San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

June 9th, 2010
Miller Middle School students have Japanese 'turning Texas'


Miller Middle School features in Kiso Eigo II (Basic English II)


McDonald’s introduced “Big America” burgers in Japan this year, featuring four different sandwiches, each illustrating a different part of America. The big hit, breaking the sales record, was the Texas burger which sported barbecue sauce, crispy fried onion pieces, bacon and cheese. It’s hard to say what the Japanese think of Texas from such a product.

Fortunately, the students at Miller Middle School are doing more to clarify what Texas is like to the Japanese than is McDonald’s.

Students at Miller Middle School have been writing essays, which are being published in Kiso Eigo II magazine, a periodical that helps Japanese students learn English. Kiso Eigo II (Basic English II) is published by NHK (Nippon Hoso Kyokai) Publishing Company, which prints and distributes educational language books and materials.

Miller was chosen for the project by Kay Hetherly, a San Marcos resident who has been working with NHK for more than 10 years as a writer and educator.

“These texts are sold in just about every bookstore in Japan,” Hetherly said. “The Miller essays are being published in the textbook that accompanies a basic English course geared toward Japanese junior high school students. Just about every person in Japan has studied English at some point in time using NHK programs. Some teachers use the lessons in their classrooms. It is a very respected and established company.”

Hetherly said that when she suggested featuring an American junior high with a different guest writer each month for the educational material, the publishers at NHK were enthusiastic about the project.

“They thought it would be great to get the actual student voices,” she said. “It has worked out really well so far, and the editors seem very happy.”

Hetherly approached Elizabeth Deming, the Gifted and Talented Facilitator at Miller Middle School, with the idea of having students write essays about their lives in Texas for Japanese students studying English. Deming served as coordinator with the eighth grade language arts teachers, getting the materials to Hetherly, who serves as the editor.

The students at Miller were asked to submit a total of eleven 350-400 word essays with illustrative photos to accompany the text. Suggested topics reflected the interest that Japanese students have about Americans. Among the recommended topics were lunch, school competitions, clubs and organizations, test taking, daily routines, riding the school bus, sports and sports regulations, languages spoken, popular trends, favorite subjects and least favorite subjects.

So far, two Miller students have had their essays and photos published, with one about to be published. The students who will have been published this spring and summer include Adamina Gonzales, Sabine Hahn, Hunter McMain, and Kimberly Donnelly. Three more are in the editing phase for a total of six that will be published this school year. The school hopes to continue the project as long as NHK is interested.

The Miller students wrote essays talking to their Japanese peers about the San Marcos River, tacos, vampires, Spanish, football, cheerleaders, holidays, school clubs, school competitions, TAKS testing, and more. One writer explained the San Marcos CISD Rattler mascot, and Miller’s own mascot of the Diamondback rattlesnake.

The Miller students enjoy Anime and Manga, the Japanese cartoons and illustrated books like Naruto, Bleach, Dragonball Z and many other titles that are popular in America. The writers explored this topic, as well, in their essays.

Currently, the plans are to expand the international project in September, asking Japanese junior high students to write to Miller Middle School students and introduce things they want American kids to know about them. The results would be published in the December issue.

“I’m very excited about this project and am grateful to Elizabeth Deming, the Miller teachers and staff, and the Miller students who are partnering with us.” said Hetherley. “I think everyone at Miller is proud when they see the magazine and themselves within the covers.”

060710hunteranddemingEssay writer Hunter McMain discusses the project with Miller Middle School’s Gifted and Talented Facilitator Eliabeth Deming. Timer photo by Hunter McMain.

060710studentsgroupPublished essayists left to right:  Adamina Gonzales, Sabine Hahn, Hunter McMain, Kimberly Donnelly. Back row, Miller Gifted and Talented Facilitator Elizabeth Deming. Photo by Iris Campbell.

060710langartsMiller Middle School’s’ language arts classroom. Photo by Hunter McMain.

060710hunterishHunter McMain’s essay in Kiso Eigo II.


More from Kiso Eigo II.

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0 thoughts on “Miller Middle School students have Japanese 'turning Texas'

  1. This is a great culture sharing story! If only our politicians could be so diplomatic! It will be interesting to see if the Japanese students reciprocate.

  2. Pingback: QUOTE CORNER - San Marcos Local News

  3. The students in Japan DID write back! We received a magazine published with a bunch of letters written by Japanese students addressed to the students at Miller. the Japanese students included letters, pictures, and drawings. It was very neat; an amazing cultural exchange.

  4. How Ironic! Doris Miller School students writing to Japanese students…. I hope I am not the only one to see the irony here.

    Doris Miller (October 12, 1919 – November 24, 1943) a cook in the Navy was the first African American awarded the Navy Cross for bravery during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

  5. Mike, not to worry. McDonald’s is delivering payback in the form of the “Big America” burger, which is its own kind of devastating attack on the Japanese.

    BEHOLD!! www.

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