The need for English among our clients falls into two main categories – participating in global business, or for travel and hobby reasons. The Japanese education system provides a strong basis in English reading and writing, but the spoken communication aspect is often not a focus – that’s where Gaba comes in.
We have crafted an approach to our lessons that takes the Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) methodology and applies it to the specific needs of adult learners in Japan studying in a one-to-one environment. We customise every lesson to fit the needs and goals of our individual clients – Gaba seeks to break the one-size-fits-all mold our clients may have experienced elsewhere and deliver a superb education service.
For our Instructors, this means that no two lessons will be alike – every client’s needs are different and so we adapt our lessons accordingly. Teaching at Gaba means always focusing on your client 100%.
Being prepared means knowing who and what you’re about to teach. While both are important, emphasis should be placed on who – it is the key to a successful lesson. Be sure to have a thorough understanding of your client’s profile and study preferences. All pertinent details can be readily accessed through the GabaWeb. Know who the client is, what their goals are, and why they are studying at Gaba. If you can answer these questions, you’re 90% of the way there.
Clients work through one unit at a time, in a predetermined order. The GabaWeb will tell you just where to start. Most importantly, note the lesson’s function and associated target language. Next, brainstorm how it applies to your particular client. Finally, a perusal of the day’s lesson materials is recommended. All Gaba lessons have supplementary tools and resources. These too, are found online and can be referenced before or during the lesson. In time, preparation will be dominated by a review of the client’s record because you will have grown accustomed to the patterns common to all lessons.
For new instructors just starting out, it’s wise to get to the Learning Studio early and review all the day’s lessons beforehand. There is a five-minute break between lessons, but that might feel short to those unfamiliar with the structure of Gaba’s lessons. Experienced instructors will tell you it’s ample time.
Teaching the Lesson – the 5 Stages of a Gaba Lesson
A chime sounds to signal the start of each lesson. Clients will work their way from the reception area to your lesson booth. Once your client is comfortably seated, it’s time to get started.
A typical lesson has five distinct stages and follows the progression below. The lesson stages allow the client to build both their confidence and competence with the function and target language of the lesson. The aim at Gaba is for the client to be able to independently use the target language in question by the time the lesson finishes. As such, the lesson structure is designed to best lead our clients to that point in a succession of distinct stages:
1. Introductions & Warm-up
Put your client at ease, build rapport, and elicit existing understanding of the lesson’s function. Allowing the client to adjust into speaking English before getting into the lesson proper is a crucial step. (3-5 minutes)
2. Target Language
Formally introduce your client to the function of the lesson and the associated language. (5-10 minutes)
3. Practice Activities
Lead the client through several structured exercises to build familiarity with language in a progressive manner. Each activity allows for more independence on the client’s part. (10-15 minutes)
The goal of the lesson: Provide a space for your client to produce the language and demonstrate the function independently. (10 minutes)
5. Lesson Record & Feedback
Finally, provide pertinent feedback on your client’s performance while entering comments and new vocabulary/ structures on GabaWeb for the client to review later – multitasking is key here! (5 minutes)
Customising the Lesson
Clients expect lessons to be tailored to their specific needs. How is this achieved? It’s a matter of taking the information from the client’s profile and adapting the lesson content to make it more applicable. Here is a quick demonstration using ‘speculating on the future’ as the lesson’s function:
If the client is a businesswoman, adjust the warm-up, practice, and application portions to include topics such as forecasts about her industry, prospects for her company, and her involvement in the short, medium, or long-term goals. The language introduced should be more formal or polite.
If the client is a college student, applicable topics might include his forthcoming exam results, his plans for the summer break, or his future career options. The language can be more casual.
The uniform pattern of all Gaba lessons allows instructors to focus more on the client and ensure they experience using the target language in contextual and meaningful situations. This customization is what brings clients back, and ultimately means success for you, the instructor.