Isn’t everyone who comes from abroad to work in Japan as a caregiver worried about communicating with the Japanese people? Communication plays a vital role in the work of a care worker. Once again, we interviewed Japanese people working with care workers from various countries.
Please read this while watching the videos of the actual interviews.
These are the conversations we’ve had with Japanese staff from facilities where foreigners from various countries work. Please read this while watching the videos of the interviews.
〇Ms. Yoshida, who works with Mr. Nur and Mr. Faysal from Bangladesh in Tokushima Prefecture.
〇Ms. Arai and Ms. Ida, who work with Ms. Otgongerel and Ms. Shürentsetseg from Mongolia in Ibaraki Prefecture.
〇Ms. Kubota, who works with Ms. Sihtumini and Ms. Ashini from Sri Lanka in Nagasaki Prefecture.
〇Ms. Murakami, who works with Ms. Pornpanitta from Thailand in Ibaraki Prefecture.
What have been the positive aspects of working with foreign staff?
Ms. Yoshida: Initially, they didn’t speak Japanese very well, and their comprehension level was also insufficient. For them to understand me, I tried to communicate with them in a way that was as easy as possible for them to understand. Through working with them, I have become a lot more conscious of my own leadership skills, so I believe I have grown personally as well.
Ms. Arai: Those two are full of energy. They laugh, and when I give them instructions, they will, for instance, say things like, “My apologies, I made a mistake!”. Because they can adequately respond in such a way, I feel comfortable working with them.
Ms. Iida: The same goes for me. They are very cheerful, and when I arrive at the work floor, they will greet me energetically, saying “Good morning!”. Our elderly residents remember that and will say with a smile on their faces, “A cheerful girl was here.”
They’re cheerful as well as hard-working. In private, they study extremely hard, which made me think that I should study more as well, so I look back on it positively.
Ms. Kubota: During times such as recreation, it becomes a cultural exchange, and our clients listen to them with a deep interest.
Ms. Murakami: Because she’s always cheerful and positive, I also want to do my best to be more positive. Also, since she’s doing her utmost best working as well as studying, I feel that I should also study harder.
How do Japanese staff members communicate with foreign staff? Is there anything you’re conscious of?
Ms. Yoshida: We generally communicate in Japanese, but I’m conscious that we add gestures and some English.
Ms. Iida: Because they know the language, I automatically end up speaking quickly, but since there are parts that they don’t grasp, I speak slowly while observing their eyes and facial expressions.
Ms. Arai: As Ms. Iida mentioned, I try to speak slowly. Also, if I speak in long sentences, they don’t understand me, so I communicate in short sentences that are easy to understand. Furthermore, when I communicate while gesturing, I look to see if they have correctly understood me.
Ms. Kubota: I try to speak slowly in a way that is easy to understand and thoroughly explain difficult words and specialistic terms so they can understand them.
Ms. Murakami: We generally converse in Japanese. I look at her face to gauge whether or not she has understood me and also try to respond while watching her reactions. Sometimes she will say. “I understand,” but I will then sometimes ask her to repeat it to make sure that she’s understood it. I also try to speak slowly so that she can understand me easily.
Working with foreign staff members and having regular interactions with them, have there been any instances that left a lasting impression on you?
Ms. Yoshida: The basis of their work is to learn one thing at a time by watching. It surprises me how fast they learn by watching.
Ms. Arai: I mentioned this earlier when answering the first question, but it is that they can be grateful while apologizing by saying, “I’m sorry.” Situations like that occur frequently, so I’m always comfortable interacting with them. It’s a very favorable impression, to the degree that I really would like, if possible, for them to stay on. I feel comfortable working with them.
Ms. Iida: When talking with them to the admissions staff and the residents, they really liven up the atmosphere, so people talk a lot more and there are many more smiling faces. They really lighten the mood of a place.
Ms. Kubota: Sri Lanka has a curry food culture, so as part of curry-making during recreation, I had the trainees make Sri Lankan lentil curry, and the residents ate it. Even though I think it’s a flavor that Japanese people are not used to eating, all the residents said it was tasty, which impressed me deeply.
Ms. Murakami: She’s always cheerful when she’s in contact with me. The impression I have of her is that she always has a smile on her face, both when interacting with the residents as well as with staff.
What kind of comments and feedback do you hear from the residents regarding the foreign staff members?
Ms. Yoshida: They really speak a lot to learn Japanese. They appear to enjoy conversing with the residents and the staff a lot. The residents’ feedback is that they are also delighted to talk to them.
Ms. Iida: “They’re so cheerful!”, “They speak Japanese so well!”, “They’re working so hard!”, those kinds of honest opinions.
Ms. Arai: Well… From observing them, the residents understand that they are doing their best, so I believe that the fact that they are evaluated as doing their best is conveyed to Ms. Otgongerel and Ms. Shürentsetseg.
Ms. Kubota: Some residents were initially afraid, but since the trainees have been kind to them, some are now looking forward to them coming to work.
Ms. Murakami: There haven’t been any particular dislikes or complaints whatsoever. I believe that everyone is as relieved as the Japanese staff members are since she interacts so cheerfully and politely with everyone.