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I fell in love with the place and never thought about another job ever since.

A diverse educational organization, YARUKI Switch Group
YARUKI Switch Group has more than 1,700 schools throughout Japan and is expanding to the world. With a track record stretching 40 years in teaching, nurturing, and opening up a future for children, they aim to be a general education group that caters to a diverse range of students.

In this interview, we asked two of their Kids Duo International teachers about why they chose to work at YARUKI Switch Group and what kind of candidates they are looking for.

Teacher Jay is from the US and he has been in Japan for almost 9 years now. He first came to Japan as a teacher for an afterschool program in Iwate. He wanted to move closer to Tokyo and started an IT position in the Kanto area. After some unexpected turns of events, he wanted to teach again just for one year, but he fell in love with KDI(Kids Duo International) and has been working here for the last 6 years.
Teacher Lorraine is originally from Norway and she has both Filipino and Chinese roots. She came to Japan to be together with her husband who is Japanese. She joined KDI three years ago and she truly enjoys working with children and seeing them achieve their goals.
Joining the Yaruki Switch Group: Supporting teachers to be open, positive, and to take ownership

― Why did you decide to become a teacher? J: When I was studying at university, I initially wanted to work in international relations but one of my teachers opened my eyes to teaching. His classes were interactive with a lot of student-teacher communication, so I fell in love with the idea of becoming a teacher. There were not that many opportunities back home and the same professor, who was Japanese, advised that I look for teaching positions in Japan - and here I am!

L: I always liked working with children. Before I came to Japan, I was a Taekwondo instructor for children back home, so it felt more natural to apply for a position at a kindergarten rather than work with older students. It has worked out really well so far.

― What was important for you when looking for a position? Why did you decide to join Yaruki Switch Group? J: To be honest, at first I was looking for a teaching job just for one year, because I wanted to continue working in IT, but the moment I stepped into the gates, I fell in love with the place and never thought about another job ever since.

L: I was looking for a position where I would not have to work on the weekends and where the commute time would not be too long. I originally applied for Kids Duo, but after going to the interview and hearing more about the various brands, I realized that KDI would be a better fit for me.

― What kind of support does the Yaruki Switch Group offer? J: The company has been very helpful with taxes, health insurance, visas, and a lot of other things. For someone like me who does not speak much Japanese, this is a lot of help. The Yaruki Switch Group helped me grow not only as a teacher, but also as a leader. We have three principles here: You have to be open, positive, and have ownership - the company promotes us to be leaders and make our own decisions. If you have a new idea they are open to it and let you try it out!

L: If we needed, the Yaruki Switch Group can help us find a place to live, and they also help us with anything Japanese - if we get a letter in Japanese we can bring it to the office and someone will help us. They also help us when going to the doctors in case you do not speak Japanese. Recently there are also JLPT lessons for those who want to work on their Japanese skills.

Working at Kids Duo International: Turning on your “Teacher Switch”

― Please tell us more about the training at the beginning of your contract? J: The initial training was a lot different from what it is now. When I first joined the company, the brand was just starting to grow, but throughout the years we have learned and improved a lot! The manual is much more detailed and we make sure that we do not miss anything. We are focused on growing not only as a school but as a brand as well. I am the head trainer here and I always do my best to make the teachers feel motivated for their work.

L: We usually get three months of training. At first, I trained at a different KDI and after one month I came here and tried teaching in all of the classes. Later on, I was put into a class with teacher Jake, he trained me on everything I needed to know and eventually, I took over.

― Could you tell us your day-to-day work? J: I come in, sit down, and think about the schedule/lesson plan for the day. I also prepare the “starboard” for the students and prepare various worksheets for the week. Once the kids come in, I turn on my switch and go into my teacher mode - show happiness and how excited I am to be with the kids. I make sure that the kids are safe and that I am also staying hydrated. (laughs) Through the day I just have fun with the kids, we have lunchtime, nap time, and then afternoon classes.

L: I come in at around 8:30 and I set up the tables, the sticker board, and wait for the kids. Once the kids arrive, we tell them good morning by the door, help them with changing and start our activities. First, we have circle time: here we talk about calendars, we ask what they did the day before, and sometimes we do self-introduction. Then we transition into the next class - activities, dance, games, and so on. We also have the Japanese class and ninja class - during these classes we stay in class and support the Japanese teachers. During English time the Japanese teachers support us in the same way.

― What is the most enjoyable part of your work? J: The kids and the people. If you really like kids, this is a perfect position. Whenever I feel tired or don’t have energy, once they come in and say “Good Morning! I feel that energy and feel that it is the most enjoyable part. Also, my colleagues here are all great teachers. Being here for 6 years, I still learn a lot from them, even from the new teachers. I enjoyed being around other people who are passionate about teaching.

L: The children. It is nice to be able to have a conversation with them and have them understand you. I also enjoy just having fun with them - sometimes they say really silly things so it is very enjoyable. The kids in my class are very talkative - they are great at reading and listening and help each other.

― What do you think is the most challenging part of your work? J: Sometimes there is a little bit of a language barrier. My Japanese skills are not that great and that is one of the things I wish to improve. Miscommunication might happen, however, in the end, we are all working towards the same goal - the safety of the kids. If you put in the effort you can overcome this challenge - try your best, see if you can understand, and ask for help if necessary.

L: It’s also the children. (laughs) Sometimes we do get children who act out more than others or kids that are on the spectrum, so we have to find the right balance, which can be a bit stressful.

A friendly environment: “If you love children, this is the perfect position for you!”

― What is the atmosphere like between the school staff? J: Before Covid-19 we would sometimes go out. A lot of us here are gamers, so every three months we used to have game nights where we would play Smash Brothers or Mario cart. It is really fun and last year I made a guacamole dip which everybody loved.

L: We all get along well! Before Covid-19, we would have staff events and game nights. We would sit together, have pizza, and play games. Last year we went to a trampoline place and sometimes we do karaoke as well. A lot of us have made really good friends here.

― What is your current goal at work? J: My goal as a teacher is that all my students achieve their study goals. Right now I am teaching the youngest kids who are now able to identify the alphabet letters, so I want to continue to phonics next. I am also trying to improve the training so that when the trainees get into their schools they feel better prepared. I believe with our new program we will be able to accomplish that and it is going to be pretty awesome.

L: Last year I had surgery, so my goal, for now, is running with children again and keeping up with them again. For my students, I would like for all of them to complete the “star chart” - our board for completing reading challenges.

― What kind of person would you like to work with? J: I think at the top there is passion and energy. I would like to work with people who have passion, energy, who are open, and love being around kids. If you love kids, this is the perfect place for you.

L: Someone flexible. We sometimes need to switch lessons or schedules, so it would be great working with someone who can adjust fast.

― What would you like to tell the candidates who want to work with the Yaruki Switch Group? J: Please come! As I mentioned before, I first thought that I will be here only for one year, but now it has been six years. There is a lot that the Yaruki Switch Group offers and it is a really nice place, which you should come and see it for yourself.

L: It’s fun! If you like working with children, please try to apply. You get an insight into a different culture through the children’s eyes, so there is a lot you can learn from the experience.

Brand Introduction: “Kids Duo International“

State-of-the-art bilingual kindergarten preparing children to succeed in all academic areas later in life./ English and Japanese instruction in order to facilitate natural, bilingual learning right from the start./ Physical education program specifically designed to start children off on a lifetime of wellness.

Our Brand Message
“The time you spend at KDI will be a lifetime treasure”

Teaching Method & Responsibilities
  • Teach English curriculum for classes of up to 30 students (ages 2 to 6).
  • Classes cover a variety of English subjects such as Reading & Writing, Numbers & Shapes, Phonics, Songs & Chants, Arts & Crafts, and Show & Tell. By giving our students such a wide variety of programs, we are actively engaging them and enabling them to learn through different mediums.
  • Accompany students to (and participate in) additional Japanese language programs, such as Music, Intellectual Training, and our expansive Physical Education program (“Ninja Class”).
  • Model proper behavior and life skills, play with students, help with school events, field trips, seasonal events, etc.
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