The role of teaching English as a Foreign Language in a global society: an analysis of students’ perceptions of the domestic diversity and English learning in Japan

Document Type


Document Subtype


Presentation Date

Spring 4-14-2012

Conference Name

North Central Sociological Association

Conference Location

Pittsburgh, PA


This study investigates how Japan’s diversity and multiplicity are perceived and how cultural attitudes about race, ethnicity, and diversity are taught through the English as a Foreign Language (EFL) curriculum. Based on data collected via surveys and interviews, I examined Japanese university students’ experiences related to EFL classes at their junior high and high schools and how they understand Japan’s domestic diversity. The ultimate discussion of this study is to reduce prejudice and discrimination against particular groups and/or individuals. To promote successful cross-cultural communication, I argue that diversity issues (e.g., conflict, tension, and inequality) need to be explicitly taught within the EFL curriculum so that EFL teachers and students can discuss issues when they come to communicate with people from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds. I will suggest new directions to EFL teachers and curriculum developers for incorporating multicultural perspectives in the EFL curriculum.

In the previous studies (Yamada, 2006, 2010, 2011), I examined the representation of race and ethnic diversity in Japanese EFL junior high school textbooks published by the major publisher. From the examination of those EFL textbooks, I found that while the ethnic diversity of the world has been increasingly represented in those textbooks, the diversity of racial/ethnic groups was not fully expressed in them. I have now identified insufficient attention to the racial and ethnic diversity represented in the textbooks. What do Japanese EFL students learn in the EFL curriculum to cultivate “the understanding of language and culture” and “a positive attitude toward communication” (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology [MEXT] 2004: 90)? To what extent do they learn about race and ethnicity and understand Japan’s diversity? I intend to answer these questions through this research that further extends and deepens my previous investigations.


EFL, cultural diversity, Japan, globalization, international education


Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Educational Sociology | First and Second Language Acquisition | International and Comparative Education | Sociology

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