Testing for Language Transfer with the Grammatical Particle "NI" Among Filipino/English Bilingual Learners of Japanese

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts major in Japanese Studies


Japanese Studies

First Advisor

Hiroko Nagai, Ph.D.


With English and Filipino as official languages in the Philippines, Filipinos learning a foreign language grapple with the process of acquiring a third language. Of these, Japanese is one of the most common options for foreign language in both universities and language schools. Given the bilingual background, the process by which Japanese language learners in the Philippines apply knowledge from their previously acquired languages in acquiring a succeeding language becomes more complex. This application of prior linguistic knowledge from other acquired languages is a phenomenon called language transfer. Language transfer is considered facilitative or positive when base language features similar to the target language allow learners to transfer knowledge directly from the base language to the target language; and inhibitory or negative when the differences between base and target language features lead to errors. Most of the pre-existing literature deal primarily with English language learning or language transfer in the acquisition of a second language. However, this research aims to compare the presence of language transfer from either English or Filipino as primary languages, into Japanese as a third language among Filipino learners. More specifically, this research tests whether similarities which may be absent between English and Japanese but are present in Filipino and Japanese such as the grammatical particle ‘ni’ and the case marker ‘sa’ (both of which can serve as oblique case markers) can lead to facilitative language transfer. To test this, Filipino-English bilingual students taking a pre-intermediate course in Japanese language were subjected to translation tests from either English to Japanese or Filipino to Japanese. Comparisons of their scores determine whether facilitative language transfer occurred.

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