Staying with a family in another country is one of the best ways to get acquainted with a culture. Your Japanese family already knows something about you from your exchange student application, but writing a letter can help to break the ice. Keep things simple, but stick to the truth. Take it as an opportunity to practice your budding Japanese skills.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
Start the letter with simple Japanese greetings. This is easy enough, even if you don't speak Japanese. For example, you could write, "Konnichiwa. O genki desu ka?" which translates simply to "Hello. How are you?" Putting forth this effort shows that you are trying to learn the language.
Apologise for your poor Japanese skills. Even if you think you speak Japanese well, it's culturally appropriate to be modest about your skills.
Use simple language to tell them about yourself. Most families who volunteer to host foreigners probably speak and read some English. Long sentences with big words, however, are intimidating. When writing in English, make your sentences as short as possible. Some things you might want to include are whether you have siblings, a few of your favourite foods and when you plan to arrive. You'll get to know each other better when you meet in person.
Offer several methods for contacting you. Your Japanese host family may want to contact you before your arrival. By giving a phone number, physical address and e-mail address, you allow them to choose the method that's most comfortable for them.
End the letter on a positive note, stating that you're looking forward to meeting them.
Tips and warnings
- Try writing the whole letter in Japanese if you've been studying. If you don't write Japanese, you can write using "Romanji" or Roman characters.
- Online translation generators are not very effective. You may think that it's easier for your family to understand what you are trying to say if you use the translator, but they'll receive a garbled mess. However, if you know a Japanese person who's willing to translate your letter, that could be helpful.
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