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Duncan Bullock
Duncan Bullock

STUDENT INTERVIEW: Duncan Bullock (AIJP)

Patty: Hi Duncan, thanks for agreeing to do the interview.
Duncan: Sure, no problem.

P: Do you prefer to do it in Japanese or English?
D: Well, I prefer to do it in Japanese and if there's terms that I don't know in Japanese, then I'll sutbstitute them with English.
P: Sounds good to me. Okay, let's begin.

P: Why and when did you come to Japan?
D: I came to Japan two years ago because my wife was here. She's from Australia, and came to Japan to study Japanese and she also taught English at a private Japanese high school in Ube City, Yamaguchi Prefecture.
P: So you were married before you came to Japan?
D: Yes, I got married before I came to Japan, but I only stayed a week here before I moved permanently.
P: Why is that?
D: I was working for a British company back then. After I came to Japan in April of 2001, I still had to come and go between Japan and UK because of my work. However, it was after I came to Japan that I began to study Japanese
P: So where and how did you study Japanese
D: I basically studied on my own and went to one of the community classes for lessons. After I resigned from my job, I concentrated on just studying.
P: I see. When did you come to Okazaki?
D: My wife Fiona and I came to Okazaki in April of 2002 when she enrolled in AIJP at Yamasa.
P: So, what were you doing at that time?
D: Well, I was working and still work for NOVA, teaching English. I initially started taking private lessons at Yamasa whilst Fiona was studying full-time.
P: Speaking of private lesson, can you tell me a little bit more about that?
D: I had private lessons twice a week. I studied up to "Minna no Nihongo 2" and some materials from JLPT Level 3. Basically, I studied JLPT Level 3 on my own and if I had any questions, I'd just bring them up during the lesson.

P: I know that your in AIJP now. How long have you been on the course?
D: I started in January of this year.
P: So, what do you think of it, compared to private lessons.
D: Well, first of all, there are other people in the class (laugh). I mean, for a short period of time I learned what I chose to learn in private lessons. On the other hand, for AIJP, I study at least 4 hours a day in school, get lots of homework and printouts. On top of this we study what the teacher plans for us. I guess it's the teaching method that's different. Since it's a group class, the amount of speaking you can do is less than private lessons where you do most of the talking.
P: I see.
D: And since I'm always working, I haven't made that many Japanese friends and my chances of speaking Japanese are less. That's why I decided to start practicing Kyudo (Japanese archery).
P: Oh yeah, I remember it was last summer that one of the Kyudo dojos was recruiting students.........
D: That's right. In the beginning it was difficult because I didn't know much Japanese and all the people there tended to speak Mikawa dialect and were 'Ojisan' (laugh), so it's hard to catch up and understand what they were saying.
P: Yeah, it's the same situation for me at the Karate dojo.
D: However, as my Japanese gradually improves, I'm able to understand most of the content. Even though there are still parts and bits in the sentence that I don't understand, I'm able to know which parts I understand and which part I don't, rather than it just being a big blur like before. I think everyone has the same experience.

P: That's true. So, what's your plan after finishing Yamasa?
D: Well, I'm looking for jobs in Japan where I can use Japanese and continue my study of Japanese. I could go back to Australia and work for a company where I can use Japanese and continue studying Japanese, but I wouldn't have the chance to speak as much as I can, if I'm in Japan. Thus, my Japanese level will drop. If I'm in Japan, then I can at least maintain my Japanese level to a certain degree.
P: Slight change of subject. How is it like staying at Residence L?
D: I think we are staying at the only 2DK that Yamasa owns, the rest of them are 3DK. It's nice because it comes with some basic furniture and it's close to 'Feel News' supermarket, about 5 minutes on foot. And it takes about 5 minutes by bicycle to Yamasa. The only problem it that the ceiling and doorframe is too low. I don't know why, but it's always dusty. Other than that everything is fine.
P: That's good to hear.

P: Well, last question. Any suggestions for newcomers?
D: Try to learn Hiragana and Katakana before coming to Japan because all classes are taught in Hiragana and Katakana. No Roman alphabet is used in class. As your level increased, you'll be using Kanji as well. Likewise, it's a good idea to use Japanese at all time. Even though it might be easier to communicate with your classmates in their native language, in order to improve your Japanese, it's better not to use your native language. Moreover, bring enough of money to Japan because the living cost is quite high in Japan. If you can speak English, then it easy to find a part time job, but you rarely use Japanese. If your level of Japanese is intermediate or above, then you should be able to find a part time job using Japanese.

P: Thank you very much for your time to do the interview.
D: You're welcome.

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