Year

2009

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Faculty of Education

Abstract

This research investigated the construction of interculturality in the context of foreign language education in Australian primary schools. The study explored the curriculum areas of citizenship education and foreign language education within the Human Society and Its Environment Key Learning Area in NSW primary schools, focusing on how the curricula contribute to the goals of intercultural understanding, and examined the potential of applying Japanese language learning education as one of the tools to serve the development of students’ interculturality.

The methodology used for this study is a qualitative paradigm. The study is a case study with multiple contexts including two primary schools, a high school and a university. The methodology and analysis are framed by grounded theory. The researcher’s position in conducting this study is underpinned by cultural theory. Literature on globalisation, citizenship, language education and interculturality were explored.

The participants were thirty primary school students from two different schools, five high school students and the teachers of their Japanese language classes, five university students who are studying the Japanese language as their major, and other stakeholders. The researcher explored the participants’ perceptions and beliefs regarding the multiple issues of identity, Japanese language teaching and learning and the development of interculturality. In addition, classroom observations were conducted and recorded over several months, curriculum documents were analysed, and teacher seminars and professional development courses were attended. The data analyses, coding and classifying, were conducted in three phases, each building upon the results of the other, as revealed in the grounded theory approach.

The results of this study are discussed around three key themes: self-identity construction through Japanese language learning experiences; schools as sites of cultural production and reproduction where the students’ development of self-identity is crucially influenced; and language education for interculturality. The students’ school is a crucial location for the development of interculturality, where the curriculum can be planned to stimulate their subjective awareness of self, which is an important process in the development of this quality.

The result indicates that Japanese language education can be a tool to promote and develop interculturality. Recommendations have been proposed in three major areas: the position of language education in the school curriculum; teachers’ professional development to enhance their interculturality; and future research. Language education should be a compulsory subject within any primary school curriculum. It is revealed that the importance of developing interculturality has to be manifested, not as a by-product of schooling, but should be purposefully directed. The notion of intercultural competency while learning a foreign language opens up new dimensions for the language teaching arena. Professional development of teachers, and longitudinal research to follow the outcomes of new language teaching approaches are crucial for today’s society.

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