Bridging Internationalization Goals Through Future Selves: A Focus on Japan A focus on Japan

Main Article Content

Andrew Nowlan


Japan’s higher education institutions (HEIs) are making efforts to become more internationalized, in order to foster global human resources (West, 2015). Despite government-driven initiatives to make HEIs more international through increased inbound and outbound study abroad participation, there continues to be a discrepancy between the contemporary goals of internationalization. Knight (2004; 2015a) stipulates the integration of an international dimension into the purpose, functions, and delivery of post-secondary education, while the government’s primary internationalization objective involves higher global rankings by sending more Japanese students abroad and orchestrating a greater foreign presence on Japanese campuses (Yonezawa, 2014). With the aim of contributing to a more effective brand of higher education internationalization that reconciles these conflicting interpretations, this research-based report will summarize a case study involving five Japanese graduate students taking an English-language elective course on intercultural communication. Through semi-structured email exchanges, an online questionnaire, and the International Preferences Indicator (IPI) tool, participants were asked to reflect on their international and professional experiences, and to examine their future selves to determine which intercultural competences and communication skills would be most important for their hypothetical future international roles (Ewington & Hill, 2012). While the five participants had different professional and academic ambitions, thematic analysis was employed to identify common themes regarding the intercultural competences that they desired, yet lacked. As a central observation, participants considered the communicative push competence of exposing intentions as critical to their future roles; however, according to the IPI, students dedicated little energy to enhancing this skill. In reflecting on the intervention, the five participants shared thoughts on how they have become better equipped to succeed in their future role, and how they might dedicate more energy to dimensions that are crucial for future success, including exposing intentions, resiliency, and being attuned. This study provides a rationale for integrating future selves and an instrument like the IPI into an internationalized curriculum, that could potentially foster intercultural communicative competences while bridging conflicting internationalization ideals.

Article Details



Altbach, P. (2015a). Perspectives on internationalizing higher education. International Higher Education, 27, pp.6-8.

Altbach, P. (2015b). The “tipping point” in international education: How America is losing the race. International Higher Education, Financial Issues, pp.5-6.

Altbach, P. & de Wit, H. (2015). Internationalization and global tension: Lessons from history. Journal of Studies in International Education, 19(1), pp.4-10.

Asaoka, T., & Yano, J. (2009). The contribution of “study abroad” programs to Japanese internationalization. Journal of Studies in International Education, 13(2), pp.174–188.

Berwick, R. & Ross, S. (1989). Motivation after matriculation: Are Japanese learners of English still alive after exam hell? JALT Journal, 11(2), pp.193-210.

Brown, H. G. (2014). Contextual factors driving the growth of undergraduate English-medium instruction programmes at universities in Japan. The Asian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 1(1), pp.50-63.

Byram, M. (2015). Culture in foreign language learning–The implications for teachers and teacher training. Culture and foreign language education: Insights from research and implications for the practice, pp. 37-58.

Byram, M., Holmes, P., & Savvides, N. (2013). Intercultural communicative competence in foreign language education: Questions of theory, practice and research. The Language Learning Journal, 41(3), pp.251-253.

Clarke III, I., Flaherty, T. B., Wright, N. D., & McMillen, R. M. (2009). Student intercultural proficiency from study abroad programs. Journal of Marketing Education, 31(2), pp.173-181.

Creswell, J. W., & Poth, C. N. (2018). Qualitative inquiry & research design (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Deardorff, D. K. (2011). Assessing intercultural competence. New Directions for Institutional Research, 2011(149), pp.65-79.

de Wit, H., Hunter, F., Howard, L., & Egron-Polak, E. (2007). Internationalization of higher education. European Parliament, Culture and Education. Brussels, Belgium.

Ewington, N., & Hill, T. (2012). Push and pull: The competencies required for working internationally. Cultus, 5(1), pp.80-92.

Fujimoto-Adamson, N. (2006). Globalization and history of English education in Japan. Asian EFL Journal, 8(3).

Hinenoya, K. & Gatbonton, E. (2000). Ethnocentrism, cultural traits, beliefs, and English proficiency: A Japanese sample. The Modern Language Journal, 84(2), pp.225-240.

Hirai, M. (2014). Understanding Japanese motivations for studying abroad (or not). Recruiting Intelligence. [online] Available at: [accessed 15 Jan. 2019].

Hofstede, G., Hofstede, G. J., & Minkov, M. (2010). Cultures and organizations: Software of the mind. New York City, NY: McGraw Hill.

Ince, M. (2014). Prime Minister Abe to accelerate internationalisation of Japanese universities. QS Intelligence Unit. [online] Available at: 2014/05/prime-minister-abe-to-accelerate-internationalisation-of-japanese-universities/ [accessed 15 Jan. 2019].

Jones, E. (2014). Graduate employability and internationalization of the curriculum at home. International Higher Education, 78, pp.6-8.

Keller, G. (2007). Higher education management: Challenges and strategies. International Handbook of Higher Education, 18, pp.229-242.

Knight, J. (2004). Internationalization remodeled: Definition, approaches, and rationale. Journal of Studies in International Education, 8(5), pp.5-31.

Knight, J. (2011, August). Is internationalization having an identity crisis? Programme on Institutional Management in Higher Education. 1.

Knight, J. (2015a). Updated definition of internationalization. International Higher Education, 33, pp.2-3.

Knight, J. (2015b). Internationalization: A decade of changes and challenges. International Higher Education, 50, pp.6-7.

Kubota, R. (2015). Paradoxes of learning English in multilingual Japan: Envisioning education for border-crossing communication. In I. Nakane, E. Otsuji, & W. S. Armour (Eds.), Languages and identities in a transitional Japan: From internationalization to globalization (pp. 59–77). New York, NY: Routledge.

Leask, B. (2016). Internationalizing curriculum and learning for all students. In Global and Local Internationalization (pp. 49-53). Sense Publishers.

Leondari, A., Syngollitou, E., & Kiosseoglou, G. (1998). Academic achievement, motivation and future selves. Educational Studies, 24(2), pp.153-163.

Martin, J. S., & Chaney, L. H. (2012). Global business etiquette: A guide to international communication and customs. ABC-CLIO.

Merriam, S. B. (1998). Qualitative research and case study applications in education. Revised and expanded from "Case study research in education". San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Merriam, S. B., & Tisdell, E. J. (2015). Qualitative Research: A guide to design and implementation (4th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Miyahara, F., Namoto, M., Yamanaka, S., Murakami, R., Kinoshita, M., & Yamamoto, H. (1997). Konomamade yoika daigaku eigokyoiku [Current status of university English education: comparison of university students' ability in English and learning behavior in China, Korea, and Japan]. Tokyo: Shohakusya.

Ninomiya, A., Knight, J., & Watanabe, A. (2009). The past, present, and future of internationalization in Japan. Journal of Studies in International Education, pp.117-124.

Nowlan, A., & Wang, R., 2018. Study abroad self-selection amongst first-year Japanese university students. Journal of International and Comparative Education (JICE), 7(2), pp.65-81.

Nurra, C., & Oyserman, D. (2018). From future self to current action: An identity-based motivation perspective. Self and Identity, 17(3), pp.343-364.

Oetzel, J., Ting-Toomey, S., Masumoto, T., Yokochi, Y., Pan, X., Takai, J., & Wilcox, R. (2001). Face and facework in conflict: A cross-cultural comparison of China, Germany, Japan, and the United States. Communication Monographs, 68(3), pp.235-258.

Tsuneyoshi, R. (1992). Ningen keisei no nichibei hikaku [Comparative study of Japanese and American hu- man development]. Tokyo: Chuok

West, C. (2015). Japan looks to take flight. International Educator, 24(2), pp.2-16.

Williams, T. R. (2005). Exploring the impact of study abroad on students’ intercultural communication skills: Adaptability and sensitivity. Journal of Studies in International Education, 9(4), pp.356-371.

Yin, R. K. (2014). Case study research: Design and methods (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Yonezawa, A.(2010). Much ado about ranking: Why can’t Japanese universities internationalize? Japan Forum, 22, pp.121-137.

Yonezawa, A.(2013). Challenges for top Japanese universities when establishing a new global identity: Seeking a new paradigm after “world class”. In J. C. Shin & B. M. Kehm (Eds.), Institutionalization of world-class university in global competition (pp. 125-143). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.

Yonezawa, A. (2014). Japan’s challenge of fostering “global human resources”: Policy debates and practices. Japan Labor Review, 11(2), pp.37-52.

Yonezawa, A., Akiba, H., & Hirouchi, D. (2009). Japanese University Leaders’ Perceptions of Internationalization: The Role of Government in Review and Support. Journal of Studies in International Education, 13(2), pp.125-142.