Hiromi and Hiroyuki moved to the United States from Japan after Hiroyuki was transferred for work. The family mostly associated with other Japanese families due to speaking limited English. “When I came to America, I wanted to communicate with American people and I wanted to know American culture, but I didn’t have a chance to talk in English, because my English level was very low,” said Hiromi. 

While looking for opportunities for their young daughter Lilyka, Hiromi discovered the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters program through a friend. Despite her limited proficiency with English, Hiromi thought it would be a great opportunity for her family and enrolled in September 2014.

“I only used Japanese when I moved to America. Then, after Lilyka turned two years she started preschool. She enjoyed preschool, but she couldn’t understand English. Sometimes I have to communicate with her teacher in preschool, doctor in hospital, staff in shops and others. It was a very big problem for me. Many people couldn’t understand what I was saying. I wanted to improve my English. I wanted to solve these problems for Lilyka and me.”

Upon enrollment Lilyka, age three, did not speak English at home, but was picking up a few words at preschool. At the end of the first visit, her home visitor Mary noticed Lilyka saying  “time to go home” just like her preschool teacher would say at the end of the day. She knew then that Lilyka understood some fundamental English. A few months into the program Lilyka began using words like “hello”, “goodbye,” and “fine” in response to basic questions.

Both Hiromi and Lilyka started to learn more English through the home visits. Through role play and other stimulating activities, Lilyka’s mother Hiromi gained the confidence she needed to venture out into new places and engage in conversation while speaking English.

In November 2014, the family asked their HIPPY home visitor for instruction in preparing a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner. Most Japanese families don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, but the family was interested in learning and experiencing unfamiliar cultural events. In a follow-up conversation, Hiromi reported back that it had gone well!  Hiromi and her family credit the HIPPY program for helping them begin to navigate American culture and the English language along with helping their daughter Lilyka become kindergarten ready. 

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