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Jenny Periman sparkles in NHK's 'Eigo de Asobo'

45 Comments
By Chris Betros

If you have a young child who enjoys learning English, there’s a pretty good chance the youngster knows Jennifer Periman, or Jenny, as she is known to the legions of fans of her NHK morning English education program, "Eigo de Asobo" (Let’s Play in English), which airs on the broadcaster’s educational channel 2 Monday to Friday from 8:45 a.m. until 8:55 a.m.

This is Jenny’s 4th year in the program which has been running for over 20 years. In each program, she performs with singer-songwriter Eric Jacobsen. “It is so much fun,” says the bilingual 26-year-old. “We use simple key words in each story and introduce a new English song every month. We have two mascot characters and we play together and go to kindergartens. When we go outside the studio, I can ad-lib a bit.”

Children on the show are aged 3-6. “At that age, they are good at picking up English and can sense what I am saying,” says Jenny. “I get drawings of myself from children. Sometimes they even recognize me when I am out and about, but usually the mothers recognize me first before their children do.”

Born in Ohio to an American father and Japanese mother, Jenny says she had lots of aspirations when she was a child. “I wanted to be a figure skater, a singer or an actress,” she recalls. “When I was young, my parents put me in this little modeling agency and I enjoyed appearing in front of others.”

Her family moved to Japan when she was seven and she continued to do some children’s magazine modeling. Then she got her showbiz break at the age of 12 when she was selected to be on NHK’s "Tensai Terebi-kun" (a long-running program that features children taking part in musical performances, skits and playing games). “That was my first time on Japanese TV and I was blessed to have been a part of the show for two years,” says Jenny.

After high school, Jenny became a cheerleader for the Yomiuri Giants baseball team, the Team Giabbits 21, as they are known. “That was an amazing experience -- dancing in front of 50,000 people at Tokyo Dome for 3 seasons.”

These days, she concentrates on "Eigo de Asobo," happy to see more opportunities for foreigners and those of mixed heritage on Japanese TV. “I hope I can inspire more people like myself who are living in Japan to pursue their ambitions. Although it is not easy to get into show business, I believe that as long as you keep aiming toward your goals, you will eventually find the right agency, meet the right people and get your dream job, so never give up.”

When she is not working, Jenny enjoys reading, working out at the gym and has just started yoga. “I like to cook, quilt, and sing karaoke” she says.

Jenny says she has no qualms about being called a "hafu." “I am what I am. What I do notice is that when I go back to visit relatives in California, it takes 2-3 days before my mind changes back into ‘English mode.’ Then I come back to Tokyo and it takes another few days to switch back into ‘Japanese mode.’”

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


45 Comments
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Although it is not easy to get into show business, I believe that as long as you keep aiming toward your goals, you will eventually find the right agency, meet the right people and get your dream job, so never give up.”

Her courage and insights pay high. In my viewpoint, a English teacher, even on a TV program or in-class method, can blend bi-cultures for effectiveness and good time with kids so they can remember new words and love learning, not only one day, but a rest of their lives. Gambarei, Jenny-san!

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Stumbled upon this show a few times, she is definitely one of the more beautiful women on TV in Japan. I rather watch her than Becky or Marie any day of the week.

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Love Jenny. The show is pretty good, too. Try it try it try it.

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Do you guys watch the program because

A) You're aged 3-6? B) You watch it with your kids? C) You have the hots for Jenny?

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Oh, is it a kids show?

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I love the massive 10 minute time slot. She s very animated. Its time to retire Eric. The lines in his face are so deep when he smiles I can see through his head.

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Maybe I was just unlucky, but this was the episode I first saw her in:

Jenny: What's in the box? What do you have? What is that?..

..in rapid succession. So stressful and high tension.

Please, slow down.

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She looks ridiculous in that outfit.

Moderator: Not to the children on her program, which isn't aimed at you. We request that readers do not use this thread to mock Ms Periman.

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Know the program but never seen here in it nor ever heard of her.

So no Opinion till I watch it, as for Eric I can do without him.

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Do you guys watch the program because

A) You're aged 3-6? B) You watch it with your kids? C) You have the hots for Jenny?

C, for me, because of B.

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“I am what I am. What I do notice is that when I go back to visit relatives in California, it takes 2-3 days before my mind changes back into ‘English mode.’ Then I come back to Tokyo and it takes another few days to switch back into ‘Japanese mode.’”

I know the feeling...

Never seen the show as I have no kids. She's quite a cute woman (from a google search for her).

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my son has been on the show. she is pretty cool in person

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as for Eric I can do without him.

Best quote of the day. I'm sure everyone who watches the show feels the same. They need to keep Eric behind the camera and rebrand the show to "10 minutes with Jenny."

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She seems to have a very positive upbeat attitude towards life. Never understood the big hang-up some people have about mixed heritages. Seems that there's too many folks who simply judge a book by its cover.

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Why's everyone beating up on Eric? It's not like we are the target audience, so what if he is getting wrinkly, we all grow old. More power to them both, it's a fun show, upbeat and well thought out, even if it doesn't quite have the educational content of Peppa Pig.

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Not beating up on him.

I can simply do without him as well as I can without AK-B48, Lady Gaga, etc.

Just voiced my personal opinion and nothing more. Chill out dude.

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I especially love it, when Jenny is singing "I'm coming"

in her NHK program in the morning. Yes, I watch it with my kids. (b) and then a little (c).

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well my daughter suddenly knows what an apple is and how to say it and the only thing I can imagine is that she picked it up from this show.I don't mind watching Jenny either.

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What I do notice is that when I go back to visit relatives in California, it takes 2-3 days before my mind changes back into ‘English mode.’ Then I come back to Tokyo and it takes another few days to switch back into ‘Japanese mode.’”

Hardly bilingual then.

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Agreed.

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Zenny11

Just voiced my personal opinion and nothing more. Chill out dude.

Double chill on Eric, dude

Zenny, Jenny, is there a connection?

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i don't like it that she is fine with the term "hafu." many parents resent this phrase, and I too despise it. there are better ways to refer to oneself, and she should begin using them.

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She looks ridiculous in that outfit.

Moderator: Not to the children on her program, which isn't aimed at you. We request that readers do not use this thread to mock Ms Periman.

hahahaha I have to translate what Sarge means. He means she is ridiculously hot. It is easy to know what is on his mind, Mods, you do not need to think in a complicated manner.

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i don't like it that she is fine with the term "hafu." many parents resent this phrase, and I too despise it. there are better ways to refer to oneself, and she should begin using them.

There is no one size fits everybody,so if she is comfortable,good for her.She clearly doesn't have the insecurities of others who oppose the term. I am sure that superficial people criticizing him,particularly miserable foreigners is the very least of Eric's worries.He does a fine job and many kids feel the same way.

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I find eric creepy beyond belief but I really like Jenny - she is what an english teacher should be. Fun, genki and actually likes kids.

Although many of the Japanese people who I know watch this show with their kids find him "Kawaiiiiii!" I dont. Sorry Eric.

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She looks very happy in that outfit.

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Hardly bilingual then.

Sorry, but I disagree. If you can speak two different languages, you are bilingual. She IS bilingual. Perhaps you meant she wasn't very fluent? But even then the statement would be false, as she regains fluency after only a few days in the country. Even from my meager two semesters of nihongo that I've taken so far, it's obvious that thought processes must be switched when going from English to Japanese and back. I find when studying, my first fifteen minutes or so generate more errors as I'm still thinking like an English-speaker. I could easily see myself taking a few days to get back into the swing of things if I had the vocabulary and grammatical bank of knowledge she has to rely on in her day-to-day life.

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I am very happy with both Jenny and Eric. My daughter likes Jenny's songs such as "In the City" and I don't mind watching her either. I think Eric has worked very hard to make the show successful, too. None of us are getting younger, and my hat's off to him for continuing the effort. I hope they both continue making the show popular. I also hope they will have a longer version in the future. From 10 to 15 minutes would be good.

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Jenny's comments on 'English mode' and 'Japanese mode' don't reflect so much on language as they do on culture I think. It takes me a couple days to switch back and forth myself, and I speak both languages fine.

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I feel some of the episodes are badly designed and scary or stressful to children. It is seriously one of only two Japanese kids shows I don't allow my child to watch, the other one being a program where they use nothing but slangs.

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To be fair, this was some of the earlier episodes Jenny's been on. She's toned it down since then.

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Fadamor

Bilingual by definition is a person who is fluent in two languages. Those of us who are bilingual don't switch "modes" at all. The transition from one language to the other is seamless and requires no thought or effort. Like I said, she is evidently neither bilingual nor fluent in one of the languages.

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My kids love the show, and my daughter always dances with Jenny. I don't let them watch too much TV but they do like this one. Thanks Jenny!

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Eric has worked hard to better the programme in recent years. Jenni is usual. Just get rid of Charo! The commentators are even alright, but chuck the dog.

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there are better ways to refer to oneself, and she should begin using them.

Like what, for example? Daburu?

I've never watched the program (my kid learns his English from Spongebob), but good for her. I'm curious about this Eric guy though...

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Have seen her since day one on the show (my boys were fans of the show) and never knew anything about her. Thanks for this informative piece on her. I always liked her energy and smile. Sounds like she may have quite a future in store for her. Good for her!

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@bentheredonthat "i don't like it that she is fine with the term "hafu." many parents resent this phrase, and I too despise it. there are better ways to refer to oneself, and she should begin using them."

my wife and I plan to have two "hafu" kids. a word has NO POWER except what YOU allow it to have! words change, gain, loose meaning, tone, power, and context over time and use. If you go around telling everyone HAFU is a bad word and is racist then YOU are making it a bad word and racist. If a "pure bred" hates half race people and beats them up and spits on them and calls them HAFU, then he is making the word a derogatory word. If some HAFU calls her self HAFU then I have no problem with it. Its like gaijin. some people find it offensive. I dont. so there for me it is not an offensive word. and I when I spread my opionion of the word gaijin I influence what other people think of that word, and try to get people to think its not a racist word (just slightly less polite, but fine for friends, its much ALL OF the JAPANESE language)words like ni%%er have a terrible past and a terrible meaning. now with pop culture use, and people like dave chapel they have taken changed the power of that word, for better or for worse. HAFU is not a bad word, why are you trying to make it one? chapel once said he uses the N word so much to take away its power, to make light of it, so people will rememeber in jokes and songs and not its slave reference. Maybe Jenny is doing the same. HAFU the word isnt going away. so we can go two ways. make it a charming endearing term or one of disgust and rudeness. its 100% up to you how you feel about the word, but you also have to power to change your perception. because its really the intention behind the word right. I can call you a jungadumbbolo. that word has no meaning for you, but if you knew what my intention to calling you that you would be VERY VERY offended.

Moderator: Readers, please do not try to turn this discussion into a debate on the word "hafu." That is not what this story is about.

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my daughter who is hafu,,,she likes watching all the NHK programs including eigo de asobo, she likes kebo and motch better than jenny or eric though, because jenny and eric are craaaaazy,,,,she thinks jenny is pretty

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Jenny and Eric are great. My hafu daughter also dances to Jenny and often demands I play the Eigo de Asaobo DVD when she comes home.

Jenny and Eric have tons of energy on the show (way more than I have at 8.30 in the morning!!!) and add a bit of spice and easy English learning to my daughter's breakfast time.

Only complaint I've got is the show's not long enough.

Hats off to these guys.

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Our family watches her show a lot. But, during many of her solo performances (like "Funny fun h-h-house") the kids are all saying "okashi".

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My little kids love this chick. She has such a great smile and voice and they seem to appreciate that.

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The design of the program isn't designed as much to teach as stimulate interest in extremely basic, communicative English among pre-schoolers. Which seems fairly pointless to me. Either they will become bilingual by interacting in the language on a daily basis or it will fall by the wayside for lack of practice. Simple exposure isn't going to hurt in any way, but I can't see familiarity alone producing great benefits either.

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Speaking of the perils of bilingualism, it was very interesting to observe language interraction between Japanese parents and their kids while abroad recently. Witnessed on numerous occasions parents insisting on speaking fractured English to the kids and the latter, obviously annoyed, ignoring the implicit invitation to converse in English and replying completely in Japanese with both parties continuing the charade oblivious to the absurdity of the situation. I visualised Western parents in Japan attempting to do the same thing to their kids but my imagination failed.

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the program isn't designed as much to teach as stimulate interest in extremely basic, communicative English among pre-schoolers. Which seems fairly pointless to me.

Getting your audience stimulated and interested in learning is the first step. No matter how many grammar points to try to shove down someone's throat, if they aren't interested you're simply wasting your time.

oyatoi -

You just described the way I and my kids converse, in reverse. I speak English to them (It's my native language) and they reply in Japanese. Maybe to outsiders it sounds absurd, but it's what works for us. It isn't that they are unable/refuse to converse in English, since they have no problem talking with English monoglots. There's no charade, and to us it isn't absurd, it's just what works best for us.

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We like the show but wish Kevo and Motch were not costume characters because you can't see their mouths move as they speak. If you've only got 10 minutes, it'd be even more effective if tots could see how the lips, tongue, teeth and mouth work when pronouncing native English.

Regarding the comments about what is "bilingual": I thought she was talking about cultural mindset, not language skills. This happens to a lot of people. When I get to the US, it takes me a few days to start interacting like an American again--i.e., interrupting people, not nodding all the time and waiting for them to finish when I disagree, making direct requests, calling new acquaintances by first name without a slight mental hitch, having fun informal chats with cashiers, waiters, strangers, etc. Then when I get back to Japan, it all happens in reverse. It takes me a few days to get back inside the box.

Finally, about kids finding this or that song or intonation "okashii", lighten up. It's a kid's show and reflecting a different linguistic/cultural way of being. We showed Nihongo de Asobou to our 6-year-old cousins in the US last summer, and for them, the entire gang came across as a bunch of bizarre weirdos and oddball, robot-style strange behavior. The weird music, the strange hyper guy with the airplane on his head talking at 10,000 mph, strange intonation of the Noh/rakugo actors. Not that that's bad. I grew up with HR Puff-n-Stuff and Lancelot Link. Now THAT was okashii.

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