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From SCOBA development to implementation in concept-based instruction: Conceptualizing and teaching Japanese addressee honorifics as expressing modes of self

Issue: Vol 4 No. 2 (2017)

Journal: Language and Sociocultural Theory

Subject Areas: Writing and Composition Linguistics

DOI: 10.1558/lst.31492


Japanese addressee honorifics are clause-final forms, either masu-form or plain form, which are traditionally believed to be chosen based on wakimae, or discernment of the interlocutor’s social status, social distance, and the formality of the setting. Japanese language instruction uncritically accepts wakimae, while Japanese usage data show deviations from this prescriptive, norm-based system. Cook’s (1996, 1997) analyses guide an understanding addressee honorifics as part of how dialectic modes of self (Rosenberger, 1989) are expressed by children and adults at home. Seen through the lens of Vygotsky’s (1978) ontogenetic method, modes of self comprise a developmentally primary framework, with wakimae overlaying this earlier-established system; Japanese adults’ honorifics use can thus be understood as expressing modes of self while also guided by wakimae rules. For teaching Japanese addressee honorifics, modes of self provide an appropriate conceptual foundation for creating SCOBAs, materializations of the target concepts for pedagogical purposes. This paper follows the author’s process of developing SCOBAs to be used following Gal’perin’s (1978/1992) instructional stages for concept-based instruction (CBI). CBI using these SCOBAs in an intact third year Japanese class is presented, along with findings that illustrate the conceptual development of the entire class, focusing on the transformation in one student’s understanding and use of addressee honorifics forms.

Author: Amy Snyder Ohta

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