Effects of a timed dictation activity in the introductory course in Japanese focusing on the accuracy and fluency of writing Katakana

Aya Okada, Purdue University


The importance of mastering one of the Japanese syllabaries, Katakana, is acknowledged by both Japanese as a foreign language (JFL) learners and teachers. Katakana is a phonetic syllabary that is used to transcribe loanwords primarily from European languages and onomatopoeia words. These loanwords are nowadays called Katakana words. The number of Katakana words in Japanese language has been increasing, and it is reported that many JFL learners in Japan often encounter difficulty in understanding these words. Though teachers are also aware of the importance of teaching Katakana, it is treated less importantly. For example, after spending some time and effort teaching Hiragana, the other primary syllabary, Katakana can be thought of as additional, and allocating some set amount of time during the class for Katakana teaching is challenging. In order to solve these current issues, the present study utilized the timed-dictation with the timed-dictation player (Fukada, 2015). The goal of this study is to examine if this method has an effect to enhance learners’ fluency and accuracy in writing Katakana. The subjects were 74 JFL learners in the Timed Dictation (TD) group, who had timed-dictation activities through a semester, and 113 in the Written Test (WT) group, who had traditional Katakana writing practices as a treatment. During the timed-dictation activities, students were asked to transcribe an audio recording within a limited time frame. The students were able to practice dictation on their own using the timed dictation player before having the timed-dictation test during the class. At the end of semester, an identical Katakana test was administered to both groups. It asked students to convert as many Hiragana symbols into Katakana symbols as they can within three minutes. The result showed that though the timed-dictation activity did have a positive effect, the impact was insufficient for the TD group to achieve overall higher Katakana writing proficiency than the WT group. Further analysis involving the learners’ first languages and questionnaire responses was also conducted. It is found that the level of difficulty of dictation materials should be adjusted to the learners’ proficiency levels.




Fukada, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Foreign Language|Higher education

Off-Campus Purdue Users:
To access this dissertation, please log in to our
proxy server