Vol. 127/128 (2000) ► pp. 101–126
Effects of Cultural Contextualization in Listening Materials on Motivation and Strategy Use
There are two fundamentally different views regarding which side of culture, i.e., target or base, foreign language learning materials should take. Approaches that emphasize the learner's assimilation into the target culture tend to advocate the use of learning materials which focus on the target side, while those that signify cross-cultural communication are inclined to emphasize the need for information-sending regarding the learner's own culture. From a constructivist perspective, content relevance of learning materials to the learner's existing knowledge is a key ingredient for intrinsic motivation. Acculturation theories, on the other hand, predict that those who are ready to be assimilated in the target culture will have more chance of success in foreign language learning, and therefore learning materials should focus on the target culture.
The author conducted a study investigating if the use of culture-bound proper nouns in materials for listening comprehension may influence the motivation towards foreign language learning, which could eventually make a difference in the use of general learning strategies. Japanese learners of English, subjects in this study, were divided into two groups : one which listened to listening materials using Japanese proper nouns such as Hanako, Sapporo, Judo, etc., and the other which listened to those using English counterparts such as Jane, Atlanta, basketball, etc. The other parts of the material were the same. Pre- and post-tests were conducted regarding motivation and strategy use before and after the ten-week-long listening practice.
The research results revealed that the expected tendency exists but that was not statistically significant. The researcher further investigated the effects of learning styles. The relationship among these variables is intricate, and foreign language learning appeared multidimensional. The results implies that learning materials do not have to reside on one-side of either base or target cultures. Further investigation is recommended to examine if other means of learning material personalization may affect motivation and strategy use.