How we learn a foreign (second, third, fourth, ...) language contains diverse approaches. It depends on, to the great extent, each learner’s personal background and aptitude such as the starting age, native language, motivation, goal(s), learning context, and life history. It is also dynamic, in the process of learning the target language, in a sense that 1) those previously mentioned factors can change longitudinally and 2) those factors are influenced by the community, society, culture and historical/geographical condition which the learner is originally attached to. What is reported in this qualitative research project is a twofold case study of two foreign language learners, one is a Japanese from Kobe, and the other is a Belgian from Flanders (the Dutch-speaking region). The former thus is a Japanese native speaker who also uses English and Dutch for her work and academic activities (together with her some knowledge of German, French and Afrikaans), and the latter is a Dutch native speaker who uses mainly Dutch, English and Japanese in business (with his background of learning Latin, German, French, Spanish and Portuguese). Through the observation and comparison of those two language learners – juxtaposing their similarities and contrasting the differences – we discover several pedagogical insights in language learning activities, which might be of help for those who struggle to learn foreign languages (specifically English as the first foreign language) in Japan. Also, some methodological indications are presented for English teachers in Japan who seek effective and efficient ways to guide their students.
Masako Nishikawa-Van Eester, Nishogakusha University, Japan
Stream: Language Learning and Teaching
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