Past Seminars

2013-2014

Dr. Nick Ellis (University of Michigan, U.S.A.)

Usage-Based Models of First and Second Language Acquisition

This course develops a constructionist approach to First and Second Language Acquisition (L1A, L2A). It presents psycholinguistic and corpus linguistic evidence for L2 constructions and for the inseparability of lexis, grammar, and semantics. It outlines a psycholinguistic theory of language learning following general cognitive principles of category learning, with schematic constructions emerging from usage. It reviews how the following factors jointly determine how a construction is learned: (1) the exemplar frequencies and their Zipfian distribution; (2) the salience of their form; (3) the significance of their functional interpretation; (4) the exemplars' similarity to the construction prototype; and (5) the reliability of these form-function mappings. It tests these proposals against large corpora of usage and longitudinal corpora of L1 and L2 learner language using statistical and computational modeling. It considers the psychology of transfer and learned attention in L2A in order to understand how L2A differs from L1A in that it involves reconstructing language, with learners' expectations and attentional biases tuned by experience of their L1. It considers implications for L2 instruction. A central theme of the course is that patterns of language usage, structure, acquisition, and change are emergent, and that there is value in viewing Language as a Complex Adaptive System.

Texts: There won't be a textbook. Readings will be made available electronically.

Dr. James Brown (University of Hawaii at Manoa, U.S.A.)

Mixed Methods Research

This course defines the notion of research in TESOL, then moves on to discuss the various characteristics of qualitative and quantitative research, especially within the framework of a qual/quant continuum, wherein qualitative and quantitative research characteristics interact. The students will learn about the most salient features of MMR and be able to distinguish among three main varieties of MMR: qualitative mixed, pure mixed, and quantitative mixed methods research. The course will be organized as follows:

Part I: Getting Research Started

  • Introduction to Research
  • Starting Research Projects
  • Gathering, Compiling, and Coding Data

Part II: Analyzing Research Data

  • Analyzing Quantitative Data
  • Analyzing Quantitative Data
  • Analyzing MMR Data

Part III: Presenting Research Studies

  • Presenting Research Results
  • Writing Research Reports
  • Disseminating Research

Examples of these MMR techniques are drawn from large-scale second-language MMR projects recently conducted around the world, where MMR did indeed provide interesting answers.

The course will be based on the following textbook:

  • Brown, J. D. (2014). Mixed Methods Research for TESOL Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Press (Buy on Amazon.co.jp)

*This book will be available after October 2014.

Dr. Patricia Duff (University of British Columbia, Canada)

Case Study Research in Applied Linguistics: What do Case Studies of Language Learning Tell Us?

Case studies have played a crucial and enduring role in theory development in second language learning, bilingualism, and applied linguistics more generally for more than half a century. Despite involving just a small number of research participants or sites, case studies can be a compelling and powerful means of conveying the richness and complexity of individuals' teaching and learning contexts, as well as their experiences, perspectives, and developmental trajectories (among other themes). From researchers' detailed descriptions and interpretations of individual cases, others can gain a deeper, more holistic understanding of the phenomenon being explored and the factors associated with it. Case-based methods are pervasive and effective tools in higher education (e.g., in medicine, law, business, social work, political science, and education) for this very reason.

This course focuses on key features of qualitative case studies (on their own or in mixed-method studies) in terms of theory, methodology, ethical issues, reflexivity, the interpretation and representation of findings, and discussions of generalizability. Current and emerging themes in case study research in second language learning/education will be discussed, together with strategies for conducting and publishing rigorous and interesting studies.

Texts (Required):

  • Duff, P. A. (2007). Case Study Research in Applied Linguistics. New York, NY: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Taylor & Francis Group. (Buy on Amazon.co.jp)

Dr. Rob Waring (Notre Dame Seishin University, Japan)

Extensive Reading and Listening and the Foreign Language Curriculum

The sessions open with an overview of what Extensive Reading (ER) and Extensive Listening (EL) are. We will then review some of the theoretical and pedagogical support for a fluency element in a language program and show how and why both ER and ER are a necessary part of any foreign language curriculum.

We will then look at how to promote ER and EL within a community, an institution and within a class to ensure all learners are meeting the right materials in appropriate volumes. After reviewing various online and paper materials suitable for ER and EL, we will look at how to plan, set up, introduce and then manage an ER/EL program and review its progress. Participants will then work together to discuss how they can fit an ER program into their situation and come up with ideas to share with others.

The final sessions of the seminar will review how to write graded texts for our own learners. We will review some of the central tenets underlying the writing and grading of ER/EL materials both from holistic and data-driven perspectives.

Texts: There will be no required textbook, but a set of online readings.

Dr. Kazuya Saito (Waseda University, Japan)

Teaching and Researching Second Language Speech

Although foreign accents are a normal aspect of second language (L2) speech production for adult L2 learners, developing optimal approaches to helping adult L2 learners reach comprehensible L2 oral skills is a timely and important initiative for the purpose of their successful communication in future business and academic settings. The first component of this seminar examines the underlying mechanism of L2 speech learning, focusing on how and to what degree L2 learners develop their language in naturalistic settings in accordance with several affecting variables, such as age, the quantity and quality of input, motivation, and attitude. Subsequently, the seminar introduces a series of scholarly discussion on the importance of setting realistic goals, especially for adult L2 learners, such as comprehensibility (i.e., easiness of understanding) rather than accentedness (i.e., linguistic native likeness). Then, we review recent research findings shedding light on which aspects of language—pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, and discourse abilities—relatively impact the perceived comprehensibility (versus accent) of L2 speech, and thus need to be prioritized in L2 syllabus. Last, based on a research synthesis of the past 20 years of L2 education literature (especially regarding a communicative-focus-on-form instruction), we attempt to make a list of implications on how to teach L2 learners to enhance the phonological, lexical, grammatical, and discoursal quality of their accented speech to attain comprehensible oral proficiency in the most efficient and effective manner.

Dr. Averil Coxhead (Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand)

Vocabulary and English for Specific Purposes

Vocabulary in English for Specific Purposes (ESP) is a topic of major interest for teachers and researchers alike. This course aims to bring together and explore some of the major trends of research in this area over the last few decades. For example, ESP research in vocabulary has been and is concerned with the concept of common core or subject specific vocabulary. That is, is all language essentially technical in nature or is there a common core of meaning? Another area of major interest is in corpus building and developments in learner corpora in particular. As we develop methodologies for building corpora, we find new questions to ask and have to revisit existing vocabulary research. Also, the nature of vocabulary and ESP requires attention, as we move from research on single words in context and word families, through to the current strong interest in multi-word units.

In this course, we will use look at four approaches to research into vocabulary and ESP. One approach will be Science-specific vocabulary, which focusses on preparation for tertiary-level study. Another will be a study of vocabulary in first year Computer Science, included analyses from three corpora. The third case study is from an ongoing study of vocabulary in the trades. The final case study is centered on vocabulary in secondary schools in a range of core subjects, including English literature, Science, and Social Studies. We will consider future developments of such research, as well as practical implications for teachers and learners.

Dr. Michael Rost (Instructional Designer in San Francisco, U.S.A.)

Teaching Listening

Listening is widely recognized as the foundational skill in second language learning. This seminar will explore the multidimensional nature of listening as complementary processes: top-down (knowledge driven), bottom-up (language driven), and interactive (socially driven). The seminar will review five key areas of current language acquisition and educational research that impact listening instruction: motivation, cognitive processing, perceptual processing (including native language influences), collaborative understanding, and task design (including tasks for autonomous learning). The overall focus of the seminar will be on expanding our repertoire of creative activities for oral language development, on objectively describing the key variables in listening tasks, and on providing supportive guidance and feedback to learners. In short, the seminar will be about becoming both a better student of listening and a better teacher of listening.

The first session of the seminar will be presented as a game-like activity in which we sample some thirty different ways of learning listening, with the goal of categorizing these methods and techniques into more concise framework. The subsequent sessions of the seminar will revisit these "frames" for teaching listening, with the goal of understanding learning from the perspective of an instructional designer. This perspective entails specifying the input, procedure, outcome, and assessment standards of an activity, and also the "trigger action", or listening strategy, that makes the task valuable for the learner.

The course project will ask participating students to explore one of these instructional frames more fully and to design a short series of listening tasks for a target group of learners.

Texts (Required):

  • Rost, M. & Wilson, J.J. (2013). Active Listening (Research and Resources in Language Teaching) (1st ed.). Harlow, England: Pearson Education Limited. (Buy on Amazon.co.jp or on Amazon.com)
  • Rost, M. (2011). Teaching and Researching: Listening (2nd Edition) (Applied Linguistics in Action). Harlow, England: Pearson Education Limited. (Buy on Amazon.co.jp)

A packet of readings will be distributed one month prior to the seminar to registered participants.

Dr. Paul Warren (Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand)

Applying Psycholinguistics – Sentence Processing in Native and Non-Native Language Contexts

This seminar introduces students to some key methods and essential findings in sentence processing research, and extends this exploration to the context of understanding sentences in a second or additional language.

The seminar starts by reviewing basic sentence processing strategies in first language comprehension, as revealed in eye movement studies and response time measures. Subsequently, further studies are reviewed that have explored the role of lexical, semantic, and discourse contextual information in sentence processing, as well as research exploring the role of prosodic information in the comprehension of spoken language. A selection of processing models is considered in the context of the research findings.

Finally, cross-linguistic studies are reviewed, including research that considers the interaction of processing strategies from a learner's L1 with their developing knowledge of L2. Foreign language teachers will thus learn more about the significance to non-native language performance of different knowledge types – the procedural knowledge involved in processing a language as well as the declarative knowledge connected with lexical forms and grammatical constructions.

Illustrative examples used during the seminar will include hands-on experience of some typical experimental techniques employed in sentence processing research. Seminar participants considering conducting psycholinguistic research will thus gain a better understanding of the techniques available to them.

Dr. Peter Yongqi Gu (Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand)

Strategic Language Learning

Teachers and learners of a second language are as keen as ever on what the learner can do in boosting learning outcomes. But researchers seem to be losing their interest in studying language learning strategies. The opening lecture will focus on rekindling the interest in the topic by emphasizing the central importance of strategic language learning in second language acquisition. A reconceptualization and re-orientation of research efforts will be proposed, leading to a new research agenda. The seminar will then re-examine the theoretical background, research issues, and practical applications of language learning strategies. A brief history of empirical research on the topic and a summary of findings will be presented. Specific examples will be given to show how research on learning strategies for a specific task in different contexts sheds insightful light not only upon our understanding of language learning strategies, but also upon how learners/teachers can be empowered with research on strategic learning. The seminar will be conducted in a lecture-discussion-workshop format. Ample opportunities will be provided for the audience to reflect upon the topics and to relate the issues in question to the language teaching context in Japan.