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

Dr. Santoi Wagner (University of Pennsylvania, USA)

How Can Conversation Analysis Make You a Better L2 Language Teacher and Researcher?

Conversation Analysis (CA) is a distinctive, data-driven, micro-analytical approach to studying talk. It is designed to describe and explicate the tacit methods of social interaction, that is, how talk is produced and made sense of by the interlocutors themselves. Analysis involves the careful examination of transcripts of naturally-occurring data transcribed from audio or video recordings, with close attention paid to how each turn is produced and heard, and to the details of interaction such as pauses, word choices (e.g., “oh”, “okay”, “mhmm”), prosody, etc. Given CA’s aim of understanding how interaction works, it is a powerful tool for L2 teachers and researchers. CA contributes to a more detailed specification of interactional competence by delineating the concrete interactional practices that interlocutors deploy. And, because much of language teaching is conducted through talk, CA contributes to our knowledge of L2 teaching and learning by uncovering what teachers and students actually do in their interactions in the classroom (and in other educational spaces).

The seminar provides an introduction to the CA analytic framework, its application to L2 pedagogy, and how it has been employed in L2 research. The objectives of the seminar are for participants to (a) cultivate an awareness of the organization and practices of spoken language that will contribute to a more evidence-based pedagogical approach to teaching L2 interaction skills; and (b) develop an appreciation of the CA analytic mentality that will help them recognize and apply basic CA concepts and techniques in understanding L2 classroom interaction.

Dr. Ron Thomson (Brock University, Canada)

The Role of Speech Perception in Second Language Pronunciation Learning

When we think about teaching adult learners a new language, it is second nature to focus on speaking. What if this focus circumvents a more natural approach to learning – one that uses the same cognitive mechanisms that typically developing children use to learn their first language (L1)? In naturalistic learning contexts, accessing these childhood learning mechanisms is difficult.  Fortunately, instructed second language (L2) acquisition provides an opportunity for teachers to help learners reorient their attention towards perceptual cues to promote lasting change in pronunciation.

This seminar has several goals.  First, the instructor will provide an overview of how L1 speech develops and ways in which L2 speech learning follows a similar path.  The instructor hopes to convince participants of the need to spend more time on the process of L2 pronunciation learning, and less time on the final product.  Second, the instructor will provide an overview of a research-based technique that provides explicit, efficient, and effective perceptual instruction.  Third, the instructor will give opportunity for participants to brainstorm ways of integrating insights from research into traditional language classrooms.

The summative project will require participants to read several relevant papers and devise new research questions concerning the role of speech perception in L2 pronunciation. They will then conduct a single-learner pilot study of L2 speech perception, using the instructor's perceptual training platform. This may be a self-study, or it may involve having a friend complete a short training experiment. Participants will write a short reflection on what they learned from completing the pilot.

Dr. Alfred Rue Burch (Nanzan University, Japan)

Activity Orientation in Interaction

This seminar will ask participants to set aside what they know (both from research and our received notions) about concepts such as motivation (Dörnyei, Henry, & Muir, 2016; Dörnyei, MacIntyre, & Henry, 2015), engagement (Hiver, Al-Hoorie, & Mercer, 2021; Philp & Duchesne, 2016) and task planning and performance (Ellis, 2005; Long, 2015), and consider the ways in which these may be less “inside the skull” (Kasper, 2009) and more (or at least as consequentially) a matter of socio-interactional factors and distributed cognition (cf. Goodwin, 2018; Hutchins, 1995). The seminar will focus on Multimodal Conversation Analysis (Goodwin, 2018; Mondada, 2016) as the primary framework and methodology through which to consider what learners and users of additional languages attend to in interactions and activities, how they do so, and what the practical consequences are for the interactants themselves and for the understanding, teaching, and assessment of additional languages.

The seminar will examine a range of multilingual contexts, including language course task interaction, language partner interaction, paired speaking assessments, and other pedagogical and non-pedagogical interactions, with an aim to center on what the learners/users treat as consequentially relevant in the context of the ongoing activity, and how this may (and often does) differ from the goals and interests of researchers and educators alike. Each day will include at least one data session in which participants will work with interactional data. For the credits students, the culminating assignment will give participants a choice between 1) a research proposal with relevant literature, or 2) developing a classroom or assessment task with rationales based upon the content of the course.


Dr. Yasuyo Sawaki (Waseda University, Japan)

Utilizing an Argument-Based Test Validation Framework for Developing and Using Assessments in the L2 Classroom

In the field of language assessment, various frameworks have been in use for investigations into the validity of language assessments. While many applications of such frameworks have dealt with large-scale high-stakes assessment contexts, conscious attempts have been made by language assessment researchers over the last few decades to make them also applicable to classroom-based language assessment. Using such frameworks would allow practitioners to systematically evaluate the extent to which the use of language assessments is functioning as an aid to promote learning in the L2 classroom.

The aim of this seminar is to familiarize participants with a major framework of language assessment validation currently in use, the Assessment Use Argument (AUA) proposed by Bachman and Palmer (2010) and Bachman and Damböck (2018). In the first part of this seminar, participants will learn about the historical development of assessment validation frameworks and classroom-based assessment principles, with a particular focus on important developments in this area of L2 assessment research over the last two decades. In the second part, they will be introduced to key principles of AUA. An application of AUA to formative assessment of summary writing skills in a university-level academic writing course in Japan will be used as a running example. Finally, in the third part, participants will apply the AUA framework to developing assessment specifications and sample assessment tasks for classroom use as the final project.