Volume 2, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2405-5522
  • E-ISSN: 2405-5530
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes


This qualitative study draws on identity theory to explore the short-term study abroad and language learning experiences of Japanese high school students from a private high school near Tokyo as they travelled to the UK and the USA. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews both before and after the program, combined with daily journals written by the students, and then subjected to thematic analysis. Several themes emerged among the students’ accounts of their experiences, including drawing on Japanese cultural identities to interpret difficult intercultural experiences, seeing English-mediated identities as a means to overcome pressure to conform to idealized notions of Japanese femininity, and feeling a sense of duty to parents as a motivator to study abroad. These findings demonstrate the diversity of experiences in high school programs and highlight a need for further research on students travelling from non-English-speaking backgrounds to study abroad.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Bauman, Z.
    (1991) Modernity and ambivalence. Cambridge: Polity Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Block, D.
    (2002) Destabilized identities and cosmopolitanism across language and cultural borders: Two case studies. Hong Kong Journal of Applied Linguistics, 7(2), 1–19.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. (2003) The social turn in second language acquisition. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. (2006) Multilingual stories in a global city: London stories. London: Palgrave. doi: 10.1057/9780230501393
    https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230501393 [Google Scholar]
  5. (2007a) The rise of identity in SLA research, post Firth and Wagner (1997). Modern Language Journal, 91, 863–876. doi: 10.1111/j.1540‑4781.2007.00674.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4781.2007.00674.x [Google Scholar]
  6. (2007b) Second language identities. London: Continuum.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Canagarajah, S.
    (2004) Subversive identities, pedagogical safe houses, and critical learning. In B. Norton & K. Toohey (Eds.), Critical pedagogies and language learning (pp.116–137). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9781139524834.007
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139524834.007 [Google Scholar]
  8. Churchill, E.
    (2006) Variability in the study abroad classroom and learner competence. In M. A. DuFon & E. Churchill (Eds.), Language learners in study abroad contexts (pp.203–227). Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Cook, H. M.
    (2006) Joint construction of folk beliefs by JFL learners and Japanese host families. In M. A. DuFon & E. Churchill (Eds.), Language learners in study abroad contexts (pp.120–150). Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Corbin, J. , & Strauss, A.
    (2008) Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory. London: Sage. doi: 10.4135/9781452230153
    https://doi.org/10.4135/9781452230153 [Google Scholar]
  11. DeKeyser, R.
    (1991) Foreign language development during a semester abroad. In B. Freed (Ed.), Foreign language acquisition research and the classroom (pp.104–119). Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath & Co.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Dolby, N.
    (2004) Encountering an American self: Study abroad and national identity. Comparative Education Review, 48(2), 150–173. doi: 10.1086/382620
    https://doi.org/10.1086/382620 [Google Scholar]
  13. Ellwood, C.
    (2011) Undoing the knots: Identity transformations in a study abroad programme. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 43(9), 960–978. doi: 10.1111/j.1469‑5812.2009.00559.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-5812.2009.00559.x [Google Scholar]
  14. Feinberg, B.
    (2002) What students don’t learn abroad. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 48(34), 2–3.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Gore, J. E.
    (2005) Dominant beliefs and alternative voices: Discourse, belief, and gender in American study abroad. New York, NY: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Higgins, C.
    (2009) English as a local language: Post-colonial identities and multilingual practices. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Isabelli-García, C.
    (2006) Study abroad social networks, motivation and attitudes: Implications for second language acquisition. In M. A. DuFon & E. Churchill (Eds.), Language learners in study abroad contexts (pp.231–258). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Jackson, J.
    (2008) Language, identity and study abroad. London: Equinox.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. (2009) Intercultural learning on short-term sojourns. Intercultural Education, 20, 59–71. doi: 10.1080/14675980903370870
    https://doi.org/10.1080/14675980903370870 [Google Scholar]
  20. (2013) The transformation of ‘a frog in the well’: A path to a more intercultural, global mindset. In C. Kinginger (Ed.), Social and cultural aspects of language learning in study abroad (pp.179–204). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi: 10.1075/lllt.37.08jac
    https://doi.org/10.1075/lllt.37.08jac [Google Scholar]
  21. Japan Student Services Organisation
    Japan Student Services Organisation (2016) International students in Japan 2015. Japan Student Services Organisation, Planning and Research Unit, Information Services Division Student Exchange Department, retrieved from www.jasso.go.jp/en/about/statistics/intl_student/__icsFiles/afieldfile/2016/04/20/data15_brief_e.pdf (11 June 2016).
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Kanno, Y.
    (2008) Language and education in Japan: Unequal access to bilingualism. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan. doi: 10.1057/9780230591585
    https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230591585 [Google Scholar]
  23. Kinginger, C.
    (2004) Alice doesn’t live here anymore: foreign language learning and identity reconstruction. In A. Pavlenko & A. Blackledge (Eds.), Negotiation of identities in multilingual contexts (pp.219–242). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. (2008) Language learning in study abroad: Case studies of Americans in France. Modern Language Journal, 92, 1–124. doi: 10.1111/j.1540‑4781.2008.00821.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4781.2008.00821.x [Google Scholar]
  25. (2010) American students abroad: Negotiation of difference?Language Teaching, 43, 216–227. doi: 10.1017/S0261444808005703
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0261444808005703 [Google Scholar]
  26. (2013) Identity and language learning in study abroad. Foreign Language Annals, 46(3), 339–358. doi: 10.1111/flan.12037
    https://doi.org/10.1111/flan.12037 [Google Scholar]
  27. Kobayashi, Y.
    (2007) Japanese working women and English study abroad. World Englishes, 26(1), p.62–71. doi: 10.1111/j.1467‑971X.2007.00488.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-971X.2007.00488.x [Google Scholar]
  28. Kramsch, C.
    (2009) The multilingual subject. What foreign language learners say about their experience and why it matters. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Leis, A.
    (2013) The effects of a study abroad experience on the L2 motivational self and metacognitive skills: A study of a junior high school trip abroad. 宮城教育大学紀要 / Bulletin of Miyagi University of Education, 48, 199–209.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Liddicoat, A. J.
    (2007) Internationalising Japan: Nihonjinron and the intercultural in Japanese language-in-education policy. Journal of Multicultural Discourses, 2(1), 32–46. doi: 10.2167/md043.0
    https://doi.org/10.2167/md043.0 [Google Scholar]
  31. Lie, J.
    (2004) The politics of recognition in contemporary Japan. In S. J. Henders (Ed.), Democratization and identity: Regimes and ethnicity in East and Southeast Asia (pp.117–132). Plymouth: Lexington Books.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Llanes, À. , & Muñoz, C.
    (2009) A short stay abroad: Does it make a difference?System, 37, 353–365. doi: 10.1016/j.system.2009.03.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2009.03.001 [Google Scholar]
  33. Maher, J. , & Yashiro, K.
    (1995) Multilingual Japan: An introduction. In J. Maher & K. Yashiro (Eds.), Multilingual Japan (pp.1–17). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Matsui, M.
    (1995) Gender role perceptions of Japanese and Chinese female students in American universities. Comparative Education Review, 39, 356–378. doi: 10.1086/447327
    https://doi.org/10.1086/447327 [Google Scholar]
  35. MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology)
    MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) (2015) Heisei 25 nendo kotogakko nado ni okeru kokusai koryu nado no jokyo ni tsuite [The status of high school international exchange for 2014]. Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, International Education Division. Retrieved from www.mext.go.jp/component/a_menu/education/detail/__icsFiles/afieldfile/2015/04/09/1323948_03_2.pdf (25June 2015).
    [Google Scholar]
  36. Mitchell, K.
    (2015) Rethinking the ‘Erasmus effect’on European identity. Journal of Common Market Studies, 53(2), 330–348. doi: 10.1111/jcms.12152
    https://doi.org/10.1111/jcms.12152 [Google Scholar]
  37. Murphy-Lejeune, E.
    (2003) Student mobility and narrative in Europe: The new strangers. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. Norton, B.
    (2000) Identity and language learning. Essex: Pearson Education.
    [Google Scholar]
  39. Norton, B. , & McKinney, C.
    (2011) An identity approach to language acquisition. In D. Atkinson (Ed.), Alternative approaches to second language acquisition. London: Taylor & Francis.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. Norton Pierce, B.
    (1995) Social identity, investment, and language learning. TESOL Quarterly, 29(1), 9–31. doi: 10.2307/3587803
    https://doi.org/10.2307/3587803 [Google Scholar]
  41. OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development)
    OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) (2016) OECD income distribution database (IDD): Gini, poverty, income, methods and concepts. Retrieved from www.oecd.org/social/income-distribution-database.htm (5May 2016).
    [Google Scholar]
  42. Pavlenko, A.
    (2007) Autobiographic narratives as data in applied linguistics. Applied Linguistics, 28(2), 163–188. doi: 10.1093/applin/amm008
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amm008 [Google Scholar]
  43. Plews, J.
    (2015) Intercultural identity-alignment in second language study abroad, or the more-or-less Canadians. In R. Mitchell , N. Tracy-Ventura , & K. McManus (Eds.), Social interaction, identity and language learning during residence abroad (pp.281–304). www.eurosla.org/monographs/EM04/Plews.pdf
    [Google Scholar]
  44. Potowski, K.
    (2007) Language and identity in a dual immersion school. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
    [Google Scholar]
  45. Saldaña, J.
    (2012) The coding manual for qualitative researchers. London: Sage.
    [Google Scholar]
  46. Skarin, R.
    (2001) Gender, ethnicity, class and social identity: a case study of two Japanese women in US universities. In E. Churchill & J. McLaughlin (Eds.), Qualitative research in applied linguistics: Japanese learners and contexts, (pp.26–55). Tokyo: Temple University.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. Spenader, A. J.
    (2011) Language learning and acculturation: Lessons from high school and gap-year exchange students. Foreign Language Annals, 44(2), 381–398. doi: 10.1111/j.1944‑9720.2011.01134.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1944-9720.2011.01134.x [Google Scholar]
  48. Statistics Bureau of Japan
    Statistics Bureau of Japan (2015) Outline of the 2015 population census of Japan. Statistics Bureau of Japan. Retrieved from www.stat.go.jp/english/data/kokusei/2015/pdf/outline.pdf (5May 2016).
    [Google Scholar]
  49. Taguchi, N.
    (2011) The effect of L2 proficiency and study-abroad experience on pragmatic comprehension. Language Learning, 61(3), 904–939. doi: 10.1111/j.1467‑9922.2011.00633.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9922.2011.00633.x [Google Scholar]
  50. Takahashi, K.
    (2012) Language learning, gender and desire: Japanese women on the move. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
    [Google Scholar]
  51. Tan, D. , & Kinginger, C.
    (2013) Exploring the potential of high school homestays as a context for local engagement and negotiation of difference. In C. Kinginger (Ed.), Social and cultural aspects of language learning in study abroad (pp.155–177). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi: 10.1075/lllt.37.07tan
    https://doi.org/10.1075/lllt.37.07tan [Google Scholar]
  52. Tanaka, K.
    (2007) Japanese students’ contact with English outside the classroom during study abroad. New Zealand Studies in Applied Linguistics, 13(1), 36–54.
    [Google Scholar]
  53. Tanaka, K. , & Ellis, R.
    (2003) Study abroad, language proficiency, and learner beliefs about language learning. JALT Journal, 25(1), 63–85.
    [Google Scholar]
  54. Toohey, K.
    (2000) Learning English at school: Identity, social relations, and classroom practice. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
    [Google Scholar]
  55. Tsuneyoshi, R.
    (2005) Internationalization strategies in Japan: The dilemmas and possibilities of study abroad programs using English. Journal of Research in International Education, 4(1), 65–86. doi: 10.1177/1475240905050291
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1475240905050291 [Google Scholar]
  56. Twombly, S. , Salisbury, M. , Tumanut, S. , & Klute, P.
    (2012) Study abroad in a new global century: renewing the promise, refining the purpose. ASHE Higher Education Report38(4), 1–168.
    [Google Scholar]
  57. Vande Berg, M. , Paige, R. M. , Lou, K. H.
    (2012) Student learning abroad: What our students are learning, what they’re not, and what we can do about it. Retrieved from www.eblib.com (25 June 2016).
    [Google Scholar]
  58. Weedon, C.
    (1996) Feminist practice and poststructuralist theory. Oxford: Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  59. Wilkinson, S.
    (1998) Study abroad from the participants’ perspective: A challenge to common beliefs. Foreign Language Annals, 31(1), 23–39. doi: 10.1111/j.1944‑9720.1998.tb01330.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1944-9720.1998.tb01330.x [Google Scholar]
  60. Wolcott, T.
    (2013) Myth, desire, and subjectivity in one student’s account of study abroad in France. In C. Kinginger (Ed.), Social and cultural aspects of language learning in study abroad (pp.127–154). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi: 10.1075/lllt.37.06wol
    https://doi.org/10.1075/lllt.37.06wol [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): cultural identity; desire; duty; Japanese; second language identities; study abroad
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error