English as a Pastime (Research into the motivation of Japanese

Report
English as a Pastime;
(Research into the motivation of
Japanese adults to engage in study
at eikaiwa schools).
Freddie Semple
Background / Definitions
Why this topic? Worked 2 years as eikaiwa teacher in Japan.
+ comparatively small amount of research in this field.
 Eikaiwa (英会話) literally translates as ‘English
conversation’. Used metonymically to refer to English
conversation schools.
 Akogare (憧れ) ‘[a] longing, desire or idealization…most
often used both among and about women in Japan to
describe women’s feelings about the West. To have
akogare (to akogareru) is to long for something that is
unattainable’ (Kelsky, 2001)
Research Objective / Abstract
 The main aim of this research was to identify some of the key
motivations of Japanese adults to engage in study at eikaiwa
schools.
 The findings of this research suggest that:
 Eikaiwa participation is often linked with desire to socialise.
 Akogare discourse over-emphasised.
 Male and female eikaiwa learners have distinct expectations
 Research predominantly focuses on female learners.
Previous Research
Comparatively small amount of research into eikaiwa already
conducted. 3 notable studies:
 Kubota (2011):
Learning a foreign language as leisure and consumption: enjoyment,
desire, and the business of eikaiwa
 Bailey (2006):
Marketing the eikaiwa Wonderland: Ideology, akogare, and gender
alterity in English conversation school advertising in Japan.
 Takahashi (2012)
Language learning, gender and desire: Japanese women on the move
 One theme common to almost all of the research into eikaiwa is that
it is primarily conducted by, and concerning females.
Methodology
 Small scale qualitative study.
 Very specific demographic – Japanese adults with
experience of eikaiwa.
 Questionnaires and interviews.
 Example of questionnaire questions:
 Please list some qualities you would consider a good eikaiwa
teacher to possess.
 Is your motivation to study at eikaiwa the same now as it was
when you started?
 What did I learn from my chosen methodology?
Findings (1)
I divided the findings from my data into two sections:
Gender divisions:
 Slight majority of female respondents.
 Male and female learner motivation appears the same.
 Divergence between male and female learners in what
they regard as good qualities in a teacher.
 Only limited evidence from the data collected for this
research that motivating factors differ between male
and female learners.
Findings (2)
Reasons for continued engagement:
 Desireable aspects of an eikaiwa teacher / school:
 Though there were certain differences in the answers
between male and female respondents, the most common
answer overall was ‘friendliness’.
 Contrary to expectations, this research did not find any
mention of nationality or race in any of the answers relating
to the teacher.
 ‘It is fun to talk to a native teacher’, ‘it is an opportunity to
speak English in the environment of Japan’ and ‘It is a place to
learn about different cultures, not just English’.
Concluding points
 Slight over emphasis on akogare discussion in this
field of study.
 It seems that the eikaiwa industry attracts learners
who are primarily motivated by the enjoyment and
pleasure they get from their lessons rather than by
academic achievement.
 This study did not find any evidence to suggest that
the nationality of the eikaiwa teacher is regarded as a
particularly important factor to learners.
Thank you for listening!
Bibliography

Bailey, K. (2006). Marketing the eikaiwa Wonderland: Ideology, akogare, and gender alterity in English conversation
school advertising in Japan. Environment and planning. D, Society & Space. 24, pp.105-130

Kelsky, K. (2001). Women on the Verge: Japanese Women, Western Dreams. Durham and London: Duke University
Press.

Kubota, R. (2011). Learning a foreign language as leisure and consumption: enjoyment, desire, and the business of
eikaiwa. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism. 14:4, pp.473-488

Takahashi, K. (2013). Language learning, gender and desire: Japanese women on the move. Tonawanda, U.S.A:
Multilingual Matters.

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