In a previous research project, I investigated the intersections between sexual identity and language learning motivation among Japanese gay male learners of English. During the course of this study, I uncovered a surprising finding; rather than Japanese, three out of five participants preferred to use English (or other additional languages) during our interviews. Over the years, this incidental finding has stayed with me, gnawing at my curiosity. While living in Japan for nine years, I would occasionally meet other Japanese bi/multilinguals - not all of them queer - who expressed similar feelings toward their mother tongue. What could cause a person to wish to avoid the language of their family, the language of their childhood? For my doctoral studies here at UBC, I hope to answer the following question: Why do some Japanese late bi/multilinguals report wanting to avoid using Japanese? The answer has the potential to enrich our understanding of social emotions and identification processes among bi/multilingual individuals.
What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?
At the moment, I'm enjoying expanding my theoretical knowledge. In the future, I can't wait to apply that knowledge to my own research.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
I was truly surprised by the level of support the university offered to me and my partner as we prepared for our move from Osaka to Vancouver. When I had questions about my application for my own study permit and sponsoring my common-law partner's work permit, a member of staff from UBC's International House actually rang me at an arranged time to offer useful advice - I definitely wasn't expecting that level of support!
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
I spent over a year searching through the websites of various universities around the world, looking for the very best programs and potential supervisors. The faculty in the Department of Language and Literacy Education boasts many of the leading scholars in my chosen field and I knew UBC would be a great place to push myself. The fact that I was encouraged to take courses offered by other departments was very attractive given the interdisciplinary nature of my research interests. In addition, I think UBC offers great support for international students throughout the sometimes fraught processes of application, moving and finding sources of funding.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
Simply put, my program offers me the opportunity to learn from researchers who are pushing the boundaries of applied linguistics and education.
What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?
I think a major challenge for researchers today is finding ways to get our results and their implications out of the journals and into the wider public domain. This will require learning a different style of communication, but I hope that by developing this skill, the clarity of my academic writing will also benefit in the long run.
How do you feel your program is preparing you for those challenges?
I've been impressed by the emphasis within our program on the importance of public scholarship. There's a lot of exciting work going on such as the projects coordinated by the Digital Literacy Centre.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
Living and working in Japan for 10 years both prepared me for the ups and downs of living abroad, and gave me plenty of experiences that piqued my interest in the intersections of language, identity and power.
What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?
Running, cooking, reading fiction, and enjoying Vancouver's great beaches and mountains.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
The courses here at UBC are challenging! But that's why we chose to come, right? Thanks to my classmates (and teachers!), I'm finding a way to meet these challenges. So my advice would be to celebrate and support each other- no one can do it alone.