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College of Arts and Letters | Michigan State University

Megan Clare Smit



Megan is a Ph.D. candidate.  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 has worked for Bill VanPatten for two years as a research assistant. She has also taught language teaching methods, pedagogical grammar, 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, work investigating the acquisition of case morphology in L2 Japanese, 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. 

Her dissertation investigates whether native English and native Korean speakers with Japanese as an L2 are able to process Japanese in a native-like fashion.


Smith, M. (under review). L2 Learners and the Apparent Problem of Morphology: Evidence from L2 Japanese. In A. Benati and S. Yamashita, (Eds.), Theory, Research, and Pedagogy in Learning and Teaching Japanese Grammar. London: Palgrave. 

Smith, M. and Stansfield, C. (under review). Aptitude testing in second language learning. To appear in The Encyclopedia of Language and Education. 

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. The acquisition of case marking in L2 Japanese. Invited presentation for the Symposium on the Acquisition of Non-Western Languages. University of Greenwich, London, United Kingdom. October, 2015.

Smith, M. and VanPatten, B. Testing the Superset Bias with early stage L2 Japanese learners. Paper 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 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
Pedagogical Grammar
Methods of Second and Foreign Language Teaching

The Japan Center for Michigan Universities, Hikone, Japan
Teaching English in Japan 

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