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ERIC Number: EJ872644
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Jan
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1539-0578
The Role of Reading in a Japanese Language Program: A Response to the MLA Ad Hoc Committee's Report (2007)
Marcus, Ginger
Reading in a Foreign Language, v22 suppl 1 p26-30 Jan 2010
Reading is defined as a socio-cultural act negotiated between text and reader, and the act of reading is considered to be a cognitive process that involves knowledge not only of symbols/letters, vocabulary and structure, but also of culture. In other words, in order to understand the intentions of the author and to formulate meaning, the second language (L2) reader should have a deep knowledge of, and familiarity with, the society and culture in which the given text was produced. Reading instruction in the Japanese language program, from beginning through advanced levels, aims to develop knowledge of the linguistic system and orthography of Japanese while broadening learners' cultural competence so that they can situate the given text in its cultural setting and process for meaning in a way that approaches native-speaker competence. In many ways, the recommendations of the MLA Ad Hoc Committee on Foreign Languages have already been implemented in the Japanese language program at Washington University in St. Louis, and the stipulated transformations have indeed occurred. Reading the MLA report, the author could not help but agree with the committee's many recommendations for moving foreign language departments away from the prevailing two-tiered language-and-literature model and in a direction that reflects: (1) ever-changing geopolitical realities; (2) the needs and aspirations of foreign language learners in the early 21st Century; and (3) collegiate hiring patterns. In this article, the author points out the role of reading in a reconfigured, transformed foreign language department where the curricular end-goal is not to produce a small cohort of students who will go on to study literature in graduate school, but rather "educated speakers (and readers) who have deep translingual and transcultural competence."
Reading in a Foreign Language. National Foreign Language Resource Center, 1859 East-West Road #106, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI 96822. e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Missouri