Learners: Activity 1

Who are the learners?

Please read the information about learner characteristics before working through these activities.

Look at each learner’s entire interview. Answer questions on the individual personalities and backgrounds of the two learners.

  1. How long they have been learning Japanese, and what kind of exposure to Japanese they have had: Was it communication-oriented or accuracy-oriented?
  2. Whether they began learning Japanese before the end of the critical period
  3. Educational and literacy level; present and past purposes for learning Japanese
  4. Whether their present orientation is to either communication or accuracy
  5. Personality
  6. Motivation
  7. Learning styles and strategies
  8. Other possibly relevant traits

Sebastian Interview

Transcript (PDF)

Maximus Interview

Transcript (PDF)

Please type your answers to the questions in the box below.

When you have finished typing your answer, click to compare your response with the Learner Language staff response.

  1. How long have they been learning Japanese, and what kind of exposure to Japanese have they had? Was it communication-oriented or accuracy-oriented?
    Maximus has studied Japanese for 7 years. He first participated in Concordia Language Villages when he was 13. He also took Japanese in high school and college. When he was in high school, he studied in Japan for 1 year as an exchange student and lived with a host family in a rural area in Japan. His learning in formal classrooms had more accuracy orientation.
    Sebastian has studied Japanese for almost 3 years. His learning took place mostly in college formal classrooms that had more accuracy orientation. He studied in Japan for 3 months and lived with a host family in Tokyo metro area. His learning in formal classrooms had more accuracy orientation.

  2. Did they begin learning Japanese before the end of the critical period?
    Maximus began learning Japanese at 13 and Sebastian at 19. They were probably past the critical period. Maximus has less English accent than Sebastian, possibly because he began learning the language earlier and was exposed to the target language longer. It is hard to tell whether and how their age influenced their pronunciation.

  3. What is their educational and literacy level, present and past purpose for learning Japanese?
    Both Maximus and Sebastian are undergraduates. Both said they wanted to learn Japanese because they preferred a “challenging language" to acquire.

  4. Is their present orientation to either communication or accuracy?
    Maximus seems to be more oriented to communication than accuracy. He says his experience in Japan was where he really learned the language.
    Sebastian talks positively about his formal classroom experience that emphasized reading and writing; he said classes were “fun” and his teachers were “nice.” Therefore, his orientation may be more to accuracy. However, he seems to focus on meaning at times, too. For instance, he did not respond to any corrective feedback given by the interviewer.

  5. What personality trait might affect their language use?
    Both seem to be confident communicators and risk takers. They did not seem too nervous even though they were filmed while they were completing the given tasks.

  6. What is their motivation for learning Japanese?
    Both said they chose Japanese because it seemed more challenging. They may be risk-takers, in that they do not take the ‘safest’ or ‘easiest’ language.

  7. What learning styles and strategies do they prefer?
    Neither has much exposure to Japanese outside class. Maximus occasionally speaks to his former host family on the phone; Sebastian uses Japanese when he goes to Japanese restaurants. Therefore, their current learning styles may be more focused on reading and writing, which takes place in formal classrooms.

  8. Other possibly relevant traits?
    They are both male.


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