The Generalist’s Dilemma: How Accidental Language Teachers Are at the Center of Japanese Pedagogy


  • Brian C. Dowdle University of Montana



This article introduces the role and issues of generalist in Japanese-language education. Generalists teach both Japanese- and English-language courses, across the curriculum. They may be “accidental” Japanese teachers, who were trained in other fields but find themselves teaching language due to the nature of the job market. Hence, unlike specialist Japanese language educators, generalists may lack an academic identity of language teacher. This article shows how the generalist’s dilemma provides a window into larger problems of diversity in Japanese language instruction and its relationship to Japan studies, more broadly. It shows how the place generalists may help us: reconsider the divided between “content courses” and Japanese-language courses; understand the structural disincentives for generalists to identify as language teachers; and appreciate the modes of interdisciplinary learning and language competency modeled by generalsits.

Author Biography

Brian C. Dowdle, University of Montana

Associate Professor of Japanese

Department Co-Chair

World Languages and Cultures


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