Language Choice of Intermarried Families in Japan

Language environment choice of bilingual families

Although many children acquire one language at a time, children’s exposure to more than one language in their primary language acquisition has for centuries been the norm in many parts of the world. In particular, the Western worlds, greater mobility of people, and consequent cross-linguistic/cross-cultural relationships have resulted in children’s bilingualism with early exposure to two languages often within the family.

Questions relevant for monolingual first language acquisition are also relevant for bilingual first language acquisition, also referred to as infant bilingualism or the simultaneous acquisition of two languages. Indeed the study of how children acquire two languages simultaneously can shed light on the question of language acquisition generally. The question that whether the young child initially forms one linguistic system, which he or she gradually differentiates into two separate linguistic systems, or whether the child forms two separate linguistic systems from the onset of development.

Language integration, or contact between the bilingual’s two languages, plays a significant role in the debate between those espousing either the one-system hypothesis or the two-system hypothesis. Young children acquiring two languages simultaneously from birth appear to mix languages indiscriminately at the word level, at the utterance level, and across utterances within a single conversation.

The term language integrations can cover a variety of phenomena. Hence a closer look at what is meant by this term and analogous terms used in the literature will provide the necessary point of departure for a discussion of the issue in early bilingualism. More often than not, scholars will use the same label for phenomena which to various degrees are inherently different. This is also the case for studies of language mixing in the child’s acquisition of two languages from birth. In any case, the situation is different from one in which the child’s parents speak the language of the community to the child until he has reached the age of 6 months and then introduce another language, for example, if Mike had lived in the USA instead of Japan, and English, with community support, was introduced when he reached 6 months of age.

Hence since both Japanese and English were part of his language environment from birth, Mike’s bilingual acquisition should be considered an example of bilingual first language acquisition, or the simultaneous acquisition of two languages. By the ‘simultaneous’ acquisition of two languages, then, we refer to a situation in which the child is exposed to two languages from birth. Whether or not the child gets equal input from both languages from the start is not at the crux of the problem here since even more mature bilinguals will have differential use for each of two (or more) languages. What is of importance, however, is that the child is in a stable environment for the initial stage of life.

This chapter examines the issue of language environment choice and poses several questions. What are the main factors determining language environment formation? What role does family play in creating necessary language orientations for their children and what is the specific role of mothers and fathers in this view? How do social conditions influence the choice of language environment? To answer this question we are going to discuss and interpret the stories of several bilingual families that would help us provide analysis on the different situations that cause language environment choice.

The reasons for choosing a language environment

The role of family and particular mothers in choosing a language environment can be enormous as concluded by Harrison, Bellin, and Piette (1977), who conducted a study by interviewing 311 mothers on language choice. The study results show that mothers played an important role in their children’s language choices. They found that children chose one language for social and psychological reasons rather than for linguistic reasons, and their language development was greatly influenced by their mother’s language behavior. The choice of language environment in bilingual families can vary from the categorical adoption only of one language or compromising bilingual education for the children. In its turn this choice is determined by the intersection of various factors such as parents’ identities, projecting them on the future of a child, and features of the social environment in which past, present, and the future of the family are concentrated.

We should discern these social and symbolic factors from the strategies that are used in creating a language environment. These strategies are the results of certain permanent dispositions that had already defined a choice of language environment. Among such strategies, one should mention the principle of one person one language, which states that that separating the two languages from infancy would help the child learn both languages without any extra effort or confusion. Another approach is called “mixed languages” and is the most widespread in bilingual families at the early stages of a child’s socialization.

The language strategies and the choice of the environment are coordinated but do not have a linear dependency. It would be better seen in the analysis of different bilingual families in Japan.

Mothers speaking English

Acquiring literacy in the minority language can open up a new world of literature and thereby language to the child. No amount of visiting the country where the language is spoken or contact with other speakers can hope to give a child as rich a vocabulary and such a mastery of the nuances of the language as a thorough immersion in its children’s literature. In some countries, schools offer education in the home language often concentrating on reading and writing. In other countries schools run by the local minority language community have served the same purpose. If neither of these options is available, it is up to the parents to support their children as best they can either within the family or in co-operation with other families in a similar situation.

There are many advantages for the child who has a reasonable mastery of a second language. In the case of an immigrant family, where both parents come from the same language background, the child will need the minority language to communicate with the parents, assuming that the parents use the minority language, even if the child answers them in the majority language. The majority of language is needed for school and social activities, and there is not usually any problem getting children to use it. In the case of the mixed language family, the minority language may not be essential for communication; the parent who speaks that language may have at least some knowledge of the majority language for his or her own needs. In both these types of families, a child who can speak or at least understand the minority language has a channel open for communication not only with the parent or parents who speak the language but also to grandparents, cousins, and family friends and their children.

Some mixed families in Japan consciously choose English as the dominant language of communication with children. The mothers are more inclined than fathers to make a categorical one-sided choice of language environment, which partly can be explained by Josselson’s claim that women’s identity formation is influenced by important people in their life and social determinants of their family. Naturally, Japanese women in mixed families have more voice in choosing language environments, but what are other factors determining the choice?

The choice of English as the dominant language of communication means that a mother’s identity is strictly directed to the Western values and future opportunities for their children. Thus, Bourdieu’s notion of cultural and symbolical capital may be very helpful. According to Bourdieu’s socioanalysis, the social dispositions are determined by the structure of capital a social agent can acquire. The structure of capital includes not only capital in the Marxian sense but also cultural and symbolical capital that can be exchanged for other types of capital. Thus, a choice of English-language environment can be understood as an investment in cultural capital. Norton (Norton-Pierce, 1995; Norton, 2000) also develops the notion of investment in language learning, adapting Bourdieu’s (1977) concept of the relationship between identity and power. Norton claims that the notion of motivation utilized by many theorists does not take into account the relationship between power, identity, and the learners’ commitment to learning the target language. But the orienting on English as the source of cultural capital is peculiar for the majority of the families analyzed. Thus, there must exist something else that determines the uncompromised choice of English as the dominant language of communication.

The reason for this must be searched in strictly pro-Western orientations of certain mothers, which result from their cosmopolitan cultural backgrounds. It happens fairly often in mixed language families that the parents start each speaking their languages to the children, but eventually drift into using the majority language together. This seems to be more likely to happen if the parents use the majority language when speaking to each other so that the minority language parent only has to shift into that language to speak to the children. If the children go through a stage (temporary or permanent) of answering the minority language parent in the majority language it is easy to go on in that language, which is the children’s dominant language.

The parent may then give up what feels like an uphill struggle to impose a language on reluctant children, and stop using the minority language altogether or use it sporadically. This result can feel like a failure all around. If it is at all possible it may be better to carry on using the minority language to the children, even if they respond in the majority language: they will be learning passive skills just by listening, and passive knowledge of a language can easily become active on a trip to a country where the language is spoken. Thus, the discussion of English-speaking mothers should take into consideration both assumptions.

Miku case

Miku’s case shows that her cultural identity from her childhood formed under the great influence of Western culture and English through her mother. Thus, her marriage to American must be considered from the point of view of her initial cultural orientations, which can be summed that she saw English language and Western culture as more perspective for her and her future children. Therefore, though she realizes that it is natural for mothers to speak in their mother tongue to their babies she sang Mother goose in English and said everything in English.

Moreover, she consciously avoided using Japanese to her child, which can be confirmed by the fact that for instance, she wanted to say ‘stop”, she first thought in Japanese and then translated it into English and said it. It certifies the fact that she managed to develop a “repressive identity” (in Marcuse’s sense) regards Japanese culture and language. In the Japanese environment, this blocking of the formation of Japanese identity in her child had created an inferiority complex in Miku.

For instance, in her interview, she notes that: “When I took my daughter to a park by myself, people in the park look at me as if saying “look, why is she speaking English even if she is not a native speaker?”. Thus, she feels that her falling out of Japanese culture and westernization is considered to be weird, which in turn results in mental self-protection – she claims that it is her responsibility to teach her daughter English because her husband has no time for it. She proudly says: “I speak English, even if my English is not good, I speak English for my daughter. I accomplished my work!”. The emphasis she puts on English to the prejudice of Japanese is realized by Miku but compromised. As she says: “…I knew that she might have a problem with the Japanese language in the future, but I did not think about it, then.”

Natsuko case

Natsuko’s Case shows another and even more profound example of assimilated cultural identity. Her English orientation in the family is evident since she always speaks English to her husband and son. She also communicates in English with Japanese-English bilingual English friends, however, either she uses English with bilingual Japanese Friends unless they do not speak in English to her or she mixes two languages whoever she speaks with. She watches TV programs and videos and reads books and magazines in both languages in Japan whereas she listens to music and radio only in English. This orientation has a deep effect on their son. Although he is bilingual his interest is mainly in Western culture since he watches T.V. and videos and reads books and comics in English more than in Japanese, whereas he always listens to music in English. Natsuko sent her son John to Kumon courses where he was one of the best pupils in English. His success in English made him more interested in English-speaking actors and music, thus developing western identity.

Thus, we can see that orientation on English significantly changes the language environment, for the primary focus is made on English-speaking audio-visual information, communication in the family and with friends. The alienation from the dominant cultural patterns of Japanese society which these practices cause makes the identity awareness even stronger and articulated, which leads to cultural assimilation within an English-speaking environment.

Mothers Speaking Japanese

The one-parent-one language method usually means that the child is introduced to both languages from birth. Some parents and others feel that two languages at once are too much for a tiny baby to deal with. They are afraid that the child will end up completely confused without real competence in either language. These fears may be fuelled by observing young children at a certain stage of bilingual development who freely mix the languages and even older children who mix the languages in certain circumstances.

However, young children, despite a period of confusion and frustration, seem to get it all sorted out if they get enough input in both languages, even if the parents are not especially consistent. The older children learn that they can mix the languages for ease of communication or for effect with others who share their linguistic background, but they soon learn to keep the languages ‘pure’ when around monolinguals, at least at the lexical (word) level, even if they still have interference from the majority language in their grammar and pronunciation of the minority language.

Bilingual education is the most common choice of language environment for mothers speaking Japanese. This choice is determined by the fact that they have a more pronounced national identity and not so proficient in English to maintain a conversation. So, they understand that their knowledge is not sufficient to completely engage children in an English-speaking environment so they decide to choose the option of bilingual education.

Rika’s case

In Rika’s case, she knows the advantages of the “one parent one language” concept and consciously decides to choose a bilingual environment for her child since her English ability is far from native and her husband Japanese is the same. Thus, the parents decided to use their native languages in communication with their daughter while paying more attention to English as a “language of logical thinking”.

Thus, it may be seen that Rika took a more rational approach to create a language environment and managed to elaborate a similar educational policy with her husband. Rika and her husband let their daughter choose from videos and books in American and Japanese, thus creating an intrinsically bilingual environment. As she says: “We give her an environment to access English but we don’t want to control her to watch only English. I mean we didn’t want to control her, let her choose which language she wanted to choose”.

Although they tried to create an equal balance between English and Japanese Rika’s family seems to go in line with the common tendency of American-Japanese families to pay more attention to English as a perspective language. For instance, Rika confirms that she tried to inspire her daughter to watch English videos (ballets) more often than Japanese. The creating of the bilingual environment as Rika’s case suggests while creating more freedom of opportunities, presupposes regulation on behalf of the parents.

Drawing on the Steiner model of education Rika and her husband introduced some constraints on watching TV and other activities for their daughter. One should also pay attention to the fact that the freedom of choice and fostering bilingualism are not sufficient for becoming bilingual. There exists natural press in favor of English resulting from the cultural and social orientations of Rika’s family. Thus, she thinks that her daughter would be more inclined to become English-speaking than Japanese. This is the main contradiction – even in the case of bilingualism promotion English is likely to become the dominant language of identity. Rika’s daughter often goes to the United States (once a year) and seems to have positive image of this country and overall English-speaking environment.

Kumiko’s case

Kumiko (Ikuko) didn’t have even elementary knowledge of English. Her husband didn’t understand her at all though she thought that knew some English words. The bad knowledge of English increased the inferiority complex in Kumiko which worsened and worsened. That resulted in Kumiko’s adoption of a negative attitude towards English. Besides this Kumiko is rather nationalistic and patriotic, since she thinks that people living in Japan should speak Japanese. Moreover, unlike other interviewed mothers Kumiko is not particularly interested in Western culture and American culture. So, interestingly, when she first met her future husband Jim, she said to him that all foreigners in Japan should speak Japanese.

Moreover, as it was noted above Kumiko stresses the fact that she is Japanese. But, notwithstanding this negative orientation to English Kumiko realizes that living in a bilingual family requires significant concessions on her part. She knows that children with two languages have more to learn than monolingual children and are, therefore, even in greater need of support from their parents.

Kumiko agrees that parents in bilingual families need to be very active and spend a lot of time talking with their children. Books are an important resource. In the mixed language family, the natural thing would be to have each parent read to and sing and play with their child in their language. While realizing the necessity of creating a sound bilingual environment she well understands that sending her son to International School would mean that he places more emphasis on English than Japanese.

Mothers who struggle to choose one language

To link social psychological processes underlying inter-ethnolinguistic group behavior to their proper sociocultural settings and identify the socio-structural factors which promote or impede the maintenance of an ethnic minority language, Giles, Bourhis & Taylor (1977) developed the concept of ethnolinguistic vitality (ELV), which has since been extended and applied in a variety of contexts. They define the vitality of an ethnolinguistic group as that which makes a group behave as a distinctive and active collective entity in inter-group situations. ELV can be evaluated by three classes of objective factors, namely, status, demography, and institutional support.

Briefly stated, the status factors include those variables which reflect a group’s economic and political power, its social status, social-historical standing, and the status of the ethnic language (s), relative to the various out-groups. Demographic factors refer to the total population of the group, and its concentration and distribution over a territory; the number of mixed marriages, birth rate, and patterns of immigration and emigration are relevant variables here. Institutional support factors refer to the degree of support the group and its language enjoy in the various informal and formal institutions of the society, such as, for example, in the home, the mass media, and education.

Giles, Bourhis & Taylor (1977) hypothesized that each of these factors would affect the vitality of an ethnolinguistic group positively or negatively. They further proposed that ethnolinguistic communities could be meaningfully grouped according to the above three factors based on the available historical, sociological, demographic, and other data. Using such a framework, ethnolinguistic groups could be classified as possessing high, medium, or low vitality, which would help define and compare ethnolinguistic groups across cultures. It is argued that the higher the vitality, the more likely a group, and its language are to survive as a distinctive entity.

So far, our discussion has focused on ‘objective’ assessments of ELV. But do ethnolinguistic group members perceive their situation along the same lines as the objective analysis? Their subjective assessment may be just as important in determining interethnic group behavior; members may underestimate or exaggerate the ELV of the in-group or the out-group, and so on. A combination of objective and subjective measures would provide a better understanding of relations between groups in terms of their ethnolinguistic vitality.

The concept of subjectively perceived ethnolinguistic vitality claims to take into account individual members’ cognitive representations of the social conditions in which they live and mediates between their intergroup behaviors. This concept provides a theoretical and empirical starting point for bridging the conceptual gap between sociological and social psychological approaches to inter-ethnolinguistic group relations. To try to measure perceived ethnolinguistic vitality, a ‘Subjective Vitality Questionnaire’ (SVQ) was designed by Bourhis, Giles & Rosenthal (1981). On this questionnaire, members rate their group relative to one or more out groups on the three main vitality dimensions. The relationships between objective and subjective vitality, as well as the validity of the questionnaire, have been investigated in several empirical studies.

The findings of a variety of studies across the world have confirmed that perceptions of majorities and minorities match objective ELV estimates on many of the subjective vitality dimensions.

Mamiko’s case

Mamiko’s struggle to choose one language was quite effectively organized. Though she didn’t speak English when some friends were around, she spoke Japanese. But when she stayed in the family circle with Jack and her husband she made everything possible to cultivate his interest in English. She was afraid that Japanese occupies the first place in the language environment and thus did everything possible to make English the dominant language of communication. She motivated her efforts by saying that English is an international language and is extremely important in the contemporary world. Moreover, Mamiko wants her children to go to the United States because according to her view this country opens more opportunities for their future.

Yumiko’s case

As in the case of Mamiko’s struggle for English in Yumiko family aimed to maximize English input at home. The communication with her husband is always in English and her husband always speaks English to their children. Yumiko speaks in Japanese more than in English with her children. Nevertheless, the main emphasis is put on learning and speaking English. The effect of these efforts is obvious since as Yumiko notes though she speaks Japanese with their daughter, she always seeks the possibility to speak English with her father.

Their son used to do English workbooks bought in the United States and the father reads English books to the children before they go to bed and Yumiko reads to them books in Japanese. Parents are planning to send their children to a summer camp in the U.S. to improve their language skills.

Chikako’s case

In the Chikako family, the struggle for English is radical. The main rule in the language environment in the family is that all its members speak only English. There was created a strong discipline in the home concerning the avoidance of influence of social language – Japanese. Chikako spoke only English with her daughter, watched TV and videos only in English. To avoid Japanese utilization in the family was the main task of Chikako. Chikako spent much time giving basic English education to her children Jim and Alice (even their names show her deep identity with American culture), though she says it was problematic and difficult for her. But notwithstanding her efforts to introduce English discipline she thinks that becoming bilingual is the main priority for her children.

Sumiko’s case

Sumiko’s efforts were also directed to cultivate interest in English in her children. She played and sang a lot of English songs to Sophina such as Disney songs, She managed to learn the whole song quickly though she didn’t understand the words. She like these songs. She regarded these tasks as her primary responsibilities.

To sum it up, measures and strategies utilized to increase children’s interest in English may vary from the conscious limitation of Japanese use, or by inspiring interest in English through games, songs while allowing choosing between languages. The option chosen depends on the cultural identity articulation of mothers and their attitude to bilingualism and Japanese culture. Moreover, as the importance of English is realized in terms of future education and career developments, more emphasis is likely to be put on creating an English-speaking environment.

Fathers’ role in language environment choice

Certain activities also index gender in various societies, and this may have an impact on the father’s involvement with his children. For example, an activity such as changing nappies (or diapers) may be considered ‘woman’s work’ in some societies, and hence the father would avoid partaking in such an activity so as not to have his gender role questioned. For purposes of analysis, Lamb (1987b) points out that three components are distinguishable in parental involvement in child caring.

One involves the time spent in actual interaction with the child, another the time in which the parent is accessible to the child, although not in face-to-face interaction; the final component concerns the extent to which the parent takes ultimate responsibility for the welfare and care of the child. American and Japanese societies are both modern societies, and hence one would expect the roles of mother and father, and hence parental involvement, to be quite similar across these societies. Although this is to a large degree true, there are important differences, and this concerns paternal involvement in child care activities.

Lamb ( 1987b: 17-22) in his study of ‘the emergent American father’ isolates four “determinants of father involvement” in child care activities. These determinants can be used as points of comparison for discussing Norwegian fathers. Motivation is an important determinant of the father’s involvement with his child. This characteristic is individual; however, it will also be affected by sociocultural definitions of fatherhood, and the extent to which there are sharp gender distinctions in society. The father’s skills and self-confidence are other determinants, according to Lamb (1987b), since motivation alone cannot ensure increased involvement.

The support the father receives, especially the support from within the family and particularly from the mother, will be significant in the degree to which the father becomes involved with his child. It is perhaps the fourth determinant that will have an important impact on the other three and hence contribute to what we may call an ideology of the role of the father (cf. the discussion above on language ideology): institutional practices.

According to Lamb ( 1987b), scheduling would contribute even more to fathers’ involvement in the long run than merely paternity leave, as it would provide the opportunity for the father to be more with his child(ren). Hence it is the differences in these institutional practices that appear to contribute to different constructions of the role of the father in American societies.

Mamiko’s family (Mr. Martin Mamiko’s husband)

Martin father of Jimmy and Jenny told in the interview that he feels that Jimmy is really lucky because he had a little bit more time with him. He feels that when Jenny came along Jimmy was taking up a lot of time and another thing is that Jimmy liked to be held when he was a little kid and Jenny doesn’t like to be held. Martin was very keen that his kids can speak English and become bilingual because they have double citizenship and if in their future they’d like to try the other country, they should have these kinds of opportunities to deal with confidence and so he was concerned. He purposefully tried to inundate Jimmy with as much English as possible, he took care of a lot of the feeding and bathing and domestic chores with Jimmy, with Jenny it was even very little and purposely spoke with him a lot. He talked to him incisively all the time. He adopted every possible method to improve the English of his kids.

Martin told that his major concern was that his kids have complete command over the English language. He describes his expertise in the field of linguistics by saying that he took courses on teaching English as a second language in college and so he is not ignorant of linguistics as a field but the major impetus is that he really wants his kids to be bilingual.

He knew the importance of the involvement of the father. He understands that unless the father is not actively involved children cannot become good bilinguals. Martin shows his concern about the Japanese education system. He told that before his marriage he worked as an English teacher and he came across many people who show their displeasure about the Japanese education system. It is very tough.

He gives his personal example and says that he was a late bloomer and said that in the American school system, there is a system where you can hold people back, and if the kids are not good learners then they are holding back. Martin himself was holding back in third grade and that proved very useful for him. For him, it was a very good thing, and he got the impression that this sort of thing is not allowed in Japan. He thought that the juku system is very rigid. That is why he wanted to put Jimmy in international school so that he may get good in English.

Martin has a very good grasp of the educational system and he knows and minutely considers each and everything. He gave good arguments for putting his son into a Japanese school and thought he can learn a lot but at the same, he was concerned about difficult terminologies of Math and other subjects which Jimmy might have to learn again in English as well. He feels that although it is beneficial to study math and other subjects twice it can confuse the learner because of terminologies and teaching style. He concludes that now they decided to put Jimmy back into international school as he has no time doing everything twice.

For Jenny, he told her that she was also doing the vocabulary course, the full course, and she is really good and she learns the vocabulary very quickly. She also tends to forget it very quickly. It’s another problem. But she is really good and as far as that goes she has got a really good sounding, she could be very good at this. They decided to put her into an international school so that she can get more comfortable with language give and take, that’s where if she is weak.

He further says that now he teaches her exclusively, he does not work with Jimmy at all—anymore. Jimmy is very busy. He wants to give Jimmy a chance to learn everything in both languages and this process if lags behind his peers then Martin is not much concerned about it. He also gave the example of California where bilingual education was an issue as well because of the larger Spanish population.

For making his kids bilingual he is ready to sacrifice their few years if they lag behind their peers in the process. Martin again gives an example of California and its bilingual society people speaking English with different accents. He thinks that experience in the International School of Japan will help his kids in the states. He wants to prepare his kids for future challenges and opportunities.

While grooming his kids for the future he is not much concerned about the job market but he has great concerns about the Japanese education system.

Martin feels that Jimmy is not very good at writing composition. He doesn’t like composition. But it is necessary for learning English and it will be greatly helpful throughout his life. He is quite strict with his kids for teaching them composition. He knows its importance in academic life and practical life as well. He tries to make his composition exercise more and more interesting. He teaches them with the help of stories and other interesting things.

Martin seems to be very concerned about the education of his children. Apart from English, he says that Math is also important. He feels that American’s score in Math is going down. He appreciates the old-fashioned style of learning called Kumon. He wants his kids to learn it. It is greatly helpful in learning Math.

Martin was still reluctant in deciding which will be their final choice for their children Japanese schools or International schools. He feels that money also plays an important role in making decisions because going to international schools requires a lot of money.

When he speaks about Jenny’s class he expresses his utter satisfaction. He feels that Jenny’s class fellow girls are very good. He liked his talking with one another. He thinks international school is very good for Jenny. He expresses his interaction with Jenny in detail. He says that when she is in class she only speaks English for 90 minutes continuously but when she comes out it is Japanese. At home, they also speak English and Japanese. But he has to be very careful. While reading stories, playing games, and speaking about the story they try to speak both languages. Although Martin tries to make her speak Japanese most of the time out of class, she also speaks English.

Chikako’s husband

Jack’s father realized that it was his responsibility to teach his son English that is why he spent a lot of time with him reading, doing various exercises, and organizing the process of homeschooling. When Jack’s father had to go on a business trip he left further instructions for his son on the tape. So even in the absence of his father Jack could study English. Like Mamiko, her husband Dennis bought many English games, videos, and books to cultivate Jack’s interest in learning English. And that proved to be very efficient. Moreover, the father inspired Jack to play various games which were supported by English words and implied writing, which made the process of studying interesting and thrilling.

Sumiko’s husband

Sumiko’s husband is more attentive to his daughter’s needs. If he tries to read English books and they don’t like it he changes to Japanese. Nevertheless, there was a time when he forced his daughters to speak only English at home and it was a manifestation of his desire to make English the dominant language in his family. He was trying very hard to give them English input but at the end of the day, his efforts proved helpless and insufficient. But soon the father found a way to increase his daughters’ interest in Japanese. As they study it in school and sometimes were criticized by their strict mother for getting bad marks in school, they mainly tied Japanese with difficulties in learning and their responsibilities for their mother and teachers. But Sumiko’s husband made up a story of the imaginary classroom with students all over the world and makes the characters of this classroom say many interesting things. Therefore, his daughters became more interested in English as they connect it with entertainment and fun.

Kumiko’s family (Jim, Kumiko’s husband)

Jim, the father of Mike is mainly preoccupied with his son’s future education. He wants to send Mike to International School since he realized that they are good for him but rather expensive. Jim is less than other fathers who try to make his son American. He doesn’t mind if he becomes Japanese. But besides this, he wants that his son became bilingual. Like other fathers he has a plan of moving to the United States, thus he realizes that English is sin qua non his son coping with future challenges and opportunities.

Jim has a family in the United States and makes everything possible to come there with Mike to get him acquainted with his relatives. While in States Mike plays with other children and improves his English. After speaking to his cousin boy he always comes back to Japan with a better knowledge of English. Thus, his visits to the United States are always welcomed by his father.

As Mike travels to the United States he comes to know more about American culture and becomes more attractive to this country’s traditions and lifestyles. Mike says that he likes the American System of Education and would like to study in the United States, so Jim managed to cultivate America’s identity in his son.

Though Jim thinks that his son doesn’t leave behind native speakers of English he pays more attention to improving his son’s phonetics, grammar, and syntactic development. He regards it to be important in creating a robust language environment for his son to avoid problems in his future educational entity. Jim spends much time teaching his son not to do some widespread grammar and phonetic mistakes. It is characteristic of Jim, that while being specifically interested in increasing his son’s interest in English and American culture, he nonetheless allows his son to watch Japanese movies because he thinks it is important for him to remain up-to-date to improve communication between him and his Japanese friends in school. Thus, his reflexive and comprehensive approach to bilingualism proves to be very effective in creating a sound language environment.

Jim is concerned that his son study “proper” English not contaminated by teenage slang and thus, he wants to see him studying in the International Christian University School which provide children with good bilingual education.

To conclude, it must be mentioned that fathers play a great role in cultivating double children’s interest in English since they as native speakers have more abilities to create the necessary language environment. As in the case of mothers, their methods can vary from highly strict limitations for speaking and using Japanese to reflexive and flexible schemata of comprehensive bilingual education for their children. Mike’s father is a good example of such an approach which can be regarded as the most effective for successful bilingual education.

Reading English books / Only English TV and Videos

Different approaches to choice of language environment presuppose different strategies to audio-visual education of children in mixed families. In the case of a strict approach oriented at the formation of English identity reading Japanese books and watching Japanese TV programs and films are frequently prohibited. In the case of a reflective multilingual approach to education, children are allowed to watch and listen to both English and Japanese programs which are regarded as effective for their education.

Chikako’s case

Chikako’s approach to Japanese audio-visual production is negative. She allows her children to watch only English video and TV programs such as Sesame Street and other bilingual programs. Recently they watch Sky Perfect, which is satellite broadcasting and provides plenty of bilingual programs such as Cartoon Network. There are only English videos, which they buy in the States to control language input from the mass media. As for watching movies, even now they watch movies only in English. Chikako thinks the children do not have an idea to watch movies in Japanese since they have been watching movies in English since they were babies. This approach goes in line with other practices to create a dominant English environment in the family and sometimes is not very efficient in terms of reflexive identity construction.

Miku’s case

Miku’s approach to her daughters’ education is more reflexive since she reads to her daughters both Japanese and English books every night. The process of reading is interesting both for Miku and her children since it is made in a game manner – mother and daughters read page by page for each other. Interestingly enough that her elder daughter’s English is now better than hers, thus she finds these exercises to be useful not only for them by for her one improvement of language.

Thus, Miku and her daughters engage in the process of influencing each other which creates a really vigorous language environment. Miku does not introduce any limitations for Japanese programs and music, so their children engage in sound bilingual activities.

Yumiko’s case

Yumiko limits the time the children watch TV at home since the children watch Japanese TV programs at their grand- parent’s house. Therefore, they can only watch a limited number of programs a week. They are allowed to watch English videos at home. However, they know if they ask their father to watch Japanese TV programs, he is not as strict as their mother.

The limitation of Japanese audio and video products use for children is not helpful in terms of developing bilingual children. Even the pragmatic approach claiming that if children watch both English and Japanese programs the language patterns will mix and cause negative effects is not adequate. Therefore, the need exists to create a sound format of bilingual education and experience.

Outside home: International Schools / Playgroup in English

Studying in International Schools and playgroups is considered to be the main prerequisite of bilingual education for children in international families. Though different strategies pursued by parents presuppose different approaches to education.

Mamiko’s case

Mamiko has good professional relations with the National Group of foreign wives married to Japanese men. They are engaged in the organization of various events aimed at enhancing the English skills of their bilingual children. This can be considered a great endeavor gave the lack of English practice for these children due to parents business with work other activities. Though they manage to find free time to devote to the education of their children.

Chikako’s case

Chikako and her husband recognize the importance of playgroups and also send their child to them, but besides this, they pay attention to the serious and permanent elementary education – therefore they sent Alice to a private bilingual kindergarten, but it was mainly a kindergarten for Japanese children, though with great attention to learning English.

Natsuko and Paul

Natsuko and Paul unlike previous families didn’t think about sending their son to an international school. Natsuko when she heard that one of her friends decided to send her child to International School, without consulting her husband decided that she would follow the example. But when her husband found out the plans of his wife he got a negative stance. He opposed this plan due to its alleged expensiveness and long distance from their lodging. Here we see that gender power play had a primary role in communication between wife and husband.

The choice to send John to International School was quite reasonable given the family plans to move to the U.S. in two years. So sending John to International School would be a great possibility to enhance his English skills. Moreover, Natsuko became tired of constantly spending her limited time teaching John English and her English skills were not adequate to allow professional and effective education. At last common sense overweighed the husband’s stubbornness.

They finely decided to interview John in International School. This experience was not so easy for their son since he had to take an exam and interview the school principal on the first day of his study. In presence of his parents, John had to answer the principal’s questions, do different written tests. His oral skills proved to be normal, but written text exposed some spelling and writing weaknesses.

His mistakes made him cry but the principal and teachers reassured him that he performed well. After that, he was sent to the classroom to see his classmates. After that, he was even more frustrated. But as some time passed from his first day he said to his mother that it was beautiful to come to this school. He had hardships only during several days but in the end, he accommodated himself to the new conditions. This case shows the importance of bilingual education and the hardships connected with adaptation to new conditions. These difficulties can be circumvented only in the case of joint efforts of parents, children, and teachers.

Miku’s family

Miku decided to stick to English only policy before her daughter passes the entrance exam. It was conditioned by the high demands and knowledge this school anticipated newcomers to have. Miku chose to enter Yokohama International School and thus her family moved to this city. The result of the English language environment choice was quite effective in terms of bilingualism.

Sumiko’s case

Sumiko is afraid that her son would be frustrated if he enters an American school without adequate knowledge of English because he would be regarded by American children as Japanese. So, Sumiko was determined to completely change his language environment and develop his English-style identity. Sumiko and her husband thus decided to send their son to the International School in Nishimachi, where he could study both Japanese and English. The level of education in this school was quite high to allow him to move to the United States in the future. Thus, Sumiko’s strategy was aimed to create a sound bilingual environment for her son and finally, she achieved those goals.

Going back to husband home

As Clyne (1982) in One Parent, One Language Dopke (1992, p.55) notes the practice of taking children to the United States to see husband’s relatives is quite useful in terms of bilingualism since the child becomes aware of the fact that both languages are useful in different situations. Moreover, frequent visits to the United States of the discussed families allowed their children to install more close contact with American culture and language, which was the main prerequisite for future successful education and career. Bilingualism can be developed in the case of maintaining the balance between languages. That means that to create good bilingual skills It is necessary to visit the native country of the parents.

Discussion: Sources of influence in the family and media

Several linguists and scholars have conducted studies of the relationship between attitudes to learning and its use or choice in different contexts. Yoneyama (1979) used a questionnaire in studying attitudinal and motivational factors among 123 Japanese junior high school students. Lewin (1987) investigated the relationship between attitude and language choice (L1=English, L2=Hebrew) at home on English-speaking immigrants. Oller, Hudson, and Lie (1995) explored the relations between various attitudes related to language learning and attained proficiency of Chinese students in learning English as a second language. Koizumi and Matuo (1993) examined attitudinal and motivational changes over one year in 296 Japanese 7th-grade students learning English. Oliver and Purdie (1993) attempted to examine the attitudes of 58 bilingual children towards their L1 and L2.

They also investigated the attitude bilingual children attribute to parents, teachers at school, and their friends in the context of the home, the classroom, and the school playground. Baker (1992) conducted a study of 797 bilingual Welsh teenagers on the nature and attributes of attitude to bilingualism. He used five variables that were considered to relate to language attitudes: gender, age, language background, types of school, and ability in Welsh. The findings indicated that attitude toward bilingualism is related to the youth culture of teenage years while institutions such as family and school are less related to these attitudes. The results also revealed that individual attributes such as gender, age, and ability in Welsh teenagers had little influence on attitudes.

Each of the women was strongly influenced by the behavior and or action of a close relative in their decision to learn English and this decision was supported by the role models they heard through available media. Mamiko was deeply influenced by her parents which were deeply affected by the English language and Western culture.

Kroger (2000) mentions contexts affecting adolescent identity development and suggests that “…conflict and/or distance often arise when young adolescents attempt to assert their own interest and thoughts…”(p.52). However, when she found out that all she could do after graduation was Ochakumi, (serving tea at a company) she accepted that her father was correct.

Yumiko’s English identity was deeply influenced by the problems her father had with the French language. He started learning it later in life and therefore had a lot of problems connected with it. So Yumiko decided to devote her efforts to studying English and was motivated to do it from early childhood. Then, she worked as a guide and Japan. Her one-sided interest in English was noticed by her boss and then she realized that due to paying much attention to English she lost the possibility to master Japanese and learn Japanese history. This perception led her to the crisis of identity and that is why she had to revisit her attitudes towards Japanese and improve the knowledge of it.

In the case of Rika, her mother’s role in her language in favor of English was crucial. It is important to note that her mother grew up in aftermath of WW2, lived and studied near an American military base, but managing to maintain her national pride. Rika’s mother often traveled to English-speaking countries, which simulated her interest in European culture and English. Thus, her identity formed in the period of the great impact of English-speaking nations, particularly the U.S. on Japanese society.

Miku’s language choice was conditioned by socialization and education processes. When studying in junior high school Miku had a good English teacher, who put a lot of emphasis on the value of English language learning, but she did not study English hard enough although she liked it. She got a perfect English environment as she was living with her English-speaking husband who was very good at Japanese as well. Miku was particularly influenced by English rock music and TV programs which attracted her by their entertaining features. Thus, we can see the definite influence of mass communication on language and identity priorities.

Chikako was deeply affected by her mother’s knowledge of English. Her mother said that she knows English well and asked why she couldn’t achieve the same results. Therefore, Chikako’s language effort was strongly motivated by her desire to surpass her mother. Thus, we can see that the formation of English identity can be deeply influenced by symbolic competition and power game, and these determinants of great importance for understanding the symbolism of the language environment.

The influence that these women received from their family members was further supported by the media they watched. Kumiko Torigai and Yoko Nomura, who were instructors of English programs on TV, were important role models for the three Japanese women. This was not only the case for the three participants introduced in this paper but also other participants in the bigger project mentioned their names. It seems to be effective to have a good role model, particularly of the same gender as the learners, to maintain the learners’ motivation.

Manifestation of their identity in bilingual environment choice

Though bilingual children like Mike, John, and others discussed in this chapter in their language environment were affected by situated investment strategies (Norton, 2000) the influence of their mother’s identities and practical strategies resulting from their own experience can’t be underestimated. The role of English as symbolic capital necessary for occupying high social positions is well understood by their mothers who engage in the game of recognition. Of course, this can sometimes go against the parent’s identity (as in the case of Sumiko) but in the end, they understand that the importance of their children’s fitting in the social conditions is the primary parents’ responsibility.

In Kumiko’s case, she understood that the language environment is sin qua non of English and Japanese studying. If the link between a child and language is torn and the environment is broken, the effect is the degradation of the language skills. She could easily see it in her example. Therefore, she did her best to create a robust language environment and maintain it stable and efficient.

Rika decided to transfer her English-oriented identity that was formed under the influence of her mother to her child. She supported her husband’s determination to frequently visit his relative in the United States and generally, to move to the United States. Her son communicating with American children had a possibility of improving his English skills in a sound English environment.

Mamiko also very early found that studying English to be effective must start from early childhood. She had great difficulties when she came to the United States. It was difficult to adjust to new situations and adjust her communication with Americans. The thing is she started studying English only in junior high school and thus her level was not very high. She got a feeling that no matter how hard she studied she couldn’t reach the level of native speakers. There is no denying the importance of the fact that this deep inferiority complex influenced her determination to make her children native speakers of English.

Here the principle of relatedness discussed by Ericsson came into play. She wanted her children to achieve those goals she couldn’t achieve herself and this was the main direction for her in the future. Her identity itself rested on the adoration of English culture and the United States since in her childhood she received various material presents from her aunt and could enjoy superior university facilities in the United States. Material resources such as those described above as Norton (2000) create a positive image of the country or culture they originate from in the mind of their recipient. This can be easily seen in Mamiko’s case.

This in turn determined her to invest available capital of time and money in her children to produce cultural capital necessary for their future. Mamiko having difficulties with finding a job in Japan and educational problems in American firmly believed that her children shouldn’t repeat her mistakes.

Yumiko has somewhat different problems. She regrets not learning Japanese (her mother tongue) properly and not gaining adequate knowledge of Japan and Japanese culture. Thus, she believes that learning English mustn’t be done at expense of learning Japanese and it is more difficult to learn Japanese later in life than English. This feeling can be explained by the crisis of identity phenomenon. Living in Japan and knowing Japanese would be very negative for her children since they would be regarded as not native speakers. In the United States, the same could happen.

But her theoretical approach is not so well realized in her family and this can be explained by the great influence of her English-speaking husband. The language environment which they created at home is not consistent with her beliefs. They foster creating an English-speaking environment by limiting watching TV programs and videos in Japanese and speaking mainly English with their children.

Her language choice in the family differs from her theoretical assumptions as was noted above. Her language practices replicate those used in her family by her mother. Her sticking to these practices can be explained by the fact that though she understands that bilingualism is very important in international families the loss of the possibility to study English would be a great problem for her children. Thus, she thinks (or her husband thinks) that English must be studied in the first place. Monolinguals sometimes envy those people who know English because a good knowledge of English constitutes an investment in a future career (Yamamoto, 1995, p.80).

Noguchi (2001) analyzed factors influencing people to become active bilinguals.

The study investigated several possible variables which might be connected to children’s bilingualism. The variables she selected were: a) sex of native English-speaking parents and their children’s bilingualism; b) children’s age and bilingualism; c) birth order and bilingualism; and d) parent’s language skills and children’s bilingualism. The participants evaluated their own and their children’s proficiency in both English and Japanese.

The findings revealed no significant difference in bilingualism between the group of native English-speaking fathers and the group of mothers. This factor shows that although there are some gender pressures in decisions on creating a language environment in the family, it can be reduced to this mere fact. The common pattern of international families is that they pay great attention to bilingual education even if like in Sumiko’s case the negative stance to western culture is taken.

The study also found out that in the case of second children of native English-speaking fathers are less likely to become active bilinguals. It can be explained by the fact a large amount of time and material resources were spent to educate the first child and various investments have been made in his human capital. Thus, less attention is paid to the bilingual education of the second child, though of course there can exist many exceptions as may be seen in the case of some families discussed in this paper. The abovementioned study showed also that no loss of inability to become bilingual was found with advancing age. Children possess a high potential for learning languages because their consciousness is “tabula rasa” ready for new knowledge. This particular study showed that there is no significant difference in children’s bilingualism whether parents were either active or passive bilinguals. Thus, the conclusion may be made that bilingualism in international families is more likely to achieve than in monolingual families. It is as clear as a day that identity formation in the international family helps to achieve the goal of bilingualism. However strong desire to create an English language environment is the task of learning Japanese that can be easily achieved if consensus is reached between families.


As the findings of this chapter suppose various factors influence the choice of language environment in international families. The pressures that influence certain decisions depend on many countries. Mothers who have good proficiency in English transfer their identity and mindset to their children. Living in a constantly changing society they understand that the knowledge of English must be regarded as the main prerequisite for successful education and career. This understanding and practice consistent with it come from the phenomenon of relatedness which can be described as the process of identity formation through the influence of other people.

The English-speaking identity is formed in the family through fostering the consumption of English-speaking cultural production and developing English skills. Mothers, whose identity was formed in this way try to provide such experience to their children. Many mothers in international families recognize English as the “game of recognition” – they try to place their children in an English-speaking environment so as they would be regarded as natives. They as in the case of Mamiko and Sumiko afraid that their children would have an identity crisis when they grow up, therefore try to prevent it by constructing a robust English-speaking identity for them.

Japanese-speaking mothers have other problems. On the one hand they afraid that the English-speaking education of their children will alienate them from the Japanese environment and create a one-sided identity, which can result in difficulties in Japanese society adaptation. In the case of moving to the United States, the gap between cultures would be difficult to bridge. Thus, these mothers face a very difficult dilemma. They understand that learning English is very important in modern society; besides this, they have English-speaking fathers. Thus, the majority of such mothers compromise their identities in favor of creating a robust environment for their children. This is especially evident in the Kumiko case.

What concerns mothers, who struggle to choose one language, this study revealed that the main motor that forces them to create an English language environment in their family is the realization of English as a cultural investment in their children’s future. Unlike Japanese-speaking mothers their English-speaking identity is strongly articulated, therefore they have no qualms pursuing an English-speaking environment for their children. They want to work and live in the United States and give International Education to their children. They are themselves having good knowledge of English and sometimes have a prejudiced attitude to the Japanese education system and cultural values while worshiping western and English-speaking culture (see Rika and Miku example).

English-speaking fathers naturally are more prone to force the creation of an English language environment for their children. They often take them to their relatives in the United States, read books to them and magazines in English, buy English videos and music production. They often don’t know Japanese at all thus they do no have mothers’ advantages necessary for fostering bilingual education. They are the main proponents of sending children to International Schools and American universities and often limit children’s consumption of Japanese production. However, one thing this study can suggest is that, as Bellin and Piette (1977) mentioned in their study, the identity of mothers or/and fathers including their beliefs and attitudes needs to be carefully examined to understand the language environment of children.

The bilingual consensus is often reached between mothers and fathers in international families but in the majority of cases, it is compromised by great efforts on the part of the fathers to create an English language environment. Therefore, as it was already noted gender relations often play a great role in the choice of language environment and this fact can not be by any means understated.

Language choice as power game: Power relations of husband and wife

Consider the role relationships within the family. On the one hand, even in modern societies parents and children are bound in an asymmetrical power relation (see Queen, Habenstein, & Quadagno, 1985, for a sociological perspective). As one father put it, “I make no bones about the way I ask my son to do something; he is a child and should obey.”

Historically, in Steiner’s (1975) elegant formulation, in most societies throughout history children (and women) were maintained in a condition of “privileged inferiority,” suffering different modes of exploitation “while benefiting from a mythology of special regard” (p. 38). In his view, however, a principal gain of our recent past is “the entry of the child into complete adult notice, a heightened awareness of its uniquely vulnerable and creative condition,” shown by the trouble taken in our society “to hear the actual language of the child, to receive and interpret its signals without distorting them” (Steiner, 1975, p. 38).

But although children’s voices are heard clearly in modern families, the structural asymmetry of power between them and their parents is bound to surface in the language of parental control. In Bernstein’s ( 1990) formulation, the language of parental control thus becomes inter-contextual. realization mode for power relations external to the context.

Indeed, previous research (Andersen Slosberg, 1990; Becker, 1988, 1990; Blum-Kulka et al., 1985; Clancy, 1986; Ervin-Tripp & Gordon, 1986) clearly shows that the discourse of social control acts of both adults and children in the family is highly sensitive to the asymmetric power relations among the participants. What may differ between families is the degree to which parental authority is made manifest. In Bernstein’s ( 1971, 1990) terms, the difference is between “positional”-oriented styles of control, which make parental authority visible, and “person”-oriented styles, which devote energy to making authority invisible. In the families studied, both orientations emerge; it seems that preference for one or the other is driven foremost by considerations of the goal of the controlling act and by cultural preferences.

Simultaneously, families are the prime symbolic enactment of intimacy. As one parent put it, it is the role of family dinners to enhance this solidarity, to “strengthen the sense of family” (lexazek mishpaxtiyut). Within this particular configuration of power and solidarity-the two dimensions essential to explaining sociolinguistic variation in all human interaction (e.g., Brown & Gilman, 1960) — each individual in the family is structurally bound in a double role, as an intimate but unequal member of the family group.

The expression of solidarity in the family is linked to two further dimensions: informality and affect. The key to the interaction between family members at the essentially backstage dinner event is necessarily informal. And as Garfinkel (1984) noted, this is the modality expected in family discourse: Deliberate switch from informal to formal style in the family is interpreted as impolite, disrespectful, and arrogant.

Solidarity is further expressed through the indexing of effect. As in Shakespearean tragedies ( Brown & Gilman, 1989), an increase in positive affect is associated with an increase in politeness, and decreased positive affect is associated with impoliteness. Particularly in the discourse of parents, marking social control acts for effect mitigates their threatening edge hence serves as an important politeness resource.

For politeness to be expressed in the familial context, it needs to pay tribute to face wants as emicly defined in the family domain. When transferred to family relations, the basic face needs for non-imposition and positive support take on a sharp emotive edge. Parents need to balance a child’s need for independence (the dictum of non-imposition) with his or her need for parental involvement. How to balance the two needs is a problem because, as noted by Tannen (1986), following Bateson (1972), anything said as a sign of involvement can in itself be a threat to the other’s individuality, and anything said as a sign of distance threatens the need for involvement.

In addition to its communicative (message) and cognitive (intelligence) functions, language has a social function. By this, we mean that any utterance carries a social meaning in that it reflects the position of its speaker in the power relations in the society which confers a particular social value to this utterance. It can be said that the whole social structure is present in every language interaction and that every interaction is mapped onto the social structure. Language is not homogeneous any more than society is; variation is inherent in language because language behavior varies along social dimensions (e.g. social class).

Languages and varieties of language (accents, dialects, sociolects, and codes) have a recognized value on the linguistic market (Bourdieu, 1982) and can be placed on a hierarchical scale according to their distance from the official, legitimate norm. Power relations between language varieties vary as a function of their speakers’ access to the legitimate norm, and any discourse takes its social meaning from its relation to the linguistic market. Variations in discourse (i.e. in language behavior) are a result of the interplay between the objective dynamic forces of the market and how the individual perceives, evaluates, and responds to these forces.

Language behavior is linked to the market not only by its conditions of application (language use) but also by its conditions of acquisition (language acquisition/ learning). The different language varieties and their values are learned in particular markets, first in the family, then at school, and so on, that is in the individual’s social networks, where different functions and forms of language are transmitted and valorized. The interpersonal relations in the social networks are, therefore, the locus where the societal level and the individual level meet.

The structures of social networks influence the individual’s language behavior: a dense, close-knit, multiplex network is a factor of in-group solidarity, maintenance of local, non-standard norms, and resistance to linguistic change; whereas a diffuse, loose, and simplex network implies social mobility and is, therefore, open to code change and the influence of outside norms (Milroy, 1980).

In summary, language behavior at the interpersonal interactional level is the result of the dynamic interplay between the objective power relations at the societal level which confer unequal values to language and varieties of language and the individual’s perception and evaluation of these, together with his own language experience acquired and used in the social networks. (For an attempt to synthesize these various aspects see Prujiner, Deshaies, Hamers, Blanc, Clément & Landry, 1984).

When one language is present in the society and the social networks it is used for all functions, though differentially, as a reflection of the social structure. When two or more languages are in contact, their relative functional use is of the utmost importance; functional use, in addition, shapes relative valorization of the languages, and vice versa. When two languages are in contact in society, they may be used to a different extent, in different domains and for different functions in a state of functional equilibrium. In the case of diglots, the uses of each language are determined at the societal level.

To the extent that language is a salient dimension of ethnicity and ethnic identity, it plays an important role in intergroup relations when languages and cultures are in contact, not only as a symbol but also as an instrument for upholding or promoting the groups’ ethnic identities. The role of language, therefore, varies according to its importance as a symbol of group identity and as a function of the power relations holding between the different ethnolinguistic groups.

Language itself is dynamic and refers to a very complex objective and subjective reality. Linguistic descriptions, even when they take into account intralingual and interlingua variations, do not necessarily correspond to the speakers’ own perceptions of what constitutes their language (s), precisely because language is a marker of group ethnolinguistic identity; thus, what is defined by linguists as the same language or as a linguistic continuum may, in fact, be perceived as different languages by different speakers of that language.

Power of language

Bilingual students need to be allowed and encouraged to use their ‘first’ language or languages in learning situations in addition to their developing additional language. This implies an ‘additive’ model of bilingualism (Cummins 1996, p.147), in which students learn additional languages and cultural practices while at the same time continuing to develop those they are already versed in, rather than a ‘subtractive’ model which suggests that only through the abandonment of an existing language and culture will people ever succeed in developing expertise in a new one. As Lucas and Katz have stated regarding classrooms in which first languages were used alongside developing additional ones:

In practice…the classrooms were multilingual environments in which students’ native languages served a multitude of purposes and functions. They gave students access to academic content, to classroom activities, and their knowledge and experience; gave teachers a way to show their respect and value for students’ languages and cultures; acted as a medium for social interaction and establishment of rapport; fostered family involvement; and fostered students’ development of, knowledge of, and pride in their native languages and cultures. (Lucas and Katz 1994, p.545)

In translating these basic principles into broad strategies for classroom practice, James Cummins has usefully suggested a ‘four-phase instructional framework’. Within this framework, teachers of bilingual students (be they EAL teachers or mainstream subject teachers who have bilingual students in their classes):

  • Activate prior knowledge/build background knowledge.
  • Present cognitively engaging input with appropriate contextual supports, encourage active language use to connect input with students’ prior experience and with thematically related content.
  • Assess student learning to provide feedback that will build language awareness and efficient learning strategies.
  • (Cummins 1996, p.75) This instructional framework is structured around four basic components geared to give students access to the power of language and [to] accelerate their academic growth.

These components are:

  • Active communication of meaning.
  • Cognitive challenge.
  • Contextual support.
  • Building student self-esteem (Cummins 1996, p.74).

The most effective pedagogy contains each of these components. My own studies, however, suggest that it is the particular issue of contextual support and how this is perceived by teachers that is the key to effective pedagogy since the other three components tend to flow naturally from it.

The traditional notion of power

It is interesting to note the contrast between this concept of power and the traditional notion of power that emanates from Western civilizations. Harking back to the philosophy of the divine right of kings, the person in authority was originally assumed to have some special connection with God; one’s worth was determined by how close he sat to the throne of power. Miller suggests that the entire structure of our thinking about power has been shaped by this history. We describe people who are getting ahead as “on the way to the top,” “being elevated,” “rising,” “climbing the ladder of success.” Ours is a culture that rewards those who overpower others through authoritarian means.

Foucault’s analysis of disciplinary power relations challenges the traditional notion of power as something that is “possessed” by some individuals and “wielded” against others; instead, we should understand power as a complex web of relations that functions surreptitiously and anonymously. Power relations invest the entire social field, says Foucault. Power in that sense is “everywhere, ” not located in or possessed by a central governing body. This view of power has led at least one critic to charge, “The whole thing comes to look very homogeneous.

Power is everywhere, and so ultimately nowhere.” Such criticism is too easy, and is only possible if one forgets or ignores the complex, meticulous “micro-physical” analysis that Foucault offers of power. This analysis forces us to attend to the manifold, capillary manifestations of power, to its channels of articulation and dissemination, to where it has its real installation and institutional support, to where it has its real effects, one of which is the fabrication of the modern political subject. A field of power relations spread in our daily lives: parents/children; teachers/students; women/men; between people who believe in the same truth Foucault’s

Mamiko’s example shows that she ascribes her desire to create English speaking environment for her children whether consciously or not to gender relations in the family. She thinks that her children must take advantage of their father being a native speaker. Thus, we see that she directly ties the process of English education with her husband’s position in the family. Her husband confirms Mamiko’s understanding of power relation between genders saying that he didn’t tell her that teaching English was her responsibility. So it is evident that her identity and her inner voice gave her this direction.

Chikako’s example also shows that the father sometimes has an unconditioned influence on the children. Chikako’s boy recognizes his father as an authority and listens to his directives in studying English. Natsuko’s power position is determined by her poor knowledge of English. Sometimes doing English exercises with her son and saying that she doesn’t understand something he asks when her father is coming home.

He recognizes the father as the main authority in the family who can help him both in English and other issues. Natsuko thinks that she has to do all the housework and education. She thinks that she is inferior to her husband because she doesn’t earn so much money as him. That is why she considers house responsibilities to be hers. It interesting that even as her husband tries to help her with the housework she doesn’t let him do it. So as we see, Chikako and Natsuko think that they and their husband have certain areas of responsibilities that must be divided.

Natsuko thinks she is responsible for housework and language education. (In Japan, they used to believe that languages were the only a few academic areas women could manage or were good at). Thus power relations play a great role in international families and these tendencies are amplified by the great importance of English in the formation of children’s identity.

Language choice as gender issues

Within families, conflict may arise overvalue differences, which create generation gaps between Asian parents and Asian American children (Nguyen, 1992; Shon & Ja, 1982). Homma-True (1991) found that mothers bear the brunt of much of this conflict because, throughout their child’s lifetime, the mother adjusts to the child’s wish to move toward the American middle-class values of autonomy and independence, and she tries to instill the closeness and dependency that have value in Asian families (Bradshaw, 1990).

These conflicts are particularly intense between immigrant generations and their children raised in America (Nguyen, 1992). However, Lui (1990) noted that despite changes in child-rearing practices, there are still distinctions in some of the child-rearing practices of Asian American women compared with White women—several generations later. Thus, despite the acquisition of many mainstream values, many culturally derived values persist, although perhaps in evolved, adaptive forms.

Whereas in traditional families it has been assumed that elderly parents will be cared for by their children (Shon & Ja, 1982), value conflicts are increasingly apparent regarding this responsibility. Like women in many cultures, Asian American women have still been socialized to put family first; in the philosophy of operating more from a collective philosophy than an individualistic one, not only is caretaking of elderly parents assumed, not to do it would violate implicit or explicit role expectations.

Most recently, a new family constellation has evolved, and distress has arisen over immigrating to Hong Kong families in which the wives and children reside in America and the husband frequently travels between countries. These men have been called “astronauts” because of the frequency and distance of travel. Subsequently, many of these women have been thrust into roles of essentially heading up the household, making unilateral decisions, disciplining the children, and acquainting themselves with American culture. When husbands return home, their wives have changed and conflicts ensue over role expectations and conflicts.

As discussed in the third chapter the major studies on the identity of Japanese bilinguals conducted by Kondo-Brown (2000) and Kanno (2003) are quite relevant. Kondo-Brown (2000) investigated the acculturation process and identity development of six bilingual heritage university students (Shin Nesei) in Hawaii. Kanno studied the relationships over three years of four Japanese returnees (Kikokushijyo) between bilingual and bicultural identity, and bilingualism. Both studies found that identity is closely associated with the use and choice of language.

A significant aspect of Kanno’s (2003) study was that where previous studies focused on returnees’ problems with re-entry, readjustment, language acquisition, or attrition, and largely ignored their individuality and humanness, Kanno’s study is an account of returnees’ experiences in Canada and Japan their own words relative to high school and college and how changes in social context and maturity affect their identities. One of the more salient findings is that upon return to Japan returnees’ identities changed from being a ‘non-native speaker’ in Canada to being recognized much more positively as bilingual in Japan. The results of this research are further ascertained by the data presented in chapter five.

Thus, as the findings of Chapter 7 and Chapter 8 show the role of gender relations is crucial for understanding the responsibilities of parents in international families. Fathers as the bearers of English have more voice in the issues of bilingual education, while mothers realize their identity strategies. They often interiorize husband’s identities which make them even more articulate. Women in bilingual families pay great attention to realizing their task of bilingual education even when fathers try to make their input.

Language choice as identity negotiation

This chapter deals with the analysis of identity formation in terms of language choice. Identity is analyzed as a socially determined category depending on the family and social position. Identity is a constructionist paradigm depending on various determinations that can’t be reduced to one. But the main interest of this chapter concerns the interrelation of identity symbolical structures and language choice which is crucial for the analysis of bilingualism in this study. In the first place, the dialectical relation of identity formation with family background is considered.

Then the correlation between language choice and current social preoccupation and professional activities is outlined. Among other crucial issues, this chapter deals with one should mention the problem of identity crisis and search for a better identity. It is attempted to analyze the flexible character of identity, its dependency on current circumstances. We should remember that “people are made by circumstances” – this is the main point we proceed from. The chapter is elaborated drawing on empirical material of interviews we used later.

Education, defined as an ‘organized and sustained communication designed to bring about learning (UNESCO, 1976), aims at developing the organization of knowledge and skilled abilities. In modern societies, these goals are attained through the development of literacy skills in a school environment. From an educational perspective, literacy can be viewed as a communication skill that involves a written mode of verbal transmission (reading and writing) employed by literate societies for effective functioning in a changing socio-ecological setting (Srivastava, 1984a). The importance attached to the development of literacy is based on a worldwide conviction that literacy is an instrument for changing the individual’s perception and organization of cognition and that this leads to economic improvement and is a prerequisite for all functional education.

Since McLuhan’s (1962) pioneering work The Gutenberg Galaxy, the impact of literacy on the world and all aspects of life has been broadly recognized. It is of tremendous significance to both the industrialized and the developing countries and is achieved chiefly through schooling. The development of literacy is strongly associated with academic and social success (Ogbu, 1988). In technological societies semi-literate people easily encounter problems of social integration: they have great difficulties in filling in forms, going through job interviews, or helping their children with their school work. The semi-literate person is confined to social isolation and a greatly restricted world (Poissant & Hamers, 1996).

There are millions of semi-literate people in industrialized countries. For example, in Canada – based on the Southam Literacy Survey (Southam News, 1987) defining an illiterate person as someone unable to complete many reading and numeracy tasks that adults commonly face in everyday life – it is estimated that 24 percent of the adult population is semi-literate. Similar figures exist for the USA and Britain. Furthermore, the semi-literacy rates of ethnolinguistic minorities exceed the national averages (Poissant & Hamers, 1996). The literacy–illiteracy issue should not be viewed as a dichotomy but rather as a continuum. TabouretKeller, Le Page, Gardner-Chloros & Varro (1997) who also view literacy–illiteracy on a continuum distinguish between non-literate societies where literacy is replacing oral traditions and literate societies where levels of illiteracy at the end of the twentieth century are rising for economic and social reasons (e.g. immigration, unemployment, etc. ).

Many authors have stressed the social collective dimension of literacy. For example, social-literacy approaches, based on Bourdieu’s sociological theory (1986), view literacy as social practice. This view marks it off both from a psychological, skill-oriented model of literacy as a purely cognitive activity divorced from the socio-political context, and a narrow pedagogical perspective. In this approach literacy is a ‘cultural capital’, which must be ‘authorized’, that is, valorized by society as a whole for the benefit of all. While schooling undoubtedly promotes specific literacy practices, it is a necessary but not sufficient condition of literacy development, for it produces different kinds and levels of literacy reflecting power relations in society. In other words, there is not a single literacy that can be taught with the simple equivalent value in cultural capital (Baker, Cook-Gumperz & Luke, 1997). The school-based literacy practices, therefore, are not sufficient to guarantee economic and social gains to all who demonstrate them. To improve the access to academic and cultural capital

Children who grow up with two languages have a unique chance to acquire them both in a way that is not possible for those who meet their second language later in life. These children have potential access to the riches of two cultures and may become extraordinarily linguistically and culturally competent adults, with the better of two worlds. These children are especially favored and privileged. However, the presence of two languages may well give them some trouble at all levels of language learning. Children find themselves in a position where they are exposed to more than one language through no doing of their own. We, adults, have made the choices: the children have not chosen any part of the experience they are going through. It is, therefore, up to us to make things as easy as possible for them, while helping them to get the maximum benefit from the situation.

For the youngest children, living with two languages is primarily negative. Their initial attempts to analyze the stream of sound flowing over them into meaningful units are hindered by the sheer number of different words they hear. Later they need to learn two words for everything and two systems for putting words together. They also have to understand the system of rules regulating who uses which language to whom and when. Failure to grasp the mechanisms of this system will lead to frustration and failed communication, which must be added to the communication difficulties experienced by any child just beginning to talk.

Bilingual education is determined by social-historical, ideological, power-relation, and social psychological factors which interact with each other and have to be taken into consideration when deciding on the language or languages of instruction. We looked at bilingual education programs. We began with those designed for the majority of children, namely in the European schools and in immersion, and discussed the consequences of immersion programs for the child’s linguistic skills and academic achievement. Immersion programs appear as an applicable solution for children of dominant and socially advantaged groups. On the other hand, for minority children who have little or no exposure to literacy, it is desirable to introduce literacy in the mother tongue. We further examined the myth of the bilingual handicap of the minor child and showed how it leads to wrong pedagogical decisions. Some examples of bilingual programs for minority children and their results in terms of academic achievement were described. We also reviewed the research on bidialectal and community-language education. We attempted to explain the underlying principles of bilingual education. For the child to benefit from a bilingual education certain prerequisites have to be met. First, his two languages have to be valorized for both the communicative and cognitive-linguistic functions.

Bilingual education programs and mother-tongue teaching in the early school years have been shown to benefit minority children and improve their academic achievement. Time spent on teaching the mother tongue does not slow down their proficiency in L 2 and increases their language skills in the mother tongue. Issues of bidialectal education are similar to those of bilingual education.

The linguistic mismatch hypothesis which led UNESCO (1953) to declare the right of all children to mother-tongue education is an oversimplification. It is gospel to many educators who do not see the complexity of the problem. That a child can develop an additive form of bilingualism when literacy is taught via an L 2 has been proved by the positive results of immersion programs. The positive consequences of bilingual education can be obtained for all children, provided that the context of the development of bilingualism is adequate. By this, we mean that education must in the first place ensure that the mapping between linguistic form and cognitive function has been established. There is no simple universal solution to bilingual education, but each program must be planned as a function of the many socio-cultural, social structural, and social psychological factors relevant to a particular situation (Hamers, 1979).

One of the major differences between bilingual programs for the majority and minority children lies in their final goals: functional bilingualism vs. mainstream assimilation. When functional bilingualism is promoted in the minority child – as, for example, when the family valorizes the mother tongue sufficiently to maintain it – academic achievement is improved. Community bilingual education aims at promoting functional bilingualism for all children. However, at present, we have no empirical evidence that community bilingual education promotes additive bilingualism in minority children. It is not enough to bring majority and minority children together in a community bilingual education program to ensure its success. Too many important factors, such as the existing power relations, have been overlooked. Only a better understanding of bilingual development and its relationship to cognitive development and social conditions will help transform community bilingual education from utopia to reality.

By examining traditional and current definitions of bilingualism, none of which was found to be adequate. They all show one or more of three main weaknesses. First, they are one-dimensional: they describe the bilingual in terms of one dimension, such as language competence, ignoring other equally important aspects. Second, they fail to take into account the different levels of analysis, from individual to societal. Finally, they are not based on a general theory of language behavior.

It should be stressed that the social and the psychological dimensions are found at every level simultaneously, in the sense that any speaker is at the same time an individual, a member of social networks and groups, and part of the whole society. These different levels of language processing require different types of analysis at the individual, interpersonal and societal levels. Finally, these different levels of processing and analysis are best explored by multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches: psychological, social-psychological, and sociological approaches. The linguistic aspect is present throughout, though variously focused.

It is with these guiding principles in mind that in Chapter 2 we analyzed the various dimensions and measurements of bilingualism and societal bilingualism. We stressed the specificity and originality of the bilingual’s language behavior which should not be reduced to the sum of two monolingual behaviors.

In Chapters 3 to 5, we examined the evidence on the ontogenesis of bilingualism in the light of our guiding principles. To account for the often conflicting results of empirical research we found it necessary at this micro-level to integrate linguistic and cognitive processes with the social-cultural context biolinguistic development is deeply rooted in interpersonal interactions.

Children growing up bilingually have specific behavior concerning language: they mix and switch codes, translate from one into the other, gradually differentiating between linguistic systems by an appropriate rule-governed behavior varying according to listener, setting, topic and sociolinguistic norms. From an early stage, they are capable of mapping different linguistic forms onto the relevant functions of the languages in their environment. This ability is more evident in simultaneous bilingualism where two interchangeable forms fulfill the same function. Similarly, to explain the contradictory evidence on the relation between bilingualism and cognitive development we put forward a hypothesis of sociocultural and cognitive interdependence. In our discussion of several theoretical approaches

Through the processes of internalization, valorization, and motivation, the child appropriates the social values, forms and functions, and the form-function mappings of language; when all or only some of these functions and forms are valorized, the child is motivated to learn and use all, or only some, of these forms and functions. This leads to the development of communicative linguistic competence and conceptual linguistic competence. Each level of processing is established through a form-function mapping. One essential feature of the model is the feedback mechanism operating between the processes involved in language behavior.

When two or more languages are present in the child’s environment either additive or consecutive bilingualism develops. For the former a new set of complex compound form-function mappings is established, in which two interchangeable linguistic forms are mapped onto one function (in simultaneous bilingualism); for adequate mapping to occur between the two languages it is necessary and sufficient that both be valorized for all functions, in which case we have additive bilingualism.

Students of languages in contact, whether at the individual, interpersonal or societal level, commonly address the issues from one necessary but insufficient disciplinary perspective, using either a micro- or a macro-level. To capture the totality of this complex phenomenon, it is essential not only to examine it from different disciplinary viewpoints but also to integrate these at both the theoretical and methodological levels. This approach allows an interdisciplinary model to be designed. In this book, we have attempted to apply an interactional connectionist approach to all levels of bilingual processing. In the form-function mapping process, language forms are developed to serve functions. We believe that most language behavior can be understood through this complex mapping mechanism between form–function, form–form, and function–function combinations.

Language behavior is an encultured behavior and as such follows the rules of higher-order behaviors: it plays an active role in creating representations and is self-regulated. As language is also a valued social object, language behavior is submitted to the valorization process. Whether one or more languages are present, these mechanisms come into action.

However, despite this study of bilingualism and bilingualism, we are only too keenly aware that there is still a long way to go before a truly multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary methodology is developed. At present, there is a lack of theorizing in the field of research in languages in contact. There is almost an overwhelming excess of data gathering on the subject which is not always productive because, as with all observed facts, they are ambiguous unless they can be organized in an interpretative framework.

These studies become useful only when they can be interpreted in terms of a theoretical model. Typologies, however useful, should not be confused with an explanatory model: putting the data into boxes helps only if the boxes have been assigned a function within a theoretical construct with predictive power. For example, collecting data on who speaks what language to whom and when is of little use unless it is collected to test particular hypotheses. Typologies of bilingualism which are a-theoretical can always be invented and reinvented. They tell us nothing about bilinguals except that they are different. They do not, however, tell us why they are different, nor how these differences have come about.

We, therefore, need to develop further theoretical constructs which can be empirically verified. Such constructs should be interdisciplinary and fit the epistemology of the different disciplines involved. Information technology has eliminated the problem of treating masses of data, but data banks, like typologies, are of use only if the right questions can be asked. One of the problems with interdisciplinary research is that not all disciplines have reached a similar level of generating hypotheses. In recent years, we have come to know a lot more about information processing in bilinguals than when Weinreich wrote his classic study on languages in contact in 1953. From the conception of the bilingual speaker as someone whose speech shows interferences – and who is at worst cognitively deficient and at best the sum of two monolingual speakers – we have moved to the conception of an integrated person for whom the bilingual experience may enhance cognitive functioning – provided that society recognizes this potential. Perhaps it is time that bilingualism and bilingualism be recognized as the norm and monolingualism and monolingualism as the exception which needs to be explained.

Relatedness is an Important Element of Identity Development

The identity formation and development was researched and formulated beginning from Hegel’s famous piece “Phenomenology of Spirit”, where he created the dialectics of “master and slave”. According to Hegel, the identity (or as it was earlier referred to – consciousness) develops in relation to the Other. It represents the exchange of oppositions and interrelation of mental patterns. Thus, he concluded that we recognize ourselves only regarding other people. Later this philosophical tradition was adapted to social science studies by symbolical Interactionist scholars such G. H. Mead and J. Moreno, “dramaturgic social science” scholars such as I. Goffman, and various other currents. So, as we see identity studies become the ‘topos’ in modern social science but not only social science. In linguistics, one should mention such currents of thought as M. Bachtin’s dialogism, which claims that the main characteristic of interpersonal relation and formation of identity is the dialogical relationship between I and Other.

Thus, in our discussion of the identity role in language choice in Rika, Kumiko, Sumiko, Miku we will place primary emphasis on dialectical patterns of identity formation in terms of interpersonal relations and social dispositions.

As Erikson (1968) and Sugimura (2000) mentioned that identity develops through relatedness—one’s relationships with others in parent-child relationships, friendships, wife-husband relationships, and so on during the life cycle.

The stories of the Rika, Kumiko, Sumiko, Miku families provide us with some good examples of relatedness in the importance of family influence on the four women’s identity development.

In the case of Rika, her mother’s role in her language in favor of English was crucial. It is important to note that her mother grew up in aftermath of WW2, lived and studied near an American military base, but managing to maintain her national pride. Rika’s mother often traveled to English-speaking countries, which simulated her interest in European culture and English. Thus, her identity formed in the period of the great impact of English-speaking nations, particularly the U.S. on Japanese society. Rika confirms that she, ‘experienced great influence from the side of her mother.

She was tremendously impressed with the narrations about her mother’s childhood. The deep influence of European culture on Rika’s mother’s self-perception can be described by the following excerpt from her interview: “Rika’s mother was very proud of her being able to speak two languages”. The orientations of Rika’s family found realization in her education – she entered an English-speaking school and was brought up in the tradition of multicultural interpersonal relations. It can be claimed that her mother helped Rika develop a cross-national, cosmopolitan identity, which was not limited to Japanese culture.

A Kumiko’s case seems to be a little bit difficult. The thing is that her family didn’t develop her strong affection and interest in Western countries and English. She strongly identified herself as Japanese and hated learning English at school. Even her marriage with Jim was conditioned on that they wouldn’t go to the United States where he came from: “Kumiko thinks that nothing has changed after she married an American. She is still the person she used to be. She got married to a beloved man. The man appeared to be an American. She heard about some Japanese who had married Americans since they wanted to speak English or to live in the States. But she insisted that she would never marry an American to speak English, to live in the States”. But besides her negative attitudes to English, she realizes the importance of her son Mike’s bilingualism.

Thus, even though her identity was deeply influenced by Japanese nationalism and closeness which were characterized by Japanese culture for a long time, living in a multicultural family in the era of globalization changed her attitudes and she welcomed the desire of Jim to make their son bilingual and give him an education in the U.S. Jim and Kumiko agree on sending Mike to study abroad: “They are planning to send 5 years old Mike to public schools up to a junior high school. Jim went to see International Christian University high school and he considered English Education to be really good there. If Mike passes the exam, they would like to send him to that high school as they want to bring him bilingually”.

Therefore, in the case of Kumiko, we see that child’s identity and language choice that is determined for him depends not only on personal Kumiko’s background but on the interplay of various factors that are peculiar to every intercultural family.

In the case of Sumiko, her mother’s influence on the construction of Western and English-oriented identity is easy to discern. The direct information from the interview confirms shows that her mother was Christian and therefore placed much emphasis on English education. Moreover, their house was often visited by English-speaking foreigners who were the friends of Sumiko’s mother. Thus, she was brought up in the atmosphere of western culture and attitudes. She confirms this by saying that “she longed for Western life”. Sumiko was given to an English Christian school where he liked studying English and was successful in it.

Her daughters were brought in the vein of bilingualism, which was supported both by Sumiko and her American husband. After studying at elementary school with great attention to English they were enrolled in International School in the United States. Thus, we can see that identity can be transmitted to the children from their parents, but only in the case if there exist sufficient conditions for developing multicultural identity. These conditions are best developed by bilingual parents, which realize their children’s future must be tied with a comprehensive education that meets the challenges of globalization and cross-national ties.

Miku’s language choice was conditioned by socialization and education processes. When studying in junior high school Miku had a good English teacher, who put a lot of emphasis on the value of English language learning, but she did not study English hard enough although she liked it. She got a perfect English environment as she was living with her English-speaking husband who was very good at Japanese as well. She acknowledges that his Japanese was superior to her English. In the beginning, her husband spoke more and more Japanese for her convenience. Miku’s affection for Western culture forces her to cultivate a love for English in her daughters. She thinks that it would be a great disadvantage if her daughters couldn’t speak English, thus she considers it her responsibility to create an optimal environment for her daughters to acquire English.

Yearning for a Life in the United States

The narratives of all four participants in this study depict strong attraction to English and American culture and life. If in the case Kumiko’s negative attitude to western culture is not the case, he considers that her children must develop positive attitudes, which is crucial for their successful life and career growth.

During her study, Rika had pen pals from the United States and she liked to learn about Western cultures and orientations. She was very interested in feminism and Anglo-American politics (for instance, she and her mother supported the election of Margaret Thatcher as British prime minister). She often travels to the U.S. to visit her husband’s family and inspires her daughter to play and communicate with American children, thus raising her to respect the traditions of other people and have multicultural orientations.

Besides negative attitudes to the U.S. in her youth, Kumiko has an American husband and thus often travels to his native country with their son Mike. Moreover, she understands that his future must be tied with English and study in the U.S. University. She recognizes that her family has strong natural ties with the U.S. that can’t be neglected.

Sumiko traveled to the U.S. when her husband gained a job in an American company. She also worked in a company called “Hall Mark” due to her proficient English-speaking experience. She attained a good position as typist and career opportunities that she wouldn’t have dreamt of in Japan. That is why she wanted to stay in the United States to continue her work but due to pregnancy and other contingencies, her family eventually came back to Japan.

Miku also had a positive experience in the English-speaking world. Her British husband often went for business trips to New Zealand, Great Britain and she stayed there with her daughter, where she could learn English and familiarize herself with western culture. To sum up, as these cases suggest the trips on various occasions to Western countries and the U.S., in particular, helped to create English-oriented identities in these mothers and their children.

Gaining a Better Social Identity

Until recently, women’s position in the Japanese workplace was generally held to be doing small chores for men such as serving tea and making copies until they found a husband and quit work. It was therefore felt that Japanese women did not deserve to learn any skills that they could apply if they wanted to be reemployed after they quite work for marriage (Kokugan, 1989).

This context allows us better understand the choice of western and English-speaking orientations as a source of constructing better social identities both for Japanese women and their bilingual children. As their English-speaking husband often have relation to British and American business environment they naturally tie their future and the future of their children with English as the main prerequisite for a successful career in the future. For instance, Rika wants her so to become bilingual if it is possible. She thinks that the ability to speak both languages will give him wonderful opportunities in the future.

Kumiko considers Mike’s becoming bilingual is very beneficial. Moreover, Jim’s family is English speaking, so Mike needs to speak English for keeping in touch with the family in the States. So, bilingual education is important for Mike’s future and his relations with family in the States. Thus Mike speaks both languages, although his parents do nothing special, Kumiko feels that growing up bilingually is very difficult. Even if her husband had been Japanese, she would have wanted her child to become a good English speaker. The ability to speak English gives excellent job opportunities, wider perspectives and traveling abroad safely, etc.

Sumiko thought that the USA was a great country for women, and she relied upon the Affirmative Action which was claimed to protect minorities. She got a job as a typist at some company, but she desired to get a better position, she wanted a full-time job like a manager, for example. An American friend of hers told that she might have a good chance of being “an Asian female”. Sumiko could not catch the meaning of these words, but later she found out that companies were obliged to hire a certain number of minorities. It appeared much easier for an Asian woman to hire for some prestigious appointment than for any white American since Asian women were considered to be diligent. Hence, the participants’ identity development was very much connected with gender and power (Norton, 1995; Weeden, 1987).

Miku has no such strong tendency to tie English with her social dispositions in society. Miku in distinction with other people wants to use English just for communicating with people. She tries hard to communicate in English with people who do not understand Japanese. However, she says that as soon as she finds out that the person she is talking with can understand Japanese, she loses interest to try to communicate in English so her English ability goes down.

To sum it up, it may be generalized for the majority of overviewed cases that the desire to install oneself perfectly in the social environment dominated by English, forces Japanese women to change their identities and form special identities for their children. But it is noteworthy that they do not try to completely detract their children from their Japanese roots, which means that the most optimal decision for them is bilingual education with an emphasis on English.

Identity Crises and Negotiations of Identities

The choice of English-oriented identities results in the crisis of the overall identity. The contradiction between living in Japan, but belonging to a multicultural community is deeply felt both by mothers and their children. For instance, Kumiko is afraid that Mike will desire to live in the States in the future as he admires everything American. If Mike chooses to go to school in the States, nothing will be able to change his decision. Actually, Kumiko is ready for the day when Mike starts talking about leaving Japan. That is his choice. We see that the crisis of identity leads to its negotiations and adopting the new identity, which would fit the new circumstances. Kumiko admits that being a Japanese mother, she had an idea sometimes that her daughters grow up as Japanese, but she was forced to take the most adequate decision, the only one which promised a successful future for her child.

Miku’s experience shows that the crisis of identity may be characteristic of the double children. As her daughter was not as good in Japanese as in English she failed to find friends in the Japanese environment, which cause her distaste for Japanese. This dissatisfaction can be best explained by Tannen (1982), who suggests the relationship between conversational strategies and identity as follows. It is sharing of conversational strategies that create the feeling of satisfaction that accompanies and follows successful conversation: the sense of being understood, being “on the same wavelength,” belonging, and therefore of sharing identity. (p. 217).

Thus, using English-influenced discourse styles in Japanese settings gave Miku’s daughter the “uncomfortable feeling of not belonging to the group”, and this, in turn, must have triggered the need for them to negotiate their identities. The crisis of identity may also be tied with an inferiority complex. For instance, Sumiko had an inferiority complex about her English ability; especially against the background of those few returnees whose English was the best in the class.

Thus, we can see the whole ensemble of practices and contradictions connected with identity formation, which must be taken into consideration in bilingual families. The identity problems can be overcome through negotiating comprehensive identities which can provide families with better possibilities to adapt to difficult cultural circumstances and address the challenges of a multicultural environment.

Pedagogical implication

Returning to the discussion on infant bilingualism, the sociolinguistic perspective taken in this book is that the bilingual child is not only acquiring two linguistic systems but is more generally acquiring communicative competence, as he or she develops a social identity simultaneously with the development of language. As defined earlier, communicative competence is the knowledge of language not only as grammatical but also as appropriate. What is defined as ‘appropriate’ will vary from culture to culture, from social group to social group, from family to family, indeed from conversation to conversation?

For the child growing up bilingually, learning when and when not to code-switch is an important aspect of language socialization: the child learns to differentiate his or her ways of speaking according to the needs of the social situation. That is, the child learns when it is appropriate to mix languages and when it is not appropriate to do so. Hence the study of the child’s simultaneous acquisition of two languages from birth must be set within the framework of language socialization.

The notion of language socialization which provides theoretical underpinnings for this study stems especially from the work of Elinor Ochs and Bambi Schieffelin (Schieffelin and Ochs 1986a, b; Ochs 1988; Schieffelin 1990; Ochs and Schieffelin 1995). According to these scholars, language socialization refers to ‘socialization through the use of language’ and ‘socialization to use language’ ( Schieffelin and Ochs 1986a: 163).

The processing of linguistic knowledge goes hand in hand with the processing of social knowledge with language socialization beginning as soon as an infant has social contact. And as this study will demonstrate, the child responds to socialization into appropriate language choice within the family already at the early age of 2. Through the process of language socialization, the child constructs a social identity ( Ochs 1992b) and this occurs within interactional contexts, as socialization is an interactive process. Hence, the child does not merely receive sociocultural knowledge passively, but rather actively contributes to the meaning and outcome of interactions with others in a social group. As Schieffelin (1990: 17) so dearly states, ‘Socialization is a product of interaction.’

This perspective on socialization, as Schieffelin and Ochs ( 1986b: 165) point out, draws especially on theoretical approaches from symbolic interactionism ( Mead 1934) and more recent phenomenological approaches to the study of society (e.g. Berger and Luckman 1966). In symbolic interactionism, a reality that includes concepts of the self and social roles is conceived as being constructed through social interaction. This will be an important theoretical framework for analyzing parental input in infant bilingualism.

Furthermore, individuals are regarded as active participants engaged in the process of constructing social worlds. Hence the child is an active participant in constructing a context for talk, as we shall see with the bilingual children in this study. The issue of language socialization owes to phenomenological approaches to society the idea that how people perceive and conceive reality is deeply rooted in their subjective experiences.

Hence people bring somewhat different realities to interpersonal contexts, although of course there may be a considerable amount of shared reality. In this respect, we may ask how both the child and the parent perceive the interactional context, and to what extent these perceptions are similar. In social interaction, participants are involved in the creation and maintenance of a sense of shared understanding, as they draw on those assumptions that they share with their interlocutors and negotiate other assumptions. According to Schieffelin and Ochs (1986b: 166 ), ‘language and culture are assumed to play critical roles in the organization of socializing contexts’.

As we examine more closely the process of language socialization, we are faced with the need for specifying more precisely the relation of language to the sociocultural context. Ochs ( 1988, 1992) has pointed out that a theory of language socialization rests on a theory of indexicality. Language indexes or signals social identity; for example, code-switching may index or signal a bilingual identity. Different socio-cultural groups will have different norms for mixing languages, or code-switching, as will different families. These norms and beliefs about language mixing are an important aspect of the child’s acquisition of two (or more) languages. In order fully to understand the young bilingual child’s language choice, one must examine the child’s language socialization.

Children acquire social knowledge as they acquire knowledge of language structure and use. And the investigation into the relationship between the form and function of the child’s language mixing provides us with a picture of the child’s socialization into bilingualism. 6 Ochs and Schieffelin’s work is based on ethnographic accounts of the language acquisition of children in non-Western cultures (Samoan and Kaluli). Although their work involves more ‘exotic’ cultures, we are reminded, as Slobin (1992: 6) points out, ‘that language acquisition ALWAYS takes place in cultural and interpersonal contexts’.

And it is the ethnographic content in work on ‘exotic’ languages that reveals to us how much is missing from accounts of language acquisition in our society. This criticism of first language acquisition studies also holds for most studies of infant bilingualism. Hence the older children become, the more easily they can demonstrate their metalinguistic awareness explicitly. However, if we are to trace the emergence of the bilingual child’s ability to use the appropriate linguistic code with the appropriate interlocutor (which is purportedly at the heart of the so-called language differentiation process), a closer look at the child’s inexplicit reflections of language awareness is needed. And this inexplicit reflection of language awareness is mirrored in the child’s conversational discourse. As Ochs (1984) has stressed, the organization of everyday conversational discourse is a most reasonable place to investigate whether language activities have an impact on psychological development.

The child’s monitoring of his or her ongoing utterances in conversation was noted above as the most basic in the emergence of language awareness. This skill includes ‘repairing one’s speech spontaneously’ and ‘adjusting one’s speech to the age and status (and language) of the listener’ ( E. Clark 1978a: 34). Hence the appropriate choice of language in the case of bilingual children is one of the earliest signs of the ability to reflect on language. Awareness in this sense will be reflected in the bilingual child’s language choice that reveals sensitivity to the contextual dimensions of the interaction. Döpke ( 1992b) in her study of a bilingual 2-year-old’s language choice invokes the notion of perception, which is implicit language awareness as discussed here since perception is defined in interactional terms: the child’s language use varied according to his interlocutor.

At this point, we might ask to what extent adult bilinguals are aware of mixing languages in interaction. In this regard Gumperz ( 1982a: 61), in his work on conversational code-switching, 41 has noted: While linguists, concerned with the grammatical description as such, see the code alternation as highly salient, participants immersed in the interaction itself are often quite unaware which code is used at any one time. Their main concern is with the communicative effect of what they are saying. Selection among linguistic alternants is automatic, not readily subject to conscious recall.

Myers-Scotton (1993b, c) makes a similar point about bilinguals in certain communities who use ‘unmarked code-switching’ when it is the use of both linguistic codes that indexes the participants’ social identity. The awareness that is expected of a child bilingual must, therefore, be seen in the light of the adult bilingual’s awareness of language mixing. Clyne (1967, 1972) noted the occurrence of ‘trigger words’ in the speech of adult German-English bilinguals; these words provoked a more or less unconscious switch from one language to the other.

Tithe language differentiation is not necessarily language separation. In other words, language differentiation comprises knowing how to differentiate among situations that allow language mixing or call for language separation. Consequently, bilingual awareness is not just the separation of languages along purely formal grounds. The acquisition of language is concomitant with the acquisition of social and cultural knowledge ( Ochs 1988, Schieffelin and Ochs 1986b, Schieffelin 1990). The child’s bilingual awareness may then actually be manifested in language mixing in contexts in which this mixing is appropriate. In this sense, we may say that the child’s bilingual awareness is part of his or her communicative competence. And an increase in metalinguistic awareness over time will contribute to the bilingual child’s increasing pragmatic sophistication in various code-switching strategies.

Let us examine the age differences in code-switching strategies in some studies of older bilingual children. McClure ( 1981) investigated code-switching among Mexican-American children in the age range between 3 and 15 and noted age differences. She invoked the distinction made in the literature between situational code-switching and conversational or stylistic code-switching. In the former type, language choice is affected by situational factors: the social characteristics of the participants in the speech event, the setting, and the topic of the conversation. The speaker’s perception of the situation changes and this change is marked by a shift in languages. Stylistic code-switching occurs within the same situation; switching languages serves to highlight certain conversational functions.

Among the children studied, the earliest systematic code-switching was situational and a function of the category participant. Three characteristics of participants were important: language proficiency, language preference, and social identity. In a decision of which language to use with an interlocutor, young children (5 and younger) seemed to rely on binary judgments of linguistic competence the interlocutor either knows a language or does not know it. Assessments of relative ability do not enter the language choice decision-making process as they do among older children and adults. Fantini (1985) also noted in his two children the increasing ability with age to assess the linguistic ability of others, with this competence acquired by about 4 years of age.

Language choice and language preference are closely related to social identity. The older the child becomes, the more social identities he or she acquires. The bilingual children in McClure’s study also recognized an ethnicity component in social identity.

As for code-switching as a stylistic device, McClure’s data did not indicate a uniform developmental sequence. Some of the older children in the study did not code-switch at all, whereas some younger ones purportedly code-switched quite often. All of the examples of code-switching employed to mark topic and addressee shift were from children at least 6 years of age. The youngest child for whom there were clear examples of code-switching to mark parenthesis or personalization vs. objectivization was 5. Switching to attract or retain attention is learned early, McClure notes, as is switching to clarify meaning by translation. There were many examples of the latter type of code-switching from 3-year-olds.

In sum, the earliest systematic code-switching among bilingual children is situational and a function of the participant. The functional constraint of setting and topic on code-switching are secondary to the constraint of the participant. 45 Extensive use of code-switching as a stylistic device does not appear until the ages of 5 or 6, with the use of particular stylistic code-switching strategies not occurring until several years later. Hence these age differences in the use of code-switching reflect a greater degree of bilingual awareness in older children.

The importance of the function of participant coupled with the call for an examination of the child’s linguistic input emphasizes the need in studies of infant bilingualism to investigate carefully the child’s conversations with the primary participants in his or her life, namely caregivers. And as code-switching norms vary from one bilingual community to the next, it is all the more important to investigate language mixing concerning the child’s linguistic input and language socialization. What are the language choice norms to which the bilingual child is exposed? An operational notion of bilingual awareness that is proposed in this book is knowledge of when it is appropriate to keep both languages separate and when it is appropriate to mix languages, all dependent on the context of language use and the child’s language socialization.

The review of studies espousing the one-system hypothesis revealed that language mixing by young bilingual children has been considered a ‘developmental’ error by the child en route towards competence in both languages–in other words, as something to be overcome. The evidence for this was based on formal criteria. Ochs ( 1985), however, points out the necessity of incorporating sociolinguistic information in a definition of error.


The growing diversification of Japanese society obviously has a major impact on education at every level. The appearance of large numbers of children in schools whose mother tongue is not Japanese and who have other cultural orientations besides mainstream Japanese culture is a growing phenomenon. I have given a lengthy explanation of ethnic diversity and citizenship because the teaching of immigrant and minority children or foreign students is never a straightforward and unproblematic practice. In Japan, as in many other countries, it is a contested site in which there is a struggle about the role of and the future of immigrants and minorities in society. Japan is embroiled in national controversy concerning the country’s capacity to assimilate different people, the place of foreign nationals and minorities in society, and the role of education in socializing new immigrants. Questions about appropriate or effective educational policies and practices are embedded in larger issues concerning national identity and the responsibility of the government in educating those outside the mainstream (Valdes, 1998). The ability of immigrants and minorities to understand and embrace principles of democracy and share in a national culture of common values is questioned. The answer determines whether the purpose of education is to assimilate minorities, separate newcomers from regular students, keep them out of trouble, and get them to accept their place in society, or to help them develop their full intellectual potential as future citizens.

All children have the right to attend public schools, regardless of their nationality, and the entrance of children who have different needs that must be met has had a powerful impact in areas with high concentrations of these groups. The national government’s Ministry of Education has moved slowly to deal with these needs but has begun to train teachers on how to teach with foreign students in the classroom and the teaching of Japanese as a second language. But some local school districts have moved ahead more aggressively to cope with the demands placed on teachers by their new diverse group of students.

Education becomes a battleground for such issues as the inclusion of other languages in the school curriculum and the inclusion of minorities in textbooks. Dealing with these issues involves a re-examination of basic structures of Japanese education and expanding debates on curriculum beyond national identity and global competition to include race, minority status, religion, and ethnicity. Textbook companies and educators have become more sensitive in recent years to the issues of equality and human rights, but the national curriculum standards still do not include the experiences of minority cultures (Tsuneyoshi, 2001).

The formation of the Amerasian School in Okinawa in 1999 openly challenged the state to provide separate but equal education for a particular group of children—those of both American and Japanese ancestries (Terumoto, Thayer, Yonamine, & Noiri, 2001). The state’s refusal to recognize such schools is being contested in other ways as well. In defiance of directives by the Ministry of Education, more universities are admitting the graduates of unaccredited schools (e.g., Korean schools), forcing the Ministry to reform its policies.

The Ministry must also repair the emerging cracks in an otherwise superior educational system that has produced nearly universal literacy, high achievements, and law-abiding citizens. Major educational reforms instituted in 2002 are meant to counter the alarming number of children who do not attend school, as well as bullying, violence, and classroom chaos. Reforms include free time for schools to determine their curriculum, and education for international understanding is a popular choice and increasingly part of school activities.

Ethnic education (minzoku kyoKumiko) and education about burakumin (Dowa kyoKumiko) have existed but have been isolated from the main curriculum. They are now being resituated in the context of multicultural education that acknowledges the ethnic diversity that exists within Japan. Multicultural education is now being described by some educators as a palliative for problems of discrimination, but most are unsure how to teach it. They often conceive of this subject as a study of the foreign countries of the West or exotic cultures. Foreign residents are often invited to share their traditional cultures in the classroom, and Japanese children are therefore being exposed more than ever to people from other cultural backgrounds in a positive way. The problem of overemphasizing differences and instilling frozen stereotypes is, unfortunately, an integral part of the simplistic way in which culture is taught.

Teachers who are unsure of what else to do for “international understanding” fall back on teaching English. The Ministry has invested in a massive program to bring thousands of native English speakers to work as teachers’ aides and instituted English classes in elementary schools. Reform of English education is driven by a deep concern that the low English level of Japanese people hampers international economic competitiveness. Parents and children are also motivated by an awareness of the international dominance of English and its importance in entrance examinations. To them studying English is a necessity, not a choice.

However, this focus contrasts sharply with the immediate reality in schools with a high concentration of Asian children. Critics charge that an emphasis on English is a reflection of an inferiority complex toward the Western world and an accompanying sense of separation from Asian neighbors. Equating a foreign language with English may be practical but does not match the reality that the Japanese foreign minority population is highly Asian. Some educators, therefore, stress better relationships with the society’s Asian population, Asian neighbors, and other non-Western societies. For foreign language education, they advocate teaching Chinese or Korean instead of English. Education for international understanding now also targets the internal international community, through efforts to form liaisons with neighboring ethnic or international schools, including the North Korean schools (Tsuneyoshi, 2001).

Japanese educational practice encourages children to cooperate and care for one another in building an empathetic community. However, educators are now being challenged to overcome the limits of a traditional model of community—one that may provide stability, a sense of belonging, and mutual support to its majority members, but may also restrict individual freedom and diversity of behavior. In addition, though the concept of caring and empathy can logically be extended to include those of other cultures or other countries, this is harder to accomplish in reality, when homogeneity is valued and children do not experience the impact of diversity in their daily lives. Ignoring the existence of minority children disadvantages both them and the majority of children who are denied the chance to learn from each other and become friends while acknowledging differences. The denial of differences within the group along with an emphasis on differences between that group and other groups is a breeding ground of prejudice (Aboud, 1988).

Another question that needs to be addressed is how to teach minority children about “their heritage.” Ethnic education of Korean children in after-school classrooms and Korean summer schools has been guided by the aims of instilling a positive self-image through identification with and appreciation of their Korean heritage. Such programs strive to eliminate the stigma attached to being Korean by acquainting children with symbols of Koreanness that they can use to distinguish themselves from Japanese. Such distinctions are a way of symbolically marking boundaries and are considered necessary to instill a Korean identity. This effort is required because there is little to distinguish between Korean and Japanese children these days in a cultural sense. In the absence of essential differences, teachers push children to develop political loyalty and identification with the Korean nation.

However, such measures as pushing children and parents to use ethnic names are not uniformly supported even by the Korean parents whose children participate in these ethnic education programs (Hester, 2000).

Their goals are often at odds with those of the Korean and Japanese teachers. Some would prefer to have Japanese children included in the programs to minimize the tendency to antagonistically separate Koreans from Japanese. They do not want what is Japanese to be regarded as alien, because they see their children as Japanese as much as Korean. These parents want their children to know and value their heritage as Korean in their own lives and personal relationships. However, they seek a way of being that is harmonious rather than antagonistic, inclusive rather than exclusive, and do not want to be required to constantly present their ethnic ancestry as the most salient aspect of their identity.

Ethnic education has the danger of the same essentializing of ethnic groups as in the model that views an either/or choice of assimilation versus multiculturalism. This dichotomous way of thinking shows an underlying image of a world where each individual belongs to a distinct cultural group and where they are integrated as enduring entities within the boundaries of the nation-state. The issue is often framed simply as to whether the minority should become the same as the majority or should be allowed to remain different. However, deeper questions remain about how boundaries are maintained, shifted, and redrawn in the process of struggles over the nature of the state.

Questioning the boundaries of the nation involves reexamining who belongs and who is excluded. There are many possible answers to the question of exactly what defines a Japanese, and therefore we could say, many measures of Japaneseness and multiple kinds of Japanese identities. While conventional analysis of the Japanese and Japanese culture focuses on the dichotomous comparison between narrowly defined categories of “Japanese” and “foreigner, ” our understanding of contemporary Japanese will improve only through investigation of the cultural complexity of these categories and their crossroads and borderlands.

Contemporary Japanese society is subjected to pressures to expand the borders of the nation as global forces create stresses on the society propelling it to open its gates and send its citizens abroad and invite others to come to live and work in Japan. As it becomes more diverse, the state also struggles to maintain unity among its people. But old strategies of promoting nationalism based on an ideology of homogeneity fail to integrate both new as well as older minorities. Intolerance and prejudice that spring from ethnocentrism leads directly to policies and social practices of Bilingual education.


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