Intercultural Communication in Language Education Any Interactive poster session

Rethinking Silence and Participation in the Japanese EFL Classroom

Sat, Jul 9, 16:00-16:40 Asia/Tokyo

Location: Posters

Classroom silence is a common source of conflict between teachers and students in the Japanese English as a foreign language (EFL) context. Within second language acquisition theory (SLA) and EFL literature, and especially within communicative language teaching pedagogies, a heavy emphasis is placed on second language (L2) oral production as an ideal, if not essential participation mode. Furthermore, the majority of work from Western researchers has problematized the silence of Japanese EFL learners, traditionally viewing classroom silence as a serious impediment to L2 acquisition and as evidence of non-participation or lack of ability (e.g. Bao, 2014; King, 2013; Shao & Gao, 2016). As a result, L2 oral production is often become conflated with active participation and L2 gains in Japanese EFL classrooms settings (e.g. Bernales, 2016; Delaney, 2012). This presentation aims to connect sociocultural constructions of silence with SLA phenomena and pedagogical factors to examine why Japanese EFL learners continue to choose silence in the classroom (e.g. Bernales, 2016; Bao, 2014; King, 2013; Nakane, 2007; Yashima et al., 2016.) It reflects on these cultural ways of being, participating, and learning to propose a broader conceptualization of L2 classroom participation that acknowledges and accommodates silent modes of participation and different cultural learning modes.