European Journal of Language Policy

The gap between educational policies and actual workplace communication in ELF: a Japanese case

European Journal of Language Policy (2017), 9, (1), 105–118.

Abstract

The Japanese government acknowledges the crucial role of English in today’s globalised world and emphasises the importance of English education, yet little discussion has focused on how English is actually used as a lingua franca today, as well as what kind of skills are (un)necessary to communicate successfully. Moreover, referring to outside standards (e.g. CEFR) in improving its own English teaching curricula and guidelines, the government seems to have little doubt about the native speaker orientation in those criteria. As a result, English education in Japan remains based on English as a foreign language (EFL) perspectives, disseminating the idea that non-native speakers’ English is something inferior. The tendency lasts and can be found even in in-house language training provided for Japanese professionals who use English as a lingua franca (ELF) for work. The present study examines the gap between what is taught/how it is taught in the classroom and what is prioritised in the workplace communication by analysing talk-in-interaction recorded in academic and professional settings, where the same participant (i.e. a Japanese architect) learns and uses English. The findings suggest that Japanese policy makers need to first consider what should be taught in the subject “English” to foster future ELF users and then establish its own criteria that reflect the Japanese educational needs and context.

Le gouvernement japonais reconnaît le rôle crucial de l’anglais dans le monde globalisé d’aujourd’hui et souligne l’importance de l’éducation en anglais. Pourtant, peu de discussion a porté sur la façon dont l’anglais est réellement utilisé comme lingua franca aujourd’hui et quel genre de compétences sont nécessaires pour communiquer avec succès. De plus, en se référant à des normes extérieures (par exemple, le CECR) pour améliorer ses propres programmes et lignes directrices en enseignement de l’anglais, le gouvernement semble avoir peu de doutes quant à l’orientation de privilégier les locuteurs natifs dans ces critères. En conséquence, l’éducation de l’anglais au Japon reste basée sur les perspectives de l’anglais comme langue étrangère (EFL), disséminant l’idée que l’anglais des non-locuteurs natifs est quelque chose d’inférieur. Cette tendance se pérennise et peut être trouvée même dans la formation linguistique interne pour les professionnels japonais qui utilisent l’anglais comme lingua franca (ELF) pour le travail. La présente étude examine l’écart entre ce qui est enseigné/comment il est enseigné en classe et ce qui est prioritaire dans la communication sur le lieu de travail. Pour ce faire, elle analyse les conversations en interaction enregistrées dans des milieux universitaires et professionnels où le même participant (un architecte japonais) apprend et utilise l’anglais. Les résultats suggèrent que les décideurs japonais devraient d’abord examiner ce qui devrait être enseigné dans le sujet “anglais” pour encourager les futurs utilisateurs ELF et ensuite établir ses propres critères qui reflètent les besoins éducatifs et le contexte japonais.

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Otsu, Akiko