Past Seminars

Following are the lecturers and topics of past seminars of the Distinguished Lecturer Series.


Dr. Carsten Roever (The University of Melbourne, Australia)

Second Language Pragmatics: Learning, Teaching and Testing

This seminar will provide an overview of research on development of second language (L2) pragmatics, and more in-depth coverage of teaching and testing of L2 pragmatics.

Second language pragmatic development has been investigated from a variety of theoretical and content perspective, describing learning of speech acts, implicature, routine formulae, extended discourse, and other areas such as humor, address terms, or specific interactional practices. Some developmental trajectories have been identified, and the influence of individual difference factors has been investigated. Participants will acquire a broad understanding of research findings, approaches and issues in L2 pragmatic development research.

Less research has occurred on teaching of L2 pragmatics, most of which has focused on effects-of-instruction studies comparing implicit and explicit approaches to L2 pragmatics teaching. While more explicit teaching approaches tend to show stronger effect than implicit ones, the latter are not ineffectual and under certain conditions can be superior. Systematic teaching of L2 pragmatics as part of a coherent curriculum is still in its infancy but the possibility of such curricular integration will be explored in this seminar together with a range of teaching approaches.

Testing of learners’ L2 pragmatic ability has developed strongly in the last two decades and a variety of testing instruments exist for assessing learners’ ability. Providing adequate coverage of a complex construct like L2 pragmatics has been challenging, however, and the context sensitivity of pragmatic performance has led to tension between the need for broad construct coverage and practicality. Assessment instruments for L2 pragmatics will be critically examined in the seminar.

Students taking this seminar for credit should read Chapter 5 and 8 of Second Language Pragmatics before the seminar. A PDF copy of the reading will be provided to those registered credit students from the Office before the seminar.

Required Reading:

  • Taguchi, N., & Roever, C. (in press). Second Language Pragmatics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Dr. Yukio Tono (Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Japan)

Learner Corpus Research

The primary purpose of this seminar is to explore how corpus linguistics as a methodology can contribute to SLA research and foreign language learning/teaching. The seminar will begin with a brief introduction to fundamental concepts in corpus linguistics, types of available corpora, and how corpora are used in different fields of applied linguistics. The lecture is then focused on learner corpus research and a discussion of various approaches, such as contrastive interlanguage analysis, that are used to explore learner corpora in SLA and ELT research.

The second day of the seminar will be dedicated to hands-on data processing using concordancers such as AntConc (for PC/Mac), CasualConc (for Mac), and KH-Coder (for PC). Participants will learn word analysis techniques in corpus linguistics, such as wordlists, keywords, collocations, n-grams, and P-frames. Participants will also explore the results of corpus search using multivariate analyses for data summarization and data modeling and discuss the merits and demerits of using corpora as a methodology to answer research questions. No previous familiarity with concordancers is necessary, but some prior knowledge of statistics is helpful.

Recommended Textbook:

  • McEnery, T., Xiao, R., & Tono, Y. (2006). Corpus-Based Language Studies: An Advanced Resource Book. London, UK: Routledge. (Buy on
  • Granger, S., Gilquin, G., & Meunier, F. (Eds.) (2015). The Cambridge Handbook of Learner Corpus Research. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. (Buy on

Dr. Noël Houck (California State Polytechnic University, U.S.A.)

English Education Discourse Analysis in the Language Classroom

Most teachers have some idea about what happens in different types of language classrooms. However, a closer look may reveal that something entirely different is occurring. In this course students will gain a deeper understanding of what goes on in EFL classrooms, with the result that they are able to ultimately make more informed, intelligent choices about their own classes.

In this course we will look at language classrooms with an eye to describing (rather than evaluating) what is happening in them. Using methods developed to identify activity types and analyze teacher and learner interactional practices in the language classroom, students will dissect stretches of classroom discourse and assess their implications for language pedagogy, comparing their findings with claims made in research on second language acquisition and language pedagogy.

By the end of the course students will be able to use different approaches to discourse analysis to

  1. Identify the function of a stretch of classroom discourse
  2. Identify the effect of certain teacher on classroom interaction
  3. Identify often-unrecognized student practices and their implications for language acquisition
  4. Assess second language acquisition research claims on the effect of certain classroom practices on language acquisition.