Differences in comprehension strategies for discourse understanding by native Chinese and Korean speakers learning Japanese Katsuo Tamaoka Graduate School of Languages and Cultures, Nagoya University, Japan. Introduction. Results. (3) Duration of Japanese language learning
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Differences in comprehension strategies for discourse understandingby native Chinese and Korean speakers learning JapaneseKatsuo Tamaoka Graduate School of Languages and Cultures, Nagoya University, Japan
(3) Duration of Japanese language learning
Selecting 80 pairs resulted in a total of 160 undergraduate students (80 native Chinese and 80 native Korean speakers) learning the Japanese language in China or Korea. All participants were specializing in the Japanese language for their academic studies, and had just completed their first or second year. Each group of eighty consisted of 40 students who had completed their first-year course and 40 who had completed their second-year course. This selection procedure assured the equal learning duration of both groups. In the reading comprehension test, both groups obtained the same mean scores of 3.45 points with the same standard deviation of 1.87 points for the first year, and 5.08 points with the same standard deviation of 1.56 points. A 2 (native language: Chinese or Korean) ☓ 2 (duration of study: first or second year) analysis of variance (ANOVA) performed on scores of reading comprehension revealed a significant difference between two groups of first and second year of study duration [F(1,156)=36.346, p<.001] while mother tongue of Chinese or Korean showed no difference [F(1,156)=0.000, p=1.000, n.s. ].
The same number of 53 female and 27 male participants were selected in the matching procedure for pairing native Chinese and Korean speakers. An independent samples t-test indicated no difference in scores of reading comprehension between female (n=106, M=4.21, SD=1.71) and male (n=54, M=4.37, SD=2.18) students [t(158)=-0.518, n.s.].
Native Chinese and Korean speakers are often classified together as Japanese learners with Chinese character (hereafter, kanji) backgrounds. Even though the Korean language shows a great similarity in grammar to the Japanese language, kanji is seldom used in modern Korean written text. Conversely, Chinese grammar is different from Japanese, but Chinese texts are almost all written in kanji. Since native Chinese and Korean speakers seem to have quite distinct language backgrounds, the present study assumed that these two linguistically-diverse populations of Japanese learners may reflect different strategies to understand the Japanese language. Therefore, Chinese and Koreans were selected for structural equation modeling (SEM) multi-group analysis in order to depict the causal relationships of second language (L2) lexical and grammatical knowledge to discourse understanding.
n=160 (80 native Korean and
80 native Chinese speakers).
χ2=79.322, df=64, p=.094 (ns.).
CFI=.973. RMSEA=.039 (p<.05).
- Ability tests
The pair-matched sampling method was utilized for selecting 80 pairs of native Chinese and Korean speakers learning Japanese, by matching four characteristics of (1) age, (2) gender, (3) duration of Japanese language learning, and (4) scores for Japanese reading comprehension (i.e., no differences in these characteristics between Chinese and Koreans).
Figure 1 SEM multi-group analysis with standardized path coefficients - Relationship between grammar/word
knowledge and discourse understanding performed by native Korean and Chinese speakers
The SEM multi-group analysis converged to a proper solution with excellent fit [χ2(64)=79.322, p=.094, n.s.; GFI=.914; AGFI=.852; CFI=.973; RMSEA=0.039, p<.05] which guarantees direct comparison of both Chinese and Korean groups within the same model. The results were depicted in Figure 1 separately for each group.
Causal Relations of the Model
Chinese speakers displayed a significant causal relation directed from lexical knowledge to discourse comprehension (beta=.78, p<.001) while they showed no significant causal relation directed from grammatical knowledge to discourse comprehension (beta=.15, n.s.). These results indicate that Chinese speakers rely heavily on their lexical knowledge for discourse comprehension. In contrast, Korean speakers showed significant causal relations directed from both lexical (beta=.40, p<.001) and grammatical (beta=.52, p<.001) knowledge toward discourse comprehension. A correlation between lexical and grammatical knowledge was very high (r=.70, p<.001), so both knowledge types were likely to be acquired in a mutually-related fashion. The results suggest that Korean speakers use a balanced approach of lexical and grammatical knowledge for discourse comprehension.
By controlling multiple characteristics of Chinese and Korean speakers learning Japanese, the present study depicted the contrast between the two first language (L1) linguistic backgrounds, showing a clear strategic difference toward L2 Japanese discourse understanding. Chinese speakers rely heavily on their lexical knowledge for discourse comprehension. Since Japanese words listed in a dictionary are presented in kanj(Yokosawa & Umeda, 1988), it is efficient for Chinese speakers to comprehend Japanese discourse using their kanji knowledge of Chinese by jumping conceptual words to construct semantic context.
In contrast, Japanese grammar highly resembles to Korean grammar. For Korean speakers, it is more efficient to utilize both grammar and lexical knowledge for discourse comprehension.
Presented at the Architecture and Mechanisms for language processing (AMLaP), September 8, 2012, Riva del Garda, Italy.