Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Applied Linguistics Review

Editor-in-Chief: Wei, Li

4 Issues per year


IMPACT FACTOR 2016: 0.351

Online
ISSN
1868-6311
See all formats and pricing
More options …

Language tests and neoliberalism in “global human resource” development: A case of Japanese Universities

Tomoyo Okuda
Published Online: 2017-11-21 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/applirev-2017-0106

Abstract

This study looks into the increasing emphasis on the use of language tests for global workplace preparation in Japan. It presents particular usages of English language tests in higher education curricula designed to foster “Global Human Resources” (GHRs), a special global workforce with high levels of English proficiency deemed necessary by the Japanese government. Focusing on a government-initiated five-year funding program, “The Project for Promotion of Global Human Resources”, government documents and the project planning sheets of 11 universities are analyzed to trace how language tests act as a form of governmentality (Foucault. 2007 [1977]. Security, territory, population: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1977–1978 (Trans. by Graham Burchell). New York: Palgrave Macmillan) to maximize the number of GHRs. I describe how language tests are used to portray a reality about the lack of English proficiency among Japanese youth, how they work as a powerful accountability measure for universities, and how these tests are incorporated into language education curricula with the goal of increasing students’ language capital. Three functions of language tests are then identified in the universities’ proposed curricula: motivating, categorizing, and prioritizing through testing. These governing techniques represent how language tests can work to promote neoliberal forms of international education that instrumentalize language learning, stimulate inequitable competition, and (un)reward certain global subjectivities.

Keywords: Japanese universities; Global Human Resources; language tests

References

  • Block, David. 2017. Political economy and applied linguistics research. Language Teaching 50(1). 32–64.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Block, David & John Gray. 2016. “Just go away and do it and you get marks”: The degradation of language teaching in neoliberal times. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 37(5). 481–494.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Block, David, John Gray & Marnie Holborrow (eds.). 2012. Neoliberalism and applied linguistics. London: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Brown, Wendy. 2003. Neo-liberalism and the end of liberal democracy. Theory and Event 7(1). http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/theory_and_event/v007/7.1brown.html (accessed 4 April 2016).

  • Burchell, Graham. 1993. Liberal government and techniques of the self. Economy and Society 22(3). 267–282.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Burgess, Chris. 2014. To globalise or not to globalise? “Inward-looking youth” as scapegoats for Japan’s failure to secure and cultivate “global human resources.”. Globalisation, Societies and Education 13(4). 487–707.Google Scholar

  • Cabinet’s Office. 2011. An interim report of the council on promotion of human resources for globalization development. http://www.kantei.go.jp/jp/singi/global/1206011interim_report.pdf (accessed 4 April 2016)

  • Cameron, Deborah. 2002. Globalization and the teaching of “communication skills.”. In David Block & Deborah Cameron (eds.), Globalization and language teaching, 47–64. London: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Chen, Suchiao & Yachin Tsai. 2012. Research on English teaching and learning: Taiwan (2004–2009). Language Teaching 45(2). 180–201.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Cheng, Liying. 2008. The key to success: English language testing in China. Language Testing 25(1). 15–37.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Cheng, Liying, Yoshinori Watanabe & Andy Curtis (eds.). 2004. Washback in language testing: Research contexts and methods. Mahwah, NJ: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Choi, Inn-Chull. 2008. The impact of EFL testing on EFL education in Korea. Language Testing 25(1). 39–62.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Chun, Christian W. 2009. Contesting neoliberal discourses in EAP: Critical praxis in an IEP classroom. Journal of English for Academic Purposes 8(2). 111–120.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Collins, Jane L. 2002. Mapping a global labor market: Gender and skill in the globalizing garment industry. Gender and Society 16(6). 921–940.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Connell, Raewyn. 2013. Why do market ‘reforms’ persistently increase inequality? consequences. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education 34(2). 279–285.Google Scholar

  • Erikawa, Haruo. 2014. Gurōbaru jinzai ron wo koe, kyōdō to kyōsei no gaikokugo kyōiku e [Seeing beyond the global human resources, aiming for cooperation and diversity in English education in Japan]. Gendai Shisō 48(3). 202–212.Google Scholar

  • Foucault, Michel. 2007 [1977]. Security, territory, population: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1977–1978 (Trans. by Graham Burchell). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar

  • Foucault, Michel. 2008 [1978]. The birth of biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1978–1979 (Trans. by Graham Burchell). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar

  • Haque, Eve. 2014. Neoliberal governmentality and Canadian migrant language training policies. Globalisation, Societies and Education. doi:.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Harvey, David. 2005. A brief history of neoliberalism. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Holborow, Marnie. 2012. Neoliberalism, human capital and the skills agenda in higher education–The Irish case. Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies 10(1). 93–111.Google Scholar

  • Holborow, Marnie. 2013. Applied linguistics in the neoliberal university: Ideological keywords and social agency. Applied Linguistics Review 4(2). 229–257.Google Scholar

  • Hursh, David. 2007. Assessing No Child Left Behind and rise of neoliberal educational policies. American Educational Research Journal 44(3). 493–518.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Itoh, Makoto. 2015. The Japanese model dismantled in the multiple crises. In Richard Westra, Dennis Badeen & Robert Albritton (eds.), The future of capitalism after the financial crisis: The varieties of capitalism debate in the age of austerity, 132–148. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Jankowski, Natasha & Staci Provezis. 2014. Neoliberal Ideologies, Governmentality and the academy: An examination of accountability through assessment and transparency. Educational Philosophy and Theory 46(5). 475–487.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Jenkins, Jennifer. 2014. English as a lingua franca in the international university. Oxon, UK: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Keidanren. 2011. Guro-baru Jinzai no Ikusei ni muketa teigen [Proposal on fostering global human resources]. http://www.keidanren.or.jp/policy/2011/062honbun.pdf (accessed 4 April 2016).

  • Kubota, Ryuko. 2011. Questioning linguistic instrumentalism: English, neoliberalism, and language tests in Japan. Linguistics and Education 22(3). 248–260.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Kobayashi, Yoko. 2013. Global English capital and the domestic economy: The case of Japan from the 1970s to early 2012. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 34(1). 1–13.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Kubota, Ryuko. 2013. “Language is only a tool”: Japanese expatriates working in China and implications for language teaching. Multilingual Education 3(1). 1–20.Google Scholar

  • Lemke, Thomas. 2001. ‘The birth of biopolitics’: Michel Foucault’s lecture at the Collège de France on neo-liberal governmentality. Economy and Society 30(2). 190–207.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • McNamara, Tim. 2005. 21st century shibboleth: Language tests, identity and intergroup conflict. Language Policy 4(4). 351–370.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • McNamara, Tim & Carsten Roever. 2006. Language testing: The social dimension. Malden, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar

  • METI. 2010. Hōkokusho: Sangakukan de gurōbarujinzai no ikusei o [Report: Fostering global human resources through industry-academia collaboration]. http://www.meti.go.jp/policy/eco-nomy/jinzai/san_gaku_ps/2010globalhoukokusho.pdf (accessed 4 April 2016).

  • MEXT. 2012a. Project for promotion of global human resource development. http://www.mext.go.jp/english/highered/1326713.htm (accessed 4 April 2016).

  • MEXT. 2012b. Project for promotion of global human resource development: Application guidelines in FY2012. http://www.jsps.go.jp/j-gjinzai/data/download/01_gjinzai_kouboyouryou.pdf (accessed 4 April 2016).

  • Milani, Tommaso M. 2008. Language testing and citizenship: A language ideological debate in Sweden. Language in Society 37(1). 27–59.Google Scholar

  • Miller, Peter & Nikolas Rose. 1990. Governing economic life. Economy and Society 19(1). 1–31.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Mirchandani, Kiran. 2012. Learning racial hierarchies: Communication skills training in transnational customer service work. Journal of Workplace Learning 24(5). 338–350.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Naidoo, Rajani & Ian Jamieson. 2005. Knowledge in the marketplace: The global commodification of teaching and learning in higher education. In Peter Ninnes & Meeri Hellstén (eds.), Internationalizing higher education, 37–51. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar

  • O’Brien, Peter, Nick Osbaldiston & Gavin Kendall. 2014. ePortfolios and eGovernment: From technology to the entrepreneurial self. Educational Philosophy and Theory 46(3). 284–295.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Olssen, Mark. 2006. Understanding the mechanisms of neoliberal control: Lifelong learning, flexibility and knowledge capitalism. International Journal of Lifelong Education 25(3). 213–230.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Olssen, Mark & Michael A. Peters. 2005. Neoliberalism, higher education and the knowledge economy: From the free market to knowledge capitalism. Journal of Education Policy 20(3). 313–345.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Park, Joseph Sung-Yul. 2010. Naturalization of competence and the neoliberal subject: Success stories of English language learning in the Korean conservative press. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 20(1). 22–38.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Park, Joseph Sung-Yul. 2011. The promise of English: Linguistic capital and the neoliberal worker in the South Korean job market. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism 14(4). 443–455.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Park, Joseph Sung-Yul. 2016. Language as pure potential. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 37(5). 453–466.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Petersen, Eva Bendix & Gabrielle O’Flynn. 2007. Neoliberal technologies of subject formation: A case study of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme. Critical Studies in Education 48(2). 197–211.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Phillipson, Robert. 2008. The linguistic imperialism of neoliberal empire. Critical Inquiry in Language Studies 5(1). 1–43.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Qian, David D. 2008. English language assessment in Hong Kong: A survey of practices, developments and issues. Language Testing 25(1). 85–110.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Rose, Nikolas S. 1999. Governing the soul: The shaping of the private self, 2nd edn. New York: Free Association Books.Google Scholar

  • Shan, Hongxia. 2013. Skill as a relational construct: Hiring practices from the standpoint of Chinese immigrant engineers in Canada. Work, Employment & Society 27(6). 915–931.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Shin, Hyunjung & Joseph Sung-Yul Park. 2016. Researching language and neoliberalism. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 37(5). 443–452.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Shohamy, Elana. 2000. The power of tests: A critical perspective on the uses of language tests. New York: Longman.Google Scholar

  • Shohamy, Elana. 2006. Language policy: Hidden agendas and new approaches. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Shohamy, Elana. 2013. The discourse of language testing as a tool for shaping national, global, and transnational identities. Language and Intercultural Communication 13(2). 225–236.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Suspitsyna, Tatiana. 2010. Accountability in American education as a rhetoric and a technology of governmentality. Journal of Education Policy 25(5). 567–586.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Toh, Glenn. 2016. English as medium of instruction in Japanese higher education: Presumption, mirage or bluff? London: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar

  • Urciuoli, Bonnie. 2011. Neoliberalism: Preparing students for the new workplace. In Carol Greenhouse (ed.), Ethnographies of neoliberalism, 162–176. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar

  • Yonezawa, Akiyoshi. 2003. The impact of globalisation on higher education governance in Japan. Higher Education Research & Development 22(2). 145–154.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

About the article

Published Online: 2017-11-21


Citation Information: Applied Linguistics Review, ISSN (Online) 1868-6311, ISSN (Print) 1868-6303, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/applirev-2017-0106.

Export Citation

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston. Copyright Clearance Center

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in