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Saturday, Nov. 3, 2007

Gaba takes on students in lurch; EF woos staff

Staff writer

Gaba Corp., a Tokyo-based English-language school chain, said Friday it has begun accepting Nova lesson tickets from students left in the lurch by the sudden closure of their schools.

Nova Corp., Japan's largest language school chain, filed for court protection from creditors last week and closed all its branches.

Nova students with tickets good from Oct. 26 or later will be able to redeem them at a rate of 10-to-1 for lessons at Gaba until Dec. 28.

For example, a student who has tickets good for 100 Nova lessons would be able to take 10 lessons at Gaba. Gaba is waiving its enrollment fee.

Gaba spokeswoman Mamiko Takahashi said the company, which has 34 schools, mostly in Tokyo, can handle as many as several hundred Nova students left suddenly without a place to practice English.

In a related development, EF English First, a private language education company, has started recruiting Nova English-language instructors for positions in China.

The firm said it would like to take on up to 1,000 Nova instructors for jobs in China, where it has been opening English-language schools at a clip of almost one a week to meet growing demand for English education ahead of the Beijing Olympics next year.

On its Web site, EF English First is offering to cover the travel cost to China and accommodations there for up to two weeks, and to help the teachers find housing.

EF English First operates in 50 countries and has been expanding quickly in the Chinese market, according to the Web site.

An EF Education group official in charge of recruitment said Nova instructors are attractive candidates thanks to their teaching experience and understanding of Asian cultures.

The group has been fielding some 50 inquiries a day since the offer went up on its Web site in late October, the official said.

But the official denied that the EF Education group intends to take over the Nova school chain in Japan. Nova is now looking for a sponsor to back its rehabilitation.

Information from Kyodo added

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