David O. Mills

  • Associate Professor Emeritus, Japanese Language


My primary interest is teaching the Japanese language, and finding better ways to help students learn to communicate in Japanese. I teach various levels of language, including beginning, advanced, and specialized areas such as classical, scientific, and business.

My first visit to Japan was before I had learned any of the language. I remember the feeling of bewilderment at not understanding what people were saying and not being able to read signs or newspapers. How strange to be an adult and yet feel like a helpless child.

I found that learning Japanese is great fun, and it is also very serious business. You will not find fluency in a year, or two, but you do find yourself gradually being influenced by the culture and the thinking that is embedded in all aspects of the language. The author of our textbook reminds us that, for native speakers of English, Japanese is not just more complicated than French, it is a “truly foreign language,” completely new and unexpected, requiring that we look at the world with different eyes and express that reality with different thought patterns. It is truly eye-opening!

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., University of Michigan, 1974. Thesis: A Historical Linguistic Study of the Copula in the Japanese Language
  • M.A., University of Michigan, 1966. Japanese language and linguistics
  • B.A., University of Texas, 1958. Music Theory and Composition, elected to Pi Kappa Lambda (national honorary music society)