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College of Arts and Letters | Michigan State University

Megan Clare Smith



Megan is a third year Ph.D. student. She completed a B.A. in Linguistics and East Asian Studies at New York University in 2007, and an M.A. in Applied Linguistics at Texas Tech University in 2012. Between 2007 and 2010, she lived in Sendai, Japan where she worked for a non-profit that focused on intercultural communication between Japanese and American college students. She also worked in an ESL support role at Tohoku International School. At MSU, she worked for Bill VanPatten for two years as a research assistant. She has also taught language teaching methods, and Japanese for Kids. In her spare time, she likes to ski, backpack, and spend time with family in Colorado.

Research Interests


Megan is interested in the acquisition of the second language system. Recent projects include work investigating the acquisition of syntactic and discourse properties of null subjects in Turkish, and work investigating whether very beginning L2 Japanese learners are able to generalize the word order of declarative sentences to polar questions and embedded clauses. 

She is currently working on a project involving the acquisition of case morphology in L2 Japanese.

Her dissertation investigates near-native Japanese speakers' acquisition of Japanese morphosyntax and discourse knowledge.



VanPatten, B. and Smith, M. (2015). Aptitude and the early stages of Japanese as an L2: Parametric variation and case marking. Paper to be published in Studies in Second Language Acquisition.

Smith, M. and VanPatten, B. (2014). Instructed SLA as parameter setting: Evidence from earliest-stage learners of Japanese as L2. In A. Benatti, C. Lavale and M. Arche, (Eds.), The grammar dimension in instructed second language learning: Theory, research, and practice (pp. 127-146). London: Bloomsbury Academic Press.




Smith, M. and VanPatten, B. Testing the Superset Bias with early stage L2 Japanese learners. Paper to be presented at the Boston University Conference on Language Development, Boston University, November, 2014.

Smith, M. and VanPatten, B. Testing the Superset Bias with early stage L2 Japanese learners. Paper to be presented at the Second Language Research Forum, Columbia, SC, October, 2014.

Smith, M. Wait, who did what to whom? Testing the Interface Hypothesis in L2 Turkish. Paper presented at the Bilingualism Symposium, University of Chicago at Illinois, October, 2014.

VanPatten, B. and Smith, M. Aptitude and early-stage L2 Japanese. Paper given as part of an ACTFL Research SIG, November, 2013.

Smith, M. The head-directionality parameter: Evidence from L2 Japanese. Presented at the Texas Tech University Graduate School of Arts and Humanities Conference, October, 2011.  


Teaching Experience


Language Teaching Methods 

Michigan State University
LLT 307: Methods of Second and Foreign Language Teaching

English as a Second Language

Michigan State University
Level 4: Writing Content
Level 3: Oral Skills

Texas Tech University
Level 5: Academic Reading and Writing
Level 4: Advanced Reading and Writing
Level 3: Intermediate Grammar 

Tohoku International School, Sendai, Japan
Elementary literacy support
Middle school literacy support 


CeLTA Language Schools: Japanese for Kids Instructor