Memoirs of a Geisha : How did they learn english?

How did they learn english?

This seems to be a plothole in the film. How did the Japanese Characters, particularly Sayuri, learn enough english to speak and understand the colonel, and to make witty quips? Unless the Colonel understood "Japanese" - being represented by english dialogue in the film. English is a notoriously difficult language to learn for non-native speakers, and I doubt that pre-war Japan presented any opportunities for learning it.

Re: How did they learn english?

You guessed correctly. The colonel is using Japanese, but for the purpose of film production, we see them using English.

During World War 2, top ranking American military personnel had to study Japanese. Such as how during the Iraq War, they had to study Arabic.

Re: How did they learn english?

Oh I see, that's really confusing! I always thought they were speaking English, just because he's an American. And when the geisha house is back in business after the war, Mother is shown talking on the phone possibly to an American, which makes me unsure what language she's actually using...