Date of Award
Master of Arts
Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
This study is a qualitative research of Japanese "chuzai" families (short-term residents) concerning parental perspectives toward children's education in Southern Illinois. The primary data was collected by questionnaires, individual and group interviews, and school observations. The main participants of this study were five mothers of the "chuzai" group in Southern Illinois, in which questionnaires, individual and group interviews were conducted. Furthermore, in order to gain an in-depth understanding of the children's education, school visits were made to the Japanese Saturday School and the ELL (English Language Learner) program of the local school which the children attended, including classroom observations. Additionally, interviews with the principal of the Japanese school and the ELL teacher were conducted, and questionnaires were also distributed to all the parents whose children attended the Japanese Saturday School. The notion of imagined communities (Anderson, 1991; Norton, 2001) was employed as the theoretical framework in order to examine "chuzai" people's current lives in Southern Illinois and their attitudes toward their children's education. The study reveals that "chuzai" families are different in various ways from both "eiju" (permanent residents) and Japanese communities in larger cities. Even though the Japanese community in Southern Illinois is small and features limited access to Japanese products, they maintain their Japanese lifestyle and strong connection with Japanese people in their community remarkably well. Interestingly, they show positive attitudes toward living in Southern Illinois, but they also have concerns due to their transiency as "chuzai." In relation to perspectives on children's education, this study suggests that parents have positive perspectives toward maintaining their Japanese culture, as well as learning the English language and experiencing American culture. Their heritage as Japanese strongly affects their daily practices even on a subconscious level; furthermore, their status of "chuzai" emphasizes the importance of keeping up their children's academic skills with the Japanese standard. At the same time, they also consider this short-term stay in the U.S. as an advantage in terms of providing new experiences and an opportunity for their children to learn English. The findings indicate that parents' imagined communities for their children's future have a great impact on their current investment (Norton Peirce, 2000). "Chuzai" families envision their future lives in Japan because they plan to return eventually, thus affecting their hopes for their children to be successful while readapting to schools in their home country. In this regard, Japanese Saturday school plays a crucial role as support for preparing children for their return to Japan regarding academic and social skills. In addition to the importance of becoming successful in Japan, parents also believe that the experience in the U.S. and English skills broaden their children's future in a global economy. The ELL program at the local school helps children in terms of learning English in order for them to be able to manage school life in the U.S. This study suggests that parental perspectives influence their children's education, and it is important for educators to understand the students' backgrounds and needs in order to provide appropriate education.
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