Departmental Bulletin Paper Japanese Language Learning and Employment Opportunities for Foreign Residents : Russian-speaking Migrants in Japan

Golovina, Ksenia  ,  Mukhina, Varvara

1pp.17 - 35 , 2017-06 , Centre for Global Communication Strategies, College of Arts & Sciences, The University of Tokyo
The ability of migrants to integrate with a host society is deeply affected by the migrant’s knowledge of the host country’s language. This paper presents the empirical findings of our study conducted in Japan in 2015-2016. The focus was the degree of Japanese language ability among Russian-speaking migrants in Japan, and the association between language skills and employment opportunities available to this population. We describe the learning sites and practices that Russian-speaking migrants utilized before and after their migration, offer insight into their Japanese language ability, and highlight the relationship between migrants’ employment status and Japanese language skills. Our aim is to illustrate the importance of affordable opportunities for effective learning and the role such learning plays in developing the language skills of migrants, thereby promoting their ability to secure employment in Japan. The analysis focuses on learning sites in Japan where the respondents studied Japanese. The sites included Japanese language schools, universities, private tutoring, and free language classes provided by regional administration centers and volunteer centers. As illustrated by both the objective and the subjective language ability assessments the respondents provided, overall language ability varied per group along a continuum that can be conceptualized as “university – Japanese language school – private tutoring – other.” The findings revealed discrepancies in the employment status of participants among these four groups. Narratives obtained through interviews helped us to identify areas of concern that potentially hamper migrants from obtaining the expected degree of oral proficiency and literacy in Japanese, at the corresponding learning sites. The data and findings presented here may serve to inform policy for targeted instruction in Japanese for migrants, according to their ability level and occupations, which would help to deliver effective training in Japanese that accords with migrants’ needs.
Section 1: Original Research

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