Publication Date


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT)

First Advisor

Diane Larsen-Freeman


The purpose of this paper is to examine the causes of the learning problems displayed by Japanese students who are learning English in public elementary schools in the U.S., and to suggest some appropriate assessment tools based on the findings.

Five Japanese elementary school students temporarily residing in the U.S. were studied. Three of these were unsuccessful at learning English, while the other two were considered successful. The method included classroom observations of the subjects in their American public school and Japanese Saturday School and interviews with the subjects, their parents and their teachers in both American public school and the Japanese Saturday School. In addition, a questionnaire was administered to both parents and teachers regarding their expectations for their children/students.

Intelligence was not found to be the major cause of the English learning difficulties. The more crucial factors seemed to be the students' attitudes toward dealing with academic and interpersonal tasks. These attitudes appeared to be the products of their personalities and certain external factors such as the nature of the task, previous learning experiences, the relation between learning style and pedagogy and interpersonal relationships in their classrooms and homes. Another factor found important was the disparity between parents' and teachers' values and expectations for the children's education.

These findings suggest the need for global assessment of limited English proficiency students. A teacher needs to obtain longitudinal data that reflect a student's Ll and L2 learning experience and his or her personality, rather than identifying problems simply based on limited short-.term observation. Understanding the parental values and expectations can be another means for discovering the cause of students' learning difficulties.


Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research