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Campus Now

Midsummer Issue (Jul. 2013)

My study, My career

Introducing female researchers active at Waseda University.

Waseda 150 Vision defines the ideal form of our university as we move toward our 150th anniversary in 2032. One aspect of the vision is "Waseda research which contributes to world peace and the happiness of mankind." As we work to achieve this goal, we expect new perspectives and ideas to be introduced through the activities of female researchers. In the seventh edition of this series, we spoke with Professor Emi Sauzier-Uchida.

Research on today’s various social issues from applied linguistics perspective

Emi Sauzier-Uchida
Professor, Faculty of Political Science and Economics

Aiming at becoming a teacher to be independent and build a career

When I entered into Waseda University, my career goal was to become an English teacher. I thought that teacher’s profession would enable women to be independent and build a career regardless of gender. I also felt that something must be wrong with the Japanese English teaching method as Japanese people cannot speak English even though they study English from junior high school days. I therefore went to the University of Essex in the UK to further study teaching method and applied linguistics. Initially, I was planning to study there for one or two years. However, I became reluctant to leave the academic environment where students from all over the world got together and discussed everything. And so I remained there and completed the Doctoral Program.

Research theme expands from a new encounter.

(Top) Northern coast of Mauritius
(Middle) Her sons playing with giant tortoise. Mauritius is a treasure house of nature.
(Bottom) Cyber city in Mauritius. Its construction began in 2001 as an IT hub between Africa and Asia.

My starting point as a researcher is English education, and I am continuing my research in that field. In addition, my research themes are evolving around applied linguistics. One of them is the language policy in the Republic of Mauritius, in which I began to take an interest when I met my husband from Mauritius. The Republic of Mauritius became independent in 1968 after being colonized by the Netherlands, France and the UK. After its independence, it achieved a miraculous economic development, and currently it is one of the rich multi-ethnic countries. Their official language is English, although, in reality, French and Creole*1 are commonly spoken. Only 0.3% of the population speaks English as their mother language. However, classes at primary schools are taught in their official language, English. Children from rich family which can afford to provide follow-ups on English education become trilingual who can speak French, Creole and English. On the other hand, children from poor family fall behind as they need to learn unknown matters in unfamiliar language. 30% of the students who take the primary school graduation examination fail the examination and cannot receive further education. They will not have choice of profession. The language issue is directly connected with the disparity of rich and poor. The government of Mauritius provides free education from primary to tertiary levels and its educational system has high reputation, while there are people who have only limited access to education. However, in 2011, there was a significant progress. The government defined the spelling of Creole and introduced Creole in elective classes of primary schools in 2012. With support from the scientific research fund, I am going to conduct research on this initiative at local education institutions, government and NGOs this summer.

Another major research theme of mine is political discourse analysis*2. In the year when I was promoted to be a professor, I obtained my second Master’s Degree at Oxford University, and as a new research theme, I am working on the discourse analysis of Japanese political leaders. I began working on this theme as I wondered why, in Japan, politicians’ words were often considered as ambiguous and empty, even though in a democratic country, speeches of politicians should be an important tool to convince the public. After increase in voters not aligned with any party, election system reform, prevailing TV politics, etc., the relationships between political parties and voters are changing, and it seems that the impact of political discourse on the voters is increasing. It is my new challenge to analyze Japanese society using a linguistic approach.

Breaking new ground through marriage and child-rearing

Although the number is increasing, the female faculty at university is still in a minority. Despite the circumstance, I have been vocally making various proposals as much as possible. Before I gave birth to my child, I was appointed to the position of assistant dean of Academic Affairs. I was told that I was the first woman who took up the position in the administration department of the School of Political Science and Economics. I had an opportunity to learn a little about the management of university and found out that faculty and staff members are trying different measures and making efforts on various occasions. I had been advocating that foreign language education at a university should not be just a language education. Rather, the Japanese students should study a part of their specialized and general subjects in a foreign language and have friendly competition with foreign students in the classes. At the same time, I was also advocating the utilization of TOEFL for the entrance examination. My belief resonated with the voices of many others who wished for similar reform, and as a result, there is now a successful academic degree program, EDESSA (English-based Degree Studies September Admission Program), which is offered only in English. Utilization of TOEFL is also expanding, such as for Admission Office (AO) entrance examination and adult entrance examination.

Women often need to suspend their career for childbearing and child-rearing. In my case, I could take maternity leave and childcare leave, and during the leave, I could find new research field. My child-rearing experience also made me see the parents’ figures behind the students, and I feel that I broke new ground as an educator.

*1: A language developed from the conversation between French farm owners and African slaves during colonization era
*2: Research on social structure and concept through linguistic analysis of conversation and scripts

Emi Sauzier-Uchida
Professor, Faculty of Political Science and Economics

Majoring in English Studies, she graduated from the School of Letters, Arts and Sciences I, Waseda University in 1994, obtained MA in Applied Linguistics from the University of Essex (UK) in 1996 and PhD in Applied Linguistics from the University of Essex (UK) in 2001. In 2002, became an assistant professor at the School of Political Science and Economics, Waseda University and was appointed to the position of Professor at the School of Political Science and Economics, Waseda University in 2010. Obtained MSc in Modern Japanese Studies from Oxford University in 2010 and was a visiting researcher at St. Antony's College (2010 to 2011). Her research themes include English education, political discourse analysis, and language policy in the Republic of Mauritius.