Eric H. Galang: model English teacher

Benigno D. Tutor, Jr.

ramp 2 pt_1.JPGAs an English instructor, Eric is more concerned with teaching than sartorial style, but he carries both with equal flair.

It is said that if you are blond or can feign an American twang, you can easily be accepted as an English teacher in Japan. Never mind if your subject does not agree with your predicate, and your verb tenses fly in different directions.

As an English teacher, Eric H. Galang easily stands above his clique, literally and figuratively. At 6’1, he towers above most of his students at a one-to-one English teaching school in Yokohama City. But far from being self-obsessed, Eric prefers to rise above the others in more than just the physical sense. Aware that he does not have the physical attributes of a “native” that weighs more heavily to a prospective employer than a resume, Eric continues to work hard on his English. Not only does he speak with an almost impeccable American accent (and he has never been to the U.S.), he also writes with meticulous attention to his grammar.

He credits this to his intensive training in American communication and culture during his ten-month stint at a call center in Ortigas, Pasig. His work required him to instruct and advise American clients on their internet connection, as well as handle customer complaints. He still recalls with amusement how his American clients thought he was calling from within the U.S., and only noticed his occasional enunciatory quirks when he mentioned that he was calling from Manila.

ramp_3_pt.JPGHe has the luxury of youth to make mistakes and try again, but for now, Eric is on even keel in his career.

Patience is a priceless virtue for teachers. Although one does not expect to find much of this in a 27-year old man, Eric has developed this character through a career path that had as many ups as downs. After graduation, he began to work as a hotel receptionist in Makati City. After more than just a year, the hotel went kaput and he was out of work. He then decided to put to good use the degree in Business Management and Entrepreneurship that he earned at San Beda College by pooling his savings with his friends to set up a computer shop. While waiting for the big break, he also moonlighted as an English teacher to Koreans who come to the country in droves to unwind and study English. The big time never came. Stiff competition forced him and his friends to close shop. Having honed his English skills as a private tutor, Eric could only think next of jumping into the bandwagon of the booming call-center industry.

Less than a year into the career, Eric set his sights beyond the shores. Luckily, he has two older siblings in Tokyo and New York to look to for advice and hard cash. One of them has been working in the IT industry in Japan for seven years. With his encouragement, Eric tried his luck as a private student. Odds were against him, as he was over the “preferred age” of below-25 for foreign students. But this did not daunt him. In no time at all, he found himself enrolled as a private student, a rarity among Filipinos, at the College of Business and Communications in Kawasaki City. As a private student, he soon found the need to work part-time to make both ends meet.

ramp_4_pt.JPG Eric realized early on that in life, as in the classroom, the more you teach, the more you need to learn.

Having a limited Japanese ability, he could only land a job at a factory where he slugged it our for a few months.

His persistence paid off when he was hired by an English school shortly after moving to Kawasaki. Even then, he felt obliged to complete his schooling and juggled his time in the classroom alternately as a student and teacher. As a self-motivated teacher who never stops learning, Eric proved his value to the school which hired him full-time and sponsored his working visa. He emphasizes the need for continual learning to deal with the challenges of teaching Japanese students with diverse backgrounds and levels of progress—from beginners to near-native speakers.

Eric also dabbles—literally—as a model. Recommended by a designer friend to a Ugandan designer who was participating in the Fashion Festa 2006 at the Tokyo Big Sight last December, Eric wowed fashionistas with his Nihon Afriq apparel. As seriously as he took to teaching English, Eric prepared for this ritzy part-time job by jogging in the early morning winter cold, boxing and weight training. Six kilos lighter, Eric walked down the ramp along with the more seasoned professionals, holding his own without the slightest fidget. As a registered talent in modeling agencies in Tokyo, he is always on call for snap assignments.

But topmost in Eric’s priority list is being a classroom model for communicating and teaching English.