Online Materials for Teaching Japanese

Online Materials for Teaching Japanese

Kai Masumi (University of Guam, Guam)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-880-2.ch013
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Abstract

This chapter discusses how to adapt online learning to teach Japanese language courses. The author overviews the current language education situation in Japan, introducing the existing online Japanese courses and examine their content. Online learning is convenient because learners can learn at any time or place. However, learning Japanese online has a problem, namely a complicated typing system. The author details how typing in Japanese can be an obstruction to learning online. She also discusses the merits of typing exercises. Their previous research shows that learning Japanese characters at an early stage of learning can improve the students’ listening ability. The author introduces hiragana and katakana software which can enhance the learning of characters. Finally, she describes a system to monitor the students’ progress and involvement and how to incorporate online learning with face-toface instruction.
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Background

Merits and Demerits of Online Learning

There are two types of online learning. One is distance learning. The instructor and the learners are at different locations. The learners participate in the class through the internet. This type of education existed even before the prevalence of the internet by using satellites. The other type has learners accessing a Web site and self-study materials. In this chapter, I discuss the self-study type of online learning. The term online learning refers to this type.

There are several advantages to online learning. First, learners can manage their own time and can study any time and at any place they want. They can also study at their own pace. Second, learners do not have to wait for the teacher to correct their answers. Usually exercises on online learning sites give results instantly. Third, the learners get colorful visual information. Most Japanese textbooks contain few pictures. If there are pictures, they are usually in black and white. The textbooks for beginners mainly focus on grammar. Because of the learner’s lack of vocabulary and grammatical knowledge, the beginner’s textbook does not include much reading materials. Learners, however, can read and learn about Japan in their native language through the internet.

Although online learning has many merits, there are also demerits. As all of us have experienced, one has to click around to find the page we are looking for. It takes time to get used to the site and to know where the information is that we want to see. If internet access speed is slow, it is frustrating and time consuming. If the learner has a question in the middle of practice, there is no one to ask. Currently, online exercises only use multiple choice or right-or-wrong type questions. The computer cannot correct or grade composition or speech. When the learner makes mistakes, the computer gives only the correct answer or model answer; it does not explain why it was a mistake or how to improve the mistake. The most crucial demerit of online learning is the fact that the learner interacts with a machine. It is not like actual interaction with other people as in a normal situation where language is used.

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