Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Language, Innovation, Culture & Education 2017

Discussing ‘Third Space’ in the Process of Japanese Short-Term Study Abroad Students’ Identity Negotiation

Chika Kitano

Osaka University, Japan


This study explores the ways in which Japanese study abroad (SA) students negotiate their identities through encounters with various English speakers including what is called ‘non- native’ speakers; in particular, Asian international students. This study is comprised of semi- structured interviews with nine Japanese SA students who participated in the same short-term study abroad programme in the UK. Specifically, this study focuses on two interviewees whose ways of communicating with various English speakers vividly contrasted with other interviewees. This study found that Japanese SA students tended to imagine their future friendship groups abroad as consisting of idealised ‘native’ English speakers, while there is a high probability that Japanese SA students encounter various English speakers including so- called ‘non-native’ speakers during study abroad. This study also shows that a new positioning of SA students in study abroad environment, which can be analytically approached with Homi K. Bhabha’s concept of ‘Third Space’, considerably functioned in the interaction with various English speakers. By re-theorising ‘Third Space’ as physical and theoretical spaces which allow one to observe the multifaceted relationship among English speakers, this study suggests that deep intercultural communication prior to the sojourn can be a pivotal factor in enabling ease for short-term SA students to step into a new position in ‘Third Space’


Identity, Short-term Study Abroad, ‘Third Space’, Native/Non-Native Speakers, Japanese Students, English Language Learning

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