Applied Research on Japanese Language Use by Non-Native Speakers Based on Diverse Language Resources

Project Leader
ISHIGURO Kei (Professor, NINJAL)
Project Period
April 2022 -
Subproject Title Subproject Leader Subproject Period
A Longitudinal Corpus Study of Written Japanese by L2 Learners ISHIGURO Kei April 2022 -
A Longitudinal Corpus Study of Spoken Japanese by L2 Learners ISHIGURO Kei April 2022 -
A Study on Learning Support for Written Japanese YAMAGUCHI Masaya April 2022 -
A Longitudinal Study of Spoken Japanese by Long-term Resident L2 Learners NOYAMA Hiroshi April 2022 -
Research on the Literacy of Immigrants in Japan FUKUNAGA Yuka April 2022 -


Background and Purpose

Many people living in Japan today speak Japanese as a foreign language. They range from convenience store clerks and hoteliers to nurses in hospitals and caregivers in nursing homes, SEs and programmers, technical intern trainees in various industries, and foreign students studying at universities and vocational schools. How did these non-native speakers of Japanese learn and acquire the Japanese language? We are promoting a project to study their acquisition of Japanese.

There are two main types of places where people learn and acquire the Japanese language: overseas and in Japan. When studying abroad, most of them learn Japanese in the classroom. Like English education in Japan, Japanese language education overseas is generally taught through the local language, among local people. When studying overseas, the target language is called JFL (Japanese as a foreign language).

International students in Japan learn Japanese in the classroom, as in Japanese language education overseas, but the classroom is multinational, and the common language is Japanese, not students’ native language(s). At the same time, learners may study one-on-one with a professional Japanese language teacher, or they may study in local Japanese language classes taught by volunteers. In addition, there may be cases where the language is acquired spontaneously by learners through communication with Japanese workers in the workplace. When studying in Japan, the target language is called JSL (Japanese as a second language).

Thus, we cannot talk about “learning Japanese” per se; the environment and method of learning Japanese are very different between JFL and JSL, therefore, it is important to study each of them. Our project uses different approaches to research JFL and JSL.

japanese language

Objectives and Methods

The important thing in the study of Japanese language learning is the growth process of learners. The growth process of a learner becomes clear only by tracking his/ her progress over time as he/she progresses from beginner to intermediate to advanced level.

We are undertaking two subprojects for JFL research: “A Longitudinal Corpus Study of Written Japanese by L2 Learners” and “A Longitudinal Corpus Study of Spoken Japanese by L2 Learners.” In the former, we will collaborate with several universities in China, Taiwan, Korea, and Vietnam to conduct a four-year writing survey. The latter, a discourse study, will be conducted through I-JAS–compliant interviews with Japanese language learners at universities in China, Vietnam, and Thailand over four years. In both cases, the survey results will be published in the form of learner corpora. Another subproject. “A Study on Learning Support for Written Japanese” develops a writing and correction support system for cooperative writing education and employs data obtained from class practice using the system to clarify the process of writing skill acquisition and the teaching effects of the system.

There are also two subprojects underway for JSL research. One is “A Longitudinal Study of Spoken Japanese by Long-Term Resident L2 Learners,” which will disclose and analyze data from a longitudinal interview survey of foreign residents in the Tohoku region to clarify their language acquisition over a long period. The second is "Research on the Literacy of Immigrants in Japan," which collects data on immigrants’ types of communication through letters, use of strategies, and use of new media in daily life for learners of Japanese as living individuals, to develop practical research on their literacy and support for immigrants.

We will collect and publish the study data over time. Long-term learning records contain valuable hints that contribute to Japanese language learning and education.

japanese language

Project Members

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