Unit 3                             山梨県のホストファミリーとの会話(かいわ)

Conversations with the Yamanashi-ken Host Family






The Language Choices




Teachers reference for facilitating class discussion

a)               夕べ、スピーチを手伝ってくれてほんとうにありがとう。



The student is being well mannered but appropriately informal because he/she and Takashi have a close relationship. Some people may prefer a more simple choice like d) but it is a matter of personal style. Within families there are often fewer words than this, but student is not completely “uchi”. Of course the full sentence may also have been to remind Takashi of what he had done for the student. 

b)  ゆうべ、スピーチ、たすけてくれて、ありがとう(ございました。)




Tasukeru is similar to the English “save” implying that Takashi saved you from something threatening. If the student would have been in trouble had this speech not been finished by tomorrow, then this might have been a choice. Gozaimashita would be too polite.


c)                ゆうべ、スピーチ、ありがとう。たすかったよ。



As a secondary comment however tasukattayo adds the meaning of ‘you really helped me out’ and adds value to the expression of gratitude. There must have been however some sense of urgency for this to be used. A girl/woman might have ended this with wa depending on her style.





Informal, friendly but appropriate considering the student has a relaxed relationship with Takashi. The topic is “understood”.


e)  ゆうべはおそくまで, ごめんね。



The ne suggests a very close familial relationshipThe student could be making this assumption just a little early.  Gomen ne is a light apology, functioning also as a thank you.

f) ごくろうさまでした。


This is not used to meue no hito. It implies that they are working for you, or have done you a service.







Information and Suggestions for Teaching and Learning 

Sometimes the only way to find out if you are doing the right thing is to ask. In this exercise learners develop skills in being explicit. The objective of this task is also to encourage learners to take the initiative to find out things for themselves. Host families may not like to say anything because they think it might be too confronting for the student, but if the student opens the discussion, they may take the opportunity to raise the matter concerning them.


What is the difference in the implication of tara, eba and to?

Elicit the two meanings (in English terms) for oshieru: to tell or inform as well as to teach.


1. The Language Choice



Teachers reference for facilitating class discussion

a) わたし/ぼくがしてはいけないことをしたら、すぐ(おし)えてください。




tara could mean either when or if depending on the context. It could therefore mean when (or if ) I have done something then please tell me.

a)  わたし/ぼくがしてはいけないことをしたときは、教えてください。


Let me know when I have done something wrong. There is no suggestion of the conditional (as with eba or tara). The student assumes he/she will do something wrong and has given Takashi permission to let him/her know.


b)  わたし/ぼくがしてはいけないことをすれば、教えてください。





The grammar form is incorrect. To and ba are used when the second clause is a natural consequence of the first so they cannot be followed by commands, requests, suggestions, wishes, intentions and so. You could say however おかしいことをすると恥ずかしいI always get embarrassed if/whenever I do something odd.

c)   わたし/ぼくがしてはいけないことをすると教えてください。





d)  わたし/ぼくがしたことがへんだったら、教えてね。





This refers to anything that you have done in the past. If you are the same age or status as the listener then oshiete ne would sound fine but this may be too casual for some families especially when you are a recent family member. Add kudasai and it would be rated O.


e)  わたし/ぼくがへんなことをしたら、教えてね。

へんなこと can be interpreted by those with mischievous minds as lecherous (which is more commonly expressed in spoken Japanese as エッチ) and that was not the intent of the example!  へん can be used in many contexts with no such implication.




3. かいらんばんをもっていく


     Function: Responding positively to a request

                  Responding positively with conditions


Information and Teaching and Learning Suggestions


The grammar structures are not particularly difficult but the challenge is to find the right balance of manners and closeness as the student moves from soto into uchi.. Even though three months have passed the student has to choose carefully especially with the use of ageru. Even after twelve months it is not the same as being born into a family.


The typical or extreme masculine and feminine ways of speaking are indicated with M or F.  Whether the male or female actually uses that form is their choice depending on how they wish to express their identity.


The homestay context is merely the stage for introducing the language. The Role Play for this section is set in the university context. Adapt the contexts to meet your learners’ interests and needs.


   1. The Language Choice




Teachers reference for facilitating class discussion

1. How would you respond positively?

a)    いいよ (M) ・いいわよ  (F)



Agreeable and supportive but the host parent would most likely expect the student to speak more respectfully and use desu yo at this early stage of their stay. Ii wa yo sounds like OK!

b)    だいじょうぶ。




Daijoobu is sometimes an equivalent for the English Okay but when responding to a request to do something it is more like I don’t mind.  This gives the impression that someone has asked if you do mind as though you are usually averse to this kind of task. It gives the impression of giving in than positively agreeing to go.

c)     よろこんで行ってくる。



The student has only been asked to deliver a letter to a neighbour. Unless the student always has an absolutely wonderful time when calling in to the neighbour’s this would be an over reaction. What would you say if you were really happy to do something?

It may however be said in a joking way, as we might in English I would just love to go!

d)    行ってあげる。



Ageru puts the speaker on higher ground, and gives the impression that he/she is doing a favour at his/her own expense which is not the intent in this case. The student needs to carefully consider what he or she really means to say and the context before choosing whether or not  to use ageru .  

2. How would you respond positively but indicate that is inconvenient just now.


a)    今すぐですか。




Without saying anything negative this question already alerts Kayoko to the fact that you are in the middle of doing something.

b)    はい。


If you are not able to go immediately, this is a deceiving answer.


c)     あとでもいいですか。


As in (a) without saying anything negative, this question alerts Kayoko to the fact that you are in the middle of doing something and hope to delay going on the errand.

d)    いいけど、ちょっとまってください。



When the host mother asks the student who she is looking after to do something it sounds cheeky of the student to respond with an order (polite but nevertheless an order) to wait a minute.

Ii kedo, ato demo ii? Would have been acceptable.


e)    ちょっとあとでもいいですか  


Responding with a question to see if the errand is urgent sounds quite responsible but ato is non-committal. Kayoko might have to ask ato nanpun? “ how much later?”  The student has taken the control, and has given Kayoko no option but to wait, or, if it is urgent, she is forced to insist that you go now. The student may be prepared to take that risk. Adding kuremasen ka or kuretara making it a request not an order would soften the effect.

f)      あと十分まってください。



This is an order and like d) sounds bossy.

g)    あと十分まってくれませんか。or


These are both respectful ways to negotiate the delay.

If they are close then matte kurenai? could also be an option. It is very dependent on intonation and relationship.






Function:  Making an offer; taking the initiative.


Information and Suggestions for Teaching and Learning 

Choice j) has been accepted under special circumstances in order to provide an opportunity for learners to reflect on how the speaker can amuse others by using irony and slipping into different registers. There are other choices which were rated with X but which, with an ironic delivery and good timing, these choices might also amuse others and contribute to the relationship between the speakers.


Agemasu is often avoided completely by those who know that depending on context, the speaker can irritate the listener by giving the impression that he/she is doing a favour at their own cost. For example when a child says to a parent Benkyoo shite ageru and the benefit of the study is for the child, the parent would most likely resent the insinuation that it is for them.


1. The Language Choice




Teachers reference for facilitating class discussion

a)    ぼく/わたしに行かせてください


Ikaseru pleading Please allow me to go for you or give me permission to go, may be said for some big event but Katsuo would be overcome by the students enthusiasm for simply buying a cabbage for him.

b)    ぼく/わたしが行きましょうか。 


This is a typical safe and polite way to offer using – mashoo ka. Katsuo would recognize that the student is a kizukai ga dekiru hito (someone who preempts other’s needs and takes care to offer to do the right thing)

c)     ぼく/わたしが行ってもいいですよ。 


This sounds less open and generous than b) since it implies “ if no one else can go I can “ but is nevertheless an offer

d)    ぼく/わたしが行きたいんですが   


Ikitai would be a reply to perhaps who wants to go and not an offer initiated by the student.

e)    ぼく/わたし()って来てあげます



The use of agemasu does indicate that student is doing you a favour but willingly, and this use of agemasu is acceptable within the family. If the speakers are close enough to use agemasu then they would probably be saying the more familiar ageru. It is not appropriate to use agemasu when doing something or giving something to a meue no hito. Listen to the Nama no Koe section for the Ono’s response.

f)      買って来ようか。

Said in a gentle tone, koyoo ka, the plain form of kimashoo ka

could be endearing, especially where the student is young and the relationship between Katsuo and the student has become close and informal.




g)    ぼく/わたしが買ったらどう? 



Unlike in English where How about I buy it? can be an offer, in Japanese, kattara doo  is literally asking Katsuo what he thinks (doo omoimasu ka) about you buying it as though you are checking whether he thinks you could do it yet.

h)    買って来ましょうか


This is a typical and safe offer.

i)      買って来ましょうか。ちょうど手紙を出しに行こうと思ってたから。 


This would be seen as a very considerate offer, implying that you are not even being put out in any way and making Katsuo feel at ease.

j)      買って来てほしい?


The student could only get away with Do you want me to buy it for you?  if the student and the host parent have developed a very close relationship and it said in a joking and cheeky way. Said with the right tone and laughter, it could contribute to the bonding between the two speakers. It could easily sound impudent when used towards towards meue no hito.

k)     ぼく/わたしはやさいを買うことができます。





This is an answer to What can you buy? Or What can you do? and is not an offer, but English speakers might make this error  by directly translating the words  I can go and buy it for you”  which can function as an offer in English because the can in this case does not refer to ability but is a modal verb motivated by politeness.




Function: Showing appreciation and sensitivity.


Suggestions for Teaching and Learning      

It is not peculiar to Japan that people tend to consider the other’s feelings when interacting, but it seems to be an area where some non-Japanese speakers unintentionally offend. On the other hand, the honest and direct responses of children and even gaikokuijin, might be appreciated by some people and if the speaker goes too far in trying to be “sensitive”, he/she may appear insincere. The challenge is to find the right balance between representing the truth and showing appreciation or care for the other’s feelings.


1. The Language Choice




 Teachers reference for facilitating class discussion

a)    食べたことがある。



The student may have eaten mochi before but to answer the question factually without responding to the affective component (thinking of the feelings) sounds insensitive. If the student had said Iie, tabeta kotoga aru kedo, the response would not sound as direct and insensitive.

b)    食べたことがあるけど、こんなにおいしいのははじめて。




The student tells the truth but finishes with a compliment showing consideration of the other’s feelings. It seems overstated, especially in regard to the taste of mochi, and therefore may be taken as oseji, but the intent would surely be appreciated.

c)     はい、はじめて。 おいしい。



This cannot be recommended because is not true. If the student means that this is the first time that he/she has eaten mochi like this with nori and shooyu, then perhaps he/she could elaborate on that saying for example Nori to oshooyuu o tsukete taberu no wa hajimete.

d)    はい、はじめて。おもしろい食べ物ですね。


Maybe the student does not like it, but has dealt with the response in a creative and considerate way. On the other hand maybe he/she does find it interesting. What the student doesn’t say (oishii) is obvious but the reason for omitting it would most likely be considered sensitive.

e)    いいえ、もちろん食べたことがある。



Mochiron sounds arrogant and defensive like “of course I have ...what do you expect that I don’t know anything about Japan yet?”


f)      いいえ、(まえ)一度(いちど)だけ。


This is honest but the dake suggests that it still is a novelty so the family would still feel that you appreciate it.