Japanese EFL learners have to overcome two types of difficulties in learning English words. One is caused by the difference between Ll, an orthographically shallow language in terms of kana, with strong connections between graphemes and phonemes, and L2, an orthographically deep language with numerous rules and exceptions. The other difficulty for learning, shared with English Ll learn-ers, lies within the English lexicon, whose words can be classified into two groups: regular words, with a shallow orthography, and irregular words, with a deep orthography. An experiment to examine the speed and accuracy of oral reading and dictation of single words was carried out, with data collected from three groups: high proficiency ninth graders, low proficiency adults (false beginners) and high proficiency adults at university. False beginners' output data typi-cally show how difficult it is for Japanese English language learners to process irregular English words. On the other hand, high proficiency ninth graders' data demonstrate that Japanee English language beginners can reduce their dependance on misleading Ll knowledge in L2 word recogni-tion. They become able to distance themselves from the influence of the Japanese lexicon, which seems to be a prerequisite for their further development as good L2 learners.