chapter  6
25 Pages

Developing and Teaching Interactional Competence in Japanese Style Shifting

WithNaoko Taguchi, Dina Rudolph Yoshimi

This chapter presents interactional competence in second language (L2) Japanese by describing linguistic and interactional resources that enable participants to co-construct social actions in Japanese. It examines style shifting as an interactional resource for signaling discourse boundaries in Japanese. The chapter provides a description of two primary speech styles—the desu/masu and plain form—and style shifting between the forms. It also presents empirical data on Japanese learners’ style shifting. The chapter explains pedagogical implications for beginning learners of Japanese. It describes pedagogical approaches and instructional materials that help raise learners’ awareness of the mundane but critical linguistic resource. The understanding of the indexical nature of Japanese plain and desu/masu forms which underlies researcher insights on style shifting provides the impetus for a fundamental shift in the pedagogical approach to the instruction of these forms. Indeed, several studies have revealed how learners acquire the indexical uses of speech style through socialization.