A Study on English as a Lingua Franca: Japanese University Students’ Barriers to Communication

Sawako Kato, Sandra Tanahashi


In this global society, almost all of us agree that English acts as a lingua franca. However, non-native speakers often make L1 influenced mistakes including structural or grammatical errors, or mistakes in vocabulary usage. These mistakes can interfere in communication with native speakers. In this study, a sample of 101 Japanese university students who had studied English for six years before entering university (i.e. nonnative speakers) participated in translating certain sentences into written English. Then the degree to which native speakers understood these translations was examined. Native speakers marked the data as one of three types: natural, not natural but comprehensible, or incomprehensible. Next, data that was marked as either comprehensible or incomprehensible was examined to identify the type of errors that occurred most frequently. The types of errors in students’ translations of sentences were divided into three categories: (1) errors influenced by L1, (2) errors stemming from a lack of grammatical knowledge, and (3) errors which arose from a poor understanding of vocabulary. Finally, the data completed by our sample was used to find the kinds of elements that become obstacles to communication and the most difficult ideas for the students to express.

DOI: 10.5901/jesr.2013.v3n7p300

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Journal of Educational and Social Research ISSN 2239-978X(Print) ISSN 2240-0524(Online)

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