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Activity Group2

Prospects of Multicultural Society through Language

Activity Group2
2011/12/12

“Prospects of Multicultural Society through Language”

Date: December 3, 2011  13:30-16:00

Venue: Shohukan Room 302, Omiya Campus, Ryukoku University

 

Group 2 held its second research meeting on 3 December 2011. Starting with a keynote lecture entitled “Multiculturalization of English and Intercultural Literacy” by Dr. Nobuyuki Honna (Aoyama Gakuin University), three reports were presented: “Japanese Society as viewed from the perspective of Korean Schools in Japan” by Dr. Soo im Lee (Ryukoku University), “Ethno-nationalism and Language Policies” by Dr. Hirofumi Wakita (Ryukoku University) and “English and Englishes in English Education in Japan” by Dr. Mitsunori Takakuwa (Ryukoku University).

 

Dr. Honna pointed out that many variants of English have been created through the process of its diffusion. This is causing difficulties in mutual understanding between speakers of different English variants. In order to deal with this new problem, he insists, we must acquire intercultural literacy based on the idea of diversity management, not assimilationism. Intercultural literacy is the ability to transfer and understand each cultural message between speakers, accommodating mutual cultural differences. He suggests that it is effective to improve the awareness of language so as to develop this literacy.

 

Dr. Lee pointed out in her presentation that ten Korean high schools have been exempted from the public schools tuition-free law since April 2010, and the effects are spreading to local governments. Historically against these types of exclusion and discrimination, Korean schools have been functioning as a system of ethnic retention for Zainichi Koreans as a minority. To this day they continue their efforts to create their own space for their culture and language, she reported.

 

Dr. Wakita reported that the Slovak government is retaining its nationalistic language policy despite the EU principle of multilingualization, because the problem of the legal status of Slovak language and the problem of the language rights of ethnic minorities are two sides of the same coin. Here is the basic problem of how to sublate problems between nations or ethnic groups in the EU. He concluded that the awareness of individuals regarding multilingualization, multiculturalism and language education has a major role in resolving this problem.

 

Dr. Takakuwa holds that there are “Englishes” that differ from English as spoken by natives. He pointed out that there are a billion people speaking EFL (English as a foreign language) as compared to only 350 million people speaking ENL (English as a native language) in today’s world. English education in Japan should therefore aim for English as an international language, and should develop English users who can communicate with people speaking any kind of English, he stated.

 

With vigorous discussions on keynote lecture and presentations, the research meeting was very fruitful.

 

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Dr. Nobuyuki Honna

 

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Dr. Soo im Lee