Teaching Subjective Construal and Related Constructions with SCOBAs

Concept Learning as a Foundation for Japanese Language Development


  • Kyoko Masuda Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Amy Snyder Ohta University of Washington




Japanese-as-a-second-language (JSL), concept-based language instruction (C-BLI), concept-based instruction (CBI), schema of a complete orienting basis of action (SCOBA), subjective construal, non-use of ‘I’, motion verbs, meanings of give, psychological predicates


Japanese and English have substantial typological differences, including different construal patterns. Construal patterns reflect linguistic framing of events, more objectively or more subjectively, depending on whether the speaker is understood as a separate part of the scene or as merged with the scene. English frames events using objective construal more often than subjective construal; Japanese overwhelmingly prefers subjective construal. Understanding construal is critical for Japanese L2 learners, yet overlooked in Japanese pedagogy. This paper considers how SCOBAs (Schema of a Complete Orienting Basis of an Action) can be used in Concept-Based Language Instruction (C-BLI) to teach construal. The first SCOBAs introduced visualize construal concepts; subsequent SCOBAs depict how Japanese subjective construal relates to other constructions, including the non-use of ‘I’, motion verbs, verbs meaning ‘give’, and psychological predicates. We also discuss approaches to promoting internalization of the concepts via a variety of dialogic tasks and application exercises.

Author Biographies

Kyoko Masuda, Georgia Institute of Technology

Kyoko Masuda is Associate Professor of Japanese applied linguistics at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her current research areas include cognitive linguistics, sociocultural theory, second language acquisition, and Japanese discourse studies.

Amy Snyder Ohta, University of Washington

Amy Snyder Ohta is Associate Professor of Japanese applied linguistics at the University of Washington. Her research focuses on the learning and teaching of Japanese as a foreign language, with special interest in the areas of sociocultural theory, interlanguage pragmatics, classroom research, and interview research.


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How to Cite

Masuda, K. ., & Ohta, A. S. (2021). Teaching Subjective Construal and Related Constructions with SCOBAs: Concept Learning as a Foundation for Japanese Language Development. Language and Sociocultural Theory, 8(1), 35–67. https://doi.org/10.1558/lst.19036