Vicky Zemi


This information is for people thinking about joining the zemi.  Current students and alumni of the zemi have Facebook groups for sharing information.  

To apply for this seminar--Information for Fall 2014 Entrants

  • First, be sure to read the information on this page carefully to make sure that you are really interested in the theme of this seminar. If you have any questions about it, please contact Vicky (email to vicky AT before you apply for it.
  • Next, fill out the application on Course Navi.
  • Then write one to two pages in English describing a topic or problem in linguistics or applied linguistics which you are interested in learning more about. For example, maybe you are curious about why young children can learn to speak a second language without a foreign accent while people who learn as adults almost always have an accent, or maybe you would like to know effective techniques for teaching people to read a foreign language. Describe the problem or topic as specifically as you can, explaining how you came to be are interested in it. Then briefly describe what you know about the topic or problem already, either from your own experiences or from linguistics classes you have taken. E-mail this to Vicky before the end of the application deadine.
  • Finally, if I don't already know you well, I will contact you by e-mail to schedule an interview, in person if possible, or by Skype if not. If I already know you well, or if I can judge your application just by the paper documents, I may be able to make a decision without an interview, but I will still try to meet with your before the start of classes as your academic advisor. Interviews for the first application will be on September 3, 4, and 5.

About this seminar

  • In this seminar, students are exploring ways in which linguistic theory and knowledge can be applied to actual situations.
  • The focus is mainly on second language learning and teaching, but we also welcome students interested in other applications, such as translation or language policy, or in aspects of linguistic theory.
  • The seminar is conducted in English, but it is open to students interested in theory or applications to ANY language. This zemi is multi-lingual!
  • It is expected that students in this seminar will already have taken some classes in linguistics or applied linguistics. This is especially true for students who want to join the seminar from the Spring term. If you haven't taken any classes in linguistics or applied linguistics, it may be difficult for you to finish a thesis on time to graduate in March.
  • In order to more deeply understand the ideas we are discussing in class, it would be very useful for you to have some actual work experience related to your interests. If you have never worked (either as a volunteer or in a paid position) as a language teacher/tutor or translator, you are strongly urged to do some kind of work as you attend this seminar. Some suggestions are given below. NOTE: For the volunteer positions as Waseda, you need to apply BEFORE the start of the semester in which you want to work.
  •  For the Fall 2015 semester, I will ask students to buy the book Mapping Applied Linguistics.  (Hall, Christopher J., Patrick H. Smith, and Rachel Wickasono. 2011. Mapping Applied Linguistics: A Guide for Students and Practitioners. Routledge.) This book introduces many different topics in applied linguistics, and will help you to decide on a graduation thesis topic.

Some possibilities for getting practical experience

  • If you are interested in teaching Japanese as a foreign or second language, and your native language is Japanese, you can become a volunteer tutor for Japanese classes at Waseda classes. Check the homepage of the Center for Japanese Language (日本語センター)to find out how to become a volunteer for the fall term classes.
  • If you are interested in teaching English and/or your native language other than Japanese, you could work as a private tutor.
  • If you are interested in translation from Japanese to English,volunteer to help translate the Waseda Weekly . You can find the contact e-mail address at the bottom of their web page.
  • In the spring semesters, there are also opportunity for language-related interships through the SILS office. Contact Vicky for more details.

 Preparation for this seminar

  • If you have NEVER taken a class in linguistics or applied linguistics, this will NOT be a good seminar for you. It is assumed that all students in the seminar will have at least some background in linguistics.
  • Before class starts, you may want to review your knowledge of the basic terminology used in phonetics/phonology, syntax, morphology, and semantics. If you already have an introductory textbook, read through the chapters on these topics, focusing on your weak areas. If you don't have an introductory textbook in English (or you don't like the one you have), I recommend Japanese Linguistics by Yamaguchi (listed below). It explains basic concepts of linguistics using Japanese examples. Another useful book, similar in style but focusing on English examples, is English Words by Harley. Sections from both of these books are used as textbooks in CO315 (Word Structure and Vocabulary) which I will be teaching in the fall semester. If your background in linguistics is weak, or if you are especially interested in morphology and vocabulary, you might want to take this class in addition to the zemi.
  • If you are thinking about attending graduate school in Japan, you will also need to know linguistics terminology in Japanese. I recommend that you take some of the open courses in applied linguistics for Japanese taught at Waseda's Center for Japanese Language.
  • For a basic background in applied linguistics, Lightbown and Spada (2006) is very useful, especially the first three chapters. If you have never studied anything about language learning or teaching before, this might be an excellent book for you to read before classes start. Finally, Gass and Selinker is one of the most-used textbooks in the area of applied linguistics. Most or all of the books below are available in the SILS library.

Reference books

This is a partial list  of reference books which will be useful for this seminar. Additional works will be recommended based on students' interests.

  • Brown, James Dean, and Theodore S. Rodgers. 2003. Doing Second Language Research. Oxford University Press.
  • Davies, Alan, and C. Elder. 2004. The Handbook of Applied Linguistics. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
  • Gass, Susan M. and Larry Selinker. 2008. Second Language Acquisition: An Introductory Course. Lawrence Erlbaum and Assoc.
  • Griffiths, Carol. 2008. Lessons from Good Language Learners.Cambridge University Press.
  • Hall, Christopher J., Patrick H. Smith, and Rachel Wickasono. 2011. Mapping Applied Linguistics: A Guide for Students and Practitioners. Routledge.
  • Harley, Heidi. 2006. English Words: A Linguistic Introduction. Blackwell.
  • Jenkins, Jennifer. 2009. World Englishes: A Resource Book for Students. Routledge.
  • Larsen-Freeman, Diane. 2000. Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Lightbown, Patsy, and Nina Spada. 2006. How Languages are Learned.Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Radford, Andrew, et. al. 1999. Linguistics: An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Sinclair, John McH. 2004. How to Use Corpora in Language Teaching.Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
  • Widdowson, H. G. 2003. Defining Issues in English Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Wray, Alison and Aileen Bloomer. 2013. Projects in Linguistics and Language Studies, 3rd edition. Routledge.
  • Yamaguchi, Toshiko. 2007. Japanese Linguistics : An Introduction.London: Continuum.
  • Yamaguchi, Toshiko. 2007. Japanese Language in Use. London: Continuum.

 Possible Thesis Topics

Here are just some of the thesis topics of past students in this seminar.

  • attempts to revive the Ainu language
  • the future of the Okinawan language
  • attitudes toward the use of Taiwanese dialect in the media in Taiwan
  • attitudes toward the use of Shanghai dialect in Shanghai
  • Computer-mediated communication and English education
  • English education in elementary schools in Japan and other Asian countries
  • Japanese language education for linguistic minority (e.g. Brazilian-Japanese) children in Japan
  • Japanese language education for refugees
  • metaphors and thought in Japanese and English
  • some problems of foreign students learning Japanese as a second language
  • student motivation and Japanese language study at Waseda
  • teachers' views of English education in Japanese junior high and high schools
  • the portrayal of English in Japanese junior high school textbooks (is English portrayed as a lingua franca? Or as a language used only by native speakers?)
  • the usefulness of linguistic knowledge of phonetics in study of a foreign language
  • how politeness is handled in Engish and Japanese foreign language textbooks
  • focus on form in the teaching English
  • integration of computer-assisted language learning into the English teaching curriculum
  • translation of tanka from Japanese to English
  • translation of children's literature from English into Japanese
  • a functional analysis of code-switching among SILS students
  • code-switching with Korean on social media sites
  • translation of movie titles into Chinese
  • foreign-film translation into Japanese
  • Japanese-language eduction for care-givers from Indonesia
  • foreign accents in animation--how and why are they used
  • university students' foreign language vocabulary learning strategies
  • language issues in the application of international accounting standards
  • the Englishization of Rakuten

Career opportunities

  • Some graduates of this seminar have gone to work directly after graduation in banks, trading companies, software companies, telecommunications (docomo), housing companies, universities (Waseda!), and so on.
  • Some are working or planning to be language teachers at the junior high, high school or university level, teaching English, Japanese, or possibly other languages. Some graduates have gone on to graduate study (in Japan, the US, and the UK) in areas including linguistics, applied linguistics, anthropology, and accounting.

© Victoria Muehleisen 2014