SOAS University of London

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

Workshop on “Acquisition of Modality”

Various Speakers

Date: 9 July 2011Time: 10:00 AM

Finishes: 9 July 2011Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B102

Type of Event: Workshop

The organizers are part of a research team working on a project on the acquisition of modal categories and modal markers (e.g. epistemic, deontic, utterance-level, etc.) by learners of Japanese, but we also invite specialists of other languages to join us and exchange ideas and research findings.

Questions we are currently exploring, and which we would like to submit to discussion, are:

  • Which theoretical definition of modality should be adopted in language acquisition studies? Definitions offered in linguistic studies which do not have language users/learners at their theoretical core may satisfy the criterion of ontological rigor, but may fail to capture the way modality is presented to and represented by learners in institutional contexts.
  • Which approach to the study of modality is most fruitful in order to explain acquisitional problems and illustrate acquisitional paths? While formal approaches are generally more suitable to quantitative analyses, functional approaches have an edge with regards to the description of non-linear, non-cumulative acquisitional paths driven by learners' expressive capabilities and needs.
  • What should a realistic and manageable research design look like to combine the merits of both approaches?
  • Which research instruments are available that would enable us to capture learners' understandings, or tap into learners' knowledge, in this domain?
  • What is the impact of classroom instruction and/or residence abroad in the development of modality?
  • How can we link the results of exploratory research on modality acquisition to recommendations on pedagogical practice in the context of the traditional/structural or more recent (e.g. CEFR-based) syllabi?

The call for papers is now closed.


Interested participants are kindly invited to register by 27 June 2011, by e-mailing Barbara Pizziconi (

The registration fee (£15) can be paid on the day, in cash, or pay your registration fee online


10:30-10:45Opening remarks
10:45-11:15Barbara Pizziconi
Overview of issues in modality acquisition research
11:15-11:45Mika Kizu
Review of previous studies of SOAS students’ modality acquisition
11:45-12:15Keiko Ikeda & Don Bysouth
Discursively constructed modality in Japanese conversation: A case of group discussion
13:30-14:00Lucien Brown
Researching the Acquisition of Modality in Korean
14:00-14:30Sandra C. Deshors
Towards an understanding of the expression of modality in L2: a contrastive multifactorial approach
14:45-15:15Widelia Widealiau
Semantic Change of Modal Meanings: Evidence from Second Language Acquisition
15:15-15:45Sara Jonkers (& Esther Ruigendijk)
Modal verbs and their meanings in Dutch first language acquisition
15:45-16:45General discussion

Please contact Barbara Pizziconi ( for enquiries on the programme.

Organiser: Barbara Pizziconi ( and Mika Kizu (

Contact email: