A second round of an interview with Mr. Steve Mickevics, who happens to be my English tutor, was made on May 4, this time on the topic of “Your thoughts on Japan”.
l Please tell us your impression of Japan before you came and after you had settled in?
I had no impression of Japan whatsoever before I came, besides my knowledge of its history which was limited to a military one. So, I wasn’t particularly aware of the Japanese customs or culture though I understood certain aspects of it regarding religion and behavior.
But after I arrived in Japan and had settled in, I came to understand the Japanese mentality, the way they treat the country, the way the society functions and the government operates. From there I felt that Japanese politics was rather weak, but the people are very kind, very diligent and industrious, though the Japanese people seem to be like sheep at times and lack some backbone or independence.
Overall, I think the Japanese people have a good heart, a clean country and a lot of pride in their history and culture which they try to maintain.
l To what extent do you use Japanese language?
I would say not much both at work and at home.
l Did you come across some helpful Japanese learning tools or methods?
As I have less need for the Japanese language, I’m not a suitable person to recommend anything here, but just a few remarks on kanji cards that can be helpful. The bottom line of learning any foreign language is how much motivation you really have.
l What are your suggestions for our learning English?
How feasible is it to realize “Japanese English” like “Indian English” or “Singaporean English” to name but a few good examples?
It is always recommendable to start learning English at an early stage if at all possible. Second, you need motivation. Then you set a specific goal of how to utilize that language. For example, if I want to enter a particular company that is going to require TOEIC 600 points, then that provides some kind of goal and motivation for the study.
My advice for adult learners is to put more efforts into increasing your vocabulary. Here, you might access a non ESL (English second language) text which is written for English speaking high school students. And I can recommend a good text book, which is “1100 words you need to know” suitable for those aiming at American universities.
For kids, drilling in Q&A form are highly effective methods of teaching English. I might add one more thing that it is always helpful to have a native speaker as your friend. So, try your luck.
As to the second part of the question, educated Indians speak English with correct grammar and adequate vocabulary, so it is only pronunciation that distinguishes them from native speakers. In other words, it is a demanding goal for Japanese people to realize the nuances of “Japanese English” as opposed to “Indian English”.
l What do you miss most being away from your home town?
Well, I would say nothing in particular, because I don’t like to look backwards. I’m more focused on living now and for the future.