Learners: Activity 4 

Predict their performance in using Japanese

  1. Look at each learner’s fluency, accuracy and complexity in the interview in two places: where they talk about their language learning history, and where they summarize the plot of a movie. Is your impression of the learner’s fluency, accuracy and complexity different when they address these different topics? If it is, why does that happen?

  2. Look at the six tasks the learners will do. Make a prediction about whether they will be able to do each task, and if so, how well.

  3. If these two learners were in your class, would you make any adjustments in the way you would teach them, based on their learning background and individual differences? Explain. How well do you think these learners would perform in YOUR classes?

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

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  1. Talking about their language learning history seems like a relatively “easy” topic for both Sebastian and Maximus. They sound fluent, relatively accurate, and use complex syntax in their speech. However, when they are asked to summarize the plot of a movie they have watched, their fluency, accuracy, and complexity all suffer. They probably have had many opportunities to talk about their language learning experiences and know the vocabulary. In contrast, probably it is their first time to summarize the plot of the movie and both struggle trying to find the right words and phrases.

  2. Question Task:
    Since forming questions in Japanese is fairly simple -- basically only adding a particle -ka to the predicate -- , both Sebastian and Maximus will probably be able to complete this task accurately. If they are strategic, they may ask questions about the words or phrases they do not know.

    Retell Task:
    Although the learners have a chance to ask questions before they tell the story, it might be difficult for them to do it without the necessary vocabulary and forms or time to practice. Their production might not be accurate. Or they might avoid talking about things they do not know the vocabulary for.

    Narrative Task:
    They should know the words and forms to tell the story. However, they may not be very accurate since they are completing the task without practice.

    Jigsaw Task:
    They should be able to complete the task although they may have some trouble with particles when locating items. They will probably refer only to the items they know the vocabulary for.

    Comparison Task:
    They will probably be able to talk about the number of residents in each house, what kind of jobs they might have, etc., but it will be hard for them to talk about social class and American culture. They probably do not have the vocabulary to talk about such abstract topics in Japanese and may end up using English words or even switch to English.

  3. Both would actively participate in communicative tasks.

For Sebastian, who did not notice the recasts provided in the interview, I would provide more explicit instruction to work more on his accuracy. In addition, I would also work more on the coherence in his speech; I would design tasks that would ask him to spontaneously produce a monologue, such as narrative task, retelling task, etc. After completing the task, I would either give him feedback or review his production together.

For Maximus who mostly noticed the interviewer’s recasts, I would continue to use this type of corrective feedback. He did very well when talking about himself, but his accuracy and fluency suffered when he was summarizing a movie he watched. I may give him a variety of topics to talk about in monologue tasks such as narrative tasks or retelling tasks to expand his vocabulary. After completing the tasks, I would either give him feedback or review his production together.


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