Teen of the Week: Marietta teen inspired by the Japanese language

Marietta High School senior Makayla Frye likes to be challenged. The 18-year-old attends Japanese language classes three days a week at Ohio University, and three days a week she’s taking early college courses at Washington State Community College including music appreciation, physics and PC applications.

“I haven’t really been in the high school since the 10th grade,” she laughs.

And if that’s not enough, Frye makes it a point every day to keep learning on her own, particularly when it comes to speaking Japanese.

Question: Do you miss high school at all or do you find that you’re enjoying the college experience?

Answer: I really enjoy the college experience. I find everyone to be on a different maturity level and there’s more of a focus on the work. I actually enjoy higher level tests and homework.

Q: Are there a lot of other people your age in your classes?

A: At Washington State, it’s a mix. There are some other high school students. At OU, I believe I’m the only one. I get some curiosity. They’re not sure what to make of me.

Q: What sparked your interest in learning Japanese?

A: I began learning about the culture at 13. From there I learned more and more and really fell in love with it. I wanted to learn the language but I couldn’t find any classes here. So I self-taught for two years before I started classes at OU. Now, I have friends in Japan and my junior year hosted an exchange student.

Q: What was it about the Japanese culture that really spoke to you?

A: I started watching a few TV shows, movies, listening to music and across the board they had a “do your best work” ethic. It motivated me. I wanted to reach just as high. From then, I took the highest possible classes I could.

Q: What methods did you use to teach yourself the language?

A: I used Rosetta Stone for a while and I studied on my own the grammar points and vocabulary. I started talking to actual Japanese people online to help with better pronunciation and to make sure I was using words correctly.

Q: Did you set a schedule or spend a certain amount of time each day studying?

A: It was flexible but I would say every day I spent time with the Japanese language.

Q: How fluent do you feel you are now?

A: Intermediate. I’ve taken the SAT for Japan and take a proficiency exam in December. I visited Tokyo last summer and was able to talk to people there without a problem. I communicate everyday with people in Japan who don’t speak English.

Q: You took this on all on your own. How does it feel to have accomplished what you have?

A: It’s the most amazing feeling of accomplishment. I watch some of my peers who don’t really know what they want to do with their lives and I feel really happy that I’ve reached this level. I worked really hard. It’s almost a feeling of relief.

Q: You’re going to be attending the University of Tokyo?

A: I’ll be there in fall 2018 as a Japanese language major.

Q: Are you nervous at all about going to another country for college?

A: I’m a little nervous about the details, like the visas, and the difference in schooling but I’m mostly excited. I hope it will challenge me even more.

Q: What are your long-term career goals?

A: I want to go to graduate school and teach English as a second language. I’d like to do some work interpreting and translating. I hope to someday teach English as a second language to high school and college students in Japan.

Q: What does your family think about you going so far away?

A: They’re sad I’m leaving and nervous but they’re very happy for me.

Q: Were you always someone who studied a lot and tried to get good grades in school?

A: Through middle school, I took anything from an A to a C as a good grade. Once I discovered the Japanese culture, it pushed me to be better.

Kate York conducted this interview. If you would like to nominate an outstanding teen for Teen of the Week, email news@mariettatimes.com.

Makayla Frye

¯ Age: 18.

¯ Grade: 12.

¯ School: Marietta High School/Washington State Community College, Ohio University.

¯ Family: Parents Marie and David.

¯ Extracurricular activities: hip hop dance classes, singing lessons.

¯ Future plans: To attend the University of Tokyo and go on to teach English as a second language and work as an interpreter.