The Representation of non-native speakers in Japanese textbook dialogues

a case study of Genki

Katherine Brownlee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Proficiency in a second or third language in an increasingly globalised world is undeniably an asset. However, the traditional methods of language teaching which focused on grammar and translation, and even the more recent shift towards a communicative approach are insufficient to provide students with the skills they need to effectively communicate on a professional level with a high degree of fluency unless there is also a focus on the cultural component of language usage. Effective communication relies on far more than grammar and vocabulary: it requires students to examine and understand the relationship between language and culture in order to accurately convey their intended meaning in a manner appropriate to the context. For learners studying a language such as Japanese it is arguably more important to include explicit explanation of sociolinguistic characteristics, and examples of cultural differences due to the significant differences between Japanese and Western cultural traditions. Despite changes to language teaching methodology over the past few decades which have resulted in courses with a greater communicative focus, the cultural and intercultural content often remains limited. This paper looks at the depiction of social roles of non-native and native Japanese speakers in the first book of the popular tertiary Japanese textbook series: Genki in order to evaluate how effectively students are prepared for real-world language usage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-416
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Learning
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • intercultural language learning
  • textbooks
  • Japanese

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