Japanese Soldiers Practice English, Learn American Culture with Sasebo Sailors
Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Johnie Hickmon, Navy Public Affairs Support Element Det., Sasebo
SASEBO, Japan (NNS) -- Members of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force experienced a taste of American life Aug. 5, during a tour of facilities at Commander Fleet Activities Sasebo (CFAS).
The group consisted of 17 students and eight staff members in the Basic Enlisted English Course that the JGSDF offers to members of its force.
The teachers are all volunteer senior members in the JGSDF. According to JGSDF Lt. Atsushi Hattori, touring the American Navy base is part of the English course curriculum.
"The basic English class lasts a total of three months," Hattori said. "These students started the class two weeks ago. After they graduate from the basic course, they will go to Tokyo for a more advanced course in English."
The tour consisted of visits to the base library and museum, combined bachelor housing, the American Forces Network television and radio studios, USS Denver (LPD 9), a base club and lunch at the food court.
During the tour, visiting soldiers took photos, posed with Sailors and practiced their English skills by asking Sailors questions about their lives and jobs. They were especially amazed by the size of American barracks rooms. Hattori translated several of the student's amazement regarding the size of the rooms.
"He said the Japanese dorms were smaller compared to these rooms," Hattori said.
According to Hattori, there are five basic enlisted English courses offered throughout Japan; from northern reaching territory of Hokkaido all the way south to Okinawa.
The soldiers who tour CFAS are mostly from the Kyushu area. Hattori said the reason for the tour is to allow the soldiers a chance to experience American culture.
"For some of these soldiers, some have never seen American Sailors before," he said. "This gives them a chance to absorb some of the American culture and give them an understanding of what the Sailors do every day."
The tours have been offered for the past 14 years and Hattori hopes they will continue so Japanese soldiers will be able to put their English skills to the test.
"One day, they can visit Galaxies (base club) or the food court and talk to the Sailors on the base," he said. "I think this kind of interaction is the best way for them to practice their English skills."