Strategies for North American Missionaries’ Relational Language-Culture Learning in the Japanese Context

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This study focused on presenting the fieldwork findings derived from studying North-American missionaries' relational dynamics with the Japanese people, and the strategies that impacted their language-culture learning. This study also focused on applying the fieldwork findings towards the creation of a coaching model designed to help missionaries develop their own unique language-culture learning strategies.

The fieldwork used an online survey, personal interviews and focus groups. The online survey was conducted with sixty-three missionaries from sixteen different mission agencies. Eleven missionaries were interviewed in the United States and eight missionaries were interviewed in Japan at The Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM)'s Language and Culture for Ministry in Japan (LCMJ). Focus groups were conducted with Asian Access. Constructivist grounded theory was the primary means for analysis.

Through the fieldwork, themes emerged regarding how being an insider or outsider impacts the way missionaries learn Japanese language-culture. One of the major frustrations for missionaries was being gaijin (foreigner) and having meaningful relationships with Japanese people. Other frustrations included the difficulty of Japanese language-culture, and a lack of training and support. My conclusion was that missionaries need to employ a variety of methodologies and techniques in order to address different challenges.

Based on my findings, I suggested strategies for implementing a relational language-culture learning model and developed a model for coaching so that language-culture coaches can effectively assist missionaries in developing meaningful relationship while learning Japanese language-culture.

Mentor: Elizabeth Susan Brewster

Degree Name

Doctor of Intercultural Studies (DIS)

First Advisor

Brewster, Elizabeth Susan

Document Type





Language in missionary work, Japan, Missions, Language in missionary work


Missions and World Christianity


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