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A cross-cultural examination of the backchannel behavior of Japanese and Americans: Considerations for Japanese EFL learners

Authors
  • Cutrone, Pino
Type
Published Article
Journal
Intercultural Pragmatics
Publisher
De Gruyter Mouton
Publication Date
Mar 01, 2014
Volume
11
Issue
1
Pages
83–120
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1515/ip-2014-0004
Source
De Gruyter
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

Listenership (consisting of backchannel feedback) and its effect on intercultural communication were investigated in 30 dyadic conversations in English between Japanese and American participants. The findings of this study demonstrate several differences in how members of each culture used backchannels in terms of frequency, variability, placement, and function. This study also found evidence supporting the hypothesis that backchannel conventions that are not shared between cultures contribute to negative perceptions across cultures. Thus, the findings of this study support the conclusion that listenership warrants more attention in EFL classes in Japan. Further, toward creating a pedagogical framework, this study also provides EFL professionals with a comprehensive account of the listenership of Japanese EFL speakers. Finally, this study also offers potential insights into the linguistic variation of native English speakers. That is, the negative perceptions that the American native English speakers reported of their Japanese EFL speaking interlocutors' listener responses in this study were not as pronounced as those reported by the British native English speakers in a previous study conducted by the same researcher.

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