How to Reach the World Outside

Suggestions for Fostering Intercultural Communication and Understanding in Japanese Elementary School English Classrooms

Keywords: intercultural communication, intercultural pedagogy, Japan, EFL education, elementary school


As Japan prepares for the 2020 Summer Olympics, the elementary school English curriculum is rapidly changing, with new textbooks and more class hours devoted to English education. These language classes have the potential to clarify and improve students’ perceptions of global cultures, including their own. Accordingly, the purpose of this paper is to provide practical suggestions for Japanese Teachers of English (JTEs), Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs), and Japanese homeroom teachers to foster intercultural communication and understanding in their Grade 5 and 6 classrooms. Elaborating upon ideas in (Davidson & Liu, 2018), this article proposes that students may develop intercultural competencies through authentic materials, guided in-class discussions, English Notebook assignments, and local engagement with international interlocutors. While tailored to the Japanese elementary school classroom, these suggestions may be adapted to other EFL contexts as well.

Author Biography

Rachel Davidson, University of Cambridge, UK

Rachel Davidson has studied and taught in Canada, the United States, Japan, and the United Kingdom. After teaching elementary English on the JET Programme, she continued to pursue her interdisciplinary research interests at the University of Cambridge, and graduated in 2017 with a MPhil in Research in Second Language Education. She currently lives and works in Vancouver, Canada, where she helps her students gain acceptance to prestigious American, British, and Canadian universities. She is proficient in English and Japanese.

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