Filling Voids in Japanese EFL Programs with Bricolage, MAYA, and Intentional Space


  • Thomas Goetz Hokusei Gakuen University



Japan, EFL, administration, bricolage, Raymond Loewy, Intentional Space


Japanese universities and their EFL programs, when seen together, one may get a general sense that policy aims and actual effects show high-sounding slogans with results mainly in the opposite direction (Yoshida, 2019). A lack of a unified approach to EFL education can be explained at the program level when the following three terms are considered: 1) Bricolage, 2) the MAYA Principle, and 3) Intentional Space creation. Professors, often from eclectically different backgrounds, who are charged with curriculum design, hiring and training, and implementing their EFL program need to recognize their shared participation as something within an entire that will always be larger than the sum of what they can contribute. Hence the use of the term bricolage. Bricolage is a French loanword that means the process of improvisation in a human endeavor. The word is derived from the French verb bricoler, to tinker, with the English term DIY ("Do-it-yourself") being the closest equivalent. MAYA stands for: "Most Advanced, Yet Acceptable," a principle initially constructed by industrial designer Raymond Loewy. MAYA provides users, product consumers, teachers, students, coaches, and literally anyone with enough of what they already use and understand with enough new features that are easy to adopt ("Design - Raymond Loewy the first real Mad Man," 2017). MAYA is never applied nor experienced in a vacuum, always within a predetermined space. Within educational settings, MAYA needs to be applied not just in a classroom but to intentional spaces that include and go beyond the classroom. Creating an intentional space is about validating the students and making them feel valued and belong. It is also about building a dynamic, informed community applicable to learners' lives (Bauwens, 2008). So, what makes an EFL program good? Everyone working hard for the students? Is it teaching in an informed, smart manner? These questions and others were shared and discussed at a medium-sized university's EFL program in Japan. Survey results and discussion outcomes will be shared along with case study-like anecdotes and vignettes.