Date of Graduation

2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

College/School

School of Education

Department

International and Multicultural Education

Program

International & Multicultural Education EdD

First Advisor

Sedique Popal

Second Advisor

Betty Taylor

Third Advisor

Shabnam Koirala-Azad

Abstract

Even though language-program evaluations provide educators with various types of information on teaching practices and the programs in which they work, insufficient literature discusses issues related to language-program evaluation. This mixed-methods study examined the effectiveness of a Japanese-language program offered at a government-sponsored Institute located in northern California on language-program evaluation and developing communicative competence at postsecondary schools.

Data comprised two sets of surveys, six individual interviews, and one group interview. Survey respondents were 35 former students of the institute and 12 Japanese instructors who are currently teaching Japanese or have taught Japanese at the Institute. Of the 35 students, 6 participated in individual interviews, and 6 of the 12 instructors formed a focus group. The mean scores and standard deviations calculated for each answer provide the quantitative data. All qualitative data were labeled and categorized according to the words used.

The quantitative and the qualitative data obtained from the surveys and interviews provided positive and negative feedback. Many students commented they developed solid communicative competence while taking the basic course offered at the Institute. Linguistic competence, sociocultural competence, discourse competence, and strategic competence are the key elements the Institute should consider to improve its curriculum. All instructors’ responses revealed they encountered a dilemma when working at the Institute: although they wanted to teach what they believed to be important, it was impossible to do because they would have had to deviate from the Institute’s curriculum.

Former students and instructors provided surprisingly similar opinions. Although instructors would like to introduce exactly what former students designated as important missing features, they are unable to make dramatic changes unless the Institute revises the curriculum based on what graduates experienced. Findings from this research supported Schultz’s (2006) remark that it is neither a realistic nor a sufficient goal for the general education foreign-language requirement to develop students’ communicative competence.