Taking time off from their Japanese schooling to study at an Adelaide public primary school for 6 months are three members of the Nishiwaki family.
With her own experience of an American homestay while she was a high school student, Eriko and Reiko’s mother, Mikiko also wanted her own children to experience another culture and broaden their minds. After hearing that children are best suited to acquiring language until about 9 years of age, Mikiko turned her plans into reality. With her two daughters in Years 1 and 4 of primary school, the three began studying here in July thanks to the encouraging support of her husband, Takahiro, who has stayed in Japan to work.
“I want to stay here forever.” Mikiko was surprised to hear her daughter Reiko suddenly say this on the way home from her first day of school. After asking more about it, Reiko said that all of her classmates were kind and open, and she found it a really comfortable place to be. This was an unexpectedly great start for Reiko especially considering that, although she had studied English a little before, when she arrived and was immersed in English, she felt she frustrated at not even being able to properly follow conversations.
Eriko, who had only just begun primary school in Japan, is a very careful and precise girl. At first she found it stressful not being able to fully understand English nor express what she wanted to say, but she is gradually understanding more and more and is beginning to get used to living here.
At school, Reiko has joined the netball club and Eriko is looking forward to starting cricket this term. Apart from these sports, the girls go to trampoline and gymnastics lessons, and make sure that they study hard when they get home, really keeping busy and making the most of every day.
For international primary school students that have low level English skills there is an intensive English language course called IPEC. Reiko and Eriko both study this course while going to normal primary school classes with Australian and other international students. Both girls have improved their English abilities more than they expected and are growing their circle of friends. Mikiko first thought it was a little strange when Reiko said “I want to stay here forever”, but while the girls go to school she has begun studying English at community centres, making new friends and she is beginning to understand what Reiko meant. “The freedom and joy I get from people’s friendliness really makes me happy. I am also starting to feel sad now thinking that the day we have to go home is drawing closer.”
They are already half way through their 6 month study abroad program and the Nishiwaki family are increasingly making the most of their time here in Adelaide.
Reiko (Year 4) and Eriko (Year 1), Linden Park Schools