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A case study of communicative competence


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Hirouchi, H 1993 , 'A case study of communicative competence', Unspecified thesis, University of Tasmania.

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In 1990 the Japanese Education Department decided to revise its foreign language
curriculum and to introduce a communicative competence component. This
implied a re-examination of assessment of foreign language education in the four
language skills speaking, listening, reading, and writing. This case study analyses
•the concept of communicative competence and investigates how we can improve
communicative competence in foreign language education.
Fifty Japanese and Australian students at high schools learning each others'
language were given questionnaires about their classes in foreign language. The
emphasis in this study was on the student's own assessment (self assessment) of
their communicative competence. Communicative competence may be defined as
the ability to communicate using not only the correct grammar and vocabularly,
but to use it in a socially appropriate (for that culture) manner.
The results of the questionnaire and interviews conducted with teachers reveals
interesting differences between the two student groups. Japanese students
generally felt less confident in their own ability to clearly express ideas in English
compared to the Australian students in a similar situation. The results are
interpreted in terms of the different methods of teaching typically used in the two
countries. In Japan, foreign language education is based on the formalist
approach while in Australia the activist approach is favoured. These two differing approaches are a reflection in part of certain differences in
culture and the ultimate goal in foreign language teaching. In Japan, foreign
•language teaching (predominantly English) is based on the goal of a student's
achievement in a written examination for University examination. In Australia
there is an emphasis on learning the language as well as aspects of the culture
associated with it. As a result Australian students believe that the language is not
only enjoyable but also is is helpful to their future career. This results in different
motivations for the students. The two approaches to the teaching also result in differences in cognitive ability.
The activist approach compared with the formalist approach requires continual
participation by the student in the learning process to develop language skills
through the active use of language and communicative competence abilities.
Japanese students compared with Australian students have a poorer ability in
communication, although their knowledge of vocabularly and grammar rules may
be greater. They are unable to apply knowledge from one area of language
education because their course is not suitable balanced with regard to effective
There are many social factors that impinge on successful foreign language
learning. Many of these may be overcome if a balanced curricula is adopted. It is
the suggestion of this thesis that in order to improve foreign language education
in Japan the cultural differences between the cultures will need to be recognised
and appropriate teaching methods adopted.

Item Type: Thesis - Unspecified
Authors/Creators:Hirouchi, H
Keywords: Language and languages, Languages, Modern, Intercultural communication, Second language acquisition, Communicative competence, Japanese language, English language
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 1993 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Includes bibliographical references (leaves 70-73). Thesis (M.Ed.)--University of Tasmania, 1994

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