Shaitan Alexandra

Birkbeck College, University of London

Alexandra Shaitan is a Doctoral student at Birkbeck, University of London investigating mixed-race identity in the context of Japan. She has previously published in ‘Mixed Race in Asia” book published by Routledge in 2017. Her co-authored paper “Haafu Identity in Japan: half, mixed or double?” looked at how discourses around mixedness affect the image of Japan as a homogeneous and/or monoethnic race/society.


Local and Global Perspectives: Plurilingualism and Multilingualism - Trends and Needs / Closing Ceremony

The panel discussion at PanSIG 2021 aims to address the conference theme in relation to foreign language education in Japan. We invited four experts who are teaching and researching in Japan to contribute and discuss this issue from their perspective of research, practice and experience. PanSIG 2021 Panel discussion invited guest speakers are: Fumiko Kurihara (Chuo University), Tomokazu Ishikawa (Tamagawa University), Paula Martinez-Sires (Nihon University), Alexandra Shaitan (JALT Bilingual SIG). Interlocutor/moderator: Mehrasa Alizadeh (Osaka University). In Japan the insular attitude to one culture one language is often stressed yet Japan has quite a diversity throughout its regions. Japan is an international oriented country, globally connected, with the Japanese passport most valuable to travelling to 193 countries (Japan Times April 16th, 2021). There had been efforts by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Technology Japan (MEXT) to internationalize, globalize its educational system, yet there are still pitfalls regarding the level of foreign language proficiency mostly related to English (MEXT uses foreign languages but this is understood often as English (American English)). At the same time Japanese as a foreign language had been getting more attention, English only programs established to attract students from other countries, foreign scholars were invited teaching Japanese culture, history etc. The integration of a needed workforce from other countries (mostly from Asian countries, South-America) is acknowledged more and more as a demanding task, Japan becoming a tourist spot with more than 30 Million visitors in 2019. This is reflected in the research and topics of many studies and conferences. Namely, JACTFL (Japan Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, 日本外国語教育推進機構) is putting the plurilingual (複言語) and multilingual (多言語) language education in the center of its agenda, backed by the Japan Association of Language Policy (JALP). PanSIG 2021 is a conference organized by JALT Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and this theme was chosen to shed light on JALT as the Japan Association for Language Teaching having many SIGs with topics related to the plurilingual individuum and the multilingual environment (society, classroom), teaching language and languages: Other Language Educators SIG, Bilingual SIG, Global Issues in Language Education SIG, CEFR & LP SIG, Intercultural Communication in Language Education SIG, Learner Development SIG, Teacher Helping Teachers SIG, Japanese as a Second Language SIG, Teaching Young Learners SIG, Study Abroad SIG and more.

Bilingualism SIG “Tea Time and Sweets” Family Chat

Sat, May 15, 14:30-16:00 JST

The Bilingualism SIG is inviting parents, along with their children, for a casual “Tea Time and Sweets” interactive event aimed at providing participants with a platform to share their stories and experiences about language learning and growing up bi-/multilingual in Japan. In this laid-back forum, we welcome long-time members with advice, as well as newbies looking to learn! Please join us for this exciting time to talk, meet other families, and make new friends!

Challenges in Multilingual Learner Development

Sat, May 15, 18:00-19:30 JST

Connecting with the theme of “Local and Global Perspectives: Plurilingualism and Multilingualism,” this forum will feature presentations that explore the development of linguistic diversity in learners’ lives and environments, whether within formal education or in the wider world. What affordances and constraints do learners face in developing their linguistic repertoires beyond a simple binary of first and second language? What challenges do they face as multilingual learners and users in participating in different communities and in becoming more autonomous? What peculiar trajectories do learners’ language biographies take, and what dilemmas, questions, or puzzles do they have? Why? In this Learner Development SIG Forum at PanSIG 2021, we would like to explore the challenges and benefits of learning and using multiple languages from diverse perspectives. The forum will feature timed rounds of interactive presentations followed by reflective writing and discussion. Presenters and participants will also be invited to contribute writing and related multimedia resources to the LD SIG’s newsletter, Learning Learning.