Computer-assisted Japanese vocabulary learning: The choice of script in CALL
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractDespite the rapid growth of software use in foreign language education, many language-specific issues in computer-mediated instruction have not been investigated in research. One example is L2 orthography in CALL. When the target language is a non-alphabetic type, such as Japanese, decoding the unfamiliar script becomes a difficult task. Although the type of current Japanese language software ranges from immersion to translation-mediated, the method for script presentation is not spelled out with a clear pedagogical principle. Furthermore, due to the lack of empirical evidence, we have yet to find out which feature of CALL assists most effectively the Japanese beginner's L2 vocabulary acquisition. The present study attempts to evaluate the impact of using Romaji, or alphabetic spellings of Japanese, on beginners' learning of Japanese vocabulary. Sixty-one students enrolled in first-semester Japanese were recruited from two American universities. Individually the subjects participated in a vocabulary CALL experiment created with the HyperCard authoring system. The control and experimental groups were exposed to CALL lessons that taught 40 new Japanese words in conversational context. Immediately after the instructional phase, both groups were assessed on their retention of the vocabulary items in the same computer program. The only difference was the intervention of the Romaji script added to the vocabulary instruction of the experimental group. Both learner processes and performance data were collected and were analyzed. Major findings from this CALL study are (1) contrary to the prediction, the aid of Romaji did not facilitate the learner's short-term vocabulary retention, (2) the subjects who used the "sound" button more frequently recalled more words, and (3) the CALL vocabulary instruction assisted the learners of beginning-level Japanese in retaining a majority of the vocabulary items for recognition posttests but not for production tests. It is implied that the orthographic accommodation in CALL is not effective in assisting English-speaking students' Japanese vocabulary learning. Regardless of the presence or absence of Romaji, the intensive use of audio recordings was found to play the most crucial role in Japanese beginners' short-term vocabulary retention.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Second Language Acquisition and Teaching