The Role of Culture in Second Language Learning with Special Reference to the Japanese Students at the International School of Düsseldorf

Mertin, Patricia Anne. 2006. The Role of Culture in Second Language Learning with Special Reference to the Japanese Students at the International School of Düsseldorf. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis examines the role of culture in English language learning for Japanese students at the International School of Düsseldorf (ISD) and the effect this has on the rate at which these students master English to the level required for academic success.

English is the language of instruction in international schools all over the world. Many of multi-lingual multi-cultural students only remain in the school for a few years before their parents are transferred to other assignments by their employers. Non-native English speakers need to master English in order to study successfully and are generally assisted in this by English as a Second Language (ESL) departments.

At ISD Japanese students make up 25% of the high school population. It was observed, over a period of time, that these students took longer to reach English competence and exit ESL classes than their peers of other nationalities. This ethnographic study is based on observation of classes in Japanese schools, both in Japan and Germany, together with participant observation, interviews, questionnaires, student responses and case studies at ISD over a period of six years. Data collection concentrated on three key areas the school, the family and friendships. The research includes a close examination of teaching and learning as it is understood in Japanese schools compared with the culture of teaching and learning in an international school. Similarly the role of the family in the lives of young adolescents and their attitudes to friendships is examined.

The results show that the culturally determined Japanese norms of teaching and learning, together with the expectations of families and friendships contrast so starkly with those of an international school that often neither the teachers nor the students are able to communicate their needs successfully. The resulting lack of progress is shown to be due to the cultural mis-match of understandings and expectations and leads to a situation which can only be resolved through greater knowledge and understanding of culture and its effects on learning.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.25602/GOLD.00028595

Keywords:

English language learning, Japanese students, international schools, Düsseldorf

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Educational Studies

Date:

March 2006

Item ID:

28595

Date Deposited:

02 Jun 2020 10:02

Last Modified:

02 Jun 2020 10:02

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/28595

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