering what kind of cash you pull in and what kind of place they set you up with
    always a JETsmaid, never a JET.

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    SENIOR MEMBER Neb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Heart Corporation/Heart English School

    I'm assuming you heard of Interec? It's another ALT dispatch company. Anyway, given what you know about interect (and I'm assuming you do, since I'm assuming you did your research on alternatives before deciding on Japan and Heart), what is in your honest opinion a better option (heart or interec)? And under what basis do you make this decision? And while we're on thsi subject, why did you choose Heart over Interec? Also, do you know of other ALT dispatch companies like heart and Interec?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ferdy View Post
    I teach at one junior high school and two elementary schools. The JHS has 200 students, elementary #1 has about 300 kids and elementary #2 has only 30. I also visited a kindergarten once but that's not a regular thing. I teach four periods a day, five days a week. I go to elementary #1 twice a week and teach two grades each day (four class periods). I go to elementary #2 once a month and teach the whole school over 3 periods (that school is so small that they combine grades). I wouldn't have 4 classes a day at the JHS but for the fact that they do English (and Math) in half-classes there.
    That said, Heart also has high school positions which are a whole different situation.

    I didn't have TEFL experience either, or any teaching experience aside from tutoring a couple of kids in Math. If you think you'll be visiting an elementary school, try to pick up some books with ESL/EFL lesson ideas, games, etc. And kids' CDs like Wee Sing or something. Some elementaries have an English plan, but mine has nothing so I have to write all the lesson plans and decide on an appropriate song or activity for elementary lessons twice a week. I would pretty much be sunk if I hadn't brought books and CDs and my predecessor (who was a JET) hadn't left tons of JET lesson books. Once you get to Japan, you may be able to find some bilingual lesson books which will save you the trouble of translating or pantomiming lesson plans for homeroom teachers.

    Heart might tell you where you're going before you leave (I found out a week before leaving the US) but most people found out at training. Oh, and depending on how much experience you have in Japan, training will be incredibly dull or a riot of new information and you'll scramble to take notes. Do you have your visa and health check already taken care of?

    Ah, thanks! I assume that ALTs don't have an option on what grades to teach. I wouldn't mind working at a JHS everyday so I can get a feel of things then doing JHS and elementary my 2nd year. What do you usually do on your free periods?

    I'll be sure to pick up a few lesson books before I got. Any recommendations? Heart's still processing our certificate of eligibility.

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    Quote Originally Posted by curtaineater View Post
    im wondering what kind of cash you pull in and what kind of place they set you up with
    I make 227,000 yen a month. This is considerably less than JETs and less than Interac. Heart's pay can vary by contract.

    I live in a one-room apartment with a separate kitchen and bath area. It's one of the newest buildings around and although it's a little far from my schools it's very convenient for grocery shopping and the train station.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Neb View Post
    I'm assuming you heard of Interec? It's another ALT dispatch company. Anyway, given what you know about interect (and I'm assuming you do, since I'm assuming you did your research on alternatives before deciding on Japan and Heart), what is in your honest opinion a better option (heart or interec)? And under what basis do you make this decision? And while we're on thsi subject, why did you choose Heart over Interec? Also, do you know of other ALT dispatch companies like heart and Interec?
    I looked into Interac but didn't seriously consider working for them for reasons I don't want to go into. Most of the other ALTs I know in the prefecture are Interac employees so most of what I know comes from talking to them. Interac has some pluses like a higher salary and a bonus for living in the inaka. They also give elementary ALTs a bunch of flashcards and other lesson materials and have books of worksheets and activities designed to go along with the major JHS textbook. Interac seems like a good company and I considered applying with them for an April start position after my Heart contract is done but I like my current schools too much to switch. It's not like I'm starving on my current salary but the extra money would be nice.

    The only other dispatch company I've heard of is Joytalk but I don't know anything about them.
    Last edited by Ferdy; March 1st, 2009 at 12:39.

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    SENIOR MEMBER Neb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Heart Corporation/Heart English School

    Yeah cause I was just wondering why you chose heart over interec, 'cause i mean, i bet they both have their advantages, like you said interec has higher pay and can help with the lessons, what about heart, what advantages does it have compared to interec? I mean, I'm sure you wouldn't choose a company that's worst.

    Thanks for the answers btw, appreciate it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oonter View Post
    Ah, thanks! I assume that ALTs don't have an option on what grades to teach. I wouldn't mind working at a JHS everyday so I can get a feel of things then doing JHS and elementary my 2nd year. What do you usually do on your free periods?

    I'll be sure to pick up a few lesson books before I got. Any recommendations? Heart's still processing our certificate of eligibility.
    Heart asked me sometime before I left for Japan whether I wanted to work in high school or JHS/ES. I think most ALTs who do JHS also go to an elementary once a week or so but some schools are so big that the ALT only goes to the JHS.

    During free periods I make lesson plans and materials, grade worksheets and tests, or meet with the JTEs. I rarely have time for surfing the internet or studying Japanese. Not that I could use the internet to goof off at work because there's only one computer in the staff room with internet access.

    I have a book called "72 Activities for Elementary English." The Japanese version is "Shogakusei ha eigo ga daisuki."

    I hope that you get your Certificate of Eligibility and visa before you leave because bringing people over on tourists visas is my biggest problem with Heart. It didn't happen to me, but several people in my training group for whatever reason didn't get their COEs in time to apply for a visa in their home country. So, Heart told them to come over on a tourist visa, lie to immigration and customs at Narita and then they applied for their work visas during training. It's not illegal to change your visa status while in Japan but it is a huge hassle and means that the visa applicant has to live without their passport for a few weeks. And it just seems shady in general.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Neb View Post
    Yeah cause I was just wondering why you chose heart over interec, 'cause i mean, i bet they both have their advantages, like you said interec has higher pay and can help with the lessons, what about heart, what advantages does it have compared to interec? I mean, I'm sure you wouldn't choose a company that's worst.

    Thanks for the answers btw, appreciate it.
    Heart requires its employees to enroll in National Health Insurance which is accepted everywhere and has pretty cheap premiums. (At least for the first year, I'll see how much they go up once the new fiscal year starts in April.) Interac has its employees in some private insurance plan that most Japanese hospitals have never heard of so patients have to pay everything out of pocket and then get reimbursed.

    Heart's initial housing costs can be lower too. This is probably an ESID thing but there's an Interac ALT who lives in my same apartment complex, our rooms are identical but he had to pay key money and a deposit (that he likely won't get back) in addition to first month's rent before he could move in. In his case, Interac just set him up with the realtor/landlord and acted as his guarantor, but with Heart I'm basically subletting my apartment from the company. This has its drawbacks but I only had to pay a 50,000 yen deposit (that I will probably get back when I move out) and first month's rent initially and my housing contract is in English. However, for Heart ALTs who live in guesthouses closer to Tokyo, like in Saitama and Chiba, Heart just introduces you to the guesthouse landlord and helps explain the contract and conditions. Both Heart and Interac place people in Leopalaces but I don't know what the housing contract is like in that situation.

    I've heard that Heart is more considerate of placement requests and know several Saitama City ALTs who asked for that city and got it. I wasn't very picky about my placement so I don't know. Interac friends have told me that you can turn down your first placement at training and ask for somewhere else but Interac strongly discourages that.

    I should add that it's not like Heart offers no assistance with lessons. They have a website and an elementary curriculum that schools can choose to use but using the internet at my schools is difficult so I prefer books. The website has flashcards to print but my elementary has a CD-ROM that I usually print stuff from instead.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ferdy View Post
    So, Heart told them to come over on a tourist visa, lie to immigration and customs at Narita and then they applied for their work visas during training.
    I know one person in Heart, and this is exactly what happened to her! How nerve-racking.

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    Rrrrrroaring into action. Tomahawk's Avatar
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    Default Re: Heart Corporation/Heart English School

    I always heard that Heart had a really bad reputation but has that changed?

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    Default Re: Heart Corporation/Heart English School

    It has a reputation? I have never heard of the company myself.

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    Default Re: Heart Corporation/Heart English School

    i've primarily heard bad stuff...
    always a JETsmaid, never a JET.

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    Default Re: Heart Corporation/Heart English School

    Everything I've heard about Heart has been bad too.

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    Default Re: Heart Corporation/Heart English School

    The more I find out about some nonJEt options, I think it is better to apply next year and then, if you don't get in, to do the nonJET way.
    <a href=http://www.ithinkimlost.com/image.php?type=sigpic&userid=3134&dateline=1245615339 target=_blank>http://www.ithinkimlost.com/image.ph...ine=1245615339</a>
    Quote Originally Posted by Hyakuman View Post
    As usual, you all (Aliを除く) have your heads up your asses.

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    Default Re: Heart Corporation/Heart English School

    i wish i had applied last year too, but since i didnt and the clock is ticking away i'm stuck with some non-jet options this year. if i'm going to do this i can only do it for a year or two and it has to start up now. damn.
    always a JETsmaid, never a JET.

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    Rrrrrroaring into action. Tomahawk's Avatar
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    Default Re: Heart Corporation/Heart English School

    This is the thread that put me off
    http://forums.eslcafe.com/teacher/viewtopic.php?t=5032

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tomahawk View Post
    No one in that thread cites anything really specific, but I think the thing to remember is that people who post in threads like that are ones who feel like they got a raw deal.

    I've never been asked to do anything that wasn't in my contract. A couple times Heart forgot to pay part of my transportation allowance but the first time they realized it and apologized before I even had a chance to look at my pay stub. Both times it involved less than 1000 yen so it wasn't a big deal and they just paid me the next month.

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