Second Language Acquisition Processes in the Classroom: Learning Japanese

By Amy Snyder Ohta | Go to book overview

Chapter 1—
From Social Tool to Cognitive Resource:
Foreign Language Development as a Process of Dynamic Internalization

Language is acquired through social interaction—through the use of language in settings of daily life.1 Foreign and second language (L2) classrooms are a key daily life setting in which language acquisition occurs. This book provides an intimate view of language learning in the foreign language classroom setting by taking a longitudinal case study approach. The interactive data that inform this study were gathered from a group of adult learners of Japanese who were followed through the academic year as they participated in their foreign language classes. The processes revealed in this book will be of interest to teachers and researchers who work with any second or foreign language, and also contribute to the little-researched area of Japanese L2 development. This book provides an opportunity to better understand how learners develop facility in a foreign language through the classroom learning experience. The data show us how learners grapple with problems ranging from the difficulties of pronunciation and sentence structure to problems of interactional style. We learn how interactional processes build into a growing L2 proficiency over time. The Japanese language is typologically distant from English; observing the Japanese language development of English speakers provides an excellent opportunity to understand how learners construct new understandings of a language very different from their own. A discourse-based case-study approach gathers the voices of the teachers and learners to provide an excellent

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1
A portion of this chapter was previously presented at the 1999 Second Language Research Forum held at the University of Minnesota. Some of the material on language play discussed in this chapter was presented in Ohta (1998).

-1-

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