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Transcript of Chapter One - Rob Web viewThey studied the words by using word cards, and they studied grammar with...

Chapter One

The family of languages and second language acquisition

Graduation Thesis

Presented to

the Faculty of the Department of

English Language and Literature

Notre Dame Seishin University

In Partial Fulfillment

of the Requirement for the Degree

Bachelor of Arts


Michiyo Omoto





Chapter One: Before research

1.1. Introduction


1.2. Family of languages


1.3. About Japanese


1.4. About Korean


1.5. About Tagalog


1.6. The focus of the thesis


Chapter Two: The study

2.1. Introduction


2.2. The experiment


2.2.1. Introduction

2.2.2. Method

a) Subjects

b) Test design

c) Procedure

2.2.3. Results

2.3. Summary


Chapter Three: Discussion

3.1. Introduction


3.2. Summary of the Experiment


3.3. Discussion of the results


3.4. Implications


3.5. Limitations of the Experiments


3.6. Further research


3.6. Conclusion




The list of reading for this thesis



Most Japanese have been learning English as a second language since they were in elementary or junior high school, but they are not good at English. Why are the Japanese poor at learning English? Most Europeans can speak two or three languages.

When I visited the Philippines, people there taught me some of their language, but it was really hard to understand the structure. On the other hand, when I visited Korea, I learnt a little Korean, and then it was really fun and easy to understand. Why did I feel differently? I realized Korean and Japanese grammar or words are quite similar. Moreover, these two languages belong to the same family of languages, the Altaic family of languages. So, I decided to find out whether the family of languages affects second language acquisition.

Three subjects were asked to learn Korean and Philippine language, Tagalog. They studied the Korean words and the Tagalog words for 30 minutes everyday for a month each, and they also studied the grammar. They studied the words by using word cards, and they studied grammar with grammar book, so they educated themselves.

The subjects said that it is easier to understand the Korean grammar than the Tagalog grammar, but it is difficult to remember in both of them. Moreover, the subjects also said that Korean has similar words to Japanese, and Tagalog have similar words to English, so it helped them to learn words.

Frankly speaking, the results of the experiments were different from my expectation, because there are some limitations in this study. Now we will show you this study including the explanation of limitation.

Chapter One: Introduction

1.1 Introduction

When I was traveling to foreign countries, a question came across my mind. It was whether a family of language affects second language acquisition or not. As I was traveling in the Philippines, my Philippine friends there taught me their language, Tagalog or Ilongo, at that time. It was very hard for me to understand or remember the grammar or pronunciation, because it was very different from Japanese. On the other hand, when I traveled in Korea, my Korean friends taught me Korean, and then I thought it is not so difficult to understand because there are a lot of similar or identical words between Korean and Japanese, in addition, their word order or grammar are almost the same. Why are there such differences though it is the same second language learning?

Most Japanese have been learning English as a second language since they were in elementary or junior high school. However, most of them are poor at English even if they have been learning English for over 10 years. However, most Europeans are able to speak some languages of their neighboring countries including English. Moreover, there are a lot of people who can speak Japanese with fluency in Korea and to my surprise, some of them have learnt simple Japanese grammar or sounds or vocabulary in only a few months. Is this caused just by their great facility in learning languages, or are there other obvious reasons?

So, I considered what I should notice when I was taught these two languages. Tagalog and Japanese word order are very different, though Korean and Japanese word order is almost the same. Moreover, Korean and Japanese grammar are very similar. Why are Korean and Japanese so similar? Are these languages from the same original language? Or, are they from the same route?

When I went over Korean and Japanese, interesting fact came up. It is said that Korean and Japanese belong to the same family of languages, the Altaic family of languages, and as I also studied European languages, I also found that most European languages such as French or Spanish or Italy or English belong to the Indo-European family of languages. We can think that each language is similar, because those languages may belong to the same family of languages; this is to say that they might be derived from a common parent language.

It is said that the Japanese are poor at learning foreign languages, especially English, and I felt Tagalog was very difficult to learn, it may happen because the Japanese family of languages is different from English or Tagalog. In short, I considered that the difficulty of second language acquisition is concerned with the family of languages.

Now we will compare the language belonging to the different family of languages with the languages belonging to the same family of languages to find out the differences of acquisition as we deal with Japanese, Tagalog, and Korean. We will now explain what the family of languages is and the languages we will deal with in this thesis

1.2 Family of languages

Generally, it is said that there are more than 3500 languages in the world. On the other hand, as the research develops, we have found that the number of languages has been increasing to 5000 or more. However, most of the languages are spoken by less than 10,000 people in minority groups, so we have identified more in recent years. Such a difference in the number of languages happens because there are some areas that are difficult to research because of war or the harsh climate or because they are inaccessible mountainous areas. What is more, there are some people that are nomadic. Another reason is that we do not have a standard way to identify the language as a dialect or as a separate language, so we are not able to show clear number of languages in the world.

As we mentioned above, there are over several thousand languages in the world, and those have different structures or character, besides they are complicated, and distributed widely throughout the world. So, languages were classified into language groups derived from a common parent language. This group is called a family of languages, and moreover, some of them are classified into the branch of languages under the family of languages.

For example, French is the Indo-European, Italic, Romance language, and Spanish belongs to the Indo-European, Italic, Romance language too, so these languages are derived from the same protolanguage, and they are in the same family of languages. In Europe, most languages belong to the Indo-European family of languages except languages in Finland, Estonia, Hungary, Kavkaz, and Basque.

As we consider these points, it may be natural that some European can speak some of these languages. For example, as compared French with Spanish have a lot of similar or identical words. For example, think is pensar in Spanish, and it is penser in French, or lose is perder in Spanish, and it is perdre in French. What is more, one two three is uno dos tres in Spanish, and it is un deux trios in French. The word order of both languages is basically the same, subject-verb-object. Besides, nouns have gender in both languages. For example, book or piano is masculine in both languages and snake or pen is feminine in both languages.

Of course, even though they belong to the same family of languages, they are different languages, so they have a lot of different points too. However, we can suppose that it would be easier to learn similar language than very different language.

Anyway, as I was taught Tagalog in the Philippines, I felt I was completely lost and it was too difficult. On the other hand, when I was taught Korean in Korea, I felt it was very fun and easy to understand. It may happen because of the effect of difference between families of languages. Korean is a member of the Altaic family of languages as well as Japanese, but Tagalog is different, it belongs to the Austronesian family of languages, so the mother tongue may affect the second language acquisition. We can also guess it from the fact that Japanese are not good at learning English.

To prove this hypothesis, I selected 3 languages, Japanese, Korean, and Tagalog for this thesis, then I will explain these 3 languages first, and next, I will explain what I will do in this thesis in detail.

1.3 . About Japanese

Japanese is spoken and written by about 120 million people in Japan, but it is sometimes spoken in Korea, Taiwan, and China too, because Japan occupied those countries in the early 20th century. People in those countries were forced to speak Japanese during