Negotiating Bilingual and Bicultural Identities: Japanese Returnees Betwixt Two Worlds

Negotiating Bilingual and Bicultural Identities: Japanese Returnees Betwixt Two Worlds

Negotiating Bilingual and Bicultural Identities: Japanese Returnees Betwixt Two Worlds

Negotiating Bilingual and Bicultural Identities: Japanese Returnees Betwixt Two Worlds

Synopsis

This book examines the changing linguistic and cultural identities of bilingual students through the narratives of four Japanese returnees ( kikokushijo) as they spent their adolescent years in North America and then returned to Japan to attend university.

As adolescents, these students were polarized toward one language and culture over the other, but through a period of difficult readjustment in Japan they became increasingly more sophisticated in negotiating their identities and more appreciative of their hybrid selves. Kanno analyzes how educational institutions both in their host and home countries, societal recognition or devaluation of bilingualism, and the students' own maturation contributed to shaping and transforming their identities over time. Using narrative inquiry and communities of practice as a theoretical framework, she argues that it is possible for bilingual individuals to learn to strike a balance between two languages and cultures.

Negotiating Bilingual and Bicultural Identities: Japanese Returnees Betwixt Two Worlds:

• is a longitudinal study of bilingual and bicultural identities--unlike most studies of bilingual learners, this book follows the same bilingual youths from adolescence to young adulthood;

• documents student perspectives --redressing the neglect of student voice in much educational research, and offering educators an understanding of what the experience of learning English and becoming bilingual and bicultural looks like from the students' point of view; and

• contributes to the study of language, culture, and identity by demonstrating that for bilingual individuals, identity is not a simple choice of one language and culture but an ongoing balancing act of multiple languages and cultures.

This book will interest researchers, educators, and graduate students who are concerned with the education and personal growth of bilingual learners, and will be useful as text for courses in ESL/bilingual education, TESOL, applied linguistics, and multicultural education.

Excerpt

This book examines the development of bilingual and bicultural identities. Specifically, I am interested in how young bilingual learners' sense of who they are and their relationship to their two languages and two (or more) cultures change as they move from adolescence to young adulthood. Using narrative inquiry and communities of practice as my theoretical framework, I reconstruct and analyze the identity narratives of four teenage Japanese students who spent several years in North America and then returned to Japan. Called kikokushijo (returnees), these students are the sons and daughters of Japanese businessmen who were transferred abroad. Spending their adolescent years in North America (mainly Canada) and returning to Japan as they moved into young adulthood, the students gradually became more sophisticated in negotiating their bilingual and bicultural identities with their surroundings. As adolescents, they initially tended to lean toward one language and culture over the other, as if believing that if one is Canadian, one cannot be Japanese, and vice versa. But through a period of difficult readjustment back home, as young adults the students gradually awakened to the possibility that one can be bilingual and bicultural. They came to appreciate their hybrid identities, learning to belong to Japanese culture without having to sacrifice their differences. This study documents that process of growth.

Three characteristics of this book distinguish it from other studies of bilingual and bicultural identities. First of all, this is a longitudinal study. Few studies have followed the same bilingual students over a long period of time because of the time and energy it requires to maintain contact with a highly mobile population (Rogers & Ward, 1993). Most studies report only . . .

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