Imagined Communities of English Use in JET Programme Teaching Materials

Author: Charles Allen Brown, Purdue University, United States
Published: May 31, 2023

Citation: Brown, C. A. (2023). Imagined Communities of English Use in JET Programme Teaching Materials. IAFOR Journal of Education11(1).


Visualizing oneself joining imagined communities of target language (TL) use represents a potent motivation for language study. Given that rationales for the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme include fostering internationalization, a student-centered classroom, and communicative skills, teaching to promote learners envisioning themselves gaining access to different imagined social groups via the TL is further warranted in this program. Yet no research has examined the actual role of imagined TL communities in JET teaching. This project responded by investigating how JET participants foster imagined communities of English use among learners. Materials produced by JET teachers from across Japan were collected with a content analysis being undertaken to determine how they portrayed connections between the language and social group participation. Results of this analysis of 5079 teaching materials indicated that most (2783) involved language practice divorced from social connections. The remainder ran the gamut from lessons in which social group information was tangential and not connected to particular language to a smaller number in which connections between language and potential future social group participation were strong. These results suggest that the possibility of leveraging connections between language and social group participation to promote imagined communities of TL use among learners is possible within the JET paradigm and that this avenue for learner motivation could be further exploited. Given the importance of these findings for motivation coupled with the adoption of initiatives similar to JET across Asia, these results have implications both within and outside of the JET Programme.


English language teaching (ELT), JET Programme, hidden curriculum, identity, imagined community, motivation