Social Support for International Students in Foreign Language Classroom Communities of Practice


Author: Takuya Kojima, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Italy
Published: September 11, 2020

Citation: Kojima, T. (2020). Social Support for International Students in Foreign Language Classroom Communities of Practice. IAFOR Journal of Education: Undergraduate Education, 8(3).


Drawing on communities of practice, this article considers social support for international students in Japanese as a foreign language classroom at an Australian university. Social support, which is a means of promoting well-being, is often set outside international students’ day-to-day routines, especially outside classrooms in that academic support is a primary concern. Language education studies concerning student emotional experiences acknowledge that classrooms are venues for emotional turmoil and thus call for more attention on classrooms to better understand and support student learning. Yet, in-class social support has been under-discussed to date. This qualitative case study focused on four international students in an introductory Japanese course within a Japanese program community of practice and analyzed the data collected over a 13-week semester using a reflexive thematic analysis to write four vignettes. The vignettes highlight that the students felt stressed in their daily and academic lives, and built, gave, received, and benefited from social support in the classroom. The social support impacted not only their Japanese learning, but also their study for other subjects; that is, it enhanced their overall well-being as students. Exploring in-class social support using a community of practice perspective helped elucidate how educators can promote social support in foreign language classrooms. Further, it prompted us to reconsider what classrooms are for, and underlined the importance of paying attention to such support to enhance the well-being of international students who are likely to face challenges frequently.


classroom, communities of practice, emotional experiences, foreign language, international students, social support, vignette