By Joshua Inglada
Learning a new language is a daunting task, but Natsuyo Higuchi is here to help guide her students safely through it. She is the instructor in charge of teaching elementary Japanese on campus.
Higuchi has taught at this school since 2005 and has lived in Long Beach for about 10 years.
Higuchi was born in Matsumoto, Japan and spoke only Japanese before she was taught English at the age of 14. She later moved to America so that she could obtain her Master’s Degree in education. Indiana University is where Higuchi would later attend in order to get all of her degrees.
Besides spending time in Indiana for her studying, Higuchi has also done a bit of traveling to other places. One Christmas, she visited Vienna and Austria with her mother. Suntree still looks back on the memory of their time together fondly. She just wishes that the weather had been a little less cold during the trip.
Higuchi adores sports and is a big fan of baseball. Two of her favorite teams are the Los Angeles Lakers and the Indiana Pacers. Her favorite player is Michael Jordan. She is also a fan of tennis and plays it sometimes.
When she has free time to herself, Higuchi likes to spend it crocheting. It allows her to be creative and she enjoys it. Besides crocheting, she also decorates with beads. Reading and writing are her other favorite pastimes.
Higuchi loves watching movies whenever she can. She is a big fan of Hollywood movies, but she also likes French films and black and white movies. Japanese films from the 1930s and 1940s are another category of film that she enjoys watching.
“I think Higuchi is a great teacher. She makes the class entertaining and educative. Her methods are pretty good, and yes, she makes me want to learn more about Japanese culture,” says Yan Situ, a student from her weekday class.
“She’s really funny and she’s willing to stay after school to help you out. That’s what I like about her the most. She has encouraged me to learn more about Japan’s culture,” says Emily Gonzalez, another student from the same class.
“Many students are memorable and some of them visit my class from time to time,” Higuchi recounts. “Some students helped me as teaching assistants. It is funny, but I remember a student all of the sudden and sometimes smile by myself.”
While not exactly fluent in English, Higuchi still manages to get her points across when it comes to teaching. Japanese is one of the most difficult languages to learn, especially for English-speaking students, in her opinion. It is also categorized as a less common language spoken among the foreign languages in America. She loves America and would like nothing more than to return the favor by teaching her students about the rich and diverse culture of Japan.
Higuchi believes that any foreign language, be it Japanese, Spanish or French, should be learned here in the United States so that everyone can understand one another better.