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Questions about GABA (teaching English)

geaux76

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Hi, this is my first post. So, I am a 40 year old white male from the United Sates and I want to teach English as a second language in Japan. I have a marketing degree (bachelor's) from Louisiana State University. If you are not familiar this is a large, public university in the US. I am looking at GABA (http://teaching-in-japan.gaba.co.jp/) mainly because it is a comapny that allows you to set your own hours and days that you work. This is important to me as I am going to be doing a lot of travelling while in Japan. Money is not a motivating factor for me and I just want to make enough to pay my rent and bills. I also think I will be more suited to teaching adults as opposed to children in a school environment.

Have any of you worked for GABA? Know anyone who has? Tell me about how it is to work for them. Will I have trouble getting a job with them with the above qualifications? (I may get a TEFL certification too) Also, let me know about other language schools that allow you to work flexible hours and days.

Thanks!
 

nice gaijin

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welcome to the boards, we hope you stick around!

I used to work for GABA part-time when I was an exchange student. The flexible schedule is a plus for someone like me who likes to feel like they have control over their own work schedule. One thing to realize is that while you are making yourself "available" for those time slots, they will be filled only if there are students who want to be taught at those times (or if they ask for you specifically), so not every hour you mark as available will necessarily turn into income. The availability of students also depends on which branch you work at; some places are busy all day, and others only get students coming in at certain times, so you may not have as much control over your schedule as you thought.

As such, many of the teachers I knew who were doing GABA for their livelihood would mark their whole day as available and teach as many slots as they could fill; any slots left unfilled would go towards preparation, breaks, lunch, etc. However you need to do a quick write up for each slot you teach, which is unpaid and sometimes difficult to cram in between slots if you're teaching back-to-back all day.

When I was there it was very rare for a teacher to get a visa sponsored, but this was a decade ago and it seems things have changed. I now know two people who are full-time GABA teachers with sponsored visas, but I believe they were already in Japan when they got the job. I also don't know if they're salaried or considered independent contractors as I once was, or if there are minimum hours needed to maintain their sponsored status... I've asked for their input to see if they can add anything.
 

geaux76

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welcome to the boards, we hope you stick around!

I used to work for GABA part-time when I was an exchange student. The flexible schedule is a plus for someone like me who likes to feel like they have control over their own work schedule. One thing to realize is that while you are making yourself "available" for those time slots, they will be filled only if there are students who want to be taught at those times (or if they ask for you specifically), so not every hour you mark as available will necessarily turn into income. The availability of students also depends on which branch you work at; some places are busy all day, and others only get students coming in at certain times, so you may not have as much control over your schedule as you thought.

As such, many of the teachers I knew who were doing GABA for their livelihood would mark their whole day as available and teach as many slots as they could fill; any slots left unfilled would go towards preparation, breaks, lunch, etc. However you need to do a quick write up for each slot you teach, which is unpaid and sometimes difficult to cram in between slots if you're teaching back-to-back all day.

When I was there it was very rare for a teacher to get a visa sponsored, but this was a decade ago and it seems things have changed. I now know two people who are full-time GABA teachers with sponsored visas, but I believe they were already in Japan when they got the job. I also don't know if they're salaried or considered independent contractors as I once was, or if there are minimum hours needed to maintain their sponsored status... I've asked for their input to see if they can add anything.
Thanks so much for your response! You answered a lot of my questions. I am actually ok with not necessarily having full time hours. I will be renting my house in the US and this income will pay for my rent in Japan. I will only need money for bills, food, etc. I will also bring a chunk (probably 10 grand or so) to Japan to help out with extra money for traveling, etc. I only plan on staying a year so I WANT to teach, but it really does not have to be full time. I understand that this could cause trouble with obtaining a work visa before I get there so any advice on this is appreciated.

How was the experience of working for the company itself? I have read some bad things like only getting paid for part of a lesson, etc. Are they a reputable company to work for in that they pay for work done? Can you really just take a week or two off with advanced notice if you don't mind not getting paid? This would be ideal for me as I want to travel as much as I can while still teaching and making some money in Japan.

I have also read that working in the early morning and weekends can help with getting your schedule filled. Did you find this to be true? This would be fine with me as I am an early riser and I don't mind teaching weekends as long as I can take other time off. I would really like to end up in Tokyo if possible. Would this help with finding a "busier" place as you mentioned above?
 
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I want to teach English as a second language in Japan
Well, right away you seem to misunderstand terminology. Teaching English in Japan is a foreign language (EFL), not a second language (ESL). ESL is what is taught in the US to foreigners.

GABA has not had a good reputation. I'd steer clear of them. You are on the cusp of the upper age limit for JET Programme, but consider it anyway. Their numbers have been falling recently, so maybe they'll ignore your age. Otherwise, big eikaiwas are a better route than GABA to get your foot in the door here. They will recruit from the States, and you will have to deal with their recruiting schedule and locations, but at least you don't have to pack a bag and live here first.

it is a comapny that allows you to set your own hours and days that you work. This is important to me as I am going to be doing a lot of travelling while in Japan.
If you're coming to fund your travels, keep in mind that a job is a job, and you'll be expected to work when the company/school sets your schedule. With eikaiwas that might or might not mean having Sat/Sun off, let alone 2 consecutive other days off. It's normal business here because those schedules cater to customers. If you go the ALT route through a recruiting company instead of JET, you'll probably not work on Sat/Sun, but the work conditions are different than in eikaiwa.

I also think I will be more suited to teaching adults as opposed to children in a school environment.
Beggars can't be choosers, and in Japan EFL teachers are beggars. The teaching market is in a glut right now, so you have to take almost anything you get. Children are getting more attention than adults for English education. I came at the same age as you and was very lucky that the eikaiwa which hired me had only adults as customers.

I'd suggest talking to teachers at the ESL Cafe discussion site. Not many teachers on this one (I might be one of the few.)

I only plan on staying a year so I WANT to teach, but it really does not have to be full time.
Sorry, but you don't really have a choice in full-time vs part-time. It's full-time or nothing.

When do you want to be here? That also plays a factor in applications and interviews.
 

geaux76

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Well, right away you seem to misunderstand terminology. Teaching English in Japan is a foreign language (EFL), not a second language (ESL). ESL is what is taught in the US to foreigners.

GABA has not had a good reputation. I'd steer clear of them. You are on the cusp of the upper age limit for JET Programme, but consider it anyway. Their numbers have been falling recently, so maybe they'll ignore your age. Otherwise, big eikaiwas are a better route than GABA to get your foot in the door here. They will recruit from the States, and you will have to deal with their recruiting schedule and locations, but at least you don't have to pack a bag and live here first.

If you're coming to fund your travels, keep in mind that a job is a job, and you'll be expected to work when the company/school sets your schedule. With eikaiwas that might or might not mean having Sat/Sun off, let alone 2 consecutive other days off. It's normal business here because those schedules cater to customers. If you go the ALT route through a recruiting company instead of JET, you'll probably not work on Sat/Sun, but the work conditions are different than in eikaiwa.

Beggars can't be choosers, and in Japan EFL teachers are beggars. The teaching market is in a glut right now, so you have to take almost anything you get. Children are getting more attention than adults for English education. I came at the same age as you and was very lucky that the eikaiwa which hired me had only adults as customers.

I'd suggest talking to teachers at the ESL Cafe discussion site. Not many teachers on this one (I might be one of the few.)

Sorry, but you don't really have a choice in full-time vs part-time. It's full-time or nothing.

When do you want to be here? That also plays a factor in applications and interviews.
Thanks for all the advice, I really appreciate it. While I am certainly finding some negative reviews on the glassdoor site from another poster above, some people really had some positive things to say. Especially about being able to set your own schedule. Here is a quote:

'"Flexible schedule: you have to open 40 lesson slots minimum in a month, then the rest is up to you."

It seems like with this flexibility I could work some months for 20 lessons a week for two weeks and then take two weeks off to travel. Clearly this would not be much money, but I'm ok with that.

It also seems that I could accept a job with them and get a work visa for a full time job with them, and then work the above scenario. Do you see any potential legal problems with this?

I will probably be coming to Japan early in 2017.
 
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What do you mean exactly by "early in 2017"? January? March?

I don't trust GABA on several levels. If they have such a flexible schedule as you describe, then are you truly a full-time worker (one who is therefore qualified for a work visa)? I'm sure they tell employees one thing about schedules and then present a different picture to immigration just so they can get the warm bodies. Keep asking around for the negative points, and ask how many native English speakers enjoy working there (and why).
 
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