I was both a student and a teacher.

Tomohiro ISHIKAWA(H2)

“Can you help me with my homework?” My host sister asked me. She brought the textbook she was using at the university to the living room. The name of the textbook was “Business Japanese.” I was worried about the shortage of my knowledge, but, after all, I accepted her request willingly.

I went to Australia in a homestay program during this summer vacation. I found that many people were studying Japanese there. Not only my host sister but also a lot of students at senior high school, which I attended for two weeks, were learning Japanese. As soon as they saw me, they said to me “KONNICHIWA,” which means “Hello” in English, one after another. I was surprised that some students who had never come to Japan spoke Japanese. One of these students told me that he could speak Japanese a little since he had been taking Japanese classes at school. When he found that I understood his Japanese, he looked very happy.

At school, I learned Australian cultures, such as music, food, history, and geography.  As to music, I learned the song named “Waltzing Matilda”. I heard from my host father that this song was a famous song in Australia, but I guessed it was a frightening song because the main character in the song died at the end of the song. So I preferred Australian national anthem to this song.

I gave a presentation about Japanese culture to the students at elementary school with my Japanese friends. I explained how to make “KABUTO,” a Japanese helmet used in wars, by using a sheet of newspaper. I was worried whether they would listen to us, but that was in vain. They behaved themselves and listened to us carefully during our presentation. When I talked about this experience to my host father, he said, ”You studied Australian culture and at the same time told them about Japanese culture. So you are both a student and a teacher.” I was impressed with this word. It was absolutely true, I thought.

As a student, I took some classes with the normal students. At first, I could not talk to the other students well because I was nervous, but they waited for me and listened to me with smiles. So I really felt grateful to them. A few days later, I was less nervous and then I was able to make new friends. When they caught sight of me, they always called my name. I was happy with their kindness.

As a teacher, I helped my host sister’s homework as I mentioned. I had difficulty explaining about Japanese honorific words and about how they should be translated into English. While giving her the explanation, I sometimes referred to the dictionaries and gestures. That was a bitterly disappointing experience because I realized the lack of my English speaking skills. But I will definitely try again if I have a chance.

Language is a tool to communicate with someone else and a key to know the culture of the country. I recognized anew the importance of learning English in order to talk to friends I made this time or will make in the future, and in order to know the cultures of foreign countries. I will study English hard as a student. I am filled with motivation and enthusiasm now.