A Critique of Natural Discourse in Intermediate Level Textbooks for Learners of Japanese as a Second or Other Language
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
The number of learners of Japanese as a second or other language has increased rapidly worldwide over the past several decades. The objectives of their study have largely changed from pursuing purely academic research interests to acquiring the communicative skills needed for business or leisure purposes. There are five language competency skills needed to master foreign languages: reading, writing, listening, speaking and intercultural competence. Students, particularly those studying outside Japan, depend more on textbooks for learning how to speak than their peers in Japan; and speaking is studied formally through analysis of model discourses in selected textbooks. In particular, if the learner’s first language is very different from Japanese, which in fact almost all other languages are, the complexity of the spoken language, including gender difference and respect forms, presents most learners with certain challenges that require adequate explanation to be comprehended.
Likewise, the larger the cultural gap between learner and target language, the greater are the challenges for acquiring intercultural competence, which is closely interrelated with the production of ‘natural speech’. It is, therefore, crucial for learners from other cultures who have little opportunity to speak in Japanese to learn from a textbook of good quality which provides appropriate explanation of the social and cultural context of the model dialogues they employ as exemplars.
The present study aims to analyse and evaluate the appropriateness of model dialogues contained in intermediate level textbooks for learners of Japanese as a second or other language. The findings suggest that none of the selected textbooks included satisfactory explanation about the model discourses, so there seems to be much room for improvement in this regard. It is anticipated that the results of this study will contribute to the design concept of foreign language textbooks in future.