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IPrA 2009 Melbourne Ryuko Kubota University of British Columbia.

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Presentation on theme: "IPrA 2009 Melbourne Ryuko Kubota University of British Columbia."— Presentation transcript:

1 IPrA 2009 Melbourne Ryuko Kubota University of British Columbia

2 Focus: Views and experiences of adult men and women foreign language (especially English) learners outside of educational institutions in Japan Hobbyists orientation: Learning for no apparently practical reasons but for serious leisure (self- actualization) or casual leisure (opportunistic self- gratitude) (Stebbins, 1997; 2007).

3 Investment (Peirce, 1995; Norton, 2000) drawing on Pierre Bourdieus economic metaphor of capital A learner expects a return: acceptance into the target second language community;a better life with increased cultural and linguistic capital (Pittaway, 2004). social inclusion Not relevant to some foreign language contexts (Ryan, 2006) or some second language contexts (Kobayashi, 2007)

4 Leisure Studies Serious leisure vs. casual leisure Serious leisure: the systematic pursuit of an amateur, hobbyist, or volunteer core activity that people find so substantial, interesting, and fulfilling that,…, they launch themselves on a (leisure) career centered on acquiring and expressing combination of its special skills, knowledge, and experience (Stebbins, 2007, p. 5). Casual leisure: less substantial and offers no career, …(and) an immediately, intrinsically rewarding, relatively short-lived pleasurable core activity, requiring little or no special training to enjoy it (Stebbins, 2007, p. 38). Leisure activities are not totally left to individual choice or necessarily socially innocuous (Rojek, 2005) Leisure activities are linked to consumption and desire.

5 Leisure activities are built on consuming goods and services offered for fulfillment, self-actualization, enjoyment, and pleasure Language learning as consumption rather than investment Consumption is stimulated by advertisements. Ads produce and reflect akogare[desire, longing] (Bailey, 2002; Kelsky, 2001; Piller& Takahashi, 2006; Takahashi, 2006) Language learning involves not only pragmatic purposes but also an emotional dimension or desire (fantasies, dreams, fascination) (Kramsch, 2005).

6 Qualitative study in 2007 Hasu (mid-sized rural city) in Morino Prefecture (pseudonyms) Some of the interviewees are eikaiwabusiness providers with a dual role of teacher/manager.

7 Sixteen English language businesses for adults and children, including 3 large franchised eikaiwagakkô Other arrangements: group lessons at community center or private home, gakushûjuku[after-school private tutorials] for children Cost: Franchised eikaiwagakkô: 10,000 yen per month (50 minutes per week), 30,000 yen for an admission fee, and 10,000 to 30,000 yen per year for instructional materials Lesson offered at Fitness Hasu (by a non-profit organization): less than 3,000 yen per month (60 minutes per week) Group lesson held at Tashiro Community Center: 2,000 yen per month (60 minutes per week)

8 Difficult to obtain data at franchised eikaiwainstitutes Informal interviews arranged through personal connections Participant observation in eikaiwalessons

9 Basic conversation, free talk Students talking mostly in Japanese, code mixing Slow pace In contrast, a lesson at a franchised eikaiwainstitute follows a rigid lesson plan with repetitions and drills and very little free talk

10 Akio (34-year-old man), Takes Fitness Hasu and Johns group lesson I dont think that far. Using English at work is far from the current reality and my English isnt that great anyway… its like a hobby, like it can be useful when I travel abroad. (translation from Japanese)

11 Group interview with members of Koalas They come to lessons for fun, maintaining contact with English, communicating/socializing with classmates, and staying mentally active (preventing dementia).

12 Tae (46-year-old woman), owner of private jukufor children, member of Koalas Learning a language is fun. Its more like enjoying a club activity than learning. … Even if you skip one lesson, its not a burden at all. I like the relaxed aspect. … The teacher says, You may do your homework, and no one does it. Its that casual. We go out to have lunch after class and its fun. Thats what keeps me going. If you really want to learn, you can go abroad or to an eikaiwaschool. … Our previous teacher was strict. He brought difficult handouts that no one could follow. He even corrected our pronunciation. As we get older, we feel discouraged if were corrected too much.

13 Aya (32-year-old woman): Takes Fitness Hasu lesson Learns English to support her major hobby: conquering the world Aware that English is not universally useful

14 Previous studies have identified Japanese womens akogare[desire/longing] for English, Western culture, and White men (Bailey, 2002; Kelsky, 2001; Piller& Takahashi, 2006; Takahashi, 2006). English-related romantic akogareis often subtle and implicit and is felt by some men as well.

15 Yayoi: Maybe I just wanted to be able to speak (English). But I used to have akogare for living abroad. Just an ordinary life. Maybe in Hawaii (laugh). Ryuko: Why Hawaii? Yayoi: I think its safe, theres good public safety, and its a resort... I think mainly the image of being safe. Ryuko: You just want to go there and live? Yayoi: Yes, I want to live and work. And I want to have a hâfu[half- blood] child. Ryuko: Huh? Yayoi: I want to have a hâfuchild. Ryuko: Why? Yayoi: Because foreign kids are cute, dont you think? I want to raise a kid bilingually. Miki: Are you serious? Yayoi: Yes, honestly Ive wanted to marry gaikokujin[foreigner] for a long time. Yayoi (46-year-old woman), takes lessons at Fitness Hasu

16 Yayoi: Well, whos the person on Eigo de shabera night [You must speak Englisha popular TV variety show for learning English]?…Pakkun (Patrick Harlana white comedian). That kind of image, I think. Ryuko: Then a white person? Yayoi: Yeah. I wonder about Bobby (Billy Blanks--a black celebrity in Japan). Ryuko: Bobby? Yayoi: Do you know Bobby? A black man. Skin color…? … Do you like Richard Gere? Richard Gere is cool. He was in Shall we dance. Yahois case was exceptional.

17 Misaki (28-year-old woman), takes lessons at BEONE Learning English for career change (investment rather than leisure) Engaged to a Caucasian American teacher at BEONE Sometimes, I happen to talk about him …, and my friends say Im envious that my partner is American. … Thats probably because Japanese men are clumsy in treating women. But I think it depends. For example, my older sisters husband is so sweet and lets ladies go first. But men like that are too few. Foreign men with more refined mannerism probably appeal better. … When she hears Im envious, she feels as though her husband is viewed as a merchandize.

18 Misakisakogare was for Japanese teachers of English (cf. M. Kubota, 2006). Sensitivity toward diversity. Akogarecertainly exists as described by previous studies, yet it is manifested in different ways. Investment rather than consumption Irony: lower economic gain

19 Interviews with service providers shed light on commodification of eikaiwa Primary concern of eikaiwabusiness is to make profits rather than helping learners develop English skills or providing quality teaching. Student recruitment and retention strategies Curriculum design Payment system

20 Yasuo (53-year-old man): His experience with his clients This is really sad, but I cant attract students unless I have Caucasian teachers. After all, they prefer White teachers, and Black teachers are not welcomed. This business is weird. Its like a host club (a nightclub with male hosts for female customers). There are quite a few women in their late 20s who continue to take lessons for years. They are single. … They are not particularly eager to study, and to be honest, they dont make any progress, but they dont quit. I think they like to come see a young foreign man. I cant think of any other reason, do you?

21 Misakis experience with mothers at work: Ive never studied abroad or lived in America, so some mothers were unsatisfied. … One day, a mother said, I heard your husband is American so I said, Yes. Then she became satisfied … After that, things became easier for me, … but I didnt feel right. If I were married to a Vietnamese or a Brazilian, then Id definitely face reverse discrimination.

22 Learning EFL creates a human contact zone for socializing and exposure to exotic language and culture. Casual leisure/consumption vs. learning/development Stimulates emotions, joys, fantasies, and dreams beyond communicative success or professional benefitdesire in language learning (Kramsch, 2005) Participation rather than learning Consumption rather than investment English, Whiteness, and native speakers are commodified, advertised, and consumed. Yet, consumers are not affected by the discourses in a homogeneous way.

23 Vexed questions: If learning does not really matter, why should we as language teaching specialists pay attention to this context? How would this research contribute to social transformation? Is it possible to change the status quo, if the consumers become more critical about the nature of the service? But can we deny the personal benefits that learners gain from leisure?

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