Founder and Managing Headmistress
Born in Japan, from an early age Ruriko always wanted to travel and live in America. She has lived in Illinois, California, and the Netherlands, where she studied and, initially, worked for Xerox. In 2003, while living in Silicon Valley, California she began her first company, English Vitamin, LLC. Initially geared towards helping the families of expats working in the United States, Ms. Yamaki brought her method back to Japan where she learned to perfect it. She has worked with the Japanese at Hitachi, NEC, NHK, Panasonic, NTT Docomo, Apple, Google, and when first launched, her English Vitamin podcast became the second most popular downloaded podcast on iTunes and her Business Lessons on Audible were top sellers in Japan.
She has developed a method of learning English that is both natural and similar to how students in America and other English-speaking nations teach their children to speak and read. After mastering basic phonics and the 315 Dolch words, students then begin to learn English through reading classic children’s literature. She is very selective in who she teaches but says that any child willing to put in the hard work, and who has the support of their families at home, will succeed using her method.
Outside of the particulars, in regards to the classics she uses and the materials she creates, Ms. Yamaki has three principles that are the foundation of her methodology, love, discipline, and freedom. Students need a loving and nurturing atmosphere in order for them to thrive at learning anything. When they feel loved and appreciated, they are open to new ideas and learning. Discipline is the second most important principle. Without hard work, a firm hand, and students having the discipline to practice and work outside of class, it is impossible for them to be successful. Finally, we have freedom. Students should feel free to be inquisitive and to be themselves. Through discipline and love, students can find freedom and use their new language abilities with boundless ends.
Playtime is also imperative. Science without love is destructive, and love without science powerless as the British philosopher Bertrand Russell says. The children at English Vitamin get break time with every lesson to play, laugh, and enjoy their time. Children naturally want to play and in doing so, using as much English as possible, they learn even more so than they would at any other typical English language school. The end result is that their English improves significantly.
Ms. Yamaki has been perfecting her methods, and making children the center of her world, for nearly twenty years. The students who stick with her method are able to go from zero knowledge of English to be able to read novels such as Charlotte’s Web, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in two years time. If parents want their children to learn English, and are encouraging at home, they do not need to send their children to international schools, they just need to put in the work and use her methodology.
The teachers Ms. Yamaki chooses are also highly qualified, high-quality individuals. She spends a great deal of time vetting and interviewing every single person she works with. Only teachers who show a highly developed sense of empathy, a strong work ethic, and unquestionable character are allowed to work for English Vitamin. She thinks of all her students as her children and her teachers as an extension of herself, and as such, is fastidious in maintaining the quality, not just of the education she is providing, but also in maintaining the quality of atmosphere. Quality teachers and a positive learning environment are just as important as her principles and methods, and Ms. Yamaki provides.
Ms. Yamaki also knows that parents play a very important role in encouraging their children to learn a new language and so she does her best to develop relationships with them, meets with them often, and hosts a number of annual events where the students, teachers, and families can socialize outside of the classroom. The parents spend a good amount of time at the school with Ms. Yamaki, so she can learn how the students are outside the classroom and at home in order to develop the most nurturing learning environment possible. She says doing so is fundamental to helping her three principles prosper.
Ms. Yamaki will be launching an online platform later this year providing English language learning materials so that she can help as many as possible learn her methods should they wish to do so. Although selective with whom she decides to take on, she is always willing to give a trial period to any prospective student who wishes to come to English Vitamin, School of English Learning Through Humanities and Language Arts.