Rethinking Japanese as a heritage language through the perspective of "language and mobility": case studies in the European context [JP]

Noriko Iwasaki (SOAS)
Noriko Iwasaki
Japanese Language Education
Torre B, Piso 3, T13
Start time:
31 August, 2017 at 16:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

From the perspective of "mobility and language", we examine how adults in Europe who were born to Japanese parent(s) view their linguistic repertoire (including Japanese as a heritage language) and rethink the significance and education of Japanese as a heritage language in European contexts.

Long abstract:

Recognizing the perpetual mobility of various kinds (e.g. temporal, transnational, trans-lingual) in the world of superdiversity and its consequences on language, this panel discusses how adults of Japanese heritage residing in Europe view their linguistic repertoire (including Japanese as a heritage language) in their lived experience. We regard language as embracing dynamic hybridity, fluidity and interactivity, and it is not the speaker's language ability that are of our primary concern for research and/or education. Rather, it is the speaker's own agency and subjectivity in recognising their plurilinguistic and pluricultural competence and repertoire in their lived experience that we examine to understand the relationship between the speaker, language, and society. In so doing, we rethink the significance of the use and the learning of Japanese as a heritage language in European contexts. The first presenter examines young adults born to Japanese parent(s) and raised in Germany. They have learned Japanese since they were children. Their narratives in interviews were compared with those of young Japanese adults who grew up and learned Japanese in Thailand in order to rethink Japanese heritage language education. The second presenter reports on a female university student born to a Japanese mother and a British father, who majors in Japanese in the UK, and examines how her year abroad in Japan in the third year of the university curriculum affected the perception of her linguistic and cultural identities. The third presenter focuses on two male adults who were born in the UK to a Japanese mother and a non-Japanese father. They had had no Japanese language spoken at home until they began to learn Japanese in their adulthood. The study examines their reasons for learning Japanese and how learning Japanese as a second language came to have significance in their lives. The findings allow us to rethink the premise of heritage language education and the prevailing view on (heritage) language and worldview.