Framed against a backdrop of complex intergroup dynamics and the legacies created for foreign language education, the current article tests three hypotheses which explore the efficacy of direct contact encounters between Japanese university students and ‘idealized’ native-speaker English teachers. As antecedents to positive language learning outcomes, attention is given to student self-reported measures of pre-contact and post-contact anxiety, student appraisals of teacher desirability, and perceptions of distance between student and teacher. Drawn from 132 individual contact encounters experienced by 22 students, the data indicates that significant differences between pre-contact and post-contact measures were only observable in relation to students’ self-reported feelings of anxiety. Moreover, while more localized assessments were found to be significant in relation to teacher appraisals and perceptions of distance, these were limited to either pre-contact or post-contact measures. The outcomes are discussed in relation to the teaching of English as Foreign Language (EFL), the role of social interaction between student and teacher, and the significance of culture.