Mirrors of Opportunity: Joint Project of Japanese and International Students

Mirrors of Opportunity: Joint Project of Japanese and International Students

Sachie Banks (Bunkyo University, Japan)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2551-6.ch002


This study examined how Japanese students' perspectives changed after participating in joint presentations with international students at a university in Tokyo. The students created short videos utilizing their target languages (the Japanese students used English and the international students used Japanese) and presented them to each other to exchange feedback. Data were collected through ethnographic techniques including classroom observations, a record of class discussions, informal interviews and students' reflective essays. Significant changes emerged in identity as a foreign language learner, how they perceive their relationships to the world, and how to prepare for future intercultural encounters.
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Evolving Identity As A Language Learner

The theoretical framework of this study is rooted in a sociocultural perspective on identity in the discipline of intercultural communication, which Ting-Toomey and Chung (2005) define as “the reflective self-conception or self-image that we derive from family, gender, cultural, ethnic, and individual socialization processes” (p. 86). Identity is constructed through interaction with others in a particular cultural context (Ting-Toomey & Chung, 2005). While socializing in a group of people where members share their practices, meanings and values, we enculture ourselves at least once; if not, someone often corrects us (Berry, 1975; Matsumoto, 2000). Japanese people bow, while Americans tend to shake hands (Hendon & Hendon, 1994). Americans keep eye contact for informality, spontaneity and equality, while direct eye contact is avoided in societies with hierarchical relationships such as Japan (Stewart & Bennett, 1991). Members of the same cultural group tend to share similar perceptions when compared with people from other cultures (Singer, 2013). Individuals develop their cultural identities based on such similarities in perception, beliefs, worldviews, values and unspoken patterns of daily activities (Adler, 2013).

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