A Case Study of a Queer Learner’s Japanese Language Learning and Gender Identity Construction

Conference: The Asian Conference on Language (ACL2022)
Title: A Case Study of a Queer Learner’s Japanese Language Learning and Gender Identity Construction
Stream: Language Learning and Teaching
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Motoki Long-Nozawa, The University of British Columbia, Canada


Scholars and educators with intellectual backgrounds in sociolinguistics and poststructuralism in the field of second language studies have fruitfully produced knowledge about language learning and identity (e.g., Higgins, 2015; Noron, 2000 & 2013). As a Japanese language educator and gay individual, my research focuses on Japanese language education and queer identities. In comparison to the field of Teaching English as an Additional Language (TEAL), Teaching Japanese as an Additional Language (TJAL) has not engaged in the subject of gender and sexuality in depth yet (e.g. Moore, 2020 and Nelson, 2009 for TEAL; Moore, 2019 and O’Mochain, 2016 for TJAL). My presentation explores the discursiveness of language learning and gender identity construction of a Canadian university student learning Japanese who identifies as a cis and feminine/androgeneous male. Two questions that guide my exploration are 1) what pedagogical practices opened up opportunities for gender identity construction and advance Japanese language learning and 2) how the space where those practices emerged can be conceptualized pedagogically. The interview and writing data are examined through the lenses of the poststructuralist views on identity and agency and the concept of translanguaging. My analysis demonstrates how a “playful space” created by the student and his interlocutors helped him construct his gender identity and advance his language learning. I conclude with the pedagogical implications by arguing a critical need for creating a learning space where language users have opportunities to explore gender/sexual identity repertoires.

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