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12th  Raising Bilingual Kids – Part Four

投稿者: ハワイ歩き方事務局 更新日:2007年06月14日


12th  Raising Bilingual Kids – Part Four

●Sculpting a bilingual identity ? Another look back
At some point, we all come upon a fork in the road of life. My first such “fork” appeared at age sixteen, when I was dealt with the choice to either stay in Japan for college or go to the U.S. I was lucky that my parents were willing to send me to college, but the decision was grueling, nonetheless.


Most international school students graduate U.S.-bound (about 80 percent), and the rest either enter Japanese universities, or venture on to Europe, Canada, or back to their native countries. In my case, my brother was in the east coast, and as far as my citizenship goes I’m an American as much as I’m Japanese, so the natural choice was to apply to schools in the U.S.

But before I could take the path, I was stopped short by my brother’s sudden death. Back to the beginning, I stared at the fork and asked: “Do I stay or do I go?”

On the one hand, I didn’t want to leave my mother behind. But neither did I have a burning desire to leave the comfort of being where I new who I was, where I wouldn’t get lost in the crowd, or get lost in my own quest to find my identity. It was, however, painfully clear that my English was way sub-par to the expectation of my dad, an English professor. He tore through a draft of my college application essay, which was returned to me with barely an untouched sentence. I couldn’t convince myself any longer that “chuto-hanpa” ? or middle-of-the-road ? was acceptable. I had to go.

ワイキキをドライブ中、「ヌードショーってなーに?」と娘に聞かれた。「読めてる! スゴイ」とハパママ感激。これもれっきとしたカナの復習?

Over the next four years, my English was stripped, waxed, torn apart, and put back together. So was my identity (as is expected for a girl in her salad days). But I stubbornly stuck to my Japanese roots and hung out as much as possible at Japanese stores and restaurants (slim pickings in Chicago) ? any exposure to Japanese language as possible. I sought out Japanese-looking people and struck random conversation with them, hoping that even once out of ten, I’d meet a fellow expatriate with a similar longing to “stay connected.”

One experience that changed me for good was actually a summer spent back home, an internship at The Westin hotel in Tokyo. I could’ve lived without the lessons in bowing, but the professional training I received was for me, a feat of a lifetime.

A 19-year-old without real work experience in Japan, my stint in the service industry was just the pill to boost my grasp (and appreciation) of the Japanese language. I understood, for example, the simple difference between “ohayo” and “ohayo gozaimasu” (whereas in English “good morning” is just as suitable for royalty as it is to your average Joe). Obvious. Piece of cake. But through serving guests, and watching and listening to my graceful hotelier colleagues, I learned the respectful intonation behind “sayoudegozaimasuka” instead of “soudesuka,” and the subtle variance between “kudaisaimase” and “kudasai.” The hotel experience was like finishing school for me; a crash course in polishing my manners, breaking bad habits and adapting to a more refined tongue I’d only heard around me, but had never used myself.

But as I’d suspected, English took over as my native language in the years following. Reading newspapers and working in Japan preserved some ability to read and speak, but years of not writing forged a huge gap between my English and Japanese. Without the Internet, I couldn’t even write a thank you letter today without insulting someone.


Bottom line, the road to bilinguality is arduous and painstakingly humbling. And it’s so easy to mess up Japanese, this delicate language riddled with so much formality. So when I listen to my daughter and her chanpon Japanese, I wonder to myself if she’ll ever attain what I haven’t. The choice will ultimately be hers, whether at some point in her life she finds the desire to rediscover her Japanese roots. At the rate she’s going, English will continue to be her forte, and it will stay that way. The other choice is for us to move to Japan, which isn’t out of the question, considering how important I think it is for her to “live the language” in order for her Japanese to have any staying power at all.

In the meantime, we’re just grateful to be here in Hawaii, where there are countless other kids and parents going through similar experiences and making the same difficult choices. Sure, it helps that if you threw a mango, you’d hit someone who spoke Japanese. But more importantly the beauty of raising bilingual kids in Hawaii is that you have other people to bounce off your ideas and concerns, and if anything, with whom you can commiserate.

●最終回 頑張れ! ハワイのバイリンガル・キッズ

人生の分かれ道って、ありますよね? そんな道と初めて向かい合ったのは16の時でした。日本のインターナショナル・スクールの卒業生は大抵アメリカか日本の大学に進むか、母国に帰るケースがほとんどなのですが、私は多数派に従って渡米するつもりでした。でもその選択もなかなか定着せず、「やっぱり日本に居ようかな?」とか「アメリカに行って自己喪失したらヤダな」と悩んでました。



そもそも、日本の実社会でマナーや言葉遣いを身につけないまま日本を発ってしまった私の日本語は、まだ「中途半端」を脱出できず、ぶっきらぼうでさえありました。そんな私にいくらか磨きをかけてくれたのがある夏の経験、東京のホテルでのアルバイトでした。「そうですか」と「さようでございますか」が合体して「そうでございますか」と言ってしまったり、敬語と尊敬語と丁寧語の微妙な差を把握するまでに何度も失言を繰り返し、お客様の前で恥をかいては先輩達に直され… でも、「洗練されたい!」という気持ちは強く、またその悔しさが日本人としての誇りだったのだと今では思えます。


要は、バイリンガルとは恥と失敗を繰り返して歩む長くしぶとい道のりなのです。特にデリケートで礼儀深く、ちょっとした言い損ないでも誤解(または大笑い)を招く日本語。今ちゃんぽんでしか話せない娘が果たしてマスターできるのか? 正直言って心配です。塾、補習校、まんが、進研ゼミ等、親として与えてあげられる物は全部与え、その上でバイリンガルを追求するかどうかは彼女が自身で決めること。いずれは日本へ行き、向こうで生活をしながら、もっと自然な日本語を身につけてくれる事を望むばかりです。




英語では通常おしっこのことを「pee pee(ピーピー)」と言い、うんちのことを「poo poo(プープー)」と言います。しかしハワイの人はよく、おしっこを「shee shee(シーシー)」と言い、うんちを「doo doo(ドゥードゥー)」と言います。どちらもよく使われるのであらかじめ覚えておきましょう。

“Do you want to go pee pee?” 又は“Do you need to go shee shee?” これは学校でよく聞かれる「おしっこに行きたい?」という質問です。

トイレ・トレーニングを済ませたばかりの2、3歳の年齢の子供を対象によく聞く“potty”とは、子供用の便器(おまる)のこと。場合によっては、トイレへ行く合図を “Let’s go potty”や、”Do you want to go potty?”と言う場合もあります。

大きい子は “I want to go to the bathroom” 「お手洗いに行きたいです」と言える様にしましょうね。

「トイレ」が言えなくてがまんをしてまう子も、基本を知っていれば恐れることなし! お父さん、お母さんも一緒に練習してあげてくださいね!

娘:エリン・霧江(きりえ)、愛称キーちゃん。外見は恥かしがり屋、家では結構「キレちゃう」典型的内弁慶。ハロー・キティとパパをこよなく愛す保育園児。ちなみに、ハワイの人達のひとついいところは名前に「ちゃん」付けをしても分かってくれること。サンフランに住んでた頃、「キーちゃん、キーちゃん」と呼んでる私は廻りの人に「なんだそりゃ? 中国語かい?」と聞くかの様に変な顔をされました。こっちでは白人でも平気に「キーちゃん」と呼んでくれます。 

この記事が属するカテゴリー: アロハダイアリー