Survival Japanese Language Class teaches station residents proper etiquette

Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni
Story by Lance Cpl. Brian Stevens

Date: 11.06.2012
Posted: 11.15.2012 20:15
News ID: 97881

IWAKUNI, Japan - Eager learners gathered at Building 411 here for a Survival Japanese Language Class Nov. 6-9, 2012.

Residents learned fundamental Japanese language, such as the alphabet, vowels and basic speaking phrases.

“My grandmother is full blooded Japanese and I learned a lot from her, so today was mainly review for me,” said Staff Sgt. Courtney Achterberg, Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron. “I think taking these classes will help me communicate better with people out in town.”

The class wasn't intended to teach the entire Japanese language, just to provide a primitive understanding of Japanese dialect and writing practices.

“The class is four days long and takes place during lunch hours,” said Akie Sumomogi, Marine Corps Community Service cultural assistant.

“Later in the week, we are going to teach them how to order food and how to count numbers.”

Many servicemembers stay aboard base in foreign countries because of the language barrier barring them from interaction with the local populace.

“This class focuses a lot on the vowels and that helps me out a lot,” said Achterberg.

Members received packets as study guides and practiced Kanji on worksheets. Students also got to see their names drawn out in a Japanese language.

“The Japanese language focuses a lot on syllables, so I think learning the vowels is a big help,” said Achterberg.

Even though students may not be able to hold a full-fledged conversation with Japanese nationals, knowing things such as directions, how to order food and proper formal greetings could be monumentally helpful for surviving treks to Japanese locales.

Learning Japanese language and culture is a big task, but this small introduction will ease more advanced learning in the future.

“I feel like taking this class will better my knowledge in Japanese language and culture,” said Achterberg.

The class is available throughout the year and interested station residents can look for the class in upcoming monthly issues of Marine Corps Community Services’ Preview.