Focus on local diversity and learn about global community: Incorporating Diversity and Social Justice into Japan’s English language education

Document Type


Document Subtype


Presentation Date

Summer 7-11-2016

Conference Name

Third ISA Forum of Sociology

Conference Location

Vienna, Austria

Peer Review



This paper investigates the impact of the global spread of English in a Japanese context, and specifically, it examines how Japanese university students learn diversity involving various cultures and languages through their English language learning and how they view the role of English learning/teaching within a multicultural and multilingual context of Japan. The rise of newcomers from both English-speaking and non-English-speaking countries increasingly create ethnic and linguistic diversity in many areas of Japan. If the promotion of English learning continues, Japan’s English learning/teaching needs to be resituated within multicultural and multilingual contexts.

Due to the diversification of English uses and users, intercultural communication via English becomes critical. To effectively and appropriately engage in English-speaking intercultural communications, English learners need to pay attention to social contexts in which they use English. To raise an awareness of social aspects of language practice and cultivate a sensitivity about language use, this paper emphasizes the importance of teaching the concept of language awareness (e.g. Fairclough, 1992, 1999; Hawkins, 1984). From an analysis of the interviews with Japanese university students, this paper suggests that teaching language awareness should be integrated in Japan’s English as a Foreign Language (EFL) education curricula in order to develop EFL students’ and teachers’ positive attitudes toward intercultural relationships and interactions. Because social change (e.g. the widespread of English) affects both global and local contexts, EFL learners and teachers are required to pay attention to local diversity which is made of acknowledge varieties of English or Englishes in order to fully acknowledge those in a global context.


English as a Foreign Language (EFL) education; language awareness; intercultural communication; social justice; Japan


Anthropological Linguistics and Sociolinguistics | Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Educational Sociology | Higher Education | International and Area Studies | International and Comparative Education | Sociology | Teacher Education and Professional Development

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