Japanese-Language Education around the Globe - Vol.6 Summaries

Contributed Theses

A Study on the Effect of Adjunct Questions in Reading Comprehension of Story-Type Text: An Experiment for Development of Hypermedia Material

KINJO Naomi (Lecturer, Division of General Education, University of the Ryukyus, Japan IKEDA Nobuko)
Graduate Student (Doctoral Course), Division of Education, International Christian University, Japan)

Appropriate experiments and feedback on their results are necessary for development and improvement of learning material. The authors are engaged in developing hypermedia course ware for learners of Japanese as a second language. The main material considered here is an animation video of the Japanese folk tale "Nezumi no Yomeiri." An experiment on reading comprehension of the story was conducted under two conditions: one group learned the reading material with adjunct questions, and the other without such questions. This paper describes the method and procedure of the experiment and its result.
The results showed that the adjunct questions enhance students' reading comprehension. This is probably because the adjunct questions are germane to learners' self-monitoring.
The results of the experiment suggest that the hypermedia material should include adjunct questions. It is desirable to promote this type of study further to develop effective methods of teaching reading comprehension and various kinds of materials using computers.


Theories and Proposals Regarding the Preparation and Creation of Teaching Materials Aimed at Promoting Japanese Cultural Understanding, with an Emphasis on the Comprehension of Dialogue in Social Context

TANAKA Tomoko (Institute for International Education, Hiroshima University, Japan
SHIN Kimie Faculty of Literature, Aichi Shukutoku University, Japan)

We have conducted a series of studies concerning Japanese language acquisition and cultural understanding, with the objective of using our research results to create teaching materials to further Japanese cultural understanding among students studying Japanese, especially those studying in foreign countries.
In this paper, our theoretical framework is applied to the preparation of teaching material. First, culture specific vocabulary is learned. Next, social context in the culture is understood. Third, social dimensions, including adjusting the conflict between personal and social values, are considered.
This framework is based on our hierarchy model of cultural understanding: that 1) vocabulary level, 2) context level, and 3) social level of understanding should be learned in this order. Students can understand the culture and make their own decisions about cultural conflict, as is shown in our matrix model, with culture awareness.
The Japanese cultural context dialogue test, which was developed for international students in our previous study, was given to Japanese college students and functioned as a control sample in this study. We then compared the test results of the Japanese students to those of the the international students and analyzed the frequency of each response, the effects of demographic variables, and the classification of dialogue.
Next, a few dialogues were selected in order to construct sample teaching materials; each consisted of l) personal responses to the dialogue, 2) the teacher's explanation about the context of the dialogue, 3) an introduction of the Japanese and international students' responses to the same dialogue, and 4) group discussion of their own responses, as well as the sample responses presented.
Last, the relationship among the inter-diciplinary fields which are important in cross-cultural understanding and the expected role for Japanese language education are discussed.


Critical Pedagogy and Critical Literacy in Teaching Japanese

KUBOTA Ryuko (Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, U.S.A.)

In teaching Japanese as a foreign language, emphasis is usually placed on the acquisition of the language, form, function, and proficiency. Often a goal is to fulfill a learner's career needs or to satisfy curriculum requirements. Another perspective, however, is that of critical pedagogy and critical literacy. Critical pedagogy and critical literacy aim at empowering students by opening up their possibilities as individuals in a society through a critical understanding of socially constructed knowledge. This perspective, at the same time, seeks equality and justice in the global community. These goals are achieved through becoming aware of inequalities, discriminations, and various problems that threaten our living conditions, and through understanding critically that language, one's identity, knowledge, and social structures are implicated in cultural, social, political, and economical relations of power. In critical literacy, importance is placed not only on reading and writing words but also on understanding the world and transforming the society. This paper introduces an underlying philosophy of critical pedagogy and critical literacy, and discusses how it can be applied to teaching Japanese. Three example topics from actual classroom teaching at the college level in the U.S. will be presented: namely, the word, "gaijin (foreigner)," female language in Japanese, and the uniqueness of Japanese culture.


Strategies for Dealing with Difficulties in Lecture Comprehension

MIZUTA Sumiko (Graduate School, Nagoya University, Japan)

I analyze the problems which Japanese native speakers and Chinese learners of the Japanese language have in lecture listening. I also analyze the strategies for dealing with these difficulties.
The problems which occur in listening were classified into six levels depending on the cause. These six causes could be seen in both Japanese speakers and learners. The differences are as follows. The problem that Japanese speakers have is caused by interpretation of the meaning of the text, but the problems of learners are greatly compounded by the lack of linguistic knowledge.
As a strategy for dealing with the problem, five sequences were extracted out of a protocol, with the "problem identification" sequence as the first. Three strategies were followed by both Japanese speakers and learners. The first involved just identifying the problem. The second strategy sequence went from identifying to dealing with the problem using "inference." The third was to seek "confirmation" or "elaboration" after having solved the problem. The third strategy point shows that it is possible to listen to lectures even if the learner doesn't have complete linguistic knowledge. However, the fourth and fifth sequence of strategies, which goes from "problem identification" to "self-monitoring" or "taking no notice," could not be seen among the learners. This shows that there are some strategies which are difficult for learners to use.
The oral summaries of lectures listened to by Japanese speakers and learners showed in fact that the sequence of strategies which goes from "problem identification" to "inference" or "holding" and to "confirmation" or "elaboration" is useful to add new knowledge to existing knowledge after solving the problems.


The Accuracy Order of Japanese Particles in Elementary Level Compositions: An Analysis of Particles, Particle Functions and Functional Groups

YAGI Kimiko (Lecturer, Department of Policy Science, Saitama University, Japan)

This research is based on compositions written by two groups of foreign graduate students who were studying elementary Japanese in Japan. All the particles used by the subjects were collected and the accuracy rates and accuracy orders of the particles, particle functions, and functional groups were calculated and examined. Results from the two groups were compared.
A statistically significant correlation was found between the two groups on all three levels. Furthermore, both of the groups had similar accuracy hierarchies on all three levels.
The accuracy order of the functions of two particles. WA and GA, corresponds to the findings of Sakamoto (1986, 1993). In addition, the accuracy hierarchy among particles such as TO, NO, O, WA, NI, GA, and DE was similar to the findings of Komori and Banno (1988).
Previous research on the accuracy order of three of the particles, WA, GA, and O has shown conflicting results (e.g., Doi and Yoshioka, 1990; Ishida, 1991; Yagi, 1992). Similar differences also emerged between the two groups in this research. One possible explanation for this difference is that the accuracy order WA-->O-->GA, which emerges at the beginning of the elementary level, shifts to O-->WA-->GA sometime after the middle of the elementary level.


The Impact of a Study / Work Programme in Japan on Interactive Competence in Contact Situations

Yuko Miyazoe Wong (Assistant Professor, Department of English, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong)

The fifteen subjects investigated in this study were students at a Hong Kong university. The subjects had received 460 hours of formal instruction in Japanese and passed the Level Three test of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test before participating in a nine-week study / work programme in Japan. The paper reports on an investigation on what types of interactive competence in Japanese most of the subjects succeed or fail to acquire after the programme. The main data consisting of two sets of written tests, two sets of role-playing tests and two sets of composition exercises before and after the programme were collected and analyzed. Supplementary data from interviews with the subjects after the programme and written feedback from supervisors and host families on the subjects during the programme were also collected.
Although the period of the study / work programme in Japan was relatively short, its impact upon the development of students' interactive competence in Japanese was considerable. As far as linguistic competence is concerned, the most conspicuous gains were in aural comprehension, pronunciation, and intonation. Fluency improved dramatically, but vocabulary, grammar, and reading tests did not furnish comparable results. The subjects acquired confidence to produce longer written texts, but this confidence was not matched by improvements in accuracy. Sociolinguistic competence also improved, since pragmatic competence increased to include finer expressions of refusal, non-verbal features, and the use of back-channelling. In order to solve communication problems, the subjects actively used various communication strategies. They also acquired competence to correct the deficiencies in their lexicon through the use of written characters (hitsudan). The subjects also advanced to a considerable extent in their acquisition of sociocultural competence: knowledge of Japan, Japanese way of life, human relations in the work place as well as in home settings, and business customs.


Peer Interaction in an Adult Second-Language Class: An Analysis of Collaboration on a Form-Focused Task

HANEDA Mari (Department of East Asian Studies, University of Toronto and
The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Canada
)

The present study was intended further to explore how second language (L2) students interact and collaborate; the framework and methods (e.g., the dictogloss) of Kowal and Swain's (1994) study of French-immersion students were adopted. The focus was on the process and content of peer dialogues, especially on how the students scaffolded one another's learning. There is a quantitative and qualitative examination of recorded data from the peer interactions of eight Japanese-as-a-Foreign-Language (JFL) learners as they worked together in pairs during a single class session to complete a text reconstruction task.
The research design and interpretation of the data were carried out within the framework of the earlier study. The comprehensive, qualitative analysis of pair-specific interactional patterns extends the previously cited study. The modes of interaction ranged from those of knowledge transmission to those of varying degrees and ways of collaboration. In the protocol data of one pair, a plausible instance of "collaborative dialogue" (Swain, in press) emerged. The functions outlined in the out put hypothesis (Swain, 1985 and 1995) were also observed. The possible reasons why the pairs carried out the dictogloss in distinctly different manners are examined. Although this study is exploratory and further research is needed to confirm the findings, the description and analysis of pair interactional patterns provides classroom practitioners and curriculum planners with insights into one aspect of L2 classroom interaction, the learning process in a collaborative setting.


A Theme-Based Approach: Curriculum Design for Teaching an Advanced Course of Japanese as a Foreign Language

Douglas Ogawa Masako (Lecturer of Japanese, University of California, Los Angeles, U.S.A.)

This paper describes a process and procedure of designing a curriculum to teach an advanced course of Japanese as a foreign language, utilizing a theme-based approach. Curriculum for the advanced levels traditionally have focused on reading skills. While the beginning level of Japanese instruction has experienced many changes to meet the communicative needs of the Japanese learners, the advanced level instruction remains unchanged. This paper demonstrates an example of a curriculum that aims at developing four skills in an integrated way. Major components of the paper are: needs analysis of the students, utilization and critiques of ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines, discussion of a theoretical model of communicative competence and its application to the curriculum for the advanced level, rationale for employing the theme-based approach, description of the curriculum for Advanced Japanese at UCLA, and the results of the year-end program evaluation.


Hiragana Hurdle: Are We Perpetuating the Problem?

Ruth Davies, Jenny Ward and Pauline Smith (Japanese Language Teachers, Department of Edication, Queensland, Australia)
KATO Kumi (Senior Research Officer / Lecturer, Key Centre for Asian Language
and Studies, The University of Queensland, Australia
)

It is estimated that over 27,000 students are learning Japanese in primary schools in the state of Queensland, which represents the highest enrolment of Japanese learners in Australia both at primary and secondary schools. This figure is growing rapidly, as LOTE (Languages Other Than English) programs are promoted strongly at government level. Among all LOTEs, Japanese has the greatest number of students.
It is our belief that all LOTE programs should facilitate the development of communicative competence in a balanced way, that is, using all four skills. To achieve this balance, it is particularly important to promote reading and writing skills in today's LOTE classrooms, where the emphasis has tended to be on oral / aural skills. This point is particularly relevant to the learning of the Japanese language, in which orthographical change can be a major problem for many learners.
This paper reports on a study conducted on 585 primary- and secondary-school Japanese-language learners to examine: 1) their kana proficiency (mainly recognition); 2) their attitude toward learning written forms of the language; and 3) how these two factors are affected by different teaching approaches. This study is the first stage of a project which investigates teaching approaches to reading / writing in Japanese as a LOTE.
This project was conceived to investigate two problems: 1) after the initial learning of kana (mostly at primary schools), students' reading proficiency does not develop as smoothly as desired: and 2) the effect of different teaching approaches, particularly the use of romaji, has been an issue of debate. However, there is no concrete classroom evidence that clarifies which approach is more effective and whether the use of romaji (or any alphabet-based code) actually hinders students' mastery of kana.
Kana learning is often regarded as an easy task; however, for Japanese learners of non-character-based language background, it can be a major 'hurdle' which may affect their future learning.
As well as the discussion of the outcomes of the sdudy, further research questions will be raised specifically on the teaching of reading and Japanese teaching at the primary-school level.


Some Aspects of Students' Behaviour When Reading in Japanese

Michelle Hall (Lecturer, Department of Japanese and Chinese, The University of Melbourne, Australia)

There has been much research undertaken in the field of L2 reading, particularly where the L2 is English. There is, however, a lack of information about L2 reading in other languages, especially character-based languages such as Japanese and Chinese.
This study sought to discover how students behave when reading Japanese. Ten pairs of students at (pre) intermediate-level read aloud a passage of Japanese, which was recorded and transcribed. The students were of six subgroups: high and low ability students who had studied Japanese from Beginners' Japanese in university, those who had studied to VCE (Victorian Certificate of Education) level in high school, and those who had spent some time in Japan, usually as exchange students. The groups were determined by the students' mid-year examination results: students who achieved 80-95% were allocated to the H (high) group; students whose results were between 50-65% were allocated to the L (low) group. All pairs consisted of students of the same level.
The data was analysed for the behaviours demonstrated by students when reading in Japanese. The three behaviours observed were:
1. Discovery of Topic / Picture Recognition
2. Self Assessment
3. Automaticity
High-group students discovered the topic earlier and made use of the pictures in their comprehension of the passage by utilising them to activate the appropriate schema. Automaticity was found to be more common in the returned exchange students. Low-group students exhibited a range of self-defeating behaviours, including poor self-assessment. This group made little or no use of the pictures to aid their comprehension, and took longer to discover the topic of the passage.
It would seem that there are several ways in which the low-group students' performance could be improved. Activities such as pre-reading tasks would assist students in recognising extra-text information as well as improving students' perceptions of their abilities and improving students' overall performance. Suggestions are made for incorporating the teaching of effective reading strategies into classroom work.


Sentence-Final Form of Japanese and English: On the Function of "To Omou" and "I Think "

ASANO Yuko (Graduate Program in Linguistics, Australian National University, Australia)

When we try to communicate smoothly with others using a particular language, we require knowledge or ability to express what we want to say or write. In recent years, pragmatic approaches to explaining linguistic phenomena have been adopted, especially on the issues which are not dealt with by syntax or semantics. Kamio (1979, 1990) significantly contributed to pragmatics, showing some rules on the sentence-final form. However, there are many linguistic phenomena which cannot be explained by his theory. The aim of this study is to describe the different rule in pragmatics between Japanese and English, focusing on the "indirect form" I think, using Kamio's "theory of the speaker's territory of information." I analyzed written texts to find the rule covering selection of the sentence-final form, "direct form" or "indirect form," and reached the following conclusion: When an addresser gives information, the main criterion for selecting the sentence-final form in English is whether the information belongs to his territory-- or whether he has the right to judge, while in Japanese the main criterion is how the others who share common information or knowledge will judge or think.
   These differences in rule are reflected in the sentence-final forms of Japanese and English. However, spoken texts will have to be analyzed in the near future, and regional differences in languages should also be considered.


Functions of the Overlap of Utterances in Japanese Daily Conversation

IKOMA Sachiko (Graduate School, Nagoya University, Japan)

The purpose of this study is to throw light upon the functions of the overlap of utterances in Japanese daily conversation. I examined overlaps appearing in conversational data between close women friends and classified them based on their positions and properties. I explored their functions from two points of view: development of conversation and establishment of interpersonal relations.
In the development of conversation, the overlap of utterances has both positive and negative effects. A negative effect is that it impedes smooth speaker-change, resulting in the omission of some information, consequently stagnating conversation. On the other hand, a positive effect is that it lets conversation flow efficiently and produces lively, quick talk, contributing to the further development of conversation.
The effect of the overlap of utterances on the establishment of interpersonal relations is different from that on the development of conversation itself. The overlap of utterances has the same effect as casual physical touches between the participants. Even the negative effect of overlap from the point of view of the development of conversation is considered an expression of frankness and contributes to the establishment of friendly relations. This psychological effect, moreover, exerts a positive influence on the development of conversation itself.
Finally, I present some opinions from the perspective of the teaching of Japanese.


SPOT: A New Method of Testing Japanese Language Proficiency

KOBAYASHI Noriko and YAMAMOTO Hilofumi
(Assistant Professor, International Student Center, University of Tsukuba, Japan)
FORD-NIWA Junko
(Lecturer, International Student Center, University of Tsukuba, Japan)

SPOT (Simple Performance-Oriented Test) is a new testing method developed by the present authors. SPOT looks like a so-called gap-filling test, however, its unique feature is to require testees to react quickly to natural speech. Testees are asked to listen to a tape which consists of about 60 isolated sentences and fill in the blanks on an answer sheet, each with a single hiragana character representing a grammatical item. It takes only 10 minutes to complete, including time for instruction and other necessary testing procedures, so testees are put in a stressful situation for only about 5 minutes. Since the results are scored simply and objectively, it can be conducted by non-specialists.
As it uses an audio tape, SPOT looks like a hearing test. However, the tape functions mainly as a means to get testees to react promptly to natural-speed speech. This method does not seem suitable for testing each discrete point of language knowledge, but is effective for testing integrated proficiency, as has become clear by checking its correlation to other tests conducted at University of Tsukuba.
This simple test is useful and practical for class placement of learners, or for admission to a course. Its theoretical background and some results discussed.


The Influence of Japanese on the Use of Honorifics in Korean Companies

KANG Suk-Woo (Department of Japanese Studies (Linguistics), The Faculty of Letters, Osaka University, Japan)

At first glance, the use of honorifics in Korean companies appears to be similar to the use of honorifics in Japan. Following this line of thinking, there are those who explain such a phenomena as being due to the influence of the Japanese language on Korean companies. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the actual state of honorific usage and individual consciousness regarding honorific usage in large and medium-sized Korean companies.
The speech I targeted for my survey was honorifics used between individuals of differing company rank specifically when referring to a third party. As a result of the survey, it can be said that the usage within the military of a particular kind of honorifics termed "Assonho" and the consciousness of its usage acquired during military service has a strong influence on the kind of honorifics used within companies themselves. Assonho is a type of honorific used toward a higher-status listener in reference to a third party whose status is higher than the speaker but lower than the listener. On the other hand, when referring to a company member of higher status when speaking to someone outside the company, honorific usage varied between medium-sized and large companies. This difference is largely due to employee education programs that are carried out in large companies. Concerning the influence of the Japanese language on Korean companies, the following may be pointed out; (1) Honorific usage within companies themselves does not appear to be the result of the influence of the Japanese language. (2) In dealings with members outside the company, when referring to a third party, to a greater or lesser degree the influence of the Japanese language can be detected in large companies.

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