In Japan, the only chances they get to practice their English are with the American soldiers stationed on the naval base in Yokosuka, she said.

Momoka Kanno, a 12th-grader from Kanagawa, confirmed this and said they usually only study English in written form at home.

"To listen and talk is very, very different," Kanno said. "At my school, we study only writing. We don't get to talk to American speakers."

But here, Tatsumi said is proud of the improvement he sees as students practice with Catonsville natives.

"I can see so many times that they're smiling, talking English," Tatsumi said.

"They're facing the intercultural communication," he said.

"Also, there's so many things they're facing, obstacles," Tatsumi said about social and cultural differences between Japan and the U.S.

"They're now improving themselves by facing those and growing up," he said.

That, he said, is, "one of the aims of education."

For many of the visiting students, this is their first time abroad. To smooth the transition into a different culture, the students stay with host families in Catonsville while in town.

Catonsville High School student John Himes and his family are among the local hosts.

"I love Japanese," Himes said. "I'm always fascinated by Japanese culture."

The senior is in Japanese level 7 at Catonsville High and said he really enjoyed the chance to put his studies into practice with fluent Japanese speakers. Much like the Japanese students learning English, he doesn't have many chances to do so.

"It's hard to find people (to practice with)," Himes said.

"It's nice to be able to put into practice what I've been learning," he said.

Himes said he has traveled to Japan before and, after staying with a host family there, hopes to provide an equally amazing experience to the student staying with him.

"My student wants to be a zookeeper," Himes said. "So we're taking him to the aquarium."

Himes said his mother cooked a big Thanksgiving turkey dinner for the student Thursday night and that he hopes the student leaves with a good perception of American culture.

"The things I remember most (from my trip to Japan) were the most ordinary things," Himes said.

"I really want my host student to experience just regular American family life," he said.