Organized Panel Session
“Study abroad” is ironically a dirty word for many students at the “Institute for Global Education,” a four-year English-taught program in Japan. “Global education” often presumes the existence of a border, the crossing of which is said to allow students to develop resilience, empathy, and knowledge of self and other. Moreover, English symbolizes the “global” in Japan, hence English-medium instruction as part of the government’s effort to “globalize” higher education.
This paper shows that these assumptions are being subverted by the very students who participate in such English-taught programs. Students attracted to English-taught programs tend to be those who are not proficient in academic Japanese. Some students are not Japanese yet come to see Japan as their home due to their long-term stay and their future plans. They feel that the label “study abroad” alienates them from Japan. Other students have Japanese parent(s) yet have been schooled in English inside and/or outside Japan, often feeling alienated from other Japanese while at the same time recognizing their connections. Both categories of students see the border of Japanese/non-Japanese problematic and consequently reject the notion that they are studying “abroad” since the label assumes such difference. These viewpoints squarely challenge a notion of global education that relies on the existence of clear borders, the monolingualist binary of English (symbolizing non-Japanese or “global”) and Japanese. Based on interviews with students from both categories, this paper illustrates the irony of how “global education” is producing its own dissenters.