Mizue Aiko


This paper explores issues related to learning Japanese as a heritage language and the challenges that arise for children learning the language of their families while living in another language environment. The context for the study was a hoshuu-koo, a Japanese Saturday school, in Australia. The participants were students in Year 7 who attended the hoshuu-koo. This study was a follow-up study to the research conducted on the same students in the previous year. After one year of learning kanji, one of the Japanese scripts, the focus was on how students’ self-recognition of their kanji skills and kanji proficiency had changed. It was predicted that improvement in kanji proficiency would contribute to the enhancement of the accuracy of self-recognition of kanji proficiency and elicit an appropriate recognition of proficiency in each component of kanji. Data were based on students’ performance in kanji tests and answers on questionnaires and the Excel Correl Function was used to calculate correlation coefficients. Graphs were used to analyse the data. It was found that when the students’ kanji proficiency was improved, their self-evaluation skills also enhanced; however, different tendencies were found between reading and writing kanji. The over-estimation of skills for easier levels of kanji were reduced but increased for more difficult levels of kanji amongst the students who did not have adequate kanji skills. The appropriate recognition of each kanji component was mostly improved but further approaches would be needed for the okurigana component, which was a significant problem found in the previous study. Concluding comments centre on the implications for further teaching approaches and research on the enhancement of kanji self-evaluation skills.


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Japanese heritage language (JHL) learners, kanji, self-evaluation, proficiency, radicals, okurigana

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