Japanese language interactive online reading, listening comprehension project

Year: 2002

Author: Savage, Theresa, Clulow, Val, Salehi, Kay

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Students learning foreign language need frequent exposure to the target language. Japanese, as a character based language, requires an average of 2600 contact hours compared to an estimated 960 hours required for basic proficiency in the major Western languages. Currently there are only 400-500 contact hours over 3 years for most Japanese language programs at university level (Ingleson 1989). In order to increase exposure to the target language, some experts posit that CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning) could provide interesting and stimulating activities for learners and increase study time. The most efficient way for learners of Japanese to master the writing system, improve vocabulary and learn kanji is to read as much as possible. Textbooks provide a paper-based means of exposure to Japanese written text but the work for the students often becomes monotonous, tedious and in some cases, frustrating, involving the use of several dictionaries. The need to provide reading passages students would find more engaging that are less cumbersome or threatening and therefore more likely to be used frequently has been a recognised problem amongst Japanese language teachers. In order to teach students how each character is pronounced, improve pronunciation and encourage students to read larger quantities of Japanese more often, reading passages were recorded, digitized and put onto the Web using an interactive multimedia authoring package. Focus groups were conducted to review student perceptions and experiences of using the Japanese reading and listening interactive passages and exercises. This paper analyses student responses from which recommendations for computer assisted language instruction and learning are made.