Negotiating Bilingual and Bicultural Identities
Japanese Returnees Betwixt Two Worlds
By Yasuko Kanno
Routledge – 2003 – 200 pages
Routledge – 2003 – 200 pages
This book examines the changing linguistic and cultural identities of bilingual students through the narratives of four Japanese returnees (kikokushijo) as they spent their adolescent years in North America and then returned to Japan to attend university.
As adolescents, these students were polarized toward one language and culture over the other, but through a period of difficult readjustment in Japan they became increasingly more sophisticated in negotiating their identities and more appreciative of their hybrid selves. Kanno analyzes how educational institutions both in their host and home countries, societal recognition or devaluation of bilingualism, and the students' own maturation contributed to shaping and transforming their identities over time. Using narrative inquiry and communities of practice as a theoretical framework, she argues that it is possible for bilingual individuals to learn to strike a balance between two languages and cultures.
Negotiating Bilingual and Bicultural Identities: Japanese Returnees Betwixt Two Worlds:
*is a longitudinal study of bilingual and bicultural identities--unlike most studies of bilingual learners, this book follows the same bilingual youths from adolescence to young adulthood;
*documents student perspectives--redressing the neglect of student voice in much educational research, and offering educators an understanding of what the experience of learning English and becoming bilingual and bicultural looks like from the students' point of view; and
*contributes to the study of language, culture, and identity by demonstrating that for bilingual individuals, identity is not a simple choice of one language and culture but an ongoing balancing act of multiple languages and cultures.
This book will interest researchers, educators, and graduate students who are concerned with the education and personal growth of bilingual learners, and will be useful as text for courses in ESL/bilingual education, TESOL, applied linguistics, and multicultural education.
"…Kanno makes important theoretical contributions to both the communities of practice framework and narrative studies of social identity and language learning. In this book, she extends the conversation …about the definition of and conditions for legitimate peripheral participation in communities of practice, especially when societal racism ostracises and silences would-be participants (Toohey 1998,1999; Kanno 1999, see also p. 13 of this book). Kanno also stresses the importance of narrative providing coherence between the multiple, conflicting identities that are the subject of many recent SLA studies. As Kanno admits, the pieces never fit together perfectly. But by paying attention to the links learners make in their language learning narratives, we can resolve the seeming contradictions between multiple identities in a single life, in a similar way perhaps that Kanno's participants move beyond the dichotomies of Japanese/not-Japanese."
—Bilingual Education and Bilingualism
"…this study will be a valuable resource for assisting ESL teachers and teacher educators in creating a classroom environment that is receptive to bilingual and multilingual students. This book highlights that achieving a secure sense of self involves the ability to assert concurrent membership in multiple discourse communities. By acknowledging this dimension of identity-negotiation teachers can assist students in understanding the intricate framework of communities of practice."
—Multilingual Matters LTD
"Kanno's beautifully written and poignant book offers unprecedented insights into the process of language and identity development, illuminating ways in which four Japanese teenagers come to resent, deny, appreciate, and manage their hybrid bilingual and bicultural identities. This extraordinary book, which at times reads more like a novel than a scholarly treatise, will be of great interest not only to scholars, language educators, and policy makers, but to all those interested in the linguistic and personal development of bilingual teenagers."
—Modern Language Journal
"Yasuko Kanno presents the reader with a unique reading experience by providing a book on bilingual bicultural narratives that is entertaining as well as scholarly and insightful. The text can therefore be read by a wide audience with goals ranging from seeing a clear application of recent social constructivist approaches to second-language learning, to exploring the strengths of longitudinal studies of identity, to enjoying an in-depth description of the lives of four unique young people who have lived lives across and between linguistic and cultural boundaries….Kanno's analysis highlights the importance of examining identities in richly contextualized local settings, in both space and time. Such a longitudinal study with a focus on in-depth individual narratives of bicultural and bilingual identity brings depth to our conception of language learning and use as a process of continual transformation."
—Journal of Language and Social Psychology
"The study reported is perhaps the most extensive and in-depth examination of the evolution of bicultural identity ever conducted….This volume taps directly into perhaps the single most important issue linking many scholarly disciplines and controversial social issues….Questions of identity are linked to the realities of policy and practice in educating immigrant and culturally diverse students….The text reads almost like a novel as the reader is drawn into the lives of the four students (and the author) and the ways in which they resolve issues of personal location and identity in their lives. This concise, elegant, highly accessible introduction to identity issues in the lives of bilingual/bicultural students is a unique and valuable contribution….It will become essential reading for any graduate student carrying out research related to identity issues."
University of Toronto
"Kanno introduces us to the stories of four young people who are riding the waves of linguistic and cultural change as their families move back and forth between Japan, North America, and back to Japan again….Their balancing of Japanese- and English-speaking identities provide an intimate portrait of the process of becoming bilingual and bicultural….The power of the stories and the effective use of the 'communities of practice' framework are major strengths."
—Donald F. Hones
University of Wisconsin/Oshkosh
Contents: Preface. From My Story to the Stories of Other Bilinguals. Sawako's Story. Kenji's Story. Kikuko's Story. Rui's Story. The Development of Bilingual and Bicultural Identities. Theoretical Implications. Conclusions. Appendix: Cited Quotes in Original Japanese.