Monday, March 26, 2007

Judith Hanks on Exploratory Practice

Workshop “International Perspectives on Exploratory Practice” and Symposium Speech “Inclusivity and Collegiality in Exploratory Practice”, both by Judith Hanks (University of Leeds, UK) on March 15th, 2007, the first day of the Oxford-Kobe Seminar, were very helpful for illuminating the concept of Exploratory Practice. The following is my partial report of the two presentations (Some materials are reproduced as quotations from her handouts.). I appreciate Judith Hank’s kind permission to let this reproduction appear on this blog. Any mistakes in this article are of course entirely mine.

In her workshop speech, Hanks introduces the principles of Exploratory Practice as follows:

(1) Put ‘Quality of Life’ first
(2) Work towards understanding (not problem-solving or ‘improvement’; reject change for change’s sake)
(3) Work collegially (share with colleagues)
(4) Work inclusively (work to bring people together)
(5) Work for mutual development
(6) Put learning first, and make the research help the learning, and so avoid burn-out through overwork.
(7) Work towards a sustainable enterprise of learning, teaching and research.
Judith Hanks (2007)

It seems to me that Exploratory Practice can be interpreted as a third wave of research movement in TESL research. The first wave, scientific research, established itself in the 1980s probably, but its rigorous approach turned out to be sometimes frustratingly irrelevant for practitioners. Action research as a second wave in the 1990s was in one sense a reaction to the rigorous first wave in that it promoted actions than truth-finding. However, when action research becomes extremely action-oriented (or action-obsessed), it does not prioritize the quality of life of those involved. Contemporary educational institutions are indeed under heavy pressure for constant changes and reforms. Plans are always prepared for ‘problem solving’ and ‘improvement’ must be measurably demonstrated to a third party for ‘accountability.’ However, this trend sometimes leads to burn-out of the practitioners. In the long run, an unsustainable enterprise (‘change for change’s sake’) benefits no one. Furthermore, if the problem is a misconceived one due to lack of proper understanding, neither the result nor the process of the action will be of any help for anyone except, perhaps, for an administrator who only reviews the action on paper. Rather a teacher should be encouraged to better understand herself and her colleagues. Together with her colleagues, she should involve her students (and some researchers as well) for their mutual development in the language classroom. A joy of fellowship and mutual cooperation must be brought back to the practice of education. Quality of life, sustained by deeper understanding of the practice of education, must come first, for without it, no proper action or improvement is possible.

In the conclusion of her workshop speech, Hanks writes as follows:

In many ways, EP is not trying to do anything new or radically different in the classroom. Rather it is advocating the integration of classroom language learning research with teaching and learning. In this way, we hope to harness what we already do in order to find out what we (teachers and learners) want/need to know about our lives in the classroom. The aim is to deepen our own understandings of what it is to be involved in classroom language learning – to ‘live’ the experience.
Judith Hanks (2007)

The expression of “to harness what we already do in order to find out what we want/need to know” just reminded me of Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigation. Wittgenstein gives a more radical view of description (taken here by me as verbalization of understanding) as opposed to explanation (as advancement of a new theory). Perhaps his contrast between description and explanation or between philosophy and science is sharper than necessary, but it is helpful (and even therapeutic) to neutralize our urge to theorize everything by scientific method.

It was true to say that our considerations could not be scientific ones. It was not of any possible interest to us to find out empirically 'that, contrary to our preconceived ideas, it is possible to think such-and-such' ---- whatever that may mean. (The conception of thought as a gaseous medium.) And we may not advance any kind of theory. There must not be anything hypothetical in our considerations. We must do away with all explanation, and description alone must take its place. And this description gets its light, that is to say its purpose, from the philosophical problems. These are, of course, not empirical problems; they are solved, rather, by looking into the workings of our language, and that in such a way as to make us recognize those workings: in despite of an urge to misunderstand them. The problems are solved, not by giving new information, but by arranging what we have always known. Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language. (Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations Section 109)

Indeed we may not have to advance a radically new scientific theory to know our classroom language learning properly. Teachers and learners may already know enough, if only tacitly. All we need may just be to communicate with each other to learn ourselves in the classroom better. Researchers may promote that communication by providing proper terms and expressions, or by translating spoken discourse of practitioners into written discourse for publication.

As Hanks cites Flybjerg (2001: 2), “phronesis goes beyond both analytical, scientific knowledge (episteme) or know-how (techne) and involves judgments and decisions in the manner of a virtuoso social and political actor.”
Bent Flyvbjerg (2001) Making Social Science Matter

I wonder if we may roughly correlate scientific research and episteme, action research and techne, and exploratory practice and phronesis. Episteme (in the sense of scientific knowledge), revealed by scientific research, may be very fundamental to the practice of education. Techne, demonstrated by action research, may be very useful for those who need some new action for improvement of teaching. Yet, episteme and techne may not reach the heart of the matter. Phronesis, which is often tacit and implicit in the understanding of practitioners, may be the real potential for truth and action. It may be the case that unless episteme (scientific knowledge) and techne are incorporated into phronesis (understanding) of practitioners, episteme and techne are not properly understood in the context of practice. As practitioners, teachers and learners have their own phronesis. Their phronesis lies in the core of their judgments and behaviors, waiting for our explication. Exploration of that phronesis through proper use of language in communication may be our priority.

Forthcoming is her coauthored book with Dick Allwright, The Developing Learner (Palgrave Macmillan).

Judith, we’re very much looking forward to this book!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

“Exploratory Practice” in the Oxford-Kobe Seminar

The following is my first report on the Oxford-Kobe seminar (see the bottom of this article for the detail of the seminar). On behalf of all the participants of the seminar, I’d like to express my deep gratitude to the chief organizer, Tatsuhiro YOSHIDA (Hyogo University of Teacher Education), other organizers and financial and non-financial supporters. For me, it was by far the best academic conference.


One of the important features of Exploratory Practice is inclusiveness. Exploratory Practice tries to incorporate the lived understanding of learners into the practice of teaching. It regards learners as full collaborators in the research process because they are recognized as practitioners in their own right.

This is, in a sense, a declaration for a new direction for language teaching research. It is important that this statement is made by one of the most renowned TESL researchers in the world, Dr. Dick Allwright. I may paraphrase the statement as “Researchers should listen to the voice of teachers who listen to the voice of learners.” A friend of mine further paraphrased it jokingly as “Researchers should have a listening skill!”

Over many years, researchers have tended to preach to teachers without really understanding teachers. They often select their favorite theoretical topic and impose their perspective upon the practice of teachers as if they knew better. Teachers, in turn, often preach to learners and give unsympathetic criticism without really understanding what it is like for them to learn a second/foreign language in their local context. They tend to pay less attention to their students’ identities.

This “pecking order,” as you might say, may represent our hierarchy of control and dominance. Researchers protect their social authority by trying to control and dominate teachers, and teachers, then, protect their own by doing the same to learners. This is not a structure of mutual cooperation.

It is not of course true, though, that learners always know better than teachers, and teachers than researchers. They are all puzzled by the reality of the practice from their own point of view. This is why they have to bring their understanding to the mutual arena for joint-exploration. Some researchers may have better academic skills for exploration than teachers and learners, but that does not mean that they should take control of what teachers and learners should think and do.

This direction of language teaching research may not be entirely new, though. I, for one, have been trying to understand competent teachers in Japan over the past 10 years. I listen to what they say. I also observe what they do to further listen to what they don’t say. This approach, however, has not always been accepted as an academic inquiry, as it has often been regarded not as “scientific.” I refrained from writing for academic publication by this approach for the fear of being rejected with unkind words of non-understanding. Instead, I kept writing reports and essays on my Japanese homepage. The text of the homepage now exceeds 8 MB.

This sheer amount of the text may partly explain my joy when I heard the Plenary Lecture by Dick Allwright, the Workshop by Judith Hanks (University of Leeds, UK), and the Symposium by Judith Hanks, Assia Slimani-Rolls (European Business School London, UK) and Ines K. Miller (Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), all on Exploratory Practice. My joy turned into excitement when I had a conversation over dinner with Prof. Leo van Lier (Monterey Institute of International Studies, USA), with whom I shared much philosophical interest.

Exploratory Practice, as I understand it, a democratization of the practice of education. Democracy is preferred here because it will explore more truth and justice in the complexity of the interwoven life of education. Natural science reveals truth in a highly rigorous way, but the highly regimented scientific truth may not always be relevant for exploring our pluralistic life in its socio-cultural context.

Exploratory Practice is a humanistic enterprise as well. It seeks a better life of learners, teachers and all those involved in education. I, as a researcher-teacher, would like to join in this practice of exploration.

The 1st English Education Seminar
KOBE, JAPAN, 14-17 MARCH 2007


In August 2005, St. Catherine’s College (University of Oxford) Kobe Institute, Hyogo Academic League, and Hyogo University of Teacher Education planned an international seminar on innovative research in the filed of English language teaching by inviting scholars from UK, Europe, USA, and Asian countries.
In the seminar, “Understanding the Language Classroom and New Directions for Language Teaching Research”, will invite leading scholars of ‘classroom research’ to discuss various issues for three days. The main feature of the seminar is Exploratory Practice (EP), emphasizing the ‘quality of classroom life’.
Other topics are research on learner strategies, experiential learning, teacher education, ecological approach to language learning, and English language teaching in Asian countries. Poster sessions also are held.
It is our expectation that the seminar will give an impact on both academic and practical language teaching worldwide.

The organizers are grateful to the Daiwa Japanese-Anglo Foundation and the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation for their grant; and Hyogo Board of Education, British Council and Hyogo Academic League for their support.

Key organizers:
T. Yoshida, Hyogo University of Teacher Education
D. Allwright, Lancaster University
E. Macaro, University of Oxford


Speakers are by invitation only: they are all famous researchers who are working actively in each area and present their work for discussion. Poster presentation is also set for younger researchers. We will help and encourage young researchers, undergraduates and postgraduates to attend and present the poster.
The following scholars have agreed to present papers at the Seminar:

Dick Allwright (the former professor of Lancaster University, UK)
Naoko Aoki (Osaka University, Japan)
Judith Hanks (Leeds University, UK)
Yongsuk Kim (Daegu National University of Education, Korea)
Viljo Kohonen (University of Tampere, Finland)
Ernesto Macaro (University of Oxford, UK)
Ines Miller (Pontificia Universidade Catolica do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Yoshiyuki Nakata (Hyogo University of Teacher Education)
Assia Slimani-Rolls, (the European Business School in Regents Park, UK)
Craig Smith (Kyoto University of Foreign Studies, Japan)
Osamu Takeuchi (Kansai University, Japan)
Ken Tamai (Kobe City University of Foreign Studies, Japan)
Ngo T. P. Thien (University of Social Science and Humanities - Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam National University, VietNam)
Leo Van Lier (Monterey Institute of International Studies, USA)
Shinichiro Yokomizo (Saga University, Japan)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

John Lennon, the Darfur crisis and you

Maybe I get excited just too easily.
Maybe I like John Lennon just too, too much.

But just take a look at this site by Amnesty International.
Look John in the eye.

Learn about the Darfur crisis, as I did a couple of minutes ago.

A frivolous guy like me can have a surging interest in one of the global issues like this. The phrase “the Darfur crisis” will certainly catch my attention from tomorrow. This learning, superficial though it is, is driven by John Lennon / Yoko Ono, R.E.M., and Amnesty International, but made possible by the internet.

A Japanese friend of mine in the U.S. let me know about this through Mixi, a social networking service in Japan. She and I have only in common one mutual Mixi friend and love of music. (I’ve never met her or the mutual friend in person.) This rapid spread of the news is unthinkable without the internet.

No, it’s not the internet that spreads the news. It is an open network, or a rhizome as you might say, of so many different individuals that hold certain similarities and relations with each other. These freely networked citizens with different identities can be called multitude.

And now you’re reading this article. (Who ARE you, by the way?)

We are one and many, or many and one.

Or am I just being manipulated by something or someone?
Do you like a conspiracy theory?

Monday, March 12, 2007

About my English in this blog

This blog was updated on March 12, 2007, for linguistic improvement. Special thanks to a Japanese blog which gave a critical view on my use of English in this blog. A specific correction of the word order in my article (Reading Haruki Murakami in English) was very helpful. I regret the mistake.

However, regarding the use of a phrase “cultural icon,” my quick Google search found a description in the National Geographic magazine.

“A handful of men and women are important enough that they are remembered for decades, even centuries, after their deaths. This lesson links geography with world issues of the 20th and 21st centuries by identifying cultural leaders or icons from around the world who have impacted the social, political, or environmental views of their countries. Students will explore the definition of "cultural icon" and study at least one cultural leader and his or her part of the world in detail.”

The use of the phrase “cultural icon” in this quotation may support my use of the expression in the article of “Reading Haruki Murakami in English,” although the above Japanese blog article (the version of March 12, 2007) says the phrase “cultural icon” should be avoided in the context of my article (See the Japanese quotation below).

For further mistakes or other sorts of linguistic deviations, I will revise them when I notice or am notified by other kind readers. I’d appreciate your kind cooperation.

Incidentally, no proof-reading by a native speaker is done when articles in this blog are written. I regret and apologize for the errors and linguistic deviations in advance. I believe international communication is more important than perfection in language, although I fully acknowledge the responsibility of TEFL professionals for improving their proficiency in the target language.

Thank you for your attention.

The quotation from the article at
On March 12, 2007

★ cultural icon という言い方は通りがいいのか

そもそもcultural icon という英語を耳にしたことがないので、ネットで検索したら、まっさきに Wikipedia のエントリーが挙がりました。その説明では、An object or person which is distinctive to, or particularly representative of, a specific culture.(特定文化を他とはっきり分け、あるいは、格別、象徴的と言える物品や人)となっていますので、「文化の象徴」に相当する言葉であることがわかります。これは例として、イギリスの山高帽、アメリカのジョン・ウェイン、そしてアップルパイが挙がっていることからもわかります。

たかがウィキペディアですが、いちおう、これを基準とする限り、夏目漱石、樋口一葉、そして福沢諭吉を指して、「日本文化の象徴」とは言えないでしょうから、この cultural icon は使えそうもありません。

お前ならどうするんだと言われたら、作家と評論家をひとからげにして literary and cultural figures といったところでしょうか。おおぎょうになってもよければ、luminaries も使えます。

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Multi-voices in TAJIRI Goro's classes

Below is the proposal of my poster presentation at The 1st English Education Seminar, KOBE, JAPAN, 14-17 MARCH 2007

This presentation is partially based upon my article available at:

Multi-voices of a “charismatic” Japanese English Teacher

Hiroshima University

In the classroom of TAJIRI Goro, who has been featured as a “charismatic teacher” by the Japanese edition of Newsweek, NHK (the Japan Broadcasting Corporation), The Daily Yomiuri, and other medias, different qualities of voices are heard from him and his students. This presentation is an analysis of the multi-voiceness of his classroom. I offer two cases for analysis.

Case 1 is public speech-making by his three junior high school students. It was recorded in the very last lesson of the three years of their junior high school life. The school life had started in a very uncomfortable, even hostile atmosphere. In the agonizing days of troubles in the first year, Tajiri decided that the troubles were due to the lack of proper communication. He pledged himself to drastically improve the quality of classroom life by teaching English, a foreign language as it was for the students. He anticipated that English lessons for communication would contribute much to the students’ daily communication in the first language. The three speeches of the students clearly show that the speeches are more than the result of the mastery of one school subject: The students revealed themselves honestly or even courageously to the classmates. The speeches in a language which was foreign to the students created a new horizon of communication.

I quote from the philosophy of Hannah Arendt to analyze the quality of the voice of the speeches. The speeches were human actions in Arendt’s sense in that they enabled the students to appear in the human world. That is, by showing who they were in a classroom, the classroom became a public realm for them, where they could safely express and appreciate their different identities. It is also inferred that this creation of a new identity and relationship would have been probably very hard in Japanese, which was too familiar and direct to the students.

Case 2 is a videotaped material of Tajiri’s recent lessons (the first grade: the video was recorded by the current reporter). They were no special lessons and the ordinary reality of the classroom was observed. The lessons were three successive ones which shared almost identical format. However, they were anything but monotonous. The classes were full of human voices, which were quite unlike the stereotype of Japanese lessons, which are sometimes compared to a “factory” of knowledge. Of particular interest were Tajiri’s multi-voices. He used Japanese, English and body language, but they were to be further divided into subcategories. Japanese was sometimes the standard Japanese, other times、Kansa-dialect or Izumo (local) dialect. English had no regional variations, but the tone, speed, prominence, and acting varied a lot. Body language had different varieties and all of them were quite expressive. These varieties of the three languages were not randomly used or merely juxtaposed incoherently. They varied according to the demand of the situation and educational purposes. They were integrated in the personality of Tajiri and the classroom atmosphere.

After presenting the analysis of these different voices, I argue that it is comparable to the notion of plurilingualism proposed by the Council of Europe. It sees communicative language ability as a complex or even composite one on which the user may draw as he or she wishes in the changing context of the situation. It seems as if Tajiri draws his best voice among his versatile repertoire to best serve his current purpose.

All in all, the classes of Japan’s “charismatic teacher” are much of human experience, full of different voices, each serving its purposes best. We may argue perhaps that classroom should be a free and public sphere where different human identities are shared for better communication, either in the first, the second or even some other language. The development of total and integrative communicative language ability is necessary for language teachers.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Reading Haruki Murakami in English

One of the books I read on my way home from England about two weeks ago was a book by NATSUME Soseki, “Kusamakura,” known as “The Three-Cornered World” in English translation.

Natsume is one of the three Japanese cultural icons who are featured on yen notes along with FUKUZAWA Yukichi and HIGUCHI Ichiyo.

The book is a portrait-like description of a resort place in Japan by a protagonist as an amateur painter. It takes a form of a novel, but it is more an essay than a novel, from which readers usually expect some plot. Rather, it depicts scenes and people he saw. Between the descriptions, he inserts his thought on life. He is, or wants to be, detached from the human bond of the 19th century Japan. He calls his cool attitude towards life as “non-humanistic,” but not “anti-humanistic,” meaning that he is away from the secular human relationships of Japan, but nevertheless a human as an individual.

The Japan of the late 19th century was supposedly separated from the feudal samurai Japan, but it was far from a full-fledged “western” modern country. The protagonist is a symbol of the late 19th Japan, something hard to be identified in between the old feudal Japan and the modern westernized Japan. The dilemma is expressed by his occasional quotations from classical Chinese poetry and the 19th century English poetry. It is interesting to note that although the protagonist is such a modern intellectual as to recite English poetry as he walks along, he sympathizes more with Chinese and oriental taste. He is an ‘individual,’ not a common being in the old Japan, who still feels much sympathy with the old culture.

But for Haruki MURAKAMI, or MURAKAMI Haruki as we usually call him in Japan, cultural heritage of old Japan or China, or indeed things Japanese in general are not much of importance (see my article on March 4, 2007, ESL Empire of, by and for Multitude). He embodies a new Japanese icon of the 21st century, but he perhaps inherits the detachment and coolness of Natume Soseki as well. His protagonist is detached from the craze of money-monger society of contemporary Japan. He is “non-capitalistic,” but not “anti-capitalistic.” He retains his cool-style as an urban solitary person, yet is decent (and sometimes brave enough) in various matters. The hope you can feel from his novels is that decency in daily or routine matters of life leads you somewhere even in a troubled time. He dislikes self-righteous cliché and is ever trying to find laconic words to express his being. That style is readily translatable into various languages of this global society where people seek a hiding place of decency in the turbulence of global mega-competition and loud voices of self-righteousness.

My late 20s was very much influenced by Murakami Haruki. He ranks as one of the very few authors whose books have been all read by me several times. I identified myself with protagonists of his novels. I liked the life style described in his essays. My Japanese language was also very much influenced by the rhythm, tone and melody of his style. I still keep buying his books.

As I read Natsume Soseki’s Kusamakura on my way back from England, I wondered what it was like for him to be in the 19th century Japan. Perhaps on the next trip to England in April, it would be interesting for me to read Murakami Haruki, this time in English, the language of global convenience, wondering what it is like to be in Japan of the global world of the 21st century.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

The world according to Japanese media

As my bus from the Incheon Airport approached into the streets of Seoul City on March 1st, I saw many Korean national flags were hoisted. It was obvious that people were celebrating a special occasion, but to my great regret and shame now, I had no idea what it was. As I learned from The Korea Herald and The Korea Times the following day, March 1st was a national holiday of Korea, the anniversary of the 1919 independence movement against Japanese colonial rule.

Both newspapers carried a big picture of people celebrating the occasion on the front page. The Korea Herald carried an article (Reuter) “Roh urges Japan to atone for atrocities” on page 3 of March the 2, 2007 issue. Korean President Roh Moo-hyun was quoted as saying the following.

“Japan may try to cover the sky with its hand, but were able to confirm once again that the international community does not forgive the atrocities committed by imperial Japan.”
“We hope that Japan will not try to glorify or justify a mistaken past but instead show sincerity by following conscience and the international community’s generally accepted precedent.”
“Recently at a U.S. lower house hearing on comfort women, there was vivid testimony by elderly women who had to endure hardship and persecution beyond any human imagination.”
“Now we have no choice but to work together to contribute peace and prosperity of ‘Northeast Asia.’”

Because my trip to Seoul was only a one night/two day trip, I was in a hotel near Kansai/Osaka airport on Friday night, March 2nd. I purchased a copy of Asahi Shimbun, a rather leftist, but in my view, a populist paper, to see how the news was dealt with. The paper, the 13th edition, only carried two very small articles of Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Siozaki’s comments on the “comfort women” (see below) and Roh’s adress. On the former issue, he was quoted as saying “much of the U.S. resolution is not based on objective facts.” He was also quoted:“we regard the president’s address as one that stresses the importance of the relation of the two countries.” Regarding the issue of comfort women, he only mentioned, according to the paper, Korea has different views and some of the words in the address were ‘thorny’.”

In my home today, I learned that Mainichi Simbun, which I like and subscribe to, gave a larger article on the second page on Friday, and the consequent report on Sunday, today. But the articles were not as large as those of Korean newspapers.

The Japan Times, which I purchased on my way home from Tokyo (I needed to go from Seoul to Tokyo via Osaka before I came home in Hiroshima), carried a relatively large article (Associated Press) on the first and the second pages, carrying a witness of Yasuji Kaneko, 87, an ex-Japanese soldiers about the rape he himself committed together with other Japanese soldiers.

As you see, there is a huge gap between Japanese media and English media. Once again, I realized that I cannot satisfy myself with news provided by Japanese media alone. If only to know about Japan itself, you need another language other than Japanese.

ESL Empire of, by and for Multitude

My trip to Seoul and Tokyo was only a short one (3 nights and 4 days), but it was rewarding. Meeting with TEFL experts in Seoul National University and attending at SELHi Seminar sponsored by MEXT, Japan (see below), I was able to realize again that much of locally conducted TEFL business is translatable into English, a language of the mutual convenience for us. Korean people and Japanese people, taken as one example, share a lot of issues, many of which are very similar.

As I was educated entirely in Japan and convinced that my audience was Japanese people who prefer to communicate in Japanese rather than English, I felt pleasure and comfort in writing papers in my most comfortable language. Perhaps I was proud of Japanese as the national language. I might have felt discrepancy between Japanese self and English self, as (I assume) Natsume Soseki (see below )did.

However, an article of The New York Review of Books on Haruki Murakami which I read on my way to Kansai/Osaka airport pushed me into a belief which I suspected I was already in. It specifies one of Murakami’s features that there is little mention of things Japanese and it is not easy to identify who and where his protagonist is if it were not for the knowledge that Murakami is a Japanese novelist.

NYRB summarizes the history of modern Japan as follows:

No other non-Western culture has endured and embraced Western-style modernization for as long, and deeply, as Japan. ... After World War II, through American occupation and then the creation of a cold war alliance between Tokyo and Washington that was at once close and culturally fraught, Japan became, in effect, an honorary member of “the West” ---- even through it “qualified” neither geographically nor historically.
For Murakami, though, this history is essentially over. His characters are global citizens, inhabiting a world of ghostly presences and vague disquiet even as they indulge in the benefits of their membership in a thoroughly Westernized world. ...
Just like the odd events that overtake Murakami’s lukewarm heroes, globalization is a process that is, by virtue of its ubiquitous complexity, at once mysterious and banal. (Christian Cary Gods of the Mall. NYRB, p. 31, March 1, 2007.)

I am perhaps more like Murakami than Natsume. Maybe, so is Japan as a nation. Perhaps, Korea is, too. As I took a seat in a plane of Korean Air, I was welcomed by the music of Mozart. In my hotel, I watched a Korean English broadcasting ( and enjoyed Brahms’s Symphony No.! by Chung Myung Whun (see below) and Korean Symphony Orchestra.

I used English between my simple Korean words of hello, excuse me, please, thank you and good-bye at the airport when I was trying to find a right bus. In the hotel and the barbeque shop I was in, Japanese was more used than English by Korean people there. Otherwise in town, I was in the flood of the sound of the Korean language and the sight of Hangul letters. With the knowledge of English and westernized culture, I was not very much worried about my lack of knowledge of the Korean language and its culture. (After all, my quick study of the Korean language with the book I purchased at Kansai airport was far from enough).

Many nations nowadays share westernized views and culture, retaining their own views and culture and sometimes in mixed and blended forms with western ones. Some people say it is “Americanization” but that is probably an oversimplification. First, as I said now, each nation retains their views and culture in their original and revised forms. Therefore, as a second point, you can argue that “America” has been and is being transformed by other nations. Thirdly, the current globalization is not what it is if it had not been for European colonialism. So the current world may be described probably as “Westernized”, but I think the word “Americanized” is too strong.

This global world, mostly but not exclusively western, is referred to as Empire by Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt. Empire, as they define it, is a close and diverse network connected economically, culturally, politically, militarily. In it, even the most powerful nation, the U.S. cannot take control of it single-handedly, and it is governed largely by shared mutual interest of each nation, which mostly takes forms of democracy, human rights and free market.
However, even more interesting concept is multitude.

Multitude is not people, because it is diversified and not nationalistic. It is not mass, because it is hard to control unilaterally. It is not mob either, because it tries to comply with the codes of democracy, human rights and free market. Multitude is one and many, for it is global and different at once.

Empire is run, they argue, by the multitude, not vice versa. I might use a cliché and describe that Empire is of the multitude, by the multitude, and for the multitude.

The most convenient language in Empire is English. But it is not exclusive or exhaustive. English alone never covers the whole activities of Empire. Vitality of Empire comes form huge differences of the multitude, many of which do not speak English.

If both globalization and TEFL/TESL are solely “Americanization,” they naturally awaken nationalism in each nation. Each nation will resist being exploited by “America.” But here comes another understanding. TEFL/TESL is for globalization, which is establishing Empire of, by and for multitude. It is a humankind’s entirely new experiment to build a global democracy governed by the principles of human rights and free-market. It consequently needs peace not war, for war is totally against human rights and free-market.

Perhaps it is still a very naïve, idealistic and simplistic view. But for someone like me, a philosophical understanding of what we are doing is very important and perhaps necessary.