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Ifficulties that Japanese learners have with English - Essay Example

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Many of the difficulties that Japanese learners have with English are not due to problems with the language itself but are more the result of cultural differences. This paper will review specific passage of the dialog and on this example consider all problems…
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Ifficulties that Japanese learners have with English
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A: Did you have a good week-end then? B: Pretty good actually. What about you? A: Well, We were going to have a barbeque on Saturday evening but the weather was so
B: Oh, it poured didn’t it. What did you do?
A: That must have been a bit crowded.
B: Yes, especially in the kitchen.
A: Better check the weather forecast next time.
Overview and Literature Review
Many of the difficulties that Japanese learners have with English are not due to problems with the language itself but are more the result of cultural differences. Aspects such as age, sex, relationship and relative status heavily influence communication between any two people in Japan. The Japanese generally have an aversion to assertiveness and seek to avoid embarrassment to themselves and their interlocutor. There is a respect for abstraction which is alien to many plain-speaking Westerners. All of this can cause Japanese learners to struggle to find the best way to express themselves and result in the production of English that native speakers may find excessively vague or tentative.
David Watt, in his book ,”The Phonology and Semology of Intonation in English: An Instrumental and Systemic Perspective” has carried out an interesting study on intonation.He points out that a major difficulty of doing description of intonation is the inherently gradient characteristic of the spoken medium. Watt offers a revealing quote from Bolinger: The higher the rise, the greater the exasperation if it is a statement, the greater the surprise of curiosity if it is a question. The lower the fall the greater the certainty or finality if the utterance is a statement, and the greater the confidence if it is a question [1986:240]. That is, in Watts own words: ...the greater the degree of the rise, or the height of a given contour, the greater the strength of the contextual meaning assumed for that contour (p. 109).
LINGUIST List 9.847
Mon Jun 8 1998
Review: Watt: Phonology and Semology of Intonation
With regard to transfer, several proposals have been put forth, but evidence supporting a linear relationship with proficiency is lacking. Takahashi and Beebe (1987) first proposed that L2 proficiency positively correlated with pragmatic transfer, but their findings did not support this hypothesis. Takahashi (1996) also found no effect for proficiency on transfer in her study of EFL learners as both low and high proficiency learners relied on some L1 based strategies. Rather, the transfer of indirect strategies appeared to interact with perceptions of degree of imposition of the request. At higher levels of proficiency, Hill (1997) found negative transfer of some indirect strategies. This is a finding that Iyanaga, et al. (in press) support by claiming that Want Statements such as "I want you to correct this letter," which are considered direct in English, may actually be transferred from an indirect strategy in the L1 where the sentence final particle ga indicates that the requester is intentionally omitting the Head Act to mitigate the imposition, as in "kono tegami o kouseishite itadakitai n desu ga. . . ." On the other hand, Churchill (1999) has provided evidence that transfer of strong hints in the form of the negative (e.g. "I dont have this print") occur at very low levels of proficiency. Thus, it appears that the relationship between transfer and proficiency is not simply linear as Takahashi and Beebe first proposed. Rather, with pragmatic transfer, it may be more appropriate to gather evidence on when specific kinds of transfer occur and to compare these findings with concurrent changes in grammatical competence. Such an approach might suggest the need for data collected longitudinally that could be compared with concurrent data on learner request realizations in their L1. Having data in both languages would allow the researcher to make definitive claims as to when transfer was occurring with which linguistic feature for the learners in question.
The Language Teacher
February 2001
Requests by Japanese Learners of English: Where We Are and the Road Ahead
Eton Churchill
Kyoto Nishi High School
The Language Teacher February 2001
In spite of the differences in script, Japanese students seldom have difficulty in writing English. However, the differences in phonology are quite vast, and as such tertiary level English learners find it hard to follow the pronunciation that native English speakers have. They tend to insert short vowels between the consonants.
In the given para, the emphasis seems to be mislaid on “end” in weekend. Whereas native English speakers would have pronounced weekend as one word, the Japanese tertiary learner A seems to have broken up the word into two and then used it, emphasizing week and end separately.
Specific problems with English vowel sounds include the failure to accurately render the dipthong in words such as caught/coat or bought/boat or the different vowel sound in minimal pairs such as hat/hut. The most noticeable problem rendering English consonants is seen in the inability of many learners to differentiate between the /l/ and the /r/ sounds. Words such as lot/rot or glimmer/glimmer are impossible for some of them to pronounce correctly. Unsurprisingly, Japanese learners also struggle with struggle with the (/θ/ /ð/) sounds, such as in the words month, thirteenth and clothes. The /v/ sound is also difficult for some, who say berry instead of very or ban instead of van.
The noun system in Japanese has features that can result in negative into English. Articles do not exist in Japanese. The fact that many Japanese nouns can also function as adjectives or adverbs leads to mistakes in the choice of the correct part of speech in English.
“The differences between English and Japanese”
In linguistics (specifically, phonetics), the term segment may be defined as “any discrete unit that can be identified, either physically or auditorily, in the stream of speech.” Here units mean consonants and vowels, which occur in a distinct temporal order.
3. The Language Teacher February 2001
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