Ms. Cindy Kakuにお話をしていただきました。
People often ask me why I
started learning Japanese. That's a good question.
When I began studying nearly 15 years ago, I had no idea how difficult
Japanese would be. I also could not have imagined how much it would
change my life.
My interest in Japan began my second year of high school, when a Japanese
girl came to
my home for 2 weeks. The next summer, I went to Nagoya to stay at
I could not speak any Japanese at all, and was very homesick, but my
friend was able to
translate for me a little. There I learned my first Japanese
words :"miso," "o-hashi,"and "makura-nagekko"(a
very useful word for a 15 year old girl!)
When I returned to Portland,
Oregon, my home town, I started Japanese class at
We learned some simple Chinese characters, some basic phrases, and
After high school, I went to the Ｕniversity of Oregon where I majored in
I took many courses in Japanese language and literature, making steady but
over several years.
graduation, I started working in a bank(mado-guchi). One day, my
aunt sent me
information about teaching English in Japan at G(某英会話学校）.
I had always wanted to return to Japan
to improve my Japanese. So I went to Seattle
for a job interview and was accepted. I taught English
conversation for 3 years in Matsudo,
In the mornings, I attended Japanese language school and in
the afternoons and evenings
I taught English. Kiyo-sensei was one of my teachers, and she
helped me a lot and answered
my many questions. I think my Japanese was pretty strange at
I made lots of mistakes and sometimes I felt really stupid and frustrated.
At home Ｉ listened to Japanese TV
everyday. At first I could not understand much of
anything I would watch the commercials very closely, however,
because they would be
repeated many times. After seeing the same commercial 10b
times, I would catch some
new words and begin to understand the meaning. It is amazing
how much you can
learn about Japanese life and culture from TV commercials.
As I improved I started watching dramas, sports, and eventually news
programs. On TV,
I would hear the same words I had studied at school, and suddenly they
would mean something
to me. At the end of my 3 years of teaching, I passed the Japanese
Proficiency Exam Level 1
and my official study of Japanese ended.
It was at G that I met my
husband, Ken. As my student, we always spoke in English during
As we started spending more time together, we started speaking Japanese
too. At the end of
1996 we were married in Portland and moved to Hong Kong, where he
was transferred to work.
While there, I studied business and
returned to Japan and finished my MBA.
I now work for an American company,
dun and Bradstreet where I manage marketing of data
services and software. I use Japanese everyday for business
Learning Japanese has been a real asset to my career as well as a
significant part of my personal development. I would
encourage anyone to learn a second language-it is hard and slow-going,
but it adds a whole new dimension to your life. Ganbatte!