The Japan Association for Language Teaching (JALT) Bilingualism Special Interest Group (SIG) traces its roots back to a Symposium on Bilingualism held at the 1985 JALT International Conference in Kyoto. The enthusiastic response to this symposium convinced the symposium organizers to make this an annual conference event and to draw up a petition asking JALT to allow the formation of a Special Interest Group on Bilingualism. During the next few years, attendance at the annual Symposium (later Colloquium) on bilingualism steadily increased. JALT eventually formulated a policy permitting the formation of Special Interest Groups, which were called National SIGs or N-SIGs until 1999 when “National” was dropped as misleading in an international era. Early on, regular JALT organizers and regular participants of the Colloquium on Bilingualism became the initial members of the Bilingualism N-SIG, which was one of the first two N-SIGs officially recognized by JALT in June, 1990. From its charter membership of 50, the Bilingualism SIG has grown to more than 160 members.
Bilingual Japan is the JALT Bilingualism SIG’s official newsletter. The newsletter provides B-SIG members with news and information about bilingualism research and bilingual child-raising in Japan. Bilingual Japan also provides updates on recent B-SIG activities. SIG members receive three print copies of the newsletter a year. The newsletter depends on contributions from its readers. All SIG members and other interested parties are invited to submit articles or reports for inclusion in the newsletter. We publish articles about family experiences and bilingual parenting issues of concern to the readers. We encourage anyone to submit their story.
The JALT Bilingualism SIG has put together an extensive collection of monographs on various practical topics to do with raising children bilingually, particularly in Japanese contexts. Whether you are a new parent looking for advice or an educator wondering about how to deal with bilingual children in your class, the wealth of personal experiences in these books will provide you with plenty of directions and perhaps even some answers to your questions. What a great way to learn from experienced parents and professionals who have resided in Japan for a long time.
The Japan Journal of Multilingualism and Multiculturalism – 多言語多文化研究 (ISSN: 1348-4095) is a publication of the Japan Association for Language Teaching (JALT) Bilingualism SIG. This journal has been accepted by the ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages and Linguistics (ED 411 695).
The Japan Journal of Multilingualism and Multiculturalism is the only academic journal in Japan devoted entirely to issues of bilingualism and multiculturalism. It is published in both print and online forms annually, and features original academic articles on bilingualism in Japanese contexts. The journal publishes studies and book reviews written in either English or Japanese.
Since September, 1997, there has been a web page offering bilingual information about the above journal, https://www.bsig.org/jjmm and that web page has drawn links from Asian Studies Websites such as at Duke University. Since May, 1998, the Bilingualism SIG itself has been online with this web page and a home page to provide a wider range of services to members and non-members alike through the Internet.
Presentations and Other Activities
The Bilingualism SIG has continued the tradition of organizing a Bilingualism Forum at the annual JALT International Conference. As the SIG has grown, it has also been able to organize roundtable discussions and other presentations on bilingualism in addition to the forum. The SIG also maintains a presenter database as a means for providing speakers to JALT chapters and other interested organizations. Another tradition that has developed at the JALT International Conference is the Bilingualism SIG dinner/banquet, an evening event where SIG members who are scattered throughout Japan can gather for a few hours of good food and informal fellowship.
Bilingualism promises to be an important topic for an increasingly large percentage of Japan’s population. In order to serve this population, the Bilingualism SIG will continue its established activities and publications, and it hopes to embark on new projects and explore new areas of bilingualism and biculturalism according to the interests and energy of its members.