Japanese Signs as a Learning Resource?
The abundance of signs and similar print in the urban environment of Japan can provide authentic materials to support the learning of written Japanese. While there have been some past attempts to use pictures of signs for the teaching of Japanese reading, digital photography now makes it easy to develop electronic resources for a more systematic approach to exploiting these authentic texts, which range from ones quickly mastered by beginners to ones challenging to intermediate learners. After considering how such signs might be used as a basis for computerised reading instruction, we will consider how they can also provide bases for discussing various aspects of Japanese culture and daily life.
Should the Keyword Method be introduced in Tertiary Foreign Language Classrooms?
Studies on the effect of the keyword method, a mnemonic technique that uses two links (acoustic and imagery) to facilitate memory for acquiring foreign words, are numerous. The majority of past studies found it effective for various age groups of learners for learning words of different languages. The findings however, have been inconclusive in: (a) its application to classroom settings; (b) its usefulness for older or experienced learners; and (c) its effectiveness for a longer period of time. These three inconclusive results indicate a missing link between everyday teaching practice and this theory-driven method.
The main aim of the present study is to fill this gap by investigating whether the keyword method could be successfully applied to an extant university Japanese language classroom for a period of one semester (half-year). The research questions are: (1) Does the use of the keyword method improve vocabulary test scores?; (2) Do tertiary students take up the keyword method for their vocabulary learning?
The data collected were from (a) two questionnaires and (b) the average scores of five vocabulary tests while the procedures used for the statistical analysis are: (a) the Rasch concurrent equating process; and (b) Hierarchical Linear Model.
Application of the technique to the classroom context of university students was found to be a predictor for the productive mode of Japanese words with a 0.1 significance level. This level was judged to be beneficial for the method to be introduced in language classrooms. Half of the treatment group and a quarter of the delayed-treatment group students used the method. The reasons these learners gave for using or not using the technique was ‘the rule of economy’. That is, if the efforts necessary to use this method were less than that of self-devised techniques, then they were prepared to use it.
Hindustani Textbooks from the Raj
This paper examines the development of textbooks written between 1760 and 1947 aimed at teaching the British the language which was called at one time or another Moors, Hindostans, Jargon, Hindoostanee, Hindustani, Hindi, and Urdu. It explores the ways in which the earliest 18th Century grammars were written by military officers on the basis of the language spoken by the men under their command and reflect enthusiastic involvement with Indian culture. It then proposes that this essentially sympathetic attitude was rejected in the early 19th Century in an attempt to develop Hindustani into a refined literary language with distinctive Muslim and Hindu literatures, rather than as a common means of communication. The tension between teaching language skills and studying literature is further explored in relation to the later 19th Century textbook developments. There followed new attempts to reform the teaching of Hindustani so as to move away from teaching it as a classical literary language, back towards teaching it as a colloquial language. The study makes clear that the teaching materials do not show any consistent Orientalist project, but rather reflect the many individual voices of their authors. In particular, it shows the enormous initial 18th Century enthusiasm for local India and its cultures, which was gradually displaced by a teaching of Hindustani as a literary language. However, in the 20th Century both British and Indian authors returned to teaching Hindustani as the common spoken language of the Indian military.