Japanese-Language Education around the Globe - Vol.10 Summaries

Contributed Theses

More Tactfulways of Teaching Japanese Through Andragogy

ARIIZUMI Yoshihiko (Assistant Professor of Japanese Studies, Foreign Languages and Literature Department, Lafayette College, U.S.A)

This paper introduces the concept of andragogy with a view to enhancing tactful practice among Japanese language teachers. First, it defines andragogy with a brief historical background. Second, it compares andragogy with various learning theories that were developed in this century. Third, it examines two well-known language-teaching approaches - audio-lingual & communicative - from andragogical premises. Finally, this paper suggests ways of applying andragogical methods in Japanese language education.


Foreign Language Anxiety and Perspectives of College Students ofJapanese in the United States: An Exploratory Study

FUKAI Miyuki (Graduate Student, Department of Language Education, School of Education, Indiana University Bloomington, Indiana, U.S.A.)

Foreign language anxiety is a crucial factor affecting foreign language (FL) learning and performance. However, little research has been conducted in foreign language anxiety involving students of Japanese. In addition, the majority of previous studies approached this issue with quantitative analysis, resulting in a lack of in-depth, qualitative analysis of the role of foreign language anxiety. To fill these gaps, this exploratory study employed semi-structured interviews as the main data collection method and investigated students' anxiety experiences in a college introductory-Japanese course in the United States.
The present study indicates that American college students of Japanese have test and speech anxiety. In particular, college students of Japanese fear making mistakes in front of teachers and peers and also the subsequent negative evaluation of those mistakes. As for test anxiety, while some researchers claim this is not specifiic to FL learning situations, the present study implies that test anxiety may result from unfamiliar test formats and tasks.
Additionally, Americans studying Japanese expect their teachers to be helpful and friendly, in order to reduce their foreign language anxiety. Moreover, three factors were anxiety-reducing: teachers' helpful attitudes, good relationships with classmates, and a well-structured program.
These results are congruent with those of previous studies, suggesting that teachers play an important role in reducing students' foreign language anxiety. Based on these results, I suggest several strategies to reduce foreign language anxiety in Japanese classes: 1) showing willingness to help students learn Japanese, 2) being supportive rather than authoritarian especially in error correction, 3) giving students opportunities to interact with peers in pair and small group activities, 4) providing students with a well-organized syllabus that guides them to success in learning Japanese, and 5) correlating test format and content to materials covered in class sessions.


Perception of Japanese Long Vowels and Short Vowels by English-Speaking Learners

OGUMA Rie (Graduate School, Ochanomizu University)

One of the most difficult problems in acquiring Japanese sound is the discrimination of long vowels from short vowels. In order to give phonetic instruction, it is important to know the specific features of learners' perception at each language level, along with difficulty factors in, and the order of the learners' acquisition.
This study examines the acquisition of Japanese long vowels and short vowels perception by English-speaking learners of Japanese. The subjects for the study are twenty beginners, ten intermediate and ten advanced level learners living in the Tokyo area. The results of this study show that: (1) Perception of long and short vowels improves along with language level, particularly from intermediate to advanced level. (2) Intermediate and advanced level learners tend to misperceive long vowels as short vowels. (3) The pitch change in long vowels has an influence on the advanced learners' perception. (4) Acquiring perception of long vowels differs depending on their position within a word; from greatest to least difficulty, 'word-final>word-internal>word-intial.' (5) Acquiring perception of long vowels differs depending on their accent pattern; from greatest to least difficulty, 'low-low>high-low>high-high>low-high.'


Reading Japanese as Native and Foreign Languages: Three Case Studies by Think-aloud Method

MORI Masako (Assistant Professor of Japanese, Department of Foreign Languages, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, U.S.A.)

This study investigated the processes of reading a Japanese text interpretively using a think-aloud method by three individuals whose proficiency levels of Japanese are different: Junko, a Japanese; Amy, an American learner of intermediate Japanese; Lisa, an American learner of advanced Japanese. In addition, in order to check their levels of comprehension, summary writing in their native languages and a comprehension test were conducted. The results indicated that Junko's reading in her native language (L1) occurred at the social-emotional dimension and proceeded as a dialogue with the writer. On the other hand, in reading Japanese as a foreign language (L2), Amy's reading was conducted by using bottom-up strategies such as decoding vocabulary or phrases and translation. Amy also used metacognitive strategies such as checking her own understanding and stating how to go about her reading. Yet she understood the content of the text poorly. An advanced reader of L2, Lisa used a number of top-down strategies such as summary or questioning about the content. Despite a number of unknown words, Lisa even succeeded in guessing the meanings of some of the unknown words. She understood the content well. However, Lisa's L2 reading was qualitatively different from Junko's L1 reading in that her reading was limited within the text world. This fact seems to suggest the limitations of L2 reading and the problems which teachers need to deal with when teaching especially advanced level learners of Japanese.


Lexical Acquisition by Learners of Japanese: From the Perspectives of Differentiation, Generalization and Typicalization

MATUDA Fumiko (Graduate School, Ochanomizu University)

This study is an attempt at exploring the developmental process of acquiring the multiple senses of a basic verb by second language learners of Japanese. The theoretical framework adopted in this study is a model of concept formation (Fukaya and Tanaka 1996), which emphasizes the interaction of three cognitive processes (i.e., differentiation, generalization, and typicalization). The lexical item selected here is "waru," a Japanese verb roughly equivalent to the English "divide." A questionnaire was devised in such a way as to measure lexical competence on the part of learners. Fifty native speakers of Japanese and 100 learners of Japanese participated in this study.
In teaching Japanese, the verb "waru" tends to be presented to learners in early stages, since it is one of the most commonly used verbs in daily conversation. We might hence assume that "waru" is an item relatively easy to acquire. The results of this study, however, show that even advanced learners of Japanese find it difficult to appropriately set the semantic boundaries of "waru" and to fully use the multiple senses of the verb. This study has pedagogical implications for lexical teaching: that is, in addition to presenting the different uses of a lexical item, we have to systematically show how semantic extension takes place in the item in question, and how semantically-related items are differentiated from each other.


The Acquisition of "wa" and "ga": Analyses of Compositions Written by Elementary-level Japanese Learners and Interviews

YAGI Kimiko (Graduate School of Policy Science, Saitama University)

Usage of "wa" and "ga" in compositions written by two different groups of elementary-level Japanese learners (one with approximately 100 lesson-hours, another 150) were compared and analyzed. Interviews were held with one of the two groups after the task. The results and discussion are summarized as follows:
Analyses of the compositions reveal that learners of both groups could only appropriately use the "wa" which topicalizes nominative subjects and not those with other functions. It was also found, through the interviews, that the learners think that '"wa" follows a setence component that is the subject, which is at the same time the topic of a sentence.' Possible reasons why the learners have reached such an incomplete understanding of "wa" are: 1) the influence of classroom education, 2) functional transfer from the learners' first language, and 3) its abundance in input from native speakers.
Secondly, in both groups, it is the "wa" which topicalizes time expressions whose numbers of use and rates of appropriate use follow those of the "wa" topicalizing nominative subjects. However, based on the interviews, it seems that the learners use "wa" after those time expressions only in an intuitive manner.
Thirdly, in both groups, the learners seem to memorize and use "ga" only with a limited number of expressions, such as "sukida," namely, as formulaic expressions. During the interviews, none of the learners referred to the function of "ga" as a subject marker. The rules regarding when to use "wa" and when to use 'ga' after a subject have not been acquired by this stage.
Finally, there was a large difference found between the two groups concerning rates of appropriate use of "wa" topicalizing sentence components that are not followed by "ga." One possible reason for this is the influence of quality and quantity of classroom input.


JFL Learners' Referential-Form Choice in First- through Third-Person Narratives

YANAGIMACHI Tomoharu (Assistant Professor, International Student Center, Hokkaido University)

This study investigates the selection of one referential form, a full noun phrase (NP), pronoun, or zero pronoun, over another in oral narratives by English-speaking learners of Japanese as a foreign language (JFL). First-, second-, and third-person narrative data were collected through film-retelling and role-play tasks from 36 learners of Japanese at three proficiency levels as well as from 15 native Japanese speakers.
While the use of zero pronoun in subject position for first- and second-person reference was frequent and close to target-language (TL) norms for all three proficiency groups, in third-person contexts, the learners supplied more frequent overt reference than their TL counterparts. It is argued that this variation was caused by the different discourse functions the referential forms performed (deictic vs. anaphoric reference) and by the different narrative types in which the forms were used (context-embedded vs. context-displaced narrative).
The findings have theoretical implications for SLA research in general in that they illustrate the importance of functional conditions in the JFL learners' acquisition of referential-form use.


Discourse Strategies of "Request" in Contact Situations: In the Case of Japanese and French Learners of Japanese

IZAKI Yasuko (Science du Language, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, France)

It is recognized as universal that acts of requesting, as face threatening acts, require "negative politeness" or can be indirect speech acts. But there are some cultural differences in the use of discourse strategies of request. The aim of this article is to determine if they can have any effects on deviations from conversational norms and expectations in contact situations of native Japanese and French learners of Japanese. In regard to methodology, the problem analysis approach as well as French-Japanese contrastive discourse analysis are used. Results indicate that in exchange procedures, the Japanese's preferred organization is the follwing system:<pre-annoucement of request> <request> <response>. In contrast, the French's preference is to open by <pre-request> and to go on with <offer> <acceptance of offer>, or <request> <response>. And these differences affect their choice of discourse strategies. The French's discourse strategies consist of indirect request by seeking to suggest an offer or to avoid request refusal. But the Japanese's strategies are made up by (1) giving background information or explanation on the addresser's situation, by using the expression "n-bakedo" which appeals to the addressee's comprehension, and then (2) calling for his favor to accept the act requested. And on the addressee's part, the use of "backchannels" is very frequent in Japanese conversations. They can reflect empathy, interest, disaccord, indifference and other feelings and thus show participation attitudes. However for non-native speakers of Japanese, it is extremely difficult to evaluate them and to design their further speech acts according to them.


Possessive Usage of Aru and Motte iru

KIKUCHI Yasuto (Associate Professor, International Center, The University of Tokyo)

The Japanese verb aru sometimes means "to have" or "to possess," e.g. "saino ga aru (to have talent)." The usage of aru which expresses possession and motte iru are similar, but there are some differences. Although "saino ga aru" can be paraphrased into "saino o motte iru," the phrase "sodan ga aru (to have a consultation)" cannot be changed into "*sodan o motte iru" (*connotes an ungrammatical phrase). On the other hand, "nihonkiroku o motte iru (to hold a national record)" cannot be changed into "*nihonkiroku ga aru".
This paper clarifies the conditions of using possessive aru and using motte iru respectively, and explains the differences in the usages of these two words. The main points are as follows:
(A) "X (ni) wa Y ga aru" is used when 1) X possesses Y inalienably and "to possess Y" means an attribute of X, or 2) "Y ga aru" means a situation of X, or a factor controlling X.
(B) "motte iru" means 1) "to have (hold) something in one's hand", or 2) "to possess estate or a kind of property", or 3) "to take charge of something under one's responsibillty."


Conditionals and Modality: A Reexamination of the Function of Ba and Volitional Expressions

Yuki Johnson (Assistant Professor of Japanese Linguistics / Coordinator of the Japanese Language Program, University of Michigan, Michigan, U.S.A.)

In Japanese language education, conditionals are one of the most difficult grammatical items for learners to acquire, as well as for educators to teach. This is in large part due to the fact that the forms in English (if/when) correspond to four forms (to/ba/tara/nara) in Japanese. Among these conditional forms, it has been pointed out by some researchers that ba attached to a non-stative predicate cannot invite so-called volitional expressions, while ba attached to a stative predicate can invite such expressions in the consequent. Yet an adequate explanation as to why such a difference exists has not been delineated. This paper reveals critical features of ba conditional sentences that give a reasonable answer to such concerns.
Contrary to most research in this area, it is found that the stative / non-stative predicate dichotomy is not precisely the key to explaining the appropriate use of volitional expressions in the consequent of ba conditional sentences. This can be most easily seen in the co-occurrence of non-stative predicates in ba conditional and volitional expressions. Use of volitional expressions in the consequent in ba conditionals is not dependent on whether or not a predicate is stative, but rather, dependent on the determinability, and volitional controllability of a predicate in the antecedent.
Indeterminable, volitionally uncontrollable predicates co-occurring with a ba conditional tend to receive only a hypothetical interpretation. A hypothetical situation is a not-yet-realized situation; therefore, volitional expressions that are also not-yet-realized situations are compatible with such ba antecedents. This observation also gives a key as to why gradation is seen in the compatibility of the ba antecedent and volitional expressions, and to why deontic constructions such as command and request are incompatible with a ba antecedent in the case of volitionally uncontrollable, indeterminable predicates.


The Essence and the Theoretical Possibilities of Matsushita Grammar's Polite Expression System: The Framework of the Semantics of Value

PENG Guoyue (Assistant Professor, Department of Foreign Language, Kanagawa University)

Matsushita Daizaburo (1901) regards polite expression in Japanese as a form of "treatment" through linguistic action. Therefore, his polite expression system includes not only positive comments (i.e. traditional polite expressions), but negative comments (i.e. strong language) and ordinary neutral comments as well.
This paper first summarizes the fundamental framework of Matsushita's polite expression system, and then points out the difference between his theory and other theories of polite expression. Through the analysis of non-linguistic "treatment" behaviors, the paper reveals the existence of the semantics of value in language. It then discusses the salient features of the values with regard to their morphology, prepositional meaning, connotation and speech act.
Finally, the paper discusses the inherent universality of Matsushita's polite expression theory through a re-explanation of polite expressions in a more general sense in light of the semantics of value.


The Nature and Negation of "Noda"

DAI Baoyu (Assistant Professor, Shanghai International Studies University, China)

The use of "noda" is in general the indication of a conclusion drawn upon the basis of a certain fact. The author of this thesis regards the fact as the first information, the conclusion as the second; and in that sense, the author believes that "noda" is the auxiliary verb specially used to indicate the second information. With a close observation of the above information, the author finds that the first information is more realistic and has only one meaning; the second information, however, is more arbitrary and has diverse meanings.
Based on the feature that the second information has diverse meanings, the first information may have plural choices, and "noda" is only one of them. For the necessity of expression, the exclusion of choice made by other people, for example, "nodehanai," could be used.
Different from "nai," "nodehanai" is not a negation of the matter, but a replacement of one matter for the other. The author believes that the relationship between "noda" and "nodehanai" is that of choice and non-choice and that it is not necessary to differentiate between the two words. The author also points out some limitations of the statement that the negation of "nodehanai" directs to a certain specific focus.


Sequence Organizations of Problem-Solving in Japanese Conversations

SUGIMOTO Fusako (Graduation, Graduate School of Integrated Studies in Language and Society, Osaka University of Foreign Studies)

This paper aims to demonstrate and examine how hierarchical relationships in talk-in-interaction manifest themselves in conversation. A comparative analysis of conversations exhibiting an organizational hierarchical relationship among the participants and where social relations are equal will be the foundation for this paper. By focusing on the manner of negotiation in which multiple participants come to a consensus regarding a common set of goals, we analyze the use of linguistic forms as well as 'sequence organizations'.
From setting up agenda to reaching a consensus regarding a common set of goals, four types of sequencing structures become evident. Our first structure type (instruction) involves a participant giving instructions unilaterally to the other participant while the second structure type begets asking for instructions. The third instruction type (forced proposal) presents itself as a participant adamantly demanding a proposal and the fourth (proposal) being situations in which any participant presents his/her proposal. This latter type (proposal) can be further classified into sub-types; i) the requesting proposal, ii) the giving proposal, iii) the asking for judgment proposal and iv) the collaborating proposal. The first three sequencing structures indicate situations of a hierarchical relationship while the latter points to an equal relationship among participants in talk-in-interaction.
In iii) and iv) of the latter type, we specifically see a method of conversation where fellow participants mutually avoid voicing opinions and where everyone lends support to opinions that make it to the floor by continuing to build their utterances in the form of questions. When conversation is advanced in this way, it becomes ambiguous as to which participant the opinion belongs to, and there occurs what we call a fusion or unification of opinion among participants. This kind of negotiation can be thought of as one element of proof that participants in a conversation that features participants of equal relations are equal in practice.


An Analysis of Learners' Aizuchi: From 'Continuer' to 'Turn-taking'

MURATA Akiko (Instructor, Japanese Language Course, Japanese College of Foreign Languages)

This study analysed British learners' use of aizuchi (Japanese verbal backchannels) from functional aspects, and examined them according to the following categories: 'continuer / display of understanding', 'display of agreement and empathy toward the speaker', 'emotional response', and 'addition of information'.


Page Top