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Papers & Essays

The Impact of Culture on Second Language Acquisition


On one hand, the problem of language teaching and language learning (in particular that of English) has been on the agenda of Japanese public education and professional training programs for many decades. Some improvements in the number of English speakers notwithstanding, ELT (English Language Teaching) and ELL (English Language Learning) still pose a serious challenge in Japan both for teachers and learners, and a serious concern for the business world and international organizations.

On the other, the Japanese language is considerably more difficult to acquire for speakers of English than to acquire other foreign languages in the range of difficulty of Indo-European languages (Spanish, French, German, etc.) So whereas Japanese natives struggle with the acquisition of English, English speaking learners struggle with the acquisition of Japanese to an extent that much surpasses the presumed difficulties arising from the typological difference of the two languages.

The reasons for this are manifold, but one often-neglected aspect of the difficulties might be attributed to the cultural differences in communication strategies of the teaching and of the learning side. It is hypothesized that there is a strong interdependence of communication strategies and of teaching ~ learning strategies - both acquired in childhood as part of the native culture....

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