Japanese students on Okinawa learn English with help from Soldier volunteers
Sgt. Natasha Lam, right, assigned to the 505th Quartermaster Battalion on Okinawa, Japan, teaches students taking part in the Sobe Summer English Program, a four-week program in which she and other Soldiers teach English to Japanese children.

TORII STATION, Okinawa (Aug. 30, 2012) -- Ten Soldiers assigned to units on Okinawa are currently taking part in the Sobe Summer English Program to help teach English to local school children during their summer break.

The program runs twice a week for four weeks and is designed to help the students learn English and improve their communication skills.

The students, who range in age from 5 to 11, have thus far been taught the letters of the English alphabet, the numbers one through 100, and an expansive vocabulary of fruits and vegetables that include not only common words like "apple," "orange" and "corn," but also more difficult ones including "persimmon" and "asparagus."

The students were taught by the Soldiers to ask questions such as, "Do you like strawberries?" They also learned to identify and pronounce body features including the knee, face, shoulder, feet, eye, ear, nose and elbow.

The program is part of U.S. Army Garrison Torii Station's community relations outreach plan.

"It is a great opportunity for both the Soldiers and the students," said Yumi Uchima, a community relations specialist. "By volunteering, the Soldiers not only support the English program, but they also help promote the understanding and friendship between the U.S. Army and the local community."

The students also learned about different foods and how to order from a menu.

"They played a grocery-shopping game and learned how to say things like, 'I want spaghetti. How much is it?'" said Uchima.

The Soldiers taught the students other games such as Hokey Pokey, Bingo and Fruit Basket.

"It's really fun playing games with the kids and helping them learn to speak English," said Staff Sgt. Jarrod Ryan, assigned to 505th Quartermaster Battalion.

Sgt. Natasha Lam, also assigned to the 505th, said she appreciated her inaugural opportunity to participate in the teaching program.

"This is a great opportunity to be able to hang out with the kids and help them learn English," said Lam. "It's really nice to learn the difference between the Japanese and American cultures. If anyone has the opportunity to volunteer for this program, you should do it. I had a great time."

Page last updated Thu August 30th, 2012 at 00:00