Learning Japanese onomatopoeia through a narrative-evaluation e-learning system

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In Japanese, onomatopoeia are important for expressing feelings and experiences. For students of Japanese, they are difficult to acquire, especially the nuances of meaning. We propose an e-learning system to enhance the efficiency of teaching the nuances of onomatopoeia in three steps-both explicit and tacit-to non-native speakers of Japanese. We synthesize a new learning strategy for students learning Japanese onomatopoeia, using narrative strategies to mimic the process by which native speakers learn. The first step is the teaching of the formal rules governing explicit nuances. In the second step, the learners create new onomatopoeia in accordance with those formal rules. In the final step, feedback is provided by evaluating the onomatopoeias created by the learners, using a narrative strategy support system to provide implicit teaching. To verify the effectiveness of the proposed method and learning system, we conducted an experiment involving two groups of subjects in the Japanese language department of a university in Shanghai, China. While Group A (23 students) got feedback about the appropriateness of their onomatopoeic constructions from the native speaker researchers' narrative interpretations, Group B (22 students) only reviewed the database material in a manner similar to that used in traditional classrooms. The e-learning system was found to have a significant effect on the acquisition by non-native learners of Japanese of a working understanding of, and skill in the use of, onomatopoeia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-175
Number of pages21
JournalTheory and Practice of Second Language Acquisition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language


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