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Educator finds young users of LINE app losing their grip on language

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"When I don't know what to say, I just post a stamp (emoticon or avatar)," says the student. "Or, when I have to follow a group discussion, I just post a bunch of grinning emoticons."

This, Kohei Yano tells Shukan Kinyobi (March 3), shows how use of smartphone applications like LINE threaten to dumb down users and promote deterioration of the Japanese language.

Yano, the founder of a juku (cram school) is author of a book published by Kodansha titled "LINE is turning children into dummies, and pushing their Japanese language to the verge of collapse."

One thing Yano has observed among middle-school and high-school children who regularly use the LINE chat application is the paucity of their working vocabulary.

Over the past five to six years -- basically since the introduction of LINE to Japan -- vocabulary has rapidly deteriorated. One example is how "kimoi," a corruption of "kimochi ga warui" which means "it turns me off," is used for practically any situation. Young users seem to have lost their ability to verbalize their feelings in more nuanced detail. And this is leading to a proliferation of young people who lack the ability to express a range of feelings. During class there may be some point they don't understand, but don't make any response.

This in turn shows a weakness of the critical mind, which is why it's becoming rare to hear them advance a counterargument in class, such as along the lines of, "Sensei, I understand what you're saying, but don't some people also take a different viewpoint?"

Because of this, there's no sense of developing rapport in a class in a good sense, by which kids band together and learn as a group.

Another sign of the deterioration is students' growing inability to use, or comprehend, figurative language. Yano blames this on youngsters' growing participation in SNS, which is causing a loss of creativity. Since students only make an attempt to understand the literal meanings of words, they can't comprehend media such as poetry.

"What's more, kids, by using only smartphones, can't even operate personal computers," Yano remarks. "They can't even use keyboards, which they regard as requiring striking a sequence of keys in order to make something out of nothing."

So what's the way out of this impending linguistic quandary?

A sensible way is to assign students to write. Just looking up a word in the dictionary and using it in a sentence isn't sufficient. The formula should be to have the student take two words -- "donyoku" (greedy) and "fukakai" (incomprehensible) for example -- and use them in combination, i.e., "All of a sudden that person became money-hungry; I can't figure out what got into him."

"So one student considers how to make the sentence, writes it down and then reads it out loud. Then by explaining it to a third person by reading it aloud, he can confirm that what he said made sense," says Yano.

It would appear that in the world created by LINE users, the existence of others is not recognized. In Yano's view, people who stick with their own close group with tend to display a pronounced lack of interest or creativity toward outsiders. The real concern is how this is permeating Japanese society. The growing numbers Japanese users of LINE, like those of the 2-Channel bulletin board, exhibit characteristically antisocial behavior, and efforts at analysis thereof may lead drawing various conclusions about where the country is headed.

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


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This, Kohei Yano tells Shukan Kinyobi (March 3), shows how use of smartphone applications like LINE threaten to dumb down users and promote deterioration of the Japanese language.

Geez and here I thought all along that teaching English earlier in Elementary School was the cause of deteriorating Japanese language skills? My bad.....

2 ( +4 / -2 )

LINE has greatly enhanced my learning of Kanji and me texting my friends :)

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Yano, It because of your cram school that student have do socialise

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Lol Yubaru, was that a thing at one point?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Been happening for years, young (not just Japanese) people have no grasp of how to write business emails either. "LOL", "coz", "wot", "U", "4" instead of "for" etc etc etc

Dear Boss, PPL said we lost sale because U don't have wot we want 4 that system, IMO IDK, TTYS,

10 ( +11 / -1 )

“When I don’t know what to say, I just post a stamp (emoticon or avatar),” says the student.

This is not evidence students have lost their language.

“Or, when I have to follow a group discussion, I just post a bunch of grinning emoticons.”

This is not evidence students have lost their language.

One example is how “kimoi,” a corruption of “kimochi ga warui” which means “it turns me off,” is used for practically any situation. Young users seem to have lost their ability to verbalize their feelings in more nuanced detail.

This is not evidence students have lost their language.

It's junk science at it's worst. The only way you can actually claim students have lost their linguistic abilities because of Line is if you make a direct comparison between a Line group and a non-Line control group, where all other factors between them are similar enough that they make no difference in language ability.

This joker of a cram school teacher hasn't done that, which is why his "research" is being publish in a weekly tabloid instead of one of the many language-related professional journals out there.

This kind of thing drives me nuts. There is already a vast amount of research out there around the world in how young people learn a language, but all too often in Japan someone with more book-selling aspirations than a willingness to do research just ignores it all and invents a modern era boogieman, blaming the natural evolution of language over time on whatever outside influence makes them uncomfortable and completely ignoring real work they could be doing to help children learn better.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

Lol Yubaru, was that a thing at one point?

Yes, there is some association of Japanese language professors and educators that complained that learning or teaching a foreign language at a young age was detrimental to the development of their own mother tongue.

Their argument being that kids should learn Japanese first and then after ES or LATER develop foreign language skills.

My opinion on the matter is that MEXT has zero desire to have students learn to actually be able to communicate in English BECAUSE of cultural reasons alone. They, like so many other "academics" believe that the language, (Japanese) the culture and everything Japanese are connected and only "Japanese" can truly learn and understand the language.

Yeah I know, it's guano on a major scale, but it's connected in that learning English means learning "English" culture which will dilute Japanese.

But little did they count on them doing it themselves with the advent of apps like line!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Yubaru That's interesting because I have heard the same thing from Japanese moms married to foreigners here in Kansai.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is not evidence students have lost their language.

Absolutely. What this idiot seems not to appreciate is that text communication is largely a visual version of spoken communication. Hardly anybody speaks in perfectly formed sentences with impeccable logic. Real people speak in disjointed sentences, punctuated with pauses, takebacks and visual cues. They construct and challenge arguments piece by fragment, not in neat logical sequences. The way people use Line reflects this, with adaptations to the limitations of text. Emojis are an integral part of the communication process, especially for a passive participant in a group.

One other thing these moaners often overlook is that in the past many millions of people rarely communicated in writing. If they weren't in a white-collar job, they just didn't need to. Now we have almost the whole population reading and writing every day, those with lower literacy levels are more obvious. It's still something to celebrate, rather than whining about the failings of the young.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I remember the days of :)

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"Over the past five to six years—basically since the introduction of LINE to Japan—vocabulary has rapidly deteriorated. One example is how “kimoi,” a corruption of “kimochi ga warui” which means “it turns me off,” is used for practically any situation."

I'm going to guess this is an old guy who thinks that everything should be done the way he did it and became so high and mighty. He doesn't address the fact that the same argument was made when cell phones became mass circulated, saying "Young people are unable to write Kanji as a result!" and forgetting that one of the biggest offenders of that, AND reading it, is none other than the former PM and still semi-illiterate Taro Aso; born long before cellular phones and falling easily into the category of people who "misunderstood" his comment about old people needing to hurry up die to ease the burden on the pension system. In fact, the man is so unable to communicate the language he wants to use, he is ALWAYS, "nantoka", misunderstood or "misrepresented" in the media.

That's but one example. "Kimoi" has been around longer than LINE, and so has the once improper use of "zenzen" in positive sentences. HIs argument is the same old argument against everything that older people always have with younger people and technology -- they were against the ball pen, they were against the television, the computer, video games... you name it. Only the medium changes.

Oh, and you notice the guy is a book -- written and printed text -- author from Kodansha. If the stepped out of the stone age for a minute and had his stuff digitized and spread around LINE or similar media, he'd quickly be praising it. The man is just out to sell a few more of his books and is angry young people don't want to stay frozen in time.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

The consequences of greed for convenience

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Emoticons are just modern kanji!...maybe they need to add another 1000 emojis and the messages will become a form of poetry! Teachers could have emoji Haiku competitions

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Have any of you read and watched Fahrenheit 451? It's currently a combination of Orwellian Newspeak and the eradication of actual literacy. ????????????????????????????????????????????????

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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