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Industry-Level Responses towards Changing Linguistic Environments: A Case Study of Kumamoto Tourist Industry Breakout Session 5 OECD-Japan Seminar Aoyama Gakuin University Oct 23, 2008 Judy Yoneoka ( Faculty of Foreign Languages Kumamoto Gakuen University) judy@kumagaku.ac.jp

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judy yoneoka faculty of foreign languages kumamoto gakuen university judy@kumagaku ac jp

Industry-Level Responses towards Changing Linguistic Environments:A Case Study of Kumamoto Tourist IndustryBreakout Session 5OECD-Japan SeminarAoyama Gakuin UniversityOct 23, 2008

Judy Yoneoka

(Faculty of Foreign Languages Kumamoto Gakuen University)


goals of this presentations
Goals of this Presentations
  • 1. Provide a specific example of how local linguistic landscapes can change with environmental pressures, and how linguistic auditors can provide impetus for those changes by raising awareness
  • 2. Discuss institutional support for tourism and its sub-industries (hotels, souvenir shops, restaurants, etc.)
  • 3. Introduce my “second” home town Kumamoto
linguistic auditing in japan honna n et al 2006 working group
Linguistic Auditing in JapanHonna, N. et al. (2006)Working Group

Language Auditing


Communication Auditing

(cross-cultural communication, politeness strategies, listening strategies, ability to formulate and share opinions, etc.)


Linguistic Auditing

international tourism in east asia
International Tourism in East Asia
  • In 2004, China received 109 million visitors from overseas, 60 times that of 1978.
  • Recently, TTG Asia cited China as the 2004 best travel destination in the world.http://www.china.org.cn/english/travel/126448.htm
  • In 2006 international tourists to Japan were 7,334 thousand PAX, up 9.0% compared with last year, and renewing the record high.http://www.tourism.jp/english/statistics/inbound/
  • The number of Koreans travelling abroad passed the 10 million mark for the first time in 2005, growing at a rate of 14.2% for the year.http://www.airhighways.com/korea.htm
focus on the tourist industry in kumamoto
Focus on the Tourist Industry in Kumamoto
  • 1. Kumamoto as a tourist town
    • In 2003, Kumamoto declared itself a tourist town
    • 3-year plan (2005-2007) to develop tourism
    • 400 year anniversary of Kumamoto Castle
  • 2. Kumamoto as the heart of Kyushu
    • Kyushu Bullet Train to be completed in 2012
  • 3. Kumamoto as an international town
    • Government and NPO supports
international tourists to kumamoto











Japanese tourists (x100)

International Tourists

International Tourists to Kumamoto (2000-2006)





the kumamoto linguistic audit 2006 2008
  • partially funded by a grant from the Institute of Business and Management, Kumamoto Gakuen University
    • Stage 1A 2006-2007

Survey of local tourist businesses: hotels, sightseeing spots, transportation, information centers, etc.

    • Stage 1B 2006-2008

Survey of foreign residents, visitors and potential visitors (esp. from Korea and China)

    • Stage 2 2007-2008

In-depth study of selected business(es) and implementation of language strategies

preliminary findings
Preliminary findings
  • Most Kumamoto residents need more information on shopping and transportation.
  • Most Koreans and Chinese have heard of Kumamoto, never been there, but would like to go if cost and language needs were met.
  • Every tourist related industry felt the need for more ability in English and most (but not all) for Korean, fewer for Chinese
  • Hotel needs were highly enterprise-specific
  • Aids are available but not useful/used
  • Enterprise-based support is minimal
    • Only one of 17 hotels supported language classes as part of business training
specific needs specific solutions
Specific needs  specific solutions
  • travel agency I. about 3-5 foreign customers a week, most of the employees can communicate in English; one Chinese. BUT they have no written information in other languages at all.

=If they make information available in foreign languages, it will help to attract foreign customers.

  • travel agency W. about 2 foreign customers everyday. BUT only one employee can speak English.

=If most of the people at the counter could speak English, they could give the service that the customers want. Since they get many foreign customers so far, every employee at the service counter needs to improve his or her English.

  • travel agency J. no foreign customers BUT 4 people speak English, one Chinese.

=If they advertise that they can speak English and Chinese, they can attract more foreign customers.

entrepreneurship at work the hitoyoshi solution
Entrepreneurship at work: the “Hitoyoshi solution”

AoiAso Shrine

Aso Volcano

Another application: a hotel in Aso

the kumamoto searchable website under development
The Kumamoto Searchable Website (under development)
  • 1st step – select language
  • 2nd step – select Bullet Train station, interests, time available, budget, etc.
  • 3rd step – receive suggestions for itinerary based on personal conditions and preferences
    • Chinese explanation of Seinan War
  • Link to Prefectural site?
  • 1. Influence of linguistic environments can produce localized responses at government, GPO and industry levels
  • 2. Responses vary according to needs (and hopefully lead to viable solutions)
  • 3. If you come to Kumamoto, please prepare to be welcomed in Japanese, Korean, Chinese and English!
    • judy@kumagaku.ac.jp