Interviews with

Autonomous English Users

at Kyoto University



This project of interviewing autonomous English users at Kyoto University gathers the authentic voices of researchers and students who use English daily in various faculties and departments. The project is for students who are interested in raising awareness about learning and using English. It is also for teachers and administrators of English for General Academic Purposes (EGAP) who want to deepen their understanding of English for Specific Academic Purposes (ESAP). The interviews were conducted in Japanese or English. They were translated into the other language by DELE. The interviewees' affiliation information, such as school year, department, and job title, was provided at the time of the interview.

Please select the interview that interests you below.


Faculty of Integrated Human Studies (Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies)

Yuuki Kitagawa (Graduate Student)   [Synopsis]  [Transcript]

Faculty of Letters (Graduate School of Letters)

Duncan Wilson (Lecturer)  [Synopsis] [Transcript]  Yoshifumi Minamitani (Associate Professor)    [Synopsis]  [Transcript]

Faculty of Education (Graduate School of Education)

Sachi Ando (Junior Associate Professor)  [Synopsis] [Transcript]

Faculty of Law (Graduate School of Law)

Please wait for a while.

Faculty of Economics (Graduate School of Economics)

Takafumi Kurosawa (Professor)  [Synopsis] [Transcript]

Faculty of Science (Graduate School of Science)

Kazutoshi Mori (Professor)  [Synopsis] [Video]  Hinako Murayama (Graduate Student)  [Synopsis] [Transcript]

Faculty of Medicine (Graduate School of Medicine)

Please wait for a while.

Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences (Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences)

Haruka Furuta (Graduate Student)  [Synopsis] [Transcript]

Faculty of Engineering (Graduate School of Engineering)

Mitsuru Honda (Professor)  [Synopsis] [Transcript]  Nao Yoneda (Graduate Student) [Synopsis] [Transcript]    Miwa Tobita (Graduate Student)  [Synopsis] [Transcript]

Faculty of Agriculture (Graduate School of Agriculture)

A.K. (Graduate Student)  [Synopsis] [Transcript]

Dr. Mitsuru Honda, Professor, Graduate School of Engineering (interview conducted in Japanese on July 19, 2022; approximately 5,000 words)

“Smartphone translation is not a substitute for conversation between researchers.”

Professor Honda is extremely productive in his international activities in the field of fusion plasma, his research specialty. He is also very active in his educational and administrative contributions, which are overseas relations and various English-related projects initiated by the Engineering Education Research Center. As a researcher, he is well aware of the indispensable use of English as a medium for communication and instruction. Consequently, he is concerned with the growing dependance on artificial intelligence (AI) by students to process English in recent years. Research, he argues, is based on human interaction among researchers, and it is dangerous to let machines take over this function. Professor Honda also promotes a project to subtitle Japanese lectures (Japanese-to-English translation) through the use of automatic speech recognition technology. Hence, he has never underestimated the potential of AI technology. The interview with Professor Honda, who is on the cutting edge of scientific research in various fields, will provide valuable insights on learners of the English language.

[Read the English translation of the interview]

[Read the original interview in Japanese]

Dr. Duncan Wilson, Lecturer, Graduate School of Letters (interview conducted in English on March 24, 2023; About 2750 words)

"My slides are simple, with minimal text and plenty of pictures and videos."

Dr. Duncan Wilson, a Lecturer in the Graduate School of Letters, studies animal psychology and animal welfare; particularly the visual perception and attention of non-human primates. In addition to his primary educational responsibility of teaching specialized courses in the faculty, he also teaches general education courses; E2 classes (English-Mediated Instruction) and E3 classes (Teaching English as a Foreign Language). Carefully observing individual student differences, he continuously updates his teaching methods and is recently conducting "flipped learning classes". He supports students with limited English proficiency by presenting simple slides with minimal text and plenty of visuals. He also believes in the power of class communities, where more confident students facilitate communication with others. Read the interview to learn more about the courses on offer at Kyoto University, where students are welcomed by kind and approachable Lecturers, such as Duncan.

[Read the original interview in English.]

[Read the Japanese translation of the interview.]

Dr Yoshimi Minamitani, Associate Professor, Graduate School of Letters (interview conducted in Japanese on 8 March 2022: approximately 4,100 words).

“If You Always Want to Conform to Others, You will Fail to Notice the Voice that Expands your World”

Dr Minamitani, a James Joyce scholar, has published many papers, including one in the James Joyce Quarterly, one of the most authoritative journals on Joyce research. Concurrently, he shared the pleasure of reading Joyce with the public through open lectures. Dr Minamitani stresses the significance of collocations and logic in academic writing. He also highlights the importance of the ‘noise’ in translation from English to Japanese, which can only be expressed in unconventional Japanese. He is concerned that contemporary people often confine themselves to familiar languages. He advises people to read foreign languages and literature to discover the voices of ‘Others’, who have the potential to broaden their world. He also advocates real-world experiences.

[Read the English translation of the interview]

[Read the original interview in Japanese]

Ms. Nao Yoneda, Graduate School of Engineering, third year of the doctoral program (Conducted in Japanese on Feb. 15, 2022; About 4,100 words in translation)

“Take advantage of your freedom and take on new challenges.”

Ms. Yoneda, who recently finished writing her doctoral dissertation in English, had never lived abroad or received any special English education before presenting at numerous international conferences. “I don't remember thinking of myself as being very proficient in English,” she says. Since junior high school, Ms. Yoneda has been actively taking advantage of opportunities to improve her English skills; she took numerous elective courses in English at university as well. The cliché carries weight when Ms. Yoneda utters it: “Don't be afraid of making mistakes. Let's communicate in English.” Another statement of hers, “My English is good enough, if not perfect,” makes sense because nobody can be a “perfect” speaker. It is critical for English learners to accumulate experiences like Ms. Yoneda's.

(Interview conducted in Japanese on February 15, 2022)

[Read the English translation of the interview]

[Read the original interview in Japanese]

Takafumi Kurosawa, Professor in the Graduate School of Economics. Interview conducted in Japanese on 9/28/2021 (about 3,700 words).

“Invest in your skills in response to social changes.”

Takafumi Kurosawa, who specializes in economic and business history and economic policy theory, used to conduct his research generally in the Japanese-speaking sphere while also using English, German, and French. However, his style has changed since 2010. He now conducts most of his research activities in English, including editing a handbook for the Oxford University Press, and his network has extended globally. Professor Kurosawa encourages university students to learn as a personal investment in response to changing times.

(Interview conducted in Japanese on 9/28/2021)

[Read the English translation of the interview]

[Read the original interview in Japanese]

Ms. Haruka Furuta (Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, third year of the doctoral program) (Interview conducted in Japanese on Jan. 7, 2022; about 2,900 words in translation)

“Paragraph writing principles are useful in presentations and reading, too.”

Ms. Furuta entered the doctoral program at the Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences after completing the six-year undergraduate program at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences. During her undergraduate years, she developed her English language skills by joining the English Speaking Society (ESS) for medical students and participating in overseas programs. Through the ESS public speaking activities, she mastered the principles of paragraph writing, which she found useful for presentations and speed reading. She continued to participate in overseas programs during her graduate school years. Those experiences and encounters made her interested in working internationally.

(Interview conducted in Japanese on January 7, 2022)

[ Read the English translation of the interview ]

[ Read the original interview in Japanese ]

Mr. Yuuki Kitagawa, Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies, third year of the doctoral program (Conducted in Japanese on Sept. 16, 2021; about 2,700 words)

“Logical organization is critical in academic papers in English.”

Mr. Kitagawa is a doctoral student in the Department of Interdisciplinary Environment at the Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies. He is also a postdoctoral fellow DC1 at the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). He has published several papers in international journals. In this interview, he presents his tips for writing papers and presenting at conferences in English. Nevertheless, he did not expect that he would need to be proficient in English so much until he was assigned to a laboratory in his fourth year of the undergraduate program. Learn ideas from his stories

(Interview conducted in Japanese on Sep. 16, 2021)

[ Read the English translation of the interview ]

[ Read the original interview in Japanese ]

Dr. Kazutoshi Mori, Professor, Graduate School of Science (Conducted on September 14, 2021; Video length: 33 minutes)

“Prestigious academic positions are only available to those who excel in presentation.”

Dr. Kazutoshi Mori is a professor at the Graduate School of Science. He is a renowned scientist who has been considered for the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. As an undergraduate student, he switched from the Faculty of Engineering to the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences to study molecular biology. A decade later, Dr. Mori left his job as an assistant professor at a university in Japan to pursue the research in the United States. After receiving the poster presentation award three consecutive times at a prestigious conference, he began receiving invitations from various international conferences, establishing his global reputation. The video below presents Professor Mori's story, with subtitles.

(Interview conducted in Japanese on September 14, 2021)

[ Watch the video with English subtitles. ]

[ Watch the video with Japanese subtitles. ]

Ms. Hinako Murayama, Graduate School of Science, third year of the doctoral program (Conducted on August 26, 2021; about 4,600 words in translation)

"Language skills are only one aspect of communication skills."

Ms. Murayama is a brilliant young researcher who won Kyoto University’s Tachibana Award in 2021. She has also spent a year at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). At the time of the interview, she was in her third year in the Department of Physics I at the Graduate School of Science. English is natural to her. However, she points out that technical knowledge and compassion for others are more important than English skills.

(Interview conducted in Japanese on August 26, 2021)

[ Read the English translation of the interview ]

[ Read the original interview in Japanese ]

Miwa Tobita (Graduate School of Engineering, second year of the Master’s program) (Interview conducted in Japanese on August 25, 2021; about 3,900 words in translation)

“English is a tool, not a goal.”

Ms. Tobita, a Master’s student (M2) in the Department of Electrical Engineering at the Graduate School of Engineering, did not have any particular experience in studying or living abroad. Despite this, she has been actively participating in international conferences held in Japan since she was an undergraduate student. It was her choice to become familiar with English. Upon entering graduate school, she confined her reading style to books written in English, except for novels. During a poster presentation that she was giving in English, an American researcher showed interest in her presentation and suggested that she join his lab. This episode explains her charming personality and character. Please enjoy her story.

(Interview conducted in Japanese on August 25, 2021)

[ Read the English translation of the interview ]

[ Read the original interview in Japanese ]

A. K., Student at Graduate School of Agriculture (Conducted on August 6, 2021. About 3,000 words)

“Speaking English itself is not so important. Communicating in English is more important.”

A.K., an MA student at the Graduate School of Agriculture, talks about her laboratory life with international students and her plan to study in Taiwan. She also shares her episode of joining a laboratory of an English-speaking ILAS faculty member as a first-year undergraduate student. She suggests that trying to speak perfect English might be counter-productive.

(Interview conducted in English on August 6, 2021)

[ Read the original interview in English ]

[ Read the Japanese translation of the interview ]

Sachi Ando, Junior Associate Professor at Graduate School of Education (Conducted on July 16, 2021. About 8,600 words)

"English is a tool.  Use it first."

Dr. Ando spent 16 years in the U.S. She went there first as a double-degree program undergraduate student, earned a master's degree and a doctorate, and took a position at university.  In this interview, Dr. Ando shares her cross-cultural experiences and thoughts on English.

(Interview conducted on July 16, 2021)

 [ Read the English translation of the interview  ]

[ Read the original interview in Japanese ]