”I want my students to have fun, to have friends and know this is a safe place where there will always be someone here for them.”
High School, ELD and Japanese Language
By Stacy Yuen
Growing up in a multi-cultural neighborhood in Sydney, Australia launched Jodie Sakaguchi on her life’s journey.
“The neighborhood kids from countries like Russia and Argentina spoke their native languages when we played together,” explains Sakaguchi, a HighSchool English Language Development (ELD) and Japanese Language teacher. After graduating with a Bachelor ofArts degree in Asian Studies with a focus on Japanese and Indonesian Culture and Language from the University of Sydney, Sakaguchi moved to Japan.
She says living in Tokyo and Saitama changed life for her in a wonderful way.
“I met my husband-to-be in Japan while we were both teaching English and studying for our master’s degrees in TESOL (Teaching English as a SecondLanguage) through Columbia University,” explains Sakaguchi, whose husband, Marc, was born and raised in Hawai‘i.
After 15 years in Japan, the couple moved to Australia. In 2013 they relocated to Hawai‘i and their son, Kai, now a second grader at Mid-Pacific, was born. While teaching at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s Hawai‘i English Language (HELP) program, Sakaguchi learned that Mid-Pacific was searching for a part-time Japanese and part-time ELD teacher. She applied and got the job and now also serves as the Curriculum Instructional Coordinator for World Languages.
What was once called ESL or English as a Second Language is now more broadly referred to as ELD or English Language Development to include not only non-native speakers learning English, but native speakers, as well. Mid-Pacific’s ELD program focuses on international students from countries including Japan, China, Korea, Vietnam and Russia. Sakaguchi says her goal is to instill confidence in her ELD students and provide them with skills that they can use in their other classes.
“Learning a language in front of your peers is not easy. The more comfortable you are with those around you, the easier it will be,” she explains. “I want my students to have fun, to have friends and know this is a safe place where there will always be someone here for them.”
In her spare time Sakaguchi enjoys the outdoors with her family. “I love the beach, standup paddle boarding at Ala Moana Beach and snorkeling on the North Shore,” she says. “We go cycling as a family and Marc is a great chef – he makes amazing chicken katsu and is now on a Japanese bread kick – cheese and bacon rolls – which we are enjoying to the fullest.”