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A portrait of Japanese popular culture fans who study Japanese at an Australian university: Motivation and activities beyond the classroom

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This article presents a quantitative study with a focus on portraying Japanese Popular Culture (JPC) fans who take a Japanese language course at a university. Questionnaires were administered to students who were studying Japanese as a foreign language (JFL) at a multi-campus university in Australia. 247 participants (which accounts for an 85.6 per cent response rate) responded to questions concerning interest in studying Japanese, future motivation and out-of-class activities related to JPC. Further data regarding JPC consumption in retrospect and perceived benefits of JPC in studying Japanese were collected from those who identified themselves as JPC fans. It revealed that nearly three-quarters of the students were self-claimed JPC fans. While both fans and non-fans showed high interest in the language, interest in traditional culture and travel to Japan, fans revealed substantially higher motivation than non-fans in all other accounts, namely future motivation. Non-fans, however, showed relatively high motivation only in future employment. A prominent finding was that fans were exposed to Japanese language far more frequently outside the classroom than non-fans of JPC. The most popular activities for fans were watching anime, listening to J-pop music and playing video games. Reading ‘manga’ was also a frequent activity but they were reading translated ‘manga’. The findings suggest that future motivation associated with Japan and Japanese language is an important element in continuing Japanese language study. This article has implications for the role of popular culture in foreign language (FL) education, in particular when many FL learners are interested in popular culture like JPC.
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Keywords: Japanese language learners; anime; beyond the classroom; manga; motivation; popular culture; self-directed activities

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Griffith University

Publication date: August 1, 2018

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  • The East Asian Journal of Popular Culture is the first academic peer-reviewed journal for scholars, teachers, and students from around the world who have an active and passionate interest in the Popular Culture of East Asia. The journal is devoted to all aspects of popular culture in East Asia and the interplay between East Asia and the wider world. With the growth in popularity of Asian visual products in the Western world and the increasing strength of the Asian markets, this publication fulfills the need for an international journal that allows Western and Asian film, media, literary, music, fashion, digital media, television, art and cultural scholars alike to engage in discussion. In the last few decades there has been a huge rise in the interest in East Asian popular culture. The East Asian Journal of Popular Culture will be engaging directly with that trend. From film to music; art to translation and fashion to tourism, this journal will offer a forum where multidisciplinary work can come together in new and exciting ways.
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