In International Education Policy in Japan in an Age of Globalisation and Risk, Robert Aspinall analyses the ways in which Japanese government policies on English language education and the promotion of Study Abroad have been implemented in schools and universities throughout Japan. The disjuncture between the aims of policy and the realities on the ground faced by individual teachers and students is explored in detail.
Education policy designed to help to prepare Japan for the challenges of globalisation constantly comes up against institutional inertia, norms of teaching and learning, and concepts of national culture that obstruct the mastering of foreign languages or the acceptance of cultural, ethnic or linguistic diversity.
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Robert W. Aspinall, D.Phil, received his doctorate from St. Antony's College, Oxford. He published Teachers Unions and the Politics of Education in Japan (SUNY) in 2001. He is a professor in the Department of Social Systems, Shiga University.
"Goodman, who provides a forward to Aspinall's book..., describes the low level of spoken English as `One of the great mysteries of Japan'. This is the first book to analyse this mystery by scrutinizing the country's ELT policies for internationalization and examining why they were issued, how they were implemented, and what effects were brought about." Ayako Suzuki, Tamagawa University, Japan, ELT Journal, August 2014
"This book has come out of Robert Aspinall's long-standing research on policy for, and the practices of, English-language education in Japan. His critical views on this theme remain in this book: Japan's dealing with language education as part of its educational internationalization project is a failure. As stated in the foreword by Roger Goodman, the book tries to offer a 'full examination' of the mysteries of Japan, i.e., 'how, in a country which is so embedded in the global economy and networks of communication, the level of spoken English is so low'. By exploring the theme of education in Japan from a variety of perspectives, Aspinall maintains that 'Japan's international education policy at all levels has failed'..."
Masako Shibata, Pacific Affairs (Vol. 87, No. 2, June 2014)
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"Given the significance of this subject, and the large number of foreign researchers with first-hand experience of its practical manifestations, it is surprising that it has attracted relatively little scholarly attention, at least in English.[...] One of the merits of this book is that it gathers together the fruits of many other smaller studies to present an unusually comprehensive overview of the current state of affairs. It will certainly be an essential reference and point of departure for future research on the topic." Peter Cave, The Journal of Japanese Studies (Vol. 40, No. 2, Summer 2014, pp. 545-549)
"This book offers a helpful analysis of the history, culture, policy and practice of English Language Education in Japan. It has rich resources that are organized systematically to include formal/informal context for learning, and teachers' and students' perspectives at different school levels..."
Manabu Sumida, Journal of Education for Teaching: International research and pedagogy (Vol. 39, No. 4, 2013)
" ... it remains one of the most comprehensive studies of English-language education in Japan currently available. It will be of interest to all Japan scholars, and more or less required reading for anyone concerned with English-language teaching in Japan."
Ian Hosack, British Journal of Educational Studies (Vol. 61, No. 3, 2013)
"International Education Policy in Japan in an Age of Globalisation and Risk explores a question [...]: Why, despite much policy attention and many educational reforms, does English language teaching in Japan fail to equip students with the skills to interact successfully with people from other nations? This thought-provoking study focuses on foreign language education and study abroad programmes and the research is complemented by many examples from the author's decades of experience in Japan. It will be of interest to anyone who has ever wondered about the level of foreign language ability among the Japanese, and many of Robert Aspinall's arguments will ring true to those who teach English in Japan. In this informative volume, Aspinall analyses the learning of English as a foreign language through the lens of globalisation and Beck's (1992) sociological paradigm of risk society to make sense of the decisions made by institutions and individuals that influence the outcomes of government policy. [...]this book is an enjoyable read, provides a valuable foundation for those seeking to understand more about English language education policy in Japan, and is a useful addition to the growing literature focusing on Japan's attempts to promote the international outlook of its education system."
Annette Bradford, Meiji University, JALT Journal (Vol. 37, No. 1, May 2015, pp. 59-62)
'The book is no doubt an important contribution and a substantial addition to the studies on international education in Japan. I hope that the book will be widely read by scholars, policymakers, and practitioners in the related field and will enliven the debate and further studies on internationalization of Japan.'
Izumi MORI, University of Tokyo, Social Science Japan Journal 17, (2015)
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