Nelli Isidorovna Serkova is Doctor of Philology, Professor, Professor of English Philology Chair at Far Eastern State University of Humanities (Khabarovsk).
This paper reports on a comparative study of current foreign language education policy in the Russian Far East and Japan. The results suggest that as both Russia and Japan find themselves in a similar situation of global changes - the growing interdependence of economies in the ethnically diverse and multilingual world - they face similar problems, such as increase of effectiveness in training professionals competitive on the world arena and internationalization of education. In these new circumstances the need to consider foreign language education as a basic element of the modern model of education has become imperative as a foreign language is the most immediate tool of including the learner into the multilingual world. A modern methodology suggested is that foreign language instruction be based on a theoretical model of informed use of language, i.e. on a complex of methods aimed to create a new generation of linguistically and culturally aware foreign-language learners.
English is number one foreign language both in the Far East of Russia and in Japan. There are about one billion users of English in the world; the number of fluent users in Asia is estimated at 350 million; English is the working language of ASEAN, the epicentre of integration in South East Asia.
The world-wide growth of the English language is a matter of debate whether it means "linguistic imperialism" (R. Phillipson) or an increase of functional varieties in the English language generated by its spread in the world (D. Crystal). Our study of the real language situation in the Pacific Rim confirms that at present, English plays the role of an auxiliary language capable of ensuring inclusion into the multilingual world because: 1) no artificial language invented specifically for use in cross-cultural communication has been invariably applied as a real alternative tool to the English language; 2) communication in national languages through an interpreter / translator is limited to certain spheres and situations due to its labour-consuming nature and high cost; 3) starting with the 50s of the XXth century, English has given way to many new varieties adopted for certain purposes and functions in different localities and regions of the world and intelligible among those who use them for communication (they may be pidgin-like or colloquial forms, as well as educated forms of International / World English kind).
Key words: the Russian Far East, the Pacific Rim, Japan, comparative study, language policy, internationalization of education, foreign language education, cross-cultural communication, linguistically and culturally aware foreign-language learner, auxiliary language, language imperialism, the Far Eastern English Language Teachers Association (FEELTA).