This autoethnographic account of the author’s Japanese as a second language learning trajectory is an important and unique addition to diary studies in SLA and applied linguistics qualitative research circles. In-depth ethnographic details and introspective commentary are skilfully interwoven throughout Simon-Maeda’s narrative of her experiences as an American expatriate who arrived in Japan in 1975 – the starting point of her being and becoming a speaker of Japanese. The book joins the recent surge in postmodernist, interdisciplinary approaches to examining language acquisition, and readers are presented with a highly convincing case for using autoethnography to better understand sociolinguistic complexities that are unamenable to quantification of isolated variables. The comprehensive literature review and wide ranging references provide a valuable source of information for researchers, educators, and graduate students concerned with current issues in SLA/applied linguistics, bi/multilingualism, and Japanese as a second language.
Simon-Maeda’s poignant autoethnography makes a compelling reading, whose significance transcends that of a common autobiography. Interweaving personal experiences with scholarly insights, her feminist account illuminates the socio-political situatedness of second language learning and reveals ways in which a second language self is fashioned both within and against norms prevalent in one’s adopted society.
- Aneta Pavlenko, Temple University
Overall, the rich, multilayered analysis as well as the clarity and balance with which she approaches the subject, makes this book worthwhile reading for researchers, teachers, and language learners alike. She argues convincingly, and her book shows us that it is indeed so, that autoethnographies can teach us much about the relationship between language learning, identity, and social contexts.
- Studies in Second Language Acquisition / Volume 34 / Issue 03 / September 2012, pp 525 525
- Abigail McMeekin, University of Lethbridge
It’s a fascinating book both as a scholarly look at the nature of language learning and as a documentation of the human experience of living across two or more cultures. This book is a timely and valuable contribution to understanding the essentially social characteristic of learning a language and becoming a participant in a language community.
- JALT Journal, Vol. 34, No. 2, November 2012
- Michael Carroll, Momoyama Gakuin University, Osaka, Japan
Andrea Simon-Maeda is an Associate Professor in the Department of Early Childhood Education at Nagoya Keizai University where she teaches English as a foreign language. She has published articles in TESOL Quarterly and the International Multilingual Research Journal and served as a coordinator and editor for the Gender Awareness in Language Education Special Interest Group of the Japan Association for Language Teaching. Her main research interests are bi/multilingualism and gender issues in societal and educational contexts, and her professional educator career in Japan spans 35 years of tertiary level EFL instruction.