Studies in Learning, Evaluation, Innovation and Development > Vol. 2, No. 3 (2005)

Attrition in Japanese language learning at Central Queensland University

Carol Ann Ferguson, Central Queensland University
Peter Grainger, CQU


Attrition rates in second language learning are particularly high in Category Four languages like Japanese. This is due to the difficulty of Japanese, in terms of orthography, for learners whose native language is based on the English alphabet. These difficulties often result in high levels of anxiety experienced by learners particularly in the first six months of beginning study of these languages. However, despite attrition rates as high as 80% experienced by learners of Japanese in many universities (Anderson &Ramsay 1996), recent history of Japanese language learning at Central Queensland University does not reflect this pattern of high attrition. Since the beginning of the Bachelor of Learning Management (Japanese) degree, the attrition rate for learners of Japanese has averaged fewer than 10%, in stark contrast to the average 20% attrition rate for many BLM courses. This study seeks to measure the attrition rate of students studying Japanese at CQU, to compare these attrition rates with other programs operating at CQU in other faculties, and to investigate possible reasons for this low attrition rate. A number of significant factors are identified in particular the teaching strategies, the design of the program and the relationships between students and instructors. This study has significant pedagogical implications for all programmes within all faculties of CQU and outside of CQU.

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