Our Hello Project

My 9-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter go to the local elementary school on weekdays and they also go to Japanese school every Saturday.

They are busy, but they enjoy both.

My son is not shy, he wants to speak in English and has made a lot of friends in school.

My daughter is shy and not good at speaking.

She had a very hard time at the local school in her first week.
(I will write about this later, it's a long story.)

But she has been getting used to there little by little and could make good friends there.

They started learning English from January from online Japanese teachers.

The teachers were very amazing and kind to my children.

My son seemed to be good at remembering language, he could learn very quickly.

But my daughter didn't.

She enjoyed the English lesson, she liked her teacher, but she forgot what she learned easily.

Actually, she even didn't know ABC.

I think she tried her best.

But she needed more courage to speak in English.

When we moved to the US, it was during the summer vacation.

Even though I took them to the park, supermarket, museum, and so on, my children didn't have any opportunity to speak in English because I had to speak instead of them.

For example, I let them to buy something at a food stand.

I told them,

"Say 'one hot dog and one French fry, please' to the staff."

My son tried to say it to the staff, but the staff couldn't understand him because his pronunciation was not good.

My daughter tried to say it to the staff, but he also couldn't her because she was shy and her voice was too small.

In such case, the staff asked me with troubled face what we wanted to order.

I thought that was still difficult for them, so I suggested to them like this.

"Why don't you try to say hello to people who pass on the street?"

I thought it was easy for them to try.

Actually, we don't have such a custom in Japan.

If we are said hello from strangers in Japan, most of us would be surprised and think like that,

"Oh, who was she/she? Did I see before? If so, I might have ignored him/her. I wonder who he/she was..."

Of course, this reaction is NOT for all Japanese.

Some of us would say hello and some of us would ignore it.

But here in the US, people tend to say hi friendlier than Japanese.

I like this custom very much.

They named this "Hello Project" and started trying to say hello to the people who met on the street, near our house, at the park, and so on.

The reactions from the people who were said hello by children were very interesting.

Some of them seemed to be surprised at first, then smiled and said hi to them.

Some of them didn't say anything.

My children were disappointed to see such a reaction, but I persuaded my children like this.

"There are various kinds of people. Some people say hello but some don't. That's same in Japan, too. You don't have to be disappointed even if they don't react to you."

One day, they said hello to a young man who was walking near the supermarket.

He answered "Hi, how are you?" so fast.

My children took time to understand what they said.

After we passed each other a while, my son finally said "I'm good, thank you. And you?".

But he already went far from us at that time, but he told to them in a loud voice,

"Good thanks!"

We were very glad to see his reaction.

This happening encouraged my children very much.

I think language learners need courage when we try to speak in foreign languages for the first time.

But when we find that they can understand what we say, we feel happy very much and it encourages us a lot.

I wanted my children to experience a small success and achievement little by little.

I believe that it will pile up and become their confidence one day.

And the same goes for me.

After I moved to the US, I had to adapt to the new environment.

I sometimes hesitated to try and was disappointed because I couldn't do it well.

I didn't want to hear my complaints to my children, but it made me drive into a corner.

When I felt tired and troublesome, I shut myself in my house and didn't go out all day.

I called to my mother using my iPad and told how I had a hard time to get used to the new life.

She listened my story patiently.

Thanks to her, I could feel better.

I believe it's sometimes OK if I want to do so.

Little by little, I want my children to enjoy their life, and I also want to enjoy my life in the US.

Thank you(^o^) for reading this article!


  1. Hello !
    I totally understand you and your children. I am shy too and used to be terrified to speak in english (or japanese since I have been learning it). It's even more difficult with american people as they hardly understand non-American speaking people. I use english everyday in my job (I'm an air traffic controller) and I don't have much trouble with english people (even if I have a quite strong french accent) but Americans make me repeat all the time...
    For you and your children : "Gambatte kudasai". You are doing a great job and think you are all very brave !

  2. Hi HélèneM, thank you for the comment.

    I was surprised that you speak English well but Americans make you repeat all the time. I guess they just reconfirm you.

    It was good to know that not only we but also you and other a lot of language learners might have the same feeling.

    Thank you for your encouragement.
    "Arigatougozaimasu, ganbarimasu!"