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The Kyoto JALT Review

The Kyoto JALT Review is a journal hosted by that aims to publish articles related to language learning. We are currently accepting submissions. Learn more about The Kyoto JALT Review here.


Challenging issues in bilingualism and biculturalism in the Japanese context

This event brings together two diverse speakers to talk about separate yet crucial issues for teachers, both Japanese and non-Japanese, in secondary education. Current and former junior high school and high school teachers are especially welcome.

Date and Time: Sunday, 29 January 2017 - 9:00am - 12:00pm

This is a joint event co-sponsored by the Bilingualism SIG.

Speaker: Alexandra Shaitan (Birkbeck, University of London) & Blake Turnbull (Kyoto University)


Alexandra Shaitan: Being mixed-race in Japan: Lived experiences and narratives of mixed-race individuals in Japan

For many years, a fascinating socio-cultural variant has manifested itself in Japanese society: the ‘haafu’, i.e. people of, ‘half-Japanese’ or, mixed ethnicity. Discourse in relation to this ‘community’ is eroding the image of Japan as homogeneous and/or tan’itsu minzoku, monoethnic race/society. Born, raised and educated in Japan, people of mixed-ethnic parentage often find themselves as ethnically and culturally marginalized. Despite their native linguistic and cultural repertoire, they are treated as gaijin (a foreigner) in Japan since they are phenotypically different to the majority. These so-called haafu report experiencing an identity crisis resulting from social marginalization not only in Japan but also in the country of their non-Japanese parent. While studies have examined bilinguality and hybrid identity in many contexts (e.g. Luke and Luke, 1999; Noro, 2009; Schilling-Estes, 2004; Sechrest-Ehrhardt, 2012), including studies of adolescents in Japan (e.g. Greer, 2003, 2005; Kamada, 2008, 2009; Kanno, 2006; Murphy-Shigematsu, 1997) this study is one of the first to focus on identity of haafu adults in Japan. Drawing on Bucholtz and Hall (2005) framework of identity construction, this study explores how haafu adults discursively construct their identity in ethnographically informed semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions. The paper will discuss the linguistic repertoire and discourse markers used by the participants to construct their hybrid identities; how they position themselves in relation to Japanese society and ascribed ethnic referents/labels; and the affiliations they seek throughout their lived marginalized experiences.

In addition, this presentation will address recent findings pertaining to Japanese university students’ perceptions/attitudes of mixed-race individuals in Japan.

Presenter Bio: Alexandra Shaitan is a Doctoral student at Birkbeck, University of London (PhD ABD) investigating mixed-race identity in the context of Japan. She is currently employed as an Adjunct English Lecturer at the Gakushuin University, Tokyo, Japan.

She teaches courses in Bilingualism and Effective Language Teaching at the Temple University, Japan Campus (Tokyo). Her research interests include bilingualism/multilingualism, bi/multiracial identity, and L2 identity.

Blake Turnbull: Translanguaging in Japan: What is it and how can it work?

Although the Japanese Government has issued FL policies advocating for EFL classrooms to become more communicative in nature, teachers and students alike have been hesitant to oblige. If significant change is to be seen in students’ low-level EFL abilities, there is the need for a FL policy/pedagogy that takes in to consideration not only the realities of the Japanese EFL classroom, but also the dominant culture of learning and the values and ideologies imbedded within the minds of the students and teachers acting within said environment. This talk will look at the literature and early stage results of a Ph.D. study from multiple perspectives to provide evidence supporting translanguaging as an approach to transform the way in which English is both taught and learned in tertiary EFL classes in Japan.

Presenter Bio:

Blake Turnbull studied his undergraduate degree in Japanese and Linguistics, and Masters degree in Applied Linguistics, at the University of Otago, in Dunedin, New Zealand. He is currently a Ph.D. student in the Department of Foreign Language Acquisition and Education at Kyoto University, Japan. His research interests include bilingual education, translanguaging, second language teaching, ESL and EFL education, and L1 use in L2 teaching.