Carol Begg - The International Academic Forum

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Carol Begg - The International Academic Forum

The Modern Returnee: Lessons from Kikokusei for Cosmopolitan/TransculturalEnglish EducationCarol Begg(pp. 601-613)The Asian Conference on EducationOfficial Conference Proceedings 2011ISSN: 2186-5892Proceedings URL: http://iafor.org/ace_proceedings.htmliaforThe International Academic Forumwww.iafor.org


The Third Asian Conference on Education 2011 Official ProceedingsOsaka, JapanThe Modern Kikokusei:Connotations of Returnee English Maintenance and Usage in Modern JapanCarol BeggKanda University of International Studies, Chiba, Japan.carol-b@kanda.kuis.ac.jpwww.carolbegg.com601


The Third Asian Conference on Education 2011 Official ProceedingsOsaka, JapanAbstractThe English language holds a dichotomous position within the Japanese education system andnational psyche. As an academic subject it is an objectively measureable component of theeducatio-examination system. As a language, English is seen as a tool to increase Japan'sinternational standing in our ever shrinking, globalised world and a vessel for intangible notions ofcosmopolitanism and global citizenship.Returnees/Kikokusei have been the focus of numerous studies, and divided perceptions of theseindividuals as being less/more Japanese or more/less ‘westernised' are giving way to more roundedinterpretations of their status at trans-cultural or Third Culture Kids. However, have these lessons inlearners'socio-cultural identity been learnt by educators and should these be applied more broadly toall English language learning settings?Language is more than a communicative tool, it is part of a culture but that culture does not need tobe drawn along national lines. In ascribing a nationally determined social identity to languagelearning and ability, many foreign and indigenous English language teachers emotionalise language.These perceptions weaken teachers' ability to objectively recognise applications of English appositeto the learner. We do not need to dicotomise learners' L2 selves as national or foreign, they can be‘a citizen of the world'. In embracing a more cosmopolitan interpretation of English as a globalculture a socio-cultural negotiation of learners' L2 selves can occur. Learners are empowered to settheir own language learning goals and determine their place in the global community, not only thatof their language educators602


The Third Asian Conference on Education 2011 Official ProceedingsOsaka, JapanCarol BeggKanda University of International Studies, Chiba, Japan.carol-b@kanda.kuis.ac.jpwww.carolbegg.comThe Modern Kikokusei: Connotations of Returnee English Maintenance and Usage inModern JapanThe English language holds a dichotomous position within the Japanese education system andnational psyche. As an academic subject, English is a fundamental component of universityentrance exams. The omnipresence of these exams permeate all aspects of middle and secondaryeducation, creating an “educatio-examination system” (Mc Veigh 2002: 41) dependent on objectiveand measurable linguistic ability to ferry the brightest into and beyond tertiary education. As acommunicative language, English is seen as a tool to increase Japan’s international standing in ourever shrinking, globalised world. Although homogeneously minded, with a foreign population ofless than 2% 1 (Tsuneyoshi. 2004: 61), Japan has still experienced globalisation in the forms ofbusiness and what has been termed an “internal internationalisation” (Tsuneyoshi. 2004: 54).English embodies quixotic ideals of self-cultivation, edification, cosmopolitan lifestyle (Mc Veigh2002: 41) and the problematic concept of internationalism that promises greater global acceptancewhilst agitating nationalistic sentiment that English may be a vessel for the diluting of a proudculture.For those who accompany family members transferred to English-speaking countries, Englishbecomes a means of surviving in a new environment; what was a sterile communicative codebecomes a living language, imbued with its own cultural identity. When these nomads return toJapan the language’s purpose becomes less obvious. The complex nature of Japan’s relationshipwith the wider world means that English, as representative of the world beyond Japanese borders,and an overt proficiency in the language provokes immoderate opinions and reactions. Those whoexperience these most acutely are kikokusei or returnees, who are Japanese that have acquired bothlanguage competency and frequently an alternative sociocultural perspective during their family’ssojourn. Caught between contrasting societies, kikokusei become representative of the Japanesedilemma of nationalism confronting internationalisation. They are victims of their linguisticsuccess, perceived to be denouncing their heritage through their proficiency in and continued use ofEnglish.Kikokusei/Returnees have been the focus of numerous studies, most concerning the problems theyencounter during re-entry. Kikokusei occupy an ambivalent position in Japanese society. In onesense, they are 'the nail that sticks out' 2 ." (Kanno 2000a: 4). "Most complaints center on difficultiesof language and social attitudes upon return." (Ching Lin Pang. 2000: 167) from both returnees,non-returnees and their teachers. The "kikokushijo mondai 3 " [or] the returnee children problem"(Goodman 1993: 1) came to prominence in the 1980s. Returnees became seen as a social issue. Thequestion for educators is what to do with these adolescents, handicapped by their sojourn, lacking inJapanese-ness and perceived as non-Japanese (Ching Lin Pang. 2000: 167). They contracted anegative image as “undisciplined, stuck-up [and] argumentative,” assertive in their opinions(Nakabayashi in Ching Lin Pang. 2000: 169). With their perceived mastery of English, returneesalso garnered accusations that they were part of “[a]n 'emerging class of elite children'" (Goodman1993: 4). No longer casualties of Japanese internationalisation, they can also be seen as privileged1 “In 2002, there were 1,851,758 registered foreigners, constituting 1.45% of the total population of Japan, small byinternational standards, but a 44.5% increase compared to a decade ago.” (Tsuneyoshi. 2004: 61)2 A Japanese axiom, ‘the nail that sticks out gets hammered’ denoting the need to conform to the group.3 The kanji used to form shijo in kikokushijo is also representative of female. As such some researchers and returneesprefer to use the more neutral kikokusei. (Kanno 2002: 17)603


The Third Asian Conference on Education 2011 Official ProceedingsOsaka, Japanand exempted from the hardship of university entrance exams by virtue of their discerned ease oflinguistic competency and the tokubetsu waku or special quota system.It would, however, be imprudent to identify all returnees as proficient English users. It would befurther ill-considered to see them all as ‘westernised’; gregarious and opinionated. Although suchpolarization of any ethnolinguistic group can never be more than stereotyping, human nature andthe emotive connotations English and English proficiency have in Japan mean that such conclusionsare frequently drawn. Japanese educators might feel that in rejecting cultural norms, returnees aredisadvantaging themselves, reducing their employability. For many foreign teachers in Japan, thereis a strong temptation to tie English proficiency with subscription to a western culture. Manybecome vehement, ascribing a social identity to language ability, many native and Japanese Englishlanguage teachers emotionalise language learning and retention. These perceptions weakenteachers’ ability to objectively recognise applications of English apposite to the returnee.Goodman’s (1993) chapter on who kikokushijo/kikokusei are, shows that although the term hasbecome accepted as proper Japanese (1993: 10), classification of kikokusei can vary amongstgovernment agencies, educational institutions and between individuals. The one consistent criteriais that the decision to be overseas was not made by the individual. He or she must haveaccompanied their expatriate parents on an overseas placement. While overseas their children areexposed to different societies, cultures, languages and school systems (Ching Lin Pang. 2000: 35).Families located overseas for a period greater than three months qualify for kikokusei status underJapanese government guidelines although time-determined status within individual returneeprogrammes is dependent on the educational institution or company concerned (Goodman.1993:13). Although the average stay of temporary transient professional families in Britain isbetween three and five years, they are often likely to spend further time abroad in additionalcountries, mainly in North America, Europe and the Middle East, making their total time away fromJapan much longer and variable (Aizawa in Yamada-Yamamito, Richards, 1998: 27).Perhaps trying to reflect the multinational construct of kikokusei’s international experience, the termThird Culture Kid, or TCK was coined by Useems in 1963 (Fail, Thompson, Walker. 2004: 320)capturing the international element of the returnee experience. Other multinational epithetscontained in Fail, Thompson and Walker (2004: 320) include ‘global nomad’ and ‘transculturals’,with each emphasising the profusion of cultures kikokusei experience. Whichever term is preferredand indeed whichever country or countries the kikokusei has sojourned in, all will experience somedegree of divergence from their non-returnee peers upon returning to Japan. As we have seen in theprevious chapter Japanese society finds conflict in difference while wanting to encourage a moreinternational perspective. Kikokusei, therefore, inhabit a contradictory position in Japanese society(Kanno. 2000a: 4); their different perspectives and behaviour can be a cause of conflict and weakenimportant societal relations. The different socialisation process experienced and subsequentlyinternalised by kikokusei in their host country means that they are often at odds with the cultural,social and communicative norms of Japan (Kanno. 2000b: 363. Takeuchi, Imahori and Matsumoto.2001. 316, Uehara.1986:56). Those who have sojourned in Western countries can be more assertiveand individualistic than their peers (Yoshida et al. 2003: 642). At the same time they areinternationalised Japanese embodying a valuable business resource of bilingual, biculturalambassadors, not to be squandered.Each returnee experiences repatriation differently, but all confess to feeling different (Yoshida et al2003: 642, 2002: 430), some not only during the reentry process but throughout their lives (Oikawa,Yoshida 2007: 642). Those who have sojourned to other countries and returned with an affinity forthem may find themselves branded as no longer Japanese (Ching Lin Pang 2000, Goodman 1993,Kanno. 2000a, 2000b, 2002). Since the economic boom of the 1980s the image of kikokusei hasendured undulations of approval and condemnation. The importance of university entrance exams604


The Third Asian Conference on Education 2011 Official ProceedingsOsaka, Japanwithin the Japanese education system has played no small part in this, with the Japanese mediapainting kikokusei first as disadvantaged victims of Japan’s quest for international economic power,then as privileged elite before penultimately branding them as unfairly advantaged; exempted fromthe ‘exam hell’ by virtue of an easily won language ability (Mori 2002: 27).Although modern kikokusei encounter less discrimination than in the past (Yoshida et al 2002,2003, 2009. Kanno 2000a. Mitchell 2005) they can still feel socioculturally isolated and alienatedfrom their former host country and Japan (Kanno 2000a, 2000b, 2002. Yoshida et al. 2009). Theirbilingual ability and international perspective can afford returnees preferential treatment in terms ofwork and education, but some establishments are reluctant to admit kikokusei, fearing that they willbe unable to conform to a Japanese work environment. They are potentially handicapped (Yoshidaet al 2003: 642). With so many returnees experiencing similar reintegration difficulties these issueshave become wider social problems that fall under the umbrella term the Returnee Problem (ChingLin Pang. 2000: 169).Japanese communication is thought to be predominately non-verbal, incorporating many societydependentdiscourse features, which must be attested to allow successful discourse to occur. Asidefrom the fundamentals of the host country’s language (grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation),many returnees also internalise the communicative norms of the host nation (Takeuchi, Imahori andMatsumoto. 2001: 316). The stereotypical image of kikokusei as more outspoken and opinionatedthan their non-sojourned peers suggests that they keep their host nation’s communication styleseven when they are using the Japanese language (Takeuchi, Imahori and Matsumoto. 2001: 317).Yamada-Yamamito (1998: 59) observed increased eye-contact between Japanese sojourners inBritain, a behaviour at odds with the traditional Japanese custom of minimal eye contact. Asanother example, while Americans prefer direct communication styles, the Japanese tend to reachdecisions through group consensus and indirect communication styles. In such casescommunication adjustment and readjustment needs to occur or kikokusei using direct forms ofcommunication might be interpreted as confrontational, face-threatening (Takeuchi, Imahori andMatsumoto. 2001: 316) and ignorant (Kanno 2002) by those around them. Ching Lin Pang (2000)gives numerous other points of conflict between kikokusei and non-returnee peers and teachers,including a lack of team spirit (shuudankunren no ketsujo) and an overdeveloped self-consciousness(jikoshuchoo ga tsuyosugiru) (Ching Lin Pang. 2000:167). She also highlights the unease manykikokusei have when interacting with other non-returnees and the bullying that can occur.Feelings of belonging and difference present themselves differently in each individual and areunpredictable emotional responses to external occurrences, and as such they cannot be mediatedthrough generalised educational programmes (Fail, Thompson, Walker. 2004: 322). Simplisticrepresentations of Japan as bad and backward, and the host country as good and progressive areeasily adopted when kikokusei experience disillusionment either through bullying or simply beingdisabused of an idealised image of Japan. Kanno (2000a, 2000b, 2002) determined there to be twomethods of readjustment. In the first there is a differentiated pattern of reintegration in which thekikokusei refuses to assimilate to Japanese norms and disassociates themselves from mainstreamJapanese society. In the second pattern of readjustment, the kikokusei would minimise the culturalgap between himself or herself and his or her peers, assimilating or trying to reintegrate withJapanese societal norms.Nurturing the cultural knowledge of bilinguals has a positive effect on language development, andfor those kikokusei who have built their identity around this ability, maintenance of their L2 must besupported (Kanno 2000a: 14). However the issue of linguistic identity is a complex one. Studies(Ervin-Tripp 1968) have shown personality differences in the ways bilingual and multilingualsubjects completed the same sentences in their L1s and L2s; with respondents giving contradictoryendings to the same sentence. In her 2006 study, Pavlenko observed that while respondents605


The Third Asian Conference on Education 2011 Official ProceedingsOsaka, Japanappeared to exhibit different selves in each of their languages, some indicated that they felt morereal or natural in their L1s than in their L2s (2006:18). Other studies (Grosjean 1982) haveconcluded that it is the environment and culture surrounding the discourse that is more likely toalter the bilingual’s response. Both observations seem to support Pavlenko’s (2006: 18) assertionthat the Jungian psychoanalytical principle of the inner self, the hara of the Japanese ideology, andthe persona, a mask used in social interactions, is at play in the minds of bilinguals andmultilinguals.Edwards (in Kanno 2000a: 2) reminds us that language is more than a communicative tool, it is partof a culture (be that local or global) and can serve as an emblem of groupness. Kikokuseithemselves exhibit a proclivity for dichotomised interpretations of identity, believing that they mustidentify with either Japan or their host country (Yoshida 1999: 6). Oikawa and Yoshida (2007)argue that biethnic individuals in Japan forge their sense of identity through their difference andexclusion from the dominant social group. If we take identity to be one’s own interpretation of self,created from our interactions with others (Looking-glass Self Theory) and our own internaldiscourses, this notion of identity through difference can also be applied to kikokusei. If their peersindicate that they should identify themselves only on lines of nationality, then rigid views of ethnicidentity will persist. If however kikokusei are exposed to more fluid and unique interpretations ofself, perhaps a less dogmatic sense of identity will emerge. Kanno (2002) notes that it is inadolescence that kikokusei experience the greatest number of identity issues, but once at universityage or in college, surrounded by a more socially (if not ethnically) diverse circle of interaction,kikokusei become more accepting of their transcultural identity.There is evidence to suggest that returnees have more developed concepts of public civility andtolerance than non-returnees. Ching Lin Pang (2000. 172) has suggested that due to the constantchameleon-like nature of kikokusei’s persona switching and identity formation and theirinternational experiences, they are more critically self-aware and are better equipped to objectivelyevaluate Japanese or even Western culture. Mok and Morris (2010) discovered that individuals withlow BII (Bicultural Identity Integration) are more likely to question untruths than those who weremore assimilated into the dominant socioculture. Hood (2001:64) has suggested that kikokusei areimportant instruments for the reform of Japan’s relatively insular mentality stating that by changingJapanese attitude towards those with international experience a change in Japan’s internationaloutlook will be brought about. Non-returnees also benefit linguistically and culturally frominteraction with kikokusei (Lincicome 1993: 142). Here again we see the notion of kikokusei being“'valuable assets for Japan' who [will] lead Japan into the next century" (Fry 2007: 133-4).Many of kikokusei’s identity issues do not originate from internal conflicts, but rather externalexpectations and demands for them to define themselves as Japanese or non-Japanese (Yoshida, K.1999: 5). Returnees' cosmopolitanism is evident with 27% of Third Culture Kids in Sharp’s 1987study proclaiming “it was better to be a citizen of the world than of one particular country“ (Fail,Thompson, Walker. 2004: 321). Disputation occurs when kikokusei are asked to identify themselvesas Japanese or not, or believe that they must behave in particular way in order to gain groupacceptance. Regardless of linguistic ability, in 1988, Pollock indicated that individuals who areexposed to and develop a relationship with two or more cultures will incorporate elements ofboth/all of the cultures without taking complete ownership of any (Fail, Thompson, Walker 2004:320). They are more than the simple depictions of the past; they should be thought of as ThirdCulture Kids (TCK), transculturals or global nomads (Fail, Thompson, Walker 2004: 320) to bettercapture the essence of bilingual and bicultural individuals’ identity. Such individuals develop theiridentity and sense of belonging with others of similar backgrounds. In situations where TCKs havehad to manage their identities and shake off their sojourn experiences and communicative or socialnorms, these dormant traits reemerge in interactions with those of similar backgrounds, including606


The Third Asian Conference on Education 2011 Official ProceedingsOsaka, Japanforeign students and staff (Fail, Thompson, Walker 2004: 323).Code-switching and code-mixing are constant elements of a bilingual space. As monolingualsadjust their register and language use relative to the status of the interlocutors, so too do bilingualswith shared linguistic knowledge. Furthermore, while there is sometimes semantic convergencebetween languages, certain concepts cannot be as clearly expressed in particular languages as theycan in others. The Japanese word genki for example represents the English notions (amongst others)of vitality, wellness and enthusiasm, but is not fully expressed by any direct translation. Bilingualsfocus less on language prejudices than monolinguals do (Hamers, Blanc. 1989: 133). Inenvironments where bilinguals are present we find a compound bilingual space in which codeswitchingis likely to be employed (Van der Meiji, Zhao. 2010: 397). Equally, those who havelearnt their languages in distinct environments internalise many sociocultural aspects of specificdiscourse tasks (story-telling, self-disclosure, negotiation), meaning that bilinguals will responddifferently to each task, performatively and linguistically when compared to monolinguals(Pavlenko 2006:17). Code-switching and code-mixing allows shared discourse to happen moreeffectively and efficiently. It is therefore better to view the bilingual space, such as the JapaneseKikokusei English language classroom, not as a space with two distinct languages but as a spacewith one intertwined language that can support both the linguistic goals and transcultural identitiesof those within it. Utilizing all the linguistic and cultural resources of the bilingual class is desirableand serves a functional purpose (Van der Meiji, Zhao. 2010: Abstract.)As has been discussed previously, the subjective and emotional qualities of the returnee experienceand Kikokusei Mondai amongst educational establishments precludes a universal, one-size-fits-all,remedy or support system. As with any good application of pedagogic methodology teachers andschool officials must tailor their approach to the needs and wants of their kikokusei. The schoolplays an important socialisation role. It is a “cultural transmission apparatus” that can impart thedominant systems of the society (Nakaga. 2003: 82); it reflects the wants of the society but also hasdirect access to the needs of the internal stakeholders. Therefore, it can serve as a place ofsociocultural negotiation at a local level, where the fundamental cultural norms of Japanese society,those needed for a harmonious integration of kikokusei’s bicultural identity and Japaneseconventions, can be consolidated with the internationalised qualities and experiences of returnees.Teaching aspects of a country’s culture has become a much lauded component of modern ELTpractice (Duff, Uchida 1997: 454-5) and should therefore sit comfortably with ELT professionals.By involving all those with interests in kikokusei education - parents, Japanese and expatriateteachers, educational administrators and government (educational guidelines) - we are empoweringthe decision-makers to become collaborators and are encouraging the appreciation of culturaldiversity (Nakaga. 2003: 89). "The most important, but most difficult part of multiculturaleducation is changing teachers' attitudes" (Nakaga 2003: 91).With the majority of ELT methodology emanating from the Western, so-called individualist,cultures any classroom practice that professed to be learner-centred would surely have to besubjected to some adaptation to the culture of the learners. However, in learning environmentswhere teachers do not have a well-defined image of themselves within the expatriate setting theywill find difficulty when negotiating their role in the Japanese English education dynamic 4 . Ineducational contexts where the students and teachers share sociocultural commonality, a shared setof assumptions will scaffold their interactions; however, where there is no or little common ground- such as an expatriate Western teacher or Westernised kikokusei in the Japanese education system -culture clashes are apt to occur (Flowerdew Miller 1995: 345-346). Furthermore, it is tempting forWestern-educated teachers to affirm and even participate in the chorus of dissonance about the4 Duff, Uchida 1997: 474, state that the negotiation of the teachers role in general would be undermined by alack of confident identification. I have used my own experiences and reading to make this assumptionwithin the Japanese ELT environment.607


The Third Asian Conference on Education 2011 Official ProceedingsOsaka, Japanfailings of Japan and Japanese cultural norms, but it is ultimately the responsibility of the teacher toencourage students to explore such tribalised assumptions (Kanno 2002) thereby empoweringstudents to forge their own opinions and identity. Monetro-Seibruth say that perhaps the greatestpriority of the bilingual teacher is “to raise the students’ morale and strengthen their sense of worthand identity, in the context of their own culture” (Montero-Sieburth, Perez. 1987: 185).The interests of this study were to determine the role(s) of Kikokusei-English relevant to theindividual and identify any commonalities among respondents. Two questionnaires, in both Englishand Japanese, were used to collect the data. The first was based on Yashiro’s (1992) researchframework of L2 maintenance and the Yoshida et al. (2009) seventy-four point questionnaire onreturnee experiences. The first questionnaire contained twenty-four points including sentencecompletion tasks, multiple choice closed-ended questions and open-ended questions. The secondaryquestionnaire, although presented in a questionnaire format, was designed to be answered throughany chosen medium, and contained three short answer, open-ended questions. The data collected iscomplementary to that of the previous studies and work conducted in the area of kikokusei issues.Themes of identity, internationalism, utility and pride arose and paint a complex image of whatKikokusei English represents to its users and how they employ this linguistic ability in their lives.For me, English is…“was, and still is a large part of my life.” 20, Female.“ part of who I am. “ 20, Female.“ a way of life.” 18, Unknown.“ the language that lets me easily express my feelings.” 18, Female.Kikokusei English is a part of respondents’ lives both as an emblem of their difference andmarginalisation from mainstream Japanese society, but also as a symbol of their unique attributesand perspectives. The use of the word “part” in the above quotes indicates that through theirlanguage abilities and interactions with others of similar backgrounds and or linguistic abilities,these kikokusei forge their own identities which are differentiated from those of monoculturalindividuals. The response from a participant on the second questionnaire accentuates this notion andhighlights the emblematic nature of Kikokusei English.What is English for kikokusei in Japan today?“a necessity one key factor that sets us apart from other students.” 20, Male.Another respondent saw English as medium to express sentiments that were not communicable inJapanese. In Ervin-Tripp’s 1964 study, where participants were given the same sentencecompletion tasks in both English and Japanese, the findings showed that the respondent’s answersvaried between the language options. Her respondents demonstrated different viewpoints andpriorities in each language. Respondents on the second questionnaire supported these dualisticnotions of self with the indication was that aspects of the kikokusei self were simply not expressiblein Japanese:For me, English is…“it is part of who I am. English helps me express the other part of me that I cannot express inJapanese.” 19, Female.For me, English is…“a language tool and something which keeps me international than being national. Whenever Ispeak English, it is a great chance to express my ideas which could not be expressed in mymother-tongue (Japanese)” 21, M, JLR.608


The Third Asian Conference on Education 2011 Official ProceedingsOsaka, JapanInternationalism has been the driving theory behind English Language Teaching and returnee L2maintenance in Japan. It is not surprising then to find this theme within this study’s data. Thissentiment could have its genesis within the Japanese educational ethos or could again illustrate thetranscultural nature of kikokusei as international rather than national. Replies contained reference toInternationalism, including straightforward statements attaining to links between cultures andpeoples:For me, English is…“...a thing that connects me with other cultures.” 18, Female.“...a tool to communicate with people from around the world” 20, Female.And more complex assertions that English had changed the respondent’s way of thinking andaltered their future:For me, English is…”...what changed my views about the world, and what changes my future.” 19, Female.”...a secondary language, and my life’s change” 18, Female.“...a language that completely changed my life by letting me see the whole wide world.” 18,Female.As none of the respondents explicitly identified their English ability as a means of working or livingabroad we could draw the conclusion that Kikokusei English shares many traits with the ‘healthyinternationalism’ set down in the Mombushu, Kutogakku Gakushu Shidoyory (Lincicome 1993:123). This would be salient for those administering returnee programmes as they would need toreflect the cosmopolitan and Westernised socioculture of Kikokusei English. Were this conclusionaccurate, it would also mean that the mindset of kikokusei was less oppositional to the progressiveJapanese cultural ideology of individualism within a framework of mutual obligation andcooperation (Fukuzawa, LeTendre. 2001:38) and notions of kokusaijin who are part of both theJapanese and the international community.“For me, English is a capital to surpass my competitors in different occasions of the society.Ability to speak English is highly valued in Japanese society, but not all English learners canobtain that. “ Unknown age, Male.When reviewing the qualitative data, the theme of Kikokusei English as a tool emerged and could beseen either in explicit reference to it as such, through mention of English as a second language or invery detailed descriptions of the advantages it affords.For me, English is…“… the most important ability I have” unknown, Female“…a great advantage while living in Japan, but a basic necessity to survive in the internationalcommunity.” 19, Male.The data here indicates that there is an instrumental motivation for the maintenance of KikokuseiEnglish, perhaps with complex interconnected orientations (Gardner, MacIntyre. 1991:58) ofintegrative reasons - desire to be international, connected to their previous experiences or part of thekikokusei community - and practical instrumental needs. The majority of responses to the secondquestionnaire questions (in which gender and age was not asked for), Should returnees maintaintheir English when they return to Japan? and What is English for kikokusei in Japan today?yielded indications of the instrumental value of L2 maintenance.“English is an advantage for returnees in Japan. Whether it is for getting good grades in609


The Third Asian Conference on Education 2011 Official ProceedingsOsaka, Japanschool by being able to devote time to other subjects, acing college entrance exams, or gettinga job, English acts in favor of returnees…”One respondent seemed particularly unambiguous in his or her sentiment, suggesting that KikokuseiEnglish was only a means of entering university. The tone is also perplexing as it seems to carryundertones of what might be jealousy or disappointment. His or her repeated use of the pronoun“they” suggests an emotional detachment and that perhaps he or she has adopted a very criticalposition when answering this question. Without knowing the respondent’s English knowledge (asthis would determine the validity of his or her utterance), personal background and character better,it is hard to draw any conclusions from his or her contribution, beyond the simple Utility thematicnature of it:“In my opinion, English is just a tool to pass entrance exams for universities for kikokusei.Because of being kikokusei, they can take exams much easier than exams which normal highschool students have to take. After kikokusei have passed the exam they do not have toelaborate their English skills unless they belong to English literature department or otherlanguage departments.”The respondent took a less scathing approach when asked, “What is English to you?” While stillconcluding that English was a tool he or she stated that there was a sense of pride in his or herlanguage competence:“English is a tool to communicate. Being an English speaker does not mean that I am betterthan other Japanese people. It just makes me to be able to communicate with more people.However, I am proud of myself for being English speaker.”When answering the same question, another respondent demonstrated that Kikokusei English wasalso a tool for international understanding, a salient premise of the Mombushu, Kutogakku GakushuShidoyory (Lincicome 1993: 123). The juxtaposition of these themes again supports more complexframeworks of motivation involving both integrative and instrumental processes (Dornyei 1994:520) and a need for achievement (Warden, Lin 2000: 537).“English is a tool that is necessary to communicate with people around the world. I believethat what is important is not just having the ability to read and write, but to be able to say youropinions clearly and understand other people’s views.”As we have seen, English has a complex and fluctuating relationship with mainstream Japaneseculture and kikokusei are the vanguard of the debate over the place of English in Japan and Englishlanguage education. The cultural identity of kikokusei cannot be measured with polarisednationalistic dimensions of former host and home countries. Studies have concluded that returneeshave a unique identity as kikokusei (Sasagawa, Toyoda and Sakano. 2006: 334) and thusdichotomised socio-educational objectives of making them more or less national or foreign aremisplaced and detrimental. The same could be argued of English language education for nonreturnees.The instruction of English should embrace more of the principles of English as anInternational Language - an international perspective underlined with local needs - than the survivaland integrative objectives of English as a Second Language. With this shift in emphasis, there willbe a greater focus on the local needs of students: the instruction of practical skills, and lesssignificance placed on the adoption of ‘Western’ communicative norms or specific lexical items. Ashift in pedagogic focus towards a transcultural, compound bilingual environment could perhapsfoster more acceptance of code-switching and mixing, which would again strengthen students’sense of ownership of English.610


The Third Asian Conference on Education 2011 Official ProceedingsOsaka, JapanMuch of the literature written on Japan by expatriate educators contains and elucidates the negativeconnotations of Japan and Japanese society as closed and regressive (McVeigh 2002: 29, 3).Prejudiced views, from both Japanese and foreign educators, only serve to emotionalise the debateon educational reform and hinder the development of effective language programmes for returneesand non-returnees. Teachers and students bring their own sociocultural identities to the languageclassroom. As both expatriate teachers and Japanese educators play vital roles in the Englisheducation, more harmony among educators is needed if students are to develop the confidence andskills to succeed in their future goals, whatever and wherever they may be. The principles ofinternationalism and cosmopolitanism invoked through the 1980s also have a place in Englisheducation. However, expatriate educators need to acknowledge that most of the prominent theoriesand methods of ELT were formulated in the West (Warden, Lin 2000: Abstract) and thus need to bebetter tailored to an Asian environment. Most Asian learners are Second Language learners, whowill have little or no need for English proficiency and limited contact with native English users,therefore integrative motivational factors and the teaching methods founded upon them will belargely irrelevant to this context.The learning objectives of English language education needs to be merged with local needs, andtechniques adapted to suit the pedagogy of the local classroom environment. This means that thecontent of courses needs to mirror the requirements of the students and that the methods used mustencompass an international rather than Western sociocultural viewpoint. As such the languageprogrammes could become more inclusive, empowering teachers and learners to exchange languageknowledge and cultural perspectives. Moreover, Japanese and expatriate teachers should workcollaboratively to create an effective language programme that encourages L2 maintenance and thedevelopment of Japan-specific English needs. By promoting critical thinking and facilitating anunbiased exchange of cultures, educators can empower students to question the world(s) aroundthem. A more tangible sense of language ownership - with a focus of English as an InternationalLanguage - and a critical academic framework, students could evaluate their own learning needsand determine practical learning goals, facilitated by native and non-native educators.611


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