Mini Lecture Series: Bilingualism and Bilingual Education

Here is a message and short lecture on Bilingualism and Bilingual Education, from Professor Mitsuyo Sakamoto, a specialist in Linguistics.

Hello there,

Given that you have chosen to major in English, you are all bilinguals if not multilinguals! Bilingualism is something very relevant for us, and I was hoping to get you to think a bit more of what it really means to be bilingual, and how we should perceive our linguistic abilities.

The topic is dear to me, as I have grown up bilingually myself, and this topic is related not only to English teaching but also to Japanese language teaching as well. Many of you may recall that the Japanese government introduced a new policy in 2019 that encourages more people from abroad to live and work in Japan (改正出入国管理法). Later in the same year, a new law (日本語教育の推進に関する法律) to provide a more solid Japanese language education for people whose first language (L1) is not Japanese was established and came into effect.

One particular research focus of mine is heritage language education (継承語教育) in which the language of the parent(s) is passed onto the next generation and beyond. My doctoral dissertation (Sakamoto, 2000) noted how the heritage language tends to disappear after the second generation, and while some feel this to be unproblematic, language attrition can have numerous detrimental effects. I hope that my area of specialization can help people live and work collaboratively, effectively, and harmoniously for many years to come.

I have created most of my slides bilingually (i.e., Japanese & English) with English narration. If you don’t understand everything I’m saying, no worries; even native English speakers do not always catch what is said on TV. And those of you who do manage to pick everything up, that’s great! Keep up the good work.

I know it is a difficult time right now, but keep up your motivation and curiosity; The world needs more people like us!

Here are the slides to the lecture: