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Gaba to Fill the Void Left by Nova?

The Sankei Shimbun has a puff piece on Gaba. The company's president, Chutatsu Aono, gets some free space to espouse the greatness of his school.

Aono begins by noting that the collapse of NOVA marked a distinct change in the English conversation market. Nova's bringing English lessons the public be it a train station near you or from your living room were great achievements, but students are more concerned with whether they'll be able to actually take a lesson. This is where Gaba's one-on-one lessons come in. It's Gaba's time to take the lead.

The Sankei Shimbun adds an aside that introduces Aono. He is a graduate of Waseda University who joined American Express in 1989. In 1999, he obtained an MBA from Harvard. Upon returning to Japan, he got involved with running Gaba and took over its operations in 2004 through a management buyout. Gaba was listed on the Mothers section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 2006.

Back to the story article advertisement. Aono says there are three things that are important to mastering English. They are: 1) being in an English-speaking environment, 2) having a goal, and 3) keeping at it and not giving up. Since Gaba offers one-on-one lessons, you maximize your speaking time. Not only do Gaba's one-on-one lessons place it above all other schools, Gaba also wins because it's cost-effective.

Gaba has lessons and texts to meet the needs of all sorts of students. For example, Gaba can put together lessons for for a businessman who wants to sell his product to the world and even have a native English speaker review any presentation material. With Gaba, you also have the luxury of speaking with counselors who can advise you on lessons and assign a suitable teacher.

The Sankei Shimbun notes that English conversation is an ¥ 800 billion market and that Gaba feels that it re-tooling its business strategy for what it sees as a latent market that it expects to grow. Their plan includes providing corporate-oriented curriculums and offering English education for elementary, middle, and high schools.

Aono recalls that when he was studying in America, more emphasis was placed on reasoning rather than giving the correct answer. He says he'll never forget the students, graduates from Japan's elite universities, who struggled because they could not engage in discussion in English. To him, this is a microcosm of Japan as it struggles to express itself in a global era.

Aono thinks that this is the result of the way English is taught in Japan. Here, the emphasis is on grammar with students graded on knowing words and idioms they'll never use in the real world. This undoubtedly makes English no fun to learn and turns students off from language learning.

What makes Aono happy is to hear students say how much they enjoy learning English. Given that English is indispensable for communicating with people across the world, students should love learning and it should be fun. In closing, Aono adds that he's not looking to expand his share of the market but to spread the way of studying English that he has fostered for over a decade.

The Sankei adds a few details about Gaba the company. It is capitalized at ¥594,380,000, has a staff of 449 employees, and sales of ¥8,777,890,000.

Comment: Aono's closing remark is difficult to swallow. It's hard to believe that Gaba's motives are altruistic, especially when it is planning to take a large piece of the eikaiwa pie for itself. Curiously, the Sankei Shimbun decided to file this story under the category of "bankruptcies and failures." Do they know something that we don't?

If you're familiar with the crap that gets broadcast on TV, you'll instantly recognize this articlepublicity for what it is: infotainment. Just as the celebrity-of-the-day takes you on a one-hour jaunt across town to introduce you to the latest fashion and gourmet trends, the Sankei Shimbun serves up a steaming plate of Gaba: the president has an MBA and isn't interested in profit; he really wants to help. The company has lots of money, all is well.

This sugar coated portrayal of the company belies the fact that Gaba's shares have lost 75% of their value since being listed in 2006. They are currently hovering between ¥58,000 and ¥60,000. If you are a teacher, working conditions are not exactly stellar, either.

Is this article simply an advertisement or is the Sankei Shimbun trying to imply that Gaba is ready to fill the void left by Nova?

Original article

【明日に挑む】GABA社長・青野仲達さん 目的別マンツーマン授業

最大手NOVAの経営破綻(はたん)で明らかになったのは、英会話スクール市場の潮目の変化です。NOVAが目指した「駅前でも自宅でもネイティブの英語に触れられる」ことは重要ですが、それよりも受講者は、それぞれの目的に応じたレッスンを受けられるかどうかに関心を持っています。当社が10年以上続けてきたマンツーマン英会話の出番であり、この変革の時代をリードしたい。

 《青野仲達社長は早稲田大学政経学部卒業後、平成元年アメリカン・エキスプレスに入社。11年米ハーバード大学経営大学院でMBA(経営学修士)を取得した。当時のクラスメートとオンライン英会話スクール「イングリッシュタウン」を起業。その後帰国し、GABAの経営に参画した。16年にMBO(マネジメント・バイアウト)によりGABAの事業を継承し、18年には東証マザーズに上場した》

英語が上達するコツは3つあります。「英語を話す環境に身を置く」「目的を持つ」「コツコツ続ける」ことです。当スクールはマンツーマンですから、他の大手英会話スクールが提供しているグループレッスンより1人が話す時間は当然長い。他社のマンツーマンレッスンと比べても、費用対効果で勝っていると自負しています。

レッスンやテキストもそれぞれの受講者に対応していて、目的を持った人に満足いただける内容です。例えば、ビジネスマンが「自分のつくった商品を世界の人に売り込みたい」と考えたとき、それができるようにレッスンを組み立て、プレゼンの本番前にネイティブに英語をチェックしてもらうこともできます。レッスンや講師の選択を相談できるカウンセラーもそろっていて、コツコツ続けられる環境もあります。

《英語関連市場は8000億円とされており、成熟市場とみる向きは多い。しかし、GABAは「今後さらに拡大する潜在市場である」として、攻めの経営を強める方針だ。まず、法人向け市場に参入し、企業のニーズに合わせたカリキュラムを提供する。さらに小中高校の英語教育にも参入を計画している》

米国に留学していたとき、教授たちは学生が正解を答えることを期待するよりも、結論に行き着くまでの過程を重視していました。にもかかわらず、日本の優秀な大学を卒業した学生たちが英語での討論で発言できず、苦戦していた姿を今でも忘れることができません。グローバル時代に自己主張ができない日本の縮図を見たような気がしました。

こうしたことは日本の英語教育が少なからず影響していると思います。文法を基本とする日本の英語教育では、日常では使わない単語やイデオム(慣用句)をいくつ知っているかで点数が決められます。英語がまったく楽しくなく、嫌いになる生徒までもでてきます。

スクールを経営していてうれしいのは「生まれて初めて英語が好きになりました」という声を頂いたときです。本来、教育とは「好きになる」「楽しむ」ことが最も重要で、世界の国の人たちとコミュニケーションがとれる英語学習には欠かせないことです。スクールの規模を追求するのではなく、これまで培った英語の学び方を広めたいと考えています。(小島清利)

【会社概要】GABA

「マンツーマン形式」に特化した英会話スクールの展開▽資本金5億9438万円▽本社・東京都目黒区▽従業員449人▽売上高87億7789万円▽http://www.gaba.co.jp/

Japan: 

Comments

Thanks for posting that article / advertisement.

I hope current and would-be teachers now realize, more than ever, what a pea-brain charlatan industry Eikaiwa is, and make better informed choices.

Eikaiwa, and in particularly, the “people” who run it, remind me of that persistent smelly toe jam mould you find growing in the nooks and crevices of the tiles in the gym shower rooms.

It does not matter how much disinfectant is applied (by METI or whoever else), the mould and its stench never seem to completely disappear.

I am frankly amazed, since the collapse of infamous and notorious Nova Corporation, that eikaiwa exists at all. Why hasn’t the Japanese Government, outlawed them?

All those “schools”, no matter what sticker or name tag they put on themselves, are all pretty much the same breed of parasite.

Revolting ! Disgusting !

Yes, the MBA, teaches you how to run a business by screwing those under you without them knowing it. That is good MBA business

I was in on the ground when GABA was ramping up. The former owners (Canadian woman and her Japanese husband) had one thing in mind, list the company in order to sell it!

I had issues with the "former" company and their requirements to hire "native" a.k.a. white English teachers as the norm in order to not scare the customers away, faking credentials of instructors and a host of other tricks the eikaiwas pull.

I left the company over some BS (got a quick payout from them), found out about the pile of complaints filed with the labor union and never looked back at running/working in the eikaiwa industry.

If the new owner can provide a better service, great! If not, when will the students wake up and smell the kohi?

It will be interesting to see how things go in the next couple of years at GABA. If the economy goes south I think they will have a hard time attracting new students since they charge something like 7-8, 000 Yen per lesson as far as I understand.

They also provide an appalling set of working conditions for its teachers. Yet people will work there and I'm sure someone will come on here to defend them.

Of looking at the ills of the world, in a way that one person, or organisation is held responsible.

GABA's shitty set up wouldn't work, if the idiots who work for as potentially little as Zero Yen per day, minus expenses didn't turn up, in their (Compulsory) black business suit and tie, which they pay for. If everyone wears the same outfit - it's a uniform. I never heard of a company who make employees pay for their own uniform before. Sweet.

GABA stinks, but, like any regime, it works because there are some seriously stunted individuals in the world, who join up, to feel better about themselves.

I have to start out by saying that I completely agree with you that the Eikaiwa industry is mostly comprised of charlatans. That, in and of itself, however is not a crime.

Often, people in Japan, and the rest of the world for that matter, forget what Eikaiwa actually means, "English language conversation." These organizations offer an opportunity to improve your current CONVERSATIONAL English language ability through conversation with a native speaker. They do not offer any kind of English language education. If they did, they would be called "eikyoshitsu," "egokyoiku," "eigakuin" or something along those lines. These real English schools can be found all over Japan. A good example is the Eisu chain in Mie, which focuses on English and Math for primary and secondary school students.

IF, I were to set up a business on the side of the road and offer dried cow excrement for Y8000 a kilogram, and many people purchased it, would that, in and of itself, make me a criminal? No. What about if I were to put it in a pretty box and sell it, am I a criminal? No. As long as I do not lie about what I am selling in the first place, it is not a crime. Eikaiwa, by its very name, does not lie about what it is selling, and thus is not criminal, in and of itself. They are only criminal when they engage in criminal acts, such as violating contracts of students and teachers, violating labour standard laws, violating fair trade laws, etc.

There are much worse organizations that operate in Japan. Sara-kin machines, Pachinko parlors, Hostess clubs, certain religious sects (Scientology is beginning to take hold in some places) are all much more harmful to society than Eikaiwa.

We are Anonymous
We are legion
We do not forgive
We do not forget

Expect Us.

The Japanese LAW in fact had real trouble with what and how the Eikaiwa sell their horse shit (which is why METI effectively shut Nova down)!

"They are only criminal when they engage in criminal acts, such as violating contracts of students and teachers, violating labour standard laws, violating fair trade laws, etc". Well Einstein, why don't ya tell us which one of these laws the lawless pricks are not taking a dump on? Hmm?

Pftt!!

In the words of Spinal Tap, GABA fills, "...a much needed void."

There used to be a nightclub in Birmingham, GB called "Wobble" - their advertisements used to say:

"The place is a dump, but the chicks are great!"

GABA should say:

"The school is a joke, but the furniture's lovely".

Tight fisted bastards though - the last straw for me though was the fact that you can make the company in the region of 90,000 yen per day, which I often did, but they won't even give you a cup of coffee.

If you are a GABA (native English) teacher reading this - you are at the low point - at least you know life will never get any worse. You are being ****ed royally, as are your students, because YOU haven't been trained properly. Good luck!

Birmingham had some classic clubs back in the day. My favourite Hotel in Birmingham was always great for chilling out afterwards!

I think that this is a great company and will be able to become one of the biggest companies in Japan. I have found in most jobs you have to pay for your own suit. It is professional and shows you are serious about your job.

at the GABA rate of pay, and the get out clauses for actually paying wages (no student = no wage, no transports payments) it is gonna take a while to pay for the suit.

It's just that people who get similar salaries to GABA teachers (E.G. JANITORS, hospital porters, garbage collectors, etc) usually get their uniform from the company.

Interestingly, Eikaiwa businesses seem to flourish during economic downturns. Nova grew like Japanese knotweed, after the bubble economy.

Talking of GABA, at the small school I work at, some prospective customer complained that it wasn't as plush as GABA, so the (Japanese) manager said:

"GABA doesn't charge 4000 yen for a Man to Man, though, does it? But, feel free to bring your own pot plants!"

Unlike big Eikaiwa managers, with sales targets, this guy I work for now is pretty cool - if he senses that students are gonna be a big pain in the butt, he just sends them on their way.

I see that you all hate Gaba, you have thoroughly convinced me that you hate Gaba. Can you recommend any alternatives for people who are searching for baitos?

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