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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Language use in the Japanese as a foreign language classroom Nakamura, Emy Jane


This study examined target language (TL) and first language (LI) use in an intermediate level Japanese-as-a-foreign-language (JFL) context at a Western Canadian University (WCU). The ratio of TL and LI use by students and their instructors (including instructors' perceived use) and the purposes for which they used the TL and code-switching were investigated to understand how mixed-language use can provide scaffolding for Japanese learners, thus enhancing their second language (L2) learning experiences. The participants in this study included two focal instructors, six non-focal instructors and 45 students. Six of the instructors were native Japanese speakers, while the other two were Chinese and Tagalog speakers. Forty of the students had Chinese backgrounds, two were Korean, 1 had a Japanese background, and three came from Anglophone, non-Asian ethnic backgrounds. The study was conducted over a three-month period in an intermediate-level JFL class focusing on conversation and composition. The class met four times a week (50 minutes each class) for thirteen weeks. A qualitative approach was employed, and data were collected through: (a) regular classroom observations and researcher field notes; (b) semi-structured interviews; (c) audio-recorded classroom lectures; and (d) audio-recorded pair work sessions. Data analysis followed Stake's (1981) suggestion of coding whole episodes, interviews, or documents and then classifying them according to salient themes that recur. The findings revealed that language use in such multilingual language classrooms is a complex and dynamic process that changes across interlocutors, task-type and task complexity. Both instructors and students used the TL and LI (and additional languages, especially Mandarin or Cantonese) for multiple purposes during teacher-led and collaborative pairwork tasks. The prevalence of code-switching suggests that drawing on a combination of languages provided scaffolding for students, which increased opportunities for receiving and processing TL input. In addition, issues concerning Chinese, ESL and heritage language learners in the JFL classroom and their linguistic needs and preferences are discussed, along with some pedagogical implications.

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