Content Analysis of JALT Bilingualism SIG Publications

Original print publication: Citation Analysis of Bilingualism N-SIG* Publications.
Bilingual Japan, 4 (4), 7-10 (1995).

(* A National SIG or research group of the Japan Association for Language Teaching, now just SIG)

by Steve McCarty

Content Analysis and Bilingualism Survey: Two Related Investigations

As part of an ongoing investigation of the scope of our discipline, this paper analyzes what areas of study have been treated in our publications since the BNSIG became official in 1990. Citations will include BNSIG-sponsored oral presentations at national and regional conferences. By way of introduction, first the relation between the two investigations will be discussed, then the history of BNSIG publications will be presented along with criteria for the citation analysis of those publications.

The citation analysis data can be compared with the forthcoming results of a Bilingualism Survey investigating the perceptions of BNSIG members in terms of the same categories, that is, areas of study possibly within the scope of bilingualism. The latter survey, because of limited research funds, could not reach the majority of BNSIG members. It basically asked respondents to identify the degree of relevance of 28 areas of study to the discipline of bilingualism and to this N-SIG, while also gauging how deeply and in what ways the members were interested in each area.

The citation analysis below shows what areas of study have received the quality of attention by members to result in a quantity of BNSIG-sponsored publications. These results are quantifiable in terms of the categorization presented, but not necessarily normative of what areas the BNSIG should represent. That is because areas receiving little attention could be interpreted as either irrelevant or neglected. The Bilingualism Survey, on the other hand, will look into members' perceptions and interests, which for one thing can provide a judgement of where the N-SIG should focus. The two investigations together will likely increase the objectivity of the results by providing for cross-correlation and the dual perspective that bilingualism and biculturalism have taught us to regularly aim for.

Overview of Bilingualism N-SIG Publications

Bilingualism research findings and experiences have been shared in JALT forums since the first Bilingualism Symposium at JALT '85, although the N-SIG per se became official five years later. By the same token there have been two special issues of The Language Teacher devoted to bilingualism, along with numerous individual articles in publications including the JALT Journal, but this investigation will be confined to BNSIG-sponsored publications and conference presentations, the latter excluding introductions to the N-SIG itself.

There again, the newsletter of this group, first called N-SIGNIFICANCE and edited by Jim Swan, began in the late 1980's before legislation enabling N-SIGs was adopted by the JALT Executive Committee (now Executive Board) in 1989. The citation analysis will begin with 1990, but in any case it will be seen that organizational information predominated at first. Only articles with content related to bilingualism, including opinion pieces and letters which reveal members' interests, will be covered here.

Our second newsletter editor was John Dean, from 1991 through 1992. At the beginning of 1992 our newsletter adopted its present name, Bilingual Japan. As a bimonthly publication it was and still is the most frequently published of all JALT N-SIG newsletters. Content began to be substantial from the beginning of 1993 with our present editor, Stephen Ryan, who soon also started the Bilingual Resource, a bibliography and lending library system for BNSIG members. Moreover, from 1992 to the present his frequent book reviews have anchored our newsletters in the canon of bilingualism literature.

Book reviews are covered in this investigation, but not conference reviews or abstracts of presentations. Almost all BNSIG-sponsored presentations have been reviewed in our newsletter, so only the presentations themselves are counted here to avoid doubling entries on the same theme. Similarly, two monographs have been published by the N-SIG, but each is counted in terms of the newsletter series from which it originated.

As with each series, columns with academic or pedagogical content are treated individually as a reflection of the demand for such material, while columns on topics such as bilingual humor, poetry, and "Bilingualism in the News" are of interest but might skew the analysis if included.

Individual articles and columns are sometimes assigned to two areas of study. That is why the final units will be called entries rather than citations. This is to minimize the problem of overlap, where some areas of study appear neglected because they are subsumed under a stronger imperative. Bilingual childraising methods in particular tend to eclipse childhood bilingual development and many other categories. If content were not assigned to two areas we could not, for example, distinguish case studies involving English and Japanese from those involving other language combinations. One citation is limited to one or two entries, however, even when there is a third or fourth area of study involved.

These factors of overlap and underrepresentation of eclipsed areas of study will have to be kept in mind when interpreting the results. Yet again, the forthcoming Bilingualism Survey findings about the same 28 areas of study may shed light on whether underrepresented areas can be dispensed with or call for more attention from our N-SIG.

Results of the Citation Analysis

To the knowledge of this investigator and by the criteria explained above, since 1990 and including JALT '95 our N-SIG has sponsored 32 oral presentations on bilingualism at national and regional JALT conferences. Furthermore, content articles, book reviews, research notes, case studies, columns and series individually cited here, as of Bilingual Japan, Vol. 4 No. 3, add up to 131, for a total of 163 oral and written items analyzed here.

These citations will now be categorized into 27 areas of study possibly related to bilingualism, plus an "Other" category, from the most to the least entries assigned. Moreover, because many publications clearly touch upon two of these areas of study, while a column such as the "Research Forum" can contain sections on various areas of study, the grand total of content items cited is actually N=205 entries.

1. Bilingual childraising methods, transmitting parents' L1 or L2. This area of study has the most entries, n=45 or 22% of the total. This includes the "Bilingual Childraising in Japan" and "Case Studies" columns running in every newsletter issue since the beginning of 1993. It also includes the series in Japanese "Nihonjin Katei de no Eigo Kosodate," which was developed into one of the Monographs on Bilingualism. Four books concerned with this topic have also been reviewed on these pages. However, only four of 32 oral presentations cited have been primarily about bilingual childraising methods.

2. Biliteracy/minority language reading. This area was second with n=20 or 10% of the total, but it was first in conference presentation entries with seven. The first of two newsletter series on this topic has been developed into a monograph. The minority language thus far has been English.

3. Japanese-English/English-Japanese bilinguality and bilingualism. This area overlaps with many others, and almost all of the 13 entries were secondary to case studies of bilingual childraising situations. The languages per se, such as their differences or mutual difficulty of acquisition, have not yet received much attention in our publications. The main intention here was to compare this with the item Multilingualism/combinations other than Japanese and English, which held its own with 10 entries. These results show that our writers do not wish to focus entirely upon English and Japanese.

4. Minority language educational materials, e.g. picture books, videos. The 12 entries in this area also accrue to bilingual childraising, but the focus is on utilizing effective materials. A newsletter column "Children's Books" has been running since the beginning of 1994, accounting for nine of the entries. There is some overlap also with Minority language home education/Saturday schools/play groups, which has three entries.

4. Childhood bilingual development., e.g. simultaneous, balanced. Here again there is much overlap, and the 12 entries here could be partly credited to bilingual childraising. The emphasis is just a bit different, with the focus not so much on the parents but on the children developmentally, in society, and so forth. Little has been published by our N-SIG on typologies such as simultaneous vs. sequential acquisition or balanced bilinguality vs. dominance in one of the languages.

4. Maintenance, e.g. of returnees' L2, immigrants' or minorities' L1. Tied with the above two items in entries but with less overlap, this area has received a considerable amount of distinct attention in our publications. Its downside of language attrition or loss has also been examined in a few entries assigned to other areas of study. Among the groups listed, returnees have received the most attention thus far.

7. Multilingualism/combinations other than Japanese and English. 10 entries, as discussed in item 3 above.

7. Other. Of 10 entries, this turned out to be mainly reviews of books introducing bilingualism in general.

7. Intercultural communication. Of 10 entries, most were concerned with controversies over monolinguality and intercultural training.

10. Biculturalism/biculturality/acculturation/cultural identity. Eight entries here show considerable interest in the cultural concomitants of bilingualism, as with the item immediately above.

10. Family bilingualism/international families. Again there is much overlap with bilingual childraising, but the eight entries here tended to focus on the family unit or intermarried couples. Four of these were a series of self-introductory essays in 1990, "Meet the ____ Family."

12. Language policy/planning/administration/history/politics. There were seven diverse entries in this broad area overlapping with societal bilingualism, the next item.

13. Societal bilingualism/sociolinguistics/ dialects/diglossia/ conflicts. Most of these six entries were about young bilinguals' problems with Japanese society and schools.

13. Theory/methodology/definitions/measurement, e.g. of bilinguality. Five of these six entries were a flurry of speculations in 1991 about the nature of bilinguality, its threshold as a matter of degree, and the travails of functioning in Japanese as a Second Language. Our publications have not ventured far into academic technicalities.

15. Bilingual or minority language education in schools in Japan. Most of these five entries were about immersion programs. One aim was to compare this with Bilingual education in schools overseas, which received attention only through two book reviews. This tends to confirm the view that this N-SIG is not concerned with issues in bilingual education overseas unless approaches such as immersion are applicable to Japan. This would also tend to make the BNSIG agenda differ from those of ostensibly related organizations overseas.

15. Bilingualism programs in universities, graduate schools. Four of these five entries were interviews at Stockholm University's Center for Research on Bilingualism. No information about bilingualism curricula and the like has appeared in our publications yet.

17. Individual bilinguality/cognitive effects/psycholinguistics. These three entries were from 1992, though there is some overlap with other areas of study. The forthcoming Bilingualism Survey may give some indication of the depth of interest among our membership in this area of study.

17. Minority language home education/Saturday schools/play groups. Three entries were focused on this area, and the overlap with educational materials was discussed above in item 4. This area seems to be of greater concern to minority language parents than the number of entries would indicate.

19. Bilingual education in schools overseas. These two items were book reviews, as discussed above in item 15.

19. Language processing/interference/code-switching/code-mixing. Two entries from early 1993 do not seem to reflect the degree of interest in this area of research. There is some overlap with areas of study such as neurolinguistics, the next item, and Japanese-English/English-Japanese bilinguality.

19. Brain organization/neurolinguistics. The two entries in this pioneer area are from 1995, one forthcoming at the JALT '95 Bilingualism Colloquium.

19. Bilingualism-related organizations/networks. Two entries focus on related organizations, while there has also been some attention to this topic in organizational articles not included in this analysis.

23. Language attrition/shift/loss. One presentation at JALT '91 focused on attrition, but it has been touched upon often in case studies and so forth categorized above in areas such as Bilingual childraising or Maintenance.

23. Bilingualism in applied linguistics/applied to FL/SL teaching. A BNSIG-sponsored presentation accepted for JALT '95 seems to be the first entry to touch upon this area. The Bilingualism Survey results will give some indication whether the N-SIG is concerned with this area or not.

Areas of study with no entries, listed alphabetically:

Adult bilingual development, e.g. sequential, not balanced. Adult bilinguality has been treated in some citations subsumed under other categories, but not examined much developmentally or longitudinally.

Language pathologies, e.g. aphasia. The Bilingualism Survey will give some indication whether this area is within our purview or closer to another discipline.

Second language acquisition/age-related factors, e.g. critical period. There is considerable overlap with other areas such as bilingual development and applied linguistics, but the Bilingualism Survey may give some indication whether this area can be salvaged as an independent category of concern to our N-SIG or not.

Translation/interpretation. Things have been translated in our publications, while our members sometimes engage in these activities, but this area has not received our attention formally as a discipline. This area of study was offered because Josiane Hamers and Michel Blanc (1989, pp. 144-154) place it squarely within the purview of bilingualism in their comprehensive Bilinguality and Bilingualism, published by Cambridge University Press.

Concluding Remarks

These 28 categories were conceived as having some relation to bilingualism, the study of languages in contact among and within families, groups and societies, as well as between and within individuals. The cultural and some other concomitants of bilingualism may or may not be considered closer to other disciplines. The forthcoming Bilingualism Survey results may shed light on such questions of concern to our N-SIG. These instruments are not flawless but they involve many BNSIG members in the exploration of what constitutes our discipline.

Edited on 27 October 2016

Click to e-mail Steve McCarty

Proceed to the Bilingualism and Japanology Intersection | 著作リンク集