PanSIG 2021 Panel

(Click here to access the panel discussion session online.)

Panel Discussion

On Sunday at 3:15 to 4:30 pm will be a PANEL Discussion on the conference theme "Local and Global Perspectives: Plurilingualism and Multilingualism" with four invited guest panelists. The panel discussion at PanSIG 2021 aims to address the conference theme in relation to foreign language education in Japan. We invited four experts who are teaching and researching in Japan to contribute and discuss this issue from their perspective of research, practice and experience.

The panel discussion will be moderated by Mehrasa Alizadeh (Osaka University).


Fumiko Kurihara (Chuo University)
Fumiko Kurihara holds a MA from Georgetown University and a PhD from International Christian University. She has taught English for more than 20 years in Japan. She also teaches intercultural communication to business-major students at Chuo University. She has edited Government-authorised English textbooks for high school students over 5 years. Her research interests are intercultural approaches to language teaching and material development for intercultural language learning.

Tomokazu Ishikawa (Tamagawa University)
Tomokazu Ishikawa is an Assistant Professor at Tamagawa University's Center for English as a Lingua Franca (CELF) and a postdoctoral member at the University of Southampton’s Centre for Global Englishes (CGE). He has published on ELF, mainly in relation to multilingualism, translanguaging, language attitudes and ideologies, ELT, and EMI. He is a co-author (with Will Baker) of Transcultural communication through Global Englishes: An advanced textbook for students (June 2021, Routledge).

Paula Martínez-Sirés (Nihon University)
Paula Martínez Sirés is Assistant Professor of Japan Studies, Subculture and Interdisciplinary Studies (Cultural Aspects on Translation) at the College of International Relations, Nihon University, where she teaches content-courses in English and Japanese. She graduated from Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in Translation and Interpreting Studies, has a MA’s degree in Audiovisual Translation, and holds a Ph.D. from Waseda University in International Culture and Communication Studies. Her research interests include translation theory, the study of paratexts, and Japanese women’s literature in translation. Her native languages are Spanish and Catalan, and she has translated into Spanish authors such as Higuchi Ichiyō, Miyazawa Kenji and Shinkai Makoto.

Alexandra Shaitan (University of the Sacred Heart, JALT Bilingual SIG)
Shaitan Alexandra, is a PhD Candidate at the Birkbeck College, University of London. She has lived in Japan for the past 20 years, teaching at numerous educational institutions including pre-schools, high schools and universities. At present, she is teaching English academic courses at the University of the Sacred Heart in Tokyo, Japan. Her academic research and publications include mixed-race identity in the context of Japan, academic writing at the tertiary level and bi-/multilingualism and identity.

Each panelist discusses from their point of expertise the conference theme. After that the discussion will be opened to the audience and interactive.


In Japan the insular attitude to one culture and one language is often stressed yet Japan has quite a diversity throughout its regions. Japan is an international oriented country, globally connected, with the Japanese passport most valuable to travelling to 193 countries (Japan Times April 16th, 2021). There had been efforts by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Technology Japan (MEXT) to internationalize, globalize its educational system, yet there are still pitfalls regarding the level of foreign language proficiency mostly related to English (MEXT uses foreign languages but this is understood often as English (American English)). At the same time, Japanese as a foreign language had been getting more attention, English-only programs established to attract students from other countries, foreign scholars were invited teaching Japanese culture, history, etc. The integration of a needed workforce from other countries (mostly from Asian countries, South-America) is acknowledged more and more as a demanding task, Japan becoming a tourist spot with more than 30 Million visitors in 2019. This is reflected in the research and topics of many studies and conferences. Namely, JACTFL (Japan Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, 日本外国語教育推進機構) is putting the plurilingual (複言語) and multilingual (多言語) language education in the center of its agenda, backed by the Japan Association of Language Policy (JALP). PanSIG 2021 is a conference organized by JALT Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and this theme was chosen to shed light on JALT as the Japan Association for Language Teaching having many SIGs with topics related to the plurilingual individual and the multilingual environment (society, classroom), teaching language and languages: Other Language Educators SIG, Bilingual SIG, Global Issues in Language Education SIG, CEFR & LP SIG, Intercultural Communication in Language Education SIG, Learner Development SIG, Teacher Helping Teachers SIG, Japanese as a Second Language SIG, Teaching Young Learners SIG, Study Abroad SIG and more.

Trends and Needs

This Panel discussion aims to give the opportunity to hear different voices from four experts.

  1. How do you perceive in your context Local and Global Perspectives in the Japanese educational discourse?
  2. Is Plurilingualism and Multilingualism a topic that is vital for Japanese society?
  3. Trends: Is the theme a topic in your perspective and how this is addressed in your teaching and research context?
  4. Needs: How this is witnessed in education and everyday life and how can we support it?

Please come and join the discussion!