Winter 2016 Syllabus

MW 1:30-3:20, THO 211

Professor:  Amy Snyder Ohta, Ph.D., Associate Professor

Office:  Gowen 247     Phone:  543-6315        email:

Office Hours:  Mondays 10:45-11:35, and by appointment

Course Web Page:

How do people learn Japanese?  How are languages learned in general?  How can we learn more about language learning processes?  In this course, these questions will be addressed by considering Japanese second language acquisition (SLA) research themes that are of interest to undergraduates new to the study of SLA. Themes include classroom SLA, learner language, language learning motivation, language learning and gender, and study abroad. Students will read research on Japanese SLA in each of these areas, with lectures clarifying theoretical frameworks and broader findings in the field in each of these areas. Students will also collect and analyze their own data related to three of these themes, with interview research being taught as a methodology of inquiry.

Learning Objectives:

  1. To develop an understanding of SLA theory and research findings related to selected areas of classroom and naturalistic learning of Japanese.
  2. To develop critical analysis skills through reading and discussion of the research in the field.
  3. To better understand how Japanese is learned as a foreign and second language in the U.S. and Japan.
  4. To develop skills related to data collection of (1) oral Japanese language conversational and classroom data and (2) interview data.
  5. To develop data analysis, research writing, and oral presentation skills.

Prerequisites:  Enrollment in or completion of a 300-level Japanese language course, or similar or higher proficiency in Japanese.  Previous coursework in linguistics, psychology, or sociolinguistics is helpful but not required.

Japanese Major Requirements:  This course may be used to meet requirements for the Japanese major and minor offered by the Department of Asian Languages & Literature.  It counts as a Japanese linguistics course for students choosing the Linguistics Option.


  1. Herbert J. Rubin & Irene S. Rubin. Qualitative Interviewing: The Art of Hearing Data.
  2. Amy Snyder Ohta. Second Language Acquisition Processes in the Classroom:  Learning Japanese.
  3. Other Reading Assignments: see “Readings” on the course web page

Components of the grade:

Reading Notes:                                         10%

Data Collection (5%, 3 times):                  15%

Term Paper (Interview study):                   16%

Tests (2):                                                   54%

Oral Presentation                                       5%


Reading Notes: Students must take notes while reading and submit a hard copy of these notes for each reading assignment. The purpose of this exercise is to help students focus on important points in the readings. Reading notes should be in a form useful to you for your own studying. They may be handwritten or typed, or written on a hard copy of the article/book (underlining and marginal notes).  Reading notes must be submitted in hard copy form.

Data Collection: There are three data collection assignments for this course. Each data collection is submitted in two stages, first as an mp3 file to the collect-it dropbox, and then in written form as a typed out transcript in Japanese (Classroom data and Learner language data) or English (Interview study), and doing analyses of the data, either as homework assignments or, for the interview study, in an academic paper (see below). NOTE: Graduate students enrolled in the course and students who do not know Japanese should see the instructor for adjustments to these assignments.

#1: Classroom Data:

Audio record one first- or second-year Japanese language class, miking two students. Choose a class that includes pair/group work as part of instruction. You may choose the class you ordinarily attend, but you cannot serve as the miked student or his/her partner. During the class recorded, you must also collect observation notes, writing down what you observe during the class period (what happens in the class, what the miked student and partner(s) are doing, etc.) Also collect copies of any handouts or relevant textbook pages. This assignment will be discussed in more detail in class

Write-up of classroom data: Based on what you learned about classroom language learning as we read Ohta (2001), you will present, as homework assignments, brief written analyses of your data that provide examples of particular phenomenon being learned about. These are due each day that an Ohta (2001) reading is due.

#2: Learner Language Data:

This is a partial replication of Baba (2003), which will be read and discussed in class. Collect a re-telling of Baba’s comic-strip (from Baba 2003, available on the class web page) from a non-native or native speaker of Japanese. See further instructions on the course web page, for analyzing and tallying the data.

Write up of learner language data: None required (though you may choose to present an analysis at your oral presentation).

#3: Interview Study Data:

Collect one or more interviews, on any topic related to Japanese language learning, from a non-native speaker of Japanese. Interview questions must be submitted and approved in advance, by the due date noted on the schedule. You must collect one hour of interview data, ine one or more interviews, with one or more persons.

Academic paper: Write up an analysis of your interview data, including an introduction with a strong thesis statement, brief consideration of previous research, methodology, and analysis (“results”(. Length: 2-3 pages, single spaced (double-space between paragraphs and after headings), plus appendices for interview questions (appendix 1) and research notes (if taken, appendix 2). Submit hard copy of paper on due date, electronic copy to drop box, and electronic copies (PDF files, html (links)) of sources to the drop box.

Tests: There will be two tests. Tests are non-cumulative and equally weighted. Students may look over their graded exams. Tests will be retained by the instructor for test security purposes.

Data Analysis Presentation: Each student will choose one data analysis from the three data sets collected, to present in small groups, using powerpoint. Powerpoints must be submitted to the dropbox, and will be graded.

Late Assignments: Reading notes are to be submitted in class each day they are due. Other assignments submitted, in class (or, if indicated, to the collect-it dropbox) on the date due are on time, with the exception of the interview study paper, which must be submitted by class time on the due date. Late reading notes receive half-credit if turned in within one week of the due date. The interview study paper grades will be docked 10% for each calendar day late (10% deduction if turned in late on the due date, and an additional 10% for each calendar day late after that).

If you will miss class but want to turn your assignment in on time, have a friend submit your assignment OR turn in the assignment to the appropriate collect-it dropbox or via hard copy to the Asian L&L Department office. If the dropbox is used, you must submit a hard copy in class on the day you return in order to receive credit.

Student responsibilities:

  1. Do not use electronic devices for any purpose in class except  for taking notes. Students violating this policy will be asked to take their activity outside of the classroom.
  2. Read the assigned materials, underlining and taking notes, and writing in questions you have about the readings to ask in class.
  3. Have a basic understanding of terminology.  Look up terms in the readings that you are not familiar with.
  4. Take high quality notes in class.
  5. Obtain missed notes and announcements from a classmate as soon as possible, understanding that each student is responsible for class content, including any announcements or discussions of assignment procedures, details of writing papers, etc., even when absent. It is not the professor’s responsibility to inform you of what you missed or to give tutorials for missed classes, though you are always welcome in office hours to ask questions about any matter related to class, class assignments, academics, work in Japan, study abroad, etc.
  6. Monitor class-related email at your UW email address and keep updated on assignment and schedule changes.
  7. Submit assignments when due. 
  8. Keep the professor informed regarding illnesses/planned absences, and your plans for submitting assigned work.
  9. Visit office hours (scheduled or by appointment) with course or paper-related questions as appropriate.
  10. Do your own work. To do otherwise, is academic misconduct. All suspected cases of suspected academic misconduct will be submitted to the Office of the Provost.


Other policy items:

Incompletes:  Incompletes are only permitted as defined by the University of Washington, within the limits outlined by UW academic policy.

Tests:  It is the best interest of students that each person have equal access to exams under the same conditions.  The tests are administered only as scheduled. Make-ups are only permitted in cases of emergency or illness, for which documentation will be required.  If a test is missed due to an error on your part (for example, due to misreading the scheduled time, relying on misinformation from a classmate, failure to arrive on campus early enough, etc.) no make-up is permitted. If you work, arrange your schedule with test dates in mind, and inform your boss of your examination dates if needed. Please note that family obligations (such as picking up a relative from the airport) are not acceptable reasons for a make-up exam. Plan to arrive on campus early to avoid unanticipated difficulties. Make-ups are not given to accommodate personal/travel plans.

Snow Day Policy: If Seattle School District, Lake Washington School District, or Mercer Island School District closes due to weather-related problems, class will not be held that day. Any assignments due must be turned in the next class day. Any scheduled exams or presentations will be re-scheduled, if possible, for the next class day.


Send questions about this workspace to Amy Ohta.