The Evolution of English Language Learners in Japan : Crossing Japan, the West, and South East Asia book cover
1st Edition

The Evolution of English Language Learners in Japan
Crossing Japan, the West, and South East Asia

ISBN 9780367375850
Published September 30, 2019 by Routledge
164 Pages

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Book Description

This book seeks a better understanding of the sociocultural and ideological factors that influence English study in Japan and study-abroad contexts such as university-bound high schools, female-dominant English classes at college, ESL schools in Canada, and private or university-affiliated ESL programs in Singapore and Malaysia. The discussion is based not only on data garnered from Japanese EFL learners and Japanese/overseas educators but also on official English language policies and commercial magazine discourses about English study for Japanese people. The book addresses seemingly incompatible themes that are either entrenched in or beyond Japan’s EFL context such as: Japan’s decades-long poorly-performing English education vs. its equally long-lived status as an economic power; Japanese English learners’ preference for native English speakers/norms in at-home Japanese EFL contexts vs. their friendship with other Asian students in western study-abroad contexts; Japanese female students’ dream of using English to further their careers vs. Japanese working women’s English study for self-enrichment; Japanese society’s obsession with globalization through English study vs. the Japanese economy sustained by monolingual Japanese businessmen; Japanese business magazines’ frequent cover issues on global business English study vs. Japanese working women’s magazines’ less frequent and markedly feminized discourses about English study.

Table of Contents

List of illustrations     

1. Japan’s English education and students’ notions about English study     
2. Internationalizing Japan with the help of its Asian neighbors     
3. A new alternative of studying English in English-speaking ASEAN nations     
4. Japanese female students’ positive attitudes toward language study     
5. Japanese (fe)male leaners’ (un)motivation in overseas ESL contexts     
6. The mismatch between Japan’s strong economy and poor English education       
7. Japanese business magazines’ special issues on English study methods: A window on the division between Japan’s business world and formal schooling
8. Japanese women’s magazines’ articles about English study: A window on Japanese women’s status in the business world


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Yoko Kobayashi works at Iwate University, Japan. Since the completion of her doctoral dissertation in 2000, she has published her research papers mainly in international journals, and this book aims to raise her research discussion to a new level.


"In summary, Kobayashi has made an important contribution to our understanding of English language education in Japan. In particular, she has illuminated the impact of gendered discourse on motivation, engagement and the perceived relevance of English among Japanese learners. Furthermore, this volume points towards key changes and opportunities for language education in Japan offered by the growing importance and aspirations of ASEAN nations and the wider Asia region in general. Ultimately, Kobayashi has drawn attention to the underlying ideological factors which continue to hold back language learners in Japan, making this volume vital reading as the nation approaches a future where it must renegotiate its place in Asia and the world." - Levi Durbidge, New Voices in Japanese Studies