The Yaruki Switch Group is an educational services provider that has been in business for almost half a century. The group’s offerings for English language instruction for children includes brands such as WinBe, a phonics-based English conversation school, and Kids Duo, an English immersion service for pre- and after-school learners.
In response to globalization and fast-changing technological and social trends, in 2018 the company established a new service called Yaruki Switch Career, a recruitment and dispatch agency with a focus on staffing for the education sector.
Speaking to Japan Today, Yaruki Switch Career President and CEO Shunsuke Masaki, who is also a board director of Yaruki Switch Group, said the group company has more than 2,000 educational facilities nationwide and over 500 staff, including native English speakers from over 31 countries.
Masaki touched on topics as varied as the group’s unique philosophy and teaching methodology, English education in a post-COVID-19 era, and the company’s strategy to provide career development for all its staff, including those from abroad. A summary of the wide-ranging conversation follows.
Can you tell us more about the Yaruki Switch Group?
The main focus for us is the private education sector. Unlike schools in the public sector, who have a fixed curriculum, we have a flexible curriculum that can foster the ability of learners to think on their own. Our young learners are able to work through problems by themselves, allowing us to strengthen their experience of education in the private sector.
What can you tell us about your teaching philosophy and methodology?
Our philosophy is "to find the human treasures of the world, providing our full support to allow them to sparkle. To engage the motivation switch of all, and while realizing our full potential, contribute to the creation of a society in which we may all happily exist."
We also have a belief that each one of us has an individual “staircase” where, if you aim beyond your goals, it’s actually difficult to reach them—it’s hard to make a big leap. What we do is to establish small steps, or goals, for learners to achieve.
And when they achieve them and realize that they can do it, this prepares their mind to want to do more, step by step.
What can you tell us about the need to use English in a fast-changing world?
As for the need for usable English, where you have English as a tool to communicate, our schools have been answering to the demands of the rapidly changing global economy and technological world. That’s why we believe that having an actual space in which to learn is important, as is having interactions between teachers and students — while, at the same time, incorporating and adapting to technology such as artificial intelligence and digital transformation services.
Can you elaborate on the importance of teaching immersive, usable English?
When it comes to English education, it’s not just providing it as a tool, but also creating an environment for students to learn English in their daily lives, which means they’ll be able to learn English in various contexts—from computer programming to playing sports and more. So, in this era, students will have various means by which they can survive. That’s why we are planning content to support the future of such children.
What can you tell us about the support you offer staff from abroad?
Native English-speaking staff do join our company as English teachers. For such non-Japanese employees, we have created options or pathways for them, so that they don’t end their careers as a teacher.
Some work as trainers, who teach and train other teachers. Others have become school directors or principals, or ended up in headquarters, working on curriculums, sales strategies, or becoming section managers.
What’s more, we have clear criteria, which are explained for each level, to enable employees to improve in their career with clear goals. And we feel that competency — and the way you think — is important, and will reflect how you achieve your goals.
Is there more support that is available for staff from overseas?
We have created a specialized team providing career support for staff already in Japan. For those from overseas: we help them from the time they arrive at the airport. We also provide local support with things like banking, housing — and even before that, we provide support with acquiring a visa. On top of that, we have regular meetings with staff so that they will be able to fix any struggles or problems that they may have.
What can you say to foreigners considering a career in Japan?
The English education environment in Japan is changing from just an academic way of learning the language to one where you can use it in everyday life, so the need to provide real English learning services and locations will continue to grow.
For people looking for jobs to teach English, I recommend that they spend time learning about Japan, and how to adjust to new ways of living. We want to support them, if their first job in Japan will be an English teaching one. But we might be able to support them too, if they want to change careers — to IT or other fields — or relocate to their home country or other countries.
For us, the most important thing is whether or not job seekers can sympathize with our philosophy. It is about developing innate “jewels“ in children — that is, their talents — and providing them with an education that can motivate them to learn by themselves.