This paper reports on a competition model experiment designed to investigate the sentence-processing strategies of English-speaking learners of Japanese (JFL learners) and Japanese-speaking learners of English. The participants were required to identify the sentence subject of a series of English and Japanese word strings, each consisting of one verb and two nouns, in which noun-animacy, word-order, and case-marking cues either competed or were consistent with each other. The results indicated a correlation between learners' proficiency in Japanese and case-marker dependency in Japanese strings. JFL learners primarily resorted to animacy cues to interpret Japanese strings, suggesting a prepotent role for lexical semantics. There was little evidence of transfer of surface word order, although some JFL learners resorted to the Japanese canonical SOV order to a greater extent than the native Japanese.