Ideologies of english in Japan

  • Kubota R
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Abstract

A number of educators in recent years have argued that the dominance of English has created structural and cultural inequalities between developed and developing countries. Although they tend to dismiss ideological issues regarding teaching English in affluent countries in the Expanding Circle such as Japan, there is a growing concern and critique in Japan on ideologies of English. Critics argue that the dominance of English influences the Japanese language and people’s views of language, culture, race, ethnicity and identity which are affected by the world view of native English speakers, and that teaching English creates cultural and linguistic stereotypes not only of English but also of Japanese people. Recent discourses of nihonjinron and kokusaika provide a broader context for understanding such ideologies. These discourses represent both resistance and accommodation to the hegemony of the West with a promotion of nationalistic values and learning a Western mode of communication; i.e., English. Among several proposals offered by critics, raising critical awareness of English domination parallels the philosophy of critical pedagogy. This paper suggests that both critical consciousness and practical skills in English along with inclusion of varieties of English in the curriculum are necessary for Japanese learners to appropriate English for social transformation.

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Authors

  • Ryuko Kubota

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