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Marines help third graders get head start speaking English

Date Posted: 2003-12-25

GUSHIKAWA CITY, Okinawa, Japan Marines from Headquarters Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, Camp Courtney, volunteered to teach English at Akamichi Elementary School, Gushikawa City, Dec. 11.

The class began with an introduction by each Marine saying, "Hi, my name is," and the class responding, "Hi, nice to meet you."

This is many of the students' first experience with English said Cindy Grissom, school volunteer.

"The children tend to be shy at first, but once they start learning more English and begin making friends they become more outgoing," Yumiko Yabu, third grade teacher, said. "They like the opportunity to learn the language and culture."

After the initial lesson, the children and Marines sang, "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," and then decorated holiday greeting cards with Crayons and glitter.
"It's amazing that kids at such a young age are learning another language so quickly," LCpl. James J. Hoffman, computer technician said.

The students learn by interacting with volunteers. There isn't a lesson plan, but there is educational material used to teach basic words and phrases.

"The school has all the materials and resources. Marines just come in and do their job to complete the mission. We basically teach the entry level English. We teach what's fun and easiest for both Marines and the students," Grissom said. "You come in and have a good time. You enjoy the kids and they enjoy you. Having fun is what it's all about."

The children benefit from the Marines helping them learn basic speaking skills, but the children are also leaving an impression on the Marines.

"From what I see, Marines are away from home and don't have a lot of chances like this. Here they get a chance to interact with kids, and whenever they interact with kids, it touches them," Grissom said.

Every Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to noon Marines are needed for volunteering. Marines interested in volunteering should request permission from their staff non-commissioned officer in charge and contact Camp Services aboard Camp Courtney at 622-7317. Transportation from Camp Courtney to Akamichi Elementary School is provided by Camp Services.

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