“Your own personal tutor”: Integrating interactive courseware with face-to-face learning of one Japanese character set.
Japanese uses three writing systems (hiragana, katakana, and the ideograms known as kanji), and as materials in the target language include all three, learning to read and write is the first major challenge that learners encounter. This paper focuses on an approach which combines an interactive multi-media method of learning reading and writing of one Japanese character set with more traditional methods.
This approach involves classroom interaction, use of Flash-based courseware developed at the University of Limerick, followed by independent revision work. The courseware introduces learners systematically to the sounds of the hiragana as well as demonstrating how to write the characters using animation. This paper reports on the findings of a pilot study on the use of the CD by learners at zero beginner level, in addition to follow-up reports on the use of the CD and other methods by a larger group of learners.
The method results in a blended approach where learners benefit from autonomous use of the learning object combined with classroom instruction and other activities outside the classroom. Classroom observation showed that most learners were spontaneously writing the new character set within a few minutes of beginning to use the learning object. This is an instance of learners using new technology for the practice of more traditional skills.
The paper will present the interactive CD, the results of the pilot study and the qualitative information from the two most recent groups of learners to use this approach.
This project was the recipient of a European Award for Languages 2007