Nice to meet you. My name is Michael Brown. I grew up in the northwest part of the USA, in the states of Oregon and Montana. Western Oregon is famous for its lush, green forests. Montana, on the other hand, has beautiful mountains and wide-open spaces – people have given it the nickname “Big Sky Country”. Both of these places are popular with fans of the outdoors and from a young age I’ve enjoyed being outside, in the woods, in the mountains, and generally enjoying Nature’s beauty.
For college, I attended Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. It was there that my interests in languages and cultures developed, and I started a path that brought me to working at Komazawa Women’s University. Although I began college as a literature major, I started taking Japanese classes to fulfill a foreign language requirement. Of course, studying a foreign language means learning about culture and history, too. I quickly realized that I knew very little about Japan or Asia in general. During my second year at Willamette, I changed my major so that I could focus on anthropology, history, and sociology in Asia.
After graduation, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work in Japan teaching English. I found Japan to be a place that I could imagine living in for a long time, and I enjoyed teaching very much. I continued my studies and completed two master’s degrees, focusing on linguistics and language education, at the Open University of the UK; and I completed a certificate in ecolinguistics at the University of Gloucestershire. This has led to my area of research and teaching being at the intersection of English education, how English is actually used today, and the role of language in various cultural, social, and environmental contexts.
I feel very lucky that I have been able to have work and education experiences on multiple continents. Bringing an international feeling, a feeling of connection, is at the center of my beliefs about English education and communication. Studying a foreign language opened up the world for me in unexpected ways. I strongly believe that studying English can have a similar effect for students in Japan. Studying language and culture provides an opportunity to broaden our perspectives. Our time at university is one of the best times to grasp such an opportunity.