Foreign Reactions to Japan as a Teaching Resource

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John Rucynski, Jr., Okayama University


One overlooked aspect of language teaching is the importance of also teaching culture. Communicating with people from different cultures involves not just linguistic competence, but also intercultural awareness. Additionally, cultural literacy about the target culture can improve fluency in the target language. Despite the role of culture in language teaching, there are obstacles to creating culture-rich language courses. First, identifying what the target culture is in EFL settings such as Japan can be a challenge. Second, traditional EFL coursebooks are often not designed to also sufficiently teach culture. One remedy to these issues is to first focus on the students’ own culture. Many students, however, are not certain as to what makes their own culture interesting or unique. In this paper, I examine using foreign reactions to Japan as a resource for helping Japanese students better understand and explain their own culture in English.