Carnegie Mellon University

Yasufumi Iwasaki

Yasufumi Iwasaki

Associate Teaching Professor of Japanese

Department of Modern Languages
Carnegie Mellon University
Baker Hall 160
Pittsburgh, PA 15213


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. In other words, they share the same orientation as MLA Ad Hoc Committee On Foreign Languages: rather than duplicating the competence of an educated native speaker in students, the materials empower them to operate between languages and between cultures and to function as informed and capable interlocutors with educated native speakers in the target language. To that end, they are trained to speak and write first about themselves, then about their hometowns, and lastly about their countries and cultures in comparison with the target country and culture. Culture instruction is thus as essential as language instruction and is imbedded 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 (tangible objects like books and foods and intangible objects like music and games), practices (patterns of social interactions), and perspectives (world view or a system of beliefs and values). 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.

Recent Work

  • On the nature of past events in Japanese -te i-ru constructions. 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. Training effects on the development of oral fluency in L2 Japanese. Japanese Language and Literature (Journal of the Association of Teachers of Japanese), 42-2: 413-437, 2008.
  • 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)

Courses Taught

  • 82-373 Structure of Japanese
  • 82-371 Advanced Japanese I
  • 82-372 Advanced Japanese II
  • 82-271 Intermediate Japanese I
  • 82-272 Intermediate Japanese II
  • 82-171 Elementary Japanese I
  • 82-172 Elementary Japanese II

Department Member Since