Diversity and English Language Education in a Globalized Era: Implications from the case of Japan

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International Association of Intercultural Education

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Toronto, Canada

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In the globalizing world, an increasing number of people with different native languages communicate through English. Varieties of cultural and linguistic backgrounds among native and non-native English speakers promote multicultural and multilinguistic phenomena. Moreover, the number of non-native English speakers has exceeded that of native speakers. In this sense, relationships such as majority/minority and native/non-native need to be redefined, and using these notions may become even irrelevant. To fully understand the nature of English-speaking communities today, all English speakers, both native and non-native, are required to understand the social contexts behind the language that they use.

Japan provides an interesting case in terms of English language teaching and learning. The rise of newcomers from both English-speaking and non-English-speaking countries has created ethnic and linguistic diversity. These realities have uncovered a contradiction between the common attitude toward English learning and the reality of language communities. While English learning is only emphasized because the English language is believed as an important language for global communication, Japan is required to provide supports available to those who are neither Japanese nor English speakers living in Japan. In other words, Japan’s internal cultural and linguistic diversity is not fully acknowledged. In what ways do Japanese EFL learners understand diversity in global and domestic contexts? How do they perceive and recognize their experiences of English learning in contemporary Japan? These inquiries are important in order for EFL learners to value their own learning experiences and experience positive intercultural communication through English.


intercultural education, English as a Foreign Language, diversity, globalization


Anthropological Linguistics and Sociolinguistics | Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Educational Sociology | International and Area Studies | Sociology

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