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Kanji learning attitudes and self-directed learning by learners of Japanese as a foreign language: a case study.

Abstract

This longitudinal qualitative study investigates how cultural experiences of staying in Japan may affect attitudes and self-directed earning of kanji among learners of Japanese as a foreign language. Six beginner learners pursued semester-long weekly kanji earning sessions and their diachronic behaviours were observed and recorded for attitudes and self-directed learning. The learners who had spent a considerable time in Japan consistently demonstrated trends of negative feelings toward kanji compared to those who had not Been to Japan at all. These attitudes were partially reflected in their reported ability for self-directed learning. This interesting finding is discussed in terms preconceived beliefs and how teachers could he p develop positive attitudes in learners.

Keywords

Japanese as a foreign language (JFL), kanji, attitudes, self-directed learning, sociocultural experience

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Chinese characters used in Japan are commonly referred to as kanji. Kanji play an integral part in the Japanese sociocultural milieu. Standard reading materials in Japanese (books, newspapers, and journals) and media (television, for instance) all include kanji. Calligraphy is promoted as a traditional cultural encounter. Kanji also play an essential role in the Japanese education system. Japanese children learn approximately 1,000 kanji in their primary education and 950 in their middle-school education ranging over a period of nine years (Taylor & Taylor, 1995). Simply put, Japanese literacy cannot be achieved without the knowledge of kanji.

The learning of kanji, however, is considered as one of the most challenging problems faced by learners of Japanese as a foreign language (hereafter, referred to as JFL learners) specifically from non-character backgrounds. Not only are they compelled to learn a great amount of kanji in a short period of time, but the figural complexity of certain kanji, the multiple pronunciations, and the polysemous meanings attached to one kanji all contribute to increase the anxiety of JFL learners.

To date, however, very little research has been conducted to observe kanji learning behaviour in a classroom environment. Much of the kanji learning behaviour research is restricted to questionnaires (Douglas, 1992; Okita, 1997) and to reading behaviour research, with learners reading a researcher-selected text at a single point in time (Machida, 2000; Matsunaga, 1999).This study, through longitudinal observation, sets out to explore how previous sociocultural experiences affect attitudes and self-directed kanji learning among JFL learners.

Attitudes

Several studies have indicated that attitudes (Horwitz, 1988, Wenden & Rubin, 1987) and past cultural experiences (Masgoret & Gardner, 2003; Jorden & Noda, 1987; Kawai, 2000) have an impact on learning strategies and achievement in a foreign language. Attitudes are considered important in second language acquisition as they reflect the learners' affective state of mind (Tse, 2000), which in turn can affect learning styles, strategies, and performance in the classroom.

Japanese, unlike English, is a language of a unique cultural community and learning Japanese as a foreign language inevitably enforces target language based cultural orientations. The vast array of Japanese language textbooks also highlights the purpose of assimilating learners into the target culture and society through the introduction of Japanese life styles, customs, food habits, cultural festivals, and so on. Kanji learning textbooks for JFL learners too make use of sociocultural contexts and traditional aspects of culture when introducing new kanji material (e.g. Habein & Mathias, 1991; Hadamitzky & Spahn, 1997; Rowley, 1992; Swiderski, 1993). One of the goals of these textbooks is to encourage learner motivation and positive attitudes through the introduction of culture and society. It is presumable, then, that the sociocultural experiences an individual learner has through actual exposure to the target language environment may also shape the attitudes in the learning of the target language. The learner may have gained positive attitudes by virtue of his/her own sociocultural experiences gained in the target language environment or country (for instance, home-stay programs or experiences of teaching English in Japan). Tse (2000) found in her qualitative study with second language learners that those learners with family members who spoke the target language at home, or who worked in a community that used the target language, reported the greatest success in acquiring the language. This self-reported observation revealed that actual cultural experiences with the target language tend to enhance learners' perceptions of successfully acquiring that foreign language. Another study by Kubota (2003) revealed that attitudinal factors might differ with gradual progress in learning. In her study, highly proficient non-native speakers varied vastly in their opinions of initial intentions in learning Japanese although they were integratively motivated by the time they achieved high proficiency.

Although many studies have investigated the complex relationship between attitudes and language learning (Gardner, 1985; Gardner & MacIntryre, 1991; Goh & Lin, 1999; Masgoret & Gardner, 2003; Purdie & Oliver, 1999), very little research has directly addressed the exact relationship that attitudes and sociocultural encounters have on learning a specific script such as kanji. A fundamental view on how previous sociocultural experiences in Japan (which may inevitably lead up to exposure to the script) would contribute to attitudinal factors in learning kanji may increase our understanding of the relationship between sociocultural encounters and learner perceptions of a logographic script. Differences in perceptions of those learners with prior exposure to kanji in the background of its natural environment and those without may help us define what really causes the so called 'aversion' to kanji among JFL learners from non-character backgrounds.

Autonomy and self-direction

An autonomous learner is defined in second language acquisition literature as a person who monitors learning goals, accesses and manages behaviour, and environment, and selects the methods and techniques of learning (Dickinson, 1987; Ellis, 1994; Gardner & MacIntyre, 1991). In other words, self-direction is the key for autonomous learning. Self-direction in learning may be reached through learner motivation, attitudes (Spratt, Humphreys, & Chan, 2002), learner strategies (Armanet & Obese Jecty, 1984), and the cultural context in which the learner is placed (Smith, 2001). The effect of prior cultural experiences on attitudes and self-directed learning is, thus, another important area of investigation in order to understand learner orientation towards certain aspects of learning. For instance, Rivers (2001), through the elicitation of surveys on learning behaviour and general comments on the class for approximately a year, found that successful learners tend to use self-directed language learning strategies to reformulate the language context including type of input, workload, and course structure. Gan (2004), too, found that those Chinese English as a foreign language (EFL) learners, who demonstrated self-directed language learning attitudes, were more likely to report a variety of learning strategies. Very little research, however, exists on how JFL learners acquire self-direction in the process of learning kanji. Studies that have investigated reading behaviour in Japanese (Machida, 2000; Matsunaga, 1999) and approaches to kanji learning (Kaiser, 1998, 1999; Kano, 2002) have failed to address the issue of autonomy or self-direction. Questionnaire results of several studies have shown that even advanced learners with knowledge of approximately 1,000 kanji still admit to being non-autonomous in the kanji-learning task (Haththotuwa Gamage, 2000).

THE STUDY

In the present study, a combination of audio-recorded participant conversations, interviews with the researcher as well as questionnaires was used to observe attitudinal factors and self-directed learning of kanji learning among beginner JFL learners. In sum, the current study addressed the following research questions.

1. What type of attitudes do beginner JFL learners with prior exposure to the script and culture in Japan have towards kanji?

2. How do they differ from those learners without prior exposure to kanji?

3. How do these attitudes reflect on their developmental process of self directed-learning?

Participants

Six beginner learners' approaches to kanji learning were observed in a classroom setting. These observations were part of a larger project in kanji learning behaviour research. These six volunteer participants were selected from a group of eight who responded to a poster on 'kanji learning workshops' put up on notice boards in a university in Australia. The two participants that were excluded were heritage language speakers of Chinese. All six participants are referred to by pseudonyms and were native speakers of English with very little or no knowledge of kanji, but with a keen interest in learning kanji. It was assumed that such a selection would 1) enable consistency in kanji proficiency among the learners and 2) create a non-threatening environment during the kanji learning sessions.

Among the participants, three were male and three were female; ages ranged from 24 to 36 (M=28 yrs and 8 months). Kanji learning sessions were held for the six learners in three separate groups (i.e. two in each group) for one hour a week for approximately ten weeks. The sessions were held in groups of two, in order to provide an opportunity for the learners to encourage think-aloud techniques and discuss problems with his/her study partner while doing activities during the sessions.

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All participants had completed their undergraduate studies majoring in fields other than Japanese and were not pursuing other studies in Japanese at any institution at the time of the implementation of kanji learning sessions. Their demographic details, motivations, and attitudes towards Japanese were obtained through a questionnaire as outlined in Table 1.

Two participants in this study, Daniel and Sara, had no prior experiences of staying in or visiting Japan. The other four participants had varied sociocultural experiences in Japan. Erika had a 6 week home-stay experience in Japan while she was in primary school. Wilson taught English in Japan for a year and his knowledge of Chinese was restricted to basic spoken Mandarin. Chad was a postgraduate researcher in the field of science for two years in Japan. They both declared that they did not have the necessity to learn Japanese formally within their sociocultural milieu while in Japan. It was Rose who had the most exposure to Japan and Japanese culture. She constantly visited Japan to keep close contact with her in-laws over the last eight years.

Their motivations and goals for learning kanji, too, varied accordingly. Daniel was more interested in learning the meanings of kanji so as to help him understand the meanings of words in archives and resources written in Hanja mixed Korean. Rose was motivated to learn kanji as a means of adjusting to the Japanese way of life. She envisaged a time that she could communicate with her in-laws freely without vocabulary restrictions or watch Japanese television or read notice boards without 'feeling strange'. She proclaimed that she could 'identify the meanings of certain kanji familiar to her' with her visits to Japan although she had not learnt any kanji in formal education. Wilson intended returning to Japan for career purposes. 'I really want to improve my Japanese,' he declared, and 'kanji is helpful in learning more Japanese'. Sara said that she had Japanese friends with whom she likes to communicate through email and knowing kanji may indirectly help her in communicating. Erika wanted to be literate in Japanese and she considered kanji to be an essential part of Japanese.

Their varied experiences in Japanese and exposure to Japan and Japanese culture did not necessarily make some more literate in kanji than the others. In fact, reading and writing ability of kanji remained approximately similar among all learners. This was confirmed through an individual free-recall task prior to kanji learning sessions. All participants were able to reproduce only one-five kanji shapes and recognise the pronunciations of three-eight characters from a list of kanji for everyday use.

Data collection

Each participant group learnt approximately ten kanji in one session and by the end of all sessions they had learnt approximately 100-110 kanji. The selection of kanji taught and the instructional methods used in the sessions are not described in detail as it is beyond the scope of this paper. A copy of kanji introduced in each session can be obtained from the author upon request. The sessions were used as a tool for obtaining participants' personal views and beliefs on kanji and its learning process in a relaxed learning environment whilst providing them with an opportunity to learn kanji. Prior to the sessions, participants were provided with an information sheet containing the details and objectives of the course. The participants agreed and consented to participate voluntarily. The researcher, who also acted as instructor, met with all participants individually prior to the sessions. During this initial meeting they were asked to fill in a background questionnaire with their intentions and attitudes regarding learning Japanese and kanji (see table 1).

During the first session, the researcher interviewed the participants in detail regarding their perceptions: their beliefs and interest in the language, their views on Japanese culture and kanji, and how they related kanji in their daily life. The researcher then facilitated the learning process of kanji in an informal way through varied instructional strategies. The researcher observed, documented, and, in some occasions, audio-recorded the conversations during this process. Additionally, questions were asked to elicit responses from the participants during the sessions, such as 'How did you feel about the kanji that we learnt last week?', 'Do any of these kanji bring about any recollections?'.

Design

The study used multiple data sources such as audio-recorded conversations, learner interviews, think-aloud techniques, verbal reports (introspective/retrospective accounts), and questionnaires. Such a combination of data sources elicits the maximum amount of information without necessarily distorting or biasing the perspectives of the learners. With constant one-to-one interaction between the learner and the instructor/researcher, the participants were gradually able to answer any queries that the researcher had without vacillation and contribute greatly to the generation of the overall picture of learner attitudes and self-direction.

Analysis

Information concerning each participant, namely, the participant demographic details, conversations, verbal descriptions of attitudes and queries as well as the researcher's own notes regarding the descriptions of each participant attitudes were transcribed and/or summarised in participant profiles. These profiles were compared. The pre and post questionnaires were then coded and analysed using descriptive statistics.

RESULTS

Attitudes of beginner JFL learners with prior exposure to Japanese culture and kanji

Four of the six participants had experienced living in Japan for at least a short period of time, with Rose having had the most cultural exposure as she often visited Japan for the last eight years to maintain close contact with her Japanese in-laws. Despite this exposure, she demonstrated negative attitudes toward kanji from the start, 'I think kanji is very illogical and messy. Japanese, everything is so systematic and organised .... I don't know why they ever want to use it'. She went on to say 'I detest kanji, but I've got to learn it, 'coz you are illiterate if you don't know your kanji' and with regard to the difficulty of achieving native-like proficiency, she remarked, 'They learn it [kanji] from primary ... for nine years and we have to learn all that in a few years'. By the fourth kanji session, she still seemed to compare her knowledge of kanji and her learning strategies with that of native speakers and, consequently, appeared not to have identified a learning strategy that would suit her own learning style. 'A lot of Japanese kids learn by writing them out so may times. They already know their vocab so it's just connecting them with the kanji. Last night I tried to remember all the vocab first and then the kanji, but it didn't help. I really don't know how to remember them.' During the sixth session the conversation with her study partner revealed her frustration with the whole learning process 'Do you think we could ever remember every kanji in our lifetime? I study so hard to remember them every week but it seems worthless, I still make such a lot of mistakes'. Her dismay was more obvious once she came back from a week-long trip to Japan in week eight of the kanji sessions: '.... I felt so desperate. I can manage quite a reasonable conversation with my mother-in-law and I really enjoy it but anything written in Japanese, makes me feel uncomfortable. The other day, I tried to read several kanji from a magazine. I thought I recognised some of them from the sessions but they turned out to be slightly different ... you know, similar looking ones'. The discussions with her study partner during the final session confirmed her attitude towards kanji overall: 'I still feel a bit handicapped with kanji' and when asked why she felt that way, she revealed 'maybe because I see such a lot of them every time I go to Japan. There is no point in learning because there is no end to it. My husband forgets his kanji sometimes, no excuse, he's learnt it for years and years but still ...'. She added later 'maybe if I live in Japan it would be easier. I may even like them'.

Chad and Wilson had different types of exposure to Japan and Japanese culture through research and teaching, respectively. Unlike Rose, their time spent in Japan did not necessarily lead them to feel a need to use kanji directly in their socioeducational milieu, although Japanese was used occasionally for simple conversations. They both regarded kanji as difficult yet as an indispensable part of learning Japanese. 'It is everywhere you go in Japan, train stations, shops, newspapers, books', the more I saw them the more strange it got' remarked Chad during their first session. Their discussions during the sessions reflected an essential need to learn kanji yet they both demonstrated some sort of apprehension towards it. 'Kanji is an essential part of Japanese living. I can still recognise Shinjuku or Shibuya, because I saw them everyday but it's like a dream just to read a newspaper in Japanese, you know, even kids can read anything ... in English even when they don't really know the meaning but we just can't, when everything's in kanji' added Wilson. During the fourth session, Chad remarked '... I did try learning by myself. I sort of tried to associate kanji with places I've seen but there's such a lot and it's mind boggling'. With the progression of the sessions, however, they seemed increasingly aware of their learning behaviours and their overall attitude toward kanji seemed to change for the better. During the sixth session, Chad commented to his study partner 'I still don't like the lined ones, but it helps to talk about them ... We are learning them one by one. I feel more comfortable with the pace we are going now'. Wilson's remark during the final session helped to confirm his overall impression towards kanji and its learning: 'I don't feel threatened by it now. I feel more comfortable'. When asked to elaborate on this he proclaimed, 'I guess I didn't know how to start then. There were so many and so difficult to remember. I felt so threatened ... Now I can actually look into each one and associate them together, sort of like making a story.' Erika, too, has had experience staying in Japan for six weeks. As her stay in Japan was approximately twelve years ago, her reflections on kanji seemed to have blurred with time '... As soon as I landed in Narita, I was looking at all these characters everywhere and it all seemed so ... it's hard to explain. But I guess ... I was more interested in understanding everything else in Japan somehow. Well ... not particularly kanji'. She had a quiet personality and was more focused on learning kanji as the sessions progressed and seemed to have an overall neutral attitude towards kanji. Her comments on the final questionnaire documents 'kanji is obviously difficult to learn by oneself. I think you need to have a study partner or someone to guide you through to eventually learn them, that way you don't lose interest and don't become overwhelmed by them ... I suppose when you learn them one after the other, slowly without seeing everything together, it does make sense'.

Attitudes of those without prior exposure to kanji

Interestingly, it is those without any prior experience of staying in Japan who considered kanji as 'not so difficult to learn', relative to those who had been to Japan. Minimal comments were made regarding lack of confidence in learning kanji or the difficulty of it. When asked how they felt about kanji in general during the second session, Daniel commented 'kanji looks almost like pictures ... I think it is very easy to remember them.' Both Sara and Daniel's remarks show a consistent trend towards identifying the process of learning and effective strategies suited to their learning styles rather than reflecting on the success or failure of their achievements. 'We spend a lot of time talking ... makes it interesting'. Asked how he considers it interesting, Daniel offered, 'it is a bit like maths ..., add stuff ..., subtract stuff ... and we come up with the right answer ... need time to think and then look into ways of connecting them ... uh, like when you talk out, you work out the bits and pieces ...'. During the fifth session, when asked to give her thoughts on kanji Sara commented, '... little extra things that come out when we do different types of exercises, you know, like getting across the lines when you should stop at one point is hard but, then it's more interesting ... because then you make connections ...'. Her enthusiasm for learning kanji is evident when she states in the eighth session, 'I don't mind the messy ones anymore. I know there's a lot to learn but now I see some sort of pattern emerging for certain kanji. It is not all lines everywhere. I can actually see certain parts of kanji now'. At her final session she proclaimed, 'It's just good to know another way of writing things, I reckon ... I will probably have more confidence now to actually go and visit my friend in Kyoto'. Both the participants attributed kanji as 'an achievable challenge' and as not being a 'hassle' at the post questionnaire.

Attitudes and self-directed learning

All learners in the study, to varying degrees and through varying activities, demonstrated developmental self-directed learning over the course of the sessions. To reiterate, the preferences for activities in kanji learning varied among the learners although a systematic pattern seemed to emerge within the individual for specific strategy preferences for self-directed learning. Some learners developed new, self-initiated activities and strategies during the course, while others abandoned their old habits of kanji learning in order to use new ones. Wilson, for instance, decreased his frequent use of the dictionary as sessions progressed and came to be able to discuss newly introduced kanji with his study partner and, increasingly, identify erroneous kanji. Chad increased his use of self-generated imagery and tended to recognise more of the common components in kanji. Daniel tended to enhance kanji knowledge by asking the researcher about radical usage extensively during the latter stages. It was Sara who demonstrated the largest number and frequency of use of developmental self-initiated activities both during and outside of the sessions. During the latter stages, she made extensive use of flash cards, kanji lists/charts with corresponding English meanings and readings; she created self-generated imageries and associated kanji into meaningful and/or graphically similar groups. All participants demonstrated developmental abilities (1) to detect their own erroneously written kanji, (2) to identify mistakes in recognition and reproduce through discussion, (3) to use analytical strategies such as grouping and association to kanji or their components, and (4) to discuss and relate kanji and their components with their study partner/ instructor. These strategy developments exhibit a clear move towards self-directed language learning. However, the degree of consciously monitoring one's own strategy preferences or activities, and reflecting on their effectiveness was observed to be significantly greater among some learners than others. This behaviour was explored further.

Observations of learner behaviours indicated two types of metacognitive awareness patterns: those who discovered and reflected on strategies and activities that suited their personality traits with relative ease, and those who did not monitor and identify any specific strategy or activity that suited them.

Chad, Erika, and Sara clearly demonstrated abilities to recognise and assess approaches that suited them most, relative to the other three learners in the study. Erika was aware of her own difficulties in writing kanji and was able to assess the efficacy of imagery association techniques in relation to her progress as early as session three: 'I think I could recognise kanji far more easily from this method [association of kanji to pictures or images] now ... Writing is difficult, but when it comes to reading, you can make a guess at things', Erika noted in discussion with Chad. Chad, on the other hand, was able to distinguish between the approaches that suited him most in relation to those of his study partner, Erika: 'I don't think this [association of kanji to pictures or images] works for me. I'd rather work out all the bits and pieces of kanji separately'. In session seven, he reflected on strategies that fitted his learning style and was able to evaluate them.
   Recognising kanji is more important
   than writing them up. When you are
   writing, people would understand
   you, even if you write in hiragana or
   romaji, but when you are reading you
   need to know your kanji. Creating
   images of kanji makes sense,
   especially when you are reading stuff.
   Grouping according to radicals is not
   such a good idea, after all. [I] tend to
   forget all the main parts, then.


Sara, too, was aware of her own diachronic development of strategies.
   I don't write up repetitively anymore.
   That's gone, so I've lost some
   methods. As it got more and more
   I've started to make my lists ... Rather
   than just sit at home and trying to
   do it all the time by yourself, in your
   room, or having a toilet door-list
   [it] might just help more if there is
   someone to talk about ... So this
   talking aloud, there you go, talking
   aloud ... really helps.'


Contrastingly, Wilson and Rose demonstrated less ability to recognise or assess their own approaches to kanji learning. They, however, like others were able to discern where their difficulty lay in kanji learning and also felt their confidence increase as the sessions progressed. However, both participants were unable to self-assess their own activities. Wilson, on one occasion, remarked '... just going and putting them [kanji] in sentences is so difficult and I don't know where to use the right pronunciation'. Rose identified her use of repeated writing as an approach to learning kanji but was unable to assess its efficacy: 'I just wrote these kanji about 30 times today, but I still can't remember them ... I don't know whether this helps or not'.

Daniel did not fit into either of the above two approaches. On most occasions he was aware of his increasing number and variety of strategies, although he was unable to assess the extent of efficacy of each of these strategies. In other words, Daniel was capable of monitoring his own performance although poor at observing the effectiveness of his learning. In the final session, for instance, he was aware of making extensive use of radicals and associating kanji in groups (mainly graphically or semantically similar associations) when doing free recall tasks. When asked about the efficacy of each of these approaches, however, he was skeptical as to whether they actually helped him better than repeated writing.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS FOR PEDAGOGY

It is apparent that all learners in this study were sufficiently motivated to learn kanji from the fact that they pursued the ten week sessions voluntarily. The above observations, however, demonstrate that the learners' cultural exposure had not necessarily enhanced positive attitudes towards learning kanji nor increased their self-awareness for autonomous learning. Interestingly, those learners with no prior experience in visiting Japan (Sara and Daniel) expressed more positive attitudes towards kanji learning from the start and developed these attitudes with the progress of the sessions. Others seem to have formed their own belief through prior exposure to kanji and culture and demonstrated somewhat negative or passive self-views. Although all learners demonstrated varied kanji learning strategies throughout the sessions, not all learners were able to monitor the efficacy of those strategies. In general, all learners' attitudes only partially reflect their ability to monitor their learning. Past research in second language acquisition has indeed demonstrated that the learner's sociocultural milieu has an impact on the 'individual differences variables involved in learning a second language' (Gardner, Masgoret, & Tremblay, 1999, p. 419) and in most cases past cultural exposure brings about positive reinforcement for learning a second language. Overall, this study provides some evidence that sociocultural experience may not always impact positively on learner attitudes and may have an effect impact on self-directed learning of kanji. This observation, however, may be particular to learning kanji alone and may not be the case for learning Japanese as a foreign language. We can offer two possible explanations for the negative attitudes toward kanji among some learners who had prior experiences staying in Japan. First, the reality of experiencing the existence of a vast number of kanji in the literacy milieu of Japan may have overwhelmed or caused anxiety among these learners rather than inspiring them. Second, the belief that native-like proficiency in kanji is hard to achieve within a short period of time, mainly through exposure to a wide range of kanji may have discouraged them from the start.

Although a definite conclusion cannot be made with regard to this specific behaviour pattern occurring among all JFL learners from alphabetic backgrounds, this exploratory study contributes usefully to our knowledge in identifying that learning attitudes and autonomy in learning kanji may demonstrate an atypical relationship in individual beginner learners who had previous cultural experiences in Japan. Further research, however, may reveal important attitudinal differences toward kanji learning and learning Japanese if conducted in a variety of Japanese language learning settings. Differences among JFL learners from various proficiency levels, too, may provide much needed evidence on the diachronic developmental changes of kanji learning attitudes among learners. In addition, further research with a wider population may reveal important factors that need to be taken into consideration when exposing kanji to beginner Japanese learners from non-character backgrounds.

Nevertheless, several implications can be drawn from the results of this study with regards to kanji learning and teaching. It is important for teachers to be aware that some learners' affective state of mind may be influenced by substantial exposure to the script at the beginner stages of learning. As a result learners may have developed preconceived notions regarding the difficulty of it as Rose demonstrates in this study. Teachers need to carefully explore such affective components among individuals and explicitly discuss strategies to deal with such negative self-efficacy in order to establish confidence among the learners. For example, by providing the opportunity to openly discuss the so-called 'aversion' to kanji and by constantly reminding learners to set up smaller goals in their achievement levels the learning experience may be enhanced.

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Gayathri Haththotuwa Gamage is a Principal Consultant (Languages) with the Department of Education, Western Australia. She has worked at several tertiary institutions across Australia as a lecturer and an instructor of Japanese, including University of Wollongong, University of Queensland, and Queensland University of Technology Gayathri's PhD is in the discipline of applied linguistics and Japanese language education. Her current research interests focus on language maintenance and shift among South Asian migrants to Australia.

Email ghaththotuwa@gmail.com
Table 1. Initial Demographic Details of the Participants

Pseudonyms          Chad     Erika    Daniel      Rose      Wilson
Age                  33        23       28         28         24
Gender              male     female    male      female      male
Japan visit        2 yrs     6 wks     none    very often    1 yr

Self reported language and script ability (a)

Japanese            poor     medium   v poor      NSG         NSG
hiragana            poor      good     poor       good       good
kanji               poor     medium    none       poor       N.S.G
languages          Korean     none    Korean     French     Chinese

Attitude towards learning Japanese

Importance (b)    not sure   fairly    NAA         VI         VI
Enjoyment (c)      fairly      V       N/A       fairly        V

Attitude towards learning kanji

Difficulty (d)      V D       V D      easy       V D         F D
Interest (e)         V                  V          V        fairly

Pseudonyms           Sara
Age                   36
Gender              female
Japan visit          none

Self reported language and script
ability (a)

Japanese             poor
hiragana             NSG
kanji                poor
languages         Indonesian

Attitude towards learning Japanese

Importance (b)      fairly
Enjoyment (c)         V

Attitude towards learning kanji

Difficulty (d)       F D
Interest (e)        fairly

(a) Japanese language and script ability--very poor, poor,
medium, not so good (NSG), good, excellent

(b) How important is it for you to learn Japanese?--not at all
important (NAA), not so important, fairly important (fairly),
important, very important (VI)

(c) How much do you like Japanese?--very much (V), fairly,
neutral, not very much, not at all (NAA)

(d) What do you think of kanji?--very difficult (VD), fairly
difficult (FD), neutral, easy, very easy

(e) What do you think of kanji?--very interesting (V), fairly
interesting, neutral, not very interesting, not interesting at
all
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Author:Gamage, Gayathri Haththotuwa
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Date:Nov 1, 2011
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