SOAS University of London

Japan & Korea Section, Department of East Asian Languages & Culture

Second Language Acquisition in Japanese

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2020/2021
FHEQ Level:
Taught in:
Term 1

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the course, a student should have gained an in-depth understanding of issues on second language acquisition in Japanese and have developed skills of analysis and argumentation when writing an academic essay. On the basis of the theoretical knowledge of Japanese linguistics introduced in another course such as 15PEAH006: Syntactic Structure of Japanese I, students are required to read a variety of articles and chapters of books in order to gain insight into how the theories apply to the second language acquisition research in Japanese. Students will become aware of the importance of methodology and will be able to critically discuss linguistic problems. Obligatory class discussions and articles/chapters of books presentations will help equip students with greater confidence in arguing their own points with others. 

This course is an optional course and is designed especially for students in MA Applied Linguistics and Language Pedagogy, but students in MA in Linguistics [Japanese] would be welcome to take this course.


A total of 11 weeks teaching with a 2 hour lecture per week.

Scope and syllabus

This course provides students with comprehensive knowledge and methodology of second language acquisition in Japanese. It examines closely major topics in second language acquisition including those discussed within the framework of generative grammar. Other methodological/pedagogical issues and hypotheses concerning the second language research are also highlighted in the course of discussion. During the two-hour session, the first half session is devoted to student’s presentation and discussion. The latter session consists of lectures and problem-solving exercises. Students are required to read the relevant part of the text-book(s) or other reading materials beforehand and encouraged to discuss various linguistic phenomena and methodologies actively in class.

Method of assessment

One-two hour written examination taken in May/June (70%) and one essay of 3,000 words due in the first day of Term 3 (30%).

Suggested reading

  • Bley-Vroman, R.W. et al. (1988) The accessibility of Universal Grammar in adult language learning. Second Language Research 4.1:1-32.
  • Braidi, S. (1999) The Acquisition of Second Language Syntax. Arnold.
  • Cook, V. (1993) Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Flynn, S. and O’Neil, W. (1988) Linguistic Theory in Second Language Acquisition.
  • Gass, S. et al. (1994) Second Language Learning: Data Analysis. Lawrence Eribaum.
  • Hawkins, Roger (2001) Second Language Syntax: A Generative Introduction. Blackwell.
  • Hirakawa, M. (2001) L2 acquisition of Japanese unaccusative verbs. Studies in Second
    Language Acquisition 23: 221-45.
  • Imai, T. and Saito, M. 1986. Issues in Japanese Linguistics. Dordrecht: Foris.
  • Inagaki, S. (2001) Motion verbs with goal PPs in the L2 acquisition of English and
    Japanese. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 23: 153-70.
  • Kanno, Kazue (1997) The acquisition of null and overt pronominals in Japanese by English
    speakers. Second Language Research 36: 1125-46.
  • Kanno, K. (1999) The Acquisition of Japanese as a Second Language. John Benjamins.
    Nakayama, M. et al. (2006) The Handbook of East Asian Psycholinguistics: Volume 2
    Japanese. Cambridge University Press.
  • Ritche, W. and T.K. Bhartia (1996) Handbook of Second Language Acquisition. Academic
  • Sharwood Smith, M. (1994) Second Language Acquisition: Theoretical Foundations.
  • Tamaoka, K. et al. (2005) Priority Information used for the processing of Japanese sentences:
    Thematic roles, case particles or grammatical functions? Journal of Psycholinguistic
    Research 34-4: 281-332.
  • Thomas, M. (1999) Acquisition of the Japanese reflexive zibun and movement of anaphors in
    Logical Form. Second Language Research 11:206-34.
  • Wakabayashi, S. (2003) Contributions of the study of Japanese as a second language to our
    general understanding of second language acquisition and the definition of second
    language acquisition research. Second Language Research 19-1: 76-94.
  • White, L. (1989) Universal Grammar and Second Language Acquisition. John Benjamins.
  • White, L. (1992) Subjacency violations and empty categories in L2 acquisition. In H.
    Goodluck and M. Rochmont (eds.), Island Constraints (p445-64). Dordrecht: Kluwer.
  • White, L. (2003) Second Language Acquisition and Universal Grammar. Cambridge
    University Press.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules