Gaba English school like many other eikaiwa schools or English conversation schools has its ups and downs or strengths and weaknesses. Gaba is no exception.
Gaba English school certainly is a different animal when compared to other eikaiwa schools like Berlitz, Nova Holdings, ECC and a host of other ESL schools.
Firstly, let's look at just the bare bones of this machine and tear it down. Nothing fancy and regarding ESL employment with them it's probably nothing you couldn't find on Wikipedia. We'll keep it short.
Gaba's headquarters are in Tokyo, the bulk of their operations are in Tokyo and therefore most ESL teachers find work there. Other cities where you can find TEFL work are in Chiba , Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe and the Fukuoka areas. They have 45 schools, called Learning Centers, scattered through these cities that employ 1106 TEFL teachers. So they are a decent sized chain.
Okay we got "where" out of the way. Next up - Who.
Who are you going to teach? Unlike most other eikaiwa schools, Gaba focuses on adults. So you'll be teaching adults just as for example if you worked for Amity, Aeon's children branch, you'd be teaching kids.
This is the big allure and the juiciest part of getting an English teaching job with them. Like teaching online or teaching through teacher student matching companies, you set your own schedule.You work when you want or how much you want.
So unlike ALT jobs or other types of jobs in education you are your own boss to some extent. So you can schedule them around your other pursuits. This suits the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants-type-nomadic-backpacker-type ESL teachers.
The downside of flexibility is that the swings in your salary will be big. If you don't work you don't get paid. And even if you do show for work and your student doesn't you don't get paid.
Folks, these guys have done their homework and do a fine job of protecting their downside risks. So you really need to think about your countermeasure here. Can you handle the swings? If you are in a tight situation for example, debt, kids etc. and need guaranteed money make a motion to strike and don't teach with them.
From Gaba's official site, what follows is their wage or compensation structure. As always we are going to try to crush this down into a bite-size info. download. (It's kind of like buying "Fun Size" Snickers candy bars but not as sweet.)
Starting wage is 1,500 yen per class regardless of the time of day in which the class is taught. Raises are incremental or in "belts". Staff writer Drunken Billy (not his real name) believed they were talking about belts of whiskey but we set him straight.)
Pay raises are merit based and not based on seniority. Student feedback, staff evaluations and the time you put in learning how to teach ESL more effectively are the criteria for raises. So in other words Gaba will reward you for making an effort to further your efforts to participate in their ESL teacher training courses. Not terribly easy to read but as you progress in being "belted" your base wage rises.
Again we have flexibility playing for and against you. It just depends upon the situation you find yourself in. Here's what we mean. You are not the only person with flexibility. The student has flexibility as well. They have the flexibility of not choosing you as their teacher. This means lean days if you are not a popular teacher.
If you spend a bit of time poking around in the forums you'll find stories from teachers facing sexual harassment from students to pretty women with packed teaching schedules and women deemed not to be as pretty with empty schedules.
Hang on here this door swings both ways. You'll also find stories of men who are married and when a single or searching woman notices a ring on his finger poof away she goes and so does his hourly salary. The single swingin' dude picks up the class and possibly the lady as well.
This type of scenario is rare in most eikaiwa situations which makes teaching in Japan with Gaba the Cadillac of teaching in terms of competition and is why those who can't handle the swings steer clear of Gaba.
If you are inclined to think or feel that teaching English in Japan is a temporary stopping point with a borosilicate glass ceiling designed specifically for you to smash your head on - you hit it spot on with Gaba.
Another area that gets a teacher's attention pretty quick is that the teacher bears all expenses in getting to their school. This is practically unheard of in the world of ESL teaching in Japan. Again if you are 600 yen away from your job one way, move to strike and don't take a job with them as the trains will drain your stash of cash.
It is really best to think of working with Gaba as something somewhat similar to working at an eikaiwa cafe. Only you have to wear a suit and can't be pounding java while you're teaching. You are also subject to evaluations by your students.
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