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Lectures by by Seiko Harumi (SOAS, University of London) and Dat Bao (Monash University)

The use of silence by Japanese second language (L2) learners of English has been explored within a diverse landscape, psychological, interactional, and socio-cultural perspectives, since 1990s. Previous studies have revealed multi-faceted perspectives on learner silence, seen in relation to inhibitive factors (e.g., language anxiety or lack of confidence) or facilitative interactional resources (e.g., thinking time or desirable interactional space) in L2 classroom contexts from multiple viewpoints. However, when Japanese learners use silence in cross-cultural communication with those from different socio-cultural backgrounds, there are prolonged issues in understanding the intended meaning of silence and how to promote intersubjectivity among the participants in collaborative interaction. In this talk, I would illustrate examples of cross-culturally different perspectives on Japanese learners’ silence, highlighting views on silence  held by Japanese EFL learners and also those from different cultural backgrounds; 1) foreign English teachers in Japanese EFL context, 2) British learners of Japanese who observed Japanese EFL classrooms and 3) British learners of Japanese who have participated in language-exchange programmes with Japanese EFL learners. Based on two-directional perspectives on learner silence, this talk discusses the role of cross-cultural communication as a valuable learning resource capable to facilitate  mutual understanding, promoting awareness on our own or others’ use of silence and talk in L2 interaction.

 Seiko Harumi is Lecturer in Japanese and Applied Linguistics (Education) at SOAS, University of London. Seiko is a second/foreign language teacher (Japanese and English) and an applied linguist who specialises in pragmatic aspects of second language learning. Her academic interests lie in classroom silence, classroom discourse, pragmatics, translanguaging, conversation analysis and learner-centred reflective approaches in L2 pedagogy. She has co-edited a book, East Asian perspectives on Silence in English Language Education.

Dat Bao is senior lecturer in education at Monash University and editor-in-chief of the Journal for Silence Studies in Education (JSSE), founded in Australia. His areas of expertise include creative pedagogy, language and culture, communication, silence and speech, and curriculum development. He is the author of Understanding silence and reticence(Bloomsbury, 2014), Poetry for Education(Xlibris, 2017), Creativity and innovations in ELT materials(Multilingual Matters, 2018), Transforming pedagogies through engagement with learners, teachers, and communities (Springer, 2021), Silencein English language pedagogy (CUP, 2023). In 2019, Dat Bao received an Education Award for Excellence in Teaching at Monash University.