Language Studies

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    Cultural and linguistic adaptation among Japanese women migrants in New Zealand : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Modern Languages at Massey University
    (Massey University, 1986) Natusch, Barry Antony
    A survey af the cultural and linguistic adaptation of 76 married Japanese women in New Zealand was carried out by means of interviews and language tests. Two basic sub-groups were identified: those who were married to Japanese husbands (INTRA subjects) and those who were interculturally married (INTER subjects). A number of marked differences, in particular those related to age and marriage type, were observed to exist between these INTRA and INTER groups. The INTER subjects appeared to have made a smoother cultural adaptation to life in New Zealand than those in the INTRA group. The INTRA subjects all identified themselves culturally as Japanese as did the more recently arrived INTER subjects. However, some of the INTER group who had lived in New Zealand for many years appeared to have a cultural identity which was neither fully Japanese nor western. The migrants continued to maintain the Japanese language for communicating among themselves although it did not seem to be passed on to the children of the INTER subjects. A considerable shift from Japanese to English was observed among the INTER subjects but was less evident among subjects in the INTRA group. Levels of oral proficiency in English were not particularly high among the subjects, ranging between 0+ and 3+ on the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) assessment scale. Most of the INTRA group were assessed between level 0+ and 1+ on the scale whereas the majority of INTER subjects scored between levels 2 and 3+. This difference in oral proficiency was due mainly to influences associated with intercultural marriage. An analysis of the subjects' oral English revealed that the INTRA subjects had higher frequencies of error in their English than the INTER subjects. Many phonological errors appeared to be due to interference from Japanese. An analysis of grammatical errors involving noun morphology, verb morphology and article usage, however, suggested several possible causes of error including interference, oversimplification, the learners' false hypotheses, faulty instruction and idiosyncratic variation. The nature and frequency of these errors resulted in pidginlike characteristics being observed in the subjects' English. Lexical errors and communication strategies employed by the subjects were also described.
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    'I don't learn at school, so I take tuition' : an ethnographic study of classroom practices and private tuition settings in the Maldives : a dissertation presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Second Language Teaching at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
    (Massey University, 2012) Mariya, Maryam
    This study explores the classroom practices of both secondary classrooms and private tuition settings in the Maldives. By adopting ethnographic methods of data collection informed by an interview as social practice approach, the study aimed to further understanding of these practices in urban and rural classrooms and in private tuition settings in the context of the Maldives. Qualitative data was collected through observation, interview and document analysis over the course of nine months. Detailed observations of the learning sites and interview as social practice were applied when conducting interviews with teachers, students and parent in the three various settings. Participants of this study included six teachers from the two secondary schools; students and parents from both schools; six private tuition teachers; and four students and parents from private tuition settings. Rich contextual data was obtained relating to classroom practices, and private tuition settings and their interrelationship in the Maldives. The analysis of the data was on-going throughout the observations. Thematic analysis was adopted within an interview as social practice approach, by examining the ‘hows’ as well as the ‘whats’ of the interviews. The detailed ethnographic ‘thick descriptions’ were analysed, including in-depth reflection on the interviews and how they were used as communication tools in social situations. The findings of the study revealed that the practices of teachers and students in the classrooms were shaped by: the sustained mini exam sessions of teaching and learning, the absence of teachers’ voices in decision-making; teacher-centred approaches; passive learning; the physical conditions of the classrooms; and ever-present concerns about noise and managing time in the classroom. The analysis was extended to uncover the complex reasons that led students and their parents to opt for private tuition, and how these reasons were interrelated with classroom practices. In addition, it was found that teachers preferred to give private tuition not only for financial reasons, but also to counterbalance some of the pressures they experienced in classroom settings. The study revealed the value of the interview as social practice approach within an ethnographic study as well as the need for sustained enquiry within and across both classroom and private tuition settings so as to reveal the meaning and significance of the practices that form learning contexts in both public and private contexts in the Maldives.
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    Written feedback in a freshman writing course in the U.A.E. : instructors' and students' perspectives on giving, getting and using feedback : a dissertation presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Second Language Teaching at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
    (Massey University, 2008) Shine, Elva Anne
    Instructors' frustration with the feedback/revision cycle in a tertiary setting provided the impetus for this study examining the complex issue of written feedback on L2 writing. Areas of contention considered included the type of feedback offered, when to offer it and how to present it to encourage maximum use by students as well as the actual use students made of the written feedback. An ethnographic approach led to three case studies being conducted in academic writing classes in a university in the United Arab Emirates. The students' and the instructors' perspectives were drawn on as well as those of other interested parties including other instructors in the department and writing center tutors. Interviews, focus groups and email exchanges were the principle sources used to gather participants' views. In addition, students answered questionnaires on instructor and peer feedback procedures. Essays were examined in terms of instructor and peer feedback, and the students' responses to that feedback were examined. The data gathered from these sources exposed contradictions and misunderstandings. It appeared that students had little faith in peer feedback but a strong desire for instructor feedback, which they believed they used when revising; however, instructors doubted that most students made any significant use of feedback or even revised productively. Examination of the essays suggested that: instructors did not always offer the feedback they intended to offer focusing more on grammar than content, and sometimes instructors underestimated how much feedback students attempted to act on. The study identified that key problems for students were: understanding the extent of revisions anticipated, knowing what to concentrate their efforts on and knowing how to act on the feedback, especially if they had exhausted their ideas on a topic. In addition, the difficulty of providing clear, usable feedback suggests that rather than relying extensively on written feedback, other ways of assisting students to revise their writing should be considered. The study suggests that feedback that relates explicitly to classroom instruction, and exposure to revision strategies are two techniques that offer a lot of potential for improving students' responses to written feedback. Instructors should also consider making their feedback strategies and expectations of the students explicit. Finally, individual variables mean that it is unlikely that one approach will work for all students; therefore, instructors need to be flexible and respond according to the needs of the student.
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    A comparative study of the language used by New Zealand children of European and of Samoan descent aged 6 years 10 months to 8 years in conversation with an adult : a dissertation presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Language at Massey University
    (Massey University, 1979) Moynihan, Isobel Mary
    The research represents an attempt to establish some normative data for the oral language performance of native-English speaking children aged 6 years 10 months to 8 years in conversation with an adult, and by examining the performance of Samoan children in the same age-group to determine those areas which discriminate most strongly between the performances of both groups. Children were interviewed individually and the conversations recorded over a thirty-minute period. Tapes were transcribed on the same day as the recording, and the data quantified according to the procedures of Developmental Sentence Analysis Lee, L.L. and Koenigsknecht 1974, Developmental Sentence Analysis., which established a rank-order for each group. A more detailed analysis of the data was then made in order to identify those areas of development and/or of uncertainty which were common to both groups, and those which appeared only, or mainly, among the Samoan children. The statistical analysis, based on the developmental weighting of syntactic items, (DSS scores) indicated that where errors were specific to the Samoan children they occurred in structures described as early-developing among native-English speaking children. At the higher developmental levels, the performance of Samoan children above the 50th percentile (for that group) was similar to that of their English speaking age-mates. The classification of error-patterns also distinguished between 'growth errors' (where performance was characterized by over-generalizing or by substitution, for example), and 'deficiency errors' (where morphemes and syntactic items were omitted), the latter occurring more consistently among the Samoan children. In addition, a general indication of language development in relation to chronological age was derived by comparing the DSS scores of the Samoan children falling below the 25th percentile for that group with those obtained by younger children at the 50th percentile point for each one-year interval from age 4 to age 6. In the absence of New Zealand DSS norms for these age-levels, it was necessary to use those derived from a study of American children (Lee 1974), but the results are in accord with other New Zealand-based studies (See 0.1, Introduction) which have noted the "two-year gap" appearing around age 7 among Polynesian children when their achievement on a variety of measures and tests is compared with that of their Pakeha age-mates. In the present study, the "gap" ranged from about 20 months at the 25th percentile (for the Samoan group) to over 41 months at the 10th percentile. The general intention has been to sharpen the focus for teachers wishing to develop compensatory language programmes so that effort may be directed to those specific areas where non-native speaking children appear to have missed a developmental stage in their acquisition of English. The findings also suggest that difficulty with certain syntactic structures, semantic concepts, and phonological realizations is a function of age-level and the language-situation for both groups of subjects rather than of the ethnic background of the Samoan group.
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    Motivational influences affecting female long-term learners of English in Japan : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy (Humanities and Social Sciences) in Second Language Teaching, Massey University, Manawatu, New Zealand
    (Massey University, 2010) Watabe, Kathryn Mary
    This study explores the influences that have affected the motivational development of a group of adult Japanese female long-term learners of English. The participants in this study are representative of large numbers of Japanese women who continue to invest significant amounts of time and money into learning English over many years but whose circumstances mean that they do not appear to fit traditional theories of motivation in which integrative or instrumental factors are central. This study also shows that in order to understand the development of motivation in long-term learners it is necessary to consider the individual within the context of a range of wider social forces. I use the Life Stages approach to better understand the way in which the learning situation and experiences of these women have been affected by the reality of their social and domestic roles during different periods in their lives as English students. This study also supports Dörnyei’s theory of the Ideal-L2-Self (2009) as more useful than previous theories of integrativeness, which do not appear to be relevant to the context of these learners, in understanding the motivational development of these women. The study found that the Ideal-L2-Self changed for these women as they moved through the different Life Stages but that it was the Ideal-L2-Self that was able to sustain their interest in studying English despite negative and frustrating learning experiences. The study found that while these women may by some measures not be considered to be serious English students due to the fact that they did not seek to integrate into an English-language community, the experience of being long-term learners of English had been significant in the lives of these women. In particular, as mature students of English, these women have been able to participate in a socially sanctioned activity that allows them to develop an aspect of themselves that is separate to their domestic roles.
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    Home and away : blogging emotions in a Persian virtual dowreh : a thesis presented in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics and Second Language Teaching at Massey University
    (Massey University, 2011) Zare, Samad
    This study explores the creation of a virtual dowreh (family/social circle) via Persian language weblogs among a group of Iranian migrants in Australia. The motivation and inspiration for this study arose from my own experience as a migrant. I became interested in looking at how the new generation of Iranian migrants use weblogs to form digital diasporas and why they publish their emotional experiences online, thereby adding to the understanding of a relatively under-researched community. The study draws upon a sociocultural approach in order to bring to light the role of weblogs in the context of the most recent Iranian migration and the way Iranian migrants use them to replace dowrehs disrupted by the migration experience where they could perform cultural identities and express and share their emotions. Using a grounded theory approach and discourse analysis to blog posts, the study investigates the expression of emotional challenges, expectations, and cultural performances of a group of Persian diasporic bloggers. The exploration of a diasporic virtual dowreh produced several interesting results. The findings suggest the possibility of online community formation via weblogs where Iranians could meet and perform cultural identities which are not available to them in the host society. Two characteristics that marked the virtual dowreh were the type of Persian language used and the interaction between the bloggers and their audience. The analysis demonstrated that interactions between the bloggers and their audience via commenting functions were noticeably governed by Iranian notions of politeness and other Persian rules of decorum and cultural practices. The analysis also illustrated that the language used in the virtual dowreh was a combination of written and spoken Persian, Internet jargon, weblog terms, and concepts from the host society. Furthermore, the exploration of the emotional challenges of the bloggers revealed that certain emotions such as homesickness and self-conscious emotions were among the major sources of emotion in the diaspora and indexed the bloggers‟ Iranian diasporic identities online. The study concludes with the importance of weblogs for Iranian migrants in creating virtual dowrehs where they could practise/perform cultural identities and express and thereby share their emotional experience.
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    Keep them coming back : an investigation and analysis of adult eikaiwa classes in Japan : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Second Language Teaching at Massey University, Palmerston North Campus, New Zealand
    (Massey University, 2010) Banwell, Donal Rory Sean
    Eikaiwa, or private English language classes for adults in Japan, can be characterized as being relatively small, having teachers from English-speaking countries and students that are looking for face-to-face interaction in the English language. The aim of this research is to gain a deeper understanding of what goes on in these EFL classrooms. More specifically the purpose is to give a thick holistic description of four adult English language classrooms. The study is located in a qualitative paradigm and uses the ethnographic methods of interviews, focus groups and participant observation to collect the data. The data was collected from four different classrooms in Utsunomiya, a city 100km north of Tokyo. The results of the study can be divided into three major themes. Firstly, the study showed that the sociocultural factors of the context influenced the content and behaviour in these classrooms. Secondly, in this context, unique classroom cultures were formed with participants involved in ‗sociopedagogical relationships‘ as they adjusted to create a comfortable environment with mutual understandings. And lastly, often the sociolinguistic aspects of language learning are given secondary importance as participants focused on the more tangible and easier to understand aspects of language learning. The research suggests that the participants in these classes need a greater awareness of the sociocultural influences on language learning and teaching and the sociolinguistic nature of language use. Implications about classroom practice are drawn in relation to the teaching of intercultural communicative competence (ICC) in conjunction with using certain basic principles from ethnography to address these needs.
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    Teacher cognition about technology-mediated EFL instruction in the Thai tertiary context : a thesis presented in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Second Language Teaching at Massey University
    (Massey University, 2010) Suwannasom, Thitirat
    Drawing on theories of teacher cognition and sociocultural frameworks, this study investigates Thai university English lecturers’ cognition about integrating Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in English language instruction and writing instruction in Thai tertiary contexts. A more specific goal is to investigate technology-using teachers’ personal principles and practices in their teaching contexts. The study was guided by the following research questions: What is the nature of Thai tertiary teacher cognition about the use of technology in EFL instruction? What is the nature of Thai tertiary teacher cognition about the use of technology in EFL writing instruction? How do Thai tertiary teachers perceive their practices and roles in relation to their technology-mediated EFL instruction in particular settings? In Thai tertiary education, what are the sociocultural aspects that shape teacher cognition and practice about technology-mediated EFL teaching? A teacher cognition questionnaire was designed and administered to 47 Thai EFL lecturers in seven public universities; semi-structured interviews and scenario-based tasks were conducted with seven lecturers; unstructured interviews and observations were carried out with three teachers who used technology in their classroom teaching in order to gain a better understanding of their situated perceptions about the use of technology in particular teaching and learning contexts. The results reveal that university EFL teachers’ views of technology are highly shaped by both their teaching environment and individual beliefs about English language learning. When teachers apply technology in their instruction, they also apply their personal principles or maxims that guide their practices. In addition, a number of sociocultural aspects emerged in teachers’ views about technology use in their EFL teaching contexts giving rise to theoretical implications about how teacher cognition is conceptualised. Some of the major implications for practice include: the need to encourage EFL teachers to reflect on their teaching principles relevant to their working contexts; the value of providing teachers with models of technology use in tertiary EFL teaching; and the maximisation of the use of available technology to support local practices. Implications for methodology include the use of multiple context-specific instruments and methods to elicit teachers’ underlying beliefs and perspectives about technology-mediated teaching.
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    Interpretation of contextualization cues in Japanese conversation : back-channel cues and turn-taking cues : a thesis presented in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics and Second Language Teaching at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
    (Massey University, 2003) Ishida, Hiroji
    This study investigates receptive strategies used by learners of Japanese, focusing on their on-line knowledge of three back-channel (BC) cues (uun, a soo na n desu ka and ee), and two turn-taking cues (one relating to initiating speech, and the other relating to yielding a turn to speak), as they occur in spontaneous conversation between native speakers of Japanese. A contextualization cue (CC) is any feature of language and behaviour including verbal and non-verbal signs which a speaker uses to signal his/her communicative intent, as demonstrated in the work of Gumperz (1982a, 1982b, 1992, 1996). In this study, learners' perception and interpretation of CCs are compared with those of native speakers of Japanese. In addition, the study aims to explore different levels of the receptive competence of learners by making use of a range of tasks with varying degrees of complexity. The data for this study was collected from 11 Japanese native speakers and 14 learners of Japanese, using five video clips as stimulus material and five types of tasks. A semantic differential (SD) stimulated recall task was designed to examine their perception and interpretation of CCs. SD items in the task for each clip were carefully designed on the basis of native and non-native informants' comments on each cue. A stimulated recall (SR) task was developed to elicit comments on the cue under study by pointing to a very short excerpt. A multiple-choice task was designed to elicit interpretations of the meaning of each cue based on the explicit highlighting of the cue along with a written description of the dialogue and background A rating task was developed to examine subjects' judgements on the importance of verbal and non-verbal cues. A ranking task was developed to examine their judgements about the main functions of conversation. The analysis reveals differences between the two groups in the perception and interpretation of CCs. Japanese subjects tend to judge BC cues as indicators of 'listening' or 'understanding', whereas learners of Japanese have a strong tendency to judge them as indicators of 'interest' or 'agreement'. In addition, those native speakers' interpretations lead to the interpretation of 'making the speaker feel comfortable', while those of the learners do not. Moreover, the difference in the perception of CCs, participants' appearances and setting (e.g., where the conversation takes place) causes different interpretations of the formality in conversation and the social distance of participants. Theoretical, methodological, and pedagogical implications of the study are presented. The study indicates four concrete areas which need to be focused on in Japanese language teaching: 1) verbal cues; 2) prosodic features; 3) non-verbal features; and 4) cultural values. Suggestions for future research are discussed as part of the conclusion of the study.
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    An exploratory study of motivation and self-regulated learning in second language acquisition : Kanji learning as a task focused approach : a thesis presented in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master in Second Language Teaching at Massey University, Manawatu, New Zealand
    (Massey University, 2010) Hirata, Akie
    This study aimed to identify motivational factors affecting self-regulated learning (SRL) in the context of second language acquisition. Rather than investigating learners’ overall disposition toward their learning, it focused on a particular task, the learning of kanji in Japanese, in order to provide a clearer picture of the complex relationship between motivation and SRL. Using quantitative methods, the underlying structure of motivation and SRL was explored and the relationships among the extracted factors were examined. On the basis of a self-administered questionnaire specifically developed for this study, the data were obtained from 381 tertiary students studying Japanese at one of the seven cooperating institutions in New Zealand. Principal components analyses identified three motivational orientations (intrinsic, instrumental mastery, and performance orientation), four sources of motivation (self-efficacy, self-concept, extrinsic value, and intrinsic value), and four types of self-regulation (behavioural, environmental, cognitive, and metacognitive regulation) involved in kanji learning. The results of correlational analyses revealed a number of significant relationships suggesting the interdependence of the identified constructs. However, instrumental mastery, performance orientation, and extrinsic value did not predict students’ use of SRL. Further investigation of individual and situational factors indicated that learning opportunities outside the classroom possibly confounded the significant relationships between these non-predictors and SRL. On the other hand, intrinsic orientation, self-concept, self-efficacy, and intrinsic value were identified as significant predictors of SRL in general. These significant predictors displayed a unique contribution to different types of SRL. The results show that intrinsic interest in kanji learning is necessary for cognitive and metacognitive regulation. A sense of positive self-concept, on the other hand, influences environmental regulation while self-efficacy beliefs facilitate behavioural regulation. Overall, self-concept was found to be the best predictor of the use of SRL. However, self-efficacy is another important factor since students who used behavioural regulation tend to use a wider variety of strategies to self-regulate their own learning. In this study, the interactions of identified motivational constructs and their possible effects on SRL are discussed. The study concludes with a discussion of practical and theoretical implications of the findings along with suggestions for future research.