In this study, we create a translation-based TBLT activity facilitating learner autonomy in acquiring polite forms/expressions in Japanese in different social contexts. Translation activities are prepared to help L2 learners of Japanese learn different levels of formality and the forms/expressions in reference to their real-life usage. The subjects are international students enrolled in the advanced Japanese course, whose actual Japanese proficiency ranges from intermediate to advanced. Twelve international students from 9 different countries including China, US, and France were asked to translate (English to Japanese) the same email message (invitation to an event) into three versions for three different target readers at their university with varying social status (president, close staff member and his/her classmate). This activity provides students with the situation of applying different politeness levels of Japanese by considering target readers’ social status and relationship with the students. And by setting translation as a task, it is designed to elicit target vocabulary/grammar structures, which can be reviewed in class after the task completion. Further, the translation based on real-life communication fully reflects the students’ culture and identity, i.e., the social context, so we can give them the opportunity to compare the translation written by a Japanese native speaker with theirs and discuss it with other classmates so that they can see the difference. Thus, this task demonstrates the two-sidedness, understanding of the grammar and social context, by combining translation and TBLT. So, it can lead students to learn not only the target grammar but also the social context.
Arifumi Saito, Monash University, Australia
Stream: Task-based learning
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