Mieko Sakai


(How long did you study English in Japan before you came to the United States?)
In Japan I studied English about 4 months and half years—no, I mean four years and a half.

(Ask her to state answer again.)
In Japan I studied English four and a half years.

(Tell me, when you studied English in Japan, how did they teach you English?)
Most of all, they taught us the grammar and we had Oral Communication class, too.

(Did you learn to read and write English in Japan or just speak English?)
Uh, we just learned how to read and write.

(When you came to the United States, was it hard to understand what people were saying, at first?)
Uh, when I came here, first time, I was more careful than now. Um, I was thinking everything is different from Japan. So, I just I couldn’t understand English, because I couldn’t resume(??) first English.

(Tell me what the hardest thing was, in the beginning, when you came to school for the first time?)
Uh, in Jap—I think school, school is different between America and Japanese one, so in Japan we just sit in one classroom and wait for teacher uh, to speak to us. But in America we go to the classroom and meet teacher so first time, it was difficult for me to remember where the classroom is.

(How did you feel when you first came here?)
I was so excited, uh, my life is, I’m thinking my life is um, changed—everything. And as I told you, um, Japanese is uh different from America. I think Japanese is more serious but when I came here, American people were so cheerful.

(Now that you have been here 9 months, what’s been the most exciting thing that you’ve learned while you’ve been here? When you go home and people say tell me about your trip to America, what will you say?)
Um, I think I will say about the people. They are so cheerful and kind. And the guards(?) are always talking and being nice to each others.

(When you are in the classroom here, tell me how you participate. Do you volunteer to speak? Do you mostly listen? Tell me how you are as a student in the class.)
Um mostly I just listening. Um, I still can’t speak English well so I will just listening, writing down, and or reading.

(When you have a question or don’t understand, how do you get the information you need?)
Um, uh, I just ask teacher Ritter (sp) or my friends, so they told me.

(Who are your friends at this school? Tell me about your friends. Who’s your best friend and who do you spend the most time with?)
Uh, that’s hard—in the classes and lunchtime they are different but um, I think my friends at- are sitting down near me and told me how things should be done and they talk to me uh, about the other things.

(When you go home to Japan, who will you speak English with there?)
Um, I’m not sure about… In Japan um, in Junior High school and High school we have a staff English teacher at least one or two. So I think I can talk to her or him.

(How would you say your English has improved since you came? What do you feel more confident about? Talk about your reading and writing… what’s better now when you go home.)
Um, I still can’t speak English fast or louder, but I think my reading and writing is much better.

(Tell me how do you practice your reading. Do you read every day here? How do you practice your English reading?)
I like reading, so I read everyday and I found, do you know Harry Potter? I like it so I just read all the three books.

(They are great stories, aren’t they?)

(I heard the fourth one is coming out next week.)
I just heard it’s story eighth, or something.

(Maybe it is, my sister just ordered it.)

(Tell me when you like to speak English and when you don’t like to speak English.)
I like to speak English when I was asking something or – hm—try to talk to my friends. Um, I don’t like speak English when I was __________?
(When you were what?)
I was scold…
(Oh, when you get in trouble?)
(Ok. Let’s do that again. I don’t like to speak English when I’m in trouble. Do you mean when somebody scolds you or when you scold them. When you are in trouble?)
I don’t like to speak when I’m in trouble.

(When are you in trouble?)
When… I, I didn’t talk so much when I was at home, so my hostess at house said I should talk more.

(So she wanted you to talk more.)

(Tell me, was that hard, to make her happy and to be yourself?)
Um, I knew I should talk more, but um, I’m not type of talking more, so it’s kind of hard for me to speak English sometimes.

(When you are in Japan, are you a quiet person, too or are you more talkative in Japan?)
Uh, I was sort of quiet person, but I think I talked more than speaking English.

(You spoke more Japanese than you did English?)

(What is the hardest thing to share with people in English? When is it, when do you wish you could use Japanese instead of English?)
Um, it’s--- when I feel tired or I got trouble.

(Then you wanted to use Japanese.)

(Tell me why it was important to use Japanese, then.)
Um, because my mother tongue (?) is Japanese, so I know Japanese vocabularies much more than English so I can’t tell hi, how I feel.

(That’s right. It’s a lot harder to talk about feelings in another language, isn’t it?)

(Yeah. Me too, I’ve had that same experience. When I want to cry or am angry I’d rather speak English. (laughs) And not the other language. Um, Did you like being in High school here?)

(Tell me what you liked about high school in America. You already said it was less serious, a little more relaxed.)
Yeah. In Japan, um, we have to study hard to pass the college exams so we are more serious type. And we have to study more and but the America we have much fun class and people show the emotion more than Japanese.

(Are you comfortable with people, Americans, who show more emotion, or does it make you uncomfortable?)
Um, sometimes I don’t feel comfortable when they show just, if they mad at me or so, um, when they mad at me or sad or something. I don’t know what to do. But, most time I like.

(Tell me your happiest moment here… the happiest story you remember… And then I want you to tell me your saddest story. So whichever you want first. Which was the hardest day or hardest experience.)
Um, my hardest day was, I think that’s last Saturday. (What happened?) Um, I had the trouble with my host sister. Um, I, I thought I couldn’t speak English, so, so far I didn’t talk much to her, so she said that I’m not the friendly type and--- so – she kind of showed me how she felt so I just wrote the things how I felt and left home.

(You left your host family home?)
(Did they come looking for you?)
Um, I think they are busy, so….
(So you just left.)

(Where are you staying, now?)
Um, I’m staying with my concer(???)

(That’s been hard, hasn’t it?)

(She didn’t’ understand your personality at all, did she?)
Um, but I think that’s cause I’m I didn’t talk how I feel, or something like that.

(That’s all right. Now tell me your happiest moment? What was the thing you’ve enjoyed the most?)
Um, I like to stay with my friends in the High school. They are so nice to me and they talk a lot and they showed me the funny things. I like to stay with my friends.

(Anything else you want to tell me about your experience learning English, while you were here? Anything I didn’t think to ask you?)
Uh, I think learning English is difficult, but um, there’s more difficult um,_____, that’s the culture and you know. In Japan, we had serious time and that made me more quiet type but in America we have to show how we feel and how um, what happened on the day or so. We have to be American when we stay in America.

(That’s hard.)

End of interview… just thanks her and discussion ends.