Member Login
E-mail:
Password:

Reset Password

 

 

Vol 16, No. 2 (January 1999)

[article | discuss (0) | print article]

College Students' Responses to Kanakun and Kantaro

FUMIKO INOUE
Saitama, Japan

Abstract:
Japanese language learners typically have to acquire three different sets of orthographic characters: Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. Learning these three different character sets at the same time is often a burden to many learners. The Kanakun and Kantaro programs, featuring Japanese language games, were developed to facilitate learners' acquisition of Japanese characters and vocabulary items. A survey conducted in first-, second-, and third-year Japanese courses at Illinois Wesleyan University in 1997-98 examined learners' evaluation of the programs. The results of this evaluation indicate that the programs facilitated students' acquisition of Japanese characters and served to motivate them to continue their acquisition of Japanese.

Fumiko Inoue

KEYWORDS

Japanese, Learners, Orthographic Characters, Vocabulary, Evaluation

INTRODUCTION

Japanese learners have to acquire three different sets of orthographic characters: Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. Hiragana and Katakana are sound-oriented writing systems, whereas Kanji is a system of ideographic symbols which represent sound and convey meaning through their shapes. Hiragana and Katakana each have 46 characters, while Kanji has about 2,000 characters commonly used by native Japanese speakers in daily life.1 Learning these three different characters at the same time can overwhelm Japanese language learners. The computer programs Kanakun and Kantaro were implemented in Japanese language courses at Illinois Wesleyan University in the 1997-98 academic year to assist students in the acquisition of these character sets.

157

Rüschoff (1993) emphasized the importance of research into how students use Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) materials in order to design software which truly facilitates language acquisition. Schwartz (1995) pointed out that CALL materials have often been developed and published without examining the materials themselves, or how best to use the technology to support the teaching of those materials, with the result that the functionality of some programs do not always lead to actual use of the language function being taught. Schwartz suggested that student evaluations should be used to provide information on how students actually use programs and their degree of engagement in the learning process. He explained that "if students feel that CALL materials and activities are useful and helpful, they are more likely to continue to use them and to spend more time using the language" (p. 533). Brett (1996) contended that learners' evaluation of CALL materials would have implications for software developers and for professionals involved in the purchase of CALL materials.

For example, Nicholas and Toporski (1993) reported that their Russian language students were reluctant to use CALL exercises because they were bored with the exercises. The students advised Nicholas and Toporski to develop a CALL program that used the computer to advantage and that had at least some of the elements of intrigue and enjoyment. Following the students' advice, Nicholas and Toporski developed a CALL program that facilitated open-ended discussions and took advantage of the flexibility, the adaptability, and capacity for repetition of the computer. As a result, their students were highly satisfied with and eager to use the program.

THE KANAKUN AND KANTARO SOFTWARE

Kanakun and Kantaro were developed by the Japanese Studies School of Modern Languages at Macquarie University (Australia) in cooperation with Fujitsu Australia Limited. Both programs run on an IBM or compatible 386 computer with at least 4 MB RAM and 2 MB of free hard disk space for Kanakun and 3 MB of free hard disk space for Kantaro. The programs require Windows 3.1 or higher, a CD-ROM drive, and a sound blaster compatible sound board for sound effects.

Kanakun, which is designed to facilitate the acquisition of Hiragana and Katakana, basic vocabulary items, and simple conversations, consists of eight modules.

1. Kana table module

The Kana table consists of 46 characters in Hiragana or Katakana in which learners select individual characters to acquire their shape and reading.

158

2. Kana game module

The Kana game is a multiple choice game in which learners match two different styles for individual characters: Katakana or Hiragana versus Romaji2 or sound.

3. Kana cards module

The Kana cards module is a set of electronic flash cards for Hiragana and Katakana with sound effects.

4. Kana writer module

The Kana writer is a writing board with sound effects on which learners write a kana with the mouse, with or without a tracing guide. Stroke order animations are provided.

5. Words module

The Words module introduces 230 words classified into 15 categories with photos-/sound effects, Hiragana or Katakana, and English meanings.3

6. Word game module

Word game is a multiple choice game based on a photo in which learners choose correct Hiragana readings.

7. Typing game module

The typing game module is a set of electronic flash cards with photos and sound effects in which learners type words using °he Kana keyboard.

8. Kana cartoons module

The Kana cartoons module is an electronic book of daily conversations written in Hiragana with English meanings and sound.

Kantaro, designed to help students acquire 200 Kanji and Kanji idioms, also consists of eight modules.

1. Discovery module

The Discovery module is a source of information for individual Kanji, including Kun and On readings,4 English meanings, word mnemonics, Kanji origin [picture mnemonic], stroke-order animation, pronunciation, and Kanji idioms.

159

2. Kanji memory game module

The Kanji memory game is a concentration game in which learners match Kanji with pictures.

3. Kanji matching game module

The Kanji matching game is a game in which learners match Kanji, pictures, and Hiragana readings in three columns.

4. Kanji reading game module

The Kanji reading game is a multiple choice game in which learners choose correct readings from three choices of individual Kanji.

5. Story Teller module

The Story Teller module is an electronic book containing stories written in Kanji, Hiragana, and Katakana. Hiragana readings and English meanings for individual Kanji are provided.

6. Calendar module

The Calendar module presents dates, the days of the week, months, and years in Kanji.

7. Clock module

The Clock module presents PM and AM, hours, and minutes in Kanji.

8. Numbers module

The Numbers module presents numbers in Kanji and Arabic numerals.

IMPLEMENTATION OF THE KANAKUN AND KANTARO PROGRAMS IN THE JAPANESE LANGUAGE CURRICULUM AT ILLINOIS WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY

Both Kanakun and Kantaro were implemented in the curriculum of first-, second-, and third-year Japanese classes at Illinois Wesleyan University over the course of the 1997-98 academic year. Kanakun was originally purchased for use in the first-year course. However, since some second-and third-year students were interested in Kanakun, and the Words module of Kanakun contained many vocabulary items which could not be covered in regular lessons, it was also implemented in second-and third-year courses. In the fall semester, students in all courses used the computer laboratory once a week in a classroom setting. In the second semester,

160

second-and third-year students were assigned computer laboratory work outside of the classroom setting in order to save time. These students had already acquired most of the characters in Kanakun and Kantaro.

Implementation of Kanakun

During the fall semester, first-year students used three modules of Kanakun in class: the Kana game module, the Words module and the Kana cartoons module. The students used the Kana game module and the Words module every week and the Kana cartoons module only occasionally. Students played the Kana game and selected ten new characters of Hiragana or Katakana each week. They moved to the Words module after they had played the Kana game for ten session. Pencil-and-paper assignments were combined with the work of the Words module to facilitate students' acquisition of writing skills and vocabulary items. First-year students made a list of words on a sheet of paper with Hiragana or Katakana characters, Romaji characters, and English meanings for a different category every week and were expected to determine which words should be written in Hiragana or Katakana.

The Kana cartoons module was occasionally used to reinforce first-year students' acquisition of informal daily conversational patterns (e.g., those between a mother and a child or between friends) and to write Hiragana and Katakana in a meaningful way. After completing the dialogs in the Kana cartoons, they copied the dialogues in Hiragana on a sheet of paper and translated them into English (without looking at the translations provided in the cartoons). The remaining modules of Kanakun (Kana cards, Kana writer, Word game and Typing game) were used by first-year students on their own time.

The second-and third-year students also used the Words module of Kanakun in the fall semester to learn the vocabulary items listed in the module and to practice looking up expressions in the Japanese-English dictionary. These students were expected to become accustomed to copying unknown Kanji from a dictionary, a practice which native Japanese often follow. The students made a list of words on a sheet of paper for each category in Kanji or Katakana with English meanings. The students also changed the Hiragana of words in the Words module to Kanji by looking the words up in the Japanese-English dictionary. They used the other modules of Kanakun on their own initiative.

161

Implementation of Kantaro

Kantaro consists of ten chapters, and each chapter contains 20 Kanji. In the spring semester, students at all levels used Kantaro in the same way; they used the Discovery module to complete a worksheet for ten new Kanji with their On readings and Kun readings, English meanings, mnemonics, stroke orders, and Kanji idioms. (See the student worksheet for Kantaro in Appendix A.) In addition, first-year students used the Calendar, Clock, and Numbers modules once each at relevant points in the course curriculum. Because the first-year students had not yet been introduced to the Kanji used in the Calendar, Clock, and Numbers modules, they were directed to copy Kanji from the modules by creating different time expressions (Clock module); date, days of week, and months (Calendar module); and large numbers (Numbers module) and then to guess the readings and meanings of the Kanji. The Kanji origin (picture mnemonic) in the Discovery module, the Kanji memory game, Kanji matching game, Kanji reading game, and Story Teller modules were not used for instructional purposes in class.

EVALUATION OF THE PROGRAMS

Method

Twenty-seven students (14 from the first-year course, six from the second-year course and seven from the third-year course) used the programs. To determine whether the programs motivated learners and enhanced their acquisition of the three character sets and vocabulary items, a questionnaire was administered at the end of the academic year. (See the student questionnaire in Appendix B). Learners were asked to respond to 18 questions on a four-point scale (1 = Not at all, 2 = Slightly, 3 = Moderately, and 4 = Highly), to write comments on the programs or suggestions for improvement, and to name the three most useful modules.

General Evaluation

To the questions "How do you like Kanakun as a software program?" and "How do you like Kantaro as a software program?" most of the learners responded that they liked the programs "Moderately" or "Highly." Table 1 presents a summary of the analysis of students' responses to these questions.

162

Table 1

Means of First-and Second-/Third-year Students' Responses to Questions on the Kanakun or Kantaro Programs

0x01 graphic

The mean score of students at all levels was 3.41 for Kanakun and 3.33 for Kantaro, both of which were above the "Moderate" response category. First-year students (mean of 3.71 for Kanakun and 3.57 for Kantaro) liked the programs more than the second-/third-year students (mean of

3.07 and 3.15). A t-test analysis revealed that the mean score of the first-

year students for Kanakun was significantly higher than that of the second-/third-year students (p < .01). Analysis also showed a statistical trend of difference for the mean scores of the first-year and second-/third-year students for Kantaro (.10 < p < .05). It is reasonable to suppose that the first-year students, who were charged with learning the three different character sets all at the same time, were more pleased with the programs than the second-/third-year students who used the programs mainly for review. All of the first-year students commented that both Kanakun and Kantaro were very helpful in their efforts to learn the Japanese characters. The main purpose for using the programs was to reduce the burden of first-year students in the acquisition of the three character sets, and the programs seemed to meet this goal. When students were asked whether they would recommend the use of Kanakun or Kantaro in the following year, all but one answered that they would recommend both programs.

Students' Responses for Individual Modules

Students were asked to rate the helpfulness of each module in Kanakun and Kantaro on the same four-point scale. Table 2 lists the mean scores for the individual modules.

Students' Responses to Kanakun and Kantaro

163

Table 2

Mean Scores for Each Module in Kanakun and Kantaro

0x01 graphic

Notes:

aFirst-year students (N = 14) were required to use these modules.

bAll students (N = 27) were required to use these modules.

cFirst-year students (N = 14) used these modules once in class; those who missed this occasion may not have used the module.

The mean scores for all students ranged from 2.63 to 3.61 for the individual modules. Despite the fact that the students generally rated game modules higher than nongame modules, analysis did not reveal a significant difference between their ratings of these modules.5 The mean scores of all students' ratings for the separate game modules ranged from 3.29 to

3.53: Kana game (3.42), Word game (3.33), Typing game (3.29), Kanji memory game (3.39), Kanji matching game (3.50), Kanji reading game (3.53). The mean scores of students' ratings for the nongame modules were generally lower than those of the game modules. Except for Kana cards (3.47), Words module (3.61), Clock (3.29) and Numbers (3.47), the mean scores for nongame modules were around 3.00 or lower: Kana writer (3.00), Kana cartoons (3.05), Kanji origin (3.00), Kanji mnemonic (2.63), Story Teller (2.83) and Calendar (3.00).

Brett (1996) cautioned that student evaluation data should be corroborated by other kinds of evidence (e.g., informal teacher observations or

164

the extent of learners' use of the software) to support a balanced view of software. For example, it is possible that students' scores for individual modules do not represent their true degree of engagement with those modules. Among the nine optional modules that students used on their own initiative (Kana cards, Kana writer, Word game, Typing game, Kanji origin, Memory game, Matching game, Reading game, and Story Teller), the mean student ratings for these modules were not significantly correlated with the number of students who actually used them (r2 = .03, F = .26). This finding suggests that modules with higher scores did not always engage learners' interest more than modules with lower scores. That is, students generally responded that the game modules were more helpful than the nongame modules, but they did not always use the former more than the latter.

Students' responses to the questions on the three most useful modules gives a better representation of their degree of engagement. Among the nine modules used by students on their own, the number of students who used these modules was significantly correlated with their ratings of the modules (r2 = .58, F = 9.76, p < .05). In general, the students tended to value the modules which used the computer to advantage or which contained new information not covered in regular course lessons. The greater the perceived usefulness of the module, the more students engaged with it.

Table 3 lists the modules grouped into three categories according to their usefulness as defined by students' ratings.

165

Table 3

Modules Grouped by Usefulness

0x01 graphic

Notes:

aScores were computed on a three-point scale: 3 = the most useful module, 2 = the second most useful module, and 1 = the third most useful module.

bAll students (N = 27) were required to use these modules.

cFirst-year students (N = 14) were required to use these modules.

dFirst-year students (N = 14) used these modules once in class; those who missed this occasion may not have used the module.

166

The modules in Group I use the computer's capabilities to a great extent, the ones in Group II either are electronic flash cards or contain new information, and the ones in Group III neither make substantial use of the computer's capabilities nor contain new information.

The modules in Group I were Kana game, Word game, Matching game, and Kanji origin (minimum score of 30).6 All the modules in this category were implemented in the courses for optional use by students, except the Kana game, which was required for first-year students.

The Kana game and the Word game are multiple choice games focusing on Hiragana and Katakana. For these games, the computer selects nine kana or three words and shuffles the multiple choice options for each student session. The games use the computer's capabilities effectively because they select different combinations of kana per session and allow flexible and virtually endless multiple choice combinations.

In the Matching game, learners match Kanji, pictures, and readings in three columns. To match a Kanji, a picture, and a reading correctly, students draw a line among the three objects. For each session, the computer randomly selects seven Kanji from individual chapters and positions the Kanji, the pictures, and the meanings in each column differently for each student session.

While technically not a game, Kanji origin (a picture mnemonic) uses the computer's capabilities the most of all the modules. Kanji origin shows a picture associated with the origin of a Kanji and gradually transforms the picture into a Kanji. The program displays a visual presentation of how the elements of each Kanji relate to meaning in the form of a series of animations.

The modules in Group II were the Memory game, the Words module, the Typing game, Kana cards, Kana cartoons, Mnemonic, and Numbers, scores ranging from 16 to 19. Except for the Memory game, these modules either function as electronic flash cards or contain new information.

The Memory game is a sort of concentration game and has features similar to those of Matching game in Group I. The computer selects nine Kanji, and learners must match the selected Kanji on the left half of the screen with pictures on the right half. The computer positions individual Kanji and pictures differently each time. The score of the Memory game (19) was much lower than the score of Matching game (30). The Memory game differs from the Matching game in that students' performance in the Memory game depends largely on luck and memorization of the locations for the Kanji and the pictures on the screen. Consequently, the lower score of the Memory game may well be attributed to students' preference for a game in which performance reflects knowledge of Kanji instead of luck and memorization. The Typing game, Kana cards, and Numbers resemble flash cards and share the same feature of the computer's automatically shuffling words,

167

kana, or numbers. In the Typing game, the computer displays a picture and learners type in words by using a keyboard consisting of 46 Hiragana or Katakana and their 25 variations. The computer checks whether the entered words are correct or incorrect. In Kana cards, the computer selects nine Hiragana or Katakana, and learners select the correct sounds of Hiragana or Katakana. In the Numbers module, the computer shuffles numbers, and learners view the Kanji of the numbers. Although the computer keeps records of students' interactions, these modules do not use the computer's capabilities as well as those in Group I.

The Words module, Kana cartoons, and Kanji mnemonic hardly use the computer's capabilities at all. However, the scores of these modules were as high as the electronic flash card type modules in the same group. The reason for these unexpected ratings may well reside in the fact that the Words module, Kana cartoons, and Kanji Mnemonic provide new information about vocabulary items that were not covered in regular course lessons. Learners rarely had time to practice the informal daily conversations found in the Kana cartoons in class, and many words that were new even to the second-and third-year students were presented in the Words module. Kanji mnemonic was new to students at all levels. Therefore, it would seem that students thought that modules which provided new information were as useful as the ones which used the computer's capabilities at least to a limited extent, but not as useful as the ones which used the computer to a greater extent.

The modules in Group III were Clock, Reading game, Kana writer, Calendar, and Story Teller. These modules, except Kana writer, use the computer's capabilities less than similar modules in Group I and II or do not contain new information.

Kana writer is a set of electronic flash cards in which the computer shuffles Hiragana or Katakana automatically. However, its score of 4 was much lower than the other three electronic flash card modules in Group II (Typing game [17], Kana cards [17,] and Numbers [16]). The degree of students' engagement with Kana writer was high (19 students used it), but only two students named it as a useful module. Most students felt that writing kana on the computer screen with a mouse was not very helpful, probably because they believed that writing with a pencil and paper was more important for the acquisition of the Japanese characters. In fact, five second-/third-year students commented that to learn to write Japanese characters requires pencil-and-paper practice.

The Clock and Calendar modules are also similar to the electronic flash card modules in Group II. Here, however, the computer does not automatically shuffle the lesson elements. In the Clock module, learners produce time expressions by moving Hour and Minute scroll bars. In the Calendar module, they specify dates by themselves. Since these modules do not use the computer's capabilities very much, the students apparently

168

felt that these modules offered little more than written materials.

The Reading game is a multiple choice game, but the computer does not shuffle choices in the game. Its lower score than the other two multiple choice games in Group I (Reading game [10] versus Kana game [36] and Word game [30]) could be explained because it does not use the flexibility of the computer in contradistinction to the other two modules. Practicing Kanji in a multiple choice game with fixed choices is not much different from practicing Kanji in written multiple choice drills.

Story Teller (2) is an electronic workbook. When students click on a Kanji in a story, they can get its reading and meaning. Students could obtain readings and meanings of Kanji through written materials, and, furthermore, the readings and meanings of the Kanji in Story Teller had already been included in the Discovery module.

Instructors' Responses and Suggestions

To collect additional evaluation data for Kanakun and Kantaro, the researcher interviewed the two Japanese language instructors who used the programs in their courses. The instructors declared that both programs generally contained useful supplemental materials. They found the stroke order feature of Kana writer in Kanakun and of Discovery in Kantaro to be especially useful because stroke order is difficult to teach in regular course lessons. (Four second-and third-year learners had also commented that Kantaro was helpful particularly for stroke order because they could see the strokes being drawn.) The instructor who taught the first-year course stated that she regretted not assigning the stroke order modules to students during the first semester. The instructors also thought that Kanji origin was helpful because learners could associate the shape with the origin of Kanji.

The instructors did point out the two problems with using the programs in the curriculum. First, the game modules of Kanakun and Kantaro could not be assigned outside of the classroom setting. Second, and perhaps more important, Kantaro and its accompanying textbook could not be used as the main Kanji text in class because it did not include material for intermediate or advanced courses. Kantaro consists of ten chapters with a total of 200 basic Kanji, whereas students are expected to acquire about 600 Kanji over the course of three years.7 For this reason, the instructors had to use another textbook series as the main Kanji texts and Kantaro for supplemental materials only.

It was difficult to coordinate the chapters in Kantaro with the regular Kanji lessons. Five students (one first-year and four third-year students) commented that it would have been more helpful to coordinate the chapters of Kantaro more closely with the chapters of the Kanji textbook used

169

in class.

The instructors decided to implement Kanakun and Kantaro in the curriculum primarily because the programs contained effective game modules to reinforce learners' acquisition of Japanese characters and vocabulary items. The instructors planned to assign the games outside of the classroom setting because it was difficult to make time for them in normal fifty-minute classes.

Kanakun and Kantaro are equipped with a Progress Report which tracks learners' performance for individual game sessions. (See the student progress report in Appendix C.) The instructors intended to have students submit progress reports as evidence of completing homework assignments. However, the progress reports could not be printed, relegating the games to the status of secondary, optional course materials. In order to make the games compatible with computer lab assignments outside the classroom, the instructors suggested that the developer modify the programs to allow students to print Progress Reports with the name of the game, the chapter title (e.g., Kantaro), the appropriate category (e.g., Word/Typing game of Kanakun), and kind of kana (e.g., Kana game of Kanakun). They would also prefer that the ratio of correct answers be provided for every ten sessions or so.

Other suggestions for improvement included the following:

1. The Kana cartoons of Kanakun should be designed to be interactive so that learners can practice typical conversational patterns with the computer.

2. The Numbers, Calendar, and Clock modules should be designed as games in which learners practice readings of Kanji. Learners usually have trouble with reading rather than writing Kanji in those modules.

3. A module should be added for counters and numbers (e.g., ichimai 'a sheet of' or sanbai 'three cups') to Kanakun or Kantaro since it takes time for learners to acquire which counter should be used with individual items and other variations of counters and numbers.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS

Nearly all the students who used Kanakun and Kantaro reported a high measure of satisfaction with the programs and recommended that the programs be used in classes the following year. First-year students especially, who faced learning three different character sets at the same time, commented

170

that the programs were useful. The second-and third-year students were also satisfied with the programs but stated that the acquisition of the Japanese characters requires pencil-and-paper practice. It should be noted that the Japanese instructors integrated both programs into other writing exercises by directing students to make vocabulary lists from Kanakun during the first semester and by providing worksheets taken from Kantaro during the second semester. However, these written assignments did not use the programs to their fullest advantage. More discussion is necessary to integrate the computer programs better with normal class activities.

Students generally preferred game modules to nongame modules. Students' ratings for the game modules of Kanakun and Kantaro were generally higher than those for nongame modules. Students' ratings should not be taken completely at face value because their ratings did not completely reflect the degree of their engagement with the nine optional modules. It should also be pointed out that only those students who were interested in the optional modules provided ratings for them, resulting in possible false high ratings. In fact, all but two modules had mean ratings above 3.00. Only those questions focusing on modules that all students had to use can be interpreted with reasonable certainty. Another reason that students' ratings did not reflect the degree of their engagement with modules may be that the question "How do you like [name of the module] or how helpful was [the module] in learning Japanese?" could have been ambiguously interpreted by students. Some students may have rated modules for their entertainment value and others for their helpfulness. A more carefully formulated questionnaire would have been helpful to collect clearer learner evaluation data.

When students were asked to name the three most useful modules, they responded by naming those modules which used the computer to advantage or which contained new information. Students' responses to these questions correlated significantly with their degree of engagement with the modules. The more useful the module, the more learners engaged with it.

Instructors pointed out two main problems with Kanakun and Kantaro: (a) neither program was compatible with computer assignments outside of the classroom setting, and (b) Kantaro did not offer materials for students at the intermediate and advanced levels. The second problem has already been solved because the developer has recently published Kantaro II and Kantaro III. In order to recommend thorough integration of Kanakun and Kantaro into curricula, the first problem must still be solved.

171

For the programs to have maximum instructional effectiveness, the results of the present study suggest the following five recommendations for improvement:

1. Modules should use the computer's capabilities to advantage or contain new information not covered by the regular course lessons.

2. The game modules should be compatible with computer assignments made outside of the classroom setting.

3. Learners' performance in game modules should reflect their knowledge of target items to be acquired, not simple luck or memorization. 4. The software should contain 600 (preferably 1,000) Kanji. 5. Instructors should be able to select individual Kanji from a Kanji table in order to coordinate the programs more closely with regular course lessons.

Nicholas and Toporski (1993) contended that good CALL programs have a potential attraction as recruiting tools. This potential was realized in the situation described here by the fact that the first-year students, many of whom were taking Japanese to satisfy a language requirement, were highly satisfied with the programs. When Kanakun and Kantaro are made compatible with assignments outside of the classroom setting, the integration of the programs into Japanese language learning curricula will result in a powerful recruiting tool.

172

APPENDIX A

Student Worksheet for Kantaro

0x01 graphic

Note: The labels were written in Japanese in the original worksheet.

173

APPENDIX B

Student Questionnaire

I. Background information.

1. How long have you studied Japanese?

2. How old are you?

II Kanakun: Please rate the degree of the following questions for Kanakun.

1. How do you like Kanakun as a software program?

Not at all Slightly Moderately Highly

2. How do you like the following modules or how helpful were they in learning Japanese?

1) Kana Game (choose between various game styles: Katakana vs. Hiragana vs. Romaji vs. Sound)

Not at all Slightly Moderately Highly Never use

2) Kana Cards (choose characters individually or by subsets which are shuffled to test your memory)

Not at all Slightly Moderately Highly Never use

3) Kana Writer (write on the screen with or without a guide)

Not at all Slightly Moderately Highly Never use

4) Words Module (words of 15 categories): mammals, birds, food etc. with real photographs and sounds)

Not at all Slightly Moderately Highly Never use

174

5) Word Games (choose right words from three choices through pictures)

Not at all Slightly Moderately Highly Never use

6) Typing Game (type words through pictures and sound)

Not at all Slightly Moderately Highly Never use

7) Kana cartoons (learn sentences by reading cartoons)

Not at all Slightly Moderately Highly Never use

3. Choose the three most useful modules from Kana Game, Kana Cards, Kana Writer, Words Module, Word Game, Typing Game, and Kana Cartoons, in the order of 1) the most useful to 3) useful

1) 2) 3)

4. How can you learn kana or vocabulary better (any comment or suggestion to a teacher)?

5. Do you recommend a teacher to use Kanakun in the class for next year's students?

Yes (why?)

No (Why?)

175

III. Kantaro: Please rate the degree of the following questions for Kantaro

1. How do you like Kantaro as a software program?

Not at all Slightly Moderately Highly

2. How do you like the following modules or how helpful were they in learning Japanese?

1) Kanji Origin (click the morph animation to change it into the associated Kanji or vice versa.)

Not at all Slightly Moderately Highly Never use

2) Kanji Mnemonic

Not at all Slightly Moderately Highly Never use

3) Kanji Memory Game (concentration game)

Not at all Slightly Moderately Highly Never use

4) Kanji Matching Game (Kanji vs. pictures vs. Hiragana)

Not at all Slightly Moderately Highly Never use

5) Kanji Reading Game (choose right readings from three choices for a Kanji)

Not at all Slightly Moderately Highly Never use

6) Story Teller (read a story in Hiragana or Hiragana and Kanji)

Not at all Slightly Moderately Highly Never use

7) Calendar (learn how to read and write days of the week, dates and months)

Not at all Slightly Moderately Highly Never use

176

8) Clock (learn how to read and write PM and AM, hours, and minutes)

Not at all Slightly Moderately Highly Never use

9) Numbers (learn how to read and write big numbers)

Not at all Slightly Moderately Highly Never use

3. Choose the three most useful modules from Kanji Origin, Kanji Mnemonic, Kanji Memory Game, Kanji Matching Game, Kanji Reading Game, Story Teller, Calendar, Clock, and Numbers, in the order of 1) the most useful to 3) useful

1) 2) 3)

4. How can you learn Kanji better (any comment or suggestion to a teacher)?

5. Do you recommend a teacher to use Kantaro in the class for next year's students?

Yes (why?)

No (Why?)

177

APPENDIX C

Student Progress Report

0x01 graphic

NOTES

1 Some Japanese Kanji dictionaries contain up to 50,000 Kanji.

2 Romaji is a transliteration of Hiragana and Katakana into the English alphabet.

3 The categories in the Words module are: mammals, birds, marine animals, insects, body parts, buildings, colors, food and beverages, home, musical instruments, nature, personal belongings, occupations, and transportation.

4 There are two different reading systems for Kanji: Kun reading and On reading. Kun reading is Japanese origin reading, and On reading is Chinese origin reading.

5 t tests were not conducted for the mean scores between first-and second-/third year students since the number of students who used the individual modules between the two groups of students varied widely. First-year students were required to use two modules (Kana game and Kana cartoons) in addition to the modules that second-/third-year students were required to use. Moreover, the Calendar, Clock, and Numbers modules were used once in the first-year course, whereas second-/third-year students used these modules on their own initiative.

6 Kanji origin (picture mnemonics) and Kanji mnemonic (word mnemonics) are not independent modules. They are associated with readings, meanings, and Kanji idioms for individual Kanji in the Discovery module of Kantaro. Since the Kantaro project leader at Macquarie University emphasized that these features of Kantaro were the most prominent, these features were separately evaluated by individual questions rather than by general questions on the Discovery module.

7 Hirata (1990) claimed that Japanese language learners at the university level generally learn a maximum of 700 Kanji.

178

REFERENCES

Rüschoff, B. (1993). Language learning and information technology: State of the art. CALICO Journal, 10 (3), 5-17.

Brett, P. (1996). Using multimedia: An investigation of learners' attitudes. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 9, 191-212.

Hirata, K. (1990). Saijiki: Hyper reading Japanese. CALICO Journal, 7, 51-63.

Macquarie University Japanese Studies. (1995). Kantaro: Teacher's edition textbook. WA: Pacific Software.

Nicholas, M. A. & Toporski, N. (1993). Developing 'the critics corner:' Computer assisted language learning for upper level Russian students. Foreign Language Annals, 26 (4), 469-478.

Schwartz, M. (1995). Computers and the language laboratory: Learning from history. Foreign Language Annals, 28 (4), 527-535.

AUTHOR'S BIODATA

Fumiko Inoue has taught Japanese language and literature at the university level for the last six years. She is now at home in Japan concentrating on her dissertation on a developmental sequence of Japanese based on the 'Theory of Processability.'

AUTHOR'S ADDRESS

4-61-8 Mihashi Omiya Saitama

Japan

Phone: 011-81-48-624-3339

Fax: 011-81-43-284-3931

E-Mail: finoue@iea.att.ne.jp

179