Global competence and foreign language education in Japan

Fern Sakamoto, Peter Roger*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The pursuit of global competence (GC) is heavily promoted as part of university education in Japan, where the government exhorts universities to equip graduates with skills that will enable them to function as global citizens. Foreign language (FL) educators are often expected to cultivate these globally competent individuals. However, there is little consensus on what GC actually is, and limited evidence that existing models of GC are actually applicable in the Japanese context. This study used a qualitative survey targeting professionals, researchers, university teachers and students to determine the attributes that are seen to comprise GC, and the challenges faced in achieving GC in the Japanese context. Findings highlighted the primacy of FL communication skills, as well as openness, extraversion, emotional stability, and a willingness to engage. To overcome challenges to the achievement of these attributes, we suggest that FL educators need to tap into learners’ individual identities and aspirations, rather than pursuing generic and decontextualized approaches to the development of GC.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Studies in International Education
Publication statusSubmitted - 2020


  • global competence, intercultural competence, Japan, foreign language education, international education


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