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Learning Japanese as a Second Language: A Processability Perspective By Satomi Kawagu ...

Chapter 1:  Introduction
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Learning Japanese as a Second Language:

Chapter 1


Language is central to human activity and a fundamental expression of culture. It is indispensable to learn a language in order to understand its culture in depth, as learning another language gives people access to knowledge of its culture (Li Wei, 2007). Language is a primary resource for social interaction (Young, 2008). In fact, ‘[m]ostly we learn second languages to gain access, through verbal interaction, to cultural dealings with people who lay claim to that language’ (Bialystok & Hakuta, 1994, p. 161). Learning Japanese as a second language (L2) means learning Japanese culture. The ability to speak Japanese as L2 gives people a great opportunity to enter Japanese society and gain an in-depth experience of Japanese culture and its people, an experience that one may not be able to achieve without the language. Li Wei wrote ‘[a] desire to identify with a particular ethnic, cultural or social group usually means learning the language of that group’ (p. 4). Thus, language may be a key tool for breaking through intercultural boundaries. Language learning promotes mutual understanding and, consequently, better and smoother communication in intercultural settings, such as business interactions.