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.
Here Are Some Attractive Points About Working for Gaba:
What sets them apart from the others is the flexibility and ease of entry into an ESL career they offer their teachers. Gaba English school instructors are not employees but independent contractors. In essence, each instructor is his or her own business offering a service. This status is called – gyomu itaku.
They offer sponsorship and will recruit from overseas.
They accept non-native English speakers unlike many other eikaiwas.
They have a fairly straight forward employment process. Fill out the application, then take a phone interview, attend an orientation and take a 2nd interview. Then it wraps up with a 3 day on the job certification that leads straight into teaching. We have included a recruiting process video below. It takes roughly 5 weeks to wrap up the whole deal.
You don't need a degree if you have a valid working visa.
They offer 6 month renewable contracts.
They don't directly offer housing but will help you in locating suitable housing as Gaba has partnered with large share houses and guest houses most of which have English speaking staff.
You can request your location and usually it is just a matter of time until an opening occurs and you're able to move to a different location if you wish to.
Preparation time is kept to a minimum as Gaba has cranked out literally hundreds of lessons matching different criteria at 10 levels so there isn't any scrambling about trying to pull information together in order to teach.
On the surface you might be thinking great! This is the opportunity I've been looking for to teach in Japan. But folks, honestly, when is the last time you actually had a free lunch?
How to survive is to view them the way they are and use them in accordance. Nothing you do is really going to change things so really a realistic look at their strengths and weaknesses weighing them out and then executing is really the best way to approach this horse of a different color.
You might want to set up a kind of point and counter point set of criteria to help you make a decision if Gaba's teaching conditions and methodology will work in your personal life the same way you would prepare for a trial or cross examination of a witness in a legal proceeding. Countermeasures are your best friends in this case.
Gaba English School - Where Will You be Teaching?
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.
Gaba English School - Who Will You be Teaching?
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.
Gaba English School - When Will You be Teaching?
Gaba = Schedule Flexibility
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.
Gaba English School and the Price of Flexibility
Another thing to take into consideration about considering teaching with Gaba is the price of flexibility. Yes, you set your own hours but there are indirect limitations. If you are willing to work hours that others don't or won't then you'll make more money and have more classes. If you don't want to work "peak hours" you will make very little.
It's like flying overseas with a ton of layovers. Do you like them? Nope. Me too. Everyone loves a direct flight and so will pay more to get one. Same with Gaba. If you are willing to suck up the hours, weekends, early morning, late night hours they will pay you more and you'll get more classes. Simple supply and demand at work here folks.
Gaba English School Wages and Their "Belt System"
No Work No Pay The Gaba Way
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.
Gaba English School - Flexibility is a Two Way Street
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.
A pretty & popular woman can open a door with a smile, a handsome single & popular man can too. If you don't fit into these categories filling your schedule can be tough and this is what really separates teaching English for Gaba from other types of ESL employment. It's the wild wild west of teaching.
Hey There - How About a Drink?
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.
What Exactly do You Mean They Don't Pay Transportation Expenses?
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.
And now a few Scraped Comments About Gaba English School From Various Sources on the internet.
Note: when you see the copy in "quotes" it has been take directly from other internet sources and does not reflect the opinions of staff at this site.We have made efforts to eliminate flagrant comments of flag-burning style & ass-kissing style when they border on ridiculous.
"The hardest part for a new teacher at Gaba English school has always been building up some regulars as most of the students are already set up with their favorites. This is where the decently good looking part comes in as it really helps get people to book you."
"Gaba classes, at least when I was there, were not guaranteed. You gave them blocks of time and you went and sat there and waited. Usually some of your blocks book the day before, but you have to be there all the time you say you are available in case there are walk ins."
"Gaba is good provided you have lots of steady clients that you can fill out your schedule during the week."
"If you don't need to have your visa sponsored, GABA is great. As soon as I started working there my lessons were being fully booked, and I loved how flexible everything was. Managers were super chill and pretty much left everyone alone."
"Health insurance and pension will be all on you with no bonuses"
"Low base salary, barely enough to subsist (let alone amass savings)
Low bonus compensation by Japanese standards and only 10 days of paid holiday in the first year. Six-month probationary period and little, if any, upward mobility. Slow salary increases."