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Idealized English Teachers: The Implicit Influence of Race in Japan

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English as a Foreign Language (EFL) education within the context of Japan is firmly underpinned by sociohistorical constructions of racial difference and racial hierarchies that have considerable influence on contemporary student and institutional attitudes. Embracing these sociohistorical foundations, this article adopts experimental procedures to explore the implicit influence of race upon student ratings of desirability of prospective non-Japanese EFL teachers in Japanese tertiary education across a number of manipulated conditions. Through presenting students with EFL teacher profiles of White, Asian, and Black racial heritage teachers, the experimental results indicate that the White teachers were rated as the most desirable when all explicit attributes such as age, country of origin, English language ability, Japanese language ability, and teaching experience were standardized across all three race conditions. However, when these explicit attributes were manipulated, the implicit influence of race was seemingly negated, as the students demonstrated a statistically significant preference for those teachers who retained the idealized attributes regardless of their race, namely the ‘native speaker’ of English status.
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Keywords: English teachers; Japanese higher education, ‘native-speaker’; influence of race in EFL; teacher desirability

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Osaka University, 2: University of Canberra,

Publication date: November 1, 2013

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