Color Coding Japanese Kana for Second Language Acquisition


In this research, the pedagogical effects of endowing alphabetical properties on Japanese Hiragana by phonetically mapping the Kana syllabary to their respective vowel phonemes with a color code as well as mapping diacritical marks color coded to each character’s respective consonant group are studied. This phonetic color coding system mapped to Japanese Kana was tested on a group of native English speakers with no prior knowledge of Japanese, and the results of a series of six tests examining Kana acquisition, pronunciation accuracy, and vocabulary retention were weighed against the results of a control group who received instruction without said color coding system. This phonetic color coding system proves to be more effective than instructional methods used without the system in three distinct categories. First, the phonetic color coding system, once learned, allows the learner to forego all romanization and instead use only the Kana characters during study thus increasing the speed of Kana acquisition. Second, by not using romanizations to guide pronunciation, the learner is unaffected by the phonetic rules governing the English Latin alphabet thus improving the accuracy of pronunciation. Third, mapping a phonetic color code to a writing system arguably increases the retention rate of associated vocabulary by way of increasing the speed of acquisition of the writing system itself. The implementation of this phonetic color coding system elicited striking improvements in the abovementioned categories throughout all six tests carried out in this study and would likely show similar results in the implementation into formal educational curricula.

Author Information
Kevin Reay Wrobetz, Himeji Dokkyo University, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: ACLL2019
Stream: Applied linguistics research

This paper is part of the ACLL2019 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon