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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

'Very excellent': An historical approach to problems of state sponsored English education in Japan
by Friedman, Jeffrey, Ph.D., New York University, 2013, 278; 3599870
Abstract (Summary)

This research traces the historical development and foreign policy objectives of English language instruction in Japan as a state sponsored initiative. The primary objective of this work is to examine the role of English foreign language education over the past one hundred and forty years by comparing Meiji policy formation with post World War II occupation reforms in relation to the social, political, and intellectual objectives of changing Japanese approaches to internationalization. The widely held conceit among EFL scholars and historians that classroom methodology (and the entrance exam system it subsumes) is at fault for the poor state of Japanese communicative English, ignores the internationalization objectives historically central to national language education policy in Japan. Universal English education for widespread international communication was never an objective of education policy, but was the fabricated assumption of a chauvinistic West, perpetuated by conservative elements in the Japanese government to improve Japan's international standing. The anti-democratic Japanese Ministry of Education embraced the 'western methods with eastern philosophy' approach to internationalization established during the nineteenth century, rejecting English education policy for widespread oral fluency. The liberal-democratic perspectives attendant to the culture of English speaking peoples threatened the Confucian hierarchical structure of Japanese society. In order to resist western homogenizing forces, but still advance domestic interests in an interdependent world, it was necessary to sustain English-speaking elites to negotiate foreign pressures. As a consequence English education has served as the gatekeeper of a strictly meritocratic national education system designed to proliferate a minority of talent for modernization, administering the organs of government, and preserving Japanese identity against foreign cultural contamination.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hosay, Philip
Commitee: Norman, Elizabeth, Zimmerman, Jonathan
School: New York University
Department: Humanities and Social Sciences in the Professions
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 75/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: English as a Second Language, Multicultural Education, International Relations
Keywords: Foreign language education, Internationalization and internationalism, Japan, Meiji policy formation, Occupation reforms, Preserving Japanese identity, Western methods with eastern philosophy
Publication Number: 3599870
ISBN: 978-1-303-49663-9
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