Plurilingual education and pedagogical plurilanguaging in an elementary school in Japan

A perspectival origami for better learning


  • Danièle Moore Simon Fraser University
  • Mayo Oyama Ritsumeikan University
  • Daniel Roy Pearce Kyoto Notre Dame University
  • Yuki Kitano Satsuki Gakuen School



plurilanguaging, translanguaging, plurilingual education, elementary education, Japan, foreign language education


In this article, we examine a plurilingual practice in Japan – a country traditionally described as being extremely monolingual. The contribution explores innovative teaching that disrupts monolingual ideologies and how we view TESOL practice. The context of the study is a public elementary school situated in western Japan. We follow the classes of one teacher to discuss her use of pedagogical plurilanguaging as intentional instructional strategies that integrate several languages and cultural viewpoints to support the development of language and content learning, plurilingual awareness and multiperspectivity. We explain how we think it echoes with, and differs from, the concept of translanguaging. Data sources include audio and video recordings of classroom interactions, visual documentation, researchers’ field-notes, teachers’ and learners’ reflective journaling, as well as learners’ productions. The study has implications for teacher training and curriculum design and resituates the teaching of English as a world language in a more complex and multifaceted way.

Author Biographies

  • Danièle Moore, Simon Fraser University

    Danièle Moore is a Distinguished Professor in the Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada and a Research Director at université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3, France (DILTEC-EA2288). Her current research interests include the development of plurilingual and pluricultural competence and early disciplinary learning for young children aged 3 to 8 years old.

  • Mayo Oyama, Ritsumeikan University

    Mayo Oyama is a lecturer in the College of Letters, Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan. She teaches both French and English as well as teacher training for preservice elementary school teachers. Her current research interests include plurilingual education for elementary learners, specifically with the éveil aux langues methodology, for which she has developed materials for the Japanese elementary school context, and teacher training

  • Daniel Roy Pearce, Kyoto Notre Dame University

    Daniel Roy Pearce is a lecturer in the Department of English Language and Literature, Kyoto Notre Dame University, Kyoto, Japan, and doctoral candidate in the Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies, Kyoto University. He has previously taught for five years in Japanese public schools. His current research interests include plurilingual education for elementary learners and plurilingualism within monolingual contexts.

  • Yuki Kitano, Satsuki Gakuen School

    Yuki Kitano is a specialist teacher of foreign languages and mathematics in the elementary school of Satsuki Gakuen, Osaka, Japan. She has over ten years’ experience as an elementary school homeroom teacher, and also holds a secondary school English teacher’s license. She is active in several academic communities in Japan, and regularly presents and publishes on her classroom practice.


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How to Cite

Moore, D., Oyama, M., Pearce, D. R., & Kitano, Y. (2020). Plurilingual education and pedagogical plurilanguaging in an elementary school in Japan: A perspectival origami for better learning. Journal of Multilingual Theories and Practices, 1(2), 243-265.