Past Seminars (2010-2011)


Kathleen Bardovi-Harlig (Indiana University)

Formulas, Chunks, and Conventional Expressions in L2 Acquisition, Use, and Teaching

Have you heard the expressions chunk, formula, or routine related to second language learning and teaching? These are terms for multi-word units (like idioms, expressions, collocations, and even phrasal verbs) which are used in various ways in the second language acquisition, learning, and teaching literature. Are you familiar with expressions such as Nice to meet you, No problem, and No thanks, I'm just looking? This seminar introduces participants to the study of multi-word utterances, separating out fact from fiction, based on research on L2 learners. We will examine three perspectives on formulas: psycholinguistic orientations to formulas and claims related to storage and retrieval, acquisitional perspectives that show how formulas develop in adult L2 learners, and social perspectives showing how learners and native speakers use formulas in social talk and pragmatics. We will discuss the extent to which formulas may develop outside L2 grammar or how they may reflect L2 grammar, and how learners come to select conventional expressions from among a range of grammatically correct equivalents or paraphrases (a problem that Pawley and Syder identified in first language learning as the puzzle of nativelike selection; Pawley & Syder, 1983, p. 90). What is called "nativelike" by Pawley and Syder is defined by community-wide use in pragmatics (Coulmas, 1981; House & Edmondson, 1991; Bardovi-Harlig, 2009) and by frequency in corpus linguistics (Biber et al., 1999; Biber, Conrad, & Cortes, 2004)

Participants will learn how to identify formulas in L1 and L2 production, how to design studies to investigate formula development and use, and how to approach formulas pedagogically.

We will address these questions and others:

  1. What are formulas and conventional expressions a) psycholinguistically, b) acquistionally, c) socially, and d) how do they differ?
  2. How are conventional expressions acquired?
  3. How can we study conventional expressions?
  4. How can we teach conventional expressions?

Projects for this seminar may be either acquisitionally or pedagogically focused. Open to participants at all levels of study. All basic concepts will be taught.

Charles M. Browne (Meiji Gakuin University)

Developing Lexical Competence: From Theory to Classroom Practice to Online Application

This seminar will consider the development of Lexical Competence from several points of view. Through a review of some of the core research in second language vocabulary acquisition we will first try to dispel some of the "myths" about vocabulary learning that are still prevalent among classroom practitioners and researchers. After developing a basic understanding of how vocabulary should be tested, taught and learned, we will then move on to consider a range of classroom vocabulary teaching and testing techniques based on current research. Finally, we will look at and get hands on practice in using a variety of online tools for testing, teaching and conducting research on second language vocabulary acquisition. Papers required for those who take this course for credit will ask participants to use and assess one of the many online tools in the context of current research in this area.

Keiko Koda (Carnegie Mellon University)

Second Language Reading: Research, Instruction and Assessment

The ultimate goal of reading is to construct text meanings based on visually presented information. Integral to this goal is decoding competence, i.e., the ability to extract linguistic information from printed words. Because the ability emerges as a result of learning to map between one's spoken language and its writing system, decoding skills are shaped to accommodate the way spoken language elements are graphically encoded in the writing system. Such linguistic conditioning explains systematic variations in decoding skills in typologically diverse languages.

Because decoding skills, once developed, transfer to another languages, their variations have significant implications for second-language (L2) reading. Closely attuned to L1 linguistic properties, transferred skills are differentially assimilated in L2 decoding development, and variably cope with the mapping demands imposed by L2-specific properties. Thus, L2 decoding skills evolve through complex cross-linguistic interaction between transferred L1 skills and L2 print input.

In this talk, students will learn how L2 decoding development is constrained by language-specific demands both within and across languages, and how such dual-language constraints result in systematic variations in L2 decoding skills. The students will then discuss their implications for L2 reading instruction and assessment.

Jean Wong (College of New Jersey)

Conversation Analysis and Pragmatics: From Research to Practice

This seminar will provide an overview of conversation analysis (CA) and particularly as it relates to understanding how social actions are constructed by participants in talk-in-interaction. Indeed, social actions, or what is sometimes referred to as speech acts by linguists, lie at the heart of everyday interaction. We will examine the nature of interactional competence from the vantage point of sequencing practices such as agreement/disagreement, invitation, offer, request, etc. Data extracts from real talk will be presented and analyzed (by participants). In conjunction with analyses of sequences from naturally occurring talk, we will juxtapose some of those sequences with dialogues found in ESL/EFL textbooks and consider their naturalness or appropriateness. At the end of the course, students will apply CA findings and insights to issues or concerns in second or foreign language pedagogy.

Those taking the course for credit will be asked to analyze one or more data fragments using the framework of CA and/or design one or more second/foreign language instructional activities that pertain to sequencing practices.

Averil Coxhead (Victoria University of Wellington)

Investigating Specialized Vocabulary in English

An important decision for language learners and teachers is deciding which words are worth time and effort both in and out of the classroom. When learners move beyond English for general purposes to more specific purposes, such as academic studies in English or a particular professional context, this decision-making process is often not straightforward. Learners need to 'express concepts in their fields' (Basturkmen, 2006, 69) and to understand these concepts in their reading and listening. Ongoing vocabulary research is beginning to shed some light on the lexis used in both speaking and writing in a range of specialised contexts, including for example the Academic Word List (Coxhead, 2000). In this course, we will look at questions such as; what are some key concepts of investigating specialised vocabulary? What are some of the key issues when we encounter when researching specialised vocabulary? How we might find special purposes vocabulary? Is the vocabulary of a specific field very different from another field? And what are some examples of online and paper-based curriculum design that illustrate how teachers and learners might engage with specialised vocabulary?

Janet Holmes (Victoria University of Wellington)

Language in the Workplace: How to Analyze Workplace Discourse

This course will provide an overview of research on spoken workplace discourse. Topics which will be covered include transactional and relational talk at work, including features of workplace meetings and the importance of small talk and humour in contributing to good workplace relationships. The course will also consider a range of different leadership styles, and will examine challenging areas such as miscommunication and problematic talk at work. The differences between normatively masculine and feminine styles of leadership will be examined and the contribution of ethnicity to patterns of communication in the workplace will be discussed. The course will consider a range of methods of collecting workplace data and will provide a brief introduction to a variety of approaches to the analysis of workplace discourse. These will include interactional sociolinguistics, conversation analysis, critical discourse analysis, social constructionism, as well as the concept of a community of practice. Applications of the research in a teaching and learning context will also be discussed drawing on materials from the Communication Skills course for Skilled Migrants taught at Victoria University in Wellington.

David Olsher (San Francisco State University)

Classroom Interaction and Language Learner Participation

This seminar takes a micro-interactional perspective on language classrooms, including teacher-fronted and small group activities. Classroom discourse is approached through the research framework of Conversation Analysis, using recorded and transcribed classroom talk to examine the interactional architecture of social action in the details of turn-taking, turn-construction, and actions carried out through sequences of turns. Readings and lectures will provide a framework for understanding teacher-led and small-group activities. Analytic tasks with samples of ethnographic video data and transcripts will provide hands-on experience. The organizing theme for this seminar will be learner participation, including participation found in teacher-facilitated discussions and in small group collaboration. Within the moment-by-moment unfolding of classroom interaction, learners are provided with opportunities to respond. These opportunities for participation and the ways learners respond have consequences for language learning, both in terms of the ways learners stretch their language skills (Swain's pushed output) and in terms of the affective and strategic benefits of social engagement with learning. This introduction to research and micro-analytic tools that describe the social practices of language classroom activities will also address implications for pedagogical practice and teacher training.