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Why Japanese women learn English in Vancouver Koizumi, Keiko

Abstract

Many young women from Japan learn English in Vancouver, and they outnumber their male counterparts. Why is this phenomenon occurring? As is often said, are they holidaymakers? However, considering that the annual tuition fee of an ELI downtown is $9,000, a monthly homestay fee is $650, and the total minimum cost would be $16,800 a year, those women might not be mere vacationers. They might need to obtain English skills for a certain purpose. Peitchinis (1989) writes that one of the responses of women to discrimination in employment is that they acquire more education and training than required of the non-discriminated group. Japanese women's attending ELIs in Vancouver might fall into this case. To investigate why so many Japanese women attend ELIs in Vancouver, I conducted a survey and interviews with Japanese students who learn English at the English Language Institute of the University of British Columbia. The research period was from May, 1997 to August 1997. The number of the survey participants was 80, and the interviewees, 14. The research findings indicate that the demographic characteristics of the subjects and their reasons for attending the ELI differed by gender and work experience. The women outnumbered their male counterparts, and 60% of the women were former working women with strong work-orientation. Their job satisfaction with their previous jobs was lower, and they were attending the ELI, hoping that they could get a better job which requires English skills.

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