Improving Japanese through Conversation with Host Family
Category : Japanese in Japan
Ariadna ROVIRA TENAS
“Learning languages isn’t difficult at all for me. Stuff like math and calculation feel very hard, though,” laughs Ariadna ROVIRA TENAS. Ariadna is Spanish. She speaks Spanish, Catalan, German, French, English and Italian. In college, she studied language interpretation, translation and Japanese. “I passed yon kyuu (the fourth level) of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test two years ago. I want to try san kyuu (the next level up) next time.”
In her teens, Ariadna became interested in Japan because she liked Japanese cartoons such as “Crayon Shinchan.” When she was 19, she did a homestay in Japan for a month. She liked Japan even more, so she started studying Japanese in college and came to Japan in October 2013 for another homestay. She used Nextage Co., Ltd. / Homestay in Japan each time.
“At the moment I’m planning to stay for half a year, but I’d like to stay in Japan as long as possible. So I’ve started working part-time for a Spanish restaurant,” says Ariadna. Before returning to Japan, she got together 14,000 euros for expenses for half a year. “This consisted of 7,000 euros from my grandmother, 3,000 from my father and 4,000 from my savings. The money was saved working in the restaurant my mother runs.”
At first, her grandmother was against her going to Japan for the second time. She said, “I may not be alive when Ariadna returns.” “But I had a deep desire to go to Japan. When I told her this, she gave me the money she’d saved up over many years.” Ariadna called her grandmother by Skype as soon as she arrived in Japan. “My grandmother was surprised to see my face for the first time on Skype. She looked very happy, though.”
She’s now staying with the HIRASAWA family; a household of three people: father, mother and daughter. Her Japanese language school is a 15 minutes bike ride away. She gets up at eight in the morning, attends classes from nine to one and works from five to eleven pm. She now makes 800 yen an hour, but might get a raise if she applies herself.
She often cooks with Tsuyako, her host mother. “I like most Japanese dishes such nikujaga (meat and potato stew), okonomiyaki (Japanese pizza) and shabushabu. I don’t mind the sticky texture of okura, either. But I can’t stand the texture of konnyaku, nor nattou, which smells like the soles of socks. I recently prepared a Spanish dish and they all loved it.”
For fun, she goes to all kinds of places with her host sister Ami. They’ve been to a music event near Mt. Fuji as well as to Tokyo Skytree. “If there’s something I don’t understand, I ask my host mother or Ami right away. There was a rather large earthquake the other day. I was told to take shelter under a table when the ground shakes. They also took me to a school that becomes a shelter in the event of an emergency.”
As soon as she hears new words in conversations, Ariadna writes them down on word cards. “I recently added the word moto-kare (ex-boyfriend) after hearing it from my host mother,” she laughed. “I converse as much as possible using words I’ve learned from the cards. I make full use of my brains doing this and the words stick in my memory. Because I can talk with my host family whenever I want, my lifestyle now is well suited to study.”
Text: SAZAKI Ryo
[From Hiragana Times January Issue 2014]