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Japanese context elaborations

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Japanese L8: Context elaborations

Students are expected to engage with and respond clearly and critically to a variety of extended texts, including authentic texts (those not created or modified specifically for language learners). They are expected to use the language more variably (flexibly) and with greater effectiveness (fitness for purpose and appropriateness), at times in sustained interactions and extended texts. They are expected to explore the views of others, develop and share personal perspectives, and justify, support, or challenge ideas and opinions in different situations and on matters that are beyond their immediate experience. In all their output, it is expected that students will use their developing knowledge of linguistic and cultural forms to help them create meaning.

The following context elaborations are examples for teacher guidance only. They should not be used as assessment tools.

Example 1: Conversation about holidays

たけし — 休みは どこかに行ったの?

ベン — うん。クィーンズタウン。

たけし — それ、どこ?

ベン — 南島のかんこう地だよ。

たけし — ふーん。どのぐらい 行っていたの?

ベン — 十日間。かぞくと行ったんだ。

たけし — えー、かぞくで十日間の旅行? それは長いね 。

ベン — うーん、そう? どうして たけしくんは、十日間が長いと思うの?

たけし — 日本で お父さんが そんなに長い休みをとるのは むりだと思うよ。

ベン — ええ、ほんとう? それは ちょっとざんねんだね。どうしてむりだと思うの?

たけし — さあ、多分、会社につとめている人は 仕事(しごと)を休むと ほかの人に めいわくをかけるからだと思う。たとえば、ぼくのお父さんは ぼくが小さい時に そんなに長い休みを とらなかったよ。でも、ぼくが大人になったら ちゃんと休みをとるつもり。

ベン — それはいいかんがえだね。あの…えっと、キーウィライフスタイル?それをけいけんしたから?

たけし — うん、そうだよ。ニュージーランドの生活(せいかつ)は いいと思うよ。

ベン — ニュージーランドで 生活をしてから、たけしくんは そう思うようになったんだね。ぼくもその方が いいと思うよ。仕事ばかりはよくないよ。たけしくんの休みはどうだった?

たけし — ぼくはホストファミリーの家で のんびりした。どこにも行かなかったけど。でも えいがを見たり、プールに行ったり、プレーステーションをしたりしたんだ 。

ベン — そう。よかったね。

Context and text type

Ben, a learner of Japanese, and Takeshi, a native speaker, have just returned from their holidays and are discussing what they have been up to. Ben has been to Queenstown and is talking to his friend Takeshi about the length of holidays.

Text type

Conversation, informal. Interactive.

Examples showing how the student is:

Communicating information, ideas, and opinions through increasingly extended and varied texts

Ben hypothesises as to why Takeshi’s viewpoint has changed:

  • ニュージーランドで生活(せいかつ)をしてからたけしくんはそう思うようになったんだね。

Both the thinking and the language are complex.

It is important to remember that this is spoken interaction. Therefore, spoken features such as pronunciation, intonation, rhythm patterns, delivery speed, audibility, and stress patterns have a bearing on the overall effectiveness of the communication and must also be taken into consideration.

Exploring the views of others

Ben asks Takeshi why he thought 10 days was a long break:

  • どうして、たけしくんは、十日間が長いと思うの。

This unscripted question leads to Ben and Takeshi discussing the reply in detail and exploring each others’ views.

Developing and sharing personal perspectives

During the interaction, Takeshi asks Ben to clarify what he said. This question invites the sharing of personal perspectives and helps sustain the conversation:

  • かぞくで十日間の旅行?

Justifying own ideas and opinions

Ben says he thinks it is a pity that Japanese tend not to take very long breaks:

  • それは ちょっとざんねんだね。

He reiterates this view throughout the interaction:

  • それはいいかんがえだね, ぼくもその方がいいと思うよ。

He justifies his perspective:

  •  仕事(しごと)ばかりはよくないね。

Supporting or challenging the ideas and opinions of others

Ben comments, using emotive words such as ざんねん, and then challenges Takeshi to explain why he said it was impossibleto take long breaks:

  • ええ、ほんとう? それは ちょっとざんねんだね。どうしてむりだと思うの?

Takeshi’s viewpoint changes as a result of being exposed to other cultural perspectives:

  • でも、ぼくが大人になったら ちゃんと休みをとるつもり。

Engaging in sustained interactions and producing extended texts

The text illustrates the use of conversation features such as and そう to help sustain the conversation:

  • それは ちょっとざんねんだね。, うーん、そう?  

Takeshi explains that Japanese people usually take only short breaks:

  • 日本で お父さんが そんなに長い休みをとるのは  むりだと思うよ。

He then explains why so that Ben can understand the traditional Japanese view that it is impossible to take a long break (four or more days). For a Westerner, the word impossible seems really strong in this instance, so Ben’s questioning provokes a deep and thoughtful response from Takeshi:

  • 多分、会社につとめている人は 仕事(しごと)を休むと ほかの人にめいわくをかけるからだと思う.

Note how Ben uses English to get his meaning across and keep the conversation going:

  • キーウィライフスタイル

Both Ben and Takeshi’s intercultural understanding develops when exposed to other perspectives:

  • ニュージーランドで生活(せいかつ)をしてからたけしくんはそう思うようになったんだね。

Exploring how linguistic meaning is conveyed across languages

The kanji 休 is used to convey rest. It can be seen in words such as 休日 (holiday, day off) and 休火山 (dormant volcano).

Kiwifruit can be written キウイ、キウィ、キーウィ、キーウィー, but most commonly is written キウイ. The bird is usually written キーウィ, the same word is used to refer to New Zealanders. Ben uses the English expression 'Kiwi lifestyle' with Japanese pronunciation, as is evidenced by the use of katakana:

  • キーウィライフスタイル 

He assumes that Takeshi will know what he means when he does this, as both speakers are located in New Zealand.

The written text uses katakana for words borrowed from other languages. Katakana script represents the sounds of a word when pronounced Japanese-style. For example, 'Playstation' becomes プレーステーション.

Analysing how the language expresses cultural meanings

The term キーウィライフスタイル (Kiwi lifestyle) carries cultural meaning, so both participants in the conversation may interpet it differently. Ben uses the term to authenticate his perspective on holidays as a New Zealand perspective.

The term ホストファミリー (host family) has cultural associations that appear to be shared by both participants in the interaction. It has been borrowed directly by the Japanese language to express a concept that was not historically part of Japanese culture.

Opportunities for developing intercultural communicative competence

In Japan, the older generation very rarely changes jobs. This dedication to the company and allegiance to one’s employer has led to the expression かろうし, which means 'death from overwork'. Members of the older generation tend not to take more than a couple of days off for a holiday as to do so creates extra work for their colleagues. The custom of おみやげ (bringing back souvenirs) developed at least partly as a means of apologising to colleagues for the inconvenience caused.

Investigate the younger generation in Japan and their attitudes towards work. Do the younger generation have that same strong connection to their company or employer? What is their attitude towards holidays?

Last updated March 27, 2013