An Alternative Approach to Foreign Language Education in Japan with a View toward Becoming a Multicultural Society
In compulsory education in public schools in Japan, foreign language education formerly began in lower secondary schools in principle. From 2011 it was introduced in elementary schools as well. Thus Japanese students in public schools are supposed to have the chance to learn foreign languages for at least several years during their compulsory education. Nonetheless, in reality, their choices are limited: they can learn only English, not other foreign languages, under the current national curriculum. English education is the foreign language education provided in compulsory education in Japanese public schools, and other foreign language education has been neglected. However, Japanese society is not as ethnically homogeneous as it has appeared to be (Burgess, 2007; Okubo, 2008; Tsuneyoshi, 2004). There are about two million foreigners registered in Japan, and more importantly, they are from various countries and regions, including where English is not primarily used (Ministry of Justice, 2012). Thus it can be said that Japan has now become a linguistically and culturally diverse society. Should we still continue to adhere to the “English education only” policy?
KeywordsForeign Language Target Language Compulsory Education Japanese People Foreign Student
- Ertl, J. (2008). International peripheries: Institutional and personal engagements with Japan’s Kokusaika movement. In: N. H. H. Graburn, J. Ertl, & R. K. Tierney (Eds), Multiculturalism in the new Japan: Crossing the boundaries within (pp. 82–100). New York, NY: Berghahn Books.Google Scholar
- Gardner, R. C. (2010). Motivation and second language acquisition: The socio-educational model. New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
- Japan National Tourism Organization (n.d.). Visitor arrivals, Japanese overseas travelers. Retrieved from http://www.jnto.go.jp/jpn/reference/tourism_data/pdf/marketingdata _outband6411.pdf
- JGSS Research Center (n.d.). JGSS-2010. Retrieved from http://jgss.daishodai.ac.jp/ english/surveys/sur_jgss2010.html.
- Kanno, Y. (2008). Language minority education in Japan. In A. Creese, P. Martin, & N. H. Hornberge (Eds), Encyclopedia of language and education (Vol. 9, pp. 237–248). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
- Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology (MEXT) (2011b). Nihongo shido ga hitsuyo na gaikokujin jidoseito no ukeirejokyoto ni kansuru chosa (Heisei 22 Nendo) no kekka ni tsuite [The results of the survey on the reception situation of foreign students who need Japanese instruction (Academic Year 2010)]. Retrieved from http://www.mext.go.jp/b_menu/houdou/23/08/__icsFiles/afieldfile/2011/12/12/1309275_1.pdf.Google Scholar
- Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (n.d.). Section 4 response to a society with a decreasing birth rate: Focusing on childrearing support measures. Retrieved from http://www.mhlw.go.jp/english/wp/wp-hw4/honbun.html.
- Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (n.d.). Table 1. Population by sex (as of October 1 of Each Year): total population, Japanese population (from 2000 to 2010) [Data file]. Retrieved from http://www.e-stat.go.jp/SG1/estat/Xlsdl.do?sinfid=00 0013168601.
- Okubo, Y. (2008). “Newcomers” in public education: Chinese and Vietnamese children in a buraku community. In N. H. H. Graburn, J. Ertl, & R. K. Tierney (Eds), Multiculturalism in the new Japan: Crossing the boundaries within (pp. 171–187). New York: Berghahn Books.Google Scholar
- Sato, K., Okamoto, K., & Miyao, M. (2009). Japan: Moving towards becoming a multi-cultural society, and the way of disseminating multilingual disaster information to non-Japanese speakers. Proceedings of the 2009 International Workshop on Intercultural Collaboration, USA (pp. 51–60). doi:10.1145/1499 224.1499234.Google Scholar
- Seargeant, P. (2009). The idea of English in Japan: Ideology and the evolution of a global language. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
- Terasawa, T. (2011). Japanese people’s valuation of English skills: Sociometric analysis of JGSS-2010. JGSS Research Series, 8, 47–57.Google Scholar
- Vaipae, S. S. (2001). Language minority students in Japanese public schools. In M. G. Noguchi, & S. Fotos (Eds), Studies in Japanese bilingualism (pp. 184–233). Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar