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Despite every student in Japan being required to take English language courses, it may be difficult to find everyday people who enjoy and feel comfortable speaking the language. Sure, there are some former compulsory school students who are completely fluent in English, but overall, finding a native-level speaker or even someone confident enough to speak with can be difficult. That’s why we were surprised and pleased to watch this video of an Australian expat and his English language encounter at the McDonald’s drive-thru in Japan.

The video starts out innocently enough with a vlogger and expat from TheJapanChannelDcom letting us know that he’s going to show us a McDonald’s drive-thru in Japan.

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Pulling up to the drive-thru line, we’re shown the menu and our McDonald’s guide tells us that all the items are similar to any other Golden Arch locale. The classic Quarter Pounder with Cheese, BigMac, and Chicken Filet are all there, but also a Teriyaki Burger and Shrimp Burger.

▼ Ordering McDonald’s in Japanese like a champ.
A large #8 cost him 650 yen (US$6.42)
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Once our driver pulls up to the drive-thru window, things start to get really interesting. The cashier kindly reminds him in Japanese that his meal costs 650 yen, to which our driver replies, “600?” in Japanese. Realizing that she’s speaking with a foreigner, the cashier replies this time in English, “Hai, six-hundred fifty yen.”

▼ Unexpected English attack – initiate.Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 2.34.30 PM

The pair proceed to have a pleasant conversation, the young woman doing her best to say any English she knows. She finds out that our driver is from Australia and has been living in Japan for three years. Expending her spur-of-the-moment English ability, she even asks our driver the correct way to ask someone’s job and how to tell someone they’ve given her exact change.

As our driver/McDonald’s Japan tour guide drives away, he notes that that was the first time anyone has spoken English to him in a long time. He also says that he’s glad everyone got to see their exchange (something he also notes is an unusual occurrence), and so are we! Personally, as an English teacher in Japan, it was disheartening to find out that many Japanese students aren’t able to properly use simple English phrases, let alone have the courage to speak to a foreigner in their non-native tongue. But this wonderful, yet brief English conversation put a smile on our faces and reminded us that there may be even more skilled and curious students of the English language in Japan than we had thought.

If you’re already acquainted with Japanese McDonald’s, skip ahead to 2:15 for this adorable exchange.

Many commenters outside of Japan were impressed with the video:

Let’s just face it world, things in Japan are just better.

I like her reactions to his answers.  “oooooooh”

I love her cute reactions to english xD

That young lady @ the window was a sweetheart!

One commenter was blunt, but expressed a common sentiment:

English speaking people in Japan.. They do exist..

The video is actually from back in 2009, but has been getting renewed attention in Japan recently. Japanese netizen comments were much different than the ones from those abroad:

“What a lovely clerk. I wish I could be as good at English as she is.”

“Me too, I wish I could know enough English to speak with customers.”

“She must have studied English very hard. How wonderful! Too bad cashiers in the West are actually scary and so rude…”

“On the other hand, I was caught off guard by how horrible American cashiers were – memories from my summer trip when I was 18.”

“This is somehow surreal lol”

“Wow! I have absolute respect for her. I’m horrible at English. When a foreigner stopped me at the station the other day, all I could do was reply in broken Japanese.”

It seems many native Japanese speakers wish they could speak English at a higher level. Let’s hope this cheerful McDonald’s worker has inspired them to not be afraid of making mistakes and speak any and all English they know.

 Source: Kaigai no Hanou