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Volume 4 Number 3, Autumn 2007, Pages 1-240   

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Cultural Awareness in Teaching English: Analysing Intercultural Communication and Teaching Positive Politeness Strategies

    Sanae Tsuda and Yuka Shigemitsu and Kazuyo Murata

This paper focuses on conversational style differences between Japanese and English and how to overcome the differences in English teaching to Japanese speakers. Using videotaped English conversations between native speakers of American English and Japanese, it analyses their differences in conversational styles. The result shows that native speakers of English interpreted Japanese speakers' verbal and nonverbal behaviors, such as nodding, frequent pauses or ellipsis, and taking turns, differently from Japanese speakers' intentions and sometimes regarded them as unfriendly or unfavorable. In the second half of the paper, it reports the result of experimental English classes in which positive politeness strategies, one of the constituents of conversational strategies, were explicitly taught. It shows students' progress in conversational skills by using various strategies they learned in class. The last part summarizes the findings and discusses implications of the results in relation to cultural differences and learner identity. It points out that English teaching inevitably involves teaching the conversational strategies of English speaking societies and that it is necessary to raise awareness of both Japanese and English speakers about their different conversational styles and strategies.

Keywords: conversational style, English conversation, intercultural communication, politeness strategy