Promoting ‘Third Space’ Identities: A Case Study of the Teaching of Business Japanese

Main Article Content

Emi Otsuji
Chihiro Kinoshita Thomson


This paper argues that the teaching and learning of a foreign language involves students in the construction of their own identities between cultural and linguistic practices. The study looks at the interconnected practices of the content of the textbook, the classroom teaching and teacher’s ideological stance in relation to students’ gender identity construction. It examines how all the practices jointly contribute to a foreign language learning experience. In particular, the construction of (gender) identities of the learners explicated through a case study of a Japanese business classroom practice.

This paper is a case study, which looks at the treatment of gender, i.e., the ways in which a textbook and a teacher address matters of gender, how two female students received input on gender representations in relation to their ideological stance and identity. Furthermore, it examines how the students responded to gender representation in the textbook, and how teacher practices impacted on this. The result of the study reveals that the students construct their own ‘third space’ in a process of adaptation and appropriation of other cultural and linguistic practices. The limitations posed on students can be addressed by awareness of ‘third space’. This paper concludes with the implication of language teaching and learning and the importance of encouraging students to make a conscious choice in order to position themselves in the ‘third space’. To this end, the explicit incorporation of ‘third space’ in teaching and learning practices on content of the textbook and classroom activities as well as the teachers involvement in creating ‘third space’ environment were proposed. Thus, it is suggested that not only students but also teachers need to reflect and enact as an agent by positioning themselves in the emancipative ‘third space’.

Article Details

The Space Between: Languages, Translations and Cultures Special Issue January 2009 (Peer Reviewed)
Author Biographies

Emi Otsuji, Univiersity of Technology, Sydney

Emi Otsuji is a lecturer at University of Technology, Sydney. Emi’s recent research is to look at how language, identity and culture are negotiated and performed within globalisation. In particular, she examines conversations at a workplace between Japanese and Australians. Her research interests are trans-cultural communication, Japanese business textbook analysis, and language and identity issues within globalisation.

Chihiro Kinoshita Thomson, University of New South Wales

Chihiro Kinoshita Thomson is Associate Professor of Japanese Studies at the University of New South Wales. Chihiro writes on learner autonomy in language learning, innovations in Japanese language teaching and learning as well as gendered language in Japanese and its manifestation in teaching and learning of Japanese as a foreign language. She is the language and linguistics editor for Japanese Studies, the journal of the Japanese Studies Association of Australia.