Teach English in Japan wtih Gaba

Gaba Corporation

About

Gaba Corporation recruits English language teachers from around the world to teach 1-to-1 lessons to our students in Gaba Learning Studios. We have 44 Learning Studios in the major cities of Japan (Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Fukuoka and Nagoya), and we are continuing to grow steadily each year. All Gaba teachers undergo our orientation and certification classes before they begin teaching, which prepares them for teaching conversational English.

Founded
1995
Headquarters

Shinjuku Front Tower 23rd Floor
2-21-1 Kita-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku
Tokyo, Tokyo
169-0074
Japan

Reviews

Default avatar
Lauren
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

It's a great teaching job with a lot of schedule flexibility. I have been able to travel and do amazing things in Japan and around the world with this job because of the open schedule. You do get what you put in, and if you want to work hard and save a lot of money it is definitely possible. I have built great relationships with fellow instructors and the Japanese staff. My clients have been great people too. There are a few strange and or difficult clients that you get, but that has not been to much of a problem.

What would you improve about this program?
If I had to change one thing, it would be to allow us the close at least one lesson the day before a work day; if the LS is already closed, and I need to close one lesson for a break, being able to close one on my own without calling in would be great!
Default avatar
David
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The positive things that appreciate about GABA are the following:

* great systems
* good professional development
* very good working conditions
* great design of the program

In saying that, the challenges are as follows:

* cleanliness of the booths
* the system, from time to time, booting you out of the system
* When instructors get an R and that slot gets re-booked, it is difficult to understand why the instructor does not get paid for the double book.

What would you improve about this program?
* Not have the counselors change that often - the client relationship is very important and when you have counselors change often it takes away from the relationship

* There should be training manuals for counselors
Default avatar
Dane
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I was initially concerned with bookings and teaching enough lessons each month to meet my visa requirements, however after my first month I haven't experienced any trouble with this.
Gaba allows for a lot of flexibility with schedules, but instructors need to make themselves available enough so that they can make enough money.
Clients are generally quite friendly and eager to learn which makes teaching them much easier and more enjoyable.

What would you improve about this program?
The pay could be a bit higher. If you have good results and work at 'peak' times (weekends, evenings, early mornings) you can increase your earnings a bit.
Default avatar
Dan
7/10
No, I don't recommend this program

The lessons can be pretty good as you have a lot of leeway in what you teach. Can take a lot of energy as the lessons are one on one. Overall though very rewarding.

The downside though. You are technically not an employee. The company does this to scam you out of paid holidays, health insurance etc. You aren't even enrolled in worker's accient insurance. So if you get hurt on the job (like the glass smashing in your booth and cutting you) you aren't insured!

Default avatar
Christine
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

GABA is the kind of program that's not going to hold your hand. Some people, especially those coming to Japan for the first time, may find that daunting but for a certain type of person it works very well. I liked that GABA didn't tell me what flight to take to Japan, where to live, or when my days off were going to be.

So if you're independent and motivated, this kind of program would suit you.

The pay is based on how many lessons you teach in a month, so you can make quite a bit of money once you're established as an instructor. The flexibility of the schedule also means you can plan time to travel / go on vacation / entertain friends visiting Japan, or work on side projects: a lot of other instructors I know are musicians, artists, freelancers, etc.

I really enjoyed the one-to-one teaching style, which I personally find less stressful than a classroom environment. It gives you more opportunity to strike up a meaningful conversation, get to know your students (or as we call them, "clients"), and meet interesting people.

What would you improve about this program?
Before you start teaching you're required to attend Initial Certification, which is unpaid. The first month at GABA can be difficult, as you don't teach a full month due to the first week of certification. Also, as a new instructor and unknown to the clients you'll have less bookings (students requesting your lessons) and more (unpaid) downtime.

So during this time, it's important to make yourself available for many lessons and make a good impression in order to build your client base.

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Christine Bagarino

Christine (from California, USA) is a graduate of CSU Long Beach and taught English in Japan from 2012 – 2013. She loves cooking, eating and taking pictures of delicious food, traveling where the locals go, and making children smile. Her hobbies also include playing the guitar and Japanese yosakoi dance.

Why did you decide to teach abroad with Gaba in Japan?

When I was a university student, I studied abroad in Japan for a year and just really loved it. I knew that I wanted to go back to Japan again, though I wasn’t sure at the time if for work, grad school, or just vacation. After graduation, I tried working in the US for about a year before I decided to look into English teaching programs. I’d worked as an English tutor for ESL students at my university, so I knew that helping people improve their English is something that I really enjoy.

Gaba appealed to me for several reasons. Because I already had experience studying abroad in Japan, I had a good idea of where I wanted to live, and Gaba did a great job placing me in an awesome school (we call them Learning Studios) pretty much exactly in the area I wanted to be. I liked the independence that Gaba offered, unlike other Eikaiwa (English conversation) schools, they didn’t tell me what flight to take or what house I was supposed to live in. So, I had a lot of freedom. I was able to plan my own schedule, as well, which afforded me time to travel, meet up with friends, and pursue my own hobbies and interests.

What made this teach abroad experience unique and special?

The thing that made my teaching abroad experience unique and special for me were definitely the students. One thing I especially like about Gaba is the one-to-one lesson style. In a classroom environment, as a teacher, your attention is split between several (or many) students, but in a one-to-one environment you can give personalized attention to every student. It gave me the opportunity to have some really excellent conversations with individuals from all different walks of life—from a Formula Three racecar driver to a TV drama director to company CEOs and directors. The students ranged in age from elementary school kids to retirees. So I could start out my day chatting with a fun retiree, teach the most brilliant and adorable children in the afternoon, and then talk Japanese economic policy in the evening when all the businesspeople came in for lessons. Every day was stimulating and meaningful, and I felt like I was learning as many new things about the world as my students were learning about English.

How has this experience impacted your future? (Personally, professionally, academically, etc.)

I feel that my experience teaching English in Japan really put me on the path toward my future career goals. I love global, international environments and living overseas has given me the opportunity to meet other like-minded people, as well as individuals from all over the world. One thing I really like about Gaba as a company is that they promote from within based on merit (rather than length of time working for the company), so there’s a lot of opportunity to expand and grow professionally if that’s what you’re interested in. In my case, I’ve always had a strong passion for reading and writing, so after about a year of teaching I joined the writing staff in the head office as a writer/editor of the Gaba learning materials. I’m gaining a lot of professional experience while still doing something I love: helping people improve their English.

What is one piece of advice you would offer something considering teaching abroad in Japan?

One piece of advice I’d like to offer to those considering teaching abroad in Japan is this: be flexible! Life in Japan will be so different from everything you knew back home, but don’t be afraid to try new things. Say yes, and eat something you never would’ve eaten in the past. Say yes, and go to an onsen (hot springs) even though the thought of getting naked in front of others makes you uncomfortable. Be open to new experiences, and you’ll learn a lot about the outside world and about yourself. Like, who knew fried octopus balls could be so delicious?

On the flip side of being flexible is the fact that sometimes you won’t always agree with how things are done. A lot of it has to do with cultural differences. Try your best to keep an open mind and see things from a different perspective. Rather than rail against the system, try to listen and understand why people do things differently than you may be used to in your own country. As they say, when in Rome…

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

What position do you hold at Gaba? What has been your career path so far?

I graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in New York with concentrations in piano performance and Japanese language. I worked as an instructor at Gaba for one year in the Kyoto Learning Studio. Teaching at Gaba was a big change from the classroom setting since we only offer one-to-one lessons. I really liked the fact that Gaba encourages more career development. As an instructor, I had the chance to get directly involved with lesson sales as a First Meeting Instructor.

Currently, I am an Instructor Support Leader at the Umeda Learning Studio in Osaka. I provide support to itaku-contracted instructors who teach at Gaba. Basically, I act as a bridge of communication between the instructor and the company.

Did YOU teach abroad?! If so, where and what inspired you to go?

My first experience teaching abroad was with the Japanese Exchange and Teaching Program in Chippubetsu, Hokkaido. In my junior year of university, I studied abroad for one year as a member of the Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies at Doshisha University. After my year at Doshisha, I became particularly interested in Japanese religion and culture and wanted to pursue my Japanese studies even further. I was considering a career in teaching, so my academic advisor encouraged me to apply for the JET Program. My year in Hokkaido was extremely rewarding and I will always remember Chippubetsu with a great fondness.

What does the future hold for Gaba - any exciting new programs to share?

Gaba just launched a really exciting Starter program for true beginners of English. I’m really looking forward to getting the word out there that clients don’t necessarily have to have a background in English to be able to get something out of a one-to-one lesson. Also, our corporate offsite program is rapidly expanding. This program is giving more instructors the opportunity to get a first-hand look inside Japanese companies.

What about the future of the teach abroad industry? How do you think education will change over the next 10 years?

I think as the popularity of web-cam lessons over the internet starts to take off, the teaching abroad industry is in for some extreme changes. Recruiters in particular are going to face new challenges of persuading native English speakers to completely relocate to a new country. In the next ten years, I imagine that many clients will take their lessons from a home computer.