This study documents attitude changes with respect to writing in Japanese as a second language (L2) by using Personal Attitude Construct (PAC) analysis. The study specifically focuses on attitude changes observed in an L2 writing course, which included interpersonal interaction in the L2 via email and oral communication in person.
The participants in the study were three male learners of Japanese as an L2 from the United States enrolled in a short-term study abroad program at a university in Tokyo. None of the participants had prior experience of study abroad or extensive writing in Japanese. The L1 of the participants was English and their L2 proficiency level was assessed as intermediate-low according to the placement procedures at the given university.
The writing course in which the study was conducted had 11 students from diverse L1 backgrounds from which three participants were recruited for the purpose of the study. The class was 90 minutes long and met once a week (14 times per semester). Volunteer Japanese assistants, who were recruited from Japanese students at the same university, participated in the course to provide intercultural and interpersonal interaction in the L2. The responsibilities of the volunteer Japanese assistants included exchanging email as assigned in the course on a one-to-one basis and assisting the learners as they completed a small-group course project.
The data were collected twice, during the first class meeting of the course and right after the course ended. The Personal Attitude Construct (PAC) method proposed by Naito (1993, 2002) was employed as the method of data collection. The participants’ specific tasks included handwriting words or phrases that they associated with “writing in Japanese,” rank ordering the associated items, and comparing the subjective distance between two of the associated items. The data were analyzed following the PAC analysis method (Naito, 1993; 2002) in order to examine the influence that the writing course and the interactive activities with L2 native speakers in the L2, had on participants’ attitudes toward writing in the L2.
The results indicated a variety of changes in the participants’ attitudes toward writing in Japanese. For example, one participant who had anxieties about writing in Japanese gained a positive attitude and confidence. On the contrary, another participant who was a very persistent student in the course and stated that he was ready for the challenges of L2 writing at the beginning of the course developed emotional distance toward writing in the L2. It can be speculated that the involvement of the Japanese volunteer assistant in his learning processes negatively affected his attitude toward his learning. The results also indicated discrepancies between the PAC analysis results and the impressions and observations of the instructor regarding the participants’ attitudes. Other sources of data such as the students’ course evaluations or the participants’ course performance did not signal such discrepancies.
These findings indicate that PAC analysis can provide unique and constructive information on learners’ attitudes and attitude change which is not available from conventional sources, such as instructors’ impressions, learners’ course performance, and course evaluations. Thus, it is advisable that language educators employ various sources of information on learners’ psychological constructs and changes in order for writing courses to be better tailored to individual learners.
本研究では、日本人学生とのEメールや授業での直接的なやり取りを通した1学期の作文授業の前後にPAC（Personal Attitude Construct：個人別態度構造）分析を行い、