第二言語習得学会 The Japan Second Language Association

Greetings from the President

   The Japan Second Language Association (J-SLA) is committed to investigating the mechanisms of second language acquisition (SLA). It was founded in 2001 and has been active for almost 20 years since its conception, holding annual conferences and autumn seminars, as well as publishing a journal, Second Language. In addition, J-SLA hosted an international conference, the Pacific Second Language Research Forum 2016, attracting more than 300 participants from around Japan and beyond. We are proud to say that J-SLA has become a well-established association devoted to experimental and theoretical SLA research.
    On the other hand, I feel that J-SLA is sometimes misunderstood, which has led some researchers and teachers to distance themselves from it. In the following, I mention three such misunderstandings, and by addressing each one, show you what J-SLA is all about.

    Misunderstanding 1: J-SLA is exclusively dedicated to UG-based SLA.

   J-SLA was established in 2001, when “access to UG” in SLA was being hotly debated within the Chomskyan principles-and-parameters framework. Therefore, UG-based SLA research was predominant during the early years of J-SLA and hence its association with UG-based SLA. However, this is no longer the case as theoretical orientations in SLA have diversified since then. While we do believe we need theory to probe into the mechanisms of SLA, we are not devoted to any single theory, welcoming SLA research from different theoretical perspectives, be it, e.g., UG-based, usage-based, cognitive, functional, sociocultural, etc.

    Misunderstanding 2: J-SLA has no interest in second language pedagogy.

   It is true that J-SLA focuses on the mechanisms of SLA and does not cover second language (L2) pedagogy per se. However, this does not mean that we believe that SLA research has no relevance to L2 pedagogy; on the contrary, we believe that SLA research has important pedagogical implications. After all, it is helpful to have an understanding of the L2 acquisition process in order to inform you about how to teach languages effectively. In fact, most of the J-SLA members are not only L2 researchers but also L2 teachers/learners, who care about how to teach/learn L2s. Moreover, instructed SLA is an important part of our inquiry as long as it sheds light on SLA mechanisms.

    Misunderstanding 3: J-SLA is exclusively focused on the second language acquisition of English.

   As a society in Japan, J-SLA has often featured studies on the L2 acquisition of English and, to a lesser extent, L2 acquisition of Japanese, but this does not mean that J-SLA is exclusively focused on the acquisition of English (or Japanese) as an L2. We do realize that we need data from various L2s to understand the mechanisms of SLA in general; therefore, we invite studies on the L2 acquisition of a variety of languages.

    In short, J-SLA is a get-together of people who care about SLA and thus want to deepen their understanding of its mechanisms. If this appeals to you, I would strongly encourage you to join us. We are friendly people who truly believe that SLA is a worthwhile phenomenon to study scientifically, who want to share our passion for SLA with you. Let us join hands in our efforts to promote SLA research, not just within Japan, but around the globe, thereby contributing to the field of SLA!

Shunji Inagaki
President of the Japan Second Language Association
Professor, Doshisha University

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