Carnegie Mellon University

Yasufumi Iwasaki

Yasufumi Iwasaki

Associate Teaching Professor of Japanese

341 Posner Hall
Department of Modern Languages
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Education: Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Linguistics. MA Purdue University, Japanese, Second Language Acquisition and Pedagogy. BA Kobe City University of Foreign Studies (Evening Course), English Language and Literature.


Since I joined Carnegie Mellon University as a teaching-track faculty member in 2005, I have primarily worked on the language curriculum. My curricular work has been guided by, among others, Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century and ACTFL proficiency guidelines. I first classified learning activities into three categories: classroom activities, homework, and project. Then I have developed teaching materials for those activities and organized them in the sequence of interpretive (reading and listening comprehension), interpersonal (small group discussion), and presentational (discussion summary and presentation) within the framework of communicative modes. The materials also integrate three of the five Cs - communication, cultures, and comparisons - to promote transcultural as well as translingual competence. Culture instruction is thus as essential as language instruction and is embedded in it by using language to learn the similarities and differences between the target culture and students’ own. It is also based on the trichotomy of cultural elements: products, practices, and perspectives. As in any other rational inquiry, culture instruction seeks to unearth the unobservable (perspectives) through close examination of the observable (products and practices). Students are expected to understand the similarities and differences between the two cultures at the levels of products, practices, and perspectives.

  • Japanese Language Pedagogy
  • Japanese Linguistics
  • Elementary Japanese
  • Intermediate Japanese
  • Advanced Japanese
  • Structure of the Japanese Language
  • Understanding Cultural Complexities
  • Elliot Dunlap Smith Award for Distinguished Teaching and Educational Service, Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University, 2014-2015
  • Review committee member of a research project “Language for Special Purposes and Teaching of Japanese Language: Communication in the Field of Law and Economics,” Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Italy (April 2, 2012-April 19, 2012)
  • "Realization of Imperfective Aspect in Japanese -TE IRU and -TE ARU Constructions." The 23rd Princeton Japanese Pedagogy Forum, PROCEEDINGS May 2017, pp. 378-397.
  • "A Unit Test for Reading, Writing, and Cultural Analysis at the Advanced Level." In K. Kondo-Brown, J. D. Brown, W. Tominaga (Eds.). Practical assessment tools for college Japanese. Chapter 11 (pp. 64-73), 2013. (Honolulu, HI: National Foreign Language Resource Center, Online publication (
  • "On the Nature of Past Events in Japanese -te i-ru Constructions." The 17th Princeton Japanese Pedagogy Forum, PROCEEDINGS June 2010, pp. 141-169.
  • "Honorific Predicates with Light Verbs in Japanese." Proceedings from the Annual Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society, 44-2: 19-33, 2010.
  • "With Naoko Taguchi. Goals, Beliefs, and Outcomes of an Elementary Japanese Program: Implementation of Chunk Learning in the Development of Interpersonal Communication Ability." In Jay H. Siskin (ed.) From Thought to Action: Exploring Beliefs and Outcomes in the Foreign Language Program, Chapter 6 (pp. 92-109), 2008. (Boston, MA: Thomson Heinle)

Department Member Since 2005