‘More English than England itself’: the simulation of authenticity in foreign language practice in Japan

Seargeant, Philip (2005). ‘More English than England itself’: the simulation of authenticity in foreign language practice in Japan. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 15(3) pp. 326–345.

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Abstract

This article examines the way in which the concept of 'authenticity' operates as a key motif in the construction of the symbolic cultural meaning of English as a foreign language in Japan. It reviews the way the term is used in a technical sense in language teaching and the political implications of its competing definitions within this context, then contrasts this with examples drawn from language institutions in Japan in which ideas of 'authenticity' are central to the way that English is sold to society. It is argued that the presentation of the language within these terms constructs and maintains elaborate simulations of English-language society within Japan, which produces an ideology that may be in direct conflict with the prevailing conception of the role of English as an international language. The article considers the effect that such social practice has on the role of English within Japan and the implications of this for theoretical discussion of the relationship between this global language and local culture.

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