Past Seminars (2011-2012)


Carol Rinnert (Hiroshima City University)

Multilingual Writing Development: Current Research and Practice

In line with the recent social "turn" (Ortega, 2011) in SLA and applied linguistics, second language writing research is moving toward more socially and contextually based approaches to supplement the prior emphasis on cognitive concerns. At the same time, a bilingual "turn" (Ortega & Carson, 2010) in the field aims to replace the widespread reliance on monolingual norms with a biliteracy perspective. Following these trends, the development of writing proficiency in two or more languages by the same writers has become a main focus. A variety of perspectives, including multicompetence, genre, and language and identity theory, can help to provide a comprehensive picture of the individual writer's path toward greater proficiency across languages. Comparison of text features, composing processes, and writers' experiences and perceptions in the different languages reveals that many text features and writing strategies are shared. This suggests that some writing knowledge is merged and available for use in any language, depending on the writer's choices, influenced by a variety of factors, including their view of audience expectations. This research will be presented in the opening lecture, and the remainder of the seminar will explore theoretical, methodological, and pedagogical implications. Hands-on practice responding to student writing could also be included, depending on student interest.

Rebecca Hughes (University of Sheffield)

Spoken Language in Theory and Practice

This seminar will focus on the implications of the nature of spoken language for theory and practice. The opening lecture will provide an overview of the issues involved in researching spoken language - its transient nature, the effects of transcription, 'literate' views of language, the influence of participant on participant, the difficulties of assessing speaking, and the hybrid nature of some written media in the context of new technologies. A particular focus will be on the concept of 'advanced speaking' and the extent to which spoken language assessment criteria currently reflect the norms of spontaneous speech between first language users, whether this matters, and what the assessment criteria tell us about attitudes to speech. The rest of the seminar will go on to describe the thinking behind a recent article co-authored by Professor Hughes in which the authors developed a line of argument about the extent to which laboratory settings can enhance our understanding the actual linguistic resources drawn on by speakers in real world contexts. During the seminar, students will be asked to reflect on their own conceptions of advanced speaking in a second language and/or on how the conclusions of this article could help us expand our model of how best to investigate the norms of spoken language in different settings.

John Macalister (Victoria University of Wellington)

Language Curriculum Design: Designing Courses, Making Changes

Understanding language curriculum design is as important for the individual classroom teacher as it is for the expert working at a national level. Through understanding and applying the process of language curriculum design, we are able to deliver courses that meet the needs of our students in an optimally effective manner.

The first part of this seminar will introduce a model of language curriculum design, and the tools associated with it. In this model, decisions based on environment analysis, needs analysis, and familiarity with principles of good teaching determine what happens in the classroom. These decisions allow us to determine what to teach, how to teach it, and how we will know if learning is happening.

On-going evaluation is an important part of language curriculum design, and it is through evaluation that we ensure a course remains dynamic. Being dynamic usually means making changes. Thus the second part of this seminar considers some of the challenges that are associated with introducing change, and discusses ways that change can be introduced successfully.

Ema Ushioda (University of Warwick)

Motivation and Autonomy in Language Learning: Theory, Practice and Research

This seminar will focus on the interactions between motivation and autonomy in language learning. The opening lecture will provide an overview of the rather different traditions of inquiry that have shaped theories of L2 motivation on the one hand, and theories of learner autonomy in language education on the other. Integrating these twin paradigms, it will highlight the conceptual interface between motivation and autonomy and consider how insights from autonomy theory and practice can illuminate our analysis of motivation, particularly from a sociocultural theoretical perspective. The rest of the seminar will then explore implications for classroom practice, drawing on participants' own working contexts and experiences, and examine ways in which teachers can socialize optimal forms of motivation that enhance the autonomy of their students within and beyond classroom learning. The seminar will conclude with discussion of research issues and consider approaches to investigating motivation and autonomy in the classroom through forms of practitioner research such as action research and exploratory practice.

James E. Purpura (Teachers College, Columbia University)

A Learning Orientation to Classroom-Based Language Assessment

In this seminar we will examine how assessment fits into the broader notion of learning. I will first describe how learning relates to teaching and assessment in instructional contexts. I will then describe the proficiency model in which the focus is on the conveyance of semantic and pragmatic meanings in situated contexts by means of linguistics resources. After that, I will describe the learning model from a socio-cognitive perspective. In so doing, I will examine how learners process new learning targets individually and will show how assessment figures into this process. I will then describe how this model can be extended to when learning occurs in contexts of two or more learners. Finally, I will show how assessment can be organized to accommodate a proficiency and learning orientation for use in language classrooms.

Neil Murray (University of South Australia)

Globalization and Widening Participation: New Contexts and New Challenges for Language Proficiency in Higher Education

This course will look at the implications for tertiary institutions of the globalization of education and a widening participation agenda that seeks to make education more inclusive by increasing the participation of non-traditional student cohorts many of whom come to university from low socio-economic areas and have suffered educational and/or social disadvantage.

Language proficiency, so called, represents an important point of intersection between, on the one hand, increasingly large university populations of students of non-English speaking backgrounds (NESB) as a result of globalisation, and on the other hand, students who arrive courtesy of widening participation initiatives. Students from both these groups present universities with particular challenges around the pre- and post-enrolment language assessment mechanisms and the subsequent provision of language supports that offer those identified as being at risk the help they need to ensure that they reach their full academic potential and are suitably prepared to enter the workforce and meet the increasingly stringent communication requirements of the professions.

This course will:

  • Consider what is meant by 'language proficiency' and how it is understood (or not) by stakeholders within the higher education sector;
  • consider some of the policy, professional and other drivers of initiatives to improve the way universities respond to the language needs of the above cohorts;
  • analyze some of the considerable challenges universities face in engaging in such initiatives;
  • Offer a conceptual framework for understanding the construct of 'proficiency'; and
  • Propose a model of language provision that promises to be effective while taking into account the constraints under which universities operate.

Yasuhiro Shirai (University of Pittsburgh)

Second Language Acquisition Research and Language Teaching: A Functionalist Approach

In this lecture, I examine the mechanism of grammar acquisition in SLA and explore how linguistic categories can be acquired effectively. Currently, the mainstream second/foreign language teaching approach that second language researchers and applied linguists consider effective is the communicative approach. However, as far as the acquisition of linguistic categories is concerned, the communicative approach is largely based on the 'learning by doing' model, i.e., learners will acquire linguistic categories through input and interaction. Therefore, insights into how individual linguistic items should be taught are still quite limited, and thus the investigation of effective methods of teaching linguistic categories based on second language acquisition research is sorely needed. I examine two linguistic domains (tense-aspect, Andersen & Shirai, 1994, Shirai 2009; relative clauses, Shirai, 2007) of which acquisition process has been uncovered to some degree, and consider how their acquisition can be facilitated, in particular in relation to the projection model (Zobl, 1985) and from the perspective of functional-cognitive linguistics (e.g., Goldberg & Casenheiser, 2007). Group discussions and activities to analyze learner language will be included in the lecture.

Robert Dekeyser (University of Maryland)

Developing Second Language Skills: A Complex Endeavor of Knowledge Integration

The initial lecture of this course will give an overview of how different theories of second language acquisition (and some areas of psychology) have treated the concept of practice. The next few segments of the course will then deal with the following topics:

  1. input to practice, i.e. various kinds of knowledge, learning contexts, and individual learner characteristics;
  2. output expected from practice, i.e. accuracy, fluency and complexity of the language output, along with transfer-appropriateness of the knowledge and confidence in that knowledge and the ability to use it;
  3. the process of practice designed to get from point 1 to point 2 (how to frame practice for the students, how to sequence practice activities, how to provide feedback, how to think about the relative roles of production and comprehension practice and of meaning-focused and form-focused practice);
  4. special cases, such as computer-assisted language learning and study abroad.

Given the intensity of the course, condensed in one weekend, each lecture (except for the initial one) will provide some opportunity for (brief) small-group discussions and activities.

Judy Noguchi (Mukogawa Women's University and Osaka Graduate School of Engineering)

ESP (English for Specific Purposes) for EFL Environments: Concepts, Convenient Tools, and Challenges

English for Specific Purposes (ESP) offers an approach that can raise student motivation by showing them how to go from being a language learner to a language user.

ESP is often mistaken as simply being the drilling of technical terms and grammatical structures for science and technology majors or the teaching of business, legal or other types of special English. Others confuse ESP with content-based learning and think that, for example, you need to be a medical expert to teach the language of medicine. ESP is neither of these. It is a multi-disciplinary approach to enable tertiary-level or adult language learners to efficiently acquire a sufficient level of mastery of language forms required for their professional or occupational communication needs. When presented as a method of observing and classifying such linguistic needs, ESP can also equip students with the skills necessary to continue their linguistic development outside the classroom.

In this seminar, we will start with a brief look at the history of ESP and then consider its definition, especially for application to an EFL situation. This will be followed by discussion and consideration of needs analysis in ESP, course design, teacher- and learner-generated materials and assessment. Concepts and practices useful for ESP teaching will be discussed, including genre analysis, task-based language teaching, focus-on-form approach, corpus linguistics and the social construction of knowledge. We will also discuss the possibility of adopting a genre-based language model, rather than a native-speaker model, as the ultimate target.

For hands-on work, participants will be asked to bring in written texts that they would like to use to create ESP teaching materials. Oral texts are acceptable but should be available as transcripts (e.g., customer service telephone calls, service encounters, lectures or conference presentations). The texts should not have been created for English teaching. They should be authentic texts written to fulfill a professional or occupational need, for example, research papers published in a scientific journal, operation manuals, company annual reports (choose a specific section) or business letters. If possible, bring in at least three examples of texts of the same type, e.g., three different business letters written for a similar purpose and audience but by different people. Prepare to see and understand English from an ESP viewpoint.