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Author Yoshitake, Masaki
Title The modern language ideology of English pedagogy in Japan: Intercultural and international communication consequences
book jacket
Descript 647 p
Note Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 69-03, Section: A, page: 0912
Adviser: Eric M. Kramer
Thesis (Ph.D.)--The University of Oklahoma, 2008
The purpose of this study is to investigate language ideologies of English language education (ELE) policies in Japan, especially focusing on the implementation of ELE in elementary schools, from the phenomenological perspective. My research questions are: (1) What kinds of language ideologies do the current English language education policies of Japan have; (2) In what way are the language ideologies reproduced in the policymaking process; (3) do implementers of the policies share the same ideologies as policymakers; (4) in what way are the policies implemented; and (5) what are possible impacts of the implementation of the policies going to be on Japanese identities, cultures, societies, and intercultural and international communication? To answer the research questions, I carried out two studies. In Study 1, qualitatively content analysis was conducted on the documents that reflected the viewpoints of policymakers, implementers, industries, and parents as well as the opinion columns of three major newspapers in Japan that explicitly argued for or against ELE in elementary schools. In Study 2, two groups of participants were interviewed: Those in the policymaking side and those in the implementing side
In Study 1, a basic structure was identified underlying the debate, which takes a form of emphasizing the importance of either ELE or national language education. Japanese tend to be exposed to the perspective from the outside, either through their direct experiences or mediated by the mass media, and also tend to hold the senses of crisis and anxiety of loss of Japanese identity because of excessive emphasis on English or isolation from the rest of the world owing to the lack of English abilities. Education emerges as a key to solve such problems and is believed to fulfill the need for international and intercultural communication. Here Japanese language is regarded as supporting the root of Japanese identity, while English language is as the tool that can be used for communicating with the outside of Japan, clearly indicting the subject-object dichotomy
In Study 2, four language ideologies shared by policymakers were elicited: (1) English as a tool for communication, (2) Japanese as a root of identity, (3) other foreign languages for culture-specific communication, and (4) multilingualism as better than monolingualism. Even though the content analyses revealed that there was a debate between the first and the second, all the language ideologies coexisted in policymakers in the way that multilingualism allowed them to be paralleled. It was also found that their language ideologies were significantly based on their personal experiences of English language, and that the Ministry's selection of the members, therefore, made it possible for such language ideologies to be reflected on the policies. Among implementers, the same language ideologies were identified, yet the second received more emphases, particularly when English language domination issues arose. Furthermore, implementers believed that English language education in elementary schools was important, but that they were not as important as other subjects. They had English complex, which made them anxious about conducting English classes, yet the emphasis on communication education rather than on English education allowed them to feel more positive about challenging the classes. Indeed, they tried to be an ideal learner by displaying their attitudes to attempt to enjoy English and communication with foreign teachers. According to implementers, children also liked English classes
Overall, English activities in elementary schools are a Japan's modern project. They are set to respond to today's globalization. Because Japanese people tend to regard themselves as too passive to contact with foreign people and as not fluent in English, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) is trying to change them to more outgoing and self-disclosing so that they can successfully gain a strong sense of identity and manage English language to communicate with foreigners in English. Certainly, learning language changes one's identity, but the Japanese never lose Japanese-ness but retain it, unless Japanese language is abandoned, because what is happening is cultural fusion. Considering the fact that the Japanese tend to hold a rigid dichotomy between the inside as cultural homogeneity (us) and the outside as cultural heterogeneity (them) arising from the Japanese way of childrearing and socialization in which meeting Otherness is avoided, nonetheless, there is a possibility that this MEXT's project might merely expand students' ego, make their sense of community collapse, and end up with accelerating globalization, rather than responding to it
School code: 0169
Host Item Dissertation Abstracts International 69-03A
Subject Education, Language and Literature
Education, Bilingual and Multicultural
Language, Linguistics
Alt Author The University of Oklahoma. Department of Communication
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