First steps towards Japanese language textbook design: survey of textbooks and students’ needs

Mary Murata and Dr Becky Muradás-Taylor

The majority of students on Japanese degree programmes at York St John University go to Japan to study abroad after just one year of Japanese study. The project compared existing Japanese language textbooks with our students’ needs in order to ascertain 1) Do any existing textbooks meet the needs of our students? and 2) What content do our students need to prepare them for study abroad?

This project was necessary because there appeared to be a lack of teaching materials aimed at students like ours who go to Japan to live and study after just one year of Japanese. In addition, we felt that there was a mismatch between our preferred teaching style, which is largely a communicative language teaching approach, and the dialogues and drills in the existing textbooks. We hope at some stage to design at textbook targeted at our students, but needed, as a first step towards this, to a) find out what a students’ needs really are, and b) make sure that no existing textbook meets these needs.    

We surveyed 15 textbooks, and 9 students. The students surveys were a mix of questionnaires and interviews either while the students were in Japan or after their return. We then carried out a thematic analysis of their responses to determine their needs for Japanese language instruction during their first year of study.


You can read more about the project here:

Murata, M. & Muradás-Taylor, B. (2017). First Steps towards Japanese Language Textbook Design:

Survey of textbooks and students’ needs. BATJ Journal, 18, 12–18. URL:

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