English parenting: Bilingual parenting advice for Japanese parents in Japan

Author: Janice Nakamura (Kanagawa University)
Speaker: Janice Nakamura
Topic: Language Ideologies
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2021 General Session


Private language planning by families for elite bilingualism may involve giving children early exposure to a prestigious foreign language, i.e., English. This study examines how bilingual parenting books in Japan advocate the practice of English parenting by Japanese parents. Analysis of 18 self-help publications revealed that ‘the earlier, the better’ and ‘the advantages of knowing English or being bilingual’ are the main arguments put forth to encourage Japanese parents to give their children English input from a young age. The two most common suggestions are for parents to provide continuous English media exposure in the home and speak English regardless of their level of English proficiency. However, low levels of English proficiency and input are unlikely to support children’s acquisition of English. The suggestions contradict findings from bilingualism research and may not promote active Japanese-English bilingualism. Some of the parent-authors’ success in raising their children as English-Japanese bilinguals are arguably the result of other factors, particularly their high level of English proficiency. These findings highlight the need to undertake further research on foreign language parenting and disseminate research-based advice to Japanese parents interested in raising their children in English.

Keywords: Bilingual parenting books, English-Japanese bilingualism, Japanese parents, English, Japan