Investigation of the current zeitgeist of formal style-first for foreign language learners of Japanese

Japanese language requires speakers to constantly make decisions between using the two major speech styles of formal and informal, depending on a large number of social cues(Cook 2006; Ishida 2001; Iwasaki 2011: 67). The typical order in which Japanese as a Foreign Language classrooms and textbooks introduce these styles to new learners is to teach formal style first, possibly due to its relatively simpler grammatical structure; informal style will then be introduced after a certain level of understanding in formal style is built (Backhouse, 1985). However, there is a lack of empirical research which might allow one to evaluate this or to consider any possible advantages to rearranging this order, so that informal style is taught either prior to, or simultaneously with, formal style. This study will investigate the teaching order of the two styles in universities from the perspectives of learners, educators and curriculum developers. Research questions to be addressed are:1. What are the typical approaches for the introduction of the formal and informal styles in Japanese courses in universities, and what are lecturers' opinions of these approaches?;2. How effective have L2s now studying abroad in Japan found this approach, and what alterations would they prefer, if any?; 3. What is the feasibility of a new curriculum in a beginner Japanese class that introduces formal and informal styles simultaneously?

» further details

Updated:  27 November 2018/Responsible Officer:  JI Management Group/Page Contact:  Japan Institute