Laura’s Trip to Japan

This June, the third Psychology of Language Learning (PLL3) conference took place at Waseda University, Japan.  Japan is one of our biggest markets and a country that we try and visit every few years in order to stay in touch with what’s happening in the Japanese academic book sector. PLL3 therefore gave me the perfect excuse to make my first trip over. As I have recently moved into my new job as Head of Sales, I am keen to learn all about the different markets in which we sell our books, how they differ and the challenges and prospects for each one. I structured my trip with the first part comprising sales meetings, and the conference making up the final (but by no means lesser!) few days.

Koro on the way to a meeting at the National Ethnology Library in Osaka

The first part of the trip provided an ideal opportunity for me to meet our key contacts, ask zillions of questions and to get the kind of understanding of the market that it is impossible to do by email from our office in Bristol. As with several territories, we have a local Japanese rep, Koro, who looks after our key accounts on a day-to-day basis. Having been emailing Koro for the past 8 years, it was great to finally put a face and a personality to an email address.  Koro arranged numerous visits for me during my stay, in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, and was a fantastic source of knowledge of the market. We also bonded over a love of music and fresh air and not panicking when we couldn’t find the right building for a meeting (Japanese maps are a complete mystery to me)!

Spot some of our books in Kinokuniya’s central Tokyo academic bookshop!

We met with booksellers (including our biggest customers Kinokuniya, Maruzen and MHM), librarians, academics and subject specialists, in both linguistics and tourism studies. We have a number of exciting titles which were of specific interest to the contacts, most notably the forthcoming book on akogare (desire) by Japanese author Chisato Nonaka and the recently published 3rd edition of Sport Tourism Development which sparked interested because of the upcoming 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan and Tokyo 2020 Olympics. As well as meetings by day, we went out for drinks and dinner with a number of our contacts, at which I learnt a lot about Japanese culture, food and alcohol!

After the sales part of my trip, I took a day off to reset my brain from sales to editorial work and to enjoy the sights of Tokyo. Sadly, it was a wet break (the rainy season had just begun), but as I had been fortunate enough to enjoy some sunshine the previous weekend, I was not too disheartened to have to spend the day browsing cookware shops on the famous Kappabashi Street and enjoying tea and cake in various tea shops when I needed a break from the torrential downpours!

Laura at the PLL3 conference

The PLL conference is now in its third meeting and I am fortunate to have been able to attend all three (you can also read about previous conferences in Graz and Jyväskylä on our blog) and to see the event evolve and thrive over time. This year, Waseda University welcomed 375 delegates from both across Japan and around the world. Stephen Ryan and his colleagues and students meticulously organised and hosted a conference that both lived up to and went beyond previous editions.

Richard Ryan giving his opening plenary

Among the highlights of the gathering were the plenaries which were always packed and stimulating. Richard Ryan opened the conference with a talk on self-determination theory and Ema Ushioda ended the first day with a thought-provoking talk questioning the social purpose of academic research. The plenaries of the second day saw Mimi Bong introduce her work on achievement goals and Lourdes Ortega asked how the field of PLL can address issues of social justice. On the final morning, Jean-Marc Dewaele gave a rousing introduction to the closing speaker, Zoltan Dornyei, who focused on the topic of perseverance within the domain of motivation. The final slot is always a tough one (especially the morning after the conference dinner!) but it certainly enthused and engaged delegates who hung around in the entrance foyer long after the conference was officially over.

Multilingual Matters book display

Alongside the plenaries, the programme was packed full of sessions and social events. And of course, I was kept busy in the book exhibit. Popular titles included Language Teacher Psychology (edited by Mercer & Kostoulas), Language Learner Autonomy (Little et al), Emerging Self-Identities and Emotion in Foreign Language Learning (Miyahara) and Portraits of Second Language Learners (Muramatsu), which was so hot off the press that I had had to bring copies straight from the office in my suitcase!

The conference was also a good platform for the new IAPLL association to be launched and for delegates to hear more about the benefits of membership. With the new association and another successful conference gone by, the stage is now set for the continued development of this subsection of the field and I am already looking forward to PLL4, which is due to take place in June 2020 in Canada.

Laura

The Internationalization of Japanese Higher Education

This month we are publishing English-Medium Instruction in Japanese Higher Education edited by Annette Bradford and Howard Brown. In this post Annette gives us an overview of what we can expect from the book.

Japanese universities are internationalizing. They are enrolling more international students, sending more students on study abroad programs and infusing an international outlook into many of their degree programs. To help achieve this, spurred by recent government policies for internationalization, universities are rapidly increasing the number of courses and programs taught in English.

In English-Medium Instruction in Japanese Higher Education we provide a thorough picture of the growth in English-medium instruction (EMI) by bringing together researchers from across Japan to provide an on-the-ground perspective of recent developments.

The book is organized into six main sections. The first section, ‘English-Medium Instruction in Context,’ examines the social and policy environment that has allowed the rapid expansion of EMI in Japan. In Chapter 1, we describe the current state of EMI using the ROAD-MAPPING framework conceptualized in 2014 by European scholars Emma Dafouz and Ute Smit. In Chapters 2 and 3 of the book, Hiroko Hashimoto and Bern Mulvey address government education policy and its implications for EMI.

Section 2 of the book, ‘The Implementation of English-Medium Instruction in Japan,’ looks at how programs are planned and developed. In Chapter 4, Hiroyuki Takagi examines EMI courses in relation to the internationalization of the curriculum. In Chapter 5, Beverley Yamamoto and Yukiko Ishikura explore how an entire degree program taught in English can develop and find its place in the university community.

Section 3, ‘Challenges and Solutions for English-Medium Instruction in Japan,’ deals with some of the difficulties facing EMI stakeholders. Chapter 6 by Gregory Poole discusses institutional identity and administrative culture as impediments to EMI implementation. In Chapter 7, Hiroshi Ota and Kiyomi Horiuchi analyze the accessibility of Japanese universities’ English-taught programs for foreign students. In Chapter 8, Sarah Louisa Birchley takes a marketing perspective, examining if EMI programs have reached their full potential.

In Section 4, ‘The Faculty and Student Experience,’ authors consider the roles of faculty members and student participation in and opinions of EMI. Chapter 9 by Chris Haswell focuses on how Asian varieties of English are perceived by domestic and international EMI students in Japan. Juanita Heigham looks at the broader campus experience in Chapter 10, examining the experience of non-Japanese speaking international EMI students as an essential and yet invisible part of internationalization programs. In Chapter 11, Sae Shimauchi presents a study of gender differences in the international outlook of EMI students. In Chapter 12, Bernard Susser focuses on faculty members, and explores his own journey transitioning from language teaching to EMI. Miki Horie reports on the training needs of EMI faculty in Chapter 13.

Section 5 of the book, “Curriculum Contexts”, shifts gears away from policy and research questions and highlights specific EMI practices at three universities around Japan. In Chapter 14, Bethany Iyobe and Jia Li draw attention to the importance of integration and cooperation in a small EMI program. Chapter 15 by Jim McKinley looks at how an established EMI program is transforming in light of a new understanding of the role of English. In Chapter 16, Nilson Kunioshi and Harushige Nakakoji profile how EMI is being implemented for science and engineering students at a top tier university.

In the final section of the book, “Future Directions for English-Medium Instruction”, we wrap up with a look at where EMI might go from here. In Chapter 17, Akira Kuwamura looks at both ethical and practical objections to EMI that have been raised in the literature. And in the final chapter, we, the co-editors, take a look back at an earlier example of innovation and reform in Japanese higher education. We compare IT with the recent happenings in EMI to question whether EMI can become fully embedded within the fabric of Japanese higher education.

For more information about this book please see our website. If you found this interesting, you might also like Rethinking Language and Culture in Japanese Education edited by Shinji Sato and Neriko Musha Doerr. 

Exploring Feminist Pedagogy in TESOL

This month we published The Socially Responsible Feminist EFL Classroom by Reiko Yoshihara. In this post the author explains what inspired her to write the book and what we can expect from reading it.

The main purpose of the book is to explore feminist pedagogy in TESOL (Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages). Although I focus on the teaching practices of self-identified feminist EFL educators in Japanese universities, I hope to make connections to TESOL more broadly. To obtain a deep understanding of their feminist teaching practices, I explored the feminist teachers’ identities and teaching beliefs. The idea for The Socially Responsible Feminist EFL Classroom grew out of the frustration I experienced when I saw and heard of hesitation, resistance and accusations against feminist teaching from other ESL/EFL (English as a second language/English as a foreign language) teachers. What are our responsibilities as university ESL/EFL teachers? What can we do as ESL/EFL teachers to prepare students for their future? Should we teach only English grammar, vocabulary and linguistic information, and have students improve their English proficiency? I believe that our responsibility is to teach social equality and justice along with the language practice and to educate our language students to become socially responsible world citizens. To promote social equality and justice, teaching about global issues, environmental problems, and human rights and gender issues in ESL/EFL classes should be paid attention to.

In order to understand what is going on in the feminist EFL classroom in Japanese universities, I worked with eight participants who were self-identified feminist teachers (three American women, one American man, one British woman, two Japanese women, one Japan-born Korean women) who taught EFL at university level in Japan. To accomplish this goal, I conducted feminist narrative research. Drawing on poststructural feminist theory of identity, I examined the construction of their feminist teacher identities in social and cultural contexts. I also examined stories addressing the questions of what teaching beliefs individual feminist teachers held, how their feminist identities connected with their teaching beliefs and practices, and how they reflected their teaching beliefs in their teaching practices. This examination provided many major and minor ways of feminist teaching in Japanese university EFL classrooms. On the other hand, I found some incompatibility among feminist teacher identities, teaching beliefs and classroom practices. Poststructural feminist views helped examine incompatible relationships between identities, beliefs and practices.

My hope is that this book will succeed in establishing a new direction in language education research by drawing attention to a powerful, yet under-researched group of teachers. Readers with a passion for learning more about feminist pedagogy in TESOL will find inspiration and ideas for moving forward in this pursuit. In addition, I hope ESL/EFL researchers who are interested in feminist teaching will see this book as an invitation to continue the scholarly conversation and to build a research space for investigating feminist pedagogy within the TESOL field.

For more information about this book, please see our website. If you found this interesting, you might also like Identity, Gender and Teaching English in Japan by Diane Hawley Nagatomo and Being and Becoming a Speaker of Japanese by Andrea Simon-Maeda.

Exploring the identities of female English teachers in Japan

This week we published Diane Nagatomo’s latest book Identity, Gender and Teaching English in Japan. In this post, Diane explains the issues faced by Western English teachers in Japan and how they form both their personal and professional identities.

Identity, Gender and Teaching English in JapanIn a nutshell, my research interests generally lie in trying to find out what makes EFL teachers tick. In other words, what makes them do the things that they do in the classroom and their beliefs on how they should go about doing them.

For Identity, Gender and Teaching English in Japan, I focused on the personal and professional identity development of one group of language teachers: foreign women who are married to Japanese men. The ten women portrayed in this book range in age from their mid-twenties to their mid-sixties, and they teach in formal and in informal educational contexts. As wives and mothers of Japanese citizens, they have established deep roots in their local communities throughout Japan. And yet, as non-Japanese, they are not entirely insiders either. In addition, expectations that they should conform to Japanese gendered norms that place priority on the home and the family have shaped nearly every aspect of their lives. Nonetheless, all of the women in my study have demonstrated extraordinary resourcefulness, resilience and resistance in constructing their English language teaching careers.

My goal in writing this book was to let the women tell their own stories: how they operate English conversation school businesses; how they juggle numerous classes in multiple teaching contexts; and how they assimilate into their workplaces as full-time teachers. But I first wanted to situate their stories within the broader sociopolitical context of Japan in the introductory chapters.

So in Chapter 2, I discussed the historical background of language teaching and language learning in some detail, starting with the appearance of the first Europeans in the 1600s and moving to the economic miracle of the 1980s. In Chapter 3, I described the different educational contexts (conversation schools, secondary schools and tertiary institutions) that foreigners generally work in, and I discussed how ideologies toward the teaching and the learning of English in Japan have shaped, and continue to shape the careers of foreign and Japanese teachers. In Chapter 4, I looked at interracial relationships from a historical perspective and from a current one. Attitudes that consider Western men to be ideal romantic partners for Japanese women, but on the other hand, do not consider Japanese men to be ideal romantic partners for Western women, have influenced the experiences of all Westerners with Japanese spouses. In addition, I write about how these gendered attitudes have carried over into the classroom and how they shape the learning experiences of the students as well as those of the teachers.

The stories that are told by my participants in this book are uniquely their own. However, as a foreign woman with a Japanese spouse who has been teaching in Japan since 1979, they strongly resonated with me, and I believe that they will resonate with other expatriate teachers, male and female, who teach English abroad as long-term and/or permanent migrants as well.

Dr. Diane Hawley Nagatomo, Ochanomizu University, Hawley.diane.edla@ocha.ac.jp

Exploring Japanese University English Teachers'€™ Professional IdentityFor more information please see our website or contact Diane at the address above. You may also be interested in Diane’s previous book Exploring Japanese University English Teachers’€™ Professional Identity.

Face and Enactment of Identities in the L2 Classroom

This week we published Face and Enactment of Identities in the L2 Classroom by Joshua Alexander Kidd. The book explores Japanese students’ identities in the English language classroom and outlines a professional development model for teachers to build their pragmatic awareness. In this post, Joshua introduces the key themes of his book.

Face and Enactment of Identities in the L2 ClassroomHow would you describe your book?
It focuses on examining classroom discourse as interpreted through the voices of Japanese students during L2 learning activities. A broad corpus of classroom recordings, student retrospective interviews and teacher interviews are scrutinised with attention to cross-cultural pragmatics, politeness theory, face and identity. The data reveals moments when interpretations of classroom interaction deviate from communicative intentions. Significant disparity is evident between socio-cultural and individual affiliations attributed to language use and the implications for students as they engage in the complex process of forging and performing new identities while adjusting to the unfamiliar demands of the L2 learning environment.

Joshua's daughter youngest daughter on her last day at elementary school
Joshua’s youngest daughter on her last day at elementary school

What is the significance of the cover image?
It was chosen to convey that the heart of the book lies in the journey the students’ generously share through candid reflections. This photograph is of my youngest daughter’s first day at elementary school in Japan and she was thrilled to be carrying her randoseru school bag and partaking in the toukouhan (commuting group). Within the toukouhan the older students, assigned to the head and rear, are responsible for getting members to school safely and on time. This was a particularly exciting time for my daughter as her big sister was hanchou (leader) of the merry band.

Why the focus on face and identity?
Face and identity influence the complex and dynamic ways in which individuals present themselves verbally and non-verbally during interaction. Language and issues of identity are closely bound together, as too are language and the management and negotiation of face. Nevertheless, there has been little attention within the research community to how the constructs of identity and face are interrelated and the impact on the student within the language classroom. These two formidable conceptual areas provide fresh insight into the communicative negotiation of face within the broader framework of identity.

What themes do you examine?
We found that what students and teachers consider standard and conventionally acceptable language use and behaviour differ markedly according to social, cultural and individual frames of reference. Of concern here was that students’ communicative strategies were regularly misinterpreted or disallowed. Pervasive patterns of language use, attitudes, and behaviour were collapsed into four themes for examination:

  • Student collaboration
  • Japanese identities
  • L1/L2 usage
  • Student silence

Analysis was carried out through a composite theoretical framework which draws on a critical account of Brown and Levinson’s ([1978]1987) concept of face duality and notions of social and cultural interdependency, discernment and place as advocated by Japanese scholarship.

You conclude with a professional development model. Why?
This model addresses the crucial question: What does it all mean? Findings highlight the need to actively build teacher/student pragmatic awareness (L1 and L2) in order to facilitate positive learning experiences and strengthen interactive competence. Our model is based on continuing reflection from authentic sites of engagement and follows a pedagogic and exploratory cycle of teaching and learning developed around five phases: Awareness, Knowledge Building, Critique, Action and Evaluation. The model holds that culturally responsive curriculum and teaching practices can foster a classroom environment in which socio-cultural diversity and individuality are valued and celebrated. 

Dr Joshua Alexander Kidd, Utsunomiya University, j.kidd6776@gmail.com

For further information about this book please see our website or contact the author at the email address above.

Demotivation in Second Language Acquisition

This August we published Demotivation in Second Language Acquisition by Keita Kikuchi which explores the issue of why students become demotivated while learning a second language. In this post, Keita tells us a bit more about the cover image of his book and why he chose it.

Demotivation in Second Language AcquisitionYou may be wondering why you find a picture of the cherry blossom, sakura, on the cover page of this book about demotivation in the language learning. When you look at the photo of the cherry blossom petals dancing in the wind like this, what do you see? Do you see it as enjoyable or rather depressing, since their season for the full bloom is over? In Japan, you see the cherry blossom trees as seen in this photo everywhere in spring. When I looked for a graphic for this book on demotivation, I thought this graphic would be a good illustration of my conceptualization of the focus of the book. I see demotivation as the tentative process of lowering motivation in learning languages, and it can be often situational. Also, the way language learners perceive demotivators, what may demotivate them, may be different.

People enjoy having parties and watching cherry blossoms in full bloom at the beginning of spring. In the same way, students are usually excited about their language learning when they start. After a while, however, many of them do not keep studying with the same passion that they had before. Some of them give up. Here, demotivation comes in. Only those who handle demotivation well can succeed in language learning. It’s a time-consuming task. Even though they may not see great outcomes during the process, learners must be persistent in their studies.

Sakura must survive the hot summer and the cold winter throughout the year. Finally, they are in full bloom only for a short time in spring. This whole process reminded me of the long difficult process of language learning. What is demotivation in language learning? What are possible demotivators during the process? Using studies conducted both inside and outside of Japan, I hope this book helps answer these questions.

Language Learning Motivation in JapanFor more information about this book please see our website. You might also be interested in some of our other books on the topic of motivation: Language Learning Motivation in Japan edited by Matthew T. Apple et al and Motivational Dynamics in Language Learning edited by Zoltán Dörnyei et al.

Emerging Self-Identities and Emotion in Foreign Language Learning

This month we published Emerging Self-Identities and Emotion in Foreign Language Learning by Masuko Miyahara. In this post, Masuko introduces the key themes of the book.

Emerging Self-Identities and Emotion in Foreign Language LearningThe main purpose of this book is to shed new light on the understanding of the processes of L2-related identity construction and development among learners studying English in a foreign language context. Although the notion of identity in this study is grounded in poststructuralist theory, it attempts to integrate the sociologically and the psychologically oriented take of identity formation, and calls for a more balanced approach to the subject.

The book focuses on English learners at higher education institutions in Japan, and highlights the instrumental agency of individuals in responding and acting upon the social environment, and in developing, maintaining and/or constructing their desired identities as L2 users. The study is particularly unique in the insights it offers into the role of experience, emotions, social and environmental affordances, and individuals’ responses to these, in shaping their personal orientations to English and self-perceptions as English learners and users. The work includes an intricate analysis of how spatial-temporal dimensions are intertwined through the process of narrative construction as participants relate their thoughts and the researcher represents and interprets their stories.

A further characteristic of this book is its discussion of the use of narrative data in the methodological approach. The study frames narratives as a means to understand experience, where human beings create meanings from their experiences both individually and socially, and it maintains that narrative studies are basically interpretative in nature. Although most researchers tend to focus on the ‘success’ of their studies, the ‘messiness’ involved is brought to the fore in this study. In particular, this paper argues the importance for researchers to develop a critical and reflective framework with their narrative data, and to show how their theoretical assumptions are fed into all stages of the research process. The book concludes by calling for more recognition of the diversity of approaches to narrative studies in applied linguistics that includes multiple forms and styles especially in terms of representation.

For more information about this book please see our website.

Study Abroad and its Extension beyond Language Study

This summer sees the publication of Developing Interactional Competence in a Japanese Study Abroad Context, the latest work by Naoko Taguchi.  In this post, Naoko introduces us to the key themes of her work and what led to her interest in the topic.

“What skills and abilities do you think are important when living in Japan?”

I asked this question to the participants in my study in this book. Instead of answering speaking, listening, or vocabulary knowledge, one student said “singing.” He continued:

“They [Japanese people] do karaoke all the time, and I feel awkward when I just listen to others in karaoke. In China, people play mahjong, but not here. I like to learn how to sing in Japanese. It’s a little weird to sing old songs. They always sing new pop music.”

This episode summarizes what studying abroad really means. It extends far beyond the language study. It involves learning a new cultural practice and participating in it in a manner shared among local members. Through this socialization into a shared practice, language improves as a byproduct.

I have been teaching Japanese language and culture for over a decade, and I often wonder how students learn materials that are not in the textbooks. Obviously what teachers can provide is limited in time and scope, so I have been curious about the nature of independent, incidental learning occurring in a naturalistic setting. A study abroad context is naturally a prime venue to investigate this question, and this research monograph is the outcome.

cover TaguchiDICJ9781783093731This book describes the development of two linguistic features – style shifting and incomplete sentences at turn-taking – among 18 international students during their semester in Japan. These linguistic features do not appear in most Japanese textbooks as learning objectives, but they are indeed critical linguistic resources for interaction in Japanese. Japanese speakers use plain and polite forms skillfully to project social meanings of formality, affect, and hierarchy. They shift between these forms corresponding to the changing course of interaction. They often leave a sentence incomplete and prompt the listener to complete the unfinished turn, which is a feature of interactive turn construction.

These linguistic features indeed developed during a semester abroad among the participants in this study, and the development was grounded in their socialization into the local community. The community consists of a variety of domains of practice, each of which involves distinct settings, goals, memberships, and participant structures. By participating in these diverse communities, the participants learned patterns of speech that are contingent in context. Frequent style-shifting at dinner conversations in homestay, fast-paced, highly interactive talk with a same-age-peer, and participation in the senior-junior relationship in club activities served as venues where speech styles, incomplete sentences, and collaborative turn constructions are constantly observed and practiced. The critical skills while abroad could be summarized as one’s abilities in seeking these opportunities for practice and committing to them as venues for their linguistic and cultural growth.

You can find more information about Naoko Taguchi’s book on our website here.  This work joins our other titles on Japanese learners and study abroad – do search our website for more books on these and similar topics.

Getting to know the Channel View team: Anna

In this blog post we get to know Anna, our Editorial Director, a bit better. Anna has recently returned to the office following the birth of her second daughter and subsequent maternity leave. We’re very happy to have Anna back in the office, not least because she often brings us delicious goods which she and her two girls have baked together!

Anna with her duaghters Elin and Alys
Anna with her daughters Elin and Alys

Anna has an extensive range of cookery books and likes food from around the world, so we wonder what’s the most ambitious or exotic thing you’ve ever cooked yourself?

Ha ha yes, my extensive cookery book collection, which has now grown too big for my house and is finding a second home as the Multilingual Matters cookery library! My partner and I went to Japan for 3 weeks for his 30th birthday, and after we came home I went through a stage of trying to recreate the beautiful meals we had eaten in the ryokan we stayed in – lots of beautiful, elegantly-presented one-or-two-mouthfuls of fish, tempura, vegetables… Something I’m sure no Japanese home cook would be mad enough to attempt on a regular basis, especially if you have to make everything yourself (pickles, dashi etc.) as you can’t buy them here. I don’t have a huge amount of time for adventurous cooking at the moment, as my two small daughters would happily live on spaghetti bolognese and fish fingers given the chance. Alys (3) is a very enthusiastic baking assistant though, and I do have a sourdough starter that I manage to produce a couple of loaves a week from.

I’m looking forward to borrowing a few of your cookery books from the MM library! Your Japan trip sounds pretty epic, would it be too much to ask for a single highlight from a 3 week trip? 

Funnily enough what we talk about the most is not the temples, or the bullet train, or even the food, but a little bar we stumbled across in Tokyo where the owner was an enthusiastic collector of whiskey and jazz vinyl, and we sat for hours discussing music and being allowed to try all the drinks. My favourite bar in the world, and I’d probably never be able to find it again. So either that, or the musical Christmas tree in Kyoto station!

Anna with Alys and Elin
Anna with Alys and Elin

I like the sound of the Christmas tree and agree – it’s so often the way that you can never find a place again in foreign cities! Would you like to return to Japan one day, or are there other countries which are higher up your ‘must visit’ list?

We are planning a return trip to Japan in 2020 for the Olympics. There are so many places I’d love to visit, but my dream trip would be to go all the way from London to Vladivostok via the Trans-Siberian Railway. I’ve never been to Russia and I’ve always been fascinated by it. Possibly because I watched Dr Zhivago too many times at an impressionable age!

I’ve never seen that film but it must be good if you’ve seen it several times! I’m guessing you don’t go to the cinema much now that you have children, but are there any other films that have left an impression on you, either recently or when you were younger?

One film I can remember really unsettling me when I was younger is ‘The Red Shoes’, although thinking about it I now own lots of pairs of red shoes…. I can really clearly remember my first ever trip to the cinema, to see ‘Return to Oz’ (I must have been about 4), we lived a long way from a cinema, so it was a big event. Upsettingly the last two films I saw at the cinema were ‘Penguins of Madagascar’ and ‘Postman  Pat: The Movie’, neither of which have left a lasting impression!

Ah yes, the perils of taking younger viewers to the cinema! Now for your last question of the interview, if you could choose an actress to play you in a film, who would you choose and why?

How to answer this without sounding deluded? I’d like to think it would be Cate Blanchett or Tilda Swinton, with Jane Russell doing the song and dance numbers!

And finally, some quick-fire questions!

High heels or trainers? High heels.
Ketchup or mustard? Mustard. Ketchup is like putting jam on your bacon sandwich.
Crosswords or sudokus? Crosswords.
Stripes or spots? Spots.
Bath or shower? Bath.
Scrambled eggs or fried eggs? Poached eggs all the way.
Printed book or ebook? Printed book.

Thanks Anna! We’re looking forward to hearing more from the rest of the team soon!

Standardization in Japanese Language Education

Editors of our recent book Rethinking Language and Culture in Japanese Education, Shinji Sato and Neriko Musha Doerr, describe how they came to put together this volume and why the topic is important.

Rethinking Language and Culture in Japanese EducationThe current educational climate is dictated by standards and tests. The standardized tests to measure individual aptitude and, collectively, the success of an education system and even the well-being of a nation as a whole. Knowledge is treated as static, commodified and homogenized. In this volume, we ask: What are the effects of this climate of standard tests? What kinds of schools, teachers and students does it reward, and what kind of learning does it encourage? What kind of knowledge does it promote, how does it do so and to what effect? What can educators and researchers do to challenge this climate? This volume seeks to answer these questions by investigating the dynamics of power relations in the processes of the standardization of language and culture and by exploring researchers’ and educators’ roles with a focus on the case of Japan. Japan’s language and culture have undergone such extensive standardization that various popular and academic discourses regard them as homogeneous. This makes Japan an important case for a study on the processes and effects of standardization.

This volume emerged from the editors’ personal and academic engagement with the process of standardization. As a Japanese language educator whose field is educational anthropology, Sato constantly faces the challenge of how to engage with the standard language and variations. He always wonders if he should include variations in the classroom or just focus on the standard language. If he decides to include variations, which variation to include?  When a student uses a variation, should he accept it or correct it as a ‘mistake’?  How to treat the language that some people are actually using as a mistake? Sato asks himself these questions when he teaches Japanese everyday.

As a cultural anthropologist interested in power relations manifested in uses of language as well as discourses around them, Doerr is concerned with how individuals come to desire the standard and various ideologies, concepts, and daily technologies that usher them to do so. Developed from a session on language standardization Doerr organized at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association in 2005, this volume focuses in particular on the standardization of language and culture in Japanese education.

This collection investigates the ways in which ‘language’ and ‘culture’ come to be standardized through various ideologies, representations in textbooks, and in classroom practices. In doing so, the book provides insights into the standardization processes that connect theoretical and practical concerns that researchers and educators may have. The studies on language learning are mainly focused either on acquisition of language/culture (micro-level studies) or on the relationship between languages and cultures (macro-level studies). This book extends to both the micro and macro levels, and to Japanese language education designed for both ‘native’ and ‘non-native’ speakers. By analysing the process of language/culture standardization, this book offers new ideas and awareness to the field of language studies and education.

The cases that this book illustrates cover a wide range of Japanese language/culture standardization processes in numerous contexts: practices of translation during Meiji era Japan, ideologies of standardization of regional dialects throughout the recent history in Japan, practices in college Japanese-as-a-Foreign-Language classroom in the United States, discourses in journals of Japanese language education, and classroom practices in nursery and primary schools in Japan. Few such studies have been published in English, making our contribution all the more important. The viewpoint this volume suggests is useful not only for those involved in teaching Japanese language and culture in and outside Japan as well as in between such borders (i.e. heritage language education), but also for those who are interested in the processes of differentiation, hierarchization, politics of education, multicultural education, bilingual education and globalization as it relates to education.

If you are interested in this title please see our website for more information.