Developing communicative competence in Japanese fourth -grade English language learners

Kuniko Kay Nitta, Fordham University


The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe how 12 elementary school Japanese English language learners (ELLs) develop communicative competence through a sociocultural communicative approach. Communicative competence in this study is defined as the ability to manipulate effectively the social rules of language use in actual situations. The participants in this study were Japanese students who engaged in the Sociocultural Communicative Approach for 6 months with the purpose of developing oral language proficiency. The study hypothesized that through student-centered, collaborative sociocultural learning, the participants would change their attitudes toward the people and culture of the target language and significantly improve their English oral skills. The curriculum components were (a) oral and written communication, (b) reading, (c) grammar, and (d) cultural experiences in and outside the classroom. To assess the growth of English language oral proficiency, the participants' videotaped language samples of Picture-Cued Role Plays and Structured Verbal Protocols, the Language Assessment Battery (LAB), and self-assessment of English Oral Language Development were utilized. To measure the participants' integrative motivation, the Direct Questionnaire on Integrative Motivation (DQIM), and Spolsky's (1969) Indirect Questionnaire on Integrative Motivation (SIQIM) were employed. The results of the study indicated that the Sociocultural Communicative Approach contributed to improving the communicative competence of the participants. It also positively influenced the participants' attitudes toward the people and culture of the target language and enhanced their motivational orientation in communicating in the English language.

Subject Area

Curricula|Teaching|Linguistics|Bilingual education|Multicultural education|Language arts

Recommended Citation

Nitta, Kuniko Kay, "Developing communicative competence in Japanese fourth -grade English language learners" (2004). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3134445.