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The use of silence by Japanese learners of English in cross-cultural communication and its pedagogical implications

By Seiko Harumi


This thesis examinest he use of silence by Japanese learners of English in cross-cultural communication. It also considers how cross-cultural misunderstandings can be avoided in a pedagogic context. To this end, an analysis is made of a contrastive study of the use of silence by Japanese students learning English, and by Western students learning Japanese. The study draws on insights from the ethnographic approach. The study consists of three parts. The first part, Chapters 1-4, investigates the theoretical\ud background to the study. Chapter 1 examines various definitions of the word 'culture' and investigates the role of Pragmatics in cross-cultural communication. Chapter 2 surveys studies of silence in various socio-cultural contexts. Chapter 3 more specifically explores the use of silence in the Japanese context and its relation to Japanese\ud cultural values and sociocultural norms. Then, Chapter 4 shifts attention to examine differences of communicative styles between Japanese and Westerners, and several important features in interaction.\ud In part two, Chapters 5-8, the ethnographic approach takes the lead in the interpretation of the interview and observational material. Chapter 5 offers an overview of the study and carefully considers the principles of ethnography guiding this investigation. Chapter 6 considers the research design in relation to the context and purposes of the investigation. The data is analysed in Chapters 7 and 8 interpreting the use of silence from a socio-cultural perspective.\ud Chapter 7 discusses the results of the questionnaires. Chapter 8 concentrates on the analysis of the video-recorded data. The last Chapter, Chapter 9, concludes with suggestions of possible pedagogic approaches tackling cross-cultural misunderstanding in foreign language learning

Year: 1999
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