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Appears in Collections:Faculty of Social Sciences eTheses
Title: From Language Policy to Pedagogic Practice: Elementary School English Education in Japan
Author(s): Gaynor, Brian
Supervisor(s): Copland, Fiona
Keywords: Japan
Elementary school English
Language Policy
Classroom observations
Fieldwork in Japan
Teaching English to Young Learners
Foreign Language Activities
Issue Date: Feb-2018
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: Since April 2011, all public elementary schools in Japan now officially include in their proscribed curriculum for fifth and sixth grade students a Course of Study entitled 'Foreign Language Activities' (FLA). The introduction of FLA can be seen as part of the wider international move towards making English as a foreign language a compulsory subject in state provided primary education. This two-year longitudinal ethnographic study examines how classroom implementation of this new Course of Study is impacted by an expansive circle of constantly interacting variables including teacher education, teaching materials, school curriculum, use of native speaker assistant language teachers (ALT), resource allocation, and state mandated language-in-education planning. The research methodology involved a combination of ethnography and critical discourse analysis in order to examine the discursive, contextual, and sociocultural factors that influence language-in-education policy implementation in Japan and how these factors manifest themselves in elementary school classrooms. Data were collected from four public elementary schools in northern Japan from April 2011 to March 2013 using participant observation, interviews, and publically available documents. The findings of this study reveal that the introduction of elementary school English represents a continuation of previous iterations of educational policy that have positioned English as an essential linguistic resource for Japan's participation in the global economy. My findings also reveal that focusing solely on pedagogical practices in the elementary school classrooms obscures the a priori decisions concerning teacher training, ALT provision, mandated instructional time, and lack of formal assessment that critically affect the implementation of FLA. The study also makes a number of methodological contributions to undertaking classroom-based ethnographies in Japan. It addresses under theorized issues of translation in the use of primary Japanese language interview data, and also highlights the importance of 'tacit knowledge' in conducting prolonged fieldwork in a foreign location.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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