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Moral Foreign Language Effect (MFLE) with presenter Arnold Arao

Can a language we use change our moral decision making?

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Time & Location

2020年12月13日 15:00 – 17:00 JST


About the Event


In foreign language learning, learners engage with the language through learning opportunities and utilize what they acquire. Language itself is seen as a passive—knowledge to be acquired. However, recent research has indicated that the language individuals use, whether their mother tongue or a foreign language, can affect what people do and even how people think. This phenomenon has been referred to as the Moral Foreign Language Effect (MFLE). Though much current research has focused on foreign language learners with significant (> 1 year) overseas experience, little has yet been done to examine the effect on foreign language learners with little or no international experience. An investigation was conducted specifically looking at whether the language an individual uses can alter his / her moral decision making. Japanese university students were presented with moral dilemmas involving life or death situations. These were given to students in both Japanese and English. Though it would seem natural to believe that, as long as students understood the situation, students’ moral decisions would remain constant, presenting the situation in a foreign language actually resulted in students altering their moral decisions. The findings are significant in a globalized world where much discussion and negation is done in an individual’s second or even third language. This preliminary investigation has led to a follow up study on how foreign language physically affects the brain and brain function.


Arnold Arao is a researcher and lecturer currently working in Osaka, Japan. He has taught in public and private institutions in both North America and Japan. Arnold’s research interest revolves around learner development and psychosocial linguistics, specifically how language can be leveraged to support learners’ psychological and emotional development. Currently, he is investigating the brain's physical responses to a foreign language. His hobbies include motorcycle touring, scuba diving and mountain climbing

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