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Reading strategies for Japanese as a second language: A study of English and Chinese native readers

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Title: Reading strategies for Japanese as a second language: A study of English and Chinese native readers
Author: Furuta, Kimi
Degree Master of Arts - MA
Program Language and Literacy Education
Copyright Date: 1995
Abstract: Research in second languages (L2) has identified that reading in L2 requires a reader to use both top-down processing (e.g., use of background knowledge) and bottom-up processing (e.g., letter processing), and that relying heavily on one type of processing may impede successful comprehension. However, in the area of Japanese as a Second Language (JSL), few investigations have been conducted on strategy use among JSL readers in comprehending Japanese texts. In particular, there is not enough investigation of the validity of the prevalent belief among JSL teachers that a learner who has substantial prior knowledge of Chinese characters (i.e., knows Chinese) comprehends Japanese texts far better than a learner who does not, since Chinese characters are extensively used for content words in Japanese texts. Nevertheless, transferring knowledge of Chinese characters may also be a drawback because some Japanese kanji compounds are not semantically compatible with those in Chinese. Some researchers suggest that knowledge of Chinese characters is not necessarily an advantage for successful comprehension in Japanese (e.g., Hatasa, 1992). This study examined if there are any differences in reading strategy use between the two language groups of intermediate JSL readers. It also examined the relationship between the application of the knowledge of Chinese characters to solving kanji problems and the readers' overall performance in comprehending Japanese texts. Eight university JSL learners participated in recall tasks of two Japanese passages, verbalising their thoughts during the tasks. Both qualitative and quantitative data from this case study suggest that use of Chinese knowledge does not guarantee Chinese readers successful or superior comprehension of Japanese texts: those readers must be able to identify the rhetorical structure of the passages and use it when reconstructing mental representations of the passages. Also the results suggest that use df knowledge of Chinese characters has to be accompanied by effective use of metacognitive strategies to maximise its usefulness. The results indicate that reading instruction in JSL needs to recognise the interactive nature of the reading processes and that the activities that help learners develop effective use of top-down processing and metacognitive strategies should be integrated into their instruction.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/3783
Series/Report no. UBC Retrospective Theses Digitization Project [http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/retro_theses/]
Scholarly Level: Graduate

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