Get Language Literate: Ayumi Sasaki

Wednesday, December 20, 2023
Ayumi Sasaki stands in the courtyard outside the Phoenix College Library where she attends English Conversation Circles after her English as a Second Language (ESL) class.

From Japan, Ayumi Sasaki arrived in Phoenix six months ago after her husband was transferred here for work.  With a bachelor’s degree in commercial science and two decades of experience in several accounting firms, she is eager to broaden her English vocabulary in an English as a Second Language (ESL) class while she is here. 

After the English placement test, which qualified her for ESL 031: English as a Second Language III: Speaking and Listening, she finds the Level III speaking and listening elements good for her. While language skills are a big aspect of the class, so is culture.  Students in the class are from Brazil, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Taiwan, Iraq, and several Spanish-speaking countries, she said. Jeff Eldot, the class instructor and the ESL program chair, has students present something about their culture for the class.  Ayumi presented on the Japanese kimono and she enjoyed an Iraqi student’s presentation of a tea ceremony.  

While Ayumi still has clients in Japan, she would like to take advantage of not having to work in the US. Her desire is to travel to other states and document her geographical and cultural explorations and share them with Japanese young people back home. She wants to entice young people to see the world and not limit themselves. She noted many of Japan’s young people aren’t leaving the country because they say they can’t speak English, but Ayumi jokes, in English, that she can’t either. “When I first moved to New York City twenty years ago, it was my first time living abroad,” she said and noted the difficulty learning English in New York because it was easy to find other Japanese speakers. But the living abroad experience “was a good change. A big change for my life,” she said. “It had a big effect on my identity. I want young Japanese people to have the same experience, not only in America, but all over the world.” 

Ayumi came to Phoenix College for ESL classes because it’s close to her apartment and found the campus to be more beautiful than she expected.  She spends much of her time before and after class in the library, doing homework or participating in the free English conversation circles.  “Because of technological progress with translation apps and AI, some people say we don't have to study English,” she said. “But talking in English to people in person like this is a good way to understand each other well. To understand English is important.” Beyond her English language studies, Ayumi loves singing and watching musicals.  She plans to join PC’s community choir in the near future. 

If English is your second language and you’d like to expand your reading, writing, listening or speaking skills, consider an ESL class or the English conversation circles in the lower level of the library.