European Journal of Language Policy

Pluralistic approaches for Japanese university students preparing to study abroad

European Journal of Language Policy (2020), 12, (1), 29–53.


In today’s society, students are increasingly encountering various languages, different genres of language use, and new language norms in unexpected ways. Foreign language education at the university level should therefore equip students with the necessary metalinguistic competence to help them prepare for these linguistic and cultural differences. However, fostering such competence can be challenging when educational institutions enforce monolingual language education policies. This paper introduces a case study in which a pluralistic approach for learning about languages and cultures was implemented at a national university in Japan, in a course for students preparing to study abroad. After discussing the challenges in foreign language education at national universities in Japan, it describes the practice that was characterised by a specific pluralistic approach, Awakening to Languages. It then analyses what the students experienced and reported learning. The results suggest that even short-term use of the pluralistic approach helps improve metalinguistic competence. They also suggest that teachers should be more informed about educational measures that promote plurilingual competence, so that they can take more active roles in language education policy.

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Author details

Oyama, Mayo

Yamamoto, Saeri