Beginning in April, Tsukuba International School (TIS) has been sponsoring English lectures open to the public on a variety of topics. The last lecture, in June, featured Japanese astronaut, Mamoru Mohri, who described his experiences in space. The next lecture will be Saturday, September 28, 2002 at 10:30 am and will feature Mr. Yuichi Takayanagi, a well-known science commentator on NHK. The venue will be the same as the first lecture, the Oho Kominkan (Public Hall) near the shopping district north of Tsukuba University (just south of where Nishi Odori intersects with Higashi Odori.
Takayanagi san will be speaking from his wealth of experience in interviewing English-speaking people for Japanese TV programs. He says that for him English was at first simply a tool with which to elicit information from English-speaking people, but he later began to discover that it became a means by which he could express himself in ways that would not happen in Japanese. He plans to give numerous illustrations of interview experiences, including ones that he learned from because they didn't go well. He says that it took him a long time to realize that he was not likely to get a good response with just a general question such as, "Could you give me your opinion about that?" or a general request such as, "Please explain about that." Instead, he discovered that an important prerequisite for eliciting an interesting response was to make the question or request more specific, such as "Please tell us how you would explain this to a child in 3 minutes," and "What is it that got you interested in this subject?"
While this principle would apply to any language, Takayanagi san will describe how he discovered and developed that concept through the use of English. English is a language that does not lend itself to the type of ambiguity common in Japanese, and so he found that his immersion in the English-speaking world forced him to clarify his thoughts and determine what he really needed to know and how to ask for that information.
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