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March 22, 2007
CONTACT: Leigh Soltis
lsoltis@emich.edu 734.487.4400

EMU's Oketani wins Japanese Language Research Fellowship

YPSILANTI — Hitomi Oketani, associate professor in Eastern Michigan University’s Department of Foreign Languages and Bilingual Studies, has been named one of five fellows with the Hakuho Japanese Language Research Fellowship Program.

Offered in connection with the National Institute for Japanese Language (NIJN), the program recognizes outstanding scholars, researchers and instructors of Japanese by inviting them to Japan to engage in research and studies. Oketani will spend the next year conducting extended research in her areas of specialty: bilingual education (Japanese-English) and Japanese heritage language education.

"I am very excited as well as honored to receive this opportunity," said Oketani, who will be a fellow during the 2007-2008 academic year. "I will be doing my research here (at EMU and in the U.S.) as well as in Japan and Canada.

The NIJN, under the jurisdiction of the Japanese Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, was founded in 1948 to provide scientific research of the Japanese language. Conducting such projects as developmental studies of language use by children, the NIJN has, in connection with the Center for Teaching of Japanese Language, been active in instructor training, development of teaching materials and contrastive linguistic research.

"My work focuses, in part, on the multicultural education in Japan as well as here in North America," said Oketani. "There are so many facets that have to be taken into consideration when looking at bilingual education — how language choices are made in the household, social and

psychological interaction, identity — that it is difficult to make general statements about bilingual education.”

Oketani, an Ann Arbor resident, is editor of "Raising Children as Bilinguals," which will be published in its second edition later this year. She joined EMU as a lecturer in 1995 and has served as an associate professor for nearly six years.

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