Events Archive

Previous conferences

  • The Target Language in the MFL classroom: what are the issues, what is the research evidence?
  • First and second languages: exploring the relationship in pedagogy-related contexts

The Target Language in the MFL classroom: what are the issues, what is the research evidence?

This one day conference, aimed at teacher trainers, trainees and experienced teachers, focused on issues surrounding the issue of use of the target language in Modern Foreign Language teaching. The conference combined presentations of ongoing research in the field with practical workshops on innovative techniques for classroom practice. Seminars and workshops were led by both experienced practitioners and researchers. [more]

First and second languages: exploring the relationship in pedagogy-related contexts

The conference attracted some 90 delegates and keynote speakers were:

Professor Fred Genesee, Department of Psychology, McGill University
Professor Vivian Cook, School of ECLS, University of Newcastle
Professor Kees de Bot, Department of Applied Linguistics, University of Groningen

The conference programme included papers on topics ranging from pre-literacy development to second language writing among university students. But each paper held as its underlying theme the relationship between the first and the second language(s). [more]

Seminars archive

Identifying and disseminating context-appropriate ELT pedagogy: a bottom up enhancement approach

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30 May 2017 13:00 - 14:00
Seminar Room G/H

Speaker: Dr. Harry Kuchah Kuchah, University of Bath

Convener: Dr Jessica Briggs, Applied Linguistics Research Group

In recent years, ELT professionals and researchers have called for contextually appropriate forms of ELT pedagogy to be developed, arguing that the dominant discourse on ELT methodology, as promoted by local Ministry of Education policy makers around the world, has been largely generated in ideal (North) contexts and so does not reflect the challenging realities of the majority of language teaching and learning contexts in which they are being imposed. Despite these calls, there has been very little research that shows how contextually appropriate ELT pedagogies can be developed especially in the context of large under-resourced primary classrooms in sub-Saharan Africa. In this talk, I report on a research study that attempted to fill this gap by exploring the practices and perspectives of both learners and teachers about what counts as good and appropriate English language teaching in two English medium primary school contexts in Cameroon. In presenting the findings of this study, I highlight the potential contribution of a bottom-up research approach to teacher development which recognises both learner and teacher agency as well as takes account of context in the process of identifying and disseminating good practice.

(E)FL reading from the Croatian perspective

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23 May 2017 13:00 - 14:00
Seminar Room G/H

Speaker: Associate Professor Renata Šamo, Faculty of Teacher Education, University of Zagreb

Convener: Dr Jessica Briggs, Applied Linguistics Research Group

This lecture deals with the research into reading conducted with the Croatian young learners of English as a foreign language, and its focus is on their strategy use as the source of useful insights into the perception of L1 versus L2 reading, the strategic behaviour of L1 readers as opposed to L2 readers, and the identity of accomplished versus less accomplished L2 readers. In addition, it touches upon some implications that the main findings can have in teaching young learners how to read in both languages. The key conclusions have resulted from the lecturer’s continuous interest in reading as a dynamic interactive process, especially related to age as one of the crucial learner factors but also contextualised within the given language learning environment. Since this has been the first systematic research into reading of this type in Croatia, its contribution to the development of conceptual, terminological and methodological suggestions with regard to the Croatian learners of foreign languages in general cannot be neglected

Investigating the impact of extensive reading with data-driven learning

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16 May 2017 13:00 - 14:00
Seminar Room G/H

Speaker: Professor Gregory Hadley, Niigata University

Convener: Dr Jessica Briggs, Applied Linguistics Research Group

Data-Driven Learning (DDL), developed in the 1990s by Johns (Johns, 1991), has been shown in numerous studies to be effective among advanced and intermediate learners (Braun, 2007; Charles, 2012; Granger, Hung, & Petch-Tyson, 2002; Sun & Wang, 2003). However, it has had only limited impact among “false beginners”, although small-scale studies have suggested that, with significant levels of scaffolding, DDL has the potential for positively enriching their second language learning experience (Boulton, 2009; Hadley, 2002; St. John, 2001). To date, the linguistic difficulty of currently available corpora has been a major barrier that has precluded these lower-level learners from truly embracing the full potential of this form of second language learning.

I report here on the second iteration of an on-going research project into the use of DDL within an extensive reading program at a Japanese university. The participants were Japanese, French, Chinese and Korean “novice-high” learners, defined here as students of B1 CEFR proficiency level, but who frequently exhibit borderline A2 aspects in classroom interactions. The corpus was developed by Oxford University Press from their Bookworms Graded Readers, thus ensuring that the data presented to students was at an appropriate linguistic level. An experimental group of 12 students used DDL materials based on the Bookworms corpus, while a control group of 11 students had no DDL input. Both groups read extensively (a minimum of 200,000 words over 15 weeks), and participated in similar in-class tasks, the difference being that experimental class also engaged in DDL activities.  The aim of the study was to ascertain whether the use of DDL materials would lead to enhanced vocabulary knowledge and English proficiency in the experimental group. A pre-test/post-test experimental design was employed, using Nation & Beglar's (2007) Vocabulary Levels Test and a C-test (Klein-Braley & Raatz, 1984) constructed from an upper-level Bookworms reader. The results of the pre-test indicated that the experimental group was statistically at a lower proficiency than the control group. Post-test results found that the experimental group caught up with the control group to become essentially the same statistical group, as indicated by C-test and vocabulary levels test results.  The control group, however, improved more in terms of speed reading than the experimental group.

Some possible reasons that could account for these results are considered, based upon a study of student attitudes and constructs through the use of Personal Construct Repertory Grids (Hadley & Evans, 2001; Jankowicz, 2004; Marsden & Littler, 2000). The presentation concludes with a discussion what the further steps are being taken to enhance language learning among novice-high learners through the use of DDL within the context of extensive reading.

Process and product of engaging in video-mediated intercultural exchanges: a case of eTandem interaction between learners of Japanese and English

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02 May 2017 13:00 - 14:00
Seminar Room G/H

Speaker: Yuka Akiyama, Georgetown University/Oxford Brookes University

Convener: Dr Jessica Briggs, Applied Linguistics Research Group

In this talk, I will demonstrate the multifaceted nature of online intercultural exchanges (i.e., “telecollaboration”) by revealing the process (i.e., what happened during interaction) and product (i.e., how participants’ language developed). Specifically, for the former, I trained the participants to provide six different types of corrective feedback (i.e., error correction) and examined (1) how their beliefs about error correction changed (e.g., preference of a particular correction method) and (2) if such beliefs were reflected in the actual practice. For the latter, I examined what linguistic aspects did and did not improve as a result of engaging in telecollaboration for one semester by focusing on comprehensibility (i.e., ease of understanding) and four linguistic constituents that contribute to comprehensibility (i.e., lexical appropriateness, lexical richness, speech rate, grammatical accuracy). The analysis of both the process and product of telecollaborative interaction highlighted the need for telecollaboration research and practice to consider factors that range from personal (e.g., individuals’ beliefs, identity) and socio-institutional (e.g., culture, facilities) to assessment (e.g., “what” to measure).

A substantive-methodological synergy: some highlights of my recent research

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08 March 2017 -

Learning French in the primary school classroom: the origins of morphosyntax (Public Seminar)

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06 March 2017 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Speaker: Professor Florence Myles, University of Essex

Convener: Professor Victoria Murphy, Applied Linguistics Research Group

Young instructed learners of a second language are known to rely extensively in the early stages on rotelearning and formulaic language; the relationship between this formulaic knowledge, and the eventual emergence of productive morphosyntax, is still poorly understood.

This paper draws on data from a longitudinal study of 73 classroom beginner learners of French, aged 5, 7 and 11. Divided by age, each group received 38 hours of instruction by the same teacher over a period of 19 weeks. All lessons were captured on video and transcribed, providing complete documentation of all L2 French classroom input and interaction. Children’s developing knowledge of French was regularly tested using a variety of receptive and productive tasks, including an elicited imitation test, a receptive vocabulary test, and a role play task.

Previous analyses have shown that the 11 year old beginners made faster overall progress in morphosyntax than the younger children. Here, we explore the relationship between use of formulaic language and the emergence of productive morphosyntax, for the different age groups, in order to explain the apparent advantage of the older group. We analyse children’s French oral productions in two datasets: a) the group role play tasks, and b) the elicited imitation test. We depart from established practice in the scoring of EI tests, which is primarily meaning-based and provides information on test-takers’ overall proficiency (Tracy-Ventura et al 2014), and instead focus on formal features of children’s production (the reproduction of NPs and VPs: McCormick & Zach, 2016). We explore the relative abilities of the different age groups in use of formulaic expressions and in the (re)production of non-formulaic morphosyntax, and discuss the implications for young learner pedagogy.

Florence Myles is Professor of Second Language Acquisition at the University of Essex and Director of its Centre for Research in Language Development throughout the Lifespan (LaDeLi http://www.essex.ac.uk/langling/research/ladeli/). She is the outgoing president of the European Second Language Association (EuroSLA). Her research interests are in the area of Second Language Acquisition (SLA), especially of French and she is particularly interested in morphosyntactic development, in the role of formulaic language in SLA, in how children of different ages learn foreign languages in the classroom, and in theory-building in SLA research. She has directed numerous research projects which have all had the dual aim of investigating learner development in English instructed learners of French and Spanish, and of constructing electronic databases of learner language oral corpora, available on the web to the research community (www.flloc.soton.ac.uk; www.splloc.soton.ac.uk).

Language in action: a study of what makes effective communication in pre-hospital resuscitation teams

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28 February 2017 13:00 - 14:00
Seminar Room G/H

Speakers: Ernisa Marzuki, University of Edinburgh

Convener: Dr Jessica Briggs, Applied Linguistics Research Group

Historically, medical training has focused on the development and strengthening of clinical skills. After the adoption and adaptation of the aviation industry’s Crew Resource Management training programme and following a number of studies which highlighted the crucial role of non-technical skills (NTS) in minimising medical errors (e.g. Andersen et al., 2010; Cooper & Wakelam, 1999; Hull et al., 2012; Marsch et al., 2004; Van Wyl et al., 2009), the value of NTS has been acknowledged. There is currently a great deal of interest in the optimisation of teamwork during pre-hospital or out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) resuscitation. The Resuscitation Council UK recognises that effective communication is one of the major instruments for optimal teamwork, and indeed, all domains in existing NTS measurement tools essentially involve verbal communicative acts. Yet there are no fine-grained linguistic analyses of how raters and/or team members perceive effective medical team communication. Despite the major role of communication in NTS assessments, the question of whether specific linguistic patterns, markers, or practices are associated with high NTS scores has been little explored.

This study aims to identify specific communicative patterns applied in pre-hospital resuscitations through examination of the types and distributions of language categories, using McNeilis's (1995) doctor-patient language categorisation as a basis. Through this, we intend to provide clearer distinctions of what is construed as effective team communication, with the aim of assisting in the production of gold standards for measurement and training of related high-performance medical teams. We also plan to find out whether correlations exist between any language categories and the team leaders’ NTS scores.

A total of 20 authentic videos collected as part of the ongoing Resuscitation Research Group’s training and improvement programme will be transcribed and the contents subjected to linguistic analysis. This included verbal activities regarding information flow, categories of speech act, and politeness markers. A pilot study using simulations revealed that pre-hospital resuscitations proceeded through four recognisable stages. Various types of speech act were involved in the process of navigating this interaction, with directives being used most frequently, especially by the team leaders, but in a variety of forms. As expected, the linguistic patterns in resuscitation teams differed appreciably from those in doctor-patient dyads. Results also showed that politeness measures were duly utilised during resuscitations.

Becoming a (written) word: using eye movements to index incidental new word learning during reading

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21 February 2017 13:00 - 14:00
Seminar Room G/H

Speakers: Dr. Holly Joseph, University of Reading

Convener: Dr Jessica Briggs, Applied Linguistics Research Group

From mid-childhood onwards, the majority of new words we learn are encountered incidentally through reading (Nagy et al., 1985). Yet little is known about this process, and the circumstances in which vocabulary acquisition is maximised. In this talk I will present two experiments in which the process of incidental word learning is examined in adults and children, using eye movements to track learning trajectories as novel words are encountered over multiple exposures. Capitalising on well-documented effects in the visual word recognition literature, I examine the effects of order of presentation (Expt. 1), and contextual diversity and redundancy (Expt. 2) on the efficiency with which new word meanings are acquired. Overall, results show that adults and children successfully learn some limited semantic information about new words without explicit instruction after as few as six exposures, that reading behaviour changes as a function of context type, that early presented words are learned better, and that it is possible to create a laboratory analogue of the learning process that we observe in real life development. I will also present some preliminary data that suggest that children who speak English as an additional language learn words more than their monolingual peers.

Identity, cultural capital and the international student

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14 February 2017 13:00 - 14:00
Seminar Room G/H

Speakers: Dr Trevor Grimshaw, University of Bath

Convener: Dr Jessica Briggs, Applied Linguistics Research Group

As higher education institutions continue to internationalise, we are under pressure to re-evaluate how we perceive, represent and interact with students from overseas. Whilst the prevailing discourse tends to perpetuate essentialist notions of 'the international student' as a ‘reduced Other’, insights from the social sciences – including applied linguistics – increasingly encourage a constructivist perspective, which emphasises the complexity, dynamism and mutability of students’ cultures and identities  (Pavlenko & Blackledge, 2004; Holliday, 2005; Kubota & Lin, 2009; Block, 2014).

In this presentation I examine the strategies of self-presentation employed by transnational students in their interactions with academic staff and peers. Through a combination of linguistic ethnography and multimodal discourse analysis, my research has documented instances of day-to-day intercultural communication on campus. These include examples of interdiscourse communication between students and their tutors, the appropriation of students’ identities in university marketing materials, and the participation of students in performances such as the ‘International Evening’.

Transnational students are thus seen to project different selves, in different contexts, and for a range of purposes. In particular, the students make use of autostereotypes as a resource for impression management.  I argue that these actions constitute forms of ‘strategic essentialism’ (Baumann, 1996; Spivak, 2006), wherein the students deploy specific identities in order to build relationships, to justify their actions, to obtain leverage, or to generate content for academic assignments. Identities thus become tradable commodities:  a form of ‘cultural capital’ (Bourdieu & Passeron, 1990).

The findings have important implications for areas such as intercultural awareness training in higher education, the marketing of academic programmes, and international educational research.

Within and cross-language contributions of morphological awareness to vocabulary: a cross-sectional study comparing English native speakers to pupils with English as an Additional Language (EAL) in different language learning contexts

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24 January 2017 13:00 - 14:00
Seminar Room G/H

Speakers: Adam Unthiah, Department of Education

Convener: Dr Jessica Briggs, Applied Linguistics Research Group

This study explores the within and cross-language contributions of English and French morphological awareness to vocabulary in English and French in the MFL classroom, for both English native speakers and pupils with English as an Additional Language (EAL). Morphological awareness has been shown to make within-language contributions to vocabulary knowledge in the native language, and both within and cross-language contributions to vocabulary knowledge in an additional language, by helping pupils to discover the meanings of unknown derived words via the analysis of component morphemes. However, these relationships have yet to be established in a taught foreign language. To investigate these relationships in the modern foreign language (MFL) context, this study adopted a cross-sectional 2x2 between-subjects factorial design with between-participant factors of language status (EL1 vs EAL) and year group (year 8 vs year 10). The results of this study demonstrate within-language contributions of morphological awareness to French receptive vocabulary for year 10 EAL pupils, cross-language contributions of English morphological awareness to French receptive vocabulary for year 10 EAL pupils, and cross-language contributions of French morphological awareness to English receptive vocabulary for year 10 EAL pupils. In addition, within-language associations for French varied significantly as a function of language status for year 10 pupils, as did cross-language associations between French morphological awareness and English receptive vocabulary. For EAL pupils with higher levels of morphological awareness, these results indicate the importance of morphological awareness in predicting vocabulary knowledge in the MFL classroom. It is hoped that such information will aid educational practitioners with the teaching of a modern foreign language in classrooms in England which are often comprised of pupils from diverse language backgrounds.

Crossing barriers: The influence of linguistic and cultural background on [I + verb] belief constructions in expressions of opinion

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22 November 2016 13:00 - 14:00
Seminar Room A

Speaker: Lucy Zhao, Department of Education

Convener: Dr Jessica Briggs, Applied Linguistics Research Group

How does cultural and linguistic background influence communication style? This topic is examined through the [I + verb] belief construct before the expression of an opinion. Since opinions carry inherent notions of speaker belief, these constructions may at first appear superfluous. However, [I + verb] forms may actually fulfill various pragmatic functions depending on prosodic variation. Unfortunately, there is little congruent data on universality vs. cross-linguistic variability of pragmatic-prosodic mappings (prosodic variation as a cue to pragmatic interpretation) of [I + verb] belief constructs before an opinion. Thus, a proof-of-concept perception test was first implemented, followed by a production task sought to investigate the effect of sociolinguistic background on a speaker's frequency of usage for various [I + verb] forms in expressing opinions, and how this relates to perceived speaker confidence.

Usage of various forms and functions of this construct was analyzed and compared between native Mandarin and English speakers, as well as EFL Mandarin speakers.  The proof of concept task supported hypotheses overall, suggesting the existence of a universal pragmatic-prosodic mapping for [I + verb]. In addition, while as predicted sociolinguistic background did not have a significant effect on universality of prosodic-pragmatic mapping in terms of confidence rating, it did have an observable effect on semantic interpretation of ‘speaker confidence’, thus indicating that sociolinguistic background may play a role in influencing these interpretations.

Results from the production task supported overall predictions that frequency of functional [I + verb] usage corresponded to culturally specific attitudes of each culture. Based on confidence rating calculations for each [I + verb] variation from pragmatic-prosodic mapping of the perception task, it was determined that Native US individuals were most confident in expressing self-opinions but least confident in expressing opinions of others whilst Native CHI individuals were most confident in expressing opinions of others and least confident in expressing self-opinion, with the EFL group in the US more closely mirroring the Native US group and the EFL group in China more closely mirroring the Native CHI group. Additionally, going against theories of previous research, Time immersed in a new L2 environment and L2 proficiency did not significantly influence performance.

Through investigating pragmatic-prosodic mappings of [I + verb] forms vs. functions, this study aimed to demonstrate the bi-directional link between language, thought and culture. By understanding and familiarizing oneself with the root of pragmatic differences, there is hope to better understand the cause of cross-cultural miscommunications between native and foreign speakers in conversation and to minimize any such discrepancies in pragmatic knowledge and sociocultural norms.

The role of decoding in second language English vocabulary acquisition

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15 November 2016 13:00 - 14:00
Seminar Room A

Speaker: Sha Li, Department of Education

Convener: Dr Jessica Briggs, Applied Linguistics Research Group

Research into the processing of second language (L2) writing systems by learners with typologically contrasting L1 writing systems has consistently underlined the importance of cross-linguistic transfer, interpretable as the automatic triggering of L1-based processing mechanisms by L2 written input. Specifically, in an alphabetic L2 (e.g. English), print-to-sound decoding- defined as the sub-lexical process of ‘assembling’ pronunciations for written words or strings, using the systematic relations between written symbols (graphemes) and sounds (phonemes)- has been found to be facilitated amongst learners with an alphabetic L1 (e.g. Korean) compared to a morphemic L1 (e.g. Chinese). This may be because the latter are accustomed to processing words as visual wholes rather than engaging in intraword analysis. Recently, the relationship between L2 decoding and word learning has begun to be explored. There is a strong theoretical support for a casual relationship between the variables: fast and accurate decoding of written forms provides reliable phonological representations which support the operation of phonological working memory; psycholinguistic evidence suggests that this, in turn, plays a central role in learning novel phonological forms. Further, knowledge of a language’s grapheme-phoneme correspondences allows the orthographic and phonological representations of new words to be mutually reinforcing. Previous studies have indeed found positive correlations between both the speed and accuracy of decoding on the one hand and success in intentional word learning on the other, amongst learners with alphabetic but not morphemic L1 backgrounds- consistent with the view that morphemic learners are more likely to process words visually as whole units. However, there has been no experimental evidence with could prove the linkage between decoding and vocabulary learning.

Against this backdrop, an experimental study was conducted in which a twelve-week systematic decoding instruction programme covering 101 English graphemes was implemented to three classes of first-year English majors in three universities in Wuhan, China. The control participants received a twelve-week English phonology instruction programme focusing on the pronunciation of 44 English graphemes and other pronunciation tips (rhythm, linking and stress patterns).

To evaluate the effectiveness of the decoding instruction programme, participants’ performance on an English decoding test and a vocabulary memorisation task followed by immediate recall and recognition tests before and after the instruction programmes were compared. The findings show that participants who followed the decoding instruction programme demonstrated a clear and significant advantage over their counterparts in the control group in terms of the number of correctly pronounced graphemes and words in an English decoding test. In a vocabulary memorisation task, the intervention participants achieved significantly higher scores in the oral recall, written recall and aural recognition test compared to the control participants, but no significant differences between the two groups were observed in the written recognition test. The results suggest that explicit decoding instruction can be effective in promoting the English decoding proficiency of Chinese university EFL learners, and for the first time establish the causal relationship between L2 decoding and vocabulary learning.

Becoming whole: language as whole school learning

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01 November 2016 13:00 - 14:00
Seminar Room G/H

Speaker: Dr. Jane Spiro, Oxford Brookes University

Convener: Dr Jessica Briggs, Applied Linguistics Research Group

This paper will compare two projects designed to embed language change across the whole curriculum. Both projects track the process of bringing first languages into the school culture. The first took place at an Oxford primary school with multiple first languages (such as Turkish, Nepali, Japanese, Hindi, Italian).  It engaged parents, teachers and teaching assistants in a process of training, storytelling, and language exchange. Teachers were asked to share their perceptions of first languages and the EAL learner at the start and finish of the project, and changes in the school culture were tracked by an 'insider' researcher taking field notes of daily life in the school during a period of one year. The second project shares a process of 'dialogic' storytelling, between an insider Hawaiian educator, and myself as outsider/observer, experiencing the process of Hawaiian cultural and linguistic re-emergence. This dialogue is located within the spectrum of responses to a Hawaiian cultural renaissance, from an 'add-on' discrete subject, to complete immersion across the whole school experience and for children of all ethnicities.  The two projects track the process of changing attitude to first language/heritage, and its impact on learning for the whole school community. They also explore the impact of first language on second language development and learner self-esteem.

Modeling the structure of language learning motivation

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18 October 2016 13:00 - 14:00
Seminar Room G/H

Speaker: Dr. Janina Iwaniec, University of Bath

Convener: Dr Jessica Briggs, Applied Linguistics Research Group

The current study investigates the language learning motivation of Polish teenagers enrolled in compulsory education. 465 fifteen-year-olds from 10 schools located in rural and urban areas of southern Poland filled in a motivational questionnaire that aimed to measure 7 constructs from ranging from the most popular language learning goals such as instrumental orientation and international orientation, through self-guides, including ideal L2 self, self-efficacy beliefs and the English self-concept, to the scales of intrinsic motivation and self-regulation. The students also completed Quick Oxford Proficiency Test, which was mainly focused on reading skills but on the knowledge of English grammar and vocabulary.

The obtained data was analysed using SPSS and Mplus, the structural equation modeling software. The hypothesised model included the direct links between language learning goals and self-guides which, in turn, influenced the levels of intrinsic motivation and, indirectly, self-regulation. Language learning proficiency, as measured by the test, was expected to be directly affected by self-regulation and indirectly by other variables. The final model confirmed that motivation indeed influences language learning proficiency. Similarly, as hypothesised, language learning goals seem to affect self-guides, which, in turn have a decisive role in the prediction of intrinsic motivation and self-regulated behaviour.

The Young Language Learners (YLL) Symposium 2016

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06 July 2016 -

Early childhood education in English for speakers of other languages

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07 June 2016 13:15 - 14:15
Seminar Room K/L

Speaker: Professor Victoria Murphy, Department of Education

Convener: Dr Jess Briggs, Applied Linguistics Research Group

Approximately 93% of pre-primary school aged children (up to age 7) participate in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) in Europe – a significant rise on previous years (Eurydice, 2014).  As part of this experience, many children are either taught through the medium of another language or are taught another language as a foreign language. A number of European countries have introduced pilot projects (as of 2012) to increase (usually English) language provision in the pre primary age group (Eurydice, 2012).  Despite the reported prevalence of bilingual education and foreign language instruction in ECEC programmes throughout Europe, relatively few details are available concerning key aspects of this provision.  Very little is known, for example, about the nature of teacher education programmes and qualifications of ECEC teachers, or the nature of the specific provision children across the European Union receive as part of their ECEC through the medium of another language, or taught as a foreign language.  This lack of knowledge results in little to no shared understanding across countries in the European Union – or indeed internationally – together with little research being available to support teachers, teacher educators, policy makers and families. In this presentation I will present the major themes emerging from a recently published volume commissioned by the British Council as an attempt to help mitigate against this lack of understanding of ECEC through the medium of English for non English speakers (Murphy & Evangelou, 2015).

Examining factors associated with individual differences in overall L2 proficiency development during study abroad

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24 May 2016 13:15 - 14:15
Seminar Room K/L

Speaker: Gianna Hessel, Department of Education

Convener: Dr Jess Briggs, Applied Linguistics Research Group

Study abroad research has shown that, contrary to common expectations, the linguistic gains made by study abroad participants are often subtle and subject to substantial individual differences. In this presentation, I will examine the role of a range of learner- and programme-related factors in differential overall L2 proficiency gain during study abroad. The discussion will focus primarily on a number of hitherto unexplored factors, including L2 use anxiety with other non-native speakers, self-efficacy in using the L2 in social interactions, the perceived present-future self-discrepancy, as well as attitudes towards one’s own national group.

The data derive from my doctoral research, which is a mixed methods study of 96 German ERASMUS students on study abroad in the UK, whose English proficiency upon programme-entry was upper-intermediate to advanced. All students completed C-tests of overall English language proficiency and questionnaires that inquired into the students’ mobility history, their L2 learning background, L2 motivation, intergroup attitudes and aspects of the study abroad experience itself, including their social contact experiences. Both instruments were administered at the onset of the study abroad period, one term into the programme and prior to the students’ return. Repeated interviews with a sub-sample of 15 students abroad served to illuminate the observed developmental patterns from an emic perspective.

In examining the factors that were associated with differential overall L2 proficiency gain, I will consider the statistical results on the direction and magnitude of these relationships, as well as the insights gained from the over 40 student interviews on how these factors play out in the process of L2 learning abroad. The implications for research and practice will also be discussed.

Measuring and developing second language fluency (Public Seminar)

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23 May 2016 16:30 - 18:00
Seminar Room A

Speaker: Professor Judit Kormos, Lancaster University

Convener: Dr Jess Briggs, Applied Linguistics Research Group

Fluency is an important construct in the assessment of language proficiency and forms part of a large number of rating scales in various high stakes exams and in descriptors of levels of second language (L2) competence.

From a pedagogical perspective, developing students’ fluency in another language is one of the most important aims of language teaching. Previous investigations have analyzed L2 fluency primarily with learners of English as a second language. While such research has contributed significantly to our understanding of fluency in L2 English, little is known about how fluency is perceived and evaluated in L2 French despite the fact that previous cross-linguistic research has uncovered important differences between fluency phenomena in French and English. In the first part of this talk I will present a series of studies in which we investigated perceptions of what constitutes fluent L2 French speech (Préfontaine, Kormos & Johnson, 2015; Kormos & Préfontaine, in press).  Our results suggest that there are important differences in the factors that influence ratings and subjective perceptions of fluency in L2 French in comparison with L2 English. In the second part of the talk I present research evidence for how teachers can assist L2 learners in developing their fluency by means of massed task-repetition.

Judit Kormos is a Reader in the Department of Linguistics and English Language at Lancaster University. Her research interests are psychological aspects of second language learning, motivation, learner autonomy in foreign language contexts, and language learners with special needs.

Context and the researching and teaching of academic writing

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19 May 2016 13:15 - 14:15
Seminar Room K/L

Speaker: Professor Brian Paltridge, University of Sydney

Convener: Dr Heath Rose, Applied Linguistics Research Group

Learning to write in the academy involves acquiring a repertoire of linguistic practices which are based on complex sets of discourses, identities, and values. These practices, however, vary according to context, culture and genre. This presentation discusses how these issues can be taken up in the researching and teaching of academic writing. It will do this, first, by examining how the notion of context is taken up theoretically in linguistics research more broadly and, then, how contextualised understandings of the use of language have been explored by academic writing researchers. It will then discuss ways in which the context in which students’ writing is produced impacts on the texts they are expected to produce and how students can be made aware of, and take account of this in their writing.

Experiencing master's dissertation supervision: two supervisors' perspectives

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03 May 2016 13:15 - 14:15
Seminar Room K/L

Speaker: Dr. Nigel Harwood, University of Sheffield

Convener: Dr Jess Briggs, Applied Linguistics Research Group

As master’s and doctoral programmes expand, a growing body of research has focused on a major component of these programmes: the dissertation/thesis candidates write, and the experiences and practices of dissertation/thesis supervisees and supervisors. This body of work, which mainly focuses on doctoral study, has pointed to a high degree of variability in both supervisory experiences and practices. In this talk I focus on the less-researched arena of master’s study, and on the supervisor’s rather than the supervisee’s perspective. I present findings regarding two supervisors’ experiences of supervising non-native students who were tackling their master’s dissertations at a UK university.

Using a multiple case study approach (e.g. Duff 2008; Merriam 1998), I interviewed the supervisors about the supervision, analysed the students’ drafts and final dissertation chapters, their supervisors’ comments and feedback on this writing, and the markers’ reports on the final dissertations. In addition, I examined supporting materials on supervision provided by the subject departments (e.g. handbooks, dissertation writing guidelines, assessment criteria).

I focus on supervisors in two different social science departments: Billy and Harriet. Both supervisors had recently taken up post, but Billy was a highly experienced supervisor of 17 years’ standing while Harriet had never supervised before. Although both Billy and Harriet’s supervisees wrote successful dissertations which were awarded distinction grades, the supervisors’ experiences were not trouble-free (confirmed by supervisees’ interviews). Specifically, Billy supervised a dissertation outside his area of expertise, his supervisee had difficulties grasping methodological concepts, failed to adhere to deadlines to submit draft chapters, and was out of contact for several weeks; while Harriet’s supervisee decided to change her research hypotheses late in the day, and produced a weak methods chapter. In the face of these difficulties Billy was sanguine, while Harriet’s narrative featured moments of uncertainty and guilt about her practices. Billy spoke of the ‘arrogance of longevity’ his experience afforded him and how he was confident he knew how to supervise. His practices were characterised by flexibility as he reportedly altered his approach depending on students’ needs and abilities—and as he did when his supervisee began missing deadlines. He was therefore resistant to institutional attempts to impose rigid departmental supervisory practices. In contrast, Harriet was conscious of her department’s more prescribed supervisory norms and, despite disapproving of the policy that she was only allowed to read and comment on one of her supervisees’ draft chapters (the results chapter), conformed to it, ensuring that she could not be accused by her department of intervening inappropriately.

I argue that these cases raise questions about supervisory policies and provide food for thought for university policy makers attempting to draw up supervisory guidelines. For instance, how relaxed should departments be about supervisors being allocated supervisees beyond their areas of disciplinary competence? How many drafts and pieces of written work should supervisors be allowed to comment on? How much and what type of feedback should it be permitted to provide? Most fundamentally, how much autonomy should supervisors be allowed to vary their practices and their supervisory styles?

I close on a less normative note, by discussing the tensions identified in the data between the supervisors’ inner convictions (e.g., their beliefs about best supervisory practice) and the departmental supervisory regulations, and how these tensions are (un)resolved, then broaden this discussion out to reflections on supervisor autonomy in the face of the performative and instrumental discourses surrounding the contemporary university.

Exploring changes in overall L2 proficiency as an outcome of ERASMUS study abroad and common factors associated with differential linguistic development

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08 March 2016 13:15 - 14:15
Seminar Room K/L

Speaker: Gianna Hessel, Department of Education

An Applied Linguistics Lunchtime Seminar convened by: Dr Jess Briggs

EAP teachers‘ cognitions and practices in teaching lexis in two Turkish private universities: an exploratory qualitative study

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01 March 2016 13:15 - 14:15
Seminar Room K/L

Speaker: Dr. Sukru Nural, Murat Hüdavendigar University

An Applied Linguistics Lunchtime Seminar convened by: Dr Jess Briggs

A large body of empirical research has suggested that lexis is a major concern for learners and teachers in the language classroom context. A wide recognition of the crucial role of lexis in language learning and teaching culminated in sets of principles proposed by some vocabulary researchers (Barcroft, 2002; Laufer, 2005a; Meara, 2005; Nation, 2005a; Sökmen, 1997; Zimmerman, 2008). However, it is important to acknowledge that teachers know more about the constraints and demands of their own contexts than decontextualised expert principles can allow for. In the present study, the underlying reasons why teachers teach lexis in the way they do are examined. Particularly, the main thrust of the study is to explore the relationship between two EAP teachers‘ cognitions and practices of lexis teaching in preparatory schools of two private universities in Turkey. The data generation instruments used in the study include classroom observations, field notes, stimulated recall, and semi-structured follow-up interviews. The findings of the study suggest that although the teachers have students with similar profiles and characteristics they seem to have different tendencies towards provision of lexical knowledge. Apart from the factors underpinning the difference in their tendencies, the relationship between teachers‘ cognitions and practices of lexis teaching were also identified with specific reference to the determinants that have a role to play in the correspondence between their beliefs and actual classroom behaviour. With its implications for teacher education and teacher cognition research, this case study also complements classroom-based research into form-focused instruction in general and lexis instruction in particular.

Developing foreign language knowledge and skills from watching captioned TV and DVDs: Theoretical and practical issues arising from the EURECAP Project

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23 February 2016 13:15 - 14:15
Seminar Room K/L

Speaker: Dr. Robert Vanderplank, Department of Education

An Applied Linguistics Lunchtime Seminar convened by: Dr Jess Briggs

There is substantial evidence of the benefits in terms of enhanced comprehension and vocabulary acquisition for foreign language learners watching TV programmes and films with same language subtitles provided for the deaf and hard-of-hearing (e.g., Montero-Perez et al. 2013; Vanderplank, 2010, 2015, 2016). Most of this evidence comes from research with English language learners as TV programmes have carried these subtitles since the 1970s in the UK and North America (closed captions in the US). What has still hardly been addressed even after 30+ years of research is the question of whether learner-viewers may develop their language knowledge and skills over time through watching captioned programmes and DVDs and what the strategies and mechanisms are for this to happen.

The EURECAP Project at the Language Centre at Oxford has been exploring the benefits of watching films on DVD with same language subtitles in French, German, Italian and Spanish. Modern languages students and non-specialist language learners could borrow and watch a selection of DVDs in each language in their own time and kept diaries of their experiences and changes in behaviour over a five-to-six week period. In this presentation, I shall outline the aims of the project, the key findings and how these have helped to develop a complex model of language learning through watching films and programmes with these same language subtitles.

The pedagogical potential and limits of English Medium Instruction in Japanese English-as-a-Foreign-Language classrooms

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16 February 2016 13:15 - 14:15
Seminar Room K/L

Speaker: Dr. Kazuya Saito, Birkbeck, University of London

An Applied Linguistics Lunchtime Seminar convened by: Dr Jess Briggs

Although the role of decontextualized language-focused instruction remains unclear, especially for the development of spontaneous speech production, a growing number of researchers have conceptualized, elaborated and validated a range of meaning-oriented and acquisition-rich L2 teaching approaches. One such example concerns English Medium Instruction (EMI), whereby students are required to take content-based classes in the target language together with foreign language or language art classes.

In this talk, I will report a longitudinal project which delved into the extent to which college-level Japanese learners of English can improve the global (comprehensibility and accentedness) as well as specific (pronunciation, fluency, vocabulary and grammar) qualities of L2 spontaneous speech over one academic year in EMI classrooms. Subsequently, I will also relate to how the level of proficiency achieved was related to the length (1 semester vs. 1 year) and focus (language-focused vs. content-based classes) of instruction that students had received as well as their language aptitude profiles (explicit and implicit pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar).

The findings will be discussed in terms of the pedagogical “potential” and “limits” of EMI programs of this kind. I will provide some promising directions for future research.

Silence in Japan’s second language classrooms: the dynamic interplay between context and learners (Public Seminar)

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15 February 2016 16:30 - 18:00
Seminar Room A

Speaker: Dr Jim King, University of Leicester

Convener: Dr Jessica Briggs, Applied Linguistics Research Group

Silence is an area of study that receives relatively little attention from second language (L2) researchers, who in the past have tended to concentrate more on the spoken aspects of discourse within classrooms. Far from being merely communicative voids in which nothing of interest happen, moments of silence during educational encounters are actually rich in form, function and meaning. This talk will report on a large-scale, multi-site investigation into the silent behaviour of L2 learners attending English classes within Japanese universities. Using a complexity perspective as its conceptual background, the investigation moves away from traditional, reductionist, single-cause explanations for learner reticence to suggest that silence actually emerges through multiple, concurrent routes. These routes are so abundant, and appear to be so well supported both educationally and culturally in the Japanese context, that silence appears to have fossilised into a semi-permanent attractor state within university language classrooms.

Jim King is Lecturer in Education within the University of Leicester’s School of Education. Before gaining a PhD in Applied Linguistics from the University of Nottingham, he taught in various countries around the world, including stints in Poland, Hungary, Italy, Japan and Australia. A post-doctoral fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), Jim’s research interests centre on the issues of silence in educational contexts and psychological aspects of second language learning. His publications include the monograph Silence in the second language classroom (2013) and the edited volume The dynamic interplay between context and the language learner (2015), both published by Palgrave Macmillan.

Comprehension strategies used by Hong Kong ESL learners when listening to the teacher in the classroom

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09 February 2016 13:15 - 14:15
Seminar Room K/L

Speaker: Daniel Fung, Department of Education

An Applied Linguistics Lunchtime Seminar convened by: Dr Jess Briggs

Applied Linguistics Lunchtime Seminar

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26 January 2016 13:15 - 14:15
Seminar Room K/L

Speaker: To be announced

Applied Linguistics Lunchtime Seminar convened by: Dr Jess Briggs

Using eye-tracking in incidental vocabulary acquisition research

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19 January 2016 13:15 - 14:15
Seminar Room K/L

Speaker: Dr. Ana Pellicer-Sánchez, University of Nottingham

An Applied Linguistics Lunchtime Seminar convened by: Dr Jess Briggs

Reading is an important source of first language (L1) and second language (L2) vocabulary learning. Previous studies have shown that new words can be learnt incidentally from reading (e.g. Brown, Waring, & Donkaewbua, 2008; Pellicer-Sánchez & Schmitt, 2010; Webb, 2007). Recent studies have also shown that different types of formulaic sequences and multi-word expressions can be learnt incidentally from reading (e.g. Pellicer-Sánchez, in press; Webb, Newton, & Chang, 2013). However, these previous studies used off-line measures in the form of post-reading tests. Although still informative of the quantity and quality of vocabulary learnt from reading, these measures do not tell us much about what happens when readers encounter unknown lexical items while reading. Using measures of eye movements we can now examine the online reading of unknown lexical items, both single words and multi-word expressions. The combination of off-line (vocabulary tests) and online (eye-tracking) measures provides a fuller account of the process of L1 and L2 reading, expanding our knowledge of the incidental learning of new lexical items from reading. This presentation will first introduce the eye-tracking technique and will then report results of recent experimental studies that used eye-tracking to examine the incidental acquisition of vocabulary knowledge from L1 and L2 reading and the online reading of unknown lexical items. Results of these studies will shed light on the relationship between vocabulary learning from reading and patterns of eye-movements.

Research into the links between language teacher development and working with children as co-researchers (Public Seminar)

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18 January 2016 16:30 - 18:00
Seminar Room A

Speaker: Dr Annamaria Pinter, University of Warwick

Convener: Professor Victoria Murphy, Applied Linguistics Research Group

Interview data conducted at regular intervals during the study has been analysed to make tentative links between working with children as co-researchers  and teachers’ professional development.

This talk will address children’s status in applied linguistics research more broadly,  and then discuss the conceptual and practical  issues around children as co-researchers/ researchers. The talk will also report on an ongoing study with Indian primary English teachers who have been working with children as co-researchers in their classrooms.

Annamaria Pinter trained as an English language teacher in Hungary at the Eötvös Lórand University in Budapest after studying linguistics and literature. She worked in Hungary for a number of years in a variety of contexts, including state primary and secondary schools, International House (IH) language schools and in a pre-service teacher training college, where she was involved in curriculum development for primary English language teachers. She completed her Masters and PhD in ELT/Applied Linguistics at the Centre for Applied Linguistics at Warwick and since 2000 she have been working at the same Centre full time, teaching on the Masters in ELT and the EdD programmes and supervising doctoral students. In addition to working with Warwick students, she has also worked with language teachers from a range of different countries (e.g. Russia, Poland, Japan, Thailand, Turkey) running short courses, workshops and consultancy projects.

She is the author of Teaching Young Language Learners Oxford Handbooks for Language Teachers, Oxford University Press (2006) and Children Learning Second Languages, Palgrave Macmillan (2011). She is also an editor of an e-book series entitled Teaching English to Young Learners (http://www.candlinandmynard.com/series.html). She has published extensively in ELT/Applied Linguistics journals and has given numerous plenary talks on this subject worldwide.

Dr Pinter's research interests include second/foreign language acquisition and learning for children of all ages. She is interested in language learning processes in both formal and informal contexts, task-based learning, developing language learning materials for children and issues related to working with children and research subjects. Recently she has also become interested in processes of adjustment and adaptation in relation to children and their families living overseas on a temporary basis. Her other interest is language teacher development, in particular concerning experienced teachers and the connections between materials design and professional growth.

Clever classrooms: evidence for the impacts of classroom design on learning (Public Seminar)

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15 December 2015 -

Speaker: Professor Peter Barrett, University of Salford

Convener: Professor Harry Daniels, OSAT

Examining the impact of participation in study abroad with ERASMUS in the UK on students’ overall English language proficiency and common factors associated with differential linguistic gain

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01 December 2015 13:30 - 14:30
Seminar Room K/L

Convener: Dr Jess Briggs, Applied Linguistics Research Group

Comprehension strategies when listening to the teacher during ESL classroom interaction

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24 November 2015 13:30 - 14:30
Seminar Room K/L

Convener: Dr Jess Briggs, Applied Linguistics Research Group

Language effects in international tests: the case of PISA science

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20 November 2015 18:30 - 19:30
Seminar Room A

This seminar is part of the Language Testing Forum 2015, co-hosted by the Department of Education and the British Council. Please click here for further details.

Abstract:
Large-scale international assessments such as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the Trends in International Maths and Science Study (TIMSS) and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) have increasingly shaped educational policies and reforms in the last decade. While these surveys can provide invaluable insight about particular educational systems, the development and design of such tests has triggered controversy about the quality and the validity of the instruments adopted. Many of the debates revolved around the extent to which language versions of the same test can be developed while ensuring a fair comparison of student achievement across countries.

Despite the rigorous quality control exerted on the translation and adaptation processes in international assessments, bias has been detected in some items. With language being a culturally-laden, complex variable which promotes and influences thinking, devising equivalent tests in different languages is a complicated endeavour. Translation effects are unavoidable and hence bias, at some level, is inevitable. This threatens the validity and reliability of the tests and raises questions about the extent to which policies based on international assessments rely on solid grounds. In this plenary session, we will present two studies from PISA 2006, illustrating the challenges of language in the cognitive test and the student questionnaire. We will discuss released items from PISA science tests and student questionnaires and highlight language issues associated with them.

The Language Testing Forum 2015. Assessing general language proficiency: definitions and approaches

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20 November 2015 -
15 Norham Gardens, Oxford

English-medium instruction in higher education: navigating the school-to-university transition in Hong Kong

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17 November 2015 13:30 - 14:30
Seminar Room K/L

Convener: Dr Jess Briggs, Applied Linguistics Research Group

Two modes of written corrective feedback for L2 learners

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10 November 2015 13:30 - 14:30
Seminar Room K/L

Convener: Dr Jess Briggs, Applied Linguistics Research Group

Global Englishes for Language Teaching: a framework for curriculum innovation

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03 November 2015 13:30 - 14:30
Seminar Room K/L

Convener: Dr Jess Briggs, Applied Linguistics Research Group

English-medium instruction in the school system: colonial and post-colonial perspectives

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20 October 2015 13:30 - 14:30
Seminar Room K/L

Convener: Dr Jess Briggs, Applied Linguistics Research Group

The spread of “content and language integrated learning” programmes in Spanish schools: a research-based approach

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16 October 2015 13:30 - 14:30
Seminar Room K/L

Convener: Dr Jess Briggs, Applied Linguistics Research Group

Meta-linguistic predictors of word-level literacy skills in monolingual English-speaking children and Chinese children with English as a second language

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13 October 2015 13:30 - 14:30
Seminar Room K/L

Convener: Dr Jess Briggs, Applied Linguistics Research Group

Beyond the classroom: researching second language learning in out-of-class contexts

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18 September 2015 -

Automatic translation in bilingual processing (Public Seminar)

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09 March 2015 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Convener: Dr Xin Wang, Applied Linguistics Research Group

Language development in internationally-adopted children: a special case of very early second language learning (Public Seminar)

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09 February 2015 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Convener: Professor Victoria Murphy, Applied Linguistics Research Group Abstract: Internationally-adopted children are a special case of very early second language acquisition – they discontinue acquisition of the birth language at adoption at which time they learn and use only the second language. They raise a number of important and interesting issues with respect to language learning and loss: “Is a very early acquired ‘second language’ acquired like a first or like a second language?; “What are the underlying explanations for differences in early second language versus first language acquisition?”; “Is a first language completely lost when exposure to and use of that language terminates?”.  In this talk, I will present longitudinal behavioral results of a 10-year longitudinal study of internationally-adopted children from China in comparison to matched monolingual control children indicating that they differ from monolinguals. I will also present data suggesting that gaps in their acquisition of their “second first language” is related to underlying lags in verbal memory. Finally, some recent fMRI data will be presented that reveal whether they actually entirely lose their birth language and whether the adopted language is processed in the same way as that of native-speaking monolinguals.

Production tasks underestimate the grammatical abilities of sequential bilingual children (Public Seminar)

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19 January 2015 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Convener: Professor Victoria Murphy, Applied Linguistics Research Group

Reconceptualising the primary MFL 'diet': an early start to French literacy

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02 December 2014 13:30 -
Seminar Room K/L

Convener: Dr Xin Wang, Applied Linguistics Research Group

Applied Linguistics Seminar

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25 November 2014 13:30 -
Seminar Room K/L

Convener: Dr Xin Wang, Applied Linguistics Research Group

Listening comprehension strategies during ESL classroom interaction

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18 November 2014 13:30 -
Seminar Room K/L

Convener: Dr Xin Wang, Applied Linguistics Research Group

A study of the relationships between informal second language contact, vocabulary-related strategic behaviour and vocabulary gain in a study-abroad context.

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11 November 2014 13:30 -
Seminar Room K/L

Convener: Dr Xin Wang, Applied Linguistics Research Group

An evidence-based evaluation of bilingual teaching (CLIL) programmes in Germany: results from the large-scale longitudinal study DENOCS

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04 November 2014 13:30 -
Seminar Room K/L

Convener: Dr Xin Wang, Applied Linguistics Research Group Abstract Reliable large-scale studies on CLIL are rare (e.g. Pérez-Cañado, 2012) and thus its benefits in comparison to mainstream education are yet to be confirmed. Moreover, the uniqueness of every educational system, societal contexts and the diverging implementations of CLIL render it difficult to transfer research results. Two additional issues further complicate evaluations of CLIL in Germany: The selective nature of German CLIL programmes and two extra English lessons as a preparation for future CLIL pupils. In cross-sectional studies, it remains unclear to what extent the observed differences between CLIL and non-CLIL pupils already existed a priori, a circumstance which might have skewed research results in previous studies that were designed to prove the benefits of CLIL. DENOCS (Development of North-Rhine Westphalian CLIL Students) is a longitudinal quasi-experimental study with 1,398 secondary pupils that measured, inter alia, students’ general language proficiency in English (with high-quality C-tests), academic self-concept, subject-related interest (scales on a questionnaire) and out-of-school exposure to English. 50 classes were tested right before CLIL commenced (year 6, M age=11.9) and then again after one and two years of CLIL; the first control group consisted of non-CLIL students from CLIL schools (negatively selected pupils), the second one comprised regular/mainstream students from schools without any CLIL provision (unselected pupils). Statistical analyses show that before the first CLIL lesson pupils in these strands clearly outperform both non-CLIL control groups (H(2)=8.66, p<.000, effect sizes range from large to medium: 1.20 ≤ Cohen’s d ≤ .54; see Rumlich, 2013). A structural equation model (Χ²(10)=17.76, p=.06; CFI=.99; TLI=.97; RMSEA=.03, .00 < 90% CI < .05; SRMR=.01; R²=.61) of the development of pupils’ proficiency, academic self-concept and subject-related interest over two years indicates that there are no (general lang. prof./interest) or just very small (self-concept) effects of CLIL when prior differences are taken into account and pupils’ development is evaluated on the basis of an unselected control group. Yet, when using the incorrectly specified regression models of previous studies on the same data (without controlling for initial differences, without unbiased control group), one incorrectly finds substantial CLIL effects. These results provide important evidence for the suspected selection and preparation effects – leading to considerable bias in cross-sectional evaluations – and have led to an overestimation of the benefits of CLIL in many of the studies conducted in Germany so far. In my talk, the implications of these findings as well as potential explanations will be discussed critically in the broader context of CLIL research. References Pérez-Cañado, M. L. (2012). CLIL research in Europe: past, present, and future. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 15(3), 315–341. doi:10.1080/13670050.2011. 630064. Rumlich, D. (2013). Students’ general English proficiency prior to CLIL: Empirical evidence for substantial differences between prospective CLIL and non-CLIL students in Germany. In S. Breidbach & B. Viebrock (Eds.), Content and language integrated learning (CLIL) in Europe: Research perspectives on policy and practice (pp. 181-201). Frankfurt am Main: Lang. About the speaker Dominik Rumlich works as a junior researcher and lecturer at the university of Duisburg-Essen in Germany. His areas of expertise are CLIL, assessment, individual learner characteristics, and quantitative research (methods). He is currently involved in multiple research projects and in charge of a multi-method study on "The school book 2.0". His large-scale PhD project DENOCS will provide the backbone for his PhD thesis with the provisionary title "Evaluating the effects of bilingual education: German CLIL students' foreign language development and their affective-motivational dispositions". His thesis will presumably be completed by the end of 2014.

Use of students’ first language in English language teaching: Asian perspectives

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28 October 2014 13:30 -
Seminar Room K/L

Convener: Dr Xin Wang, Applied Linguistics Research Group Abstract During the 20th century, it was commonly assumed that the best way to teach English as a foreign language was through the exclusive use of English as the medium of instruction. Recently, scholars have challenged this view, but there is still a tendency for many educational policy-makers in schools and universities to insist on ‘English only’, and decry the classroom use of the first languages of learners and teachers. Observational data from a recent volume of case studies (Barnard & McLellan, 2014) clearly show that switching between the first and target languages is a common practice across a wide range of university English classrooms in Asian contexts. In some cases, this codeswitching occurred more or less spontaneously and at random. Often, however, teachers in these studies alternated between languages in a principled and systematic way. This presentation presents and discusses brief extracts from interviews with teachers, where they explained the rationale behind their use of the students’ first language Thus codeswitching is both normal and can be pedagogically justified. The presentation will conclude with suggesting how teachers can reflect on their use of language(s) in their own classrooms by recording, listening to, and systematically analysing data. About the speaker Dr. Barnard is an associate professor at the University of Waikato, where he teaches MA courses in applied linguistics and supervises PhD students. Before taking up his post in 1995, he worked in Europe and the Middle East as a teacher, teacher trainer, director of studies and English Language Adviser to Ministries of Education. His recent research and publication interests include classroom interaction (Barnard & Torres-Guzman 2009), teacher cognition (Barnard & Burns 2012), and codeswitching (Barnard & McLellan 2014). He has presented papers on these, and other, topics at many international conferences and invited professorships, and is at present leading an international project exploring teachers’ beliefs and practices regarding language learner autonomy in several Asian contexts (Barnard & Li 2015).

English language policy and educational planning: issues and concerns in Asian contexts (Public seminar)

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27 October 2014 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar room A

Convener: Professor Ernesto Macaro, Applied Linguistics Research Group Abstract: This presentation discusses a number of current issues and concerns relating to English Language policies with particular attention to educational contexts in Asia. It begins with identifying the goals of a language policy. It is then suggested that, to be effective, a language policy needs to take into consideration the contexts in which the implementation is intended. There follow examples of language policies in specific contexts, each of which begins with a brief sociolinguistic sketch and ends with some questions about the wisdom of current policies: the choice of official languages (Timor Leste); the curricular aims of English as a Foreign Language (Vietnam); the early introduction of English as a foreign language (Korea); ‘native’ and ‘non-native’ English speaking teachers (Japan); English as the medium of instruction in primary schools (Malaysia) and in universities (Thailand). The presentation concludes by emphasising the need for further research that takes into account the influence of sociocultural factors in the specific contexts where policies are to be implemented. It also argues for a reconsideration of the tendency of educational language policies to be imposed on, rather than negotiated with, key stakeholders, chief among which are the teachers who have to interpret and implement the policies. About the speaker: Dr Barnard is an associate professor at the University of Waikato, where he teaches MA courses in applied linguistics and supervises PhD students. Before taking up his post in 1995, he worked in Europe and the Middle East as a teacher, teacher trainer, director of studies and English Language Adviser to Ministries of Education. His recent research and publication interests include classroom interaction (Barnard & Torres-Guzman 2009), teacher cognition (Barnard & Burns 2012), and codeswitching (Barnard & McLellan 2014). He has presented papers on these, and other, topics at many international conferences and invited professorships, and is at present leading an international project exploring teachers’ beliefs and practices regarding language learner autonomy in several Asian contexts (Barnard & Li 2015).

Pronoun interpretation in the second language (Public Seminar)

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28 April 2014 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Convener: Dr Victoria Murphy, Applied Linguistics Research Group Abstract A much-studied phenomenon in first language (L1) acquisition concerns the fact that children have greater difficulty in interpreting sentences with pronouns than with reflexives, the so-called Delay of Principle B Effect (DPBE). In addition, Chien and Wexler (1990) reported that children are more accurate when pronouns refer to quantified antecedents (e.g. Every bear is touching her) than to referential antecedents (e.g. Mama Bear is touching her). A recent study by Hartman, Sudo & Wexler (2012) established that English-speaking L1 acquirers were significantly more adult-like when they heard a reduced English pronoun as opposed to a full pronoun (e.g. John saw'm versus John saw him). If the DPBE reflects difficulties due to an elevated processing load (Reinhart 2006), then a similar difficulty of interpretation might be expected for (non-advanced) L2 learners, with differences in accuracy on reduced versus full pronouns, as well as better performance on quantified antecedents compared to referential ones. To investigate this issue, we look at the performance of adult learners of English (L1s French and Spanish) on sentences with reduced and full pronouns bound by referential and quantified antecedents. The task is a Truth Value Judgment Task, administered online; test sentences manipulate pronoun type and antecedent type and are presented aurally. These sentences are judged in the context of stories (presented aurally and visually). L2 learners of intermediate proficiency show a discrepancy in accuracy on quantificational versus referential antecedents, as well as on reduced versus full pronouns, in accord with the claim that full pronoun interpretation strains processing resources. Advanced learners were as accurate as native speakers. We will speculate on pedagogical implications of our findings. Roumyana Slabakova is Professor of Applied Linguistics at the University of Southampton. Her PhD degree was awarded by McGill University where she studied under the supervision of Lydia White. Her dissertation investigated the second language acquisition of aspect by Bulgarian native speakers learning English. She taught and conducted research at the University of Iowa before she came to the University of Southampton. Her research is grounded in generative linguistic theory and explores the second language (L2) acquisition process. Her theoretical focus is the acquisition of grammatical structure and its interaction with meaning. She uses online and offline psycholinguistic methodologies to investigate theoretical issues. Lydia White is James McGill Professor of Linguistics and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. She is currently Associate Provost (Policies, Procedures and Equity) at McGill. Lydia White has a BA/MA in Moral Sciences and Psychology from Cambridge University (1969), and a PhD in Linguistics from McGill (1980). She is Co-Editor of the book series Language Acquisition and Language Disorders (published by John Benjamins) and she is on the Editorial Boards of the following journals: Language Acquisition, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Second Language Research.

English medium instruction: research on a developing phenomenon

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17 March 2014 10:00 - 17:00

Conveners: Professor Ernesto Macaro, Dr Catherine Walter and Julie Dearden. English medium instruction (EMI) is a fast developing phenomenon. Particularly in higher education, more and more institutions across the world are using English to teach academic subjects, spurred on by a desire to internationalize their offer and their academic profile. This switch to EMI is inevitably having an impact on secondary education as well. The symposium will take a critical look at this phenomenon and asks important questions about: • What EMI is • What EMI might become • Who is likely to benefit from EMI • What changes EMI is likely to bring about • How EMI as a phenomenon should be researched Ernesto Macaro, Catherine Walter and Julie Dearden are academics in the Department of Education and have been key players in setting up a Centre for Research on English as Medium of Instruction (EMI Oxford). As part of that process they have been carrying out a British Council-funded global survey of the current state and status of EMI in 60 countries and will present some of this research data at the symposium as well as raising a number of theoretical issues. PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS EVENT IS NOW FULL AND NO MORE REGISTRATIONS CAN BE ACCEPTED. For further information please contact julie.dearden@education.ox.ac.uk Additional confirmed speakers are: Pauline Rea-Dickins, Aga Khan University: English medium examining of school subject knowledge Li Wei, Birkbeck College: English-only in EMI? Barry O’Sullivan, British Council: Assessing English in EMI. Victoria Murphy, Department of Education: A snapshot of bilingual education. This symposium has been facilitated by the generous sponsorship of: Oxford University Press and The British Council The Centre for Research and Development on English Medium Instruction (EMI)

Developing academic interactional competence: listening and speaking strategies in EAP settings

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11 March 2014 13:30 - 15:00
Seminar Room K/L

Convener: Professor Ernesto Macaro, Applied Linguistics Research Group

Multi-Word Vocabulary and literacy development in children with English as an Additional Language (Public Seminar)

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10 March 2014 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Convener: Professor Harry Daniels, Director of Research Abstract Children with English as an Additional Language (EAL) represent a growing proportion of the primary school population in the UK. While there is great diversity within the EAL population with respect to linguistic and academic outcomes, children with EAL tend to lag behind native-speaking peers across the primary curriculum. One of the candidate explanations for this achievement gap is under-developed literacy skills in EAL pupils as some researchers have demonstrated that students with EAL are as much as two years behind NS peers on measures of reading comprehension. One variable consistently identified as a powerful contributor to literacy development is vocabulary knowledge, and children with EAL have been identified to have lower scores on standardized vocabulary assessments relative to NS peers. Thus far, however, research has not adequately captured the complexity of vocabulary knowledge, predominantly focusing on measures of so-called ‘breadth’ through standardized assessments. Vocabulary knowledge is complex and componential and a range of different vocabulary measures should ideally be used with children with EAL to more precisely identify the range and extent of their lexical knowledge, and how these different lexical features contribute to literacy skill. To that end, the research presented in this paper will focus on research examining more figurative vocabulary knowledge in primary school children with EAL, examining collocations (multiword phrases) and idioms in particular and the relative contribution this type of word knowledge makes to literacy development. This work will be discussed in the context of providing more adequate educational support for the growing number of minority language learners in British schools.

Processing of L2 words in bilingual children and adults: predictors, patterns and tendencies

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04 March 2014 13:30 - 15:00
Seminar Room K/L

Convener: Professor Ernesto Macaro, Applied Linguistics Research Group

Heritage speaker bilingualism: input issues in grammatical outcomes (Public Seminar)

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10 February 2014 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Convener: Dr Vicki Murphy, Applied Linguistics Research Group Abstract In this talk, I will first discuss with you what a heritage language is and who heritage speaker bilinguals are.  From there, I will present a survey of experimental research examining their grammatical knowledge and performances,  most of which demonstrate that as a group they differ significantly from monolingual counterparts.  The question of how heritage speakers who acquire the heritage language naturalistically in early childhood can, as adults, be so different from age and socioeconomic monolingual counterparts is considered.  I will argue that the term incomplete acquisition as well as its underlying conceptual framework (see Montrul 2008) used to describe heritage speaker knowledge is misguided (see Rothman 2007; Pires and Rothman 2009; Pascual y Cabo and Rothman 2012).  Instead, I will ponder if differences in input that heritage speakers receive from "compounded L1 attrition" on the part of the first generation providers of input to the young bilingual population is more explanatory for  domains of grammar.  I will review some empirical work suggesting that this is the case for some properties in heritage grammars and not others.  Ultimately, however, I will argue that even in the case the input is not the primary source of heritage speaker difference for a given domain the label incomplete acquisition is not accurate.

Can a single model of task complexity differentiate between the difficulty of writing and speaking tasks? (Public Seminar)

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27 January 2014 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Convener: Professor Ernesto Macaro, Applied Linguistics Research Group Abstract The main body of literature on task difficulty and task design has focused on oral language performance with little research examining how task design and cognitive complexity affect written performance or to what extent the same aspects of task difficulty would impact written task performance. In this paper, after presenting an overview of research on task design, the existing models of task difficulty will be introduced and their applicability to L2 writing and speaking modes will be examined. Drawing on a comparative study of the impact of task design on L2 performance, the paper will argue that more research is required to investigate whether task difficulty represents the same construct in both oral and written modes, or in what ways task design plays out with the potentially different cognitive processes involved in L2 speaking and writing. About the speaker Dr Parvaneh Tavakoli's main research interests are in the area of Second Language Acquisition with a particular focus on issues related to task-based language learning, teaching and assessment. Parvaneh has researched a number of task features and designs that impact on second language learning, language performance, assessment of language performance and the cognitive processes associated with language development. The findings of this area of her research have resulted in a number of journal articles and book chapters. In addition to this, Parvaneh is also interested in English language teacher education and teacher cognition. She has recently been involved in a project investigating teachers beliefs and views about research as well as teacher research engagement. Parvaneh is currently supervising PhD research in topics related to teaching, learning and assessing English as a second language.

Doctoral Research Open Evening

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04 December 2013 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

For further information, click here

A short pictorial history of Applied Linguistics

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03 December 2013 13:30 -
Seminar Room K/L

Convener: Professor Ernesto Macaro, Applied Linguistics Research Group

Using English in foreign language classrooms: The case of student teachers in Spain

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26 November 2013 13:30 -
Seminar Room K/L

Convener: Professor Ernesto Macaro, Applied Linguistics Research Group

English as an additional language: talking to learn? (Public Seminar)

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25 November 2013 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Convener: Dr Catherine Walters, Applied Linguistics Research Group Abstract English as an Additional Language is recognised as a significant curriculum issue in school education in England (and the UK more generally).  The current policy-sponsored EAL practice (e.g. DfES, 2006) is built on a strongly articulated set of pedagogic and curriculum principles which foregrounds naturalistic exposure and participatory talk.   The central purpose of this presentation is to explore how far the policy-engendered practice is equipped to support the language development of linguistic minority pupils.  More specifically, I will discuss two related issues: (a) the analytic purchase of the policy-rendered theories on the use of English for academic purposes in the classroom, and (b) the pedagogic usefulness of the assumptions and models of language and language learning underlying the current curriculum framework.  I will draw on classroom interaction data collected in recent ESRC-funded research projects to support the discussion. About the speaker Constant Leung is Professor of Educational Linguistics in the Department of Education and Professional Studies at King’s College London. His research interests include classroom pedagogy, content and language integrated curriculum development, English as an additional language, language assessment, academic literacies and language policies. Constant is currently participating with colleagues on an ESRC-funded project on ‘Modelling for diversity: academic language and literacies in school and university’.

Researching EAL provision and training

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14 November 2013 15:00 - 16:00
Seminar Room K/L

Convener: Professor Ernesto Macaro, Applied Linguistics Research Group Abstract EAL is a growing concern in a large number of British schools. The numbers of EAL learners are increasing, and budgets are decreasing. As numbers rise, schools are confronted with the need to provide adequate and effective services for students from a wide variety of backgrounds and with greatly varying levels of English language skills. At the same time, funding for EAL provisions is being cut, and schools are increasingly unable to cope with the situation using present resources. This leads to a situation in which school staff is overstretched and unable to provide effective support to meet the growing demand for EAL services, and language learner students are at greater risk of failure. This seminar presents a new, whole-school approach to EAL provisions and training. The program was developed in collaboration with the British School of Amsterdam, and is now being piloted in two Oxford area schools About the speaker Eowyn Crisfield is a Canadian-educated professional in teaching English as a second/foreign language, teacher-training and bilingualism (BA in TESL/TEFL, MA in Applied Linguistics). Over the last 20 years she has lived and worked in France, the US, Canada  and the Netherlands. Since 2003, she has specialised in the area of parent and teacher education for bilingualism.

Exploring teachers’ explanations of new English lexical items in a Chinese university

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12 November 2013 13:30 -
Seminar Room K/L

Convener: Professor Ernesto Macaro, Applied Linguistics Research Group

Switch Cost of Input Processing in Balanced and Unbalanced English-Chinese Bilinguals: evidence from the MAZE task

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05 November 2013 13:30 -
Seminar Room K/L

Convener: Professor Ernesto Macaro, Applied Linguistics Research Group

Reading Recovery: investigating differential effects on the literacy development of young children for whom English is an additional language in comparison to their native speaking peers

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29 October 2013 13:30 -
Seminar Room K/L

Convener: Professor Ernesto Macaro, Applied Linguistics Research Group

Dire et lire: language and literacy skills of multilingual children in Canada

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26 June 2013 14:00 -
Seminar Room K/L

Convener: Professor Ernesto Macaro, Applied Linguistics Research Group Canada's cultural and linguistic diversity is constantly increasing.  An estimated 50% of the student population in some parts of Canada comprises multilingual students whose first language is neither English nor French.   Historically, French immersion programs were first developed to provide opportunities for Anglophone children to develop proficiency in the two official languages of Canada.  Today, many students who enrol in French immersion programs, especially in major urban centres  speak a home language other than English or French. In this talk I will present recent findings from our research on the oral language proficiency and reading skills in the second language (English) and third language (French) of multilingual students in Canadian French immersion programs. In particular, I will focus on the relationship between first language typology—defined as the classification of languages according to their structural characteristics—and the development of English and French language proficiency and literacy skills in groups of students who are either literate in an alphabetic  (e.g. Spanish) or a logographic/syllabary (e.g. Chinese) first language.  I will argue that our understanding of what facilitates reading development is enhanced when we also consider the degree of language proficiency in all of the languages used by multilingual students.

Digging for FASILs in Brazil: incidental English learners and the new learner autonomy

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04 June 2013 13:30 -
Seminar Room K/L

Convener: Professor Ernesto Macaro, Applied Linguistics Research Group In this presentation I will discuss mixed methods research conducted in Goiania and Belo Horizonte, Brazil between August and November, 2012.  92 high intermediate – low-advanced current language learners took a battery of receptive and productive English language tests designed to assess a range of lexical and grammatical knowledge.  Participants also filled out a questionnaire on attitudes and motivation towards English language learning and participated in a semi-structured interview probing language learner history. Participants, ages 18-24, were divided into two groups, those who had learned language formally– called classroom trained learners or CTLs – and those who had acquired their language almost exclusively through contact with informal sources of English – called fully autonomous self-instructed learners or FASILs. In all there were 34 FASIL and 58 CTL participants.  Preliminary quantitative data show a significant correlation between mode of learning and test scores with FASILs scoring significantly better than CTLs on all tests that have been assessed thus far. Examination of qualitative data suggests that FASILs benefit from the incidental learning that comes as a by-product of informal English use during personally valued activities.  This conclusion is in line with a growing number of studies that document the increasingly common phenomenon of informal incidental learning in the digital age (Sockett and Toffoli, 2010, 2012; Sockett 2010; Kusyk and Sockett, 2012; Lam, 2000, 2004, 2006; Kuppens, 2010; Black, 2005, 2006, 2007). Theories such as Self-Determination Theory (Deci and Ryan, 1985), Dynamic Systems Theory (Van Geert, 2008), the associative-cognitive CREED (Ellis, 2007), and the Input Hypothesis (Krashen, 1981) give theoretical support to the effectiveness of this kind of learning. Extensive qualitative data from interviews and follow up chat exchanges with FASILs challenge the currently favored model of learner autonomy which counts reflectivity, social interaction, and interdependence as essential components of the paradigm (Little, 1995,199; Schwienhorst, 2003; Reinders, 2007; Reinders and White,2011).  Earlier models of learner autonomy that emphasized learner self-reliance and control (Holec, 1981:3; Dickinson, 1987:11) and the importance of personalized learning contexts  (Benson, 2007:24) seem to more accurately reflect the conditions that give rise to highly successful independent language learning today.

L1 backchannel norms and L2 interaction: towards a study in language testing

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28 May 2013 13:30 -
Seminar Room K/L

Convener: Professor Ernesto Macaro, Applied Linguistics Research Group The general aim of the research introduced in this seminar is to identify to what extent listener backchannels affect adult learners' spoken L2 English. Backchannels can be non-verbal or verbal; the former include nods and smiles; the latter include, in English, 'mm', 'uh-huh' and 'ok'; they can indicate listener attention, involvement, empathy and agreement. Backchannel norms differ with L1: frequency is typically lower in English than in Japanese, with frequency in Mandarin Chinese being lower still. The question thus arises of what happens when inexperienced L2 English speakers do not receive the expected frequency of backchannels from a listener. Narrowing this down to one setting is required, to limit the variation in interaction patterns that occur in different settings. The chosen setting is face-to-face tests of spoken English; specifically, tasks similar to those used in IELTS Speaking Parts 2 and 3. Existing research into interviewer-candidate interaction in IELTS has typically used data from candidates with a wide range of L1s, thereby obscuring any L1/cultural differences that may have an effect on the interaction. The proposed research presented here will therefore examine the effects of varying interviewer backchannel frequency on the speech of two groups of participants (L1 Japanese; L1 Mandarin Chinese) in an IELTS-like interview.

Intervention at the foundations of reading comprehension

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21 May 2013 14:00 -
Seminar Room K/L

Convener: Professor Ernesto Macaro, Applied Linguistics Research Group It is now well established that literacy development relies on strong foundation in oral language and there is increasing concern over the number of children who enter UK primary schools with oral language difficulties. Intervention is now high on the government agenda and there is a growing emphasis being placed both on supporting early language and on the identification of evidence-based interventions. This talk will present the results from two randomised controlled trials evaluating oral language intervention for children in preschool and reception classes. Results will be discussed in terms of overall treatment effects as well as looking at moderators of response to intervention. Current and future directions for intervention research will also be discussed.

How do children become skilled word readers and what can go wrong? (Public Seminar)

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29 April 2013 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Convener: Dr Victoria Murphy, Applied Linguistics Research Group Abstract The dominant focus in reading and dyslexia research in recent years has been on phonological processes. Although important, this has somewhat overshadowed the role of orthographic or word-specific reading skills in the acquisition of reading proficiency. In this talk, I will provide an overview of my research on orthographic processes in reading, describing the different ways in which these skills can be assessed, how they appear to be acquired during normal reading development and how they can be selectively impaired in some poor readers. I will also discuss implications for educational practice and for reading interventions.

Exploring the meanings of standards in language testing (Public Seminar)

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11 February 2013 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Convener: Dr Victoria Murphy, Applied Linguistics Research Group Abstract The term ‘standards’ is broadly used with regard to learning and assessment. However, the range of uses brings with it a range of understandings. Standards are, of course, commonly referred to as indicating quality, typically low or falling. However, in a more technical interpretation standards can be thought of as a set of guidelines, as a series of levels or even as a critical boundary, or line in the sand. The first of these perspectives refers to those procedures identified as being necessary in order to develop appropriate tests. The second concept refers to educational performance standards where standards represent an attempt to define the progressive stages of knowledge and skills that students should possess at key points in their learning. Finally, the latter is concerned with identifying a critical point above which a learner is required to demonstrate ability. In this talk, I will argue that the success of any learning system hinges on the quality of the original performance standards, the manner in which the standards are delivered in the classroom and the degree to which assessment is integrated into the whole system. I will additionally argue that the way in which language ability is defined should be reflected in the way we report test performance. About the speaker Barry O'Sullivan is Senior Advisor, English Language Assessment at the British Council, working with a team of developers on the creation of innovative assessment systems. He also advises international institutions around the world on behalf of the British Council on aspects of assessment. Barry is Honorary Professor of Applied Linguistics at the University of Roehampton, London. He has written extensively on language testing and assessment and has presented his ideas at numerous international conferences.

A focus for Task Based Language Teaching research which might help the development of Task Based Language Teaching (Public Seminar)

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28 January 2013 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Convener: Professor Ernesto Macaro, Applied Linguistics Research Group Abstract As teaching materials and research publications show, over the past 30 years, task-based language teaching (TBLT) has increasingly attracted the interest of teachers, education authorities, and researchers.   There are good reasons for this: the use of tasks can offer important distinctive learning opportunities for the student, as well as providing a potentially rich pedagogical resource for the teacher.  Surprisingly perhaps, most TBLT research has concentrated rather narrowly on just a few general aspects of tasks, and ignored many of the ways in which the use of tasks can affect how learners learn and how teachers teach.  As a result TBLT seems paradoxically to be of more interest to researchers than to teachers, developing TBR (task-based research) rather than TBLT (task-based language teaching). With the interests of TBLT at heart, this presentation first considers the richness of the concept of task as a ‘workspace’, both in and outside the classroom, contrasting this view with the pedagogical poverty of much of the research to date.  Using transcript data, the presentation will then consider some neglected aspects of language learning tasks, some of the ways in which they can differ, and some of the teaching options that tasks can offer.   The session will conclude by suggesting that for research to contribute properly to TBLT, it needs to take far more serious account of the kinds of issues raised in the talk.

The Surrey Communication and Language in Education Study (SCALES): what are teachers concerned about? (Public Seminar)

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21 January 2013 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Convener: Dr Victoria Murphy, Applied Linguistics Research Group Abstract The Surrey Communication and Language in Education Study (SCALES) is the first population study of language and communication skills at school entry in the UK. Our aims are to identify children at risk of language learning impairments during their first year of formal schooling, and to discover what other aspects of development may be vulnerable in children with language impairments, and how patterns of language and other cognitive and behavioural skill and deficit change over time. In summer 2012, 243 teachers across Surrey completed screening questionnaires for 7532 children at the end of the reception year. In this talk, I will describe the screening population and discuss aspects of development that cause teachers greatest concern. I will also describe how scores on our measure of language and communication development relate to general behavioural strengths and difficulties, and to the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile. I will conclude with an outline of the current testing phase of the SCALES project.

Beyond the beginner: sustaining second language learning

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04 July 2012 -
Department of Education and Worcester College

Convener: Professor Ernesto Macaro Applied Linguistics Research Group For further details and how to register click here

What place for corpus tools and evidence in classroom learning about language? (Public Seminar)

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27 February 2012 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Convener: Professor Ernesto Macaro, Applied Linguistics Research Group Abstract The use of language corpora and language corpus analysis methods in classroom learning about language has considerable potential, at least from a theoretical point of view. My colleague Alison Sealey and I have conducted exploratory research into how primary school children respond to corpus evidence and how the children exploit the affordances of a specially adapted corpus query interface. In this talk I will present some of the findings of this research. I will argue that use of corpus tools and resources can fit easily and effectively into an evidence-based approach to learning, provided that activities are tailored to allow links to be made between personal experience of language and one's observation of external phenomena. To date, however, there has been very little adoption of corpus resources and tools in primary and secondary education. There are several reasons for this, such as the lack of champions for a new approach, difficulty in obtaining relevant resources and tools, the strictures of current curricula, the washback effects of examinations, the heavy demands already placed on teaching staff and the shortage of training workshops for practising teachers. The talk will conclude with a discussion of whether or not corpus approaches have a place in classroom learning about language, and what conditions may be required if they are to take a place in the classroom.

What is speaking proficiency? (Public seminar)

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06 February 2012 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Convener: Professor Ernesto Macaro, Applied Linguistics Research Group Abstract In this presentation I will present the main findings of a five-year research project, informally called “What is speaking proficiency”, conducted at the University of Amsterdam and funded by the Netherlands Organisation of Scientific Research (NWO). The research team consisted of Nivja de Jong, Margarita Steinel, Arjen Florijn, Rob Schoonen and Jan Hulstijn. The project consisted of three studies. I will be mainly talking about the first and third study. In the first study, 200 adult speakers of Dutch as a second language and 50 adult native speakers were administered eight speaking tasks, several language-knowledge tasks (vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation) and several tasks assessing the speed with which people can process linguistic information. In addition, participants filled out the Eysenck personality questionnaire (assessing their degree of extraversion, potentially related to speech fluency). I will report the results of structural equation modelling (SEM), showing how much of the variance in the communicative adequacy with which the eight speaking tasks were performed was explained by performance on the tasks assessing language knowledge and processing speed. I will also report the findings of additional in-depth investigations into speaking fluency, distinguish three types of fluency (study 3).

Engaging with super-diversity: vocabulary development of bilingual children in the context of the "Vocabuild" project (Public Seminar)

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09 May 2011 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Convener: Dr Victoria Murphy Applied Linguistics Research Group The challenges teachers face in this era of superdiversity are enormous: in many classrooms about 40% of the children do not have English as their first language, and the range of first languages spoken by children in schools is extremely wide. Bilingual children are often referred to speech and language therapists because of communication or language issues. In this talk we will present the outcomes of a systematic review of the literature on vocabulary knowledge of bilingual children and report on the results of a survey among teachers and speech and language therapists (N=143) about their training needs in working with bilingual children. In addition, we will present a case study of a bilingual child who was referred to a speech and language therapist because of her language and communication needs.

Learned attention and transfer in SLA

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01 March 2011 13:30 -
Seminar Room K/L

This paper considers adults’ difficulty acquiring foreign languages in terms of the associative learning phenomena of cue salience, cue complexity, and the blocking of later experienced cues by earlier learned ones. It examines short- and long-term learned attention effects in adult acquisition of lexical (adverbs) and morphological cues (verbal inflections) for temporal reference in Latin (one hour of controlled laboratory learning) and Spanish (three- to eight- semesters of classroom learning). Our experiments indicate that early adult learning is characterized by a general tendency to focus upon lexical cues because of their physical salience in the input and their psychological salience resulting from their simplicity of form-function mapping and from learners’ prior L1 knowledge. Later on, attention to verbal morphology is modulated by cue complexity and language experience: acquisition is better in cases of cues of lesser complexity, speakers of morphologically rich native languages, and longer periods of study. Finally, instructional practices that emphasize morphological cues by means either of pre-exposure or typographical enhancement increase attention to inflections thus to block reliance upon adverbial cues.

Second language cognition (Public Seminar)

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28 February 2011 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Convener: Professor Ernesto Macaro Applied Linguistics Research Group Abstract This paper describes and illustrates the following principles of Second Language Cognition: 1. The fundamental premise is that language is intrinsically symbolic, constituted by a structured inventory of constructions as conventionalized form-meaning pairings used for communicative purposes. Language is a Complex Adaptive System: it emerges from usage and is acquired from usage. 2. Constructions vary in abstraction from concrete, particular items (words and idioms) to schematic classes (as in word classes or abstract syntactic constructions). Constructions may be simultaneously represented and stored in multiple forms, at various levels of abstraction (e.g., concrete item: table+s = tables and [Noun] + (morpheme +s) = plural things). 3. Abstract constructions are meaningful linguistic symbols in their own right, existing independently of particular lexical items. Nevertheless, constructions and the particular lexical tokens that occupy them attract each other. Grammar, lexis, and meaning are inseparable. They resonate. 4. Construction learning, like other aspects of cognition, involves processes of perception, attention, categorization, schematization, and memory. 5. Competence and performance emerge as a frequency-tuned conspiracy of memorized exemplars of use of these constructions. Competence is the integrated sum of prior usage, performance is its dynamic contextualized activation. 6. Development is gradual, moving from an initial heavy reliance on concrete items to more abstract linguistic schema. This process is crucially dependent on the type and token frequencies with which particular constructions appear in the input. Storage of wholes depends on token frequency, development of abstract linguistic schema depends on type frequency. Zipfian distributions of language emerge from language usage, and, in turn, make language learnable and robust. 7. Language acquisition is affected by attention. Salient forms are better attended and better acquired. Cues learned early in learning block the acquisition of later-experienced forms. L1 learned-attention and entrenchment thus limit the endstate of usage-based SLA. 8. These limitations can be overcome by recruiting learner consciousness, putting them into a dialectic tension between the conflicting forces of their current stable states of interlanguage and the evidence of explicit form-focused feedback, either linguistic, pragmatic, or metalinguistic.

Investigating the suitability of the Reading Recovery Tests for use with EAL children

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01 February 2011 13:00 -
Seminar Room K/L

This small-scale study takes the form of a correlational design, in which the relationships between the Reading Recovery diagnostic assessments from the Observation Survey of Early Literacy Achievement (Clay, 2002) and UK standardised tests (i.e. British Ability Scales Word Reading Test, the Phonological Assessment Battery and the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test) are investigated. The aim is to examine whether the relationships are the same for children who are learning English as an additional language, in comparison to their native-speaking peers. The study contributes to the body of empirical research which has investigated the underlying literacy skills associated with reading comprehension in EAL children who have demonstrated difficulties with reading. More specifically, this study considers these component skills in relation to EAL children who have participated in the Reading Recovery literacy intervention in the UK. Furthermore, through statistical analyses, the study investigates the suitability of the subtests from the Observation Survey (used routinely by Reading Recovery tutors) in comparison to UK standardised tests of reading comprehension. The sample in this study consists of 54 children who have been successfully discontinued from the intervention, from 17 primary schools within the UK, 27 EAL children and 27 native English speaking children. The relationships between the Reading Recovery assessments and the UK standardised tests for these two groups of children were different. The UK standardised tests were found to be stronger concurrent predictors of reading comprehension for EAL children, than were the Reading Recovery tests from the Observation Survey. For NS children, the tests in the Observation Survey were stronger predictors of their comprehension than were the standardised tests. The implications of these results are that the subtests from the Observation Survey are better predictors of reading comprehension for native English speaking children than they are for EAL children. This study extends the findings of previous international research by exploring and furthering our understanding of the assessment of EAL children’s literacy skills.

Metaphor and the foreign language learner (Public Seminar)

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31 January 2011 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Convener: Ernesto Macaro, Applied Linguistics Research Group Abstract Studies of figurative language (particularly metaphor) have shown that it performs key functions, such as: the signalling of evaluation; agenda management; mitigation and humour; reference to shared knowledge; and topic change. An ability to use metaphor appropriately can thus contribute to a language learner’s communicative competence. However, metaphor presents significant challenges and opportunities to foreign language learners. In this talk, I present research that I and my colleagues have conducted into: the nature of metaphor and the problems that it presents to different types of language learners; the comprehension and production of metaphor by language learners; and the effectiveness of various approaches designed to raise learners’ awareness of metaphor. I discuss the psychological processes involved in metaphor production and comprehension, emphasising the respective roles played by declarative and procedural knowledge in the development of metaphoric competence in a foreign language, and arguing that it is important to view metaphor as both as a cognitive process and as a linguistic product used in real communicative situations. Throughout the talk, I emphasise the high degree of variation across different learners and different contexts of use. Finally, I explain why future research in this area should include: a greater focus on metonymy; more consideration of the role of gestural metaphor; and an increased appreciation of the ways in which patterns of metaphor use vary across different registers and languages.

Page last modified: May 9, 2013