Department of Education

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Abstract: English-medium instruction (EMI) refers the practice of offering academic subjects taught through English in countries where English is not the first language of the majority of the population. The growth of EMI in higher education (HE) has been well-documented, and the driving forces behind EMI are intertwined with goals related to the internationalization of HE. Although EMI as a phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent decades, little research has explored EMI across global regions, particularly in countries in the Global South. This study aimed to investigate the current situation with regards to the introduction and expansion of EMI in HE in 52 countries designated as recipients on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list. In doing so, the study aimed to shed light on EMI provision in many countries which are relatively less resourced and under-researched. The study involved 3 stages of investigation: (1) a country-level analysis with data collected through open-ended questionnaires from informed respondents to investigate the introduction and expansion of EMI in the 52 ODA recipient countries; (2) a website analysis of purposively sampled universities to examine what information with regards to EMI programmes is available; and (3) a survey of key institutional players to explore additional information about EMI programmes offered worldwide. The data was analyzed to explore global and regional trends, and the findings offer insights into the admission requirements, professional development opportunities, international student enrolment, and driving forces behind EMI programs. Based on the findings, recommendations are offered for researchers and practitioners.

Bio: Kari Sahan is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and an Honorary Norham Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She completed her DPhil in 2020 from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher–student interaction and the use of the L1 in EMI classrooms. Her work has appeared in journals such as ELT Journal, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, System, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.

Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.

 

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Children are powerful statistical spellers: They can learn novel written patterns with phonological counterparts under experimental conditions, via implicit learning processes, akin to “statistical learning” processes established for spoken language acquisition. Can these mechanisms fully account for children’s knowledge of written patterns? How does this ability relate to literacy measures? How does it compare to explicit learning? I address these questions in a series of artificial lexicon experiments, inducing graphotactic learning under incidental and explicit conditions, and comparing it with measures of literacy. Previous studies assessed learning of spelling rules which have counterparts in spoken language; however, while this is also the case for some naturalistic spelling rules (e.g., English phonotactics prohibit word initial /ŋ/ and accordingly, written words cannot begin with ng), there are also purely visual constraints (graphotactics) (e.g., gz is an illegal spelling of a frequent word-final sound combination in English: *bagz). Can children learn patterns unconfounded from correlated phonotactics? Developing and skilled spellers were exposed to patterns replete of phonotactic cues. In post-tests, participants generalized over both positional constraints embedded in semiartificial strings, and contextual constraints created using homophonic non-word stimuli. This was demonstrated following passive exposure and even under meaningful (word learning) conditions, and success in learning graphotactics was not hindered by learning word meanings. However, the effect sizes across these experiments remained small, and the hypothesized positive associations between learning performance under incidental conditions and literacy measures were never observed. This relationship was only found under explicit conditions, when pattern generalization benefited. Investigation of age effects revealed that adults and children show similar patterns of learning but adults learn faster from matched text.

Bio: Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps. Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

 

PLEASE JOIN US ON TEAMS ON THE DAY OF THE EVENT.

Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps.

Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

Publications

Samara, Singh & Wonnacott (2019). Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental learning experiment with children. Cognition, Volume 182, 2019, Pages 25-30, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.005.

Singh, Samara & Wonnacott (accepted for publication in the Journal of Memory and Language). Statistical and explicit learning of graphotactic patterns with no phonological counterpart: Evidence from an artificial lexicon study with 7–8-year-olds and adults. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8px7n/.

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‘Plurilingual teaching and its effects on foreign language development

Professor Holger Hopp, Dr Jenny Jakisch and Sarah Sturm (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Research indicates that plurilingual teaching, i.e. integrating the learners’ (home) language repertoire into the teaching of a foreign language (FL), can improve FL achievement (Busse et al., 2019; Leonet et al., 2019). Against this background, we will present findings of a project in which a plurilingual approach to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) was implemented in four primary schools (year 4) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for 6 months. In each school, the English lessons of one group (intervention group) were extended by integrating the participants’ home languages whereas in the other group (comparison group) regular “monolingual” EFL lessons were conducted.

In our talk, we will present the research design as well as the teaching methods and materials that were used in the intervention group. We will also discuss how the young learners experienced the plurilingual lessons. Furthermore, we will show which effects the different teaching approaches had on the participants’ English achievement (vocabulary and grammar) and metalinguistic awareness by presenting data from longitudinal pre- and post-tests.

The data indicate that both monolingual and plurilingual participants gain FL competence during the 6-month intervention. However, the intervention group did not show differential learning gains compared to the comparison group. When testing for specific grammatical phenomena that were subject to instruction in the plurilingual lessons (e.g. questions), we found that the intervention group outperformed the control group. We conclude that addressing specific learners‘ plurilingual resources may support them in learning a foreign language. In our talk, we discuss the results and the potentials of plurilingual foreign language teaching.

References: Busse, V., Cenoz, J., Dalmann, N., & Rogge, F. (2019). Addressing Linguistic Diversity in the Language Classroom in a Resource‐Oriented Way: An Intervention Study With Primary School Children. Language Learning, 31(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12382

Leonet, O., Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2019). Developing morphological awareness across languages: translanguaging pedagogies in third language acquisition. Language Awareness, 79(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2019.1688338

Bios:

Holger Hopp: Holger Hopp is a professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany). In his research, he investigates child and adult L2/3 acquisition and processing as well as heritage language acquisition and attrition. He uses several psycholinguistic methods to determine the directionality, scope and degree of cross-linguistic influence in bi- and multilingual speakers of different ages.

Jenny Jakisch: Jenny Jakisch is lecturer and researcher at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her PhD dealt with the role of English language teaching (ELT) for fostering multilingualism. Her current research interests include teacher education, classroom management and inclusive ELT.

Sarah Sturm: Sarah Sturm is a research assistant and PhD student at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her research interests include multilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language (with a focus on young learners) and learning strategies. In her PhD project, she is investigating the use of language learning strategies by young multilingual foreign language learners.

 

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‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Professor Jenni Rodd (UCL)

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

Bio: Professor Jenni Rodd conducts research into how we understand the meanings of the words that we hear or read, and how we combine together the information from individual words to construct representations of the meanings of sentences. She has a particular interest in how we use our recent and long-term experience with language to improve the efficiency of these processes. She is the director of The Word Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL.

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‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: literacy and cognition

Professor Ianthi M. Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Much research in multilingualism and its effects on cognition and language ability has focused on individuals in western societies. Socioeconomic status, language of education and language prestige have been identified as some of the factors that appear to influence bi/multilingual individuals’ linguistic and cognitive profile although most research on the role of bilingualism on cognition has not capitalized on such factors. I will focus on multilingualism in India, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (UNESCO, 2009). Linguistic variation across Indian speakers is vast and includes variation in the number of home languages used, societal/community languages, official medium of instruction in schools and actual language practices in the classroom.

As language is the primary vehicle of education and learning, variation in any of the above measures of multilingualism can affect the language experience of the school child and have knock-on effects on the development of school skills (basic and higher literacy and numeracy), or cognition. Focusing on the data from 1200 children from urban primary schools in Delhi and Hyderabad and from rural areas in Patna, all from deprived or severely deprived socioeconomic backgrounds, I will try to disentangle how language experience and linguistic diversity in the child’s immediate environment (school, family, community) affect school skills and cognitive abilities.

Participants attend government primary schools in slum vs. non-slum urban areas of Delhi and Hyderabad, or town vs. rural areas in Patna, as part of a four-year, large-scale research project (MultiLila). They were assessed on mathematical reasoning, word, sentence and text reading, as well as non-verbal IQ, inhibition and complex working memory skills. Children attend English-medium or regional language medium schools (Hindi or Telugu), meaning that their assessment, textbooks and language used in the classroom is the official medium of instruction.

Although the language of textbooks and assessment match the official medium of instruction, language practices in the classroom include language mixing with English-only input ranging from zero to 40%, in English-medium schools. Taking into account the child’s home language(s) and the extent to which they are used in the classroom I will present the participants’ performance on linguistic, reasoning and cognitive skills. Results indicate a significant effect of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the cognitive and school skills of children from underprivileged socioeconomic background.

Bio:

Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli works on language development in the first and second language in children and adults, as well as on language impairment, attrition, bilingualism, language processing and the interaction between language, cognitive abilities and print exposure. She recently held the positions of Professor of Multilingualism and Cognition at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and the positions of Professor of Psycholinguistics and Director of the Language Development Lab at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Professor Tsimpli held a ‘Guest of the Rector’ Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences for six months in 2012, a Visiting Professorship for six months at the University of Cyprus in 2007, and a Visiting Scholar position at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg in 2005. She is Associate Editor of Lingua and member of the Editorial Board of the journals Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Second Language Research, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, Biolinguistics (e-journal), Journal of Greek Linguistics and of the Book Series “Language Acquisition and Language Disorders”.

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‘A teaching intervention may not reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and phonological awareness’

Dr Bene Bassetti (University of Birmingham)

The orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words can affect how L2 learners and L2 users pronounce L2 sounds, even after years of immersion in an L2 environment. It is however not known whether a training intervention can reduce such orthographic effects on L2 phonology. This paper will report the results of a study (Bassetti, Cerni & Masterson, under review) that investigated whether a teaching intervention can reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and awareness.

Previous studies found that Italian learners of L2 English produce and categorise the same English consonant as two different sounds: a short consonant if it is spelled with one letter, and as a geminate (a long consonant) if it is spelled with double letters. This is because in written double consonant letters represent geminates, and Italian native speakers therefore recode English double consonant letters. Bassetti and colleagues used a randomised controlled trial design, and allocated 100 Italian high-school students to a phonological intervention or a control group.

The teaching intervention group explored the correspondences between double letters and sound length in English, using reflection, explicit teaching and practice. The control group practiced the same English spoken and written words without mentions of orthography. All participants performed a delayed word repetition task and phonological awareness task twice, pre- and post-intervention. The teaching intervention had no effects. It appears that once orthographic effects on L2 phonology are established, they are difficult to eliminate, whether with extensive naturalistic exposure or with a teaching intervention.

Reference: Bassetti, B., Cerni, T., & Masterson, J. (under review) Efficacy of a teaching intervention to reduce the effects of orthographic forms on second language phonology: A randomized controlled trial

Bio: Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti leads Language and Condition at Birmingham (LACAB).

Nathan Thomas is an Applied Linguistics Tutor on the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT) course.

He also teaches on the MA TESOL (Pre-Service) course at the UCL Institute of Education, where he is completing his doctoral research under the dual supervision of Jim McKinley (UCL) and Heath Rose (Oxford).

His research focuses mainly on theoretical developments in the field of language learning strategies and on international students’ strategic learning in higher education. He is also involved in other projects pertaining to English medium instruction and English language teaching. His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, ELT Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, System, and TESOL Quarterly. He has also presented at more than 50 conferences in 14 countries all over the world.

Before his assuming his current roles, Nathan worked for ten years in China and Thailand, most recently as Director of English as a Foreign Language for a private educational consulting company in Beijing. He completed an MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (which is now the MSc ALLT at Oxford), MEd International Teaching, MA Applied Linguistics (ELT), BA English, and various teaching certificates, all while working full time.

For further information, please click here.

 

Publications

Bowen, N. & Thomas, N. (2020). Manipulating texture and cohesion in academic writing: A keystroke logging study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 50, 100773.

Pun, J. & Thomas, N. (2020). English medium instruction: Teachers challenges and coping strategies. ELT Journal, 74(3), 247-257.

Thomas, N. & Osment, C. (2020). Building on Dewaele’s (2018) L1 versus LX dichotomy: The Language-Usage-Identity State model. Applied Linguistics, 41(6), 1005-1010.

Zhang, L.J., Thomas, N., & Qin, T.L. (2019). Language learning strategy research in System: Looking back and looking forward. System, 84, 87-92.

Thomas, N., Rose, H., & Pojanapunya, P. (2019). Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings. Applied Linguistics Review (Advanced Access), 1-18.

Thomas, N. & Brereton, P. (2019). Pedagogical Implications: Practitioners respond to Michael Swan’s ‘Applied Linguistics: A consumer’s view.’ Language Teaching, 52(2), 275–278.

Thomas, N. & Rose, H. (2019). Do language learning strategies need to be self-directed? Disentangling strategies from self-regulated learning. TESOL Quarterly, 53(1), 248-257.

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Abstract: English-medium instruction (EMI) refers the practice of offering academic subjects taught through English in countries where English is not the first language of the majority of the population. The growth of EMI in higher education (HE) has been well-documented, and the driving forces behind EMI are intertwined with goals related to the internationalization of HE. Although EMI as a phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent decades, little research has explored EMI across global regions, particularly in countries in the Global South. This study aimed to investigate the current situation with regards to the introduction and expansion of EMI in HE in 52 countries designated as recipients on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list. In doing so, the study aimed to shed light on EMI provision in many countries which are relatively less resourced and under-researched. The study involved 3 stages of investigation: (1) a country-level analysis with data collected through open-ended questionnaires from informed respondents to investigate the introduction and expansion of EMI in the 52 ODA recipient countries; (2) a website analysis of purposively sampled universities to examine what information with regards to EMI programmes is available; and (3) a survey of key institutional players to explore additional information about EMI programmes offered worldwide. The data was analyzed to explore global and regional trends, and the findings offer insights into the admission requirements, professional development opportunities, international student enrolment, and driving forces behind EMI programs. Based on the findings, recommendations are offered for researchers and practitioners.

Bio: Kari Sahan is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and an Honorary Norham Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She completed her DPhil in 2020 from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher–student interaction and the use of the L1 in EMI classrooms. Her work has appeared in journals such as ELT Journal, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, System, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.

Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.

 

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Children are powerful statistical spellers: They can learn novel written patterns with phonological counterparts under experimental conditions, via implicit learning processes, akin to “statistical learning” processes established for spoken language acquisition. Can these mechanisms fully account for children’s knowledge of written patterns? How does this ability relate to literacy measures? How does it compare to explicit learning? I address these questions in a series of artificial lexicon experiments, inducing graphotactic learning under incidental and explicit conditions, and comparing it with measures of literacy. Previous studies assessed learning of spelling rules which have counterparts in spoken language; however, while this is also the case for some naturalistic spelling rules (e.g., English phonotactics prohibit word initial /ŋ/ and accordingly, written words cannot begin with ng), there are also purely visual constraints (graphotactics) (e.g., gz is an illegal spelling of a frequent word-final sound combination in English: *bagz). Can children learn patterns unconfounded from correlated phonotactics? Developing and skilled spellers were exposed to patterns replete of phonotactic cues. In post-tests, participants generalized over both positional constraints embedded in semiartificial strings, and contextual constraints created using homophonic non-word stimuli. This was demonstrated following passive exposure and even under meaningful (word learning) conditions, and success in learning graphotactics was not hindered by learning word meanings. However, the effect sizes across these experiments remained small, and the hypothesized positive associations between learning performance under incidental conditions and literacy measures were never observed. This relationship was only found under explicit conditions, when pattern generalization benefited. Investigation of age effects revealed that adults and children show similar patterns of learning but adults learn faster from matched text.

Bio: Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps. Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

 

PLEASE JOIN US ON TEAMS ON THE DAY OF THE EVENT.

Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps.

Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

Publications

Samara, Singh & Wonnacott (2019). Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental learning experiment with children. Cognition, Volume 182, 2019, Pages 25-30, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.005.

Singh, Samara & Wonnacott (accepted for publication in the Journal of Memory and Language). Statistical and explicit learning of graphotactic patterns with no phonological counterpart: Evidence from an artificial lexicon study with 7–8-year-olds and adults. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8px7n/.

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‘Plurilingual teaching and its effects on foreign language development

Professor Holger Hopp, Dr Jenny Jakisch and Sarah Sturm (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Research indicates that plurilingual teaching, i.e. integrating the learners’ (home) language repertoire into the teaching of a foreign language (FL), can improve FL achievement (Busse et al., 2019; Leonet et al., 2019). Against this background, we will present findings of a project in which a plurilingual approach to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) was implemented in four primary schools (year 4) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for 6 months. In each school, the English lessons of one group (intervention group) were extended by integrating the participants’ home languages whereas in the other group (comparison group) regular “monolingual” EFL lessons were conducted.

In our talk, we will present the research design as well as the teaching methods and materials that were used in the intervention group. We will also discuss how the young learners experienced the plurilingual lessons. Furthermore, we will show which effects the different teaching approaches had on the participants’ English achievement (vocabulary and grammar) and metalinguistic awareness by presenting data from longitudinal pre- and post-tests.

The data indicate that both monolingual and plurilingual participants gain FL competence during the 6-month intervention. However, the intervention group did not show differential learning gains compared to the comparison group. When testing for specific grammatical phenomena that were subject to instruction in the plurilingual lessons (e.g. questions), we found that the intervention group outperformed the control group. We conclude that addressing specific learners‘ plurilingual resources may support them in learning a foreign language. In our talk, we discuss the results and the potentials of plurilingual foreign language teaching.

References: Busse, V., Cenoz, J., Dalmann, N., & Rogge, F. (2019). Addressing Linguistic Diversity in the Language Classroom in a Resource‐Oriented Way: An Intervention Study With Primary School Children. Language Learning, 31(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12382

Leonet, O., Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2019). Developing morphological awareness across languages: translanguaging pedagogies in third language acquisition. Language Awareness, 79(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2019.1688338

Bios:

Holger Hopp: Holger Hopp is a professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany). In his research, he investigates child and adult L2/3 acquisition and processing as well as heritage language acquisition and attrition. He uses several psycholinguistic methods to determine the directionality, scope and degree of cross-linguistic influence in bi- and multilingual speakers of different ages.

Jenny Jakisch: Jenny Jakisch is lecturer and researcher at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her PhD dealt with the role of English language teaching (ELT) for fostering multilingualism. Her current research interests include teacher education, classroom management and inclusive ELT.

Sarah Sturm: Sarah Sturm is a research assistant and PhD student at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her research interests include multilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language (with a focus on young learners) and learning strategies. In her PhD project, she is investigating the use of language learning strategies by young multilingual foreign language learners.

 

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‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Professor Jenni Rodd (UCL)

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

Bio: Professor Jenni Rodd conducts research into how we understand the meanings of the words that we hear or read, and how we combine together the information from individual words to construct representations of the meanings of sentences. She has a particular interest in how we use our recent and long-term experience with language to improve the efficiency of these processes. She is the director of The Word Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL.

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‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: literacy and cognition

Professor Ianthi M. Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Much research in multilingualism and its effects on cognition and language ability has focused on individuals in western societies. Socioeconomic status, language of education and language prestige have been identified as some of the factors that appear to influence bi/multilingual individuals’ linguistic and cognitive profile although most research on the role of bilingualism on cognition has not capitalized on such factors. I will focus on multilingualism in India, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (UNESCO, 2009). Linguistic variation across Indian speakers is vast and includes variation in the number of home languages used, societal/community languages, official medium of instruction in schools and actual language practices in the classroom.

As language is the primary vehicle of education and learning, variation in any of the above measures of multilingualism can affect the language experience of the school child and have knock-on effects on the development of school skills (basic and higher literacy and numeracy), or cognition. Focusing on the data from 1200 children from urban primary schools in Delhi and Hyderabad and from rural areas in Patna, all from deprived or severely deprived socioeconomic backgrounds, I will try to disentangle how language experience and linguistic diversity in the child’s immediate environment (school, family, community) affect school skills and cognitive abilities.

Participants attend government primary schools in slum vs. non-slum urban areas of Delhi and Hyderabad, or town vs. rural areas in Patna, as part of a four-year, large-scale research project (MultiLila). They were assessed on mathematical reasoning, word, sentence and text reading, as well as non-verbal IQ, inhibition and complex working memory skills. Children attend English-medium or regional language medium schools (Hindi or Telugu), meaning that their assessment, textbooks and language used in the classroom is the official medium of instruction.

Although the language of textbooks and assessment match the official medium of instruction, language practices in the classroom include language mixing with English-only input ranging from zero to 40%, in English-medium schools. Taking into account the child’s home language(s) and the extent to which they are used in the classroom I will present the participants’ performance on linguistic, reasoning and cognitive skills. Results indicate a significant effect of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the cognitive and school skills of children from underprivileged socioeconomic background.

Bio:

Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli works on language development in the first and second language in children and adults, as well as on language impairment, attrition, bilingualism, language processing and the interaction between language, cognitive abilities and print exposure. She recently held the positions of Professor of Multilingualism and Cognition at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and the positions of Professor of Psycholinguistics and Director of the Language Development Lab at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Professor Tsimpli held a ‘Guest of the Rector’ Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences for six months in 2012, a Visiting Professorship for six months at the University of Cyprus in 2007, and a Visiting Scholar position at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg in 2005. She is Associate Editor of Lingua and member of the Editorial Board of the journals Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Second Language Research, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, Biolinguistics (e-journal), Journal of Greek Linguistics and of the Book Series “Language Acquisition and Language Disorders”.

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‘A teaching intervention may not reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and phonological awareness’

Dr Bene Bassetti (University of Birmingham)

The orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words can affect how L2 learners and L2 users pronounce L2 sounds, even after years of immersion in an L2 environment. It is however not known whether a training intervention can reduce such orthographic effects on L2 phonology. This paper will report the results of a study (Bassetti, Cerni & Masterson, under review) that investigated whether a teaching intervention can reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and awareness.

Previous studies found that Italian learners of L2 English produce and categorise the same English consonant as two different sounds: a short consonant if it is spelled with one letter, and as a geminate (a long consonant) if it is spelled with double letters. This is because in written double consonant letters represent geminates, and Italian native speakers therefore recode English double consonant letters. Bassetti and colleagues used a randomised controlled trial design, and allocated 100 Italian high-school students to a phonological intervention or a control group.

The teaching intervention group explored the correspondences between double letters and sound length in English, using reflection, explicit teaching and practice. The control group practiced the same English spoken and written words without mentions of orthography. All participants performed a delayed word repetition task and phonological awareness task twice, pre- and post-intervention. The teaching intervention had no effects. It appears that once orthographic effects on L2 phonology are established, they are difficult to eliminate, whether with extensive naturalistic exposure or with a teaching intervention.

Reference: Bassetti, B., Cerni, T., & Masterson, J. (under review) Efficacy of a teaching intervention to reduce the effects of orthographic forms on second language phonology: A randomized controlled trial

Bio: Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti leads Language and Condition at Birmingham (LACAB).

Nathan Thomas is an Applied Linguistics Tutor on the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT) course.

He also teaches on the MA TESOL (Pre-Service) course at the UCL Institute of Education, where he is completing his doctoral research under the dual supervision of Jim McKinley (UCL) and Heath Rose (Oxford).

His research focuses mainly on theoretical developments in the field of language learning strategies and on international students’ strategic learning in higher education. He is also involved in other projects pertaining to English medium instruction and English language teaching. His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, ELT Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, System, and TESOL Quarterly. He has also presented at more than 50 conferences in 14 countries all over the world.

Before his assuming his current roles, Nathan worked for ten years in China and Thailand, most recently as Director of English as a Foreign Language for a private educational consulting company in Beijing. He completed an MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (which is now the MSc ALLT at Oxford), MEd International Teaching, MA Applied Linguistics (ELT), BA English, and various teaching certificates, all while working full time.

For further information, please click here.

 

Publications

Bowen, N. & Thomas, N. (2020). Manipulating texture and cohesion in academic writing: A keystroke logging study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 50, 100773.

Pun, J. & Thomas, N. (2020). English medium instruction: Teachers challenges and coping strategies. ELT Journal, 74(3), 247-257.

Thomas, N. & Osment, C. (2020). Building on Dewaele’s (2018) L1 versus LX dichotomy: The Language-Usage-Identity State model. Applied Linguistics, 41(6), 1005-1010.

Zhang, L.J., Thomas, N., & Qin, T.L. (2019). Language learning strategy research in System: Looking back and looking forward. System, 84, 87-92.

Thomas, N., Rose, H., & Pojanapunya, P. (2019). Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings. Applied Linguistics Review (Advanced Access), 1-18.

Thomas, N. & Brereton, P. (2019). Pedagogical Implications: Practitioners respond to Michael Swan’s ‘Applied Linguistics: A consumer’s view.’ Language Teaching, 52(2), 275–278.

Thomas, N. & Rose, H. (2019). Do language learning strategies need to be self-directed? Disentangling strategies from self-regulated learning. TESOL Quarterly, 53(1), 248-257.

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Abstract: English-medium instruction (EMI) refers the practice of offering academic subjects taught through English in countries where English is not the first language of the majority of the population. The growth of EMI in higher education (HE) has been well-documented, and the driving forces behind EMI are intertwined with goals related to the internationalization of HE. Although EMI as a phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent decades, little research has explored EMI across global regions, particularly in countries in the Global South. This study aimed to investigate the current situation with regards to the introduction and expansion of EMI in HE in 52 countries designated as recipients on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list. In doing so, the study aimed to shed light on EMI provision in many countries which are relatively less resourced and under-researched. The study involved 3 stages of investigation: (1) a country-level analysis with data collected through open-ended questionnaires from informed respondents to investigate the introduction and expansion of EMI in the 52 ODA recipient countries; (2) a website analysis of purposively sampled universities to examine what information with regards to EMI programmes is available; and (3) a survey of key institutional players to explore additional information about EMI programmes offered worldwide. The data was analyzed to explore global and regional trends, and the findings offer insights into the admission requirements, professional development opportunities, international student enrolment, and driving forces behind EMI programs. Based on the findings, recommendations are offered for researchers and practitioners.

Bio: Kari Sahan is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and an Honorary Norham Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She completed her DPhil in 2020 from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher–student interaction and the use of the L1 in EMI classrooms. Her work has appeared in journals such as ELT Journal, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, System, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.

Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.

 

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Children are powerful statistical spellers: They can learn novel written patterns with phonological counterparts under experimental conditions, via implicit learning processes, akin to “statistical learning” processes established for spoken language acquisition. Can these mechanisms fully account for children’s knowledge of written patterns? How does this ability relate to literacy measures? How does it compare to explicit learning? I address these questions in a series of artificial lexicon experiments, inducing graphotactic learning under incidental and explicit conditions, and comparing it with measures of literacy. Previous studies assessed learning of spelling rules which have counterparts in spoken language; however, while this is also the case for some naturalistic spelling rules (e.g., English phonotactics prohibit word initial /ŋ/ and accordingly, written words cannot begin with ng), there are also purely visual constraints (graphotactics) (e.g., gz is an illegal spelling of a frequent word-final sound combination in English: *bagz). Can children learn patterns unconfounded from correlated phonotactics? Developing and skilled spellers were exposed to patterns replete of phonotactic cues. In post-tests, participants generalized over both positional constraints embedded in semiartificial strings, and contextual constraints created using homophonic non-word stimuli. This was demonstrated following passive exposure and even under meaningful (word learning) conditions, and success in learning graphotactics was not hindered by learning word meanings. However, the effect sizes across these experiments remained small, and the hypothesized positive associations between learning performance under incidental conditions and literacy measures were never observed. This relationship was only found under explicit conditions, when pattern generalization benefited. Investigation of age effects revealed that adults and children show similar patterns of learning but adults learn faster from matched text.

Bio: Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps. Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

 

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Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps.

Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

Publications

Samara, Singh & Wonnacott (2019). Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental learning experiment with children. Cognition, Volume 182, 2019, Pages 25-30, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.005.

Singh, Samara & Wonnacott (accepted for publication in the Journal of Memory and Language). Statistical and explicit learning of graphotactic patterns with no phonological counterpart: Evidence from an artificial lexicon study with 7–8-year-olds and adults. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8px7n/.

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‘Plurilingual teaching and its effects on foreign language development

Professor Holger Hopp, Dr Jenny Jakisch and Sarah Sturm (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Research indicates that plurilingual teaching, i.e. integrating the learners’ (home) language repertoire into the teaching of a foreign language (FL), can improve FL achievement (Busse et al., 2019; Leonet et al., 2019). Against this background, we will present findings of a project in which a plurilingual approach to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) was implemented in four primary schools (year 4) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for 6 months. In each school, the English lessons of one group (intervention group) were extended by integrating the participants’ home languages whereas in the other group (comparison group) regular “monolingual” EFL lessons were conducted.

In our talk, we will present the research design as well as the teaching methods and materials that were used in the intervention group. We will also discuss how the young learners experienced the plurilingual lessons. Furthermore, we will show which effects the different teaching approaches had on the participants’ English achievement (vocabulary and grammar) and metalinguistic awareness by presenting data from longitudinal pre- and post-tests.

The data indicate that both monolingual and plurilingual participants gain FL competence during the 6-month intervention. However, the intervention group did not show differential learning gains compared to the comparison group. When testing for specific grammatical phenomena that were subject to instruction in the plurilingual lessons (e.g. questions), we found that the intervention group outperformed the control group. We conclude that addressing specific learners‘ plurilingual resources may support them in learning a foreign language. In our talk, we discuss the results and the potentials of plurilingual foreign language teaching.

References: Busse, V., Cenoz, J., Dalmann, N., & Rogge, F. (2019). Addressing Linguistic Diversity in the Language Classroom in a Resource‐Oriented Way: An Intervention Study With Primary School Children. Language Learning, 31(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12382

Leonet, O., Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2019). Developing morphological awareness across languages: translanguaging pedagogies in third language acquisition. Language Awareness, 79(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2019.1688338

Bios:

Holger Hopp: Holger Hopp is a professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany). In his research, he investigates child and adult L2/3 acquisition and processing as well as heritage language acquisition and attrition. He uses several psycholinguistic methods to determine the directionality, scope and degree of cross-linguistic influence in bi- and multilingual speakers of different ages.

Jenny Jakisch: Jenny Jakisch is lecturer and researcher at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her PhD dealt with the role of English language teaching (ELT) for fostering multilingualism. Her current research interests include teacher education, classroom management and inclusive ELT.

Sarah Sturm: Sarah Sturm is a research assistant and PhD student at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her research interests include multilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language (with a focus on young learners) and learning strategies. In her PhD project, she is investigating the use of language learning strategies by young multilingual foreign language learners.

 

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‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Professor Jenni Rodd (UCL)

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

Bio: Professor Jenni Rodd conducts research into how we understand the meanings of the words that we hear or read, and how we combine together the information from individual words to construct representations of the meanings of sentences. She has a particular interest in how we use our recent and long-term experience with language to improve the efficiency of these processes. She is the director of The Word Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL.

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‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: literacy and cognition

Professor Ianthi M. Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Much research in multilingualism and its effects on cognition and language ability has focused on individuals in western societies. Socioeconomic status, language of education and language prestige have been identified as some of the factors that appear to influence bi/multilingual individuals’ linguistic and cognitive profile although most research on the role of bilingualism on cognition has not capitalized on such factors. I will focus on multilingualism in India, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (UNESCO, 2009). Linguistic variation across Indian speakers is vast and includes variation in the number of home languages used, societal/community languages, official medium of instruction in schools and actual language practices in the classroom.

As language is the primary vehicle of education and learning, variation in any of the above measures of multilingualism can affect the language experience of the school child and have knock-on effects on the development of school skills (basic and higher literacy and numeracy), or cognition. Focusing on the data from 1200 children from urban primary schools in Delhi and Hyderabad and from rural areas in Patna, all from deprived or severely deprived socioeconomic backgrounds, I will try to disentangle how language experience and linguistic diversity in the child’s immediate environment (school, family, community) affect school skills and cognitive abilities.

Participants attend government primary schools in slum vs. non-slum urban areas of Delhi and Hyderabad, or town vs. rural areas in Patna, as part of a four-year, large-scale research project (MultiLila). They were assessed on mathematical reasoning, word, sentence and text reading, as well as non-verbal IQ, inhibition and complex working memory skills. Children attend English-medium or regional language medium schools (Hindi or Telugu), meaning that their assessment, textbooks and language used in the classroom is the official medium of instruction.

Although the language of textbooks and assessment match the official medium of instruction, language practices in the classroom include language mixing with English-only input ranging from zero to 40%, in English-medium schools. Taking into account the child’s home language(s) and the extent to which they are used in the classroom I will present the participants’ performance on linguistic, reasoning and cognitive skills. Results indicate a significant effect of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the cognitive and school skills of children from underprivileged socioeconomic background.

Bio:

Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli works on language development in the first and second language in children and adults, as well as on language impairment, attrition, bilingualism, language processing and the interaction between language, cognitive abilities and print exposure. She recently held the positions of Professor of Multilingualism and Cognition at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and the positions of Professor of Psycholinguistics and Director of the Language Development Lab at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Professor Tsimpli held a ‘Guest of the Rector’ Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences for six months in 2012, a Visiting Professorship for six months at the University of Cyprus in 2007, and a Visiting Scholar position at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg in 2005. She is Associate Editor of Lingua and member of the Editorial Board of the journals Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Second Language Research, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, Biolinguistics (e-journal), Journal of Greek Linguistics and of the Book Series “Language Acquisition and Language Disorders”.

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‘A teaching intervention may not reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and phonological awareness’

Dr Bene Bassetti (University of Birmingham)

The orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words can affect how L2 learners and L2 users pronounce L2 sounds, even after years of immersion in an L2 environment. It is however not known whether a training intervention can reduce such orthographic effects on L2 phonology. This paper will report the results of a study (Bassetti, Cerni & Masterson, under review) that investigated whether a teaching intervention can reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and awareness.

Previous studies found that Italian learners of L2 English produce and categorise the same English consonant as two different sounds: a short consonant if it is spelled with one letter, and as a geminate (a long consonant) if it is spelled with double letters. This is because in written double consonant letters represent geminates, and Italian native speakers therefore recode English double consonant letters. Bassetti and colleagues used a randomised controlled trial design, and allocated 100 Italian high-school students to a phonological intervention or a control group.

The teaching intervention group explored the correspondences between double letters and sound length in English, using reflection, explicit teaching and practice. The control group practiced the same English spoken and written words without mentions of orthography. All participants performed a delayed word repetition task and phonological awareness task twice, pre- and post-intervention. The teaching intervention had no effects. It appears that once orthographic effects on L2 phonology are established, they are difficult to eliminate, whether with extensive naturalistic exposure or with a teaching intervention.

Reference: Bassetti, B., Cerni, T., & Masterson, J. (under review) Efficacy of a teaching intervention to reduce the effects of orthographic forms on second language phonology: A randomized controlled trial

Bio: Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti leads Language and Condition at Birmingham (LACAB).

Nathan Thomas is an Applied Linguistics Tutor on the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT) course.

He also teaches on the MA TESOL (Pre-Service) course at the UCL Institute of Education, where he is completing his doctoral research under the dual supervision of Jim McKinley (UCL) and Heath Rose (Oxford).

His research focuses mainly on theoretical developments in the field of language learning strategies and on international students’ strategic learning in higher education. He is also involved in other projects pertaining to English medium instruction and English language teaching. His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, ELT Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, System, and TESOL Quarterly. He has also presented at more than 50 conferences in 14 countries all over the world.

Before his assuming his current roles, Nathan worked for ten years in China and Thailand, most recently as Director of English as a Foreign Language for a private educational consulting company in Beijing. He completed an MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (which is now the MSc ALLT at Oxford), MEd International Teaching, MA Applied Linguistics (ELT), BA English, and various teaching certificates, all while working full time.

For further information, please click here.

 

Publications

Bowen, N. & Thomas, N. (2020). Manipulating texture and cohesion in academic writing: A keystroke logging study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 50, 100773.

Pun, J. & Thomas, N. (2020). English medium instruction: Teachers challenges and coping strategies. ELT Journal, 74(3), 247-257.

Thomas, N. & Osment, C. (2020). Building on Dewaele’s (2018) L1 versus LX dichotomy: The Language-Usage-Identity State model. Applied Linguistics, 41(6), 1005-1010.

Zhang, L.J., Thomas, N., & Qin, T.L. (2019). Language learning strategy research in System: Looking back and looking forward. System, 84, 87-92.

Thomas, N., Rose, H., & Pojanapunya, P. (2019). Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings. Applied Linguistics Review (Advanced Access), 1-18.

Thomas, N. & Brereton, P. (2019). Pedagogical Implications: Practitioners respond to Michael Swan’s ‘Applied Linguistics: A consumer’s view.’ Language Teaching, 52(2), 275–278.

Thomas, N. & Rose, H. (2019). Do language learning strategies need to be self-directed? Disentangling strategies from self-regulated learning. TESOL Quarterly, 53(1), 248-257.

PLEASE JOIN US THE DAY OF THE EVENT VIA TEAMS.

Abstract: English-medium instruction (EMI) refers the practice of offering academic subjects taught through English in countries where English is not the first language of the majority of the population. The growth of EMI in higher education (HE) has been well-documented, and the driving forces behind EMI are intertwined with goals related to the internationalization of HE. Although EMI as a phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent decades, little research has explored EMI across global regions, particularly in countries in the Global South. This study aimed to investigate the current situation with regards to the introduction and expansion of EMI in HE in 52 countries designated as recipients on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list. In doing so, the study aimed to shed light on EMI provision in many countries which are relatively less resourced and under-researched. The study involved 3 stages of investigation: (1) a country-level analysis with data collected through open-ended questionnaires from informed respondents to investigate the introduction and expansion of EMI in the 52 ODA recipient countries; (2) a website analysis of purposively sampled universities to examine what information with regards to EMI programmes is available; and (3) a survey of key institutional players to explore additional information about EMI programmes offered worldwide. The data was analyzed to explore global and regional trends, and the findings offer insights into the admission requirements, professional development opportunities, international student enrolment, and driving forces behind EMI programs. Based on the findings, recommendations are offered for researchers and practitioners.

Bio: Kari Sahan is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and an Honorary Norham Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She completed her DPhil in 2020 from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher–student interaction and the use of the L1 in EMI classrooms. Her work has appeared in journals such as ELT Journal, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, System, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.

Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.

 

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Children are powerful statistical spellers: They can learn novel written patterns with phonological counterparts under experimental conditions, via implicit learning processes, akin to “statistical learning” processes established for spoken language acquisition. Can these mechanisms fully account for children’s knowledge of written patterns? How does this ability relate to literacy measures? How does it compare to explicit learning? I address these questions in a series of artificial lexicon experiments, inducing graphotactic learning under incidental and explicit conditions, and comparing it with measures of literacy. Previous studies assessed learning of spelling rules which have counterparts in spoken language; however, while this is also the case for some naturalistic spelling rules (e.g., English phonotactics prohibit word initial /ŋ/ and accordingly, written words cannot begin with ng), there are also purely visual constraints (graphotactics) (e.g., gz is an illegal spelling of a frequent word-final sound combination in English: *bagz). Can children learn patterns unconfounded from correlated phonotactics? Developing and skilled spellers were exposed to patterns replete of phonotactic cues. In post-tests, participants generalized over both positional constraints embedded in semiartificial strings, and contextual constraints created using homophonic non-word stimuli. This was demonstrated following passive exposure and even under meaningful (word learning) conditions, and success in learning graphotactics was not hindered by learning word meanings. However, the effect sizes across these experiments remained small, and the hypothesized positive associations between learning performance under incidental conditions and literacy measures were never observed. This relationship was only found under explicit conditions, when pattern generalization benefited. Investigation of age effects revealed that adults and children show similar patterns of learning but adults learn faster from matched text.

Bio: Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps. Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

 

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Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps.

Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

Publications

Samara, Singh & Wonnacott (2019). Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental learning experiment with children. Cognition, Volume 182, 2019, Pages 25-30, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.005.

Singh, Samara & Wonnacott (accepted for publication in the Journal of Memory and Language). Statistical and explicit learning of graphotactic patterns with no phonological counterpart: Evidence from an artificial lexicon study with 7–8-year-olds and adults. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8px7n/.

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‘Plurilingual teaching and its effects on foreign language development

Professor Holger Hopp, Dr Jenny Jakisch and Sarah Sturm (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Research indicates that plurilingual teaching, i.e. integrating the learners’ (home) language repertoire into the teaching of a foreign language (FL), can improve FL achievement (Busse et al., 2019; Leonet et al., 2019). Against this background, we will present findings of a project in which a plurilingual approach to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) was implemented in four primary schools (year 4) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for 6 months. In each school, the English lessons of one group (intervention group) were extended by integrating the participants’ home languages whereas in the other group (comparison group) regular “monolingual” EFL lessons were conducted.

In our talk, we will present the research design as well as the teaching methods and materials that were used in the intervention group. We will also discuss how the young learners experienced the plurilingual lessons. Furthermore, we will show which effects the different teaching approaches had on the participants’ English achievement (vocabulary and grammar) and metalinguistic awareness by presenting data from longitudinal pre- and post-tests.

The data indicate that both monolingual and plurilingual participants gain FL competence during the 6-month intervention. However, the intervention group did not show differential learning gains compared to the comparison group. When testing for specific grammatical phenomena that were subject to instruction in the plurilingual lessons (e.g. questions), we found that the intervention group outperformed the control group. We conclude that addressing specific learners‘ plurilingual resources may support them in learning a foreign language. In our talk, we discuss the results and the potentials of plurilingual foreign language teaching.

References: Busse, V., Cenoz, J., Dalmann, N., & Rogge, F. (2019). Addressing Linguistic Diversity in the Language Classroom in a Resource‐Oriented Way: An Intervention Study With Primary School Children. Language Learning, 31(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12382

Leonet, O., Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2019). Developing morphological awareness across languages: translanguaging pedagogies in third language acquisition. Language Awareness, 79(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2019.1688338

Bios:

Holger Hopp: Holger Hopp is a professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany). In his research, he investigates child and adult L2/3 acquisition and processing as well as heritage language acquisition and attrition. He uses several psycholinguistic methods to determine the directionality, scope and degree of cross-linguistic influence in bi- and multilingual speakers of different ages.

Jenny Jakisch: Jenny Jakisch is lecturer and researcher at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her PhD dealt with the role of English language teaching (ELT) for fostering multilingualism. Her current research interests include teacher education, classroom management and inclusive ELT.

Sarah Sturm: Sarah Sturm is a research assistant and PhD student at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her research interests include multilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language (with a focus on young learners) and learning strategies. In her PhD project, she is investigating the use of language learning strategies by young multilingual foreign language learners.

 

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‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Professor Jenni Rodd (UCL)

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

Bio: Professor Jenni Rodd conducts research into how we understand the meanings of the words that we hear or read, and how we combine together the information from individual words to construct representations of the meanings of sentences. She has a particular interest in how we use our recent and long-term experience with language to improve the efficiency of these processes. She is the director of The Word Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL.

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‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: literacy and cognition

Professor Ianthi M. Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Much research in multilingualism and its effects on cognition and language ability has focused on individuals in western societies. Socioeconomic status, language of education and language prestige have been identified as some of the factors that appear to influence bi/multilingual individuals’ linguistic and cognitive profile although most research on the role of bilingualism on cognition has not capitalized on such factors. I will focus on multilingualism in India, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (UNESCO, 2009). Linguistic variation across Indian speakers is vast and includes variation in the number of home languages used, societal/community languages, official medium of instruction in schools and actual language practices in the classroom.

As language is the primary vehicle of education and learning, variation in any of the above measures of multilingualism can affect the language experience of the school child and have knock-on effects on the development of school skills (basic and higher literacy and numeracy), or cognition. Focusing on the data from 1200 children from urban primary schools in Delhi and Hyderabad and from rural areas in Patna, all from deprived or severely deprived socioeconomic backgrounds, I will try to disentangle how language experience and linguistic diversity in the child’s immediate environment (school, family, community) affect school skills and cognitive abilities.

Participants attend government primary schools in slum vs. non-slum urban areas of Delhi and Hyderabad, or town vs. rural areas in Patna, as part of a four-year, large-scale research project (MultiLila). They were assessed on mathematical reasoning, word, sentence and text reading, as well as non-verbal IQ, inhibition and complex working memory skills. Children attend English-medium or regional language medium schools (Hindi or Telugu), meaning that their assessment, textbooks and language used in the classroom is the official medium of instruction.

Although the language of textbooks and assessment match the official medium of instruction, language practices in the classroom include language mixing with English-only input ranging from zero to 40%, in English-medium schools. Taking into account the child’s home language(s) and the extent to which they are used in the classroom I will present the participants’ performance on linguistic, reasoning and cognitive skills. Results indicate a significant effect of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the cognitive and school skills of children from underprivileged socioeconomic background.

Bio:

Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli works on language development in the first and second language in children and adults, as well as on language impairment, attrition, bilingualism, language processing and the interaction between language, cognitive abilities and print exposure. She recently held the positions of Professor of Multilingualism and Cognition at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and the positions of Professor of Psycholinguistics and Director of the Language Development Lab at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Professor Tsimpli held a ‘Guest of the Rector’ Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences for six months in 2012, a Visiting Professorship for six months at the University of Cyprus in 2007, and a Visiting Scholar position at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg in 2005. She is Associate Editor of Lingua and member of the Editorial Board of the journals Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Second Language Research, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, Biolinguistics (e-journal), Journal of Greek Linguistics and of the Book Series “Language Acquisition and Language Disorders”.

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‘A teaching intervention may not reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and phonological awareness’

Dr Bene Bassetti (University of Birmingham)

The orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words can affect how L2 learners and L2 users pronounce L2 sounds, even after years of immersion in an L2 environment. It is however not known whether a training intervention can reduce such orthographic effects on L2 phonology. This paper will report the results of a study (Bassetti, Cerni & Masterson, under review) that investigated whether a teaching intervention can reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and awareness.

Previous studies found that Italian learners of L2 English produce and categorise the same English consonant as two different sounds: a short consonant if it is spelled with one letter, and as a geminate (a long consonant) if it is spelled with double letters. This is because in written double consonant letters represent geminates, and Italian native speakers therefore recode English double consonant letters. Bassetti and colleagues used a randomised controlled trial design, and allocated 100 Italian high-school students to a phonological intervention or a control group.

The teaching intervention group explored the correspondences between double letters and sound length in English, using reflection, explicit teaching and practice. The control group practiced the same English spoken and written words without mentions of orthography. All participants performed a delayed word repetition task and phonological awareness task twice, pre- and post-intervention. The teaching intervention had no effects. It appears that once orthographic effects on L2 phonology are established, they are difficult to eliminate, whether with extensive naturalistic exposure or with a teaching intervention.

Reference: Bassetti, B., Cerni, T., & Masterson, J. (under review) Efficacy of a teaching intervention to reduce the effects of orthographic forms on second language phonology: A randomized controlled trial

Bio: Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti leads Language and Condition at Birmingham (LACAB).

Nathan Thomas is an Applied Linguistics Tutor on the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT) course.

He also teaches on the MA TESOL (Pre-Service) course at the UCL Institute of Education, where he is completing his doctoral research under the dual supervision of Jim McKinley (UCL) and Heath Rose (Oxford).

His research focuses mainly on theoretical developments in the field of language learning strategies and on international students’ strategic learning in higher education. He is also involved in other projects pertaining to English medium instruction and English language teaching. His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, ELT Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, System, and TESOL Quarterly. He has also presented at more than 50 conferences in 14 countries all over the world.

Before his assuming his current roles, Nathan worked for ten years in China and Thailand, most recently as Director of English as a Foreign Language for a private educational consulting company in Beijing. He completed an MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (which is now the MSc ALLT at Oxford), MEd International Teaching, MA Applied Linguistics (ELT), BA English, and various teaching certificates, all while working full time.

For further information, please click here.

 

Publications

Bowen, N. & Thomas, N. (2020). Manipulating texture and cohesion in academic writing: A keystroke logging study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 50, 100773.

Pun, J. & Thomas, N. (2020). English medium instruction: Teachers challenges and coping strategies. ELT Journal, 74(3), 247-257.

Thomas, N. & Osment, C. (2020). Building on Dewaele’s (2018) L1 versus LX dichotomy: The Language-Usage-Identity State model. Applied Linguistics, 41(6), 1005-1010.

Zhang, L.J., Thomas, N., & Qin, T.L. (2019). Language learning strategy research in System: Looking back and looking forward. System, 84, 87-92.

Thomas, N., Rose, H., & Pojanapunya, P. (2019). Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings. Applied Linguistics Review (Advanced Access), 1-18.

Thomas, N. & Brereton, P. (2019). Pedagogical Implications: Practitioners respond to Michael Swan’s ‘Applied Linguistics: A consumer’s view.’ Language Teaching, 52(2), 275–278.

Thomas, N. & Rose, H. (2019). Do language learning strategies need to be self-directed? Disentangling strategies from self-regulated learning. TESOL Quarterly, 53(1), 248-257.

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Abstract: English-medium instruction (EMI) refers the practice of offering academic subjects taught through English in countries where English is not the first language of the majority of the population. The growth of EMI in higher education (HE) has been well-documented, and the driving forces behind EMI are intertwined with goals related to the internationalization of HE. Although EMI as a phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent decades, little research has explored EMI across global regions, particularly in countries in the Global South. This study aimed to investigate the current situation with regards to the introduction and expansion of EMI in HE in 52 countries designated as recipients on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list. In doing so, the study aimed to shed light on EMI provision in many countries which are relatively less resourced and under-researched. The study involved 3 stages of investigation: (1) a country-level analysis with data collected through open-ended questionnaires from informed respondents to investigate the introduction and expansion of EMI in the 52 ODA recipient countries; (2) a website analysis of purposively sampled universities to examine what information with regards to EMI programmes is available; and (3) a survey of key institutional players to explore additional information about EMI programmes offered worldwide. The data was analyzed to explore global and regional trends, and the findings offer insights into the admission requirements, professional development opportunities, international student enrolment, and driving forces behind EMI programs. Based on the findings, recommendations are offered for researchers and practitioners.

Bio: Kari Sahan is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and an Honorary Norham Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She completed her DPhil in 2020 from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher–student interaction and the use of the L1 in EMI classrooms. Her work has appeared in journals such as ELT Journal, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, System, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.

Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.

 

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Children are powerful statistical spellers: They can learn novel written patterns with phonological counterparts under experimental conditions, via implicit learning processes, akin to “statistical learning” processes established for spoken language acquisition. Can these mechanisms fully account for children’s knowledge of written patterns? How does this ability relate to literacy measures? How does it compare to explicit learning? I address these questions in a series of artificial lexicon experiments, inducing graphotactic learning under incidental and explicit conditions, and comparing it with measures of literacy. Previous studies assessed learning of spelling rules which have counterparts in spoken language; however, while this is also the case for some naturalistic spelling rules (e.g., English phonotactics prohibit word initial /ŋ/ and accordingly, written words cannot begin with ng), there are also purely visual constraints (graphotactics) (e.g., gz is an illegal spelling of a frequent word-final sound combination in English: *bagz). Can children learn patterns unconfounded from correlated phonotactics? Developing and skilled spellers were exposed to patterns replete of phonotactic cues. In post-tests, participants generalized over both positional constraints embedded in semiartificial strings, and contextual constraints created using homophonic non-word stimuli. This was demonstrated following passive exposure and even under meaningful (word learning) conditions, and success in learning graphotactics was not hindered by learning word meanings. However, the effect sizes across these experiments remained small, and the hypothesized positive associations between learning performance under incidental conditions and literacy measures were never observed. This relationship was only found under explicit conditions, when pattern generalization benefited. Investigation of age effects revealed that adults and children show similar patterns of learning but adults learn faster from matched text.

Bio: Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps. Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

 

PLEASE JOIN US ON TEAMS ON THE DAY OF THE EVENT.

Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps.

Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

Publications

Samara, Singh & Wonnacott (2019). Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental learning experiment with children. Cognition, Volume 182, 2019, Pages 25-30, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.005.

Singh, Samara & Wonnacott (accepted for publication in the Journal of Memory and Language). Statistical and explicit learning of graphotactic patterns with no phonological counterpart: Evidence from an artificial lexicon study with 7–8-year-olds and adults. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8px7n/.

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‘Plurilingual teaching and its effects on foreign language development

Professor Holger Hopp, Dr Jenny Jakisch and Sarah Sturm (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Research indicates that plurilingual teaching, i.e. integrating the learners’ (home) language repertoire into the teaching of a foreign language (FL), can improve FL achievement (Busse et al., 2019; Leonet et al., 2019). Against this background, we will present findings of a project in which a plurilingual approach to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) was implemented in four primary schools (year 4) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for 6 months. In each school, the English lessons of one group (intervention group) were extended by integrating the participants’ home languages whereas in the other group (comparison group) regular “monolingual” EFL lessons were conducted.

In our talk, we will present the research design as well as the teaching methods and materials that were used in the intervention group. We will also discuss how the young learners experienced the plurilingual lessons. Furthermore, we will show which effects the different teaching approaches had on the participants’ English achievement (vocabulary and grammar) and metalinguistic awareness by presenting data from longitudinal pre- and post-tests.

The data indicate that both monolingual and plurilingual participants gain FL competence during the 6-month intervention. However, the intervention group did not show differential learning gains compared to the comparison group. When testing for specific grammatical phenomena that were subject to instruction in the plurilingual lessons (e.g. questions), we found that the intervention group outperformed the control group. We conclude that addressing specific learners‘ plurilingual resources may support them in learning a foreign language. In our talk, we discuss the results and the potentials of plurilingual foreign language teaching.

References: Busse, V., Cenoz, J., Dalmann, N., & Rogge, F. (2019). Addressing Linguistic Diversity in the Language Classroom in a Resource‐Oriented Way: An Intervention Study With Primary School Children. Language Learning, 31(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12382

Leonet, O., Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2019). Developing morphological awareness across languages: translanguaging pedagogies in third language acquisition. Language Awareness, 79(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2019.1688338

Bios:

Holger Hopp: Holger Hopp is a professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany). In his research, he investigates child and adult L2/3 acquisition and processing as well as heritage language acquisition and attrition. He uses several psycholinguistic methods to determine the directionality, scope and degree of cross-linguistic influence in bi- and multilingual speakers of different ages.

Jenny Jakisch: Jenny Jakisch is lecturer and researcher at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her PhD dealt with the role of English language teaching (ELT) for fostering multilingualism. Her current research interests include teacher education, classroom management and inclusive ELT.

Sarah Sturm: Sarah Sturm is a research assistant and PhD student at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her research interests include multilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language (with a focus on young learners) and learning strategies. In her PhD project, she is investigating the use of language learning strategies by young multilingual foreign language learners.

 

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‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Professor Jenni Rodd (UCL)

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

Bio: Professor Jenni Rodd conducts research into how we understand the meanings of the words that we hear or read, and how we combine together the information from individual words to construct representations of the meanings of sentences. She has a particular interest in how we use our recent and long-term experience with language to improve the efficiency of these processes. She is the director of The Word Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL.

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‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: literacy and cognition

Professor Ianthi M. Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Much research in multilingualism and its effects on cognition and language ability has focused on individuals in western societies. Socioeconomic status, language of education and language prestige have been identified as some of the factors that appear to influence bi/multilingual individuals’ linguistic and cognitive profile although most research on the role of bilingualism on cognition has not capitalized on such factors. I will focus on multilingualism in India, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (UNESCO, 2009). Linguistic variation across Indian speakers is vast and includes variation in the number of home languages used, societal/community languages, official medium of instruction in schools and actual language practices in the classroom.

As language is the primary vehicle of education and learning, variation in any of the above measures of multilingualism can affect the language experience of the school child and have knock-on effects on the development of school skills (basic and higher literacy and numeracy), or cognition. Focusing on the data from 1200 children from urban primary schools in Delhi and Hyderabad and from rural areas in Patna, all from deprived or severely deprived socioeconomic backgrounds, I will try to disentangle how language experience and linguistic diversity in the child’s immediate environment (school, family, community) affect school skills and cognitive abilities.

Participants attend government primary schools in slum vs. non-slum urban areas of Delhi and Hyderabad, or town vs. rural areas in Patna, as part of a four-year, large-scale research project (MultiLila). They were assessed on mathematical reasoning, word, sentence and text reading, as well as non-verbal IQ, inhibition and complex working memory skills. Children attend English-medium or regional language medium schools (Hindi or Telugu), meaning that their assessment, textbooks and language used in the classroom is the official medium of instruction.

Although the language of textbooks and assessment match the official medium of instruction, language practices in the classroom include language mixing with English-only input ranging from zero to 40%, in English-medium schools. Taking into account the child’s home language(s) and the extent to which they are used in the classroom I will present the participants’ performance on linguistic, reasoning and cognitive skills. Results indicate a significant effect of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the cognitive and school skills of children from underprivileged socioeconomic background.

Bio:

Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli works on language development in the first and second language in children and adults, as well as on language impairment, attrition, bilingualism, language processing and the interaction between language, cognitive abilities and print exposure. She recently held the positions of Professor of Multilingualism and Cognition at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and the positions of Professor of Psycholinguistics and Director of the Language Development Lab at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Professor Tsimpli held a ‘Guest of the Rector’ Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences for six months in 2012, a Visiting Professorship for six months at the University of Cyprus in 2007, and a Visiting Scholar position at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg in 2005. She is Associate Editor of Lingua and member of the Editorial Board of the journals Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Second Language Research, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, Biolinguistics (e-journal), Journal of Greek Linguistics and of the Book Series “Language Acquisition and Language Disorders”.

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‘A teaching intervention may not reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and phonological awareness’

Dr Bene Bassetti (University of Birmingham)

The orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words can affect how L2 learners and L2 users pronounce L2 sounds, even after years of immersion in an L2 environment. It is however not known whether a training intervention can reduce such orthographic effects on L2 phonology. This paper will report the results of a study (Bassetti, Cerni & Masterson, under review) that investigated whether a teaching intervention can reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and awareness.

Previous studies found that Italian learners of L2 English produce and categorise the same English consonant as two different sounds: a short consonant if it is spelled with one letter, and as a geminate (a long consonant) if it is spelled with double letters. This is because in written double consonant letters represent geminates, and Italian native speakers therefore recode English double consonant letters. Bassetti and colleagues used a randomised controlled trial design, and allocated 100 Italian high-school students to a phonological intervention or a control group.

The teaching intervention group explored the correspondences between double letters and sound length in English, using reflection, explicit teaching and practice. The control group practiced the same English spoken and written words without mentions of orthography. All participants performed a delayed word repetition task and phonological awareness task twice, pre- and post-intervention. The teaching intervention had no effects. It appears that once orthographic effects on L2 phonology are established, they are difficult to eliminate, whether with extensive naturalistic exposure or with a teaching intervention.

Reference: Bassetti, B., Cerni, T., & Masterson, J. (under review) Efficacy of a teaching intervention to reduce the effects of orthographic forms on second language phonology: A randomized controlled trial

Bio: Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti leads Language and Condition at Birmingham (LACAB).

Nathan Thomas is an Applied Linguistics Tutor on the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT) course.

He also teaches on the MA TESOL (Pre-Service) course at the UCL Institute of Education, where he is completing his doctoral research under the dual supervision of Jim McKinley (UCL) and Heath Rose (Oxford).

His research focuses mainly on theoretical developments in the field of language learning strategies and on international students’ strategic learning in higher education. He is also involved in other projects pertaining to English medium instruction and English language teaching. His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, ELT Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, System, and TESOL Quarterly. He has also presented at more than 50 conferences in 14 countries all over the world.

Before his assuming his current roles, Nathan worked for ten years in China and Thailand, most recently as Director of English as a Foreign Language for a private educational consulting company in Beijing. He completed an MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (which is now the MSc ALLT at Oxford), MEd International Teaching, MA Applied Linguistics (ELT), BA English, and various teaching certificates, all while working full time.

For further information, please click here.

 

Publications

Bowen, N. & Thomas, N. (2020). Manipulating texture and cohesion in academic writing: A keystroke logging study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 50, 100773.

Pun, J. & Thomas, N. (2020). English medium instruction: Teachers challenges and coping strategies. ELT Journal, 74(3), 247-257.

Thomas, N. & Osment, C. (2020). Building on Dewaele’s (2018) L1 versus LX dichotomy: The Language-Usage-Identity State model. Applied Linguistics, 41(6), 1005-1010.

Zhang, L.J., Thomas, N., & Qin, T.L. (2019). Language learning strategy research in System: Looking back and looking forward. System, 84, 87-92.

Thomas, N., Rose, H., & Pojanapunya, P. (2019). Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings. Applied Linguistics Review (Advanced Access), 1-18.

Thomas, N. & Brereton, P. (2019). Pedagogical Implications: Practitioners respond to Michael Swan’s ‘Applied Linguistics: A consumer’s view.’ Language Teaching, 52(2), 275–278.

Thomas, N. & Rose, H. (2019). Do language learning strategies need to be self-directed? Disentangling strategies from self-regulated learning. TESOL Quarterly, 53(1), 248-257.

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Abstract: English-medium instruction (EMI) refers the practice of offering academic subjects taught through English in countries where English is not the first language of the majority of the population. The growth of EMI in higher education (HE) has been well-documented, and the driving forces behind EMI are intertwined with goals related to the internationalization of HE. Although EMI as a phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent decades, little research has explored EMI across global regions, particularly in countries in the Global South. This study aimed to investigate the current situation with regards to the introduction and expansion of EMI in HE in 52 countries designated as recipients on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list. In doing so, the study aimed to shed light on EMI provision in many countries which are relatively less resourced and under-researched. The study involved 3 stages of investigation: (1) a country-level analysis with data collected through open-ended questionnaires from informed respondents to investigate the introduction and expansion of EMI in the 52 ODA recipient countries; (2) a website analysis of purposively sampled universities to examine what information with regards to EMI programmes is available; and (3) a survey of key institutional players to explore additional information about EMI programmes offered worldwide. The data was analyzed to explore global and regional trends, and the findings offer insights into the admission requirements, professional development opportunities, international student enrolment, and driving forces behind EMI programs. Based on the findings, recommendations are offered for researchers and practitioners.

Bio: Kari Sahan is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and an Honorary Norham Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She completed her DPhil in 2020 from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher–student interaction and the use of the L1 in EMI classrooms. Her work has appeared in journals such as ELT Journal, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, System, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.

Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.

 

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Children are powerful statistical spellers: They can learn novel written patterns with phonological counterparts under experimental conditions, via implicit learning processes, akin to “statistical learning” processes established for spoken language acquisition. Can these mechanisms fully account for children’s knowledge of written patterns? How does this ability relate to literacy measures? How does it compare to explicit learning? I address these questions in a series of artificial lexicon experiments, inducing graphotactic learning under incidental and explicit conditions, and comparing it with measures of literacy. Previous studies assessed learning of spelling rules which have counterparts in spoken language; however, while this is also the case for some naturalistic spelling rules (e.g., English phonotactics prohibit word initial /ŋ/ and accordingly, written words cannot begin with ng), there are also purely visual constraints (graphotactics) (e.g., gz is an illegal spelling of a frequent word-final sound combination in English: *bagz). Can children learn patterns unconfounded from correlated phonotactics? Developing and skilled spellers were exposed to patterns replete of phonotactic cues. In post-tests, participants generalized over both positional constraints embedded in semiartificial strings, and contextual constraints created using homophonic non-word stimuli. This was demonstrated following passive exposure and even under meaningful (word learning) conditions, and success in learning graphotactics was not hindered by learning word meanings. However, the effect sizes across these experiments remained small, and the hypothesized positive associations between learning performance under incidental conditions and literacy measures were never observed. This relationship was only found under explicit conditions, when pattern generalization benefited. Investigation of age effects revealed that adults and children show similar patterns of learning but adults learn faster from matched text.

Bio: Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps. Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

 

PLEASE JOIN US ON TEAMS ON THE DAY OF THE EVENT.

Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps.

Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

Publications

Samara, Singh & Wonnacott (2019). Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental learning experiment with children. Cognition, Volume 182, 2019, Pages 25-30, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.005.

Singh, Samara & Wonnacott (accepted for publication in the Journal of Memory and Language). Statistical and explicit learning of graphotactic patterns with no phonological counterpart: Evidence from an artificial lexicon study with 7–8-year-olds and adults. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8px7n/.

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‘Plurilingual teaching and its effects on foreign language development

Professor Holger Hopp, Dr Jenny Jakisch and Sarah Sturm (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Research indicates that plurilingual teaching, i.e. integrating the learners’ (home) language repertoire into the teaching of a foreign language (FL), can improve FL achievement (Busse et al., 2019; Leonet et al., 2019). Against this background, we will present findings of a project in which a plurilingual approach to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) was implemented in four primary schools (year 4) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for 6 months. In each school, the English lessons of one group (intervention group) were extended by integrating the participants’ home languages whereas in the other group (comparison group) regular “monolingual” EFL lessons were conducted.

In our talk, we will present the research design as well as the teaching methods and materials that were used in the intervention group. We will also discuss how the young learners experienced the plurilingual lessons. Furthermore, we will show which effects the different teaching approaches had on the participants’ English achievement (vocabulary and grammar) and metalinguistic awareness by presenting data from longitudinal pre- and post-tests.

The data indicate that both monolingual and plurilingual participants gain FL competence during the 6-month intervention. However, the intervention group did not show differential learning gains compared to the comparison group. When testing for specific grammatical phenomena that were subject to instruction in the plurilingual lessons (e.g. questions), we found that the intervention group outperformed the control group. We conclude that addressing specific learners‘ plurilingual resources may support them in learning a foreign language. In our talk, we discuss the results and the potentials of plurilingual foreign language teaching.

References: Busse, V., Cenoz, J., Dalmann, N., & Rogge, F. (2019). Addressing Linguistic Diversity in the Language Classroom in a Resource‐Oriented Way: An Intervention Study With Primary School Children. Language Learning, 31(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12382

Leonet, O., Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2019). Developing morphological awareness across languages: translanguaging pedagogies in third language acquisition. Language Awareness, 79(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2019.1688338

Bios:

Holger Hopp: Holger Hopp is a professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany). In his research, he investigates child and adult L2/3 acquisition and processing as well as heritage language acquisition and attrition. He uses several psycholinguistic methods to determine the directionality, scope and degree of cross-linguistic influence in bi- and multilingual speakers of different ages.

Jenny Jakisch: Jenny Jakisch is lecturer and researcher at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her PhD dealt with the role of English language teaching (ELT) for fostering multilingualism. Her current research interests include teacher education, classroom management and inclusive ELT.

Sarah Sturm: Sarah Sturm is a research assistant and PhD student at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her research interests include multilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language (with a focus on young learners) and learning strategies. In her PhD project, she is investigating the use of language learning strategies by young multilingual foreign language learners.

 

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‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Professor Jenni Rodd (UCL)

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

Bio: Professor Jenni Rodd conducts research into how we understand the meanings of the words that we hear or read, and how we combine together the information from individual words to construct representations of the meanings of sentences. She has a particular interest in how we use our recent and long-term experience with language to improve the efficiency of these processes. She is the director of The Word Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL.

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‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: literacy and cognition

Professor Ianthi M. Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Much research in multilingualism and its effects on cognition and language ability has focused on individuals in western societies. Socioeconomic status, language of education and language prestige have been identified as some of the factors that appear to influence bi/multilingual individuals’ linguistic and cognitive profile although most research on the role of bilingualism on cognition has not capitalized on such factors. I will focus on multilingualism in India, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (UNESCO, 2009). Linguistic variation across Indian speakers is vast and includes variation in the number of home languages used, societal/community languages, official medium of instruction in schools and actual language practices in the classroom.

As language is the primary vehicle of education and learning, variation in any of the above measures of multilingualism can affect the language experience of the school child and have knock-on effects on the development of school skills (basic and higher literacy and numeracy), or cognition. Focusing on the data from 1200 children from urban primary schools in Delhi and Hyderabad and from rural areas in Patna, all from deprived or severely deprived socioeconomic backgrounds, I will try to disentangle how language experience and linguistic diversity in the child’s immediate environment (school, family, community) affect school skills and cognitive abilities.

Participants attend government primary schools in slum vs. non-slum urban areas of Delhi and Hyderabad, or town vs. rural areas in Patna, as part of a four-year, large-scale research project (MultiLila). They were assessed on mathematical reasoning, word, sentence and text reading, as well as non-verbal IQ, inhibition and complex working memory skills. Children attend English-medium or regional language medium schools (Hindi or Telugu), meaning that their assessment, textbooks and language used in the classroom is the official medium of instruction.

Although the language of textbooks and assessment match the official medium of instruction, language practices in the classroom include language mixing with English-only input ranging from zero to 40%, in English-medium schools. Taking into account the child’s home language(s) and the extent to which they are used in the classroom I will present the participants’ performance on linguistic, reasoning and cognitive skills. Results indicate a significant effect of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the cognitive and school skills of children from underprivileged socioeconomic background.

Bio:

Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli works on language development in the first and second language in children and adults, as well as on language impairment, attrition, bilingualism, language processing and the interaction between language, cognitive abilities and print exposure. She recently held the positions of Professor of Multilingualism and Cognition at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and the positions of Professor of Psycholinguistics and Director of the Language Development Lab at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Professor Tsimpli held a ‘Guest of the Rector’ Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences for six months in 2012, a Visiting Professorship for six months at the University of Cyprus in 2007, and a Visiting Scholar position at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg in 2005. She is Associate Editor of Lingua and member of the Editorial Board of the journals Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Second Language Research, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, Biolinguistics (e-journal), Journal of Greek Linguistics and of the Book Series “Language Acquisition and Language Disorders”.

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‘A teaching intervention may not reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and phonological awareness’

Dr Bene Bassetti (University of Birmingham)

The orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words can affect how L2 learners and L2 users pronounce L2 sounds, even after years of immersion in an L2 environment. It is however not known whether a training intervention can reduce such orthographic effects on L2 phonology. This paper will report the results of a study (Bassetti, Cerni & Masterson, under review) that investigated whether a teaching intervention can reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and awareness.

Previous studies found that Italian learners of L2 English produce and categorise the same English consonant as two different sounds: a short consonant if it is spelled with one letter, and as a geminate (a long consonant) if it is spelled with double letters. This is because in written double consonant letters represent geminates, and Italian native speakers therefore recode English double consonant letters. Bassetti and colleagues used a randomised controlled trial design, and allocated 100 Italian high-school students to a phonological intervention or a control group.

The teaching intervention group explored the correspondences between double letters and sound length in English, using reflection, explicit teaching and practice. The control group practiced the same English spoken and written words without mentions of orthography. All participants performed a delayed word repetition task and phonological awareness task twice, pre- and post-intervention. The teaching intervention had no effects. It appears that once orthographic effects on L2 phonology are established, they are difficult to eliminate, whether with extensive naturalistic exposure or with a teaching intervention.

Reference: Bassetti, B., Cerni, T., & Masterson, J. (under review) Efficacy of a teaching intervention to reduce the effects of orthographic forms on second language phonology: A randomized controlled trial

Bio: Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti leads Language and Condition at Birmingham (LACAB).

Nathan Thomas is an Applied Linguistics Tutor on the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT) course.

He also teaches on the MA TESOL (Pre-Service) course at the UCL Institute of Education, where he is completing his doctoral research under the dual supervision of Jim McKinley (UCL) and Heath Rose (Oxford).

His research focuses mainly on theoretical developments in the field of language learning strategies and on international students’ strategic learning in higher education. He is also involved in other projects pertaining to English medium instruction and English language teaching. His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, ELT Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, System, and TESOL Quarterly. He has also presented at more than 50 conferences in 14 countries all over the world.

Before his assuming his current roles, Nathan worked for ten years in China and Thailand, most recently as Director of English as a Foreign Language for a private educational consulting company in Beijing. He completed an MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (which is now the MSc ALLT at Oxford), MEd International Teaching, MA Applied Linguistics (ELT), BA English, and various teaching certificates, all while working full time.

For further information, please click here.

 

Publications

Bowen, N. & Thomas, N. (2020). Manipulating texture and cohesion in academic writing: A keystroke logging study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 50, 100773.

Pun, J. & Thomas, N. (2020). English medium instruction: Teachers challenges and coping strategies. ELT Journal, 74(3), 247-257.

Thomas, N. & Osment, C. (2020). Building on Dewaele’s (2018) L1 versus LX dichotomy: The Language-Usage-Identity State model. Applied Linguistics, 41(6), 1005-1010.

Zhang, L.J., Thomas, N., & Qin, T.L. (2019). Language learning strategy research in System: Looking back and looking forward. System, 84, 87-92.

Thomas, N., Rose, H., & Pojanapunya, P. (2019). Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings. Applied Linguistics Review (Advanced Access), 1-18.

Thomas, N. & Brereton, P. (2019). Pedagogical Implications: Practitioners respond to Michael Swan’s ‘Applied Linguistics: A consumer’s view.’ Language Teaching, 52(2), 275–278.

Thomas, N. & Rose, H. (2019). Do language learning strategies need to be self-directed? Disentangling strategies from self-regulated learning. TESOL Quarterly, 53(1), 248-257.

PLEASE JOIN US THE DAY OF THE EVENT VIA TEAMS.

Abstract: English-medium instruction (EMI) refers the practice of offering academic subjects taught through English in countries where English is not the first language of the majority of the population. The growth of EMI in higher education (HE) has been well-documented, and the driving forces behind EMI are intertwined with goals related to the internationalization of HE. Although EMI as a phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent decades, little research has explored EMI across global regions, particularly in countries in the Global South. This study aimed to investigate the current situation with regards to the introduction and expansion of EMI in HE in 52 countries designated as recipients on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list. In doing so, the study aimed to shed light on EMI provision in many countries which are relatively less resourced and under-researched. The study involved 3 stages of investigation: (1) a country-level analysis with data collected through open-ended questionnaires from informed respondents to investigate the introduction and expansion of EMI in the 52 ODA recipient countries; (2) a website analysis of purposively sampled universities to examine what information with regards to EMI programmes is available; and (3) a survey of key institutional players to explore additional information about EMI programmes offered worldwide. The data was analyzed to explore global and regional trends, and the findings offer insights into the admission requirements, professional development opportunities, international student enrolment, and driving forces behind EMI programs. Based on the findings, recommendations are offered for researchers and practitioners.

Bio: Kari Sahan is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and an Honorary Norham Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She completed her DPhil in 2020 from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher–student interaction and the use of the L1 in EMI classrooms. Her work has appeared in journals such as ELT Journal, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, System, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.

Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.

 

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Children are powerful statistical spellers: They can learn novel written patterns with phonological counterparts under experimental conditions, via implicit learning processes, akin to “statistical learning” processes established for spoken language acquisition. Can these mechanisms fully account for children’s knowledge of written patterns? How does this ability relate to literacy measures? How does it compare to explicit learning? I address these questions in a series of artificial lexicon experiments, inducing graphotactic learning under incidental and explicit conditions, and comparing it with measures of literacy. Previous studies assessed learning of spelling rules which have counterparts in spoken language; however, while this is also the case for some naturalistic spelling rules (e.g., English phonotactics prohibit word initial /ŋ/ and accordingly, written words cannot begin with ng), there are also purely visual constraints (graphotactics) (e.g., gz is an illegal spelling of a frequent word-final sound combination in English: *bagz). Can children learn patterns unconfounded from correlated phonotactics? Developing and skilled spellers were exposed to patterns replete of phonotactic cues. In post-tests, participants generalized over both positional constraints embedded in semiartificial strings, and contextual constraints created using homophonic non-word stimuli. This was demonstrated following passive exposure and even under meaningful (word learning) conditions, and success in learning graphotactics was not hindered by learning word meanings. However, the effect sizes across these experiments remained small, and the hypothesized positive associations between learning performance under incidental conditions and literacy measures were never observed. This relationship was only found under explicit conditions, when pattern generalization benefited. Investigation of age effects revealed that adults and children show similar patterns of learning but adults learn faster from matched text.

Bio: Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps. Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

 

PLEASE JOIN US ON TEAMS ON THE DAY OF THE EVENT.

Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps.

Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

Publications

Samara, Singh & Wonnacott (2019). Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental learning experiment with children. Cognition, Volume 182, 2019, Pages 25-30, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.005.

Singh, Samara & Wonnacott (accepted for publication in the Journal of Memory and Language). Statistical and explicit learning of graphotactic patterns with no phonological counterpart: Evidence from an artificial lexicon study with 7–8-year-olds and adults. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8px7n/.

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‘Plurilingual teaching and its effects on foreign language development

Professor Holger Hopp, Dr Jenny Jakisch and Sarah Sturm (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Research indicates that plurilingual teaching, i.e. integrating the learners’ (home) language repertoire into the teaching of a foreign language (FL), can improve FL achievement (Busse et al., 2019; Leonet et al., 2019). Against this background, we will present findings of a project in which a plurilingual approach to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) was implemented in four primary schools (year 4) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for 6 months. In each school, the English lessons of one group (intervention group) were extended by integrating the participants’ home languages whereas in the other group (comparison group) regular “monolingual” EFL lessons were conducted.

In our talk, we will present the research design as well as the teaching methods and materials that were used in the intervention group. We will also discuss how the young learners experienced the plurilingual lessons. Furthermore, we will show which effects the different teaching approaches had on the participants’ English achievement (vocabulary and grammar) and metalinguistic awareness by presenting data from longitudinal pre- and post-tests.

The data indicate that both monolingual and plurilingual participants gain FL competence during the 6-month intervention. However, the intervention group did not show differential learning gains compared to the comparison group. When testing for specific grammatical phenomena that were subject to instruction in the plurilingual lessons (e.g. questions), we found that the intervention group outperformed the control group. We conclude that addressing specific learners‘ plurilingual resources may support them in learning a foreign language. In our talk, we discuss the results and the potentials of plurilingual foreign language teaching.

References: Busse, V., Cenoz, J., Dalmann, N., & Rogge, F. (2019). Addressing Linguistic Diversity in the Language Classroom in a Resource‐Oriented Way: An Intervention Study With Primary School Children. Language Learning, 31(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12382

Leonet, O., Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2019). Developing morphological awareness across languages: translanguaging pedagogies in third language acquisition. Language Awareness, 79(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2019.1688338

Bios:

Holger Hopp: Holger Hopp is a professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany). In his research, he investigates child and adult L2/3 acquisition and processing as well as heritage language acquisition and attrition. He uses several psycholinguistic methods to determine the directionality, scope and degree of cross-linguistic influence in bi- and multilingual speakers of different ages.

Jenny Jakisch: Jenny Jakisch is lecturer and researcher at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her PhD dealt with the role of English language teaching (ELT) for fostering multilingualism. Her current research interests include teacher education, classroom management and inclusive ELT.

Sarah Sturm: Sarah Sturm is a research assistant and PhD student at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her research interests include multilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language (with a focus on young learners) and learning strategies. In her PhD project, she is investigating the use of language learning strategies by young multilingual foreign language learners.

 

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‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Professor Jenni Rodd (UCL)

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

Bio: Professor Jenni Rodd conducts research into how we understand the meanings of the words that we hear or read, and how we combine together the information from individual words to construct representations of the meanings of sentences. She has a particular interest in how we use our recent and long-term experience with language to improve the efficiency of these processes. She is the director of The Word Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL.

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‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: literacy and cognition

Professor Ianthi M. Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Much research in multilingualism and its effects on cognition and language ability has focused on individuals in western societies. Socioeconomic status, language of education and language prestige have been identified as some of the factors that appear to influence bi/multilingual individuals’ linguistic and cognitive profile although most research on the role of bilingualism on cognition has not capitalized on such factors. I will focus on multilingualism in India, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (UNESCO, 2009). Linguistic variation across Indian speakers is vast and includes variation in the number of home languages used, societal/community languages, official medium of instruction in schools and actual language practices in the classroom.

As language is the primary vehicle of education and learning, variation in any of the above measures of multilingualism can affect the language experience of the school child and have knock-on effects on the development of school skills (basic and higher literacy and numeracy), or cognition. Focusing on the data from 1200 children from urban primary schools in Delhi and Hyderabad and from rural areas in Patna, all from deprived or severely deprived socioeconomic backgrounds, I will try to disentangle how language experience and linguistic diversity in the child’s immediate environment (school, family, community) affect school skills and cognitive abilities.

Participants attend government primary schools in slum vs. non-slum urban areas of Delhi and Hyderabad, or town vs. rural areas in Patna, as part of a four-year, large-scale research project (MultiLila). They were assessed on mathematical reasoning, word, sentence and text reading, as well as non-verbal IQ, inhibition and complex working memory skills. Children attend English-medium or regional language medium schools (Hindi or Telugu), meaning that their assessment, textbooks and language used in the classroom is the official medium of instruction.

Although the language of textbooks and assessment match the official medium of instruction, language practices in the classroom include language mixing with English-only input ranging from zero to 40%, in English-medium schools. Taking into account the child’s home language(s) and the extent to which they are used in the classroom I will present the participants’ performance on linguistic, reasoning and cognitive skills. Results indicate a significant effect of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the cognitive and school skills of children from underprivileged socioeconomic background.

Bio:

Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli works on language development in the first and second language in children and adults, as well as on language impairment, attrition, bilingualism, language processing and the interaction between language, cognitive abilities and print exposure. She recently held the positions of Professor of Multilingualism and Cognition at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and the positions of Professor of Psycholinguistics and Director of the Language Development Lab at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Professor Tsimpli held a ‘Guest of the Rector’ Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences for six months in 2012, a Visiting Professorship for six months at the University of Cyprus in 2007, and a Visiting Scholar position at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg in 2005. She is Associate Editor of Lingua and member of the Editorial Board of the journals Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Second Language Research, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, Biolinguistics (e-journal), Journal of Greek Linguistics and of the Book Series “Language Acquisition and Language Disorders”.

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‘A teaching intervention may not reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and phonological awareness’

Dr Bene Bassetti (University of Birmingham)

The orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words can affect how L2 learners and L2 users pronounce L2 sounds, even after years of immersion in an L2 environment. It is however not known whether a training intervention can reduce such orthographic effects on L2 phonology. This paper will report the results of a study (Bassetti, Cerni & Masterson, under review) that investigated whether a teaching intervention can reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and awareness.

Previous studies found that Italian learners of L2 English produce and categorise the same English consonant as two different sounds: a short consonant if it is spelled with one letter, and as a geminate (a long consonant) if it is spelled with double letters. This is because in written double consonant letters represent geminates, and Italian native speakers therefore recode English double consonant letters. Bassetti and colleagues used a randomised controlled trial design, and allocated 100 Italian high-school students to a phonological intervention or a control group.

The teaching intervention group explored the correspondences between double letters and sound length in English, using reflection, explicit teaching and practice. The control group practiced the same English spoken and written words without mentions of orthography. All participants performed a delayed word repetition task and phonological awareness task twice, pre- and post-intervention. The teaching intervention had no effects. It appears that once orthographic effects on L2 phonology are established, they are difficult to eliminate, whether with extensive naturalistic exposure or with a teaching intervention.

Reference: Bassetti, B., Cerni, T., & Masterson, J. (under review) Efficacy of a teaching intervention to reduce the effects of orthographic forms on second language phonology: A randomized controlled trial

Bio: Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti leads Language and Condition at Birmingham (LACAB).

Nathan Thomas is an Applied Linguistics Tutor on the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT) course.

He also teaches on the MA TESOL (Pre-Service) course at the UCL Institute of Education, where he is completing his doctoral research under the dual supervision of Jim McKinley (UCL) and Heath Rose (Oxford).

His research focuses mainly on theoretical developments in the field of language learning strategies and on international students’ strategic learning in higher education. He is also involved in other projects pertaining to English medium instruction and English language teaching. His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, ELT Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, System, and TESOL Quarterly. He has also presented at more than 50 conferences in 14 countries all over the world.

Before his assuming his current roles, Nathan worked for ten years in China and Thailand, most recently as Director of English as a Foreign Language for a private educational consulting company in Beijing. He completed an MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (which is now the MSc ALLT at Oxford), MEd International Teaching, MA Applied Linguistics (ELT), BA English, and various teaching certificates, all while working full time.

For further information, please click here.

 

Publications

Bowen, N. & Thomas, N. (2020). Manipulating texture and cohesion in academic writing: A keystroke logging study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 50, 100773.

Pun, J. & Thomas, N. (2020). English medium instruction: Teachers challenges and coping strategies. ELT Journal, 74(3), 247-257.

Thomas, N. & Osment, C. (2020). Building on Dewaele’s (2018) L1 versus LX dichotomy: The Language-Usage-Identity State model. Applied Linguistics, 41(6), 1005-1010.

Zhang, L.J., Thomas, N., & Qin, T.L. (2019). Language learning strategy research in System: Looking back and looking forward. System, 84, 87-92.

Thomas, N., Rose, H., & Pojanapunya, P. (2019). Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings. Applied Linguistics Review (Advanced Access), 1-18.

Thomas, N. & Brereton, P. (2019). Pedagogical Implications: Practitioners respond to Michael Swan’s ‘Applied Linguistics: A consumer’s view.’ Language Teaching, 52(2), 275–278.

Thomas, N. & Rose, H. (2019). Do language learning strategies need to be self-directed? Disentangling strategies from self-regulated learning. TESOL Quarterly, 53(1), 248-257.

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Abstract: English-medium instruction (EMI) refers the practice of offering academic subjects taught through English in countries where English is not the first language of the majority of the population. The growth of EMI in higher education (HE) has been well-documented, and the driving forces behind EMI are intertwined with goals related to the internationalization of HE. Although EMI as a phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent decades, little research has explored EMI across global regions, particularly in countries in the Global South. This study aimed to investigate the current situation with regards to the introduction and expansion of EMI in HE in 52 countries designated as recipients on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list. In doing so, the study aimed to shed light on EMI provision in many countries which are relatively less resourced and under-researched. The study involved 3 stages of investigation: (1) a country-level analysis with data collected through open-ended questionnaires from informed respondents to investigate the introduction and expansion of EMI in the 52 ODA recipient countries; (2) a website analysis of purposively sampled universities to examine what information with regards to EMI programmes is available; and (3) a survey of key institutional players to explore additional information about EMI programmes offered worldwide. The data was analyzed to explore global and regional trends, and the findings offer insights into the admission requirements, professional development opportunities, international student enrolment, and driving forces behind EMI programs. Based on the findings, recommendations are offered for researchers and practitioners.

Bio: Kari Sahan is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and an Honorary Norham Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She completed her DPhil in 2020 from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher–student interaction and the use of the L1 in EMI classrooms. Her work has appeared in journals such as ELT Journal, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, System, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.

Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.

 

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Children are powerful statistical spellers: They can learn novel written patterns with phonological counterparts under experimental conditions, via implicit learning processes, akin to “statistical learning” processes established for spoken language acquisition. Can these mechanisms fully account for children’s knowledge of written patterns? How does this ability relate to literacy measures? How does it compare to explicit learning? I address these questions in a series of artificial lexicon experiments, inducing graphotactic learning under incidental and explicit conditions, and comparing it with measures of literacy. Previous studies assessed learning of spelling rules which have counterparts in spoken language; however, while this is also the case for some naturalistic spelling rules (e.g., English phonotactics prohibit word initial /ŋ/ and accordingly, written words cannot begin with ng), there are also purely visual constraints (graphotactics) (e.g., gz is an illegal spelling of a frequent word-final sound combination in English: *bagz). Can children learn patterns unconfounded from correlated phonotactics? Developing and skilled spellers were exposed to patterns replete of phonotactic cues. In post-tests, participants generalized over both positional constraints embedded in semiartificial strings, and contextual constraints created using homophonic non-word stimuli. This was demonstrated following passive exposure and even under meaningful (word learning) conditions, and success in learning graphotactics was not hindered by learning word meanings. However, the effect sizes across these experiments remained small, and the hypothesized positive associations between learning performance under incidental conditions and literacy measures were never observed. This relationship was only found under explicit conditions, when pattern generalization benefited. Investigation of age effects revealed that adults and children show similar patterns of learning but adults learn faster from matched text.

Bio: Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps. Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

 

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Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps.

Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

Publications

Samara, Singh & Wonnacott (2019). Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental learning experiment with children. Cognition, Volume 182, 2019, Pages 25-30, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.005.

Singh, Samara & Wonnacott (accepted for publication in the Journal of Memory and Language). Statistical and explicit learning of graphotactic patterns with no phonological counterpart: Evidence from an artificial lexicon study with 7–8-year-olds and adults. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8px7n/.

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‘Plurilingual teaching and its effects on foreign language development

Professor Holger Hopp, Dr Jenny Jakisch and Sarah Sturm (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Research indicates that plurilingual teaching, i.e. integrating the learners’ (home) language repertoire into the teaching of a foreign language (FL), can improve FL achievement (Busse et al., 2019; Leonet et al., 2019). Against this background, we will present findings of a project in which a plurilingual approach to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) was implemented in four primary schools (year 4) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for 6 months. In each school, the English lessons of one group (intervention group) were extended by integrating the participants’ home languages whereas in the other group (comparison group) regular “monolingual” EFL lessons were conducted.

In our talk, we will present the research design as well as the teaching methods and materials that were used in the intervention group. We will also discuss how the young learners experienced the plurilingual lessons. Furthermore, we will show which effects the different teaching approaches had on the participants’ English achievement (vocabulary and grammar) and metalinguistic awareness by presenting data from longitudinal pre- and post-tests.

The data indicate that both monolingual and plurilingual participants gain FL competence during the 6-month intervention. However, the intervention group did not show differential learning gains compared to the comparison group. When testing for specific grammatical phenomena that were subject to instruction in the plurilingual lessons (e.g. questions), we found that the intervention group outperformed the control group. We conclude that addressing specific learners‘ plurilingual resources may support them in learning a foreign language. In our talk, we discuss the results and the potentials of plurilingual foreign language teaching.

References: Busse, V., Cenoz, J., Dalmann, N., & Rogge, F. (2019). Addressing Linguistic Diversity in the Language Classroom in a Resource‐Oriented Way: An Intervention Study With Primary School Children. Language Learning, 31(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12382

Leonet, O., Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2019). Developing morphological awareness across languages: translanguaging pedagogies in third language acquisition. Language Awareness, 79(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2019.1688338

Bios:

Holger Hopp: Holger Hopp is a professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany). In his research, he investigates child and adult L2/3 acquisition and processing as well as heritage language acquisition and attrition. He uses several psycholinguistic methods to determine the directionality, scope and degree of cross-linguistic influence in bi- and multilingual speakers of different ages.

Jenny Jakisch: Jenny Jakisch is lecturer and researcher at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her PhD dealt with the role of English language teaching (ELT) for fostering multilingualism. Her current research interests include teacher education, classroom management and inclusive ELT.

Sarah Sturm: Sarah Sturm is a research assistant and PhD student at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her research interests include multilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language (with a focus on young learners) and learning strategies. In her PhD project, she is investigating the use of language learning strategies by young multilingual foreign language learners.

 

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‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Professor Jenni Rodd (UCL)

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

Bio: Professor Jenni Rodd conducts research into how we understand the meanings of the words that we hear or read, and how we combine together the information from individual words to construct representations of the meanings of sentences. She has a particular interest in how we use our recent and long-term experience with language to improve the efficiency of these processes. She is the director of The Word Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL.

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‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: literacy and cognition

Professor Ianthi M. Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Much research in multilingualism and its effects on cognition and language ability has focused on individuals in western societies. Socioeconomic status, language of education and language prestige have been identified as some of the factors that appear to influence bi/multilingual individuals’ linguistic and cognitive profile although most research on the role of bilingualism on cognition has not capitalized on such factors. I will focus on multilingualism in India, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (UNESCO, 2009). Linguistic variation across Indian speakers is vast and includes variation in the number of home languages used, societal/community languages, official medium of instruction in schools and actual language practices in the classroom.

As language is the primary vehicle of education and learning, variation in any of the above measures of multilingualism can affect the language experience of the school child and have knock-on effects on the development of school skills (basic and higher literacy and numeracy), or cognition. Focusing on the data from 1200 children from urban primary schools in Delhi and Hyderabad and from rural areas in Patna, all from deprived or severely deprived socioeconomic backgrounds, I will try to disentangle how language experience and linguistic diversity in the child’s immediate environment (school, family, community) affect school skills and cognitive abilities.

Participants attend government primary schools in slum vs. non-slum urban areas of Delhi and Hyderabad, or town vs. rural areas in Patna, as part of a four-year, large-scale research project (MultiLila). They were assessed on mathematical reasoning, word, sentence and text reading, as well as non-verbal IQ, inhibition and complex working memory skills. Children attend English-medium or regional language medium schools (Hindi or Telugu), meaning that their assessment, textbooks and language used in the classroom is the official medium of instruction.

Although the language of textbooks and assessment match the official medium of instruction, language practices in the classroom include language mixing with English-only input ranging from zero to 40%, in English-medium schools. Taking into account the child’s home language(s) and the extent to which they are used in the classroom I will present the participants’ performance on linguistic, reasoning and cognitive skills. Results indicate a significant effect of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the cognitive and school skills of children from underprivileged socioeconomic background.

Bio:

Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli works on language development in the first and second language in children and adults, as well as on language impairment, attrition, bilingualism, language processing and the interaction between language, cognitive abilities and print exposure. She recently held the positions of Professor of Multilingualism and Cognition at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and the positions of Professor of Psycholinguistics and Director of the Language Development Lab at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Professor Tsimpli held a ‘Guest of the Rector’ Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences for six months in 2012, a Visiting Professorship for six months at the University of Cyprus in 2007, and a Visiting Scholar position at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg in 2005. She is Associate Editor of Lingua and member of the Editorial Board of the journals Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Second Language Research, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, Biolinguistics (e-journal), Journal of Greek Linguistics and of the Book Series “Language Acquisition and Language Disorders”.

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‘A teaching intervention may not reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and phonological awareness’

Dr Bene Bassetti (University of Birmingham)

The orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words can affect how L2 learners and L2 users pronounce L2 sounds, even after years of immersion in an L2 environment. It is however not known whether a training intervention can reduce such orthographic effects on L2 phonology. This paper will report the results of a study (Bassetti, Cerni & Masterson, under review) that investigated whether a teaching intervention can reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and awareness.

Previous studies found that Italian learners of L2 English produce and categorise the same English consonant as two different sounds: a short consonant if it is spelled with one letter, and as a geminate (a long consonant) if it is spelled with double letters. This is because in written double consonant letters represent geminates, and Italian native speakers therefore recode English double consonant letters. Bassetti and colleagues used a randomised controlled trial design, and allocated 100 Italian high-school students to a phonological intervention or a control group.

The teaching intervention group explored the correspondences between double letters and sound length in English, using reflection, explicit teaching and practice. The control group practiced the same English spoken and written words without mentions of orthography. All participants performed a delayed word repetition task and phonological awareness task twice, pre- and post-intervention. The teaching intervention had no effects. It appears that once orthographic effects on L2 phonology are established, they are difficult to eliminate, whether with extensive naturalistic exposure or with a teaching intervention.

Reference: Bassetti, B., Cerni, T., & Masterson, J. (under review) Efficacy of a teaching intervention to reduce the effects of orthographic forms on second language phonology: A randomized controlled trial

Bio: Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti leads Language and Condition at Birmingham (LACAB).

Nathan Thomas is an Applied Linguistics Tutor on the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT) course.

He also teaches on the MA TESOL (Pre-Service) course at the UCL Institute of Education, where he is completing his doctoral research under the dual supervision of Jim McKinley (UCL) and Heath Rose (Oxford).

His research focuses mainly on theoretical developments in the field of language learning strategies and on international students’ strategic learning in higher education. He is also involved in other projects pertaining to English medium instruction and English language teaching. His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, ELT Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, System, and TESOL Quarterly. He has also presented at more than 50 conferences in 14 countries all over the world.

Before his assuming his current roles, Nathan worked for ten years in China and Thailand, most recently as Director of English as a Foreign Language for a private educational consulting company in Beijing. He completed an MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (which is now the MSc ALLT at Oxford), MEd International Teaching, MA Applied Linguistics (ELT), BA English, and various teaching certificates, all while working full time.

For further information, please click here.

 

Publications

Bowen, N. & Thomas, N. (2020). Manipulating texture and cohesion in academic writing: A keystroke logging study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 50, 100773.

Pun, J. & Thomas, N. (2020). English medium instruction: Teachers challenges and coping strategies. ELT Journal, 74(3), 247-257.

Thomas, N. & Osment, C. (2020). Building on Dewaele’s (2018) L1 versus LX dichotomy: The Language-Usage-Identity State model. Applied Linguistics, 41(6), 1005-1010.

Zhang, L.J., Thomas, N., & Qin, T.L. (2019). Language learning strategy research in System: Looking back and looking forward. System, 84, 87-92.

Thomas, N., Rose, H., & Pojanapunya, P. (2019). Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings. Applied Linguistics Review (Advanced Access), 1-18.

Thomas, N. & Brereton, P. (2019). Pedagogical Implications: Practitioners respond to Michael Swan’s ‘Applied Linguistics: A consumer’s view.’ Language Teaching, 52(2), 275–278.

Thomas, N. & Rose, H. (2019). Do language learning strategies need to be self-directed? Disentangling strategies from self-regulated learning. TESOL Quarterly, 53(1), 248-257.

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Abstract: English-medium instruction (EMI) refers the practice of offering academic subjects taught through English in countries where English is not the first language of the majority of the population. The growth of EMI in higher education (HE) has been well-documented, and the driving forces behind EMI are intertwined with goals related to the internationalization of HE. Although EMI as a phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent decades, little research has explored EMI across global regions, particularly in countries in the Global South. This study aimed to investigate the current situation with regards to the introduction and expansion of EMI in HE in 52 countries designated as recipients on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list. In doing so, the study aimed to shed light on EMI provision in many countries which are relatively less resourced and under-researched. The study involved 3 stages of investigation: (1) a country-level analysis with data collected through open-ended questionnaires from informed respondents to investigate the introduction and expansion of EMI in the 52 ODA recipient countries; (2) a website analysis of purposively sampled universities to examine what information with regards to EMI programmes is available; and (3) a survey of key institutional players to explore additional information about EMI programmes offered worldwide. The data was analyzed to explore global and regional trends, and the findings offer insights into the admission requirements, professional development opportunities, international student enrolment, and driving forces behind EMI programs. Based on the findings, recommendations are offered for researchers and practitioners.

Bio: Kari Sahan is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and an Honorary Norham Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She completed her DPhil in 2020 from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher–student interaction and the use of the L1 in EMI classrooms. Her work has appeared in journals such as ELT Journal, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, System, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.

Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.

 

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Children are powerful statistical spellers: They can learn novel written patterns with phonological counterparts under experimental conditions, via implicit learning processes, akin to “statistical learning” processes established for spoken language acquisition. Can these mechanisms fully account for children’s knowledge of written patterns? How does this ability relate to literacy measures? How does it compare to explicit learning? I address these questions in a series of artificial lexicon experiments, inducing graphotactic learning under incidental and explicit conditions, and comparing it with measures of literacy. Previous studies assessed learning of spelling rules which have counterparts in spoken language; however, while this is also the case for some naturalistic spelling rules (e.g., English phonotactics prohibit word initial /ŋ/ and accordingly, written words cannot begin with ng), there are also purely visual constraints (graphotactics) (e.g., gz is an illegal spelling of a frequent word-final sound combination in English: *bagz). Can children learn patterns unconfounded from correlated phonotactics? Developing and skilled spellers were exposed to patterns replete of phonotactic cues. In post-tests, participants generalized over both positional constraints embedded in semiartificial strings, and contextual constraints created using homophonic non-word stimuli. This was demonstrated following passive exposure and even under meaningful (word learning) conditions, and success in learning graphotactics was not hindered by learning word meanings. However, the effect sizes across these experiments remained small, and the hypothesized positive associations between learning performance under incidental conditions and literacy measures were never observed. This relationship was only found under explicit conditions, when pattern generalization benefited. Investigation of age effects revealed that adults and children show similar patterns of learning but adults learn faster from matched text.

Bio: Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps. Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

 

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Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps.

Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

Publications

Samara, Singh & Wonnacott (2019). Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental learning experiment with children. Cognition, Volume 182, 2019, Pages 25-30, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.005.

Singh, Samara & Wonnacott (accepted for publication in the Journal of Memory and Language). Statistical and explicit learning of graphotactic patterns with no phonological counterpart: Evidence from an artificial lexicon study with 7–8-year-olds and adults. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8px7n/.

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‘Plurilingual teaching and its effects on foreign language development

Professor Holger Hopp, Dr Jenny Jakisch and Sarah Sturm (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Research indicates that plurilingual teaching, i.e. integrating the learners’ (home) language repertoire into the teaching of a foreign language (FL), can improve FL achievement (Busse et al., 2019; Leonet et al., 2019). Against this background, we will present findings of a project in which a plurilingual approach to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) was implemented in four primary schools (year 4) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for 6 months. In each school, the English lessons of one group (intervention group) were extended by integrating the participants’ home languages whereas in the other group (comparison group) regular “monolingual” EFL lessons were conducted.

In our talk, we will present the research design as well as the teaching methods and materials that were used in the intervention group. We will also discuss how the young learners experienced the plurilingual lessons. Furthermore, we will show which effects the different teaching approaches had on the participants’ English achievement (vocabulary and grammar) and metalinguistic awareness by presenting data from longitudinal pre- and post-tests.

The data indicate that both monolingual and plurilingual participants gain FL competence during the 6-month intervention. However, the intervention group did not show differential learning gains compared to the comparison group. When testing for specific grammatical phenomena that were subject to instruction in the plurilingual lessons (e.g. questions), we found that the intervention group outperformed the control group. We conclude that addressing specific learners‘ plurilingual resources may support them in learning a foreign language. In our talk, we discuss the results and the potentials of plurilingual foreign language teaching.

References: Busse, V., Cenoz, J., Dalmann, N., & Rogge, F. (2019). Addressing Linguistic Diversity in the Language Classroom in a Resource‐Oriented Way: An Intervention Study With Primary School Children. Language Learning, 31(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12382

Leonet, O., Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2019). Developing morphological awareness across languages: translanguaging pedagogies in third language acquisition. Language Awareness, 79(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2019.1688338

Bios:

Holger Hopp: Holger Hopp is a professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany). In his research, he investigates child and adult L2/3 acquisition and processing as well as heritage language acquisition and attrition. He uses several psycholinguistic methods to determine the directionality, scope and degree of cross-linguistic influence in bi- and multilingual speakers of different ages.

Jenny Jakisch: Jenny Jakisch is lecturer and researcher at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her PhD dealt with the role of English language teaching (ELT) for fostering multilingualism. Her current research interests include teacher education, classroom management and inclusive ELT.

Sarah Sturm: Sarah Sturm is a research assistant and PhD student at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her research interests include multilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language (with a focus on young learners) and learning strategies. In her PhD project, she is investigating the use of language learning strategies by young multilingual foreign language learners.

 

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‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Professor Jenni Rodd (UCL)

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

Bio: Professor Jenni Rodd conducts research into how we understand the meanings of the words that we hear or read, and how we combine together the information from individual words to construct representations of the meanings of sentences. She has a particular interest in how we use our recent and long-term experience with language to improve the efficiency of these processes. She is the director of The Word Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL.

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‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: literacy and cognition

Professor Ianthi M. Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Much research in multilingualism and its effects on cognition and language ability has focused on individuals in western societies. Socioeconomic status, language of education and language prestige have been identified as some of the factors that appear to influence bi/multilingual individuals’ linguistic and cognitive profile although most research on the role of bilingualism on cognition has not capitalized on such factors. I will focus on multilingualism in India, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (UNESCO, 2009). Linguistic variation across Indian speakers is vast and includes variation in the number of home languages used, societal/community languages, official medium of instruction in schools and actual language practices in the classroom.

As language is the primary vehicle of education and learning, variation in any of the above measures of multilingualism can affect the language experience of the school child and have knock-on effects on the development of school skills (basic and higher literacy and numeracy), or cognition. Focusing on the data from 1200 children from urban primary schools in Delhi and Hyderabad and from rural areas in Patna, all from deprived or severely deprived socioeconomic backgrounds, I will try to disentangle how language experience and linguistic diversity in the child’s immediate environment (school, family, community) affect school skills and cognitive abilities.

Participants attend government primary schools in slum vs. non-slum urban areas of Delhi and Hyderabad, or town vs. rural areas in Patna, as part of a four-year, large-scale research project (MultiLila). They were assessed on mathematical reasoning, word, sentence and text reading, as well as non-verbal IQ, inhibition and complex working memory skills. Children attend English-medium or regional language medium schools (Hindi or Telugu), meaning that their assessment, textbooks and language used in the classroom is the official medium of instruction.

Although the language of textbooks and assessment match the official medium of instruction, language practices in the classroom include language mixing with English-only input ranging from zero to 40%, in English-medium schools. Taking into account the child’s home language(s) and the extent to which they are used in the classroom I will present the participants’ performance on linguistic, reasoning and cognitive skills. Results indicate a significant effect of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the cognitive and school skills of children from underprivileged socioeconomic background.

Bio:

Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli works on language development in the first and second language in children and adults, as well as on language impairment, attrition, bilingualism, language processing and the interaction between language, cognitive abilities and print exposure. She recently held the positions of Professor of Multilingualism and Cognition at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and the positions of Professor of Psycholinguistics and Director of the Language Development Lab at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Professor Tsimpli held a ‘Guest of the Rector’ Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences for six months in 2012, a Visiting Professorship for six months at the University of Cyprus in 2007, and a Visiting Scholar position at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg in 2005. She is Associate Editor of Lingua and member of the Editorial Board of the journals Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Second Language Research, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, Biolinguistics (e-journal), Journal of Greek Linguistics and of the Book Series “Language Acquisition and Language Disorders”.

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‘A teaching intervention may not reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and phonological awareness’

Dr Bene Bassetti (University of Birmingham)

The orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words can affect how L2 learners and L2 users pronounce L2 sounds, even after years of immersion in an L2 environment. It is however not known whether a training intervention can reduce such orthographic effects on L2 phonology. This paper will report the results of a study (Bassetti, Cerni & Masterson, under review) that investigated whether a teaching intervention can reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and awareness.

Previous studies found that Italian learners of L2 English produce and categorise the same English consonant as two different sounds: a short consonant if it is spelled with one letter, and as a geminate (a long consonant) if it is spelled with double letters. This is because in written double consonant letters represent geminates, and Italian native speakers therefore recode English double consonant letters. Bassetti and colleagues used a randomised controlled trial design, and allocated 100 Italian high-school students to a phonological intervention or a control group.

The teaching intervention group explored the correspondences between double letters and sound length in English, using reflection, explicit teaching and practice. The control group practiced the same English spoken and written words without mentions of orthography. All participants performed a delayed word repetition task and phonological awareness task twice, pre- and post-intervention. The teaching intervention had no effects. It appears that once orthographic effects on L2 phonology are established, they are difficult to eliminate, whether with extensive naturalistic exposure or with a teaching intervention.

Reference: Bassetti, B., Cerni, T., & Masterson, J. (under review) Efficacy of a teaching intervention to reduce the effects of orthographic forms on second language phonology: A randomized controlled trial

Bio: Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti leads Language and Condition at Birmingham (LACAB).

Nathan Thomas is an Applied Linguistics Tutor on the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT) course.

He also teaches on the MA TESOL (Pre-Service) course at the UCL Institute of Education, where he is completing his doctoral research under the dual supervision of Jim McKinley (UCL) and Heath Rose (Oxford).

His research focuses mainly on theoretical developments in the field of language learning strategies and on international students’ strategic learning in higher education. He is also involved in other projects pertaining to English medium instruction and English language teaching. His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, ELT Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, System, and TESOL Quarterly. He has also presented at more than 50 conferences in 14 countries all over the world.

Before his assuming his current roles, Nathan worked for ten years in China and Thailand, most recently as Director of English as a Foreign Language for a private educational consulting company in Beijing. He completed an MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (which is now the MSc ALLT at Oxford), MEd International Teaching, MA Applied Linguistics (ELT), BA English, and various teaching certificates, all while working full time.

For further information, please click here.

 

Publications

Bowen, N. & Thomas, N. (2020). Manipulating texture and cohesion in academic writing: A keystroke logging study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 50, 100773.

Pun, J. & Thomas, N. (2020). English medium instruction: Teachers challenges and coping strategies. ELT Journal, 74(3), 247-257.

Thomas, N. & Osment, C. (2020). Building on Dewaele’s (2018) L1 versus LX dichotomy: The Language-Usage-Identity State model. Applied Linguistics, 41(6), 1005-1010.

Zhang, L.J., Thomas, N., & Qin, T.L. (2019). Language learning strategy research in System: Looking back and looking forward. System, 84, 87-92.

Thomas, N., Rose, H., & Pojanapunya, P. (2019). Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings. Applied Linguistics Review (Advanced Access), 1-18.

Thomas, N. & Brereton, P. (2019). Pedagogical Implications: Practitioners respond to Michael Swan’s ‘Applied Linguistics: A consumer’s view.’ Language Teaching, 52(2), 275–278.

Thomas, N. & Rose, H. (2019). Do language learning strategies need to be self-directed? Disentangling strategies from self-regulated learning. TESOL Quarterly, 53(1), 248-257.

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Abstract: English-medium instruction (EMI) refers the practice of offering academic subjects taught through English in countries where English is not the first language of the majority of the population. The growth of EMI in higher education (HE) has been well-documented, and the driving forces behind EMI are intertwined with goals related to the internationalization of HE. Although EMI as a phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent decades, little research has explored EMI across global regions, particularly in countries in the Global South. This study aimed to investigate the current situation with regards to the introduction and expansion of EMI in HE in 52 countries designated as recipients on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list. In doing so, the study aimed to shed light on EMI provision in many countries which are relatively less resourced and under-researched. The study involved 3 stages of investigation: (1) a country-level analysis with data collected through open-ended questionnaires from informed respondents to investigate the introduction and expansion of EMI in the 52 ODA recipient countries; (2) a website analysis of purposively sampled universities to examine what information with regards to EMI programmes is available; and (3) a survey of key institutional players to explore additional information about EMI programmes offered worldwide. The data was analyzed to explore global and regional trends, and the findings offer insights into the admission requirements, professional development opportunities, international student enrolment, and driving forces behind EMI programs. Based on the findings, recommendations are offered for researchers and practitioners.

Bio: Kari Sahan is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and an Honorary Norham Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She completed her DPhil in 2020 from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher–student interaction and the use of the L1 in EMI classrooms. Her work has appeared in journals such as ELT Journal, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, System, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.

Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.

 

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Children are powerful statistical spellers: They can learn novel written patterns with phonological counterparts under experimental conditions, via implicit learning processes, akin to “statistical learning” processes established for spoken language acquisition. Can these mechanisms fully account for children’s knowledge of written patterns? How does this ability relate to literacy measures? How does it compare to explicit learning? I address these questions in a series of artificial lexicon experiments, inducing graphotactic learning under incidental and explicit conditions, and comparing it with measures of literacy. Previous studies assessed learning of spelling rules which have counterparts in spoken language; however, while this is also the case for some naturalistic spelling rules (e.g., English phonotactics prohibit word initial /ŋ/ and accordingly, written words cannot begin with ng), there are also purely visual constraints (graphotactics) (e.g., gz is an illegal spelling of a frequent word-final sound combination in English: *bagz). Can children learn patterns unconfounded from correlated phonotactics? Developing and skilled spellers were exposed to patterns replete of phonotactic cues. In post-tests, participants generalized over both positional constraints embedded in semiartificial strings, and contextual constraints created using homophonic non-word stimuli. This was demonstrated following passive exposure and even under meaningful (word learning) conditions, and success in learning graphotactics was not hindered by learning word meanings. However, the effect sizes across these experiments remained small, and the hypothesized positive associations between learning performance under incidental conditions and literacy measures were never observed. This relationship was only found under explicit conditions, when pattern generalization benefited. Investigation of age effects revealed that adults and children show similar patterns of learning but adults learn faster from matched text.

Bio: Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps. Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

 

PLEASE JOIN US ON TEAMS ON THE DAY OF THE EVENT.

Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps.

Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

Publications

Samara, Singh & Wonnacott (2019). Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental learning experiment with children. Cognition, Volume 182, 2019, Pages 25-30, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.005.

Singh, Samara & Wonnacott (accepted for publication in the Journal of Memory and Language). Statistical and explicit learning of graphotactic patterns with no phonological counterpart: Evidence from an artificial lexicon study with 7–8-year-olds and adults. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8px7n/.

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‘Plurilingual teaching and its effects on foreign language development

Professor Holger Hopp, Dr Jenny Jakisch and Sarah Sturm (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Research indicates that plurilingual teaching, i.e. integrating the learners’ (home) language repertoire into the teaching of a foreign language (FL), can improve FL achievement (Busse et al., 2019; Leonet et al., 2019). Against this background, we will present findings of a project in which a plurilingual approach to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) was implemented in four primary schools (year 4) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for 6 months. In each school, the English lessons of one group (intervention group) were extended by integrating the participants’ home languages whereas in the other group (comparison group) regular “monolingual” EFL lessons were conducted.

In our talk, we will present the research design as well as the teaching methods and materials that were used in the intervention group. We will also discuss how the young learners experienced the plurilingual lessons. Furthermore, we will show which effects the different teaching approaches had on the participants’ English achievement (vocabulary and grammar) and metalinguistic awareness by presenting data from longitudinal pre- and post-tests.

The data indicate that both monolingual and plurilingual participants gain FL competence during the 6-month intervention. However, the intervention group did not show differential learning gains compared to the comparison group. When testing for specific grammatical phenomena that were subject to instruction in the plurilingual lessons (e.g. questions), we found that the intervention group outperformed the control group. We conclude that addressing specific learners‘ plurilingual resources may support them in learning a foreign language. In our talk, we discuss the results and the potentials of plurilingual foreign language teaching.

References: Busse, V., Cenoz, J., Dalmann, N., & Rogge, F. (2019). Addressing Linguistic Diversity in the Language Classroom in a Resource‐Oriented Way: An Intervention Study With Primary School Children. Language Learning, 31(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12382

Leonet, O., Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2019). Developing morphological awareness across languages: translanguaging pedagogies in third language acquisition. Language Awareness, 79(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2019.1688338

Bios:

Holger Hopp: Holger Hopp is a professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany). In his research, he investigates child and adult L2/3 acquisition and processing as well as heritage language acquisition and attrition. He uses several psycholinguistic methods to determine the directionality, scope and degree of cross-linguistic influence in bi- and multilingual speakers of different ages.

Jenny Jakisch: Jenny Jakisch is lecturer and researcher at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her PhD dealt with the role of English language teaching (ELT) for fostering multilingualism. Her current research interests include teacher education, classroom management and inclusive ELT.

Sarah Sturm: Sarah Sturm is a research assistant and PhD student at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her research interests include multilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language (with a focus on young learners) and learning strategies. In her PhD project, she is investigating the use of language learning strategies by young multilingual foreign language learners.

 

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‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Professor Jenni Rodd (UCL)

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

Bio: Professor Jenni Rodd conducts research into how we understand the meanings of the words that we hear or read, and how we combine together the information from individual words to construct representations of the meanings of sentences. She has a particular interest in how we use our recent and long-term experience with language to improve the efficiency of these processes. She is the director of The Word Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL.

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‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: literacy and cognition

Professor Ianthi M. Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Much research in multilingualism and its effects on cognition and language ability has focused on individuals in western societies. Socioeconomic status, language of education and language prestige have been identified as some of the factors that appear to influence bi/multilingual individuals’ linguistic and cognitive profile although most research on the role of bilingualism on cognition has not capitalized on such factors. I will focus on multilingualism in India, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (UNESCO, 2009). Linguistic variation across Indian speakers is vast and includes variation in the number of home languages used, societal/community languages, official medium of instruction in schools and actual language practices in the classroom.

As language is the primary vehicle of education and learning, variation in any of the above measures of multilingualism can affect the language experience of the school child and have knock-on effects on the development of school skills (basic and higher literacy and numeracy), or cognition. Focusing on the data from 1200 children from urban primary schools in Delhi and Hyderabad and from rural areas in Patna, all from deprived or severely deprived socioeconomic backgrounds, I will try to disentangle how language experience and linguistic diversity in the child’s immediate environment (school, family, community) affect school skills and cognitive abilities.

Participants attend government primary schools in slum vs. non-slum urban areas of Delhi and Hyderabad, or town vs. rural areas in Patna, as part of a four-year, large-scale research project (MultiLila). They were assessed on mathematical reasoning, word, sentence and text reading, as well as non-verbal IQ, inhibition and complex working memory skills. Children attend English-medium or regional language medium schools (Hindi or Telugu), meaning that their assessment, textbooks and language used in the classroom is the official medium of instruction.

Although the language of textbooks and assessment match the official medium of instruction, language practices in the classroom include language mixing with English-only input ranging from zero to 40%, in English-medium schools. Taking into account the child’s home language(s) and the extent to which they are used in the classroom I will present the participants’ performance on linguistic, reasoning and cognitive skills. Results indicate a significant effect of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the cognitive and school skills of children from underprivileged socioeconomic background.

Bio:

Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli works on language development in the first and second language in children and adults, as well as on language impairment, attrition, bilingualism, language processing and the interaction between language, cognitive abilities and print exposure. She recently held the positions of Professor of Multilingualism and Cognition at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and the positions of Professor of Psycholinguistics and Director of the Language Development Lab at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Professor Tsimpli held a ‘Guest of the Rector’ Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences for six months in 2012, a Visiting Professorship for six months at the University of Cyprus in 2007, and a Visiting Scholar position at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg in 2005. She is Associate Editor of Lingua and member of the Editorial Board of the journals Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Second Language Research, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, Biolinguistics (e-journal), Journal of Greek Linguistics and of the Book Series “Language Acquisition and Language Disorders”.

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‘A teaching intervention may not reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and phonological awareness’

Dr Bene Bassetti (University of Birmingham)

The orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words can affect how L2 learners and L2 users pronounce L2 sounds, even after years of immersion in an L2 environment. It is however not known whether a training intervention can reduce such orthographic effects on L2 phonology. This paper will report the results of a study (Bassetti, Cerni & Masterson, under review) that investigated whether a teaching intervention can reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and awareness.

Previous studies found that Italian learners of L2 English produce and categorise the same English consonant as two different sounds: a short consonant if it is spelled with one letter, and as a geminate (a long consonant) if it is spelled with double letters. This is because in written double consonant letters represent geminates, and Italian native speakers therefore recode English double consonant letters. Bassetti and colleagues used a randomised controlled trial design, and allocated 100 Italian high-school students to a phonological intervention or a control group.

The teaching intervention group explored the correspondences between double letters and sound length in English, using reflection, explicit teaching and practice. The control group practiced the same English spoken and written words without mentions of orthography. All participants performed a delayed word repetition task and phonological awareness task twice, pre- and post-intervention. The teaching intervention had no effects. It appears that once orthographic effects on L2 phonology are established, they are difficult to eliminate, whether with extensive naturalistic exposure or with a teaching intervention.

Reference: Bassetti, B., Cerni, T., & Masterson, J. (under review) Efficacy of a teaching intervention to reduce the effects of orthographic forms on second language phonology: A randomized controlled trial

Bio: Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti leads Language and Condition at Birmingham (LACAB).

Nathan Thomas is an Applied Linguistics Tutor on the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT) course.

He also teaches on the MA TESOL (Pre-Service) course at the UCL Institute of Education, where he is completing his doctoral research under the dual supervision of Jim McKinley (UCL) and Heath Rose (Oxford).

His research focuses mainly on theoretical developments in the field of language learning strategies and on international students’ strategic learning in higher education. He is also involved in other projects pertaining to English medium instruction and English language teaching. His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, ELT Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, System, and TESOL Quarterly. He has also presented at more than 50 conferences in 14 countries all over the world.

Before his assuming his current roles, Nathan worked for ten years in China and Thailand, most recently as Director of English as a Foreign Language for a private educational consulting company in Beijing. He completed an MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (which is now the MSc ALLT at Oxford), MEd International Teaching, MA Applied Linguistics (ELT), BA English, and various teaching certificates, all while working full time.

For further information, please click here.

 

Publications

Bowen, N. & Thomas, N. (2020). Manipulating texture and cohesion in academic writing: A keystroke logging study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 50, 100773.

Pun, J. & Thomas, N. (2020). English medium instruction: Teachers challenges and coping strategies. ELT Journal, 74(3), 247-257.

Thomas, N. & Osment, C. (2020). Building on Dewaele’s (2018) L1 versus LX dichotomy: The Language-Usage-Identity State model. Applied Linguistics, 41(6), 1005-1010.

Zhang, L.J., Thomas, N., & Qin, T.L. (2019). Language learning strategy research in System: Looking back and looking forward. System, 84, 87-92.

Thomas, N., Rose, H., & Pojanapunya, P. (2019). Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings. Applied Linguistics Review (Advanced Access), 1-18.

Thomas, N. & Brereton, P. (2019). Pedagogical Implications: Practitioners respond to Michael Swan’s ‘Applied Linguistics: A consumer’s view.’ Language Teaching, 52(2), 275–278.

Thomas, N. & Rose, H. (2019). Do language learning strategies need to be self-directed? Disentangling strategies from self-regulated learning. TESOL Quarterly, 53(1), 248-257.

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Abstract: English-medium instruction (EMI) refers the practice of offering academic subjects taught through English in countries where English is not the first language of the majority of the population. The growth of EMI in higher education (HE) has been well-documented, and the driving forces behind EMI are intertwined with goals related to the internationalization of HE. Although EMI as a phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent decades, little research has explored EMI across global regions, particularly in countries in the Global South. This study aimed to investigate the current situation with regards to the introduction and expansion of EMI in HE in 52 countries designated as recipients on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list. In doing so, the study aimed to shed light on EMI provision in many countries which are relatively less resourced and under-researched. The study involved 3 stages of investigation: (1) a country-level analysis with data collected through open-ended questionnaires from informed respondents to investigate the introduction and expansion of EMI in the 52 ODA recipient countries; (2) a website analysis of purposively sampled universities to examine what information with regards to EMI programmes is available; and (3) a survey of key institutional players to explore additional information about EMI programmes offered worldwide. The data was analyzed to explore global and regional trends, and the findings offer insights into the admission requirements, professional development opportunities, international student enrolment, and driving forces behind EMI programs. Based on the findings, recommendations are offered for researchers and practitioners.

Bio: Kari Sahan is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and an Honorary Norham Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She completed her DPhil in 2020 from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher–student interaction and the use of the L1 in EMI classrooms. Her work has appeared in journals such as ELT Journal, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, System, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.

Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.

 

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Children are powerful statistical spellers: They can learn novel written patterns with phonological counterparts under experimental conditions, via implicit learning processes, akin to “statistical learning” processes established for spoken language acquisition. Can these mechanisms fully account for children’s knowledge of written patterns? How does this ability relate to literacy measures? How does it compare to explicit learning? I address these questions in a series of artificial lexicon experiments, inducing graphotactic learning under incidental and explicit conditions, and comparing it with measures of literacy. Previous studies assessed learning of spelling rules which have counterparts in spoken language; however, while this is also the case for some naturalistic spelling rules (e.g., English phonotactics prohibit word initial /ŋ/ and accordingly, written words cannot begin with ng), there are also purely visual constraints (graphotactics) (e.g., gz is an illegal spelling of a frequent word-final sound combination in English: *bagz). Can children learn patterns unconfounded from correlated phonotactics? Developing and skilled spellers were exposed to patterns replete of phonotactic cues. In post-tests, participants generalized over both positional constraints embedded in semiartificial strings, and contextual constraints created using homophonic non-word stimuli. This was demonstrated following passive exposure and even under meaningful (word learning) conditions, and success in learning graphotactics was not hindered by learning word meanings. However, the effect sizes across these experiments remained small, and the hypothesized positive associations between learning performance under incidental conditions and literacy measures were never observed. This relationship was only found under explicit conditions, when pattern generalization benefited. Investigation of age effects revealed that adults and children show similar patterns of learning but adults learn faster from matched text.

Bio: Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps. Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

 

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Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps.

Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

Publications

Samara, Singh & Wonnacott (2019). Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental learning experiment with children. Cognition, Volume 182, 2019, Pages 25-30, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.005.

Singh, Samara & Wonnacott (accepted for publication in the Journal of Memory and Language). Statistical and explicit learning of graphotactic patterns with no phonological counterpart: Evidence from an artificial lexicon study with 7–8-year-olds and adults. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8px7n/.

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‘Plurilingual teaching and its effects on foreign language development

Professor Holger Hopp, Dr Jenny Jakisch and Sarah Sturm (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Research indicates that plurilingual teaching, i.e. integrating the learners’ (home) language repertoire into the teaching of a foreign language (FL), can improve FL achievement (Busse et al., 2019; Leonet et al., 2019). Against this background, we will present findings of a project in which a plurilingual approach to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) was implemented in four primary schools (year 4) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for 6 months. In each school, the English lessons of one group (intervention group) were extended by integrating the participants’ home languages whereas in the other group (comparison group) regular “monolingual” EFL lessons were conducted.

In our talk, we will present the research design as well as the teaching methods and materials that were used in the intervention group. We will also discuss how the young learners experienced the plurilingual lessons. Furthermore, we will show which effects the different teaching approaches had on the participants’ English achievement (vocabulary and grammar) and metalinguistic awareness by presenting data from longitudinal pre- and post-tests.

The data indicate that both monolingual and plurilingual participants gain FL competence during the 6-month intervention. However, the intervention group did not show differential learning gains compared to the comparison group. When testing for specific grammatical phenomena that were subject to instruction in the plurilingual lessons (e.g. questions), we found that the intervention group outperformed the control group. We conclude that addressing specific learners‘ plurilingual resources may support them in learning a foreign language. In our talk, we discuss the results and the potentials of plurilingual foreign language teaching.

References: Busse, V., Cenoz, J., Dalmann, N., & Rogge, F. (2019). Addressing Linguistic Diversity in the Language Classroom in a Resource‐Oriented Way: An Intervention Study With Primary School Children. Language Learning, 31(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12382

Leonet, O., Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2019). Developing morphological awareness across languages: translanguaging pedagogies in third language acquisition. Language Awareness, 79(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2019.1688338

Bios:

Holger Hopp: Holger Hopp is a professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany). In his research, he investigates child and adult L2/3 acquisition and processing as well as heritage language acquisition and attrition. He uses several psycholinguistic methods to determine the directionality, scope and degree of cross-linguistic influence in bi- and multilingual speakers of different ages.

Jenny Jakisch: Jenny Jakisch is lecturer and researcher at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her PhD dealt with the role of English language teaching (ELT) for fostering multilingualism. Her current research interests include teacher education, classroom management and inclusive ELT.

Sarah Sturm: Sarah Sturm is a research assistant and PhD student at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her research interests include multilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language (with a focus on young learners) and learning strategies. In her PhD project, she is investigating the use of language learning strategies by young multilingual foreign language learners.

 

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‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Professor Jenni Rodd (UCL)

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

Bio: Professor Jenni Rodd conducts research into how we understand the meanings of the words that we hear or read, and how we combine together the information from individual words to construct representations of the meanings of sentences. She has a particular interest in how we use our recent and long-term experience with language to improve the efficiency of these processes. She is the director of The Word Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL.

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‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: literacy and cognition

Professor Ianthi M. Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Much research in multilingualism and its effects on cognition and language ability has focused on individuals in western societies. Socioeconomic status, language of education and language prestige have been identified as some of the factors that appear to influence bi/multilingual individuals’ linguistic and cognitive profile although most research on the role of bilingualism on cognition has not capitalized on such factors. I will focus on multilingualism in India, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (UNESCO, 2009). Linguistic variation across Indian speakers is vast and includes variation in the number of home languages used, societal/community languages, official medium of instruction in schools and actual language practices in the classroom.

As language is the primary vehicle of education and learning, variation in any of the above measures of multilingualism can affect the language experience of the school child and have knock-on effects on the development of school skills (basic and higher literacy and numeracy), or cognition. Focusing on the data from 1200 children from urban primary schools in Delhi and Hyderabad and from rural areas in Patna, all from deprived or severely deprived socioeconomic backgrounds, I will try to disentangle how language experience and linguistic diversity in the child’s immediate environment (school, family, community) affect school skills and cognitive abilities.

Participants attend government primary schools in slum vs. non-slum urban areas of Delhi and Hyderabad, or town vs. rural areas in Patna, as part of a four-year, large-scale research project (MultiLila). They were assessed on mathematical reasoning, word, sentence and text reading, as well as non-verbal IQ, inhibition and complex working memory skills. Children attend English-medium or regional language medium schools (Hindi or Telugu), meaning that their assessment, textbooks and language used in the classroom is the official medium of instruction.

Although the language of textbooks and assessment match the official medium of instruction, language practices in the classroom include language mixing with English-only input ranging from zero to 40%, in English-medium schools. Taking into account the child’s home language(s) and the extent to which they are used in the classroom I will present the participants’ performance on linguistic, reasoning and cognitive skills. Results indicate a significant effect of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the cognitive and school skills of children from underprivileged socioeconomic background.

Bio:

Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli works on language development in the first and second language in children and adults, as well as on language impairment, attrition, bilingualism, language processing and the interaction between language, cognitive abilities and print exposure. She recently held the positions of Professor of Multilingualism and Cognition at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and the positions of Professor of Psycholinguistics and Director of the Language Development Lab at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Professor Tsimpli held a ‘Guest of the Rector’ Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences for six months in 2012, a Visiting Professorship for six months at the University of Cyprus in 2007, and a Visiting Scholar position at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg in 2005. She is Associate Editor of Lingua and member of the Editorial Board of the journals Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Second Language Research, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, Biolinguistics (e-journal), Journal of Greek Linguistics and of the Book Series “Language Acquisition and Language Disorders”.

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‘A teaching intervention may not reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and phonological awareness’

Dr Bene Bassetti (University of Birmingham)

The orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words can affect how L2 learners and L2 users pronounce L2 sounds, even after years of immersion in an L2 environment. It is however not known whether a training intervention can reduce such orthographic effects on L2 phonology. This paper will report the results of a study (Bassetti, Cerni & Masterson, under review) that investigated whether a teaching intervention can reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and awareness.

Previous studies found that Italian learners of L2 English produce and categorise the same English consonant as two different sounds: a short consonant if it is spelled with one letter, and as a geminate (a long consonant) if it is spelled with double letters. This is because in written double consonant letters represent geminates, and Italian native speakers therefore recode English double consonant letters. Bassetti and colleagues used a randomised controlled trial design, and allocated 100 Italian high-school students to a phonological intervention or a control group.

The teaching intervention group explored the correspondences between double letters and sound length in English, using reflection, explicit teaching and practice. The control group practiced the same English spoken and written words without mentions of orthography. All participants performed a delayed word repetition task and phonological awareness task twice, pre- and post-intervention. The teaching intervention had no effects. It appears that once orthographic effects on L2 phonology are established, they are difficult to eliminate, whether with extensive naturalistic exposure or with a teaching intervention.

Reference: Bassetti, B., Cerni, T., & Masterson, J. (under review) Efficacy of a teaching intervention to reduce the effects of orthographic forms on second language phonology: A randomized controlled trial

Bio: Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti leads Language and Condition at Birmingham (LACAB).

Nathan Thomas is an Applied Linguistics Tutor on the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT) course.

He also teaches on the MA TESOL (Pre-Service) course at the UCL Institute of Education, where he is completing his doctoral research under the dual supervision of Jim McKinley (UCL) and Heath Rose (Oxford).

His research focuses mainly on theoretical developments in the field of language learning strategies and on international students’ strategic learning in higher education. He is also involved in other projects pertaining to English medium instruction and English language teaching. His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, ELT Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, System, and TESOL Quarterly. He has also presented at more than 50 conferences in 14 countries all over the world.

Before his assuming his current roles, Nathan worked for ten years in China and Thailand, most recently as Director of English as a Foreign Language for a private educational consulting company in Beijing. He completed an MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (which is now the MSc ALLT at Oxford), MEd International Teaching, MA Applied Linguistics (ELT), BA English, and various teaching certificates, all while working full time.

For further information, please click here.

 

Publications

Bowen, N. & Thomas, N. (2020). Manipulating texture and cohesion in academic writing: A keystroke logging study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 50, 100773.

Pun, J. & Thomas, N. (2020). English medium instruction: Teachers challenges and coping strategies. ELT Journal, 74(3), 247-257.

Thomas, N. & Osment, C. (2020). Building on Dewaele’s (2018) L1 versus LX dichotomy: The Language-Usage-Identity State model. Applied Linguistics, 41(6), 1005-1010.

Zhang, L.J., Thomas, N., & Qin, T.L. (2019). Language learning strategy research in System: Looking back and looking forward. System, 84, 87-92.

Thomas, N., Rose, H., & Pojanapunya, P. (2019). Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings. Applied Linguistics Review (Advanced Access), 1-18.

Thomas, N. & Brereton, P. (2019). Pedagogical Implications: Practitioners respond to Michael Swan’s ‘Applied Linguistics: A consumer’s view.’ Language Teaching, 52(2), 275–278.

Thomas, N. & Rose, H. (2019). Do language learning strategies need to be self-directed? Disentangling strategies from self-regulated learning. TESOL Quarterly, 53(1), 248-257.

PLEASE JOIN US THE DAY OF THE EVENT VIA TEAMS.

Abstract: English-medium instruction (EMI) refers the practice of offering academic subjects taught through English in countries where English is not the first language of the majority of the population. The growth of EMI in higher education (HE) has been well-documented, and the driving forces behind EMI are intertwined with goals related to the internationalization of HE. Although EMI as a phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent decades, little research has explored EMI across global regions, particularly in countries in the Global South. This study aimed to investigate the current situation with regards to the introduction and expansion of EMI in HE in 52 countries designated as recipients on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list. In doing so, the study aimed to shed light on EMI provision in many countries which are relatively less resourced and under-researched. The study involved 3 stages of investigation: (1) a country-level analysis with data collected through open-ended questionnaires from informed respondents to investigate the introduction and expansion of EMI in the 52 ODA recipient countries; (2) a website analysis of purposively sampled universities to examine what information with regards to EMI programmes is available; and (3) a survey of key institutional players to explore additional information about EMI programmes offered worldwide. The data was analyzed to explore global and regional trends, and the findings offer insights into the admission requirements, professional development opportunities, international student enrolment, and driving forces behind EMI programs. Based on the findings, recommendations are offered for researchers and practitioners.

Bio: Kari Sahan is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and an Honorary Norham Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She completed her DPhil in 2020 from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher–student interaction and the use of the L1 in EMI classrooms. Her work has appeared in journals such as ELT Journal, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, System, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.

Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.

 

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Children are powerful statistical spellers: They can learn novel written patterns with phonological counterparts under experimental conditions, via implicit learning processes, akin to “statistical learning” processes established for spoken language acquisition. Can these mechanisms fully account for children’s knowledge of written patterns? How does this ability relate to literacy measures? How does it compare to explicit learning? I address these questions in a series of artificial lexicon experiments, inducing graphotactic learning under incidental and explicit conditions, and comparing it with measures of literacy. Previous studies assessed learning of spelling rules which have counterparts in spoken language; however, while this is also the case for some naturalistic spelling rules (e.g., English phonotactics prohibit word initial /ŋ/ and accordingly, written words cannot begin with ng), there are also purely visual constraints (graphotactics) (e.g., gz is an illegal spelling of a frequent word-final sound combination in English: *bagz). Can children learn patterns unconfounded from correlated phonotactics? Developing and skilled spellers were exposed to patterns replete of phonotactic cues. In post-tests, participants generalized over both positional constraints embedded in semiartificial strings, and contextual constraints created using homophonic non-word stimuli. This was demonstrated following passive exposure and even under meaningful (word learning) conditions, and success in learning graphotactics was not hindered by learning word meanings. However, the effect sizes across these experiments remained small, and the hypothesized positive associations between learning performance under incidental conditions and literacy measures were never observed. This relationship was only found under explicit conditions, when pattern generalization benefited. Investigation of age effects revealed that adults and children show similar patterns of learning but adults learn faster from matched text.

Bio: Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps. Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

 

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Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps.

Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

Publications

Samara, Singh & Wonnacott (2019). Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental learning experiment with children. Cognition, Volume 182, 2019, Pages 25-30, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.005.

Singh, Samara & Wonnacott (accepted for publication in the Journal of Memory and Language). Statistical and explicit learning of graphotactic patterns with no phonological counterpart: Evidence from an artificial lexicon study with 7–8-year-olds and adults. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8px7n/.

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‘Plurilingual teaching and its effects on foreign language development

Professor Holger Hopp, Dr Jenny Jakisch and Sarah Sturm (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Research indicates that plurilingual teaching, i.e. integrating the learners’ (home) language repertoire into the teaching of a foreign language (FL), can improve FL achievement (Busse et al., 2019; Leonet et al., 2019). Against this background, we will present findings of a project in which a plurilingual approach to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) was implemented in four primary schools (year 4) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for 6 months. In each school, the English lessons of one group (intervention group) were extended by integrating the participants’ home languages whereas in the other group (comparison group) regular “monolingual” EFL lessons were conducted.

In our talk, we will present the research design as well as the teaching methods and materials that were used in the intervention group. We will also discuss how the young learners experienced the plurilingual lessons. Furthermore, we will show which effects the different teaching approaches had on the participants’ English achievement (vocabulary and grammar) and metalinguistic awareness by presenting data from longitudinal pre- and post-tests.

The data indicate that both monolingual and plurilingual participants gain FL competence during the 6-month intervention. However, the intervention group did not show differential learning gains compared to the comparison group. When testing for specific grammatical phenomena that were subject to instruction in the plurilingual lessons (e.g. questions), we found that the intervention group outperformed the control group. We conclude that addressing specific learners‘ plurilingual resources may support them in learning a foreign language. In our talk, we discuss the results and the potentials of plurilingual foreign language teaching.

References: Busse, V., Cenoz, J., Dalmann, N., & Rogge, F. (2019). Addressing Linguistic Diversity in the Language Classroom in a Resource‐Oriented Way: An Intervention Study With Primary School Children. Language Learning, 31(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12382

Leonet, O., Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2019). Developing morphological awareness across languages: translanguaging pedagogies in third language acquisition. Language Awareness, 79(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2019.1688338

Bios:

Holger Hopp: Holger Hopp is a professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany). In his research, he investigates child and adult L2/3 acquisition and processing as well as heritage language acquisition and attrition. He uses several psycholinguistic methods to determine the directionality, scope and degree of cross-linguistic influence in bi- and multilingual speakers of different ages.

Jenny Jakisch: Jenny Jakisch is lecturer and researcher at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her PhD dealt with the role of English language teaching (ELT) for fostering multilingualism. Her current research interests include teacher education, classroom management and inclusive ELT.

Sarah Sturm: Sarah Sturm is a research assistant and PhD student at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her research interests include multilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language (with a focus on young learners) and learning strategies. In her PhD project, she is investigating the use of language learning strategies by young multilingual foreign language learners.

 

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‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Professor Jenni Rodd (UCL)

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

Bio: Professor Jenni Rodd conducts research into how we understand the meanings of the words that we hear or read, and how we combine together the information from individual words to construct representations of the meanings of sentences. She has a particular interest in how we use our recent and long-term experience with language to improve the efficiency of these processes. She is the director of The Word Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL.

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‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: literacy and cognition

Professor Ianthi M. Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Much research in multilingualism and its effects on cognition and language ability has focused on individuals in western societies. Socioeconomic status, language of education and language prestige have been identified as some of the factors that appear to influence bi/multilingual individuals’ linguistic and cognitive profile although most research on the role of bilingualism on cognition has not capitalized on such factors. I will focus on multilingualism in India, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (UNESCO, 2009). Linguistic variation across Indian speakers is vast and includes variation in the number of home languages used, societal/community languages, official medium of instruction in schools and actual language practices in the classroom.

As language is the primary vehicle of education and learning, variation in any of the above measures of multilingualism can affect the language experience of the school child and have knock-on effects on the development of school skills (basic and higher literacy and numeracy), or cognition. Focusing on the data from 1200 children from urban primary schools in Delhi and Hyderabad and from rural areas in Patna, all from deprived or severely deprived socioeconomic backgrounds, I will try to disentangle how language experience and linguistic diversity in the child’s immediate environment (school, family, community) affect school skills and cognitive abilities.

Participants attend government primary schools in slum vs. non-slum urban areas of Delhi and Hyderabad, or town vs. rural areas in Patna, as part of a four-year, large-scale research project (MultiLila). They were assessed on mathematical reasoning, word, sentence and text reading, as well as non-verbal IQ, inhibition and complex working memory skills. Children attend English-medium or regional language medium schools (Hindi or Telugu), meaning that their assessment, textbooks and language used in the classroom is the official medium of instruction.

Although the language of textbooks and assessment match the official medium of instruction, language practices in the classroom include language mixing with English-only input ranging from zero to 40%, in English-medium schools. Taking into account the child’s home language(s) and the extent to which they are used in the classroom I will present the participants’ performance on linguistic, reasoning and cognitive skills. Results indicate a significant effect of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the cognitive and school skills of children from underprivileged socioeconomic background.

Bio:

Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli works on language development in the first and second language in children and adults, as well as on language impairment, attrition, bilingualism, language processing and the interaction between language, cognitive abilities and print exposure. She recently held the positions of Professor of Multilingualism and Cognition at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and the positions of Professor of Psycholinguistics and Director of the Language Development Lab at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Professor Tsimpli held a ‘Guest of the Rector’ Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences for six months in 2012, a Visiting Professorship for six months at the University of Cyprus in 2007, and a Visiting Scholar position at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg in 2005. She is Associate Editor of Lingua and member of the Editorial Board of the journals Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Second Language Research, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, Biolinguistics (e-journal), Journal of Greek Linguistics and of the Book Series “Language Acquisition and Language Disorders”.

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‘A teaching intervention may not reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and phonological awareness’

Dr Bene Bassetti (University of Birmingham)

The orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words can affect how L2 learners and L2 users pronounce L2 sounds, even after years of immersion in an L2 environment. It is however not known whether a training intervention can reduce such orthographic effects on L2 phonology. This paper will report the results of a study (Bassetti, Cerni & Masterson, under review) that investigated whether a teaching intervention can reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and awareness.

Previous studies found that Italian learners of L2 English produce and categorise the same English consonant as two different sounds: a short consonant if it is spelled with one letter, and as a geminate (a long consonant) if it is spelled with double letters. This is because in written double consonant letters represent geminates, and Italian native speakers therefore recode English double consonant letters. Bassetti and colleagues used a randomised controlled trial design, and allocated 100 Italian high-school students to a phonological intervention or a control group.

The teaching intervention group explored the correspondences between double letters and sound length in English, using reflection, explicit teaching and practice. The control group practiced the same English spoken and written words without mentions of orthography. All participants performed a delayed word repetition task and phonological awareness task twice, pre- and post-intervention. The teaching intervention had no effects. It appears that once orthographic effects on L2 phonology are established, they are difficult to eliminate, whether with extensive naturalistic exposure or with a teaching intervention.

Reference: Bassetti, B., Cerni, T., & Masterson, J. (under review) Efficacy of a teaching intervention to reduce the effects of orthographic forms on second language phonology: A randomized controlled trial

Bio: Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti leads Language and Condition at Birmingham (LACAB).

Nathan Thomas is an Applied Linguistics Tutor on the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT) course.

He also teaches on the MA TESOL (Pre-Service) course at the UCL Institute of Education, where he is completing his doctoral research under the dual supervision of Jim McKinley (UCL) and Heath Rose (Oxford).

His research focuses mainly on theoretical developments in the field of language learning strategies and on international students’ strategic learning in higher education. He is also involved in other projects pertaining to English medium instruction and English language teaching. His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, ELT Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, System, and TESOL Quarterly. He has also presented at more than 50 conferences in 14 countries all over the world.

Before his assuming his current roles, Nathan worked for ten years in China and Thailand, most recently as Director of English as a Foreign Language for a private educational consulting company in Beijing. He completed an MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (which is now the MSc ALLT at Oxford), MEd International Teaching, MA Applied Linguistics (ELT), BA English, and various teaching certificates, all while working full time.

For further information, please click here.

 

Publications

Bowen, N. & Thomas, N. (2020). Manipulating texture and cohesion in academic writing: A keystroke logging study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 50, 100773.

Pun, J. & Thomas, N. (2020). English medium instruction: Teachers challenges and coping strategies. ELT Journal, 74(3), 247-257.

Thomas, N. & Osment, C. (2020). Building on Dewaele’s (2018) L1 versus LX dichotomy: The Language-Usage-Identity State model. Applied Linguistics, 41(6), 1005-1010.

Zhang, L.J., Thomas, N., & Qin, T.L. (2019). Language learning strategy research in System: Looking back and looking forward. System, 84, 87-92.

Thomas, N., Rose, H., & Pojanapunya, P. (2019). Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings. Applied Linguistics Review (Advanced Access), 1-18.

Thomas, N. & Brereton, P. (2019). Pedagogical Implications: Practitioners respond to Michael Swan’s ‘Applied Linguistics: A consumer’s view.’ Language Teaching, 52(2), 275–278.

Thomas, N. & Rose, H. (2019). Do language learning strategies need to be self-directed? Disentangling strategies from self-regulated learning. TESOL Quarterly, 53(1), 248-257.

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Abstract: English-medium instruction (EMI) refers the practice of offering academic subjects taught through English in countries where English is not the first language of the majority of the population. The growth of EMI in higher education (HE) has been well-documented, and the driving forces behind EMI are intertwined with goals related to the internationalization of HE. Although EMI as a phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent decades, little research has explored EMI across global regions, particularly in countries in the Global South. This study aimed to investigate the current situation with regards to the introduction and expansion of EMI in HE in 52 countries designated as recipients on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list. In doing so, the study aimed to shed light on EMI provision in many countries which are relatively less resourced and under-researched. The study involved 3 stages of investigation: (1) a country-level analysis with data collected through open-ended questionnaires from informed respondents to investigate the introduction and expansion of EMI in the 52 ODA recipient countries; (2) a website analysis of purposively sampled universities to examine what information with regards to EMI programmes is available; and (3) a survey of key institutional players to explore additional information about EMI programmes offered worldwide. The data was analyzed to explore global and regional trends, and the findings offer insights into the admission requirements, professional development opportunities, international student enrolment, and driving forces behind EMI programs. Based on the findings, recommendations are offered for researchers and practitioners.

Bio: Kari Sahan is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and an Honorary Norham Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She completed her DPhil in 2020 from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher–student interaction and the use of the L1 in EMI classrooms. Her work has appeared in journals such as ELT Journal, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, System, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.

Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.

 

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Children are powerful statistical spellers: They can learn novel written patterns with phonological counterparts under experimental conditions, via implicit learning processes, akin to “statistical learning” processes established for spoken language acquisition. Can these mechanisms fully account for children’s knowledge of written patterns? How does this ability relate to literacy measures? How does it compare to explicit learning? I address these questions in a series of artificial lexicon experiments, inducing graphotactic learning under incidental and explicit conditions, and comparing it with measures of literacy. Previous studies assessed learning of spelling rules which have counterparts in spoken language; however, while this is also the case for some naturalistic spelling rules (e.g., English phonotactics prohibit word initial /ŋ/ and accordingly, written words cannot begin with ng), there are also purely visual constraints (graphotactics) (e.g., gz is an illegal spelling of a frequent word-final sound combination in English: *bagz). Can children learn patterns unconfounded from correlated phonotactics? Developing and skilled spellers were exposed to patterns replete of phonotactic cues. In post-tests, participants generalized over both positional constraints embedded in semiartificial strings, and contextual constraints created using homophonic non-word stimuli. This was demonstrated following passive exposure and even under meaningful (word learning) conditions, and success in learning graphotactics was not hindered by learning word meanings. However, the effect sizes across these experiments remained small, and the hypothesized positive associations between learning performance under incidental conditions and literacy measures were never observed. This relationship was only found under explicit conditions, when pattern generalization benefited. Investigation of age effects revealed that adults and children show similar patterns of learning but adults learn faster from matched text.

Bio: Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps. Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

 

PLEASE JOIN US ON TEAMS ON THE DAY OF THE EVENT.

Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps.

Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

Publications

Samara, Singh & Wonnacott (2019). Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental learning experiment with children. Cognition, Volume 182, 2019, Pages 25-30, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.005.

Singh, Samara & Wonnacott (accepted for publication in the Journal of Memory and Language). Statistical and explicit learning of graphotactic patterns with no phonological counterpart: Evidence from an artificial lexicon study with 7–8-year-olds and adults. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8px7n/.

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‘Plurilingual teaching and its effects on foreign language development

Professor Holger Hopp, Dr Jenny Jakisch and Sarah Sturm (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Research indicates that plurilingual teaching, i.e. integrating the learners’ (home) language repertoire into the teaching of a foreign language (FL), can improve FL achievement (Busse et al., 2019; Leonet et al., 2019). Against this background, we will present findings of a project in which a plurilingual approach to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) was implemented in four primary schools (year 4) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for 6 months. In each school, the English lessons of one group (intervention group) were extended by integrating the participants’ home languages whereas in the other group (comparison group) regular “monolingual” EFL lessons were conducted.

In our talk, we will present the research design as well as the teaching methods and materials that were used in the intervention group. We will also discuss how the young learners experienced the plurilingual lessons. Furthermore, we will show which effects the different teaching approaches had on the participants’ English achievement (vocabulary and grammar) and metalinguistic awareness by presenting data from longitudinal pre- and post-tests.

The data indicate that both monolingual and plurilingual participants gain FL competence during the 6-month intervention. However, the intervention group did not show differential learning gains compared to the comparison group. When testing for specific grammatical phenomena that were subject to instruction in the plurilingual lessons (e.g. questions), we found that the intervention group outperformed the control group. We conclude that addressing specific learners‘ plurilingual resources may support them in learning a foreign language. In our talk, we discuss the results and the potentials of plurilingual foreign language teaching.

References: Busse, V., Cenoz, J., Dalmann, N., & Rogge, F. (2019). Addressing Linguistic Diversity in the Language Classroom in a Resource‐Oriented Way: An Intervention Study With Primary School Children. Language Learning, 31(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12382

Leonet, O., Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2019). Developing morphological awareness across languages: translanguaging pedagogies in third language acquisition. Language Awareness, 79(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2019.1688338

Bios:

Holger Hopp: Holger Hopp is a professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany). In his research, he investigates child and adult L2/3 acquisition and processing as well as heritage language acquisition and attrition. He uses several psycholinguistic methods to determine the directionality, scope and degree of cross-linguistic influence in bi- and multilingual speakers of different ages.

Jenny Jakisch: Jenny Jakisch is lecturer and researcher at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her PhD dealt with the role of English language teaching (ELT) for fostering multilingualism. Her current research interests include teacher education, classroom management and inclusive ELT.

Sarah Sturm: Sarah Sturm is a research assistant and PhD student at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her research interests include multilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language (with a focus on young learners) and learning strategies. In her PhD project, she is investigating the use of language learning strategies by young multilingual foreign language learners.

 

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‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Professor Jenni Rodd (UCL)

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

Bio: Professor Jenni Rodd conducts research into how we understand the meanings of the words that we hear or read, and how we combine together the information from individual words to construct representations of the meanings of sentences. She has a particular interest in how we use our recent and long-term experience with language to improve the efficiency of these processes. She is the director of The Word Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL.

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‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: literacy and cognition

Professor Ianthi M. Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Much research in multilingualism and its effects on cognition and language ability has focused on individuals in western societies. Socioeconomic status, language of education and language prestige have been identified as some of the factors that appear to influence bi/multilingual individuals’ linguistic and cognitive profile although most research on the role of bilingualism on cognition has not capitalized on such factors. I will focus on multilingualism in India, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (UNESCO, 2009). Linguistic variation across Indian speakers is vast and includes variation in the number of home languages used, societal/community languages, official medium of instruction in schools and actual language practices in the classroom.

As language is the primary vehicle of education and learning, variation in any of the above measures of multilingualism can affect the language experience of the school child and have knock-on effects on the development of school skills (basic and higher literacy and numeracy), or cognition. Focusing on the data from 1200 children from urban primary schools in Delhi and Hyderabad and from rural areas in Patna, all from deprived or severely deprived socioeconomic backgrounds, I will try to disentangle how language experience and linguistic diversity in the child’s immediate environment (school, family, community) affect school skills and cognitive abilities.

Participants attend government primary schools in slum vs. non-slum urban areas of Delhi and Hyderabad, or town vs. rural areas in Patna, as part of a four-year, large-scale research project (MultiLila). They were assessed on mathematical reasoning, word, sentence and text reading, as well as non-verbal IQ, inhibition and complex working memory skills. Children attend English-medium or regional language medium schools (Hindi or Telugu), meaning that their assessment, textbooks and language used in the classroom is the official medium of instruction.

Although the language of textbooks and assessment match the official medium of instruction, language practices in the classroom include language mixing with English-only input ranging from zero to 40%, in English-medium schools. Taking into account the child’s home language(s) and the extent to which they are used in the classroom I will present the participants’ performance on linguistic, reasoning and cognitive skills. Results indicate a significant effect of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the cognitive and school skills of children from underprivileged socioeconomic background.

Bio:

Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli works on language development in the first and second language in children and adults, as well as on language impairment, attrition, bilingualism, language processing and the interaction between language, cognitive abilities and print exposure. She recently held the positions of Professor of Multilingualism and Cognition at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and the positions of Professor of Psycholinguistics and Director of the Language Development Lab at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Professor Tsimpli held a ‘Guest of the Rector’ Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences for six months in 2012, a Visiting Professorship for six months at the University of Cyprus in 2007, and a Visiting Scholar position at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg in 2005. She is Associate Editor of Lingua and member of the Editorial Board of the journals Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Second Language Research, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, Biolinguistics (e-journal), Journal of Greek Linguistics and of the Book Series “Language Acquisition and Language Disorders”.

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‘A teaching intervention may not reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and phonological awareness’

Dr Bene Bassetti (University of Birmingham)

The orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words can affect how L2 learners and L2 users pronounce L2 sounds, even after years of immersion in an L2 environment. It is however not known whether a training intervention can reduce such orthographic effects on L2 phonology. This paper will report the results of a study (Bassetti, Cerni & Masterson, under review) that investigated whether a teaching intervention can reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and awareness.

Previous studies found that Italian learners of L2 English produce and categorise the same English consonant as two different sounds: a short consonant if it is spelled with one letter, and as a geminate (a long consonant) if it is spelled with double letters. This is because in written double consonant letters represent geminates, and Italian native speakers therefore recode English double consonant letters. Bassetti and colleagues used a randomised controlled trial design, and allocated 100 Italian high-school students to a phonological intervention or a control group.

The teaching intervention group explored the correspondences between double letters and sound length in English, using reflection, explicit teaching and practice. The control group practiced the same English spoken and written words without mentions of orthography. All participants performed a delayed word repetition task and phonological awareness task twice, pre- and post-intervention. The teaching intervention had no effects. It appears that once orthographic effects on L2 phonology are established, they are difficult to eliminate, whether with extensive naturalistic exposure or with a teaching intervention.

Reference: Bassetti, B., Cerni, T., & Masterson, J. (under review) Efficacy of a teaching intervention to reduce the effects of orthographic forms on second language phonology: A randomized controlled trial

Bio: Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti leads Language and Condition at Birmingham (LACAB).

Nathan Thomas is an Applied Linguistics Tutor on the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT) course.

He also teaches on the MA TESOL (Pre-Service) course at the UCL Institute of Education, where he is completing his doctoral research under the dual supervision of Jim McKinley (UCL) and Heath Rose (Oxford).

His research focuses mainly on theoretical developments in the field of language learning strategies and on international students’ strategic learning in higher education. He is also involved in other projects pertaining to English medium instruction and English language teaching. His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, ELT Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, System, and TESOL Quarterly. He has also presented at more than 50 conferences in 14 countries all over the world.

Before his assuming his current roles, Nathan worked for ten years in China and Thailand, most recently as Director of English as a Foreign Language for a private educational consulting company in Beijing. He completed an MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (which is now the MSc ALLT at Oxford), MEd International Teaching, MA Applied Linguistics (ELT), BA English, and various teaching certificates, all while working full time.

For further information, please click here.

 

Publications

Bowen, N. & Thomas, N. (2020). Manipulating texture and cohesion in academic writing: A keystroke logging study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 50, 100773.

Pun, J. & Thomas, N. (2020). English medium instruction: Teachers challenges and coping strategies. ELT Journal, 74(3), 247-257.

Thomas, N. & Osment, C. (2020). Building on Dewaele’s (2018) L1 versus LX dichotomy: The Language-Usage-Identity State model. Applied Linguistics, 41(6), 1005-1010.

Zhang, L.J., Thomas, N., & Qin, T.L. (2019). Language learning strategy research in System: Looking back and looking forward. System, 84, 87-92.

Thomas, N., Rose, H., & Pojanapunya, P. (2019). Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings. Applied Linguistics Review (Advanced Access), 1-18.

Thomas, N. & Brereton, P. (2019). Pedagogical Implications: Practitioners respond to Michael Swan’s ‘Applied Linguistics: A consumer’s view.’ Language Teaching, 52(2), 275–278.

Thomas, N. & Rose, H. (2019). Do language learning strategies need to be self-directed? Disentangling strategies from self-regulated learning. TESOL Quarterly, 53(1), 248-257.

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Abstract: English-medium instruction (EMI) refers the practice of offering academic subjects taught through English in countries where English is not the first language of the majority of the population. The growth of EMI in higher education (HE) has been well-documented, and the driving forces behind EMI are intertwined with goals related to the internationalization of HE. Although EMI as a phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent decades, little research has explored EMI across global regions, particularly in countries in the Global South. This study aimed to investigate the current situation with regards to the introduction and expansion of EMI in HE in 52 countries designated as recipients on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list. In doing so, the study aimed to shed light on EMI provision in many countries which are relatively less resourced and under-researched. The study involved 3 stages of investigation: (1) a country-level analysis with data collected through open-ended questionnaires from informed respondents to investigate the introduction and expansion of EMI in the 52 ODA recipient countries; (2) a website analysis of purposively sampled universities to examine what information with regards to EMI programmes is available; and (3) a survey of key institutional players to explore additional information about EMI programmes offered worldwide. The data was analyzed to explore global and regional trends, and the findings offer insights into the admission requirements, professional development opportunities, international student enrolment, and driving forces behind EMI programs. Based on the findings, recommendations are offered for researchers and practitioners.

Bio: Kari Sahan is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and an Honorary Norham Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She completed her DPhil in 2020 from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher–student interaction and the use of the L1 in EMI classrooms. Her work has appeared in journals such as ELT Journal, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, System, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.

Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.

 

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Children are powerful statistical spellers: They can learn novel written patterns with phonological counterparts under experimental conditions, via implicit learning processes, akin to “statistical learning” processes established for spoken language acquisition. Can these mechanisms fully account for children’s knowledge of written patterns? How does this ability relate to literacy measures? How does it compare to explicit learning? I address these questions in a series of artificial lexicon experiments, inducing graphotactic learning under incidental and explicit conditions, and comparing it with measures of literacy. Previous studies assessed learning of spelling rules which have counterparts in spoken language; however, while this is also the case for some naturalistic spelling rules (e.g., English phonotactics prohibit word initial /ŋ/ and accordingly, written words cannot begin with ng), there are also purely visual constraints (graphotactics) (e.g., gz is an illegal spelling of a frequent word-final sound combination in English: *bagz). Can children learn patterns unconfounded from correlated phonotactics? Developing and skilled spellers were exposed to patterns replete of phonotactic cues. In post-tests, participants generalized over both positional constraints embedded in semiartificial strings, and contextual constraints created using homophonic non-word stimuli. This was demonstrated following passive exposure and even under meaningful (word learning) conditions, and success in learning graphotactics was not hindered by learning word meanings. However, the effect sizes across these experiments remained small, and the hypothesized positive associations between learning performance under incidental conditions and literacy measures were never observed. This relationship was only found under explicit conditions, when pattern generalization benefited. Investigation of age effects revealed that adults and children show similar patterns of learning but adults learn faster from matched text.

Bio: Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps. Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

 

PLEASE JOIN US ON TEAMS ON THE DAY OF THE EVENT.

Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps.

Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

Publications

Samara, Singh & Wonnacott (2019). Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental learning experiment with children. Cognition, Volume 182, 2019, Pages 25-30, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.005.

Singh, Samara & Wonnacott (accepted for publication in the Journal of Memory and Language). Statistical and explicit learning of graphotactic patterns with no phonological counterpart: Evidence from an artificial lexicon study with 7–8-year-olds and adults. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8px7n/.

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‘Plurilingual teaching and its effects on foreign language development

Professor Holger Hopp, Dr Jenny Jakisch and Sarah Sturm (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Research indicates that plurilingual teaching, i.e. integrating the learners’ (home) language repertoire into the teaching of a foreign language (FL), can improve FL achievement (Busse et al., 2019; Leonet et al., 2019). Against this background, we will present findings of a project in which a plurilingual approach to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) was implemented in four primary schools (year 4) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for 6 months. In each school, the English lessons of one group (intervention group) were extended by integrating the participants’ home languages whereas in the other group (comparison group) regular “monolingual” EFL lessons were conducted.

In our talk, we will present the research design as well as the teaching methods and materials that were used in the intervention group. We will also discuss how the young learners experienced the plurilingual lessons. Furthermore, we will show which effects the different teaching approaches had on the participants’ English achievement (vocabulary and grammar) and metalinguistic awareness by presenting data from longitudinal pre- and post-tests.

The data indicate that both monolingual and plurilingual participants gain FL competence during the 6-month intervention. However, the intervention group did not show differential learning gains compared to the comparison group. When testing for specific grammatical phenomena that were subject to instruction in the plurilingual lessons (e.g. questions), we found that the intervention group outperformed the control group. We conclude that addressing specific learners‘ plurilingual resources may support them in learning a foreign language. In our talk, we discuss the results and the potentials of plurilingual foreign language teaching.

References: Busse, V., Cenoz, J., Dalmann, N., & Rogge, F. (2019). Addressing Linguistic Diversity in the Language Classroom in a Resource‐Oriented Way: An Intervention Study With Primary School Children. Language Learning, 31(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12382

Leonet, O., Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2019). Developing morphological awareness across languages: translanguaging pedagogies in third language acquisition. Language Awareness, 79(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2019.1688338

Bios:

Holger Hopp: Holger Hopp is a professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany). In his research, he investigates child and adult L2/3 acquisition and processing as well as heritage language acquisition and attrition. He uses several psycholinguistic methods to determine the directionality, scope and degree of cross-linguistic influence in bi- and multilingual speakers of different ages.

Jenny Jakisch: Jenny Jakisch is lecturer and researcher at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her PhD dealt with the role of English language teaching (ELT) for fostering multilingualism. Her current research interests include teacher education, classroom management and inclusive ELT.

Sarah Sturm: Sarah Sturm is a research assistant and PhD student at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her research interests include multilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language (with a focus on young learners) and learning strategies. In her PhD project, she is investigating the use of language learning strategies by young multilingual foreign language learners.

 

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‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Professor Jenni Rodd (UCL)

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

Bio: Professor Jenni Rodd conducts research into how we understand the meanings of the words that we hear or read, and how we combine together the information from individual words to construct representations of the meanings of sentences. She has a particular interest in how we use our recent and long-term experience with language to improve the efficiency of these processes. She is the director of The Word Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL.

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‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: literacy and cognition

Professor Ianthi M. Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Much research in multilingualism and its effects on cognition and language ability has focused on individuals in western societies. Socioeconomic status, language of education and language prestige have been identified as some of the factors that appear to influence bi/multilingual individuals’ linguistic and cognitive profile although most research on the role of bilingualism on cognition has not capitalized on such factors. I will focus on multilingualism in India, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (UNESCO, 2009). Linguistic variation across Indian speakers is vast and includes variation in the number of home languages used, societal/community languages, official medium of instruction in schools and actual language practices in the classroom.

As language is the primary vehicle of education and learning, variation in any of the above measures of multilingualism can affect the language experience of the school child and have knock-on effects on the development of school skills (basic and higher literacy and numeracy), or cognition. Focusing on the data from 1200 children from urban primary schools in Delhi and Hyderabad and from rural areas in Patna, all from deprived or severely deprived socioeconomic backgrounds, I will try to disentangle how language experience and linguistic diversity in the child’s immediate environment (school, family, community) affect school skills and cognitive abilities.

Participants attend government primary schools in slum vs. non-slum urban areas of Delhi and Hyderabad, or town vs. rural areas in Patna, as part of a four-year, large-scale research project (MultiLila). They were assessed on mathematical reasoning, word, sentence and text reading, as well as non-verbal IQ, inhibition and complex working memory skills. Children attend English-medium or regional language medium schools (Hindi or Telugu), meaning that their assessment, textbooks and language used in the classroom is the official medium of instruction.

Although the language of textbooks and assessment match the official medium of instruction, language practices in the classroom include language mixing with English-only input ranging from zero to 40%, in English-medium schools. Taking into account the child’s home language(s) and the extent to which they are used in the classroom I will present the participants’ performance on linguistic, reasoning and cognitive skills. Results indicate a significant effect of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the cognitive and school skills of children from underprivileged socioeconomic background.

Bio:

Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli works on language development in the first and second language in children and adults, as well as on language impairment, attrition, bilingualism, language processing and the interaction between language, cognitive abilities and print exposure. She recently held the positions of Professor of Multilingualism and Cognition at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and the positions of Professor of Psycholinguistics and Director of the Language Development Lab at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Professor Tsimpli held a ‘Guest of the Rector’ Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences for six months in 2012, a Visiting Professorship for six months at the University of Cyprus in 2007, and a Visiting Scholar position at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg in 2005. She is Associate Editor of Lingua and member of the Editorial Board of the journals Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Second Language Research, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, Biolinguistics (e-journal), Journal of Greek Linguistics and of the Book Series “Language Acquisition and Language Disorders”.

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‘A teaching intervention may not reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and phonological awareness’

Dr Bene Bassetti (University of Birmingham)

The orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words can affect how L2 learners and L2 users pronounce L2 sounds, even after years of immersion in an L2 environment. It is however not known whether a training intervention can reduce such orthographic effects on L2 phonology. This paper will report the results of a study (Bassetti, Cerni & Masterson, under review) that investigated whether a teaching intervention can reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and awareness.

Previous studies found that Italian learners of L2 English produce and categorise the same English consonant as two different sounds: a short consonant if it is spelled with one letter, and as a geminate (a long consonant) if it is spelled with double letters. This is because in written double consonant letters represent geminates, and Italian native speakers therefore recode English double consonant letters. Bassetti and colleagues used a randomised controlled trial design, and allocated 100 Italian high-school students to a phonological intervention or a control group.

The teaching intervention group explored the correspondences between double letters and sound length in English, using reflection, explicit teaching and practice. The control group practiced the same English spoken and written words without mentions of orthography. All participants performed a delayed word repetition task and phonological awareness task twice, pre- and post-intervention. The teaching intervention had no effects. It appears that once orthographic effects on L2 phonology are established, they are difficult to eliminate, whether with extensive naturalistic exposure or with a teaching intervention.

Reference: Bassetti, B., Cerni, T., & Masterson, J. (under review) Efficacy of a teaching intervention to reduce the effects of orthographic forms on second language phonology: A randomized controlled trial

Bio: Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti leads Language and Condition at Birmingham (LACAB).

Nathan Thomas is an Applied Linguistics Tutor on the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT) course.

He also teaches on the MA TESOL (Pre-Service) course at the UCL Institute of Education, where he is completing his doctoral research under the dual supervision of Jim McKinley (UCL) and Heath Rose (Oxford).

His research focuses mainly on theoretical developments in the field of language learning strategies and on international students’ strategic learning in higher education. He is also involved in other projects pertaining to English medium instruction and English language teaching. His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, ELT Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, System, and TESOL Quarterly. He has also presented at more than 50 conferences in 14 countries all over the world.

Before his assuming his current roles, Nathan worked for ten years in China and Thailand, most recently as Director of English as a Foreign Language for a private educational consulting company in Beijing. He completed an MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (which is now the MSc ALLT at Oxford), MEd International Teaching, MA Applied Linguistics (ELT), BA English, and various teaching certificates, all while working full time.

For further information, please click here.

 

Publications

Bowen, N. & Thomas, N. (2020). Manipulating texture and cohesion in academic writing: A keystroke logging study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 50, 100773.

Pun, J. & Thomas, N. (2020). English medium instruction: Teachers challenges and coping strategies. ELT Journal, 74(3), 247-257.

Thomas, N. & Osment, C. (2020). Building on Dewaele’s (2018) L1 versus LX dichotomy: The Language-Usage-Identity State model. Applied Linguistics, 41(6), 1005-1010.

Zhang, L.J., Thomas, N., & Qin, T.L. (2019). Language learning strategy research in System: Looking back and looking forward. System, 84, 87-92.

Thomas, N., Rose, H., & Pojanapunya, P. (2019). Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings. Applied Linguistics Review (Advanced Access), 1-18.

Thomas, N. & Brereton, P. (2019). Pedagogical Implications: Practitioners respond to Michael Swan’s ‘Applied Linguistics: A consumer’s view.’ Language Teaching, 52(2), 275–278.

Thomas, N. & Rose, H. (2019). Do language learning strategies need to be self-directed? Disentangling strategies from self-regulated learning. TESOL Quarterly, 53(1), 248-257.

PLEASE JOIN US THE DAY OF THE EVENT VIA TEAMS.

Abstract: English-medium instruction (EMI) refers the practice of offering academic subjects taught through English in countries where English is not the first language of the majority of the population. The growth of EMI in higher education (HE) has been well-documented, and the driving forces behind EMI are intertwined with goals related to the internationalization of HE. Although EMI as a phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent decades, little research has explored EMI across global regions, particularly in countries in the Global South. This study aimed to investigate the current situation with regards to the introduction and expansion of EMI in HE in 52 countries designated as recipients on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list. In doing so, the study aimed to shed light on EMI provision in many countries which are relatively less resourced and under-researched. The study involved 3 stages of investigation: (1) a country-level analysis with data collected through open-ended questionnaires from informed respondents to investigate the introduction and expansion of EMI in the 52 ODA recipient countries; (2) a website analysis of purposively sampled universities to examine what information with regards to EMI programmes is available; and (3) a survey of key institutional players to explore additional information about EMI programmes offered worldwide. The data was analyzed to explore global and regional trends, and the findings offer insights into the admission requirements, professional development opportunities, international student enrolment, and driving forces behind EMI programs. Based on the findings, recommendations are offered for researchers and practitioners.

Bio: Kari Sahan is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and an Honorary Norham Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She completed her DPhil in 2020 from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher–student interaction and the use of the L1 in EMI classrooms. Her work has appeared in journals such as ELT Journal, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, System, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.

Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.

 

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Children are powerful statistical spellers: They can learn novel written patterns with phonological counterparts under experimental conditions, via implicit learning processes, akin to “statistical learning” processes established for spoken language acquisition. Can these mechanisms fully account for children’s knowledge of written patterns? How does this ability relate to literacy measures? How does it compare to explicit learning? I address these questions in a series of artificial lexicon experiments, inducing graphotactic learning under incidental and explicit conditions, and comparing it with measures of literacy. Previous studies assessed learning of spelling rules which have counterparts in spoken language; however, while this is also the case for some naturalistic spelling rules (e.g., English phonotactics prohibit word initial /ŋ/ and accordingly, written words cannot begin with ng), there are also purely visual constraints (graphotactics) (e.g., gz is an illegal spelling of a frequent word-final sound combination in English: *bagz). Can children learn patterns unconfounded from correlated phonotactics? Developing and skilled spellers were exposed to patterns replete of phonotactic cues. In post-tests, participants generalized over both positional constraints embedded in semiartificial strings, and contextual constraints created using homophonic non-word stimuli. This was demonstrated following passive exposure and even under meaningful (word learning) conditions, and success in learning graphotactics was not hindered by learning word meanings. However, the effect sizes across these experiments remained small, and the hypothesized positive associations between learning performance under incidental conditions and literacy measures were never observed. This relationship was only found under explicit conditions, when pattern generalization benefited. Investigation of age effects revealed that adults and children show similar patterns of learning but adults learn faster from matched text.

Bio: Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps. Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

 

PLEASE JOIN US ON TEAMS ON THE DAY OF THE EVENT.

Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps.

Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

Publications

Samara, Singh & Wonnacott (2019). Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental learning experiment with children. Cognition, Volume 182, 2019, Pages 25-30, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.005.

Singh, Samara & Wonnacott (accepted for publication in the Journal of Memory and Language). Statistical and explicit learning of graphotactic patterns with no phonological counterpart: Evidence from an artificial lexicon study with 7–8-year-olds and adults. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8px7n/.

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‘Plurilingual teaching and its effects on foreign language development

Professor Holger Hopp, Dr Jenny Jakisch and Sarah Sturm (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Research indicates that plurilingual teaching, i.e. integrating the learners’ (home) language repertoire into the teaching of a foreign language (FL), can improve FL achievement (Busse et al., 2019; Leonet et al., 2019). Against this background, we will present findings of a project in which a plurilingual approach to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) was implemented in four primary schools (year 4) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for 6 months. In each school, the English lessons of one group (intervention group) were extended by integrating the participants’ home languages whereas in the other group (comparison group) regular “monolingual” EFL lessons were conducted.

In our talk, we will present the research design as well as the teaching methods and materials that were used in the intervention group. We will also discuss how the young learners experienced the plurilingual lessons. Furthermore, we will show which effects the different teaching approaches had on the participants’ English achievement (vocabulary and grammar) and metalinguistic awareness by presenting data from longitudinal pre- and post-tests.

The data indicate that both monolingual and plurilingual participants gain FL competence during the 6-month intervention. However, the intervention group did not show differential learning gains compared to the comparison group. When testing for specific grammatical phenomena that were subject to instruction in the plurilingual lessons (e.g. questions), we found that the intervention group outperformed the control group. We conclude that addressing specific learners‘ plurilingual resources may support them in learning a foreign language. In our talk, we discuss the results and the potentials of plurilingual foreign language teaching.

References: Busse, V., Cenoz, J., Dalmann, N., & Rogge, F. (2019). Addressing Linguistic Diversity in the Language Classroom in a Resource‐Oriented Way: An Intervention Study With Primary School Children. Language Learning, 31(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12382

Leonet, O., Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2019). Developing morphological awareness across languages: translanguaging pedagogies in third language acquisition. Language Awareness, 79(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2019.1688338

Bios:

Holger Hopp: Holger Hopp is a professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany). In his research, he investigates child and adult L2/3 acquisition and processing as well as heritage language acquisition and attrition. He uses several psycholinguistic methods to determine the directionality, scope and degree of cross-linguistic influence in bi- and multilingual speakers of different ages.

Jenny Jakisch: Jenny Jakisch is lecturer and researcher at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her PhD dealt with the role of English language teaching (ELT) for fostering multilingualism. Her current research interests include teacher education, classroom management and inclusive ELT.

Sarah Sturm: Sarah Sturm is a research assistant and PhD student at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her research interests include multilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language (with a focus on young learners) and learning strategies. In her PhD project, she is investigating the use of language learning strategies by young multilingual foreign language learners.

 

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‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Professor Jenni Rodd (UCL)

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

Bio: Professor Jenni Rodd conducts research into how we understand the meanings of the words that we hear or read, and how we combine together the information from individual words to construct representations of the meanings of sentences. She has a particular interest in how we use our recent and long-term experience with language to improve the efficiency of these processes. She is the director of The Word Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL.

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‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: literacy and cognition

Professor Ianthi M. Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Much research in multilingualism and its effects on cognition and language ability has focused on individuals in western societies. Socioeconomic status, language of education and language prestige have been identified as some of the factors that appear to influence bi/multilingual individuals’ linguistic and cognitive profile although most research on the role of bilingualism on cognition has not capitalized on such factors. I will focus on multilingualism in India, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (UNESCO, 2009). Linguistic variation across Indian speakers is vast and includes variation in the number of home languages used, societal/community languages, official medium of instruction in schools and actual language practices in the classroom.

As language is the primary vehicle of education and learning, variation in any of the above measures of multilingualism can affect the language experience of the school child and have knock-on effects on the development of school skills (basic and higher literacy and numeracy), or cognition. Focusing on the data from 1200 children from urban primary schools in Delhi and Hyderabad and from rural areas in Patna, all from deprived or severely deprived socioeconomic backgrounds, I will try to disentangle how language experience and linguistic diversity in the child’s immediate environment (school, family, community) affect school skills and cognitive abilities.

Participants attend government primary schools in slum vs. non-slum urban areas of Delhi and Hyderabad, or town vs. rural areas in Patna, as part of a four-year, large-scale research project (MultiLila). They were assessed on mathematical reasoning, word, sentence and text reading, as well as non-verbal IQ, inhibition and complex working memory skills. Children attend English-medium or regional language medium schools (Hindi or Telugu), meaning that their assessment, textbooks and language used in the classroom is the official medium of instruction.

Although the language of textbooks and assessment match the official medium of instruction, language practices in the classroom include language mixing with English-only input ranging from zero to 40%, in English-medium schools. Taking into account the child’s home language(s) and the extent to which they are used in the classroom I will present the participants’ performance on linguistic, reasoning and cognitive skills. Results indicate a significant effect of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the cognitive and school skills of children from underprivileged socioeconomic background.

Bio:

Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli works on language development in the first and second language in children and adults, as well as on language impairment, attrition, bilingualism, language processing and the interaction between language, cognitive abilities and print exposure. She recently held the positions of Professor of Multilingualism and Cognition at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and the positions of Professor of Psycholinguistics and Director of the Language Development Lab at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Professor Tsimpli held a ‘Guest of the Rector’ Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences for six months in 2012, a Visiting Professorship for six months at the University of Cyprus in 2007, and a Visiting Scholar position at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg in 2005. She is Associate Editor of Lingua and member of the Editorial Board of the journals Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Second Language Research, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, Biolinguistics (e-journal), Journal of Greek Linguistics and of the Book Series “Language Acquisition and Language Disorders”.

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‘A teaching intervention may not reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and phonological awareness’

Dr Bene Bassetti (University of Birmingham)

The orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words can affect how L2 learners and L2 users pronounce L2 sounds, even after years of immersion in an L2 environment. It is however not known whether a training intervention can reduce such orthographic effects on L2 phonology. This paper will report the results of a study (Bassetti, Cerni & Masterson, under review) that investigated whether a teaching intervention can reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and awareness.

Previous studies found that Italian learners of L2 English produce and categorise the same English consonant as two different sounds: a short consonant if it is spelled with one letter, and as a geminate (a long consonant) if it is spelled with double letters. This is because in written double consonant letters represent geminates, and Italian native speakers therefore recode English double consonant letters. Bassetti and colleagues used a randomised controlled trial design, and allocated 100 Italian high-school students to a phonological intervention or a control group.

The teaching intervention group explored the correspondences between double letters and sound length in English, using reflection, explicit teaching and practice. The control group practiced the same English spoken and written words without mentions of orthography. All participants performed a delayed word repetition task and phonological awareness task twice, pre- and post-intervention. The teaching intervention had no effects. It appears that once orthographic effects on L2 phonology are established, they are difficult to eliminate, whether with extensive naturalistic exposure or with a teaching intervention.

Reference: Bassetti, B., Cerni, T., & Masterson, J. (under review) Efficacy of a teaching intervention to reduce the effects of orthographic forms on second language phonology: A randomized controlled trial

Bio: Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti leads Language and Condition at Birmingham (LACAB).

Nathan Thomas is an Applied Linguistics Tutor on the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT) course.

He also teaches on the MA TESOL (Pre-Service) course at the UCL Institute of Education, where he is completing his doctoral research under the dual supervision of Jim McKinley (UCL) and Heath Rose (Oxford).

His research focuses mainly on theoretical developments in the field of language learning strategies and on international students’ strategic learning in higher education. He is also involved in other projects pertaining to English medium instruction and English language teaching. His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, ELT Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, System, and TESOL Quarterly. He has also presented at more than 50 conferences in 14 countries all over the world.

Before his assuming his current roles, Nathan worked for ten years in China and Thailand, most recently as Director of English as a Foreign Language for a private educational consulting company in Beijing. He completed an MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (which is now the MSc ALLT at Oxford), MEd International Teaching, MA Applied Linguistics (ELT), BA English, and various teaching certificates, all while working full time.

For further information, please click here.

 

Publications

Bowen, N. & Thomas, N. (2020). Manipulating texture and cohesion in academic writing: A keystroke logging study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 50, 100773.

Pun, J. & Thomas, N. (2020). English medium instruction: Teachers challenges and coping strategies. ELT Journal, 74(3), 247-257.

Thomas, N. & Osment, C. (2020). Building on Dewaele’s (2018) L1 versus LX dichotomy: The Language-Usage-Identity State model. Applied Linguistics, 41(6), 1005-1010.

Zhang, L.J., Thomas, N., & Qin, T.L. (2019). Language learning strategy research in System: Looking back and looking forward. System, 84, 87-92.

Thomas, N., Rose, H., & Pojanapunya, P. (2019). Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings. Applied Linguistics Review (Advanced Access), 1-18.

Thomas, N. & Brereton, P. (2019). Pedagogical Implications: Practitioners respond to Michael Swan’s ‘Applied Linguistics: A consumer’s view.’ Language Teaching, 52(2), 275–278.

Thomas, N. & Rose, H. (2019). Do language learning strategies need to be self-directed? Disentangling strategies from self-regulated learning. TESOL Quarterly, 53(1), 248-257.

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Abstract: English-medium instruction (EMI) refers the practice of offering academic subjects taught through English in countries where English is not the first language of the majority of the population. The growth of EMI in higher education (HE) has been well-documented, and the driving forces behind EMI are intertwined with goals related to the internationalization of HE. Although EMI as a phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent decades, little research has explored EMI across global regions, particularly in countries in the Global South. This study aimed to investigate the current situation with regards to the introduction and expansion of EMI in HE in 52 countries designated as recipients on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list. In doing so, the study aimed to shed light on EMI provision in many countries which are relatively less resourced and under-researched. The study involved 3 stages of investigation: (1) a country-level analysis with data collected through open-ended questionnaires from informed respondents to investigate the introduction and expansion of EMI in the 52 ODA recipient countries; (2) a website analysis of purposively sampled universities to examine what information with regards to EMI programmes is available; and (3) a survey of key institutional players to explore additional information about EMI programmes offered worldwide. The data was analyzed to explore global and regional trends, and the findings offer insights into the admission requirements, professional development opportunities, international student enrolment, and driving forces behind EMI programs. Based on the findings, recommendations are offered for researchers and practitioners.

Bio: Kari Sahan is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and an Honorary Norham Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She completed her DPhil in 2020 from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher–student interaction and the use of the L1 in EMI classrooms. Her work has appeared in journals such as ELT Journal, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, System, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.

Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.

 

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Children are powerful statistical spellers: They can learn novel written patterns with phonological counterparts under experimental conditions, via implicit learning processes, akin to “statistical learning” processes established for spoken language acquisition. Can these mechanisms fully account for children’s knowledge of written patterns? How does this ability relate to literacy measures? How does it compare to explicit learning? I address these questions in a series of artificial lexicon experiments, inducing graphotactic learning under incidental and explicit conditions, and comparing it with measures of literacy. Previous studies assessed learning of spelling rules which have counterparts in spoken language; however, while this is also the case for some naturalistic spelling rules (e.g., English phonotactics prohibit word initial /ŋ/ and accordingly, written words cannot begin with ng), there are also purely visual constraints (graphotactics) (e.g., gz is an illegal spelling of a frequent word-final sound combination in English: *bagz). Can children learn patterns unconfounded from correlated phonotactics? Developing and skilled spellers were exposed to patterns replete of phonotactic cues. In post-tests, participants generalized over both positional constraints embedded in semiartificial strings, and contextual constraints created using homophonic non-word stimuli. This was demonstrated following passive exposure and even under meaningful (word learning) conditions, and success in learning graphotactics was not hindered by learning word meanings. However, the effect sizes across these experiments remained small, and the hypothesized positive associations between learning performance under incidental conditions and literacy measures were never observed. This relationship was only found under explicit conditions, when pattern generalization benefited. Investigation of age effects revealed that adults and children show similar patterns of learning but adults learn faster from matched text.

Bio: Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps. Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

 

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Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps.

Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

Publications

Samara, Singh & Wonnacott (2019). Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental learning experiment with children. Cognition, Volume 182, 2019, Pages 25-30, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.005.

Singh, Samara & Wonnacott (accepted for publication in the Journal of Memory and Language). Statistical and explicit learning of graphotactic patterns with no phonological counterpart: Evidence from an artificial lexicon study with 7–8-year-olds and adults. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8px7n/.

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‘Plurilingual teaching and its effects on foreign language development

Professor Holger Hopp, Dr Jenny Jakisch and Sarah Sturm (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Research indicates that plurilingual teaching, i.e. integrating the learners’ (home) language repertoire into the teaching of a foreign language (FL), can improve FL achievement (Busse et al., 2019; Leonet et al., 2019). Against this background, we will present findings of a project in which a plurilingual approach to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) was implemented in four primary schools (year 4) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for 6 months. In each school, the English lessons of one group (intervention group) were extended by integrating the participants’ home languages whereas in the other group (comparison group) regular “monolingual” EFL lessons were conducted.

In our talk, we will present the research design as well as the teaching methods and materials that were used in the intervention group. We will also discuss how the young learners experienced the plurilingual lessons. Furthermore, we will show which effects the different teaching approaches had on the participants’ English achievement (vocabulary and grammar) and metalinguistic awareness by presenting data from longitudinal pre- and post-tests.

The data indicate that both monolingual and plurilingual participants gain FL competence during the 6-month intervention. However, the intervention group did not show differential learning gains compared to the comparison group. When testing for specific grammatical phenomena that were subject to instruction in the plurilingual lessons (e.g. questions), we found that the intervention group outperformed the control group. We conclude that addressing specific learners‘ plurilingual resources may support them in learning a foreign language. In our talk, we discuss the results and the potentials of plurilingual foreign language teaching.

References: Busse, V., Cenoz, J., Dalmann, N., & Rogge, F. (2019). Addressing Linguistic Diversity in the Language Classroom in a Resource‐Oriented Way: An Intervention Study With Primary School Children. Language Learning, 31(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12382

Leonet, O., Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2019). Developing morphological awareness across languages: translanguaging pedagogies in third language acquisition. Language Awareness, 79(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2019.1688338

Bios:

Holger Hopp: Holger Hopp is a professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany). In his research, he investigates child and adult L2/3 acquisition and processing as well as heritage language acquisition and attrition. He uses several psycholinguistic methods to determine the directionality, scope and degree of cross-linguistic influence in bi- and multilingual speakers of different ages.

Jenny Jakisch: Jenny Jakisch is lecturer and researcher at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her PhD dealt with the role of English language teaching (ELT) for fostering multilingualism. Her current research interests include teacher education, classroom management and inclusive ELT.

Sarah Sturm: Sarah Sturm is a research assistant and PhD student at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her research interests include multilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language (with a focus on young learners) and learning strategies. In her PhD project, she is investigating the use of language learning strategies by young multilingual foreign language learners.

 

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‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Professor Jenni Rodd (UCL)

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

Bio: Professor Jenni Rodd conducts research into how we understand the meanings of the words that we hear or read, and how we combine together the information from individual words to construct representations of the meanings of sentences. She has a particular interest in how we use our recent and long-term experience with language to improve the efficiency of these processes. She is the director of The Word Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL.

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‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: literacy and cognition

Professor Ianthi M. Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Much research in multilingualism and its effects on cognition and language ability has focused on individuals in western societies. Socioeconomic status, language of education and language prestige have been identified as some of the factors that appear to influence bi/multilingual individuals’ linguistic and cognitive profile although most research on the role of bilingualism on cognition has not capitalized on such factors. I will focus on multilingualism in India, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (UNESCO, 2009). Linguistic variation across Indian speakers is vast and includes variation in the number of home languages used, societal/community languages, official medium of instruction in schools and actual language practices in the classroom.

As language is the primary vehicle of education and learning, variation in any of the above measures of multilingualism can affect the language experience of the school child and have knock-on effects on the development of school skills (basic and higher literacy and numeracy), or cognition. Focusing on the data from 1200 children from urban primary schools in Delhi and Hyderabad and from rural areas in Patna, all from deprived or severely deprived socioeconomic backgrounds, I will try to disentangle how language experience and linguistic diversity in the child’s immediate environment (school, family, community) affect school skills and cognitive abilities.

Participants attend government primary schools in slum vs. non-slum urban areas of Delhi and Hyderabad, or town vs. rural areas in Patna, as part of a four-year, large-scale research project (MultiLila). They were assessed on mathematical reasoning, word, sentence and text reading, as well as non-verbal IQ, inhibition and complex working memory skills. Children attend English-medium or regional language medium schools (Hindi or Telugu), meaning that their assessment, textbooks and language used in the classroom is the official medium of instruction.

Although the language of textbooks and assessment match the official medium of instruction, language practices in the classroom include language mixing with English-only input ranging from zero to 40%, in English-medium schools. Taking into account the child’s home language(s) and the extent to which they are used in the classroom I will present the participants’ performance on linguistic, reasoning and cognitive skills. Results indicate a significant effect of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the cognitive and school skills of children from underprivileged socioeconomic background.

Bio:

Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli works on language development in the first and second language in children and adults, as well as on language impairment, attrition, bilingualism, language processing and the interaction between language, cognitive abilities and print exposure. She recently held the positions of Professor of Multilingualism and Cognition at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and the positions of Professor of Psycholinguistics and Director of the Language Development Lab at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Professor Tsimpli held a ‘Guest of the Rector’ Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences for six months in 2012, a Visiting Professorship for six months at the University of Cyprus in 2007, and a Visiting Scholar position at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg in 2005. She is Associate Editor of Lingua and member of the Editorial Board of the journals Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Second Language Research, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, Biolinguistics (e-journal), Journal of Greek Linguistics and of the Book Series “Language Acquisition and Language Disorders”.

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‘A teaching intervention may not reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and phonological awareness’

Dr Bene Bassetti (University of Birmingham)

The orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words can affect how L2 learners and L2 users pronounce L2 sounds, even after years of immersion in an L2 environment. It is however not known whether a training intervention can reduce such orthographic effects on L2 phonology. This paper will report the results of a study (Bassetti, Cerni & Masterson, under review) that investigated whether a teaching intervention can reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and awareness.

Previous studies found that Italian learners of L2 English produce and categorise the same English consonant as two different sounds: a short consonant if it is spelled with one letter, and as a geminate (a long consonant) if it is spelled with double letters. This is because in written double consonant letters represent geminates, and Italian native speakers therefore recode English double consonant letters. Bassetti and colleagues used a randomised controlled trial design, and allocated 100 Italian high-school students to a phonological intervention or a control group.

The teaching intervention group explored the correspondences between double letters and sound length in English, using reflection, explicit teaching and practice. The control group practiced the same English spoken and written words without mentions of orthography. All participants performed a delayed word repetition task and phonological awareness task twice, pre- and post-intervention. The teaching intervention had no effects. It appears that once orthographic effects on L2 phonology are established, they are difficult to eliminate, whether with extensive naturalistic exposure or with a teaching intervention.

Reference: Bassetti, B., Cerni, T., & Masterson, J. (under review) Efficacy of a teaching intervention to reduce the effects of orthographic forms on second language phonology: A randomized controlled trial

Bio: Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti leads Language and Condition at Birmingham (LACAB).

Nathan Thomas is an Applied Linguistics Tutor on the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT) course.

He also teaches on the MA TESOL (Pre-Service) course at the UCL Institute of Education, where he is completing his doctoral research under the dual supervision of Jim McKinley (UCL) and Heath Rose (Oxford).

His research focuses mainly on theoretical developments in the field of language learning strategies and on international students’ strategic learning in higher education. He is also involved in other projects pertaining to English medium instruction and English language teaching. His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, ELT Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, System, and TESOL Quarterly. He has also presented at more than 50 conferences in 14 countries all over the world.

Before his assuming his current roles, Nathan worked for ten years in China and Thailand, most recently as Director of English as a Foreign Language for a private educational consulting company in Beijing. He completed an MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (which is now the MSc ALLT at Oxford), MEd International Teaching, MA Applied Linguistics (ELT), BA English, and various teaching certificates, all while working full time.

For further information, please click here.

 

Publications

Bowen, N. & Thomas, N. (2020). Manipulating texture and cohesion in academic writing: A keystroke logging study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 50, 100773.

Pun, J. & Thomas, N. (2020). English medium instruction: Teachers challenges and coping strategies. ELT Journal, 74(3), 247-257.

Thomas, N. & Osment, C. (2020). Building on Dewaele’s (2018) L1 versus LX dichotomy: The Language-Usage-Identity State model. Applied Linguistics, 41(6), 1005-1010.

Zhang, L.J., Thomas, N., & Qin, T.L. (2019). Language learning strategy research in System: Looking back and looking forward. System, 84, 87-92.

Thomas, N., Rose, H., & Pojanapunya, P. (2019). Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings. Applied Linguistics Review (Advanced Access), 1-18.

Thomas, N. & Brereton, P. (2019). Pedagogical Implications: Practitioners respond to Michael Swan’s ‘Applied Linguistics: A consumer’s view.’ Language Teaching, 52(2), 275–278.

Thomas, N. & Rose, H. (2019). Do language learning strategies need to be self-directed? Disentangling strategies from self-regulated learning. TESOL Quarterly, 53(1), 248-257.

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Abstract: English-medium instruction (EMI) refers the practice of offering academic subjects taught through English in countries where English is not the first language of the majority of the population. The growth of EMI in higher education (HE) has been well-documented, and the driving forces behind EMI are intertwined with goals related to the internationalization of HE. Although EMI as a phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent decades, little research has explored EMI across global regions, particularly in countries in the Global South. This study aimed to investigate the current situation with regards to the introduction and expansion of EMI in HE in 52 countries designated as recipients on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list. In doing so, the study aimed to shed light on EMI provision in many countries which are relatively less resourced and under-researched. The study involved 3 stages of investigation: (1) a country-level analysis with data collected through open-ended questionnaires from informed respondents to investigate the introduction and expansion of EMI in the 52 ODA recipient countries; (2) a website analysis of purposively sampled universities to examine what information with regards to EMI programmes is available; and (3) a survey of key institutional players to explore additional information about EMI programmes offered worldwide. The data was analyzed to explore global and regional trends, and the findings offer insights into the admission requirements, professional development opportunities, international student enrolment, and driving forces behind EMI programs. Based on the findings, recommendations are offered for researchers and practitioners.

Bio: Kari Sahan is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and an Honorary Norham Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She completed her DPhil in 2020 from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher–student interaction and the use of the L1 in EMI classrooms. Her work has appeared in journals such as ELT Journal, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, System, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.

Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.

 

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Children are powerful statistical spellers: They can learn novel written patterns with phonological counterparts under experimental conditions, via implicit learning processes, akin to “statistical learning” processes established for spoken language acquisition. Can these mechanisms fully account for children’s knowledge of written patterns? How does this ability relate to literacy measures? How does it compare to explicit learning? I address these questions in a series of artificial lexicon experiments, inducing graphotactic learning under incidental and explicit conditions, and comparing it with measures of literacy. Previous studies assessed learning of spelling rules which have counterparts in spoken language; however, while this is also the case for some naturalistic spelling rules (e.g., English phonotactics prohibit word initial /ŋ/ and accordingly, written words cannot begin with ng), there are also purely visual constraints (graphotactics) (e.g., gz is an illegal spelling of a frequent word-final sound combination in English: *bagz). Can children learn patterns unconfounded from correlated phonotactics? Developing and skilled spellers were exposed to patterns replete of phonotactic cues. In post-tests, participants generalized over both positional constraints embedded in semiartificial strings, and contextual constraints created using homophonic non-word stimuli. This was demonstrated following passive exposure and even under meaningful (word learning) conditions, and success in learning graphotactics was not hindered by learning word meanings. However, the effect sizes across these experiments remained small, and the hypothesized positive associations between learning performance under incidental conditions and literacy measures were never observed. This relationship was only found under explicit conditions, when pattern generalization benefited. Investigation of age effects revealed that adults and children show similar patterns of learning but adults learn faster from matched text.

Bio: Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps. Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

 

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Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps.

Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

Publications

Samara, Singh & Wonnacott (2019). Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental learning experiment with children. Cognition, Volume 182, 2019, Pages 25-30, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.005.

Singh, Samara & Wonnacott (accepted for publication in the Journal of Memory and Language). Statistical and explicit learning of graphotactic patterns with no phonological counterpart: Evidence from an artificial lexicon study with 7–8-year-olds and adults. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8px7n/.

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‘Plurilingual teaching and its effects on foreign language development

Professor Holger Hopp, Dr Jenny Jakisch and Sarah Sturm (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Research indicates that plurilingual teaching, i.e. integrating the learners’ (home) language repertoire into the teaching of a foreign language (FL), can improve FL achievement (Busse et al., 2019; Leonet et al., 2019). Against this background, we will present findings of a project in which a plurilingual approach to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) was implemented in four primary schools (year 4) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for 6 months. In each school, the English lessons of one group (intervention group) were extended by integrating the participants’ home languages whereas in the other group (comparison group) regular “monolingual” EFL lessons were conducted.

In our talk, we will present the research design as well as the teaching methods and materials that were used in the intervention group. We will also discuss how the young learners experienced the plurilingual lessons. Furthermore, we will show which effects the different teaching approaches had on the participants’ English achievement (vocabulary and grammar) and metalinguistic awareness by presenting data from longitudinal pre- and post-tests.

The data indicate that both monolingual and plurilingual participants gain FL competence during the 6-month intervention. However, the intervention group did not show differential learning gains compared to the comparison group. When testing for specific grammatical phenomena that were subject to instruction in the plurilingual lessons (e.g. questions), we found that the intervention group outperformed the control group. We conclude that addressing specific learners‘ plurilingual resources may support them in learning a foreign language. In our talk, we discuss the results and the potentials of plurilingual foreign language teaching.

References: Busse, V., Cenoz, J., Dalmann, N., & Rogge, F. (2019). Addressing Linguistic Diversity in the Language Classroom in a Resource‐Oriented Way: An Intervention Study With Primary School Children. Language Learning, 31(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12382

Leonet, O., Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2019). Developing morphological awareness across languages: translanguaging pedagogies in third language acquisition. Language Awareness, 79(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2019.1688338

Bios:

Holger Hopp: Holger Hopp is a professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany). In his research, he investigates child and adult L2/3 acquisition and processing as well as heritage language acquisition and attrition. He uses several psycholinguistic methods to determine the directionality, scope and degree of cross-linguistic influence in bi- and multilingual speakers of different ages.

Jenny Jakisch: Jenny Jakisch is lecturer and researcher at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her PhD dealt with the role of English language teaching (ELT) for fostering multilingualism. Her current research interests include teacher education, classroom management and inclusive ELT.

Sarah Sturm: Sarah Sturm is a research assistant and PhD student at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her research interests include multilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language (with a focus on young learners) and learning strategies. In her PhD project, she is investigating the use of language learning strategies by young multilingual foreign language learners.

 

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‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Professor Jenni Rodd (UCL)

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

Bio: Professor Jenni Rodd conducts research into how we understand the meanings of the words that we hear or read, and how we combine together the information from individual words to construct representations of the meanings of sentences. She has a particular interest in how we use our recent and long-term experience with language to improve the efficiency of these processes. She is the director of The Word Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL.

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‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: literacy and cognition

Professor Ianthi M. Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Much research in multilingualism and its effects on cognition and language ability has focused on individuals in western societies. Socioeconomic status, language of education and language prestige have been identified as some of the factors that appear to influence bi/multilingual individuals’ linguistic and cognitive profile although most research on the role of bilingualism on cognition has not capitalized on such factors. I will focus on multilingualism in India, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (UNESCO, 2009). Linguistic variation across Indian speakers is vast and includes variation in the number of home languages used, societal/community languages, official medium of instruction in schools and actual language practices in the classroom.

As language is the primary vehicle of education and learning, variation in any of the above measures of multilingualism can affect the language experience of the school child and have knock-on effects on the development of school skills (basic and higher literacy and numeracy), or cognition. Focusing on the data from 1200 children from urban primary schools in Delhi and Hyderabad and from rural areas in Patna, all from deprived or severely deprived socioeconomic backgrounds, I will try to disentangle how language experience and linguistic diversity in the child’s immediate environment (school, family, community) affect school skills and cognitive abilities.

Participants attend government primary schools in slum vs. non-slum urban areas of Delhi and Hyderabad, or town vs. rural areas in Patna, as part of a four-year, large-scale research project (MultiLila). They were assessed on mathematical reasoning, word, sentence and text reading, as well as non-verbal IQ, inhibition and complex working memory skills. Children attend English-medium or regional language medium schools (Hindi or Telugu), meaning that their assessment, textbooks and language used in the classroom is the official medium of instruction.

Although the language of textbooks and assessment match the official medium of instruction, language practices in the classroom include language mixing with English-only input ranging from zero to 40%, in English-medium schools. Taking into account the child’s home language(s) and the extent to which they are used in the classroom I will present the participants’ performance on linguistic, reasoning and cognitive skills. Results indicate a significant effect of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the cognitive and school skills of children from underprivileged socioeconomic background.

Bio:

Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli works on language development in the first and second language in children and adults, as well as on language impairment, attrition, bilingualism, language processing and the interaction between language, cognitive abilities and print exposure. She recently held the positions of Professor of Multilingualism and Cognition at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and the positions of Professor of Psycholinguistics and Director of the Language Development Lab at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Professor Tsimpli held a ‘Guest of the Rector’ Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences for six months in 2012, a Visiting Professorship for six months at the University of Cyprus in 2007, and a Visiting Scholar position at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg in 2005. She is Associate Editor of Lingua and member of the Editorial Board of the journals Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Second Language Research, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, Biolinguistics (e-journal), Journal of Greek Linguistics and of the Book Series “Language Acquisition and Language Disorders”.

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‘A teaching intervention may not reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and phonological awareness’

Dr Bene Bassetti (University of Birmingham)

The orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words can affect how L2 learners and L2 users pronounce L2 sounds, even after years of immersion in an L2 environment. It is however not known whether a training intervention can reduce such orthographic effects on L2 phonology. This paper will report the results of a study (Bassetti, Cerni & Masterson, under review) that investigated whether a teaching intervention can reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and awareness.

Previous studies found that Italian learners of L2 English produce and categorise the same English consonant as two different sounds: a short consonant if it is spelled with one letter, and as a geminate (a long consonant) if it is spelled with double letters. This is because in written double consonant letters represent geminates, and Italian native speakers therefore recode English double consonant letters. Bassetti and colleagues used a randomised controlled trial design, and allocated 100 Italian high-school students to a phonological intervention or a control group.

The teaching intervention group explored the correspondences between double letters and sound length in English, using reflection, explicit teaching and practice. The control group practiced the same English spoken and written words without mentions of orthography. All participants performed a delayed word repetition task and phonological awareness task twice, pre- and post-intervention. The teaching intervention had no effects. It appears that once orthographic effects on L2 phonology are established, they are difficult to eliminate, whether with extensive naturalistic exposure or with a teaching intervention.

Reference: Bassetti, B., Cerni, T., & Masterson, J. (under review) Efficacy of a teaching intervention to reduce the effects of orthographic forms on second language phonology: A randomized controlled trial

Bio: Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti leads Language and Condition at Birmingham (LACAB).

Nathan Thomas is an Applied Linguistics Tutor on the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT) course.

He also teaches on the MA TESOL (Pre-Service) course at the UCL Institute of Education, where he is completing his doctoral research under the dual supervision of Jim McKinley (UCL) and Heath Rose (Oxford).

His research focuses mainly on theoretical developments in the field of language learning strategies and on international students’ strategic learning in higher education. He is also involved in other projects pertaining to English medium instruction and English language teaching. His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, ELT Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, System, and TESOL Quarterly. He has also presented at more than 50 conferences in 14 countries all over the world.

Before his assuming his current roles, Nathan worked for ten years in China and Thailand, most recently as Director of English as a Foreign Language for a private educational consulting company in Beijing. He completed an MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (which is now the MSc ALLT at Oxford), MEd International Teaching, MA Applied Linguistics (ELT), BA English, and various teaching certificates, all while working full time.

For further information, please click here.

 

Publications

Bowen, N. & Thomas, N. (2020). Manipulating texture and cohesion in academic writing: A keystroke logging study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 50, 100773.

Pun, J. & Thomas, N. (2020). English medium instruction: Teachers challenges and coping strategies. ELT Journal, 74(3), 247-257.

Thomas, N. & Osment, C. (2020). Building on Dewaele’s (2018) L1 versus LX dichotomy: The Language-Usage-Identity State model. Applied Linguistics, 41(6), 1005-1010.

Zhang, L.J., Thomas, N., & Qin, T.L. (2019). Language learning strategy research in System: Looking back and looking forward. System, 84, 87-92.

Thomas, N., Rose, H., & Pojanapunya, P. (2019). Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings. Applied Linguistics Review (Advanced Access), 1-18.

Thomas, N. & Brereton, P. (2019). Pedagogical Implications: Practitioners respond to Michael Swan’s ‘Applied Linguistics: A consumer’s view.’ Language Teaching, 52(2), 275–278.

Thomas, N. & Rose, H. (2019). Do language learning strategies need to be self-directed? Disentangling strategies from self-regulated learning. TESOL Quarterly, 53(1), 248-257.

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Abstract: English-medium instruction (EMI) refers the practice of offering academic subjects taught through English in countries where English is not the first language of the majority of the population. The growth of EMI in higher education (HE) has been well-documented, and the driving forces behind EMI are intertwined with goals related to the internationalization of HE. Although EMI as a phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent decades, little research has explored EMI across global regions, particularly in countries in the Global South. This study aimed to investigate the current situation with regards to the introduction and expansion of EMI in HE in 52 countries designated as recipients on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list. In doing so, the study aimed to shed light on EMI provision in many countries which are relatively less resourced and under-researched. The study involved 3 stages of investigation: (1) a country-level analysis with data collected through open-ended questionnaires from informed respondents to investigate the introduction and expansion of EMI in the 52 ODA recipient countries; (2) a website analysis of purposively sampled universities to examine what information with regards to EMI programmes is available; and (3) a survey of key institutional players to explore additional information about EMI programmes offered worldwide. The data was analyzed to explore global and regional trends, and the findings offer insights into the admission requirements, professional development opportunities, international student enrolment, and driving forces behind EMI programs. Based on the findings, recommendations are offered for researchers and practitioners.

Bio: Kari Sahan is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and an Honorary Norham Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She completed her DPhil in 2020 from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher–student interaction and the use of the L1 in EMI classrooms. Her work has appeared in journals such as ELT Journal, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, System, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.

Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.

 

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Children are powerful statistical spellers: They can learn novel written patterns with phonological counterparts under experimental conditions, via implicit learning processes, akin to “statistical learning” processes established for spoken language acquisition. Can these mechanisms fully account for children’s knowledge of written patterns? How does this ability relate to literacy measures? How does it compare to explicit learning? I address these questions in a series of artificial lexicon experiments, inducing graphotactic learning under incidental and explicit conditions, and comparing it with measures of literacy. Previous studies assessed learning of spelling rules which have counterparts in spoken language; however, while this is also the case for some naturalistic spelling rules (e.g., English phonotactics prohibit word initial /ŋ/ and accordingly, written words cannot begin with ng), there are also purely visual constraints (graphotactics) (e.g., gz is an illegal spelling of a frequent word-final sound combination in English: *bagz). Can children learn patterns unconfounded from correlated phonotactics? Developing and skilled spellers were exposed to patterns replete of phonotactic cues. In post-tests, participants generalized over both positional constraints embedded in semiartificial strings, and contextual constraints created using homophonic non-word stimuli. This was demonstrated following passive exposure and even under meaningful (word learning) conditions, and success in learning graphotactics was not hindered by learning word meanings. However, the effect sizes across these experiments remained small, and the hypothesized positive associations between learning performance under incidental conditions and literacy measures were never observed. This relationship was only found under explicit conditions, when pattern generalization benefited. Investigation of age effects revealed that adults and children show similar patterns of learning but adults learn faster from matched text.

Bio: Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps. Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

 

PLEASE JOIN US ON TEAMS ON THE DAY OF THE EVENT.

Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps.

Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

Publications

Samara, Singh & Wonnacott (2019). Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental learning experiment with children. Cognition, Volume 182, 2019, Pages 25-30, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.005.

Singh, Samara & Wonnacott (accepted for publication in the Journal of Memory and Language). Statistical and explicit learning of graphotactic patterns with no phonological counterpart: Evidence from an artificial lexicon study with 7–8-year-olds and adults. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8px7n/.

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‘Plurilingual teaching and its effects on foreign language development

Professor Holger Hopp, Dr Jenny Jakisch and Sarah Sturm (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Research indicates that plurilingual teaching, i.e. integrating the learners’ (home) language repertoire into the teaching of a foreign language (FL), can improve FL achievement (Busse et al., 2019; Leonet et al., 2019). Against this background, we will present findings of a project in which a plurilingual approach to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) was implemented in four primary schools (year 4) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for 6 months. In each school, the English lessons of one group (intervention group) were extended by integrating the participants’ home languages whereas in the other group (comparison group) regular “monolingual” EFL lessons were conducted.

In our talk, we will present the research design as well as the teaching methods and materials that were used in the intervention group. We will also discuss how the young learners experienced the plurilingual lessons. Furthermore, we will show which effects the different teaching approaches had on the participants’ English achievement (vocabulary and grammar) and metalinguistic awareness by presenting data from longitudinal pre- and post-tests.

The data indicate that both monolingual and plurilingual participants gain FL competence during the 6-month intervention. However, the intervention group did not show differential learning gains compared to the comparison group. When testing for specific grammatical phenomena that were subject to instruction in the plurilingual lessons (e.g. questions), we found that the intervention group outperformed the control group. We conclude that addressing specific learners‘ plurilingual resources may support them in learning a foreign language. In our talk, we discuss the results and the potentials of plurilingual foreign language teaching.

References: Busse, V., Cenoz, J., Dalmann, N., & Rogge, F. (2019). Addressing Linguistic Diversity in the Language Classroom in a Resource‐Oriented Way: An Intervention Study With Primary School Children. Language Learning, 31(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12382

Leonet, O., Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2019). Developing morphological awareness across languages: translanguaging pedagogies in third language acquisition. Language Awareness, 79(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2019.1688338

Bios:

Holger Hopp: Holger Hopp is a professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany). In his research, he investigates child and adult L2/3 acquisition and processing as well as heritage language acquisition and attrition. He uses several psycholinguistic methods to determine the directionality, scope and degree of cross-linguistic influence in bi- and multilingual speakers of different ages.

Jenny Jakisch: Jenny Jakisch is lecturer and researcher at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her PhD dealt with the role of English language teaching (ELT) for fostering multilingualism. Her current research interests include teacher education, classroom management and inclusive ELT.

Sarah Sturm: Sarah Sturm is a research assistant and PhD student at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her research interests include multilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language (with a focus on young learners) and learning strategies. In her PhD project, she is investigating the use of language learning strategies by young multilingual foreign language learners.

 

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‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Professor Jenni Rodd (UCL)

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

Bio: Professor Jenni Rodd conducts research into how we understand the meanings of the words that we hear or read, and how we combine together the information from individual words to construct representations of the meanings of sentences. She has a particular interest in how we use our recent and long-term experience with language to improve the efficiency of these processes. She is the director of The Word Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL.

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‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: literacy and cognition

Professor Ianthi M. Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Much research in multilingualism and its effects on cognition and language ability has focused on individuals in western societies. Socioeconomic status, language of education and language prestige have been identified as some of the factors that appear to influence bi/multilingual individuals’ linguistic and cognitive profile although most research on the role of bilingualism on cognition has not capitalized on such factors. I will focus on multilingualism in India, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (UNESCO, 2009). Linguistic variation across Indian speakers is vast and includes variation in the number of home languages used, societal/community languages, official medium of instruction in schools and actual language practices in the classroom.

As language is the primary vehicle of education and learning, variation in any of the above measures of multilingualism can affect the language experience of the school child and have knock-on effects on the development of school skills (basic and higher literacy and numeracy), or cognition. Focusing on the data from 1200 children from urban primary schools in Delhi and Hyderabad and from rural areas in Patna, all from deprived or severely deprived socioeconomic backgrounds, I will try to disentangle how language experience and linguistic diversity in the child’s immediate environment (school, family, community) affect school skills and cognitive abilities.

Participants attend government primary schools in slum vs. non-slum urban areas of Delhi and Hyderabad, or town vs. rural areas in Patna, as part of a four-year, large-scale research project (MultiLila). They were assessed on mathematical reasoning, word, sentence and text reading, as well as non-verbal IQ, inhibition and complex working memory skills. Children attend English-medium or regional language medium schools (Hindi or Telugu), meaning that their assessment, textbooks and language used in the classroom is the official medium of instruction.

Although the language of textbooks and assessment match the official medium of instruction, language practices in the classroom include language mixing with English-only input ranging from zero to 40%, in English-medium schools. Taking into account the child’s home language(s) and the extent to which they are used in the classroom I will present the participants’ performance on linguistic, reasoning and cognitive skills. Results indicate a significant effect of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the cognitive and school skills of children from underprivileged socioeconomic background.

Bio:

Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli works on language development in the first and second language in children and adults, as well as on language impairment, attrition, bilingualism, language processing and the interaction between language, cognitive abilities and print exposure. She recently held the positions of Professor of Multilingualism and Cognition at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and the positions of Professor of Psycholinguistics and Director of the Language Development Lab at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Professor Tsimpli held a ‘Guest of the Rector’ Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences for six months in 2012, a Visiting Professorship for six months at the University of Cyprus in 2007, and a Visiting Scholar position at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg in 2005. She is Associate Editor of Lingua and member of the Editorial Board of the journals Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Second Language Research, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, Biolinguistics (e-journal), Journal of Greek Linguistics and of the Book Series “Language Acquisition and Language Disorders”.

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‘A teaching intervention may not reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and phonological awareness’

Dr Bene Bassetti (University of Birmingham)

The orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words can affect how L2 learners and L2 users pronounce L2 sounds, even after years of immersion in an L2 environment. It is however not known whether a training intervention can reduce such orthographic effects on L2 phonology. This paper will report the results of a study (Bassetti, Cerni & Masterson, under review) that investigated whether a teaching intervention can reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and awareness.

Previous studies found that Italian learners of L2 English produce and categorise the same English consonant as two different sounds: a short consonant if it is spelled with one letter, and as a geminate (a long consonant) if it is spelled with double letters. This is because in written double consonant letters represent geminates, and Italian native speakers therefore recode English double consonant letters. Bassetti and colleagues used a randomised controlled trial design, and allocated 100 Italian high-school students to a phonological intervention or a control group.

The teaching intervention group explored the correspondences between double letters and sound length in English, using reflection, explicit teaching and practice. The control group practiced the same English spoken and written words without mentions of orthography. All participants performed a delayed word repetition task and phonological awareness task twice, pre- and post-intervention. The teaching intervention had no effects. It appears that once orthographic effects on L2 phonology are established, they are difficult to eliminate, whether with extensive naturalistic exposure or with a teaching intervention.

Reference: Bassetti, B., Cerni, T., & Masterson, J. (under review) Efficacy of a teaching intervention to reduce the effects of orthographic forms on second language phonology: A randomized controlled trial

Bio: Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti leads Language and Condition at Birmingham (LACAB).

Nathan Thomas is an Applied Linguistics Tutor on the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT) course.

He also teaches on the MA TESOL (Pre-Service) course at the UCL Institute of Education, where he is completing his doctoral research under the dual supervision of Jim McKinley (UCL) and Heath Rose (Oxford).

His research focuses mainly on theoretical developments in the field of language learning strategies and on international students’ strategic learning in higher education. He is also involved in other projects pertaining to English medium instruction and English language teaching. His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, ELT Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, System, and TESOL Quarterly. He has also presented at more than 50 conferences in 14 countries all over the world.

Before his assuming his current roles, Nathan worked for ten years in China and Thailand, most recently as Director of English as a Foreign Language for a private educational consulting company in Beijing. He completed an MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (which is now the MSc ALLT at Oxford), MEd International Teaching, MA Applied Linguistics (ELT), BA English, and various teaching certificates, all while working full time.

For further information, please click here.

 

Publications

Bowen, N. & Thomas, N. (2020). Manipulating texture and cohesion in academic writing: A keystroke logging study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 50, 100773.

Pun, J. & Thomas, N. (2020). English medium instruction: Teachers challenges and coping strategies. ELT Journal, 74(3), 247-257.

Thomas, N. & Osment, C. (2020). Building on Dewaele’s (2018) L1 versus LX dichotomy: The Language-Usage-Identity State model. Applied Linguistics, 41(6), 1005-1010.

Zhang, L.J., Thomas, N., & Qin, T.L. (2019). Language learning strategy research in System: Looking back and looking forward. System, 84, 87-92.

Thomas, N., Rose, H., & Pojanapunya, P. (2019). Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings. Applied Linguistics Review (Advanced Access), 1-18.

Thomas, N. & Brereton, P. (2019). Pedagogical Implications: Practitioners respond to Michael Swan’s ‘Applied Linguistics: A consumer’s view.’ Language Teaching, 52(2), 275–278.

Thomas, N. & Rose, H. (2019). Do language learning strategies need to be self-directed? Disentangling strategies from self-regulated learning. TESOL Quarterly, 53(1), 248-257.

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Abstract: English-medium instruction (EMI) refers the practice of offering academic subjects taught through English in countries where English is not the first language of the majority of the population. The growth of EMI in higher education (HE) has been well-documented, and the driving forces behind EMI are intertwined with goals related to the internationalization of HE. Although EMI as a phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent decades, little research has explored EMI across global regions, particularly in countries in the Global South. This study aimed to investigate the current situation with regards to the introduction and expansion of EMI in HE in 52 countries designated as recipients on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list. In doing so, the study aimed to shed light on EMI provision in many countries which are relatively less resourced and under-researched. The study involved 3 stages of investigation: (1) a country-level analysis with data collected through open-ended questionnaires from informed respondents to investigate the introduction and expansion of EMI in the 52 ODA recipient countries; (2) a website analysis of purposively sampled universities to examine what information with regards to EMI programmes is available; and (3) a survey of key institutional players to explore additional information about EMI programmes offered worldwide. The data was analyzed to explore global and regional trends, and the findings offer insights into the admission requirements, professional development opportunities, international student enrolment, and driving forces behind EMI programs. Based on the findings, recommendations are offered for researchers and practitioners.

Bio: Kari Sahan is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and an Honorary Norham Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She completed her DPhil in 2020 from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher–student interaction and the use of the L1 in EMI classrooms. Her work has appeared in journals such as ELT Journal, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, System, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.

Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.

 

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Children are powerful statistical spellers: They can learn novel written patterns with phonological counterparts under experimental conditions, via implicit learning processes, akin to “statistical learning” processes established for spoken language acquisition. Can these mechanisms fully account for children’s knowledge of written patterns? How does this ability relate to literacy measures? How does it compare to explicit learning? I address these questions in a series of artificial lexicon experiments, inducing graphotactic learning under incidental and explicit conditions, and comparing it with measures of literacy. Previous studies assessed learning of spelling rules which have counterparts in spoken language; however, while this is also the case for some naturalistic spelling rules (e.g., English phonotactics prohibit word initial /ŋ/ and accordingly, written words cannot begin with ng), there are also purely visual constraints (graphotactics) (e.g., gz is an illegal spelling of a frequent word-final sound combination in English: *bagz). Can children learn patterns unconfounded from correlated phonotactics? Developing and skilled spellers were exposed to patterns replete of phonotactic cues. In post-tests, participants generalized over both positional constraints embedded in semiartificial strings, and contextual constraints created using homophonic non-word stimuli. This was demonstrated following passive exposure and even under meaningful (word learning) conditions, and success in learning graphotactics was not hindered by learning word meanings. However, the effect sizes across these experiments remained small, and the hypothesized positive associations between learning performance under incidental conditions and literacy measures were never observed. This relationship was only found under explicit conditions, when pattern generalization benefited. Investigation of age effects revealed that adults and children show similar patterns of learning but adults learn faster from matched text.

Bio: Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps. Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

 

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Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps.

Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

Publications

Samara, Singh & Wonnacott (2019). Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental learning experiment with children. Cognition, Volume 182, 2019, Pages 25-30, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.005.

Singh, Samara & Wonnacott (accepted for publication in the Journal of Memory and Language). Statistical and explicit learning of graphotactic patterns with no phonological counterpart: Evidence from an artificial lexicon study with 7–8-year-olds and adults. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8px7n/.

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‘Plurilingual teaching and its effects on foreign language development

Professor Holger Hopp, Dr Jenny Jakisch and Sarah Sturm (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Research indicates that plurilingual teaching, i.e. integrating the learners’ (home) language repertoire into the teaching of a foreign language (FL), can improve FL achievement (Busse et al., 2019; Leonet et al., 2019). Against this background, we will present findings of a project in which a plurilingual approach to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) was implemented in four primary schools (year 4) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for 6 months. In each school, the English lessons of one group (intervention group) were extended by integrating the participants’ home languages whereas in the other group (comparison group) regular “monolingual” EFL lessons were conducted.

In our talk, we will present the research design as well as the teaching methods and materials that were used in the intervention group. We will also discuss how the young learners experienced the plurilingual lessons. Furthermore, we will show which effects the different teaching approaches had on the participants’ English achievement (vocabulary and grammar) and metalinguistic awareness by presenting data from longitudinal pre- and post-tests.

The data indicate that both monolingual and plurilingual participants gain FL competence during the 6-month intervention. However, the intervention group did not show differential learning gains compared to the comparison group. When testing for specific grammatical phenomena that were subject to instruction in the plurilingual lessons (e.g. questions), we found that the intervention group outperformed the control group. We conclude that addressing specific learners‘ plurilingual resources may support them in learning a foreign language. In our talk, we discuss the results and the potentials of plurilingual foreign language teaching.

References: Busse, V., Cenoz, J., Dalmann, N., & Rogge, F. (2019). Addressing Linguistic Diversity in the Language Classroom in a Resource‐Oriented Way: An Intervention Study With Primary School Children. Language Learning, 31(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12382

Leonet, O., Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2019). Developing morphological awareness across languages: translanguaging pedagogies in third language acquisition. Language Awareness, 79(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2019.1688338

Bios:

Holger Hopp: Holger Hopp is a professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany). In his research, he investigates child and adult L2/3 acquisition and processing as well as heritage language acquisition and attrition. He uses several psycholinguistic methods to determine the directionality, scope and degree of cross-linguistic influence in bi- and multilingual speakers of different ages.

Jenny Jakisch: Jenny Jakisch is lecturer and researcher at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her PhD dealt with the role of English language teaching (ELT) for fostering multilingualism. Her current research interests include teacher education, classroom management and inclusive ELT.

Sarah Sturm: Sarah Sturm is a research assistant and PhD student at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her research interests include multilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language (with a focus on young learners) and learning strategies. In her PhD project, she is investigating the use of language learning strategies by young multilingual foreign language learners.

 

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‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Professor Jenni Rodd (UCL)

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

Bio: Professor Jenni Rodd conducts research into how we understand the meanings of the words that we hear or read, and how we combine together the information from individual words to construct representations of the meanings of sentences. She has a particular interest in how we use our recent and long-term experience with language to improve the efficiency of these processes. She is the director of The Word Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL.

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‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: literacy and cognition

Professor Ianthi M. Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Much research in multilingualism and its effects on cognition and language ability has focused on individuals in western societies. Socioeconomic status, language of education and language prestige have been identified as some of the factors that appear to influence bi/multilingual individuals’ linguistic and cognitive profile although most research on the role of bilingualism on cognition has not capitalized on such factors. I will focus on multilingualism in India, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (UNESCO, 2009). Linguistic variation across Indian speakers is vast and includes variation in the number of home languages used, societal/community languages, official medium of instruction in schools and actual language practices in the classroom.

As language is the primary vehicle of education and learning, variation in any of the above measures of multilingualism can affect the language experience of the school child and have knock-on effects on the development of school skills (basic and higher literacy and numeracy), or cognition. Focusing on the data from 1200 children from urban primary schools in Delhi and Hyderabad and from rural areas in Patna, all from deprived or severely deprived socioeconomic backgrounds, I will try to disentangle how language experience and linguistic diversity in the child’s immediate environment (school, family, community) affect school skills and cognitive abilities.

Participants attend government primary schools in slum vs. non-slum urban areas of Delhi and Hyderabad, or town vs. rural areas in Patna, as part of a four-year, large-scale research project (MultiLila). They were assessed on mathematical reasoning, word, sentence and text reading, as well as non-verbal IQ, inhibition and complex working memory skills. Children attend English-medium or regional language medium schools (Hindi or Telugu), meaning that their assessment, textbooks and language used in the classroom is the official medium of instruction.

Although the language of textbooks and assessment match the official medium of instruction, language practices in the classroom include language mixing with English-only input ranging from zero to 40%, in English-medium schools. Taking into account the child’s home language(s) and the extent to which they are used in the classroom I will present the participants’ performance on linguistic, reasoning and cognitive skills. Results indicate a significant effect of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the cognitive and school skills of children from underprivileged socioeconomic background.

Bio:

Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli works on language development in the first and second language in children and adults, as well as on language impairment, attrition, bilingualism, language processing and the interaction between language, cognitive abilities and print exposure. She recently held the positions of Professor of Multilingualism and Cognition at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and the positions of Professor of Psycholinguistics and Director of the Language Development Lab at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Professor Tsimpli held a ‘Guest of the Rector’ Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences for six months in 2012, a Visiting Professorship for six months at the University of Cyprus in 2007, and a Visiting Scholar position at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg in 2005. She is Associate Editor of Lingua and member of the Editorial Board of the journals Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Second Language Research, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, Biolinguistics (e-journal), Journal of Greek Linguistics and of the Book Series “Language Acquisition and Language Disorders”.

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‘A teaching intervention may not reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and phonological awareness’

Dr Bene Bassetti (University of Birmingham)

The orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words can affect how L2 learners and L2 users pronounce L2 sounds, even after years of immersion in an L2 environment. It is however not known whether a training intervention can reduce such orthographic effects on L2 phonology. This paper will report the results of a study (Bassetti, Cerni & Masterson, under review) that investigated whether a teaching intervention can reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and awareness.

Previous studies found that Italian learners of L2 English produce and categorise the same English consonant as two different sounds: a short consonant if it is spelled with one letter, and as a geminate (a long consonant) if it is spelled with double letters. This is because in written double consonant letters represent geminates, and Italian native speakers therefore recode English double consonant letters. Bassetti and colleagues used a randomised controlled trial design, and allocated 100 Italian high-school students to a phonological intervention or a control group.

The teaching intervention group explored the correspondences between double letters and sound length in English, using reflection, explicit teaching and practice. The control group practiced the same English spoken and written words without mentions of orthography. All participants performed a delayed word repetition task and phonological awareness task twice, pre- and post-intervention. The teaching intervention had no effects. It appears that once orthographic effects on L2 phonology are established, they are difficult to eliminate, whether with extensive naturalistic exposure or with a teaching intervention.

Reference: Bassetti, B., Cerni, T., & Masterson, J. (under review) Efficacy of a teaching intervention to reduce the effects of orthographic forms on second language phonology: A randomized controlled trial

Bio: Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti leads Language and Condition at Birmingham (LACAB).

Nathan Thomas is an Applied Linguistics Tutor on the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT) course.

He also teaches on the MA TESOL (Pre-Service) course at the UCL Institute of Education, where he is completing his doctoral research under the dual supervision of Jim McKinley (UCL) and Heath Rose (Oxford).

His research focuses mainly on theoretical developments in the field of language learning strategies and on international students’ strategic learning in higher education. He is also involved in other projects pertaining to English medium instruction and English language teaching. His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, ELT Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, System, and TESOL Quarterly. He has also presented at more than 50 conferences in 14 countries all over the world.

Before his assuming his current roles, Nathan worked for ten years in China and Thailand, most recently as Director of English as a Foreign Language for a private educational consulting company in Beijing. He completed an MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (which is now the MSc ALLT at Oxford), MEd International Teaching, MA Applied Linguistics (ELT), BA English, and various teaching certificates, all while working full time.

For further information, please click here.

 

Publications

Bowen, N. & Thomas, N. (2020). Manipulating texture and cohesion in academic writing: A keystroke logging study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 50, 100773.

Pun, J. & Thomas, N. (2020). English medium instruction: Teachers challenges and coping strategies. ELT Journal, 74(3), 247-257.

Thomas, N. & Osment, C. (2020). Building on Dewaele’s (2018) L1 versus LX dichotomy: The Language-Usage-Identity State model. Applied Linguistics, 41(6), 1005-1010.

Zhang, L.J., Thomas, N., & Qin, T.L. (2019). Language learning strategy research in System: Looking back and looking forward. System, 84, 87-92.

Thomas, N., Rose, H., & Pojanapunya, P. (2019). Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings. Applied Linguistics Review (Advanced Access), 1-18.

Thomas, N. & Brereton, P. (2019). Pedagogical Implications: Practitioners respond to Michael Swan’s ‘Applied Linguistics: A consumer’s view.’ Language Teaching, 52(2), 275–278.

Thomas, N. & Rose, H. (2019). Do language learning strategies need to be self-directed? Disentangling strategies from self-regulated learning. TESOL Quarterly, 53(1), 248-257.

PLEASE JOIN US THE DAY OF THE EVENT VIA TEAMS.

Abstract: English-medium instruction (EMI) refers the practice of offering academic subjects taught through English in countries where English is not the first language of the majority of the population. The growth of EMI in higher education (HE) has been well-documented, and the driving forces behind EMI are intertwined with goals related to the internationalization of HE. Although EMI as a phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent decades, little research has explored EMI across global regions, particularly in countries in the Global South. This study aimed to investigate the current situation with regards to the introduction and expansion of EMI in HE in 52 countries designated as recipients on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list. In doing so, the study aimed to shed light on EMI provision in many countries which are relatively less resourced and under-researched. The study involved 3 stages of investigation: (1) a country-level analysis with data collected through open-ended questionnaires from informed respondents to investigate the introduction and expansion of EMI in the 52 ODA recipient countries; (2) a website analysis of purposively sampled universities to examine what information with regards to EMI programmes is available; and (3) a survey of key institutional players to explore additional information about EMI programmes offered worldwide. The data was analyzed to explore global and regional trends, and the findings offer insights into the admission requirements, professional development opportunities, international student enrolment, and driving forces behind EMI programs. Based on the findings, recommendations are offered for researchers and practitioners.

Bio: Kari Sahan is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and an Honorary Norham Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She completed her DPhil in 2020 from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher–student interaction and the use of the L1 in EMI classrooms. Her work has appeared in journals such as ELT Journal, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, System, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.

Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.

 

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Children are powerful statistical spellers: They can learn novel written patterns with phonological counterparts under experimental conditions, via implicit learning processes, akin to “statistical learning” processes established for spoken language acquisition. Can these mechanisms fully account for children’s knowledge of written patterns? How does this ability relate to literacy measures? How does it compare to explicit learning? I address these questions in a series of artificial lexicon experiments, inducing graphotactic learning under incidental and explicit conditions, and comparing it with measures of literacy. Previous studies assessed learning of spelling rules which have counterparts in spoken language; however, while this is also the case for some naturalistic spelling rules (e.g., English phonotactics prohibit word initial /ŋ/ and accordingly, written words cannot begin with ng), there are also purely visual constraints (graphotactics) (e.g., gz is an illegal spelling of a frequent word-final sound combination in English: *bagz). Can children learn patterns unconfounded from correlated phonotactics? Developing and skilled spellers were exposed to patterns replete of phonotactic cues. In post-tests, participants generalized over both positional constraints embedded in semiartificial strings, and contextual constraints created using homophonic non-word stimuli. This was demonstrated following passive exposure and even under meaningful (word learning) conditions, and success in learning graphotactics was not hindered by learning word meanings. However, the effect sizes across these experiments remained small, and the hypothesized positive associations between learning performance under incidental conditions and literacy measures were never observed. This relationship was only found under explicit conditions, when pattern generalization benefited. Investigation of age effects revealed that adults and children show similar patterns of learning but adults learn faster from matched text.

Bio: Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps. Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

 

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Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps.

Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

Publications

Samara, Singh & Wonnacott (2019). Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental learning experiment with children. Cognition, Volume 182, 2019, Pages 25-30, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.005.

Singh, Samara & Wonnacott (accepted for publication in the Journal of Memory and Language). Statistical and explicit learning of graphotactic patterns with no phonological counterpart: Evidence from an artificial lexicon study with 7–8-year-olds and adults. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8px7n/.

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‘Plurilingual teaching and its effects on foreign language development

Professor Holger Hopp, Dr Jenny Jakisch and Sarah Sturm (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Research indicates that plurilingual teaching, i.e. integrating the learners’ (home) language repertoire into the teaching of a foreign language (FL), can improve FL achievement (Busse et al., 2019; Leonet et al., 2019). Against this background, we will present findings of a project in which a plurilingual approach to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) was implemented in four primary schools (year 4) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for 6 months. In each school, the English lessons of one group (intervention group) were extended by integrating the participants’ home languages whereas in the other group (comparison group) regular “monolingual” EFL lessons were conducted.

In our talk, we will present the research design as well as the teaching methods and materials that were used in the intervention group. We will also discuss how the young learners experienced the plurilingual lessons. Furthermore, we will show which effects the different teaching approaches had on the participants’ English achievement (vocabulary and grammar) and metalinguistic awareness by presenting data from longitudinal pre- and post-tests.

The data indicate that both monolingual and plurilingual participants gain FL competence during the 6-month intervention. However, the intervention group did not show differential learning gains compared to the comparison group. When testing for specific grammatical phenomena that were subject to instruction in the plurilingual lessons (e.g. questions), we found that the intervention group outperformed the control group. We conclude that addressing specific learners‘ plurilingual resources may support them in learning a foreign language. In our talk, we discuss the results and the potentials of plurilingual foreign language teaching.

References: Busse, V., Cenoz, J., Dalmann, N., & Rogge, F. (2019). Addressing Linguistic Diversity in the Language Classroom in a Resource‐Oriented Way: An Intervention Study With Primary School Children. Language Learning, 31(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12382

Leonet, O., Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2019). Developing morphological awareness across languages: translanguaging pedagogies in third language acquisition. Language Awareness, 79(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2019.1688338

Bios:

Holger Hopp: Holger Hopp is a professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany). In his research, he investigates child and adult L2/3 acquisition and processing as well as heritage language acquisition and attrition. He uses several psycholinguistic methods to determine the directionality, scope and degree of cross-linguistic influence in bi- and multilingual speakers of different ages.

Jenny Jakisch: Jenny Jakisch is lecturer and researcher at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her PhD dealt with the role of English language teaching (ELT) for fostering multilingualism. Her current research interests include teacher education, classroom management and inclusive ELT.

Sarah Sturm: Sarah Sturm is a research assistant and PhD student at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her research interests include multilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language (with a focus on young learners) and learning strategies. In her PhD project, she is investigating the use of language learning strategies by young multilingual foreign language learners.

 

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‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Professor Jenni Rodd (UCL)

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

Bio: Professor Jenni Rodd conducts research into how we understand the meanings of the words that we hear or read, and how we combine together the information from individual words to construct representations of the meanings of sentences. She has a particular interest in how we use our recent and long-term experience with language to improve the efficiency of these processes. She is the director of The Word Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL.

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‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: literacy and cognition

Professor Ianthi M. Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Much research in multilingualism and its effects on cognition and language ability has focused on individuals in western societies. Socioeconomic status, language of education and language prestige have been identified as some of the factors that appear to influence bi/multilingual individuals’ linguistic and cognitive profile although most research on the role of bilingualism on cognition has not capitalized on such factors. I will focus on multilingualism in India, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (UNESCO, 2009). Linguistic variation across Indian speakers is vast and includes variation in the number of home languages used, societal/community languages, official medium of instruction in schools and actual language practices in the classroom.

As language is the primary vehicle of education and learning, variation in any of the above measures of multilingualism can affect the language experience of the school child and have knock-on effects on the development of school skills (basic and higher literacy and numeracy), or cognition. Focusing on the data from 1200 children from urban primary schools in Delhi and Hyderabad and from rural areas in Patna, all from deprived or severely deprived socioeconomic backgrounds, I will try to disentangle how language experience and linguistic diversity in the child’s immediate environment (school, family, community) affect school skills and cognitive abilities.

Participants attend government primary schools in slum vs. non-slum urban areas of Delhi and Hyderabad, or town vs. rural areas in Patna, as part of a four-year, large-scale research project (MultiLila). They were assessed on mathematical reasoning, word, sentence and text reading, as well as non-verbal IQ, inhibition and complex working memory skills. Children attend English-medium or regional language medium schools (Hindi or Telugu), meaning that their assessment, textbooks and language used in the classroom is the official medium of instruction.

Although the language of textbooks and assessment match the official medium of instruction, language practices in the classroom include language mixing with English-only input ranging from zero to 40%, in English-medium schools. Taking into account the child’s home language(s) and the extent to which they are used in the classroom I will present the participants’ performance on linguistic, reasoning and cognitive skills. Results indicate a significant effect of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the cognitive and school skills of children from underprivileged socioeconomic background.

Bio:

Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli works on language development in the first and second language in children and adults, as well as on language impairment, attrition, bilingualism, language processing and the interaction between language, cognitive abilities and print exposure. She recently held the positions of Professor of Multilingualism and Cognition at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and the positions of Professor of Psycholinguistics and Director of the Language Development Lab at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Professor Tsimpli held a ‘Guest of the Rector’ Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences for six months in 2012, a Visiting Professorship for six months at the University of Cyprus in 2007, and a Visiting Scholar position at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg in 2005. She is Associate Editor of Lingua and member of the Editorial Board of the journals Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Second Language Research, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, Biolinguistics (e-journal), Journal of Greek Linguistics and of the Book Series “Language Acquisition and Language Disorders”.

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‘A teaching intervention may not reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and phonological awareness’

Dr Bene Bassetti (University of Birmingham)

The orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words can affect how L2 learners and L2 users pronounce L2 sounds, even after years of immersion in an L2 environment. It is however not known whether a training intervention can reduce such orthographic effects on L2 phonology. This paper will report the results of a study (Bassetti, Cerni & Masterson, under review) that investigated whether a teaching intervention can reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and awareness.

Previous studies found that Italian learners of L2 English produce and categorise the same English consonant as two different sounds: a short consonant if it is spelled with one letter, and as a geminate (a long consonant) if it is spelled with double letters. This is because in written double consonant letters represent geminates, and Italian native speakers therefore recode English double consonant letters. Bassetti and colleagues used a randomised controlled trial design, and allocated 100 Italian high-school students to a phonological intervention or a control group.

The teaching intervention group explored the correspondences between double letters and sound length in English, using reflection, explicit teaching and practice. The control group practiced the same English spoken and written words without mentions of orthography. All participants performed a delayed word repetition task and phonological awareness task twice, pre- and post-intervention. The teaching intervention had no effects. It appears that once orthographic effects on L2 phonology are established, they are difficult to eliminate, whether with extensive naturalistic exposure or with a teaching intervention.

Reference: Bassetti, B., Cerni, T., & Masterson, J. (under review) Efficacy of a teaching intervention to reduce the effects of orthographic forms on second language phonology: A randomized controlled trial

Bio: Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti leads Language and Condition at Birmingham (LACAB).

Nathan Thomas is an Applied Linguistics Tutor on the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT) course.

He also teaches on the MA TESOL (Pre-Service) course at the UCL Institute of Education, where he is completing his doctoral research under the dual supervision of Jim McKinley (UCL) and Heath Rose (Oxford).

His research focuses mainly on theoretical developments in the field of language learning strategies and on international students’ strategic learning in higher education. He is also involved in other projects pertaining to English medium instruction and English language teaching. His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, ELT Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, System, and TESOL Quarterly. He has also presented at more than 50 conferences in 14 countries all over the world.

Before his assuming his current roles, Nathan worked for ten years in China and Thailand, most recently as Director of English as a Foreign Language for a private educational consulting company in Beijing. He completed an MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (which is now the MSc ALLT at Oxford), MEd International Teaching, MA Applied Linguistics (ELT), BA English, and various teaching certificates, all while working full time.

For further information, please click here.

 

Publications

Bowen, N. & Thomas, N. (2020). Manipulating texture and cohesion in academic writing: A keystroke logging study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 50, 100773.

Pun, J. & Thomas, N. (2020). English medium instruction: Teachers challenges and coping strategies. ELT Journal, 74(3), 247-257.

Thomas, N. & Osment, C. (2020). Building on Dewaele’s (2018) L1 versus LX dichotomy: The Language-Usage-Identity State model. Applied Linguistics, 41(6), 1005-1010.

Zhang, L.J., Thomas, N., & Qin, T.L. (2019). Language learning strategy research in System: Looking back and looking forward. System, 84, 87-92.

Thomas, N., Rose, H., & Pojanapunya, P. (2019). Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings. Applied Linguistics Review (Advanced Access), 1-18.

Thomas, N. & Brereton, P. (2019). Pedagogical Implications: Practitioners respond to Michael Swan’s ‘Applied Linguistics: A consumer’s view.’ Language Teaching, 52(2), 275–278.

Thomas, N. & Rose, H. (2019). Do language learning strategies need to be self-directed? Disentangling strategies from self-regulated learning. TESOL Quarterly, 53(1), 248-257.

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Abstract: English-medium instruction (EMI) refers the practice of offering academic subjects taught through English in countries where English is not the first language of the majority of the population. The growth of EMI in higher education (HE) has been well-documented, and the driving forces behind EMI are intertwined with goals related to the internationalization of HE. Although EMI as a phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent decades, little research has explored EMI across global regions, particularly in countries in the Global South. This study aimed to investigate the current situation with regards to the introduction and expansion of EMI in HE in 52 countries designated as recipients on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list. In doing so, the study aimed to shed light on EMI provision in many countries which are relatively less resourced and under-researched. The study involved 3 stages of investigation: (1) a country-level analysis with data collected through open-ended questionnaires from informed respondents to investigate the introduction and expansion of EMI in the 52 ODA recipient countries; (2) a website analysis of purposively sampled universities to examine what information with regards to EMI programmes is available; and (3) a survey of key institutional players to explore additional information about EMI programmes offered worldwide. The data was analyzed to explore global and regional trends, and the findings offer insights into the admission requirements, professional development opportunities, international student enrolment, and driving forces behind EMI programs. Based on the findings, recommendations are offered for researchers and practitioners.

Bio: Kari Sahan is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and an Honorary Norham Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She completed her DPhil in 2020 from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher–student interaction and the use of the L1 in EMI classrooms. Her work has appeared in journals such as ELT Journal, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, System, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.

Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.

 

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Children are powerful statistical spellers: They can learn novel written patterns with phonological counterparts under experimental conditions, via implicit learning processes, akin to “statistical learning” processes established for spoken language acquisition. Can these mechanisms fully account for children’s knowledge of written patterns? How does this ability relate to literacy measures? How does it compare to explicit learning? I address these questions in a series of artificial lexicon experiments, inducing graphotactic learning under incidental and explicit conditions, and comparing it with measures of literacy. Previous studies assessed learning of spelling rules which have counterparts in spoken language; however, while this is also the case for some naturalistic spelling rules (e.g., English phonotactics prohibit word initial /ŋ/ and accordingly, written words cannot begin with ng), there are also purely visual constraints (graphotactics) (e.g., gz is an illegal spelling of a frequent word-final sound combination in English: *bagz). Can children learn patterns unconfounded from correlated phonotactics? Developing and skilled spellers were exposed to patterns replete of phonotactic cues. In post-tests, participants generalized over both positional constraints embedded in semiartificial strings, and contextual constraints created using homophonic non-word stimuli. This was demonstrated following passive exposure and even under meaningful (word learning) conditions, and success in learning graphotactics was not hindered by learning word meanings. However, the effect sizes across these experiments remained small, and the hypothesized positive associations between learning performance under incidental conditions and literacy measures were never observed. This relationship was only found under explicit conditions, when pattern generalization benefited. Investigation of age effects revealed that adults and children show similar patterns of learning but adults learn faster from matched text.

Bio: Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps. Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

 

PLEASE JOIN US ON TEAMS ON THE DAY OF THE EVENT.

Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps.

Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

Publications

Samara, Singh & Wonnacott (2019). Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental learning experiment with children. Cognition, Volume 182, 2019, Pages 25-30, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.005.

Singh, Samara & Wonnacott (accepted for publication in the Journal of Memory and Language). Statistical and explicit learning of graphotactic patterns with no phonological counterpart: Evidence from an artificial lexicon study with 7–8-year-olds and adults. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8px7n/.

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‘Plurilingual teaching and its effects on foreign language development

Professor Holger Hopp, Dr Jenny Jakisch and Sarah Sturm (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Research indicates that plurilingual teaching, i.e. integrating the learners’ (home) language repertoire into the teaching of a foreign language (FL), can improve FL achievement (Busse et al., 2019; Leonet et al., 2019). Against this background, we will present findings of a project in which a plurilingual approach to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) was implemented in four primary schools (year 4) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for 6 months. In each school, the English lessons of one group (intervention group) were extended by integrating the participants’ home languages whereas in the other group (comparison group) regular “monolingual” EFL lessons were conducted.

In our talk, we will present the research design as well as the teaching methods and materials that were used in the intervention group. We will also discuss how the young learners experienced the plurilingual lessons. Furthermore, we will show which effects the different teaching approaches had on the participants’ English achievement (vocabulary and grammar) and metalinguistic awareness by presenting data from longitudinal pre- and post-tests.

The data indicate that both monolingual and plurilingual participants gain FL competence during the 6-month intervention. However, the intervention group did not show differential learning gains compared to the comparison group. When testing for specific grammatical phenomena that were subject to instruction in the plurilingual lessons (e.g. questions), we found that the intervention group outperformed the control group. We conclude that addressing specific learners‘ plurilingual resources may support them in learning a foreign language. In our talk, we discuss the results and the potentials of plurilingual foreign language teaching.

References: Busse, V., Cenoz, J., Dalmann, N., & Rogge, F. (2019). Addressing Linguistic Diversity in the Language Classroom in a Resource‐Oriented Way: An Intervention Study With Primary School Children. Language Learning, 31(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12382

Leonet, O., Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2019). Developing morphological awareness across languages: translanguaging pedagogies in third language acquisition. Language Awareness, 79(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2019.1688338

Bios:

Holger Hopp: Holger Hopp is a professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany). In his research, he investigates child and adult L2/3 acquisition and processing as well as heritage language acquisition and attrition. He uses several psycholinguistic methods to determine the directionality, scope and degree of cross-linguistic influence in bi- and multilingual speakers of different ages.

Jenny Jakisch: Jenny Jakisch is lecturer and researcher at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her PhD dealt with the role of English language teaching (ELT) for fostering multilingualism. Her current research interests include teacher education, classroom management and inclusive ELT.

Sarah Sturm: Sarah Sturm is a research assistant and PhD student at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her research interests include multilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language (with a focus on young learners) and learning strategies. In her PhD project, she is investigating the use of language learning strategies by young multilingual foreign language learners.

 

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‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Professor Jenni Rodd (UCL)

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

Bio: Professor Jenni Rodd conducts research into how we understand the meanings of the words that we hear or read, and how we combine together the information from individual words to construct representations of the meanings of sentences. She has a particular interest in how we use our recent and long-term experience with language to improve the efficiency of these processes. She is the director of The Word Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL.

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‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: literacy and cognition

Professor Ianthi M. Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Much research in multilingualism and its effects on cognition and language ability has focused on individuals in western societies. Socioeconomic status, language of education and language prestige have been identified as some of the factors that appear to influence bi/multilingual individuals’ linguistic and cognitive profile although most research on the role of bilingualism on cognition has not capitalized on such factors. I will focus on multilingualism in India, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (UNESCO, 2009). Linguistic variation across Indian speakers is vast and includes variation in the number of home languages used, societal/community languages, official medium of instruction in schools and actual language practices in the classroom.

As language is the primary vehicle of education and learning, variation in any of the above measures of multilingualism can affect the language experience of the school child and have knock-on effects on the development of school skills (basic and higher literacy and numeracy), or cognition. Focusing on the data from 1200 children from urban primary schools in Delhi and Hyderabad and from rural areas in Patna, all from deprived or severely deprived socioeconomic backgrounds, I will try to disentangle how language experience and linguistic diversity in the child’s immediate environment (school, family, community) affect school skills and cognitive abilities.

Participants attend government primary schools in slum vs. non-slum urban areas of Delhi and Hyderabad, or town vs. rural areas in Patna, as part of a four-year, large-scale research project (MultiLila). They were assessed on mathematical reasoning, word, sentence and text reading, as well as non-verbal IQ, inhibition and complex working memory skills. Children attend English-medium or regional language medium schools (Hindi or Telugu), meaning that their assessment, textbooks and language used in the classroom is the official medium of instruction.

Although the language of textbooks and assessment match the official medium of instruction, language practices in the classroom include language mixing with English-only input ranging from zero to 40%, in English-medium schools. Taking into account the child’s home language(s) and the extent to which they are used in the classroom I will present the participants’ performance on linguistic, reasoning and cognitive skills. Results indicate a significant effect of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the cognitive and school skills of children from underprivileged socioeconomic background.

Bio:

Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli works on language development in the first and second language in children and adults, as well as on language impairment, attrition, bilingualism, language processing and the interaction between language, cognitive abilities and print exposure. She recently held the positions of Professor of Multilingualism and Cognition at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and the positions of Professor of Psycholinguistics and Director of the Language Development Lab at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Professor Tsimpli held a ‘Guest of the Rector’ Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences for six months in 2012, a Visiting Professorship for six months at the University of Cyprus in 2007, and a Visiting Scholar position at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg in 2005. She is Associate Editor of Lingua and member of the Editorial Board of the journals Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Second Language Research, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, Biolinguistics (e-journal), Journal of Greek Linguistics and of the Book Series “Language Acquisition and Language Disorders”.

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‘A teaching intervention may not reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and phonological awareness’

Dr Bene Bassetti (University of Birmingham)

The orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words can affect how L2 learners and L2 users pronounce L2 sounds, even after years of immersion in an L2 environment. It is however not known whether a training intervention can reduce such orthographic effects on L2 phonology. This paper will report the results of a study (Bassetti, Cerni & Masterson, under review) that investigated whether a teaching intervention can reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and awareness.

Previous studies found that Italian learners of L2 English produce and categorise the same English consonant as two different sounds: a short consonant if it is spelled with one letter, and as a geminate (a long consonant) if it is spelled with double letters. This is because in written double consonant letters represent geminates, and Italian native speakers therefore recode English double consonant letters. Bassetti and colleagues used a randomised controlled trial design, and allocated 100 Italian high-school students to a phonological intervention or a control group.

The teaching intervention group explored the correspondences between double letters and sound length in English, using reflection, explicit teaching and practice. The control group practiced the same English spoken and written words without mentions of orthography. All participants performed a delayed word repetition task and phonological awareness task twice, pre- and post-intervention. The teaching intervention had no effects. It appears that once orthographic effects on L2 phonology are established, they are difficult to eliminate, whether with extensive naturalistic exposure or with a teaching intervention.

Reference: Bassetti, B., Cerni, T., & Masterson, J. (under review) Efficacy of a teaching intervention to reduce the effects of orthographic forms on second language phonology: A randomized controlled trial

Bio: Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti leads Language and Condition at Birmingham (LACAB).

Nathan Thomas is an Applied Linguistics Tutor on the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT) course.

He also teaches on the MA TESOL (Pre-Service) course at the UCL Institute of Education, where he is completing his doctoral research under the dual supervision of Jim McKinley (UCL) and Heath Rose (Oxford).

His research focuses mainly on theoretical developments in the field of language learning strategies and on international students’ strategic learning in higher education. He is also involved in other projects pertaining to English medium instruction and English language teaching. His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, ELT Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, System, and TESOL Quarterly. He has also presented at more than 50 conferences in 14 countries all over the world.

Before his assuming his current roles, Nathan worked for ten years in China and Thailand, most recently as Director of English as a Foreign Language for a private educational consulting company in Beijing. He completed an MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (which is now the MSc ALLT at Oxford), MEd International Teaching, MA Applied Linguistics (ELT), BA English, and various teaching certificates, all while working full time.

For further information, please click here.

 

Publications

Bowen, N. & Thomas, N. (2020). Manipulating texture and cohesion in academic writing: A keystroke logging study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 50, 100773.

Pun, J. & Thomas, N. (2020). English medium instruction: Teachers challenges and coping strategies. ELT Journal, 74(3), 247-257.

Thomas, N. & Osment, C. (2020). Building on Dewaele’s (2018) L1 versus LX dichotomy: The Language-Usage-Identity State model. Applied Linguistics, 41(6), 1005-1010.

Zhang, L.J., Thomas, N., & Qin, T.L. (2019). Language learning strategy research in System: Looking back and looking forward. System, 84, 87-92.

Thomas, N., Rose, H., & Pojanapunya, P. (2019). Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings. Applied Linguistics Review (Advanced Access), 1-18.

Thomas, N. & Brereton, P. (2019). Pedagogical Implications: Practitioners respond to Michael Swan’s ‘Applied Linguistics: A consumer’s view.’ Language Teaching, 52(2), 275–278.

Thomas, N. & Rose, H. (2019). Do language learning strategies need to be self-directed? Disentangling strategies from self-regulated learning. TESOL Quarterly, 53(1), 248-257.

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Abstract: English-medium instruction (EMI) refers the practice of offering academic subjects taught through English in countries where English is not the first language of the majority of the population. The growth of EMI in higher education (HE) has been well-documented, and the driving forces behind EMI are intertwined with goals related to the internationalization of HE. Although EMI as a phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent decades, little research has explored EMI across global regions, particularly in countries in the Global South. This study aimed to investigate the current situation with regards to the introduction and expansion of EMI in HE in 52 countries designated as recipients on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list. In doing so, the study aimed to shed light on EMI provision in many countries which are relatively less resourced and under-researched. The study involved 3 stages of investigation: (1) a country-level analysis with data collected through open-ended questionnaires from informed respondents to investigate the introduction and expansion of EMI in the 52 ODA recipient countries; (2) a website analysis of purposively sampled universities to examine what information with regards to EMI programmes is available; and (3) a survey of key institutional players to explore additional information about EMI programmes offered worldwide. The data was analyzed to explore global and regional trends, and the findings offer insights into the admission requirements, professional development opportunities, international student enrolment, and driving forces behind EMI programs. Based on the findings, recommendations are offered for researchers and practitioners.

Bio: Kari Sahan is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and an Honorary Norham Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She completed her DPhil in 2020 from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher–student interaction and the use of the L1 in EMI classrooms. Her work has appeared in journals such as ELT Journal, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, System, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.

Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.

 

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Children are powerful statistical spellers: They can learn novel written patterns with phonological counterparts under experimental conditions, via implicit learning processes, akin to “statistical learning” processes established for spoken language acquisition. Can these mechanisms fully account for children’s knowledge of written patterns? How does this ability relate to literacy measures? How does it compare to explicit learning? I address these questions in a series of artificial lexicon experiments, inducing graphotactic learning under incidental and explicit conditions, and comparing it with measures of literacy. Previous studies assessed learning of spelling rules which have counterparts in spoken language; however, while this is also the case for some naturalistic spelling rules (e.g., English phonotactics prohibit word initial /ŋ/ and accordingly, written words cannot begin with ng), there are also purely visual constraints (graphotactics) (e.g., gz is an illegal spelling of a frequent word-final sound combination in English: *bagz). Can children learn patterns unconfounded from correlated phonotactics? Developing and skilled spellers were exposed to patterns replete of phonotactic cues. In post-tests, participants generalized over both positional constraints embedded in semiartificial strings, and contextual constraints created using homophonic non-word stimuli. This was demonstrated following passive exposure and even under meaningful (word learning) conditions, and success in learning graphotactics was not hindered by learning word meanings. However, the effect sizes across these experiments remained small, and the hypothesized positive associations between learning performance under incidental conditions and literacy measures were never observed. This relationship was only found under explicit conditions, when pattern generalization benefited. Investigation of age effects revealed that adults and children show similar patterns of learning but adults learn faster from matched text.

Bio: Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps. Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

 

PLEASE JOIN US ON TEAMS ON THE DAY OF THE EVENT.

Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps.

Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

Publications

Samara, Singh & Wonnacott (2019). Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental learning experiment with children. Cognition, Volume 182, 2019, Pages 25-30, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.005.

Singh, Samara & Wonnacott (accepted for publication in the Journal of Memory and Language). Statistical and explicit learning of graphotactic patterns with no phonological counterpart: Evidence from an artificial lexicon study with 7–8-year-olds and adults. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8px7n/.

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‘Plurilingual teaching and its effects on foreign language development

Professor Holger Hopp, Dr Jenny Jakisch and Sarah Sturm (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Research indicates that plurilingual teaching, i.e. integrating the learners’ (home) language repertoire into the teaching of a foreign language (FL), can improve FL achievement (Busse et al., 2019; Leonet et al., 2019). Against this background, we will present findings of a project in which a plurilingual approach to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) was implemented in four primary schools (year 4) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for 6 months. In each school, the English lessons of one group (intervention group) were extended by integrating the participants’ home languages whereas in the other group (comparison group) regular “monolingual” EFL lessons were conducted.

In our talk, we will present the research design as well as the teaching methods and materials that were used in the intervention group. We will also discuss how the young learners experienced the plurilingual lessons. Furthermore, we will show which effects the different teaching approaches had on the participants’ English achievement (vocabulary and grammar) and metalinguistic awareness by presenting data from longitudinal pre- and post-tests.

The data indicate that both monolingual and plurilingual participants gain FL competence during the 6-month intervention. However, the intervention group did not show differential learning gains compared to the comparison group. When testing for specific grammatical phenomena that were subject to instruction in the plurilingual lessons (e.g. questions), we found that the intervention group outperformed the control group. We conclude that addressing specific learners‘ plurilingual resources may support them in learning a foreign language. In our talk, we discuss the results and the potentials of plurilingual foreign language teaching.

References: Busse, V., Cenoz, J., Dalmann, N., & Rogge, F. (2019). Addressing Linguistic Diversity in the Language Classroom in a Resource‐Oriented Way: An Intervention Study With Primary School Children. Language Learning, 31(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12382

Leonet, O., Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2019). Developing morphological awareness across languages: translanguaging pedagogies in third language acquisition. Language Awareness, 79(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2019.1688338

Bios:

Holger Hopp: Holger Hopp is a professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany). In his research, he investigates child and adult L2/3 acquisition and processing as well as heritage language acquisition and attrition. He uses several psycholinguistic methods to determine the directionality, scope and degree of cross-linguistic influence in bi- and multilingual speakers of different ages.

Jenny Jakisch: Jenny Jakisch is lecturer and researcher at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her PhD dealt with the role of English language teaching (ELT) for fostering multilingualism. Her current research interests include teacher education, classroom management and inclusive ELT.

Sarah Sturm: Sarah Sturm is a research assistant and PhD student at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her research interests include multilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language (with a focus on young learners) and learning strategies. In her PhD project, she is investigating the use of language learning strategies by young multilingual foreign language learners.

 

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‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Professor Jenni Rodd (UCL)

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

Bio: Professor Jenni Rodd conducts research into how we understand the meanings of the words that we hear or read, and how we combine together the information from individual words to construct representations of the meanings of sentences. She has a particular interest in how we use our recent and long-term experience with language to improve the efficiency of these processes. She is the director of The Word Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL.

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‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: literacy and cognition

Professor Ianthi M. Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Much research in multilingualism and its effects on cognition and language ability has focused on individuals in western societies. Socioeconomic status, language of education and language prestige have been identified as some of the factors that appear to influence bi/multilingual individuals’ linguistic and cognitive profile although most research on the role of bilingualism on cognition has not capitalized on such factors. I will focus on multilingualism in India, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (UNESCO, 2009). Linguistic variation across Indian speakers is vast and includes variation in the number of home languages used, societal/community languages, official medium of instruction in schools and actual language practices in the classroom.

As language is the primary vehicle of education and learning, variation in any of the above measures of multilingualism can affect the language experience of the school child and have knock-on effects on the development of school skills (basic and higher literacy and numeracy), or cognition. Focusing on the data from 1200 children from urban primary schools in Delhi and Hyderabad and from rural areas in Patna, all from deprived or severely deprived socioeconomic backgrounds, I will try to disentangle how language experience and linguistic diversity in the child’s immediate environment (school, family, community) affect school skills and cognitive abilities.

Participants attend government primary schools in slum vs. non-slum urban areas of Delhi and Hyderabad, or town vs. rural areas in Patna, as part of a four-year, large-scale research project (MultiLila). They were assessed on mathematical reasoning, word, sentence and text reading, as well as non-verbal IQ, inhibition and complex working memory skills. Children attend English-medium or regional language medium schools (Hindi or Telugu), meaning that their assessment, textbooks and language used in the classroom is the official medium of instruction.

Although the language of textbooks and assessment match the official medium of instruction, language practices in the classroom include language mixing with English-only input ranging from zero to 40%, in English-medium schools. Taking into account the child’s home language(s) and the extent to which they are used in the classroom I will present the participants’ performance on linguistic, reasoning and cognitive skills. Results indicate a significant effect of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the cognitive and school skills of children from underprivileged socioeconomic background.

Bio:

Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli works on language development in the first and second language in children and adults, as well as on language impairment, attrition, bilingualism, language processing and the interaction between language, cognitive abilities and print exposure. She recently held the positions of Professor of Multilingualism and Cognition at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and the positions of Professor of Psycholinguistics and Director of the Language Development Lab at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Professor Tsimpli held a ‘Guest of the Rector’ Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences for six months in 2012, a Visiting Professorship for six months at the University of Cyprus in 2007, and a Visiting Scholar position at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg in 2005. She is Associate Editor of Lingua and member of the Editorial Board of the journals Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Second Language Research, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, Biolinguistics (e-journal), Journal of Greek Linguistics and of the Book Series “Language Acquisition and Language Disorders”.

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‘A teaching intervention may not reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and phonological awareness’

Dr Bene Bassetti (University of Birmingham)

The orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words can affect how L2 learners and L2 users pronounce L2 sounds, even after years of immersion in an L2 environment. It is however not known whether a training intervention can reduce such orthographic effects on L2 phonology. This paper will report the results of a study (Bassetti, Cerni & Masterson, under review) that investigated whether a teaching intervention can reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and awareness.

Previous studies found that Italian learners of L2 English produce and categorise the same English consonant as two different sounds: a short consonant if it is spelled with one letter, and as a geminate (a long consonant) if it is spelled with double letters. This is because in written double consonant letters represent geminates, and Italian native speakers therefore recode English double consonant letters. Bassetti and colleagues used a randomised controlled trial design, and allocated 100 Italian high-school students to a phonological intervention or a control group.

The teaching intervention group explored the correspondences between double letters and sound length in English, using reflection, explicit teaching and practice. The control group practiced the same English spoken and written words without mentions of orthography. All participants performed a delayed word repetition task and phonological awareness task twice, pre- and post-intervention. The teaching intervention had no effects. It appears that once orthographic effects on L2 phonology are established, they are difficult to eliminate, whether with extensive naturalistic exposure or with a teaching intervention.

Reference: Bassetti, B., Cerni, T., & Masterson, J. (under review) Efficacy of a teaching intervention to reduce the effects of orthographic forms on second language phonology: A randomized controlled trial

Bio: Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti leads Language and Condition at Birmingham (LACAB).

Nathan Thomas is an Applied Linguistics Tutor on the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT) course.

He also teaches on the MA TESOL (Pre-Service) course at the UCL Institute of Education, where he is completing his doctoral research under the dual supervision of Jim McKinley (UCL) and Heath Rose (Oxford).

His research focuses mainly on theoretical developments in the field of language learning strategies and on international students’ strategic learning in higher education. He is also involved in other projects pertaining to English medium instruction and English language teaching. His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, ELT Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, System, and TESOL Quarterly. He has also presented at more than 50 conferences in 14 countries all over the world.

Before his assuming his current roles, Nathan worked for ten years in China and Thailand, most recently as Director of English as a Foreign Language for a private educational consulting company in Beijing. He completed an MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (which is now the MSc ALLT at Oxford), MEd International Teaching, MA Applied Linguistics (ELT), BA English, and various teaching certificates, all while working full time.

For further information, please click here.

 

Publications

Bowen, N. & Thomas, N. (2020). Manipulating texture and cohesion in academic writing: A keystroke logging study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 50, 100773.

Pun, J. & Thomas, N. (2020). English medium instruction: Teachers challenges and coping strategies. ELT Journal, 74(3), 247-257.

Thomas, N. & Osment, C. (2020). Building on Dewaele’s (2018) L1 versus LX dichotomy: The Language-Usage-Identity State model. Applied Linguistics, 41(6), 1005-1010.

Zhang, L.J., Thomas, N., & Qin, T.L. (2019). Language learning strategy research in System: Looking back and looking forward. System, 84, 87-92.

Thomas, N., Rose, H., & Pojanapunya, P. (2019). Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings. Applied Linguistics Review (Advanced Access), 1-18.

Thomas, N. & Brereton, P. (2019). Pedagogical Implications: Practitioners respond to Michael Swan’s ‘Applied Linguistics: A consumer’s view.’ Language Teaching, 52(2), 275–278.

Thomas, N. & Rose, H. (2019). Do language learning strategies need to be self-directed? Disentangling strategies from self-regulated learning. TESOL Quarterly, 53(1), 248-257.

PLEASE JOIN US THE DAY OF THE EVENT VIA TEAMS.

Abstract: English-medium instruction (EMI) refers the practice of offering academic subjects taught through English in countries where English is not the first language of the majority of the population. The growth of EMI in higher education (HE) has been well-documented, and the driving forces behind EMI are intertwined with goals related to the internationalization of HE. Although EMI as a phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent decades, little research has explored EMI across global regions, particularly in countries in the Global South. This study aimed to investigate the current situation with regards to the introduction and expansion of EMI in HE in 52 countries designated as recipients on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list. In doing so, the study aimed to shed light on EMI provision in many countries which are relatively less resourced and under-researched. The study involved 3 stages of investigation: (1) a country-level analysis with data collected through open-ended questionnaires from informed respondents to investigate the introduction and expansion of EMI in the 52 ODA recipient countries; (2) a website analysis of purposively sampled universities to examine what information with regards to EMI programmes is available; and (3) a survey of key institutional players to explore additional information about EMI programmes offered worldwide. The data was analyzed to explore global and regional trends, and the findings offer insights into the admission requirements, professional development opportunities, international student enrolment, and driving forces behind EMI programs. Based on the findings, recommendations are offered for researchers and practitioners.

Bio: Kari Sahan is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and an Honorary Norham Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She completed her DPhil in 2020 from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher–student interaction and the use of the L1 in EMI classrooms. Her work has appeared in journals such as ELT Journal, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, System, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.

Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.

 

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Children are powerful statistical spellers: They can learn novel written patterns with phonological counterparts under experimental conditions, via implicit learning processes, akin to “statistical learning” processes established for spoken language acquisition. Can these mechanisms fully account for children’s knowledge of written patterns? How does this ability relate to literacy measures? How does it compare to explicit learning? I address these questions in a series of artificial lexicon experiments, inducing graphotactic learning under incidental and explicit conditions, and comparing it with measures of literacy. Previous studies assessed learning of spelling rules which have counterparts in spoken language; however, while this is also the case for some naturalistic spelling rules (e.g., English phonotactics prohibit word initial /ŋ/ and accordingly, written words cannot begin with ng), there are also purely visual constraints (graphotactics) (e.g., gz is an illegal spelling of a frequent word-final sound combination in English: *bagz). Can children learn patterns unconfounded from correlated phonotactics? Developing and skilled spellers were exposed to patterns replete of phonotactic cues. In post-tests, participants generalized over both positional constraints embedded in semiartificial strings, and contextual constraints created using homophonic non-word stimuli. This was demonstrated following passive exposure and even under meaningful (word learning) conditions, and success in learning graphotactics was not hindered by learning word meanings. However, the effect sizes across these experiments remained small, and the hypothesized positive associations between learning performance under incidental conditions and literacy measures were never observed. This relationship was only found under explicit conditions, when pattern generalization benefited. Investigation of age effects revealed that adults and children show similar patterns of learning but adults learn faster from matched text.

Bio: Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps. Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

 

PLEASE JOIN US ON TEAMS ON THE DAY OF THE EVENT.

Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps.

Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

Publications

Samara, Singh & Wonnacott (2019). Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental learning experiment with children. Cognition, Volume 182, 2019, Pages 25-30, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.005.

Singh, Samara & Wonnacott (accepted for publication in the Journal of Memory and Language). Statistical and explicit learning of graphotactic patterns with no phonological counterpart: Evidence from an artificial lexicon study with 7–8-year-olds and adults. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8px7n/.

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‘Plurilingual teaching and its effects on foreign language development

Professor Holger Hopp, Dr Jenny Jakisch and Sarah Sturm (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Research indicates that plurilingual teaching, i.e. integrating the learners’ (home) language repertoire into the teaching of a foreign language (FL), can improve FL achievement (Busse et al., 2019; Leonet et al., 2019). Against this background, we will present findings of a project in which a plurilingual approach to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) was implemented in four primary schools (year 4) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for 6 months. In each school, the English lessons of one group (intervention group) were extended by integrating the participants’ home languages whereas in the other group (comparison group) regular “monolingual” EFL lessons were conducted.

In our talk, we will present the research design as well as the teaching methods and materials that were used in the intervention group. We will also discuss how the young learners experienced the plurilingual lessons. Furthermore, we will show which effects the different teaching approaches had on the participants’ English achievement (vocabulary and grammar) and metalinguistic awareness by presenting data from longitudinal pre- and post-tests.

The data indicate that both monolingual and plurilingual participants gain FL competence during the 6-month intervention. However, the intervention group did not show differential learning gains compared to the comparison group. When testing for specific grammatical phenomena that were subject to instruction in the plurilingual lessons (e.g. questions), we found that the intervention group outperformed the control group. We conclude that addressing specific learners‘ plurilingual resources may support them in learning a foreign language. In our talk, we discuss the results and the potentials of plurilingual foreign language teaching.

References: Busse, V., Cenoz, J., Dalmann, N., & Rogge, F. (2019). Addressing Linguistic Diversity in the Language Classroom in a Resource‐Oriented Way: An Intervention Study With Primary School Children. Language Learning, 31(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12382

Leonet, O., Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2019). Developing morphological awareness across languages: translanguaging pedagogies in third language acquisition. Language Awareness, 79(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2019.1688338

Bios:

Holger Hopp: Holger Hopp is a professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany). In his research, he investigates child and adult L2/3 acquisition and processing as well as heritage language acquisition and attrition. He uses several psycholinguistic methods to determine the directionality, scope and degree of cross-linguistic influence in bi- and multilingual speakers of different ages.

Jenny Jakisch: Jenny Jakisch is lecturer and researcher at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her PhD dealt with the role of English language teaching (ELT) for fostering multilingualism. Her current research interests include teacher education, classroom management and inclusive ELT.

Sarah Sturm: Sarah Sturm is a research assistant and PhD student at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her research interests include multilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language (with a focus on young learners) and learning strategies. In her PhD project, she is investigating the use of language learning strategies by young multilingual foreign language learners.

 

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‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Professor Jenni Rodd (UCL)

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

Bio: Professor Jenni Rodd conducts research into how we understand the meanings of the words that we hear or read, and how we combine together the information from individual words to construct representations of the meanings of sentences. She has a particular interest in how we use our recent and long-term experience with language to improve the efficiency of these processes. She is the director of The Word Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL.

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‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: literacy and cognition

Professor Ianthi M. Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Much research in multilingualism and its effects on cognition and language ability has focused on individuals in western societies. Socioeconomic status, language of education and language prestige have been identified as some of the factors that appear to influence bi/multilingual individuals’ linguistic and cognitive profile although most research on the role of bilingualism on cognition has not capitalized on such factors. I will focus on multilingualism in India, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (UNESCO, 2009). Linguistic variation across Indian speakers is vast and includes variation in the number of home languages used, societal/community languages, official medium of instruction in schools and actual language practices in the classroom.

As language is the primary vehicle of education and learning, variation in any of the above measures of multilingualism can affect the language experience of the school child and have knock-on effects on the development of school skills (basic and higher literacy and numeracy), or cognition. Focusing on the data from 1200 children from urban primary schools in Delhi and Hyderabad and from rural areas in Patna, all from deprived or severely deprived socioeconomic backgrounds, I will try to disentangle how language experience and linguistic diversity in the child’s immediate environment (school, family, community) affect school skills and cognitive abilities.

Participants attend government primary schools in slum vs. non-slum urban areas of Delhi and Hyderabad, or town vs. rural areas in Patna, as part of a four-year, large-scale research project (MultiLila). They were assessed on mathematical reasoning, word, sentence and text reading, as well as non-verbal IQ, inhibition and complex working memory skills. Children attend English-medium or regional language medium schools (Hindi or Telugu), meaning that their assessment, textbooks and language used in the classroom is the official medium of instruction.

Although the language of textbooks and assessment match the official medium of instruction, language practices in the classroom include language mixing with English-only input ranging from zero to 40%, in English-medium schools. Taking into account the child’s home language(s) and the extent to which they are used in the classroom I will present the participants’ performance on linguistic, reasoning and cognitive skills. Results indicate a significant effect of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the cognitive and school skills of children from underprivileged socioeconomic background.

Bio:

Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli works on language development in the first and second language in children and adults, as well as on language impairment, attrition, bilingualism, language processing and the interaction between language, cognitive abilities and print exposure. She recently held the positions of Professor of Multilingualism and Cognition at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and the positions of Professor of Psycholinguistics and Director of the Language Development Lab at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Professor Tsimpli held a ‘Guest of the Rector’ Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences for six months in 2012, a Visiting Professorship for six months at the University of Cyprus in 2007, and a Visiting Scholar position at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg in 2005. She is Associate Editor of Lingua and member of the Editorial Board of the journals Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Second Language Research, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, Biolinguistics (e-journal), Journal of Greek Linguistics and of the Book Series “Language Acquisition and Language Disorders”.

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‘A teaching intervention may not reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and phonological awareness’

Dr Bene Bassetti (University of Birmingham)

The orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words can affect how L2 learners and L2 users pronounce L2 sounds, even after years of immersion in an L2 environment. It is however not known whether a training intervention can reduce such orthographic effects on L2 phonology. This paper will report the results of a study (Bassetti, Cerni & Masterson, under review) that investigated whether a teaching intervention can reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and awareness.

Previous studies found that Italian learners of L2 English produce and categorise the same English consonant as two different sounds: a short consonant if it is spelled with one letter, and as a geminate (a long consonant) if it is spelled with double letters. This is because in written double consonant letters represent geminates, and Italian native speakers therefore recode English double consonant letters. Bassetti and colleagues used a randomised controlled trial design, and allocated 100 Italian high-school students to a phonological intervention or a control group.

The teaching intervention group explored the correspondences between double letters and sound length in English, using reflection, explicit teaching and practice. The control group practiced the same English spoken and written words without mentions of orthography. All participants performed a delayed word repetition task and phonological awareness task twice, pre- and post-intervention. The teaching intervention had no effects. It appears that once orthographic effects on L2 phonology are established, they are difficult to eliminate, whether with extensive naturalistic exposure or with a teaching intervention.

Reference: Bassetti, B., Cerni, T., & Masterson, J. (under review) Efficacy of a teaching intervention to reduce the effects of orthographic forms on second language phonology: A randomized controlled trial

Bio: Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti leads Language and Condition at Birmingham (LACAB).

Nathan Thomas is an Applied Linguistics Tutor on the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT) course.

He also teaches on the MA TESOL (Pre-Service) course at the UCL Institute of Education, where he is completing his doctoral research under the dual supervision of Jim McKinley (UCL) and Heath Rose (Oxford).

His research focuses mainly on theoretical developments in the field of language learning strategies and on international students’ strategic learning in higher education. He is also involved in other projects pertaining to English medium instruction and English language teaching. His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, ELT Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, System, and TESOL Quarterly. He has also presented at more than 50 conferences in 14 countries all over the world.

Before his assuming his current roles, Nathan worked for ten years in China and Thailand, most recently as Director of English as a Foreign Language for a private educational consulting company in Beijing. He completed an MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (which is now the MSc ALLT at Oxford), MEd International Teaching, MA Applied Linguistics (ELT), BA English, and various teaching certificates, all while working full time.

For further information, please click here.

 

Publications

Bowen, N. & Thomas, N. (2020). Manipulating texture and cohesion in academic writing: A keystroke logging study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 50, 100773.

Pun, J. & Thomas, N. (2020). English medium instruction: Teachers challenges and coping strategies. ELT Journal, 74(3), 247-257.

Thomas, N. & Osment, C. (2020). Building on Dewaele’s (2018) L1 versus LX dichotomy: The Language-Usage-Identity State model. Applied Linguistics, 41(6), 1005-1010.

Zhang, L.J., Thomas, N., & Qin, T.L. (2019). Language learning strategy research in System: Looking back and looking forward. System, 84, 87-92.

Thomas, N., Rose, H., & Pojanapunya, P. (2019). Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings. Applied Linguistics Review (Advanced Access), 1-18.

Thomas, N. & Brereton, P. (2019). Pedagogical Implications: Practitioners respond to Michael Swan’s ‘Applied Linguistics: A consumer’s view.’ Language Teaching, 52(2), 275–278.

Thomas, N. & Rose, H. (2019). Do language learning strategies need to be self-directed? Disentangling strategies from self-regulated learning. TESOL Quarterly, 53(1), 248-257.

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Abstract: English-medium instruction (EMI) refers the practice of offering academic subjects taught through English in countries where English is not the first language of the majority of the population. The growth of EMI in higher education (HE) has been well-documented, and the driving forces behind EMI are intertwined with goals related to the internationalization of HE. Although EMI as a phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent decades, little research has explored EMI across global regions, particularly in countries in the Global South. This study aimed to investigate the current situation with regards to the introduction and expansion of EMI in HE in 52 countries designated as recipients on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list. In doing so, the study aimed to shed light on EMI provision in many countries which are relatively less resourced and under-researched. The study involved 3 stages of investigation: (1) a country-level analysis with data collected through open-ended questionnaires from informed respondents to investigate the introduction and expansion of EMI in the 52 ODA recipient countries; (2) a website analysis of purposively sampled universities to examine what information with regards to EMI programmes is available; and (3) a survey of key institutional players to explore additional information about EMI programmes offered worldwide. The data was analyzed to explore global and regional trends, and the findings offer insights into the admission requirements, professional development opportunities, international student enrolment, and driving forces behind EMI programs. Based on the findings, recommendations are offered for researchers and practitioners.

Bio: Kari Sahan is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and an Honorary Norham Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She completed her DPhil in 2020 from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher–student interaction and the use of the L1 in EMI classrooms. Her work has appeared in journals such as ELT Journal, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, System, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.

Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.

 

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Children are powerful statistical spellers: They can learn novel written patterns with phonological counterparts under experimental conditions, via implicit learning processes, akin to “statistical learning” processes established for spoken language acquisition. Can these mechanisms fully account for children’s knowledge of written patterns? How does this ability relate to literacy measures? How does it compare to explicit learning? I address these questions in a series of artificial lexicon experiments, inducing graphotactic learning under incidental and explicit conditions, and comparing it with measures of literacy. Previous studies assessed learning of spelling rules which have counterparts in spoken language; however, while this is also the case for some naturalistic spelling rules (e.g., English phonotactics prohibit word initial /ŋ/ and accordingly, written words cannot begin with ng), there are also purely visual constraints (graphotactics) (e.g., gz is an illegal spelling of a frequent word-final sound combination in English: *bagz). Can children learn patterns unconfounded from correlated phonotactics? Developing and skilled spellers were exposed to patterns replete of phonotactic cues. In post-tests, participants generalized over both positional constraints embedded in semiartificial strings, and contextual constraints created using homophonic non-word stimuli. This was demonstrated following passive exposure and even under meaningful (word learning) conditions, and success in learning graphotactics was not hindered by learning word meanings. However, the effect sizes across these experiments remained small, and the hypothesized positive associations between learning performance under incidental conditions and literacy measures were never observed. This relationship was only found under explicit conditions, when pattern generalization benefited. Investigation of age effects revealed that adults and children show similar patterns of learning but adults learn faster from matched text.

Bio: Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps. Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

 

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Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps.

Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

Publications

Samara, Singh & Wonnacott (2019). Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental learning experiment with children. Cognition, Volume 182, 2019, Pages 25-30, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.005.

Singh, Samara & Wonnacott (accepted for publication in the Journal of Memory and Language). Statistical and explicit learning of graphotactic patterns with no phonological counterpart: Evidence from an artificial lexicon study with 7–8-year-olds and adults. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8px7n/.

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‘Plurilingual teaching and its effects on foreign language development

Professor Holger Hopp, Dr Jenny Jakisch and Sarah Sturm (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Research indicates that plurilingual teaching, i.e. integrating the learners’ (home) language repertoire into the teaching of a foreign language (FL), can improve FL achievement (Busse et al., 2019; Leonet et al., 2019). Against this background, we will present findings of a project in which a plurilingual approach to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) was implemented in four primary schools (year 4) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for 6 months. In each school, the English lessons of one group (intervention group) were extended by integrating the participants’ home languages whereas in the other group (comparison group) regular “monolingual” EFL lessons were conducted.

In our talk, we will present the research design as well as the teaching methods and materials that were used in the intervention group. We will also discuss how the young learners experienced the plurilingual lessons. Furthermore, we will show which effects the different teaching approaches had on the participants’ English achievement (vocabulary and grammar) and metalinguistic awareness by presenting data from longitudinal pre- and post-tests.

The data indicate that both monolingual and plurilingual participants gain FL competence during the 6-month intervention. However, the intervention group did not show differential learning gains compared to the comparison group. When testing for specific grammatical phenomena that were subject to instruction in the plurilingual lessons (e.g. questions), we found that the intervention group outperformed the control group. We conclude that addressing specific learners‘ plurilingual resources may support them in learning a foreign language. In our talk, we discuss the results and the potentials of plurilingual foreign language teaching.

References: Busse, V., Cenoz, J., Dalmann, N., & Rogge, F. (2019). Addressing Linguistic Diversity in the Language Classroom in a Resource‐Oriented Way: An Intervention Study With Primary School Children. Language Learning, 31(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12382

Leonet, O., Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2019). Developing morphological awareness across languages: translanguaging pedagogies in third language acquisition. Language Awareness, 79(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2019.1688338

Bios:

Holger Hopp: Holger Hopp is a professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany). In his research, he investigates child and adult L2/3 acquisition and processing as well as heritage language acquisition and attrition. He uses several psycholinguistic methods to determine the directionality, scope and degree of cross-linguistic influence in bi- and multilingual speakers of different ages.

Jenny Jakisch: Jenny Jakisch is lecturer and researcher at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her PhD dealt with the role of English language teaching (ELT) for fostering multilingualism. Her current research interests include teacher education, classroom management and inclusive ELT.

Sarah Sturm: Sarah Sturm is a research assistant and PhD student at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her research interests include multilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language (with a focus on young learners) and learning strategies. In her PhD project, she is investigating the use of language learning strategies by young multilingual foreign language learners.

 

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‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Professor Jenni Rodd (UCL)

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

Bio: Professor Jenni Rodd conducts research into how we understand the meanings of the words that we hear or read, and how we combine together the information from individual words to construct representations of the meanings of sentences. She has a particular interest in how we use our recent and long-term experience with language to improve the efficiency of these processes. She is the director of The Word Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL.

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‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: literacy and cognition

Professor Ianthi M. Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Much research in multilingualism and its effects on cognition and language ability has focused on individuals in western societies. Socioeconomic status, language of education and language prestige have been identified as some of the factors that appear to influence bi/multilingual individuals’ linguistic and cognitive profile although most research on the role of bilingualism on cognition has not capitalized on such factors. I will focus on multilingualism in India, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (UNESCO, 2009). Linguistic variation across Indian speakers is vast and includes variation in the number of home languages used, societal/community languages, official medium of instruction in schools and actual language practices in the classroom.

As language is the primary vehicle of education and learning, variation in any of the above measures of multilingualism can affect the language experience of the school child and have knock-on effects on the development of school skills (basic and higher literacy and numeracy), or cognition. Focusing on the data from 1200 children from urban primary schools in Delhi and Hyderabad and from rural areas in Patna, all from deprived or severely deprived socioeconomic backgrounds, I will try to disentangle how language experience and linguistic diversity in the child’s immediate environment (school, family, community) affect school skills and cognitive abilities.

Participants attend government primary schools in slum vs. non-slum urban areas of Delhi and Hyderabad, or town vs. rural areas in Patna, as part of a four-year, large-scale research project (MultiLila). They were assessed on mathematical reasoning, word, sentence and text reading, as well as non-verbal IQ, inhibition and complex working memory skills. Children attend English-medium or regional language medium schools (Hindi or Telugu), meaning that their assessment, textbooks and language used in the classroom is the official medium of instruction.

Although the language of textbooks and assessment match the official medium of instruction, language practices in the classroom include language mixing with English-only input ranging from zero to 40%, in English-medium schools. Taking into account the child’s home language(s) and the extent to which they are used in the classroom I will present the participants’ performance on linguistic, reasoning and cognitive skills. Results indicate a significant effect of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the cognitive and school skills of children from underprivileged socioeconomic background.

Bio:

Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli works on language development in the first and second language in children and adults, as well as on language impairment, attrition, bilingualism, language processing and the interaction between language, cognitive abilities and print exposure. She recently held the positions of Professor of Multilingualism and Cognition at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and the positions of Professor of Psycholinguistics and Director of the Language Development Lab at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Professor Tsimpli held a ‘Guest of the Rector’ Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences for six months in 2012, a Visiting Professorship for six months at the University of Cyprus in 2007, and a Visiting Scholar position at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg in 2005. She is Associate Editor of Lingua and member of the Editorial Board of the journals Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Second Language Research, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, Biolinguistics (e-journal), Journal of Greek Linguistics and of the Book Series “Language Acquisition and Language Disorders”.

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‘A teaching intervention may not reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and phonological awareness’

Dr Bene Bassetti (University of Birmingham)

The orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words can affect how L2 learners and L2 users pronounce L2 sounds, even after years of immersion in an L2 environment. It is however not known whether a training intervention can reduce such orthographic effects on L2 phonology. This paper will report the results of a study (Bassetti, Cerni & Masterson, under review) that investigated whether a teaching intervention can reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and awareness.

Previous studies found that Italian learners of L2 English produce and categorise the same English consonant as two different sounds: a short consonant if it is spelled with one letter, and as a geminate (a long consonant) if it is spelled with double letters. This is because in written double consonant letters represent geminates, and Italian native speakers therefore recode English double consonant letters. Bassetti and colleagues used a randomised controlled trial design, and allocated 100 Italian high-school students to a phonological intervention or a control group.

The teaching intervention group explored the correspondences between double letters and sound length in English, using reflection, explicit teaching and practice. The control group practiced the same English spoken and written words without mentions of orthography. All participants performed a delayed word repetition task and phonological awareness task twice, pre- and post-intervention. The teaching intervention had no effects. It appears that once orthographic effects on L2 phonology are established, they are difficult to eliminate, whether with extensive naturalistic exposure or with a teaching intervention.

Reference: Bassetti, B., Cerni, T., & Masterson, J. (under review) Efficacy of a teaching intervention to reduce the effects of orthographic forms on second language phonology: A randomized controlled trial

Bio: Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti leads Language and Condition at Birmingham (LACAB).

Nathan Thomas is an Applied Linguistics Tutor on the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT) course.

He also teaches on the MA TESOL (Pre-Service) course at the UCL Institute of Education, where he is completing his doctoral research under the dual supervision of Jim McKinley (UCL) and Heath Rose (Oxford).

His research focuses mainly on theoretical developments in the field of language learning strategies and on international students’ strategic learning in higher education. He is also involved in other projects pertaining to English medium instruction and English language teaching. His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, ELT Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, System, and TESOL Quarterly. He has also presented at more than 50 conferences in 14 countries all over the world.

Before his assuming his current roles, Nathan worked for ten years in China and Thailand, most recently as Director of English as a Foreign Language for a private educational consulting company in Beijing. He completed an MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (which is now the MSc ALLT at Oxford), MEd International Teaching, MA Applied Linguistics (ELT), BA English, and various teaching certificates, all while working full time.

For further information, please click here.

 

Publications

Bowen, N. & Thomas, N. (2020). Manipulating texture and cohesion in academic writing: A keystroke logging study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 50, 100773.

Pun, J. & Thomas, N. (2020). English medium instruction: Teachers challenges and coping strategies. ELT Journal, 74(3), 247-257.

Thomas, N. & Osment, C. (2020). Building on Dewaele’s (2018) L1 versus LX dichotomy: The Language-Usage-Identity State model. Applied Linguistics, 41(6), 1005-1010.

Zhang, L.J., Thomas, N., & Qin, T.L. (2019). Language learning strategy research in System: Looking back and looking forward. System, 84, 87-92.

Thomas, N., Rose, H., & Pojanapunya, P. (2019). Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings. Applied Linguistics Review (Advanced Access), 1-18.

Thomas, N. & Brereton, P. (2019). Pedagogical Implications: Practitioners respond to Michael Swan’s ‘Applied Linguistics: A consumer’s view.’ Language Teaching, 52(2), 275–278.

Thomas, N. & Rose, H. (2019). Do language learning strategies need to be self-directed? Disentangling strategies from self-regulated learning. TESOL Quarterly, 53(1), 248-257.

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Abstract: English-medium instruction (EMI) refers the practice of offering academic subjects taught through English in countries where English is not the first language of the majority of the population. The growth of EMI in higher education (HE) has been well-documented, and the driving forces behind EMI are intertwined with goals related to the internationalization of HE. Although EMI as a phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent decades, little research has explored EMI across global regions, particularly in countries in the Global South. This study aimed to investigate the current situation with regards to the introduction and expansion of EMI in HE in 52 countries designated as recipients on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list. In doing so, the study aimed to shed light on EMI provision in many countries which are relatively less resourced and under-researched. The study involved 3 stages of investigation: (1) a country-level analysis with data collected through open-ended questionnaires from informed respondents to investigate the introduction and expansion of EMI in the 52 ODA recipient countries; (2) a website analysis of purposively sampled universities to examine what information with regards to EMI programmes is available; and (3) a survey of key institutional players to explore additional information about EMI programmes offered worldwide. The data was analyzed to explore global and regional trends, and the findings offer insights into the admission requirements, professional development opportunities, international student enrolment, and driving forces behind EMI programs. Based on the findings, recommendations are offered for researchers and practitioners.

Bio: Kari Sahan is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and an Honorary Norham Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She completed her DPhil in 2020 from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher–student interaction and the use of the L1 in EMI classrooms. Her work has appeared in journals such as ELT Journal, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, System, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.

Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.

 

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Children are powerful statistical spellers: They can learn novel written patterns with phonological counterparts under experimental conditions, via implicit learning processes, akin to “statistical learning” processes established for spoken language acquisition. Can these mechanisms fully account for children’s knowledge of written patterns? How does this ability relate to literacy measures? How does it compare to explicit learning? I address these questions in a series of artificial lexicon experiments, inducing graphotactic learning under incidental and explicit conditions, and comparing it with measures of literacy. Previous studies assessed learning of spelling rules which have counterparts in spoken language; however, while this is also the case for some naturalistic spelling rules (e.g., English phonotactics prohibit word initial /ŋ/ and accordingly, written words cannot begin with ng), there are also purely visual constraints (graphotactics) (e.g., gz is an illegal spelling of a frequent word-final sound combination in English: *bagz). Can children learn patterns unconfounded from correlated phonotactics? Developing and skilled spellers were exposed to patterns replete of phonotactic cues. In post-tests, participants generalized over both positional constraints embedded in semiartificial strings, and contextual constraints created using homophonic non-word stimuli. This was demonstrated following passive exposure and even under meaningful (word learning) conditions, and success in learning graphotactics was not hindered by learning word meanings. However, the effect sizes across these experiments remained small, and the hypothesized positive associations between learning performance under incidental conditions and literacy measures were never observed. This relationship was only found under explicit conditions, when pattern generalization benefited. Investigation of age effects revealed that adults and children show similar patterns of learning but adults learn faster from matched text.

Bio: Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps. Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

 

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Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps.

Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

Publications

Samara, Singh & Wonnacott (2019). Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental learning experiment with children. Cognition, Volume 182, 2019, Pages 25-30, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.005.

Singh, Samara & Wonnacott (accepted for publication in the Journal of Memory and Language). Statistical and explicit learning of graphotactic patterns with no phonological counterpart: Evidence from an artificial lexicon study with 7–8-year-olds and adults. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8px7n/.

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‘Plurilingual teaching and its effects on foreign language development

Professor Holger Hopp, Dr Jenny Jakisch and Sarah Sturm (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Research indicates that plurilingual teaching, i.e. integrating the learners’ (home) language repertoire into the teaching of a foreign language (FL), can improve FL achievement (Busse et al., 2019; Leonet et al., 2019). Against this background, we will present findings of a project in which a plurilingual approach to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) was implemented in four primary schools (year 4) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for 6 months. In each school, the English lessons of one group (intervention group) were extended by integrating the participants’ home languages whereas in the other group (comparison group) regular “monolingual” EFL lessons were conducted.

In our talk, we will present the research design as well as the teaching methods and materials that were used in the intervention group. We will also discuss how the young learners experienced the plurilingual lessons. Furthermore, we will show which effects the different teaching approaches had on the participants’ English achievement (vocabulary and grammar) and metalinguistic awareness by presenting data from longitudinal pre- and post-tests.

The data indicate that both monolingual and plurilingual participants gain FL competence during the 6-month intervention. However, the intervention group did not show differential learning gains compared to the comparison group. When testing for specific grammatical phenomena that were subject to instruction in the plurilingual lessons (e.g. questions), we found that the intervention group outperformed the control group. We conclude that addressing specific learners‘ plurilingual resources may support them in learning a foreign language. In our talk, we discuss the results and the potentials of plurilingual foreign language teaching.

References: Busse, V., Cenoz, J., Dalmann, N., & Rogge, F. (2019). Addressing Linguistic Diversity in the Language Classroom in a Resource‐Oriented Way: An Intervention Study With Primary School Children. Language Learning, 31(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12382

Leonet, O., Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2019). Developing morphological awareness across languages: translanguaging pedagogies in third language acquisition. Language Awareness, 79(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2019.1688338

Bios:

Holger Hopp: Holger Hopp is a professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany). In his research, he investigates child and adult L2/3 acquisition and processing as well as heritage language acquisition and attrition. He uses several psycholinguistic methods to determine the directionality, scope and degree of cross-linguistic influence in bi- and multilingual speakers of different ages.

Jenny Jakisch: Jenny Jakisch is lecturer and researcher at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her PhD dealt with the role of English language teaching (ELT) for fostering multilingualism. Her current research interests include teacher education, classroom management and inclusive ELT.

Sarah Sturm: Sarah Sturm is a research assistant and PhD student at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her research interests include multilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language (with a focus on young learners) and learning strategies. In her PhD project, she is investigating the use of language learning strategies by young multilingual foreign language learners.

 

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‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Professor Jenni Rodd (UCL)

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

Bio: Professor Jenni Rodd conducts research into how we understand the meanings of the words that we hear or read, and how we combine together the information from individual words to construct representations of the meanings of sentences. She has a particular interest in how we use our recent and long-term experience with language to improve the efficiency of these processes. She is the director of The Word Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL.

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‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: literacy and cognition

Professor Ianthi M. Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Much research in multilingualism and its effects on cognition and language ability has focused on individuals in western societies. Socioeconomic status, language of education and language prestige have been identified as some of the factors that appear to influence bi/multilingual individuals’ linguistic and cognitive profile although most research on the role of bilingualism on cognition has not capitalized on such factors. I will focus on multilingualism in India, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (UNESCO, 2009). Linguistic variation across Indian speakers is vast and includes variation in the number of home languages used, societal/community languages, official medium of instruction in schools and actual language practices in the classroom.

As language is the primary vehicle of education and learning, variation in any of the above measures of multilingualism can affect the language experience of the school child and have knock-on effects on the development of school skills (basic and higher literacy and numeracy), or cognition. Focusing on the data from 1200 children from urban primary schools in Delhi and Hyderabad and from rural areas in Patna, all from deprived or severely deprived socioeconomic backgrounds, I will try to disentangle how language experience and linguistic diversity in the child’s immediate environment (school, family, community) affect school skills and cognitive abilities.

Participants attend government primary schools in slum vs. non-slum urban areas of Delhi and Hyderabad, or town vs. rural areas in Patna, as part of a four-year, large-scale research project (MultiLila). They were assessed on mathematical reasoning, word, sentence and text reading, as well as non-verbal IQ, inhibition and complex working memory skills. Children attend English-medium or regional language medium schools (Hindi or Telugu), meaning that their assessment, textbooks and language used in the classroom is the official medium of instruction.

Although the language of textbooks and assessment match the official medium of instruction, language practices in the classroom include language mixing with English-only input ranging from zero to 40%, in English-medium schools. Taking into account the child’s home language(s) and the extent to which they are used in the classroom I will present the participants’ performance on linguistic, reasoning and cognitive skills. Results indicate a significant effect of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the cognitive and school skills of children from underprivileged socioeconomic background.

Bio:

Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli works on language development in the first and second language in children and adults, as well as on language impairment, attrition, bilingualism, language processing and the interaction between language, cognitive abilities and print exposure. She recently held the positions of Professor of Multilingualism and Cognition at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and the positions of Professor of Psycholinguistics and Director of the Language Development Lab at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Professor Tsimpli held a ‘Guest of the Rector’ Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences for six months in 2012, a Visiting Professorship for six months at the University of Cyprus in 2007, and a Visiting Scholar position at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg in 2005. She is Associate Editor of Lingua and member of the Editorial Board of the journals Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Second Language Research, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, Biolinguistics (e-journal), Journal of Greek Linguistics and of the Book Series “Language Acquisition and Language Disorders”.

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‘A teaching intervention may not reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and phonological awareness’

Dr Bene Bassetti (University of Birmingham)

The orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words can affect how L2 learners and L2 users pronounce L2 sounds, even after years of immersion in an L2 environment. It is however not known whether a training intervention can reduce such orthographic effects on L2 phonology. This paper will report the results of a study (Bassetti, Cerni & Masterson, under review) that investigated whether a teaching intervention can reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and awareness.

Previous studies found that Italian learners of L2 English produce and categorise the same English consonant as two different sounds: a short consonant if it is spelled with one letter, and as a geminate (a long consonant) if it is spelled with double letters. This is because in written double consonant letters represent geminates, and Italian native speakers therefore recode English double consonant letters. Bassetti and colleagues used a randomised controlled trial design, and allocated 100 Italian high-school students to a phonological intervention or a control group.

The teaching intervention group explored the correspondences between double letters and sound length in English, using reflection, explicit teaching and practice. The control group practiced the same English spoken and written words without mentions of orthography. All participants performed a delayed word repetition task and phonological awareness task twice, pre- and post-intervention. The teaching intervention had no effects. It appears that once orthographic effects on L2 phonology are established, they are difficult to eliminate, whether with extensive naturalistic exposure or with a teaching intervention.

Reference: Bassetti, B., Cerni, T., & Masterson, J. (under review) Efficacy of a teaching intervention to reduce the effects of orthographic forms on second language phonology: A randomized controlled trial

Bio: Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti leads Language and Condition at Birmingham (LACAB).

Nathan Thomas is an Applied Linguistics Tutor on the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT) course.

He also teaches on the MA TESOL (Pre-Service) course at the UCL Institute of Education, where he is completing his doctoral research under the dual supervision of Jim McKinley (UCL) and Heath Rose (Oxford).

His research focuses mainly on theoretical developments in the field of language learning strategies and on international students’ strategic learning in higher education. He is also involved in other projects pertaining to English medium instruction and English language teaching. His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, ELT Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, System, and TESOL Quarterly. He has also presented at more than 50 conferences in 14 countries all over the world.

Before his assuming his current roles, Nathan worked for ten years in China and Thailand, most recently as Director of English as a Foreign Language for a private educational consulting company in Beijing. He completed an MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (which is now the MSc ALLT at Oxford), MEd International Teaching, MA Applied Linguistics (ELT), BA English, and various teaching certificates, all while working full time.

For further information, please click here.

 

Publications

Bowen, N. & Thomas, N. (2020). Manipulating texture and cohesion in academic writing: A keystroke logging study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 50, 100773.

Pun, J. & Thomas, N. (2020). English medium instruction: Teachers challenges and coping strategies. ELT Journal, 74(3), 247-257.

Thomas, N. & Osment, C. (2020). Building on Dewaele’s (2018) L1 versus LX dichotomy: The Language-Usage-Identity State model. Applied Linguistics, 41(6), 1005-1010.

Zhang, L.J., Thomas, N., & Qin, T.L. (2019). Language learning strategy research in System: Looking back and looking forward. System, 84, 87-92.

Thomas, N., Rose, H., & Pojanapunya, P. (2019). Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings. Applied Linguistics Review (Advanced Access), 1-18.

Thomas, N. & Brereton, P. (2019). Pedagogical Implications: Practitioners respond to Michael Swan’s ‘Applied Linguistics: A consumer’s view.’ Language Teaching, 52(2), 275–278.

Thomas, N. & Rose, H. (2019). Do language learning strategies need to be self-directed? Disentangling strategies from self-regulated learning. TESOL Quarterly, 53(1), 248-257.

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Abstract: English-medium instruction (EMI) refers the practice of offering academic subjects taught through English in countries where English is not the first language of the majority of the population. The growth of EMI in higher education (HE) has been well-documented, and the driving forces behind EMI are intertwined with goals related to the internationalization of HE. Although EMI as a phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent decades, little research has explored EMI across global regions, particularly in countries in the Global South. This study aimed to investigate the current situation with regards to the introduction and expansion of EMI in HE in 52 countries designated as recipients on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list. In doing so, the study aimed to shed light on EMI provision in many countries which are relatively less resourced and under-researched. The study involved 3 stages of investigation: (1) a country-level analysis with data collected through open-ended questionnaires from informed respondents to investigate the introduction and expansion of EMI in the 52 ODA recipient countries; (2) a website analysis of purposively sampled universities to examine what information with regards to EMI programmes is available; and (3) a survey of key institutional players to explore additional information about EMI programmes offered worldwide. The data was analyzed to explore global and regional trends, and the findings offer insights into the admission requirements, professional development opportunities, international student enrolment, and driving forces behind EMI programs. Based on the findings, recommendations are offered for researchers and practitioners.

Bio: Kari Sahan is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and an Honorary Norham Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She completed her DPhil in 2020 from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher–student interaction and the use of the L1 in EMI classrooms. Her work has appeared in journals such as ELT Journal, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, System, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.

Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.

 

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Children are powerful statistical spellers: They can learn novel written patterns with phonological counterparts under experimental conditions, via implicit learning processes, akin to “statistical learning” processes established for spoken language acquisition. Can these mechanisms fully account for children’s knowledge of written patterns? How does this ability relate to literacy measures? How does it compare to explicit learning? I address these questions in a series of artificial lexicon experiments, inducing graphotactic learning under incidental and explicit conditions, and comparing it with measures of literacy. Previous studies assessed learning of spelling rules which have counterparts in spoken language; however, while this is also the case for some naturalistic spelling rules (e.g., English phonotactics prohibit word initial /ŋ/ and accordingly, written words cannot begin with ng), there are also purely visual constraints (graphotactics) (e.g., gz is an illegal spelling of a frequent word-final sound combination in English: *bagz). Can children learn patterns unconfounded from correlated phonotactics? Developing and skilled spellers were exposed to patterns replete of phonotactic cues. In post-tests, participants generalized over both positional constraints embedded in semiartificial strings, and contextual constraints created using homophonic non-word stimuli. This was demonstrated following passive exposure and even under meaningful (word learning) conditions, and success in learning graphotactics was not hindered by learning word meanings. However, the effect sizes across these experiments remained small, and the hypothesized positive associations between learning performance under incidental conditions and literacy measures were never observed. This relationship was only found under explicit conditions, when pattern generalization benefited. Investigation of age effects revealed that adults and children show similar patterns of learning but adults learn faster from matched text.

Bio: Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps. Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

 

PLEASE JOIN US ON TEAMS ON THE DAY OF THE EVENT.

Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps.

Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

Publications

Samara, Singh & Wonnacott (2019). Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental learning experiment with children. Cognition, Volume 182, 2019, Pages 25-30, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.005.

Singh, Samara & Wonnacott (accepted for publication in the Journal of Memory and Language). Statistical and explicit learning of graphotactic patterns with no phonological counterpart: Evidence from an artificial lexicon study with 7–8-year-olds and adults. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8px7n/.

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‘Plurilingual teaching and its effects on foreign language development

Professor Holger Hopp, Dr Jenny Jakisch and Sarah Sturm (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Research indicates that plurilingual teaching, i.e. integrating the learners’ (home) language repertoire into the teaching of a foreign language (FL), can improve FL achievement (Busse et al., 2019; Leonet et al., 2019). Against this background, we will present findings of a project in which a plurilingual approach to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) was implemented in four primary schools (year 4) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for 6 months. In each school, the English lessons of one group (intervention group) were extended by integrating the participants’ home languages whereas in the other group (comparison group) regular “monolingual” EFL lessons were conducted.

In our talk, we will present the research design as well as the teaching methods and materials that were used in the intervention group. We will also discuss how the young learners experienced the plurilingual lessons. Furthermore, we will show which effects the different teaching approaches had on the participants’ English achievement (vocabulary and grammar) and metalinguistic awareness by presenting data from longitudinal pre- and post-tests.

The data indicate that both monolingual and plurilingual participants gain FL competence during the 6-month intervention. However, the intervention group did not show differential learning gains compared to the comparison group. When testing for specific grammatical phenomena that were subject to instruction in the plurilingual lessons (e.g. questions), we found that the intervention group outperformed the control group. We conclude that addressing specific learners‘ plurilingual resources may support them in learning a foreign language. In our talk, we discuss the results and the potentials of plurilingual foreign language teaching.

References: Busse, V., Cenoz, J., Dalmann, N., & Rogge, F. (2019). Addressing Linguistic Diversity in the Language Classroom in a Resource‐Oriented Way: An Intervention Study With Primary School Children. Language Learning, 31(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12382

Leonet, O., Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2019). Developing morphological awareness across languages: translanguaging pedagogies in third language acquisition. Language Awareness, 79(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2019.1688338

Bios:

Holger Hopp: Holger Hopp is a professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany). In his research, he investigates child and adult L2/3 acquisition and processing as well as heritage language acquisition and attrition. He uses several psycholinguistic methods to determine the directionality, scope and degree of cross-linguistic influence in bi- and multilingual speakers of different ages.

Jenny Jakisch: Jenny Jakisch is lecturer and researcher at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her PhD dealt with the role of English language teaching (ELT) for fostering multilingualism. Her current research interests include teacher education, classroom management and inclusive ELT.

Sarah Sturm: Sarah Sturm is a research assistant and PhD student at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her research interests include multilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language (with a focus on young learners) and learning strategies. In her PhD project, she is investigating the use of language learning strategies by young multilingual foreign language learners.

 

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‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Professor Jenni Rodd (UCL)

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

Bio: Professor Jenni Rodd conducts research into how we understand the meanings of the words that we hear or read, and how we combine together the information from individual words to construct representations of the meanings of sentences. She has a particular interest in how we use our recent and long-term experience with language to improve the efficiency of these processes. She is the director of The Word Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL.

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‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: literacy and cognition

Professor Ianthi M. Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Much research in multilingualism and its effects on cognition and language ability has focused on individuals in western societies. Socioeconomic status, language of education and language prestige have been identified as some of the factors that appear to influence bi/multilingual individuals’ linguistic and cognitive profile although most research on the role of bilingualism on cognition has not capitalized on such factors. I will focus on multilingualism in India, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (UNESCO, 2009). Linguistic variation across Indian speakers is vast and includes variation in the number of home languages used, societal/community languages, official medium of instruction in schools and actual language practices in the classroom.

As language is the primary vehicle of education and learning, variation in any of the above measures of multilingualism can affect the language experience of the school child and have knock-on effects on the development of school skills (basic and higher literacy and numeracy), or cognition. Focusing on the data from 1200 children from urban primary schools in Delhi and Hyderabad and from rural areas in Patna, all from deprived or severely deprived socioeconomic backgrounds, I will try to disentangle how language experience and linguistic diversity in the child’s immediate environment (school, family, community) affect school skills and cognitive abilities.

Participants attend government primary schools in slum vs. non-slum urban areas of Delhi and Hyderabad, or town vs. rural areas in Patna, as part of a four-year, large-scale research project (MultiLila). They were assessed on mathematical reasoning, word, sentence and text reading, as well as non-verbal IQ, inhibition and complex working memory skills. Children attend English-medium or regional language medium schools (Hindi or Telugu), meaning that their assessment, textbooks and language used in the classroom is the official medium of instruction.

Although the language of textbooks and assessment match the official medium of instruction, language practices in the classroom include language mixing with English-only input ranging from zero to 40%, in English-medium schools. Taking into account the child’s home language(s) and the extent to which they are used in the classroom I will present the participants’ performance on linguistic, reasoning and cognitive skills. Results indicate a significant effect of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the cognitive and school skills of children from underprivileged socioeconomic background.

Bio:

Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli works on language development in the first and second language in children and adults, as well as on language impairment, attrition, bilingualism, language processing and the interaction between language, cognitive abilities and print exposure. She recently held the positions of Professor of Multilingualism and Cognition at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and the positions of Professor of Psycholinguistics and Director of the Language Development Lab at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Professor Tsimpli held a ‘Guest of the Rector’ Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences for six months in 2012, a Visiting Professorship for six months at the University of Cyprus in 2007, and a Visiting Scholar position at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg in 2005. She is Associate Editor of Lingua and member of the Editorial Board of the journals Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Second Language Research, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, Biolinguistics (e-journal), Journal of Greek Linguistics and of the Book Series “Language Acquisition and Language Disorders”.

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‘A teaching intervention may not reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and phonological awareness’

Dr Bene Bassetti (University of Birmingham)

The orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words can affect how L2 learners and L2 users pronounce L2 sounds, even after years of immersion in an L2 environment. It is however not known whether a training intervention can reduce such orthographic effects on L2 phonology. This paper will report the results of a study (Bassetti, Cerni & Masterson, under review) that investigated whether a teaching intervention can reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and awareness.

Previous studies found that Italian learners of L2 English produce and categorise the same English consonant as two different sounds: a short consonant if it is spelled with one letter, and as a geminate (a long consonant) if it is spelled with double letters. This is because in written double consonant letters represent geminates, and Italian native speakers therefore recode English double consonant letters. Bassetti and colleagues used a randomised controlled trial design, and allocated 100 Italian high-school students to a phonological intervention or a control group.

The teaching intervention group explored the correspondences between double letters and sound length in English, using reflection, explicit teaching and practice. The control group practiced the same English spoken and written words without mentions of orthography. All participants performed a delayed word repetition task and phonological awareness task twice, pre- and post-intervention. The teaching intervention had no effects. It appears that once orthographic effects on L2 phonology are established, they are difficult to eliminate, whether with extensive naturalistic exposure or with a teaching intervention.

Reference: Bassetti, B., Cerni, T., & Masterson, J. (under review) Efficacy of a teaching intervention to reduce the effects of orthographic forms on second language phonology: A randomized controlled trial

Bio: Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti leads Language and Condition at Birmingham (LACAB).

Nathan Thomas is an Applied Linguistics Tutor on the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT) course.

He also teaches on the MA TESOL (Pre-Service) course at the UCL Institute of Education, where he is completing his doctoral research under the dual supervision of Jim McKinley (UCL) and Heath Rose (Oxford).

His research focuses mainly on theoretical developments in the field of language learning strategies and on international students’ strategic learning in higher education. He is also involved in other projects pertaining to English medium instruction and English language teaching. His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, ELT Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, System, and TESOL Quarterly. He has also presented at more than 50 conferences in 14 countries all over the world.

Before his assuming his current roles, Nathan worked for ten years in China and Thailand, most recently as Director of English as a Foreign Language for a private educational consulting company in Beijing. He completed an MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (which is now the MSc ALLT at Oxford), MEd International Teaching, MA Applied Linguistics (ELT), BA English, and various teaching certificates, all while working full time.

For further information, please click here.

 

Publications

Bowen, N. & Thomas, N. (2020). Manipulating texture and cohesion in academic writing: A keystroke logging study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 50, 100773.

Pun, J. & Thomas, N. (2020). English medium instruction: Teachers challenges and coping strategies. ELT Journal, 74(3), 247-257.

Thomas, N. & Osment, C. (2020). Building on Dewaele’s (2018) L1 versus LX dichotomy: The Language-Usage-Identity State model. Applied Linguistics, 41(6), 1005-1010.

Zhang, L.J., Thomas, N., & Qin, T.L. (2019). Language learning strategy research in System: Looking back and looking forward. System, 84, 87-92.

Thomas, N., Rose, H., & Pojanapunya, P. (2019). Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings. Applied Linguistics Review (Advanced Access), 1-18.

Thomas, N. & Brereton, P. (2019). Pedagogical Implications: Practitioners respond to Michael Swan’s ‘Applied Linguistics: A consumer’s view.’ Language Teaching, 52(2), 275–278.

Thomas, N. & Rose, H. (2019). Do language learning strategies need to be self-directed? Disentangling strategies from self-regulated learning. TESOL Quarterly, 53(1), 248-257.

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Abstract: English-medium instruction (EMI) refers the practice of offering academic subjects taught through English in countries where English is not the first language of the majority of the population. The growth of EMI in higher education (HE) has been well-documented, and the driving forces behind EMI are intertwined with goals related to the internationalization of HE. Although EMI as a phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent decades, little research has explored EMI across global regions, particularly in countries in the Global South. This study aimed to investigate the current situation with regards to the introduction and expansion of EMI in HE in 52 countries designated as recipients on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list. In doing so, the study aimed to shed light on EMI provision in many countries which are relatively less resourced and under-researched. The study involved 3 stages of investigation: (1) a country-level analysis with data collected through open-ended questionnaires from informed respondents to investigate the introduction and expansion of EMI in the 52 ODA recipient countries; (2) a website analysis of purposively sampled universities to examine what information with regards to EMI programmes is available; and (3) a survey of key institutional players to explore additional information about EMI programmes offered worldwide. The data was analyzed to explore global and regional trends, and the findings offer insights into the admission requirements, professional development opportunities, international student enrolment, and driving forces behind EMI programs. Based on the findings, recommendations are offered for researchers and practitioners.

Bio: Kari Sahan is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and an Honorary Norham Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She completed her DPhil in 2020 from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher–student interaction and the use of the L1 in EMI classrooms. Her work has appeared in journals such as ELT Journal, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, System, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.

Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.

 

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Children are powerful statistical spellers: They can learn novel written patterns with phonological counterparts under experimental conditions, via implicit learning processes, akin to “statistical learning” processes established for spoken language acquisition. Can these mechanisms fully account for children’s knowledge of written patterns? How does this ability relate to literacy measures? How does it compare to explicit learning? I address these questions in a series of artificial lexicon experiments, inducing graphotactic learning under incidental and explicit conditions, and comparing it with measures of literacy. Previous studies assessed learning of spelling rules which have counterparts in spoken language; however, while this is also the case for some naturalistic spelling rules (e.g., English phonotactics prohibit word initial /ŋ/ and accordingly, written words cannot begin with ng), there are also purely visual constraints (graphotactics) (e.g., gz is an illegal spelling of a frequent word-final sound combination in English: *bagz). Can children learn patterns unconfounded from correlated phonotactics? Developing and skilled spellers were exposed to patterns replete of phonotactic cues. In post-tests, participants generalized over both positional constraints embedded in semiartificial strings, and contextual constraints created using homophonic non-word stimuli. This was demonstrated following passive exposure and even under meaningful (word learning) conditions, and success in learning graphotactics was not hindered by learning word meanings. However, the effect sizes across these experiments remained small, and the hypothesized positive associations between learning performance under incidental conditions and literacy measures were never observed. This relationship was only found under explicit conditions, when pattern generalization benefited. Investigation of age effects revealed that adults and children show similar patterns of learning but adults learn faster from matched text.

Bio: Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps. Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

 

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Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps.

Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

Publications

Samara, Singh & Wonnacott (2019). Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental learning experiment with children. Cognition, Volume 182, 2019, Pages 25-30, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.005.

Singh, Samara & Wonnacott (accepted for publication in the Journal of Memory and Language). Statistical and explicit learning of graphotactic patterns with no phonological counterpart: Evidence from an artificial lexicon study with 7–8-year-olds and adults. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8px7n/.

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‘Plurilingual teaching and its effects on foreign language development

Professor Holger Hopp, Dr Jenny Jakisch and Sarah Sturm (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Research indicates that plurilingual teaching, i.e. integrating the learners’ (home) language repertoire into the teaching of a foreign language (FL), can improve FL achievement (Busse et al., 2019; Leonet et al., 2019). Against this background, we will present findings of a project in which a plurilingual approach to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) was implemented in four primary schools (year 4) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for 6 months. In each school, the English lessons of one group (intervention group) were extended by integrating the participants’ home languages whereas in the other group (comparison group) regular “monolingual” EFL lessons were conducted.

In our talk, we will present the research design as well as the teaching methods and materials that were used in the intervention group. We will also discuss how the young learners experienced the plurilingual lessons. Furthermore, we will show which effects the different teaching approaches had on the participants’ English achievement (vocabulary and grammar) and metalinguistic awareness by presenting data from longitudinal pre- and post-tests.

The data indicate that both monolingual and plurilingual participants gain FL competence during the 6-month intervention. However, the intervention group did not show differential learning gains compared to the comparison group. When testing for specific grammatical phenomena that were subject to instruction in the plurilingual lessons (e.g. questions), we found that the intervention group outperformed the control group. We conclude that addressing specific learners‘ plurilingual resources may support them in learning a foreign language. In our talk, we discuss the results and the potentials of plurilingual foreign language teaching.

References: Busse, V., Cenoz, J., Dalmann, N., & Rogge, F. (2019). Addressing Linguistic Diversity in the Language Classroom in a Resource‐Oriented Way: An Intervention Study With Primary School Children. Language Learning, 31(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12382

Leonet, O., Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2019). Developing morphological awareness across languages: translanguaging pedagogies in third language acquisition. Language Awareness, 79(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2019.1688338

Bios:

Holger Hopp: Holger Hopp is a professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany). In his research, he investigates child and adult L2/3 acquisition and processing as well as heritage language acquisition and attrition. He uses several psycholinguistic methods to determine the directionality, scope and degree of cross-linguistic influence in bi- and multilingual speakers of different ages.

Jenny Jakisch: Jenny Jakisch is lecturer and researcher at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her PhD dealt with the role of English language teaching (ELT) for fostering multilingualism. Her current research interests include teacher education, classroom management and inclusive ELT.

Sarah Sturm: Sarah Sturm is a research assistant and PhD student at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her research interests include multilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language (with a focus on young learners) and learning strategies. In her PhD project, she is investigating the use of language learning strategies by young multilingual foreign language learners.

 

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‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Professor Jenni Rodd (UCL)

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

Bio: Professor Jenni Rodd conducts research into how we understand the meanings of the words that we hear or read, and how we combine together the information from individual words to construct representations of the meanings of sentences. She has a particular interest in how we use our recent and long-term experience with language to improve the efficiency of these processes. She is the director of The Word Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL.

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‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: literacy and cognition

Professor Ianthi M. Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Much research in multilingualism and its effects on cognition and language ability has focused on individuals in western societies. Socioeconomic status, language of education and language prestige have been identified as some of the factors that appear to influence bi/multilingual individuals’ linguistic and cognitive profile although most research on the role of bilingualism on cognition has not capitalized on such factors. I will focus on multilingualism in India, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (UNESCO, 2009). Linguistic variation across Indian speakers is vast and includes variation in the number of home languages used, societal/community languages, official medium of instruction in schools and actual language practices in the classroom.

As language is the primary vehicle of education and learning, variation in any of the above measures of multilingualism can affect the language experience of the school child and have knock-on effects on the development of school skills (basic and higher literacy and numeracy), or cognition. Focusing on the data from 1200 children from urban primary schools in Delhi and Hyderabad and from rural areas in Patna, all from deprived or severely deprived socioeconomic backgrounds, I will try to disentangle how language experience and linguistic diversity in the child’s immediate environment (school, family, community) affect school skills and cognitive abilities.

Participants attend government primary schools in slum vs. non-slum urban areas of Delhi and Hyderabad, or town vs. rural areas in Patna, as part of a four-year, large-scale research project (MultiLila). They were assessed on mathematical reasoning, word, sentence and text reading, as well as non-verbal IQ, inhibition and complex working memory skills. Children attend English-medium or regional language medium schools (Hindi or Telugu), meaning that their assessment, textbooks and language used in the classroom is the official medium of instruction.

Although the language of textbooks and assessment match the official medium of instruction, language practices in the classroom include language mixing with English-only input ranging from zero to 40%, in English-medium schools. Taking into account the child’s home language(s) and the extent to which they are used in the classroom I will present the participants’ performance on linguistic, reasoning and cognitive skills. Results indicate a significant effect of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the cognitive and school skills of children from underprivileged socioeconomic background.

Bio:

Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli works on language development in the first and second language in children and adults, as well as on language impairment, attrition, bilingualism, language processing and the interaction between language, cognitive abilities and print exposure. She recently held the positions of Professor of Multilingualism and Cognition at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and the positions of Professor of Psycholinguistics and Director of the Language Development Lab at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Professor Tsimpli held a ‘Guest of the Rector’ Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences for six months in 2012, a Visiting Professorship for six months at the University of Cyprus in 2007, and a Visiting Scholar position at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg in 2005. She is Associate Editor of Lingua and member of the Editorial Board of the journals Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Second Language Research, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, Biolinguistics (e-journal), Journal of Greek Linguistics and of the Book Series “Language Acquisition and Language Disorders”.

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‘A teaching intervention may not reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and phonological awareness’

Dr Bene Bassetti (University of Birmingham)

The orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words can affect how L2 learners and L2 users pronounce L2 sounds, even after years of immersion in an L2 environment. It is however not known whether a training intervention can reduce such orthographic effects on L2 phonology. This paper will report the results of a study (Bassetti, Cerni & Masterson, under review) that investigated whether a teaching intervention can reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and awareness.

Previous studies found that Italian learners of L2 English produce and categorise the same English consonant as two different sounds: a short consonant if it is spelled with one letter, and as a geminate (a long consonant) if it is spelled with double letters. This is because in written double consonant letters represent geminates, and Italian native speakers therefore recode English double consonant letters. Bassetti and colleagues used a randomised controlled trial design, and allocated 100 Italian high-school students to a phonological intervention or a control group.

The teaching intervention group explored the correspondences between double letters and sound length in English, using reflection, explicit teaching and practice. The control group practiced the same English spoken and written words without mentions of orthography. All participants performed a delayed word repetition task and phonological awareness task twice, pre- and post-intervention. The teaching intervention had no effects. It appears that once orthographic effects on L2 phonology are established, they are difficult to eliminate, whether with extensive naturalistic exposure or with a teaching intervention.

Reference: Bassetti, B., Cerni, T., & Masterson, J. (under review) Efficacy of a teaching intervention to reduce the effects of orthographic forms on second language phonology: A randomized controlled trial

Bio: Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti leads Language and Condition at Birmingham (LACAB).

Nathan Thomas is an Applied Linguistics Tutor on the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT) course.

He also teaches on the MA TESOL (Pre-Service) course at the UCL Institute of Education, where he is completing his doctoral research under the dual supervision of Jim McKinley (UCL) and Heath Rose (Oxford).

His research focuses mainly on theoretical developments in the field of language learning strategies and on international students’ strategic learning in higher education. He is also involved in other projects pertaining to English medium instruction and English language teaching. His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, ELT Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, System, and TESOL Quarterly. He has also presented at more than 50 conferences in 14 countries all over the world.

Before his assuming his current roles, Nathan worked for ten years in China and Thailand, most recently as Director of English as a Foreign Language for a private educational consulting company in Beijing. He completed an MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (which is now the MSc ALLT at Oxford), MEd International Teaching, MA Applied Linguistics (ELT), BA English, and various teaching certificates, all while working full time.

For further information, please click here.

 

Publications

Bowen, N. & Thomas, N. (2020). Manipulating texture and cohesion in academic writing: A keystroke logging study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 50, 100773.

Pun, J. & Thomas, N. (2020). English medium instruction: Teachers challenges and coping strategies. ELT Journal, 74(3), 247-257.

Thomas, N. & Osment, C. (2020). Building on Dewaele’s (2018) L1 versus LX dichotomy: The Language-Usage-Identity State model. Applied Linguistics, 41(6), 1005-1010.

Zhang, L.J., Thomas, N., & Qin, T.L. (2019). Language learning strategy research in System: Looking back and looking forward. System, 84, 87-92.

Thomas, N., Rose, H., & Pojanapunya, P. (2019). Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings. Applied Linguistics Review (Advanced Access), 1-18.

Thomas, N. & Brereton, P. (2019). Pedagogical Implications: Practitioners respond to Michael Swan’s ‘Applied Linguistics: A consumer’s view.’ Language Teaching, 52(2), 275–278.

Thomas, N. & Rose, H. (2019). Do language learning strategies need to be self-directed? Disentangling strategies from self-regulated learning. TESOL Quarterly, 53(1), 248-257.

PLEASE JOIN US THE DAY OF THE EVENT VIA TEAMS.

Abstract: English-medium instruction (EMI) refers the practice of offering academic subjects taught through English in countries where English is not the first language of the majority of the population. The growth of EMI in higher education (HE) has been well-documented, and the driving forces behind EMI are intertwined with goals related to the internationalization of HE. Although EMI as a phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent decades, little research has explored EMI across global regions, particularly in countries in the Global South. This study aimed to investigate the current situation with regards to the introduction and expansion of EMI in HE in 52 countries designated as recipients on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list. In doing so, the study aimed to shed light on EMI provision in many countries which are relatively less resourced and under-researched. The study involved 3 stages of investigation: (1) a country-level analysis with data collected through open-ended questionnaires from informed respondents to investigate the introduction and expansion of EMI in the 52 ODA recipient countries; (2) a website analysis of purposively sampled universities to examine what information with regards to EMI programmes is available; and (3) a survey of key institutional players to explore additional information about EMI programmes offered worldwide. The data was analyzed to explore global and regional trends, and the findings offer insights into the admission requirements, professional development opportunities, international student enrolment, and driving forces behind EMI programs. Based on the findings, recommendations are offered for researchers and practitioners.

Bio: Kari Sahan is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and an Honorary Norham Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She completed her DPhil in 2020 from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher–student interaction and the use of the L1 in EMI classrooms. Her work has appeared in journals such as ELT Journal, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, System, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.

Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.

 

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Children are powerful statistical spellers: They can learn novel written patterns with phonological counterparts under experimental conditions, via implicit learning processes, akin to “statistical learning” processes established for spoken language acquisition. Can these mechanisms fully account for children’s knowledge of written patterns? How does this ability relate to literacy measures? How does it compare to explicit learning? I address these questions in a series of artificial lexicon experiments, inducing graphotactic learning under incidental and explicit conditions, and comparing it with measures of literacy. Previous studies assessed learning of spelling rules which have counterparts in spoken language; however, while this is also the case for some naturalistic spelling rules (e.g., English phonotactics prohibit word initial /ŋ/ and accordingly, written words cannot begin with ng), there are also purely visual constraints (graphotactics) (e.g., gz is an illegal spelling of a frequent word-final sound combination in English: *bagz). Can children learn patterns unconfounded from correlated phonotactics? Developing and skilled spellers were exposed to patterns replete of phonotactic cues. In post-tests, participants generalized over both positional constraints embedded in semiartificial strings, and contextual constraints created using homophonic non-word stimuli. This was demonstrated following passive exposure and even under meaningful (word learning) conditions, and success in learning graphotactics was not hindered by learning word meanings. However, the effect sizes across these experiments remained small, and the hypothesized positive associations between learning performance under incidental conditions and literacy measures were never observed. This relationship was only found under explicit conditions, when pattern generalization benefited. Investigation of age effects revealed that adults and children show similar patterns of learning but adults learn faster from matched text.

Bio: Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps. Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

 

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Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps.

Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

Publications

Samara, Singh & Wonnacott (2019). Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental learning experiment with children. Cognition, Volume 182, 2019, Pages 25-30, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.005.

Singh, Samara & Wonnacott (accepted for publication in the Journal of Memory and Language). Statistical and explicit learning of graphotactic patterns with no phonological counterpart: Evidence from an artificial lexicon study with 7–8-year-olds and adults. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8px7n/.

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‘Plurilingual teaching and its effects on foreign language development

Professor Holger Hopp, Dr Jenny Jakisch and Sarah Sturm (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Research indicates that plurilingual teaching, i.e. integrating the learners’ (home) language repertoire into the teaching of a foreign language (FL), can improve FL achievement (Busse et al., 2019; Leonet et al., 2019). Against this background, we will present findings of a project in which a plurilingual approach to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) was implemented in four primary schools (year 4) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for 6 months. In each school, the English lessons of one group (intervention group) were extended by integrating the participants’ home languages whereas in the other group (comparison group) regular “monolingual” EFL lessons were conducted.

In our talk, we will present the research design as well as the teaching methods and materials that were used in the intervention group. We will also discuss how the young learners experienced the plurilingual lessons. Furthermore, we will show which effects the different teaching approaches had on the participants’ English achievement (vocabulary and grammar) and metalinguistic awareness by presenting data from longitudinal pre- and post-tests.

The data indicate that both monolingual and plurilingual participants gain FL competence during the 6-month intervention. However, the intervention group did not show differential learning gains compared to the comparison group. When testing for specific grammatical phenomena that were subject to instruction in the plurilingual lessons (e.g. questions), we found that the intervention group outperformed the control group. We conclude that addressing specific learners‘ plurilingual resources may support them in learning a foreign language. In our talk, we discuss the results and the potentials of plurilingual foreign language teaching.

References: Busse, V., Cenoz, J., Dalmann, N., & Rogge, F. (2019). Addressing Linguistic Diversity in the Language Classroom in a Resource‐Oriented Way: An Intervention Study With Primary School Children. Language Learning, 31(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12382

Leonet, O., Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2019). Developing morphological awareness across languages: translanguaging pedagogies in third language acquisition. Language Awareness, 79(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2019.1688338

Bios:

Holger Hopp: Holger Hopp is a professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany). In his research, he investigates child and adult L2/3 acquisition and processing as well as heritage language acquisition and attrition. He uses several psycholinguistic methods to determine the directionality, scope and degree of cross-linguistic influence in bi- and multilingual speakers of different ages.

Jenny Jakisch: Jenny Jakisch is lecturer and researcher at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her PhD dealt with the role of English language teaching (ELT) for fostering multilingualism. Her current research interests include teacher education, classroom management and inclusive ELT.

Sarah Sturm: Sarah Sturm is a research assistant and PhD student at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her research interests include multilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language (with a focus on young learners) and learning strategies. In her PhD project, she is investigating the use of language learning strategies by young multilingual foreign language learners.

 

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‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Professor Jenni Rodd (UCL)

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

Bio: Professor Jenni Rodd conducts research into how we understand the meanings of the words that we hear or read, and how we combine together the information from individual words to construct representations of the meanings of sentences. She has a particular interest in how we use our recent and long-term experience with language to improve the efficiency of these processes. She is the director of The Word Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL.

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‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: literacy and cognition

Professor Ianthi M. Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Much research in multilingualism and its effects on cognition and language ability has focused on individuals in western societies. Socioeconomic status, language of education and language prestige have been identified as some of the factors that appear to influence bi/multilingual individuals’ linguistic and cognitive profile although most research on the role of bilingualism on cognition has not capitalized on such factors. I will focus on multilingualism in India, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (UNESCO, 2009). Linguistic variation across Indian speakers is vast and includes variation in the number of home languages used, societal/community languages, official medium of instruction in schools and actual language practices in the classroom.

As language is the primary vehicle of education and learning, variation in any of the above measures of multilingualism can affect the language experience of the school child and have knock-on effects on the development of school skills (basic and higher literacy and numeracy), or cognition. Focusing on the data from 1200 children from urban primary schools in Delhi and Hyderabad and from rural areas in Patna, all from deprived or severely deprived socioeconomic backgrounds, I will try to disentangle how language experience and linguistic diversity in the child’s immediate environment (school, family, community) affect school skills and cognitive abilities.

Participants attend government primary schools in slum vs. non-slum urban areas of Delhi and Hyderabad, or town vs. rural areas in Patna, as part of a four-year, large-scale research project (MultiLila). They were assessed on mathematical reasoning, word, sentence and text reading, as well as non-verbal IQ, inhibition and complex working memory skills. Children attend English-medium or regional language medium schools (Hindi or Telugu), meaning that their assessment, textbooks and language used in the classroom is the official medium of instruction.

Although the language of textbooks and assessment match the official medium of instruction, language practices in the classroom include language mixing with English-only input ranging from zero to 40%, in English-medium schools. Taking into account the child’s home language(s) and the extent to which they are used in the classroom I will present the participants’ performance on linguistic, reasoning and cognitive skills. Results indicate a significant effect of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the cognitive and school skills of children from underprivileged socioeconomic background.

Bio:

Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli works on language development in the first and second language in children and adults, as well as on language impairment, attrition, bilingualism, language processing and the interaction between language, cognitive abilities and print exposure. She recently held the positions of Professor of Multilingualism and Cognition at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and the positions of Professor of Psycholinguistics and Director of the Language Development Lab at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Professor Tsimpli held a ‘Guest of the Rector’ Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences for six months in 2012, a Visiting Professorship for six months at the University of Cyprus in 2007, and a Visiting Scholar position at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg in 2005. She is Associate Editor of Lingua and member of the Editorial Board of the journals Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Second Language Research, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, Biolinguistics (e-journal), Journal of Greek Linguistics and of the Book Series “Language Acquisition and Language Disorders”.

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‘A teaching intervention may not reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and phonological awareness’

Dr Bene Bassetti (University of Birmingham)

The orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words can affect how L2 learners and L2 users pronounce L2 sounds, even after years of immersion in an L2 environment. It is however not known whether a training intervention can reduce such orthographic effects on L2 phonology. This paper will report the results of a study (Bassetti, Cerni & Masterson, under review) that investigated whether a teaching intervention can reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and awareness.

Previous studies found that Italian learners of L2 English produce and categorise the same English consonant as two different sounds: a short consonant if it is spelled with one letter, and as a geminate (a long consonant) if it is spelled with double letters. This is because in written double consonant letters represent geminates, and Italian native speakers therefore recode English double consonant letters. Bassetti and colleagues used a randomised controlled trial design, and allocated 100 Italian high-school students to a phonological intervention or a control group.

The teaching intervention group explored the correspondences between double letters and sound length in English, using reflection, explicit teaching and practice. The control group practiced the same English spoken and written words without mentions of orthography. All participants performed a delayed word repetition task and phonological awareness task twice, pre- and post-intervention. The teaching intervention had no effects. It appears that once orthographic effects on L2 phonology are established, they are difficult to eliminate, whether with extensive naturalistic exposure or with a teaching intervention.

Reference: Bassetti, B., Cerni, T., & Masterson, J. (under review) Efficacy of a teaching intervention to reduce the effects of orthographic forms on second language phonology: A randomized controlled trial

Bio: Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti leads Language and Condition at Birmingham (LACAB).

Nathan Thomas is an Applied Linguistics Tutor on the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT) course.

He also teaches on the MA TESOL (Pre-Service) course at the UCL Institute of Education, where he is completing his doctoral research under the dual supervision of Jim McKinley (UCL) and Heath Rose (Oxford).

His research focuses mainly on theoretical developments in the field of language learning strategies and on international students’ strategic learning in higher education. He is also involved in other projects pertaining to English medium instruction and English language teaching. His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, ELT Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, System, and TESOL Quarterly. He has also presented at more than 50 conferences in 14 countries all over the world.

Before his assuming his current roles, Nathan worked for ten years in China and Thailand, most recently as Director of English as a Foreign Language for a private educational consulting company in Beijing. He completed an MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (which is now the MSc ALLT at Oxford), MEd International Teaching, MA Applied Linguistics (ELT), BA English, and various teaching certificates, all while working full time.

For further information, please click here.

 

Publications

Bowen, N. & Thomas, N. (2020). Manipulating texture and cohesion in academic writing: A keystroke logging study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 50, 100773.

Pun, J. & Thomas, N. (2020). English medium instruction: Teachers challenges and coping strategies. ELT Journal, 74(3), 247-257.

Thomas, N. & Osment, C. (2020). Building on Dewaele’s (2018) L1 versus LX dichotomy: The Language-Usage-Identity State model. Applied Linguistics, 41(6), 1005-1010.

Zhang, L.J., Thomas, N., & Qin, T.L. (2019). Language learning strategy research in System: Looking back and looking forward. System, 84, 87-92.

Thomas, N., Rose, H., & Pojanapunya, P. (2019). Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings. Applied Linguistics Review (Advanced Access), 1-18.

Thomas, N. & Brereton, P. (2019). Pedagogical Implications: Practitioners respond to Michael Swan’s ‘Applied Linguistics: A consumer’s view.’ Language Teaching, 52(2), 275–278.

Thomas, N. & Rose, H. (2019). Do language learning strategies need to be self-directed? Disentangling strategies from self-regulated learning. TESOL Quarterly, 53(1), 248-257.

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Abstract: English-medium instruction (EMI) refers the practice of offering academic subjects taught through English in countries where English is not the first language of the majority of the population. The growth of EMI in higher education (HE) has been well-documented, and the driving forces behind EMI are intertwined with goals related to the internationalization of HE. Although EMI as a phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent decades, little research has explored EMI across global regions, particularly in countries in the Global South. This study aimed to investigate the current situation with regards to the introduction and expansion of EMI in HE in 52 countries designated as recipients on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list. In doing so, the study aimed to shed light on EMI provision in many countries which are relatively less resourced and under-researched. The study involved 3 stages of investigation: (1) a country-level analysis with data collected through open-ended questionnaires from informed respondents to investigate the introduction and expansion of EMI in the 52 ODA recipient countries; (2) a website analysis of purposively sampled universities to examine what information with regards to EMI programmes is available; and (3) a survey of key institutional players to explore additional information about EMI programmes offered worldwide. The data was analyzed to explore global and regional trends, and the findings offer insights into the admission requirements, professional development opportunities, international student enrolment, and driving forces behind EMI programs. Based on the findings, recommendations are offered for researchers and practitioners.

Bio: Kari Sahan is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and an Honorary Norham Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She completed her DPhil in 2020 from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher–student interaction and the use of the L1 in EMI classrooms. Her work has appeared in journals such as ELT Journal, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, System, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.

Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.

 

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Children are powerful statistical spellers: They can learn novel written patterns with phonological counterparts under experimental conditions, via implicit learning processes, akin to “statistical learning” processes established for spoken language acquisition. Can these mechanisms fully account for children’s knowledge of written patterns? How does this ability relate to literacy measures? How does it compare to explicit learning? I address these questions in a series of artificial lexicon experiments, inducing graphotactic learning under incidental and explicit conditions, and comparing it with measures of literacy. Previous studies assessed learning of spelling rules which have counterparts in spoken language; however, while this is also the case for some naturalistic spelling rules (e.g., English phonotactics prohibit word initial /ŋ/ and accordingly, written words cannot begin with ng), there are also purely visual constraints (graphotactics) (e.g., gz is an illegal spelling of a frequent word-final sound combination in English: *bagz). Can children learn patterns unconfounded from correlated phonotactics? Developing and skilled spellers were exposed to patterns replete of phonotactic cues. In post-tests, participants generalized over both positional constraints embedded in semiartificial strings, and contextual constraints created using homophonic non-word stimuli. This was demonstrated following passive exposure and even under meaningful (word learning) conditions, and success in learning graphotactics was not hindered by learning word meanings. However, the effect sizes across these experiments remained small, and the hypothesized positive associations between learning performance under incidental conditions and literacy measures were never observed. This relationship was only found under explicit conditions, when pattern generalization benefited. Investigation of age effects revealed that adults and children show similar patterns of learning but adults learn faster from matched text.

Bio: Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps. Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

 

PLEASE JOIN US ON TEAMS ON THE DAY OF THE EVENT.

Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps.

Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

Publications

Samara, Singh & Wonnacott (2019). Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental learning experiment with children. Cognition, Volume 182, 2019, Pages 25-30, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.005.

Singh, Samara & Wonnacott (accepted for publication in the Journal of Memory and Language). Statistical and explicit learning of graphotactic patterns with no phonological counterpart: Evidence from an artificial lexicon study with 7–8-year-olds and adults. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8px7n/.

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‘Plurilingual teaching and its effects on foreign language development

Professor Holger Hopp, Dr Jenny Jakisch and Sarah Sturm (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Research indicates that plurilingual teaching, i.e. integrating the learners’ (home) language repertoire into the teaching of a foreign language (FL), can improve FL achievement (Busse et al., 2019; Leonet et al., 2019). Against this background, we will present findings of a project in which a plurilingual approach to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) was implemented in four primary schools (year 4) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for 6 months. In each school, the English lessons of one group (intervention group) were extended by integrating the participants’ home languages whereas in the other group (comparison group) regular “monolingual” EFL lessons were conducted.

In our talk, we will present the research design as well as the teaching methods and materials that were used in the intervention group. We will also discuss how the young learners experienced the plurilingual lessons. Furthermore, we will show which effects the different teaching approaches had on the participants’ English achievement (vocabulary and grammar) and metalinguistic awareness by presenting data from longitudinal pre- and post-tests.

The data indicate that both monolingual and plurilingual participants gain FL competence during the 6-month intervention. However, the intervention group did not show differential learning gains compared to the comparison group. When testing for specific grammatical phenomena that were subject to instruction in the plurilingual lessons (e.g. questions), we found that the intervention group outperformed the control group. We conclude that addressing specific learners‘ plurilingual resources may support them in learning a foreign language. In our talk, we discuss the results and the potentials of plurilingual foreign language teaching.

References: Busse, V., Cenoz, J., Dalmann, N., & Rogge, F. (2019). Addressing Linguistic Diversity in the Language Classroom in a Resource‐Oriented Way: An Intervention Study With Primary School Children. Language Learning, 31(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12382

Leonet, O., Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2019). Developing morphological awareness across languages: translanguaging pedagogies in third language acquisition. Language Awareness, 79(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2019.1688338

Bios:

Holger Hopp: Holger Hopp is a professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany). In his research, he investigates child and adult L2/3 acquisition and processing as well as heritage language acquisition and attrition. He uses several psycholinguistic methods to determine the directionality, scope and degree of cross-linguistic influence in bi- and multilingual speakers of different ages.

Jenny Jakisch: Jenny Jakisch is lecturer and researcher at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her PhD dealt with the role of English language teaching (ELT) for fostering multilingualism. Her current research interests include teacher education, classroom management and inclusive ELT.

Sarah Sturm: Sarah Sturm is a research assistant and PhD student at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her research interests include multilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language (with a focus on young learners) and learning strategies. In her PhD project, she is investigating the use of language learning strategies by young multilingual foreign language learners.

 

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‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Professor Jenni Rodd (UCL)

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

Bio: Professor Jenni Rodd conducts research into how we understand the meanings of the words that we hear or read, and how we combine together the information from individual words to construct representations of the meanings of sentences. She has a particular interest in how we use our recent and long-term experience with language to improve the efficiency of these processes. She is the director of The Word Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL.

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‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: literacy and cognition

Professor Ianthi M. Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Much research in multilingualism and its effects on cognition and language ability has focused on individuals in western societies. Socioeconomic status, language of education and language prestige have been identified as some of the factors that appear to influence bi/multilingual individuals’ linguistic and cognitive profile although most research on the role of bilingualism on cognition has not capitalized on such factors. I will focus on multilingualism in India, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (UNESCO, 2009). Linguistic variation across Indian speakers is vast and includes variation in the number of home languages used, societal/community languages, official medium of instruction in schools and actual language practices in the classroom.

As language is the primary vehicle of education and learning, variation in any of the above measures of multilingualism can affect the language experience of the school child and have knock-on effects on the development of school skills (basic and higher literacy and numeracy), or cognition. Focusing on the data from 1200 children from urban primary schools in Delhi and Hyderabad and from rural areas in Patna, all from deprived or severely deprived socioeconomic backgrounds, I will try to disentangle how language experience and linguistic diversity in the child’s immediate environment (school, family, community) affect school skills and cognitive abilities.

Participants attend government primary schools in slum vs. non-slum urban areas of Delhi and Hyderabad, or town vs. rural areas in Patna, as part of a four-year, large-scale research project (MultiLila). They were assessed on mathematical reasoning, word, sentence and text reading, as well as non-verbal IQ, inhibition and complex working memory skills. Children attend English-medium or regional language medium schools (Hindi or Telugu), meaning that their assessment, textbooks and language used in the classroom is the official medium of instruction.

Although the language of textbooks and assessment match the official medium of instruction, language practices in the classroom include language mixing with English-only input ranging from zero to 40%, in English-medium schools. Taking into account the child’s home language(s) and the extent to which they are used in the classroom I will present the participants’ performance on linguistic, reasoning and cognitive skills. Results indicate a significant effect of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the cognitive and school skills of children from underprivileged socioeconomic background.

Bio:

Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli works on language development in the first and second language in children and adults, as well as on language impairment, attrition, bilingualism, language processing and the interaction between language, cognitive abilities and print exposure. She recently held the positions of Professor of Multilingualism and Cognition at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and the positions of Professor of Psycholinguistics and Director of the Language Development Lab at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Professor Tsimpli held a ‘Guest of the Rector’ Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences for six months in 2012, a Visiting Professorship for six months at the University of Cyprus in 2007, and a Visiting Scholar position at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg in 2005. She is Associate Editor of Lingua and member of the Editorial Board of the journals Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Second Language Research, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, Biolinguistics (e-journal), Journal of Greek Linguistics and of the Book Series “Language Acquisition and Language Disorders”.

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‘A teaching intervention may not reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and phonological awareness’

Dr Bene Bassetti (University of Birmingham)

The orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words can affect how L2 learners and L2 users pronounce L2 sounds, even after years of immersion in an L2 environment. It is however not known whether a training intervention can reduce such orthographic effects on L2 phonology. This paper will report the results of a study (Bassetti, Cerni & Masterson, under review) that investigated whether a teaching intervention can reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and awareness.

Previous studies found that Italian learners of L2 English produce and categorise the same English consonant as two different sounds: a short consonant if it is spelled with one letter, and as a geminate (a long consonant) if it is spelled with double letters. This is because in written double consonant letters represent geminates, and Italian native speakers therefore recode English double consonant letters. Bassetti and colleagues used a randomised controlled trial design, and allocated 100 Italian high-school students to a phonological intervention or a control group.

The teaching intervention group explored the correspondences between double letters and sound length in English, using reflection, explicit teaching and practice. The control group practiced the same English spoken and written words without mentions of orthography. All participants performed a delayed word repetition task and phonological awareness task twice, pre- and post-intervention. The teaching intervention had no effects. It appears that once orthographic effects on L2 phonology are established, they are difficult to eliminate, whether with extensive naturalistic exposure or with a teaching intervention.

Reference: Bassetti, B., Cerni, T., & Masterson, J. (under review) Efficacy of a teaching intervention to reduce the effects of orthographic forms on second language phonology: A randomized controlled trial

Bio: Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti leads Language and Condition at Birmingham (LACAB).

Nathan Thomas is an Applied Linguistics Tutor on the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT) course.

He also teaches on the MA TESOL (Pre-Service) course at the UCL Institute of Education, where he is completing his doctoral research under the dual supervision of Jim McKinley (UCL) and Heath Rose (Oxford).

His research focuses mainly on theoretical developments in the field of language learning strategies and on international students’ strategic learning in higher education. He is also involved in other projects pertaining to English medium instruction and English language teaching. His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, ELT Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, System, and TESOL Quarterly. He has also presented at more than 50 conferences in 14 countries all over the world.

Before his assuming his current roles, Nathan worked for ten years in China and Thailand, most recently as Director of English as a Foreign Language for a private educational consulting company in Beijing. He completed an MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (which is now the MSc ALLT at Oxford), MEd International Teaching, MA Applied Linguistics (ELT), BA English, and various teaching certificates, all while working full time.

For further information, please click here.

 

Publications

Bowen, N. & Thomas, N. (2020). Manipulating texture and cohesion in academic writing: A keystroke logging study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 50, 100773.

Pun, J. & Thomas, N. (2020). English medium instruction: Teachers challenges and coping strategies. ELT Journal, 74(3), 247-257.

Thomas, N. & Osment, C. (2020). Building on Dewaele’s (2018) L1 versus LX dichotomy: The Language-Usage-Identity State model. Applied Linguistics, 41(6), 1005-1010.

Zhang, L.J., Thomas, N., & Qin, T.L. (2019). Language learning strategy research in System: Looking back and looking forward. System, 84, 87-92.

Thomas, N., Rose, H., & Pojanapunya, P. (2019). Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings. Applied Linguistics Review (Advanced Access), 1-18.

Thomas, N. & Brereton, P. (2019). Pedagogical Implications: Practitioners respond to Michael Swan’s ‘Applied Linguistics: A consumer’s view.’ Language Teaching, 52(2), 275–278.

Thomas, N. & Rose, H. (2019). Do language learning strategies need to be self-directed? Disentangling strategies from self-regulated learning. TESOL Quarterly, 53(1), 248-257.

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Abstract: English-medium instruction (EMI) refers the practice of offering academic subjects taught through English in countries where English is not the first language of the majority of the population. The growth of EMI in higher education (HE) has been well-documented, and the driving forces behind EMI are intertwined with goals related to the internationalization of HE. Although EMI as a phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent decades, little research has explored EMI across global regions, particularly in countries in the Global South. This study aimed to investigate the current situation with regards to the introduction and expansion of EMI in HE in 52 countries designated as recipients on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list. In doing so, the study aimed to shed light on EMI provision in many countries which are relatively less resourced and under-researched. The study involved 3 stages of investigation: (1) a country-level analysis with data collected through open-ended questionnaires from informed respondents to investigate the introduction and expansion of EMI in the 52 ODA recipient countries; (2) a website analysis of purposively sampled universities to examine what information with regards to EMI programmes is available; and (3) a survey of key institutional players to explore additional information about EMI programmes offered worldwide. The data was analyzed to explore global and regional trends, and the findings offer insights into the admission requirements, professional development opportunities, international student enrolment, and driving forces behind EMI programs. Based on the findings, recommendations are offered for researchers and practitioners.

Bio: Kari Sahan is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and an Honorary Norham Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She completed her DPhil in 2020 from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher–student interaction and the use of the L1 in EMI classrooms. Her work has appeared in journals such as ELT Journal, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, System, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.

Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.

 

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Children are powerful statistical spellers: They can learn novel written patterns with phonological counterparts under experimental conditions, via implicit learning processes, akin to “statistical learning” processes established for spoken language acquisition. Can these mechanisms fully account for children’s knowledge of written patterns? How does this ability relate to literacy measures? How does it compare to explicit learning? I address these questions in a series of artificial lexicon experiments, inducing graphotactic learning under incidental and explicit conditions, and comparing it with measures of literacy. Previous studies assessed learning of spelling rules which have counterparts in spoken language; however, while this is also the case for some naturalistic spelling rules (e.g., English phonotactics prohibit word initial /ŋ/ and accordingly, written words cannot begin with ng), there are also purely visual constraints (graphotactics) (e.g., gz is an illegal spelling of a frequent word-final sound combination in English: *bagz). Can children learn patterns unconfounded from correlated phonotactics? Developing and skilled spellers were exposed to patterns replete of phonotactic cues. In post-tests, participants generalized over both positional constraints embedded in semiartificial strings, and contextual constraints created using homophonic non-word stimuli. This was demonstrated following passive exposure and even under meaningful (word learning) conditions, and success in learning graphotactics was not hindered by learning word meanings. However, the effect sizes across these experiments remained small, and the hypothesized positive associations between learning performance under incidental conditions and literacy measures were never observed. This relationship was only found under explicit conditions, when pattern generalization benefited. Investigation of age effects revealed that adults and children show similar patterns of learning but adults learn faster from matched text.

Bio: Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps. Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

 

PLEASE JOIN US ON TEAMS ON THE DAY OF THE EVENT.

Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps.

Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

Publications

Samara, Singh & Wonnacott (2019). Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental learning experiment with children. Cognition, Volume 182, 2019, Pages 25-30, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.005.

Singh, Samara & Wonnacott (accepted for publication in the Journal of Memory and Language). Statistical and explicit learning of graphotactic patterns with no phonological counterpart: Evidence from an artificial lexicon study with 7–8-year-olds and adults. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8px7n/.

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‘Plurilingual teaching and its effects on foreign language development

Professor Holger Hopp, Dr Jenny Jakisch and Sarah Sturm (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Research indicates that plurilingual teaching, i.e. integrating the learners’ (home) language repertoire into the teaching of a foreign language (FL), can improve FL achievement (Busse et al., 2019; Leonet et al., 2019). Against this background, we will present findings of a project in which a plurilingual approach to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) was implemented in four primary schools (year 4) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for 6 months. In each school, the English lessons of one group (intervention group) were extended by integrating the participants’ home languages whereas in the other group (comparison group) regular “monolingual” EFL lessons were conducted.

In our talk, we will present the research design as well as the teaching methods and materials that were used in the intervention group. We will also discuss how the young learners experienced the plurilingual lessons. Furthermore, we will show which effects the different teaching approaches had on the participants’ English achievement (vocabulary and grammar) and metalinguistic awareness by presenting data from longitudinal pre- and post-tests.

The data indicate that both monolingual and plurilingual participants gain FL competence during the 6-month intervention. However, the intervention group did not show differential learning gains compared to the comparison group. When testing for specific grammatical phenomena that were subject to instruction in the plurilingual lessons (e.g. questions), we found that the intervention group outperformed the control group. We conclude that addressing specific learners‘ plurilingual resources may support them in learning a foreign language. In our talk, we discuss the results and the potentials of plurilingual foreign language teaching.

References: Busse, V., Cenoz, J., Dalmann, N., & Rogge, F. (2019). Addressing Linguistic Diversity in the Language Classroom in a Resource‐Oriented Way: An Intervention Study With Primary School Children. Language Learning, 31(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12382

Leonet, O., Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2019). Developing morphological awareness across languages: translanguaging pedagogies in third language acquisition. Language Awareness, 79(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2019.1688338

Bios:

Holger Hopp: Holger Hopp is a professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany). In his research, he investigates child and adult L2/3 acquisition and processing as well as heritage language acquisition and attrition. He uses several psycholinguistic methods to determine the directionality, scope and degree of cross-linguistic influence in bi- and multilingual speakers of different ages.

Jenny Jakisch: Jenny Jakisch is lecturer and researcher at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her PhD dealt with the role of English language teaching (ELT) for fostering multilingualism. Her current research interests include teacher education, classroom management and inclusive ELT.

Sarah Sturm: Sarah Sturm is a research assistant and PhD student at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her research interests include multilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language (with a focus on young learners) and learning strategies. In her PhD project, she is investigating the use of language learning strategies by young multilingual foreign language learners.

 

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‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Professor Jenni Rodd (UCL)

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

Bio: Professor Jenni Rodd conducts research into how we understand the meanings of the words that we hear or read, and how we combine together the information from individual words to construct representations of the meanings of sentences. She has a particular interest in how we use our recent and long-term experience with language to improve the efficiency of these processes. She is the director of The Word Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL.

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‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: literacy and cognition

Professor Ianthi M. Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Much research in multilingualism and its effects on cognition and language ability has focused on individuals in western societies. Socioeconomic status, language of education and language prestige have been identified as some of the factors that appear to influence bi/multilingual individuals’ linguistic and cognitive profile although most research on the role of bilingualism on cognition has not capitalized on such factors. I will focus on multilingualism in India, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (UNESCO, 2009). Linguistic variation across Indian speakers is vast and includes variation in the number of home languages used, societal/community languages, official medium of instruction in schools and actual language practices in the classroom.

As language is the primary vehicle of education and learning, variation in any of the above measures of multilingualism can affect the language experience of the school child and have knock-on effects on the development of school skills (basic and higher literacy and numeracy), or cognition. Focusing on the data from 1200 children from urban primary schools in Delhi and Hyderabad and from rural areas in Patna, all from deprived or severely deprived socioeconomic backgrounds, I will try to disentangle how language experience and linguistic diversity in the child’s immediate environment (school, family, community) affect school skills and cognitive abilities.

Participants attend government primary schools in slum vs. non-slum urban areas of Delhi and Hyderabad, or town vs. rural areas in Patna, as part of a four-year, large-scale research project (MultiLila). They were assessed on mathematical reasoning, word, sentence and text reading, as well as non-verbal IQ, inhibition and complex working memory skills. Children attend English-medium or regional language medium schools (Hindi or Telugu), meaning that their assessment, textbooks and language used in the classroom is the official medium of instruction.

Although the language of textbooks and assessment match the official medium of instruction, language practices in the classroom include language mixing with English-only input ranging from zero to 40%, in English-medium schools. Taking into account the child’s home language(s) and the extent to which they are used in the classroom I will present the participants’ performance on linguistic, reasoning and cognitive skills. Results indicate a significant effect of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the cognitive and school skills of children from underprivileged socioeconomic background.

Bio:

Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli works on language development in the first and second language in children and adults, as well as on language impairment, attrition, bilingualism, language processing and the interaction between language, cognitive abilities and print exposure. She recently held the positions of Professor of Multilingualism and Cognition at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and the positions of Professor of Psycholinguistics and Director of the Language Development Lab at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Professor Tsimpli held a ‘Guest of the Rector’ Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences for six months in 2012, a Visiting Professorship for six months at the University of Cyprus in 2007, and a Visiting Scholar position at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg in 2005. She is Associate Editor of Lingua and member of the Editorial Board of the journals Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Second Language Research, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, Biolinguistics (e-journal), Journal of Greek Linguistics and of the Book Series “Language Acquisition and Language Disorders”.

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‘A teaching intervention may not reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and phonological awareness’

Dr Bene Bassetti (University of Birmingham)

The orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words can affect how L2 learners and L2 users pronounce L2 sounds, even after years of immersion in an L2 environment. It is however not known whether a training intervention can reduce such orthographic effects on L2 phonology. This paper will report the results of a study (Bassetti, Cerni & Masterson, under review) that investigated whether a teaching intervention can reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and awareness.

Previous studies found that Italian learners of L2 English produce and categorise the same English consonant as two different sounds: a short consonant if it is spelled with one letter, and as a geminate (a long consonant) if it is spelled with double letters. This is because in written double consonant letters represent geminates, and Italian native speakers therefore recode English double consonant letters. Bassetti and colleagues used a randomised controlled trial design, and allocated 100 Italian high-school students to a phonological intervention or a control group.

The teaching intervention group explored the correspondences between double letters and sound length in English, using reflection, explicit teaching and practice. The control group practiced the same English spoken and written words without mentions of orthography. All participants performed a delayed word repetition task and phonological awareness task twice, pre- and post-intervention. The teaching intervention had no effects. It appears that once orthographic effects on L2 phonology are established, they are difficult to eliminate, whether with extensive naturalistic exposure or with a teaching intervention.

Reference: Bassetti, B., Cerni, T., & Masterson, J. (under review) Efficacy of a teaching intervention to reduce the effects of orthographic forms on second language phonology: A randomized controlled trial

Bio: Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti leads Language and Condition at Birmingham (LACAB).

Nathan Thomas is an Applied Linguistics Tutor on the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT) course.

He also teaches on the MA TESOL (Pre-Service) course at the UCL Institute of Education, where he is completing his doctoral research under the dual supervision of Jim McKinley (UCL) and Heath Rose (Oxford).

His research focuses mainly on theoretical developments in the field of language learning strategies and on international students’ strategic learning in higher education. He is also involved in other projects pertaining to English medium instruction and English language teaching. His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, ELT Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, System, and TESOL Quarterly. He has also presented at more than 50 conferences in 14 countries all over the world.

Before his assuming his current roles, Nathan worked for ten years in China and Thailand, most recently as Director of English as a Foreign Language for a private educational consulting company in Beijing. He completed an MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (which is now the MSc ALLT at Oxford), MEd International Teaching, MA Applied Linguistics (ELT), BA English, and various teaching certificates, all while working full time.

For further information, please click here.

 

Publications

Bowen, N. & Thomas, N. (2020). Manipulating texture and cohesion in academic writing: A keystroke logging study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 50, 100773.

Pun, J. & Thomas, N. (2020). English medium instruction: Teachers challenges and coping strategies. ELT Journal, 74(3), 247-257.

Thomas, N. & Osment, C. (2020). Building on Dewaele’s (2018) L1 versus LX dichotomy: The Language-Usage-Identity State model. Applied Linguistics, 41(6), 1005-1010.

Zhang, L.J., Thomas, N., & Qin, T.L. (2019). Language learning strategy research in System: Looking back and looking forward. System, 84, 87-92.

Thomas, N., Rose, H., & Pojanapunya, P. (2019). Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings. Applied Linguistics Review (Advanced Access), 1-18.

Thomas, N. & Brereton, P. (2019). Pedagogical Implications: Practitioners respond to Michael Swan’s ‘Applied Linguistics: A consumer’s view.’ Language Teaching, 52(2), 275–278.

Thomas, N. & Rose, H. (2019). Do language learning strategies need to be self-directed? Disentangling strategies from self-regulated learning. TESOL Quarterly, 53(1), 248-257.

PLEASE JOIN US THE DAY OF THE EVENT VIA TEAMS.

Abstract: English-medium instruction (EMI) refers the practice of offering academic subjects taught through English in countries where English is not the first language of the majority of the population. The growth of EMI in higher education (HE) has been well-documented, and the driving forces behind EMI are intertwined with goals related to the internationalization of HE. Although EMI as a phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent decades, little research has explored EMI across global regions, particularly in countries in the Global South. This study aimed to investigate the current situation with regards to the introduction and expansion of EMI in HE in 52 countries designated as recipients on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list. In doing so, the study aimed to shed light on EMI provision in many countries which are relatively less resourced and under-researched. The study involved 3 stages of investigation: (1) a country-level analysis with data collected through open-ended questionnaires from informed respondents to investigate the introduction and expansion of EMI in the 52 ODA recipient countries; (2) a website analysis of purposively sampled universities to examine what information with regards to EMI programmes is available; and (3) a survey of key institutional players to explore additional information about EMI programmes offered worldwide. The data was analyzed to explore global and regional trends, and the findings offer insights into the admission requirements, professional development opportunities, international student enrolment, and driving forces behind EMI programs. Based on the findings, recommendations are offered for researchers and practitioners.

Bio: Kari Sahan is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and an Honorary Norham Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She completed her DPhil in 2020 from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher–student interaction and the use of the L1 in EMI classrooms. Her work has appeared in journals such as ELT Journal, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, System, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.

Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.

 

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Children are powerful statistical spellers: They can learn novel written patterns with phonological counterparts under experimental conditions, via implicit learning processes, akin to “statistical learning” processes established for spoken language acquisition. Can these mechanisms fully account for children’s knowledge of written patterns? How does this ability relate to literacy measures? How does it compare to explicit learning? I address these questions in a series of artificial lexicon experiments, inducing graphotactic learning under incidental and explicit conditions, and comparing it with measures of literacy. Previous studies assessed learning of spelling rules which have counterparts in spoken language; however, while this is also the case for some naturalistic spelling rules (e.g., English phonotactics prohibit word initial /ŋ/ and accordingly, written words cannot begin with ng), there are also purely visual constraints (graphotactics) (e.g., gz is an illegal spelling of a frequent word-final sound combination in English: *bagz). Can children learn patterns unconfounded from correlated phonotactics? Developing and skilled spellers were exposed to patterns replete of phonotactic cues. In post-tests, participants generalized over both positional constraints embedded in semiartificial strings, and contextual constraints created using homophonic non-word stimuli. This was demonstrated following passive exposure and even under meaningful (word learning) conditions, and success in learning graphotactics was not hindered by learning word meanings. However, the effect sizes across these experiments remained small, and the hypothesized positive associations between learning performance under incidental conditions and literacy measures were never observed. This relationship was only found under explicit conditions, when pattern generalization benefited. Investigation of age effects revealed that adults and children show similar patterns of learning but adults learn faster from matched text.

Bio: Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps. Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

 

PLEASE JOIN US ON TEAMS ON THE DAY OF THE EVENT.

Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps.

Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

Publications

Samara, Singh & Wonnacott (2019). Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental learning experiment with children. Cognition, Volume 182, 2019, Pages 25-30, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.005.

Singh, Samara & Wonnacott (accepted for publication in the Journal of Memory and Language). Statistical and explicit learning of graphotactic patterns with no phonological counterpart: Evidence from an artificial lexicon study with 7–8-year-olds and adults. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8px7n/.

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‘Plurilingual teaching and its effects on foreign language development

Professor Holger Hopp, Dr Jenny Jakisch and Sarah Sturm (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Research indicates that plurilingual teaching, i.e. integrating the learners’ (home) language repertoire into the teaching of a foreign language (FL), can improve FL achievement (Busse et al., 2019; Leonet et al., 2019). Against this background, we will present findings of a project in which a plurilingual approach to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) was implemented in four primary schools (year 4) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for 6 months. In each school, the English lessons of one group (intervention group) were extended by integrating the participants’ home languages whereas in the other group (comparison group) regular “monolingual” EFL lessons were conducted.

In our talk, we will present the research design as well as the teaching methods and materials that were used in the intervention group. We will also discuss how the young learners experienced the plurilingual lessons. Furthermore, we will show which effects the different teaching approaches had on the participants’ English achievement (vocabulary and grammar) and metalinguistic awareness by presenting data from longitudinal pre- and post-tests.

The data indicate that both monolingual and plurilingual participants gain FL competence during the 6-month intervention. However, the intervention group did not show differential learning gains compared to the comparison group. When testing for specific grammatical phenomena that were subject to instruction in the plurilingual lessons (e.g. questions), we found that the intervention group outperformed the control group. We conclude that addressing specific learners‘ plurilingual resources may support them in learning a foreign language. In our talk, we discuss the results and the potentials of plurilingual foreign language teaching.

References: Busse, V., Cenoz, J., Dalmann, N., & Rogge, F. (2019). Addressing Linguistic Diversity in the Language Classroom in a Resource‐Oriented Way: An Intervention Study With Primary School Children. Language Learning, 31(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12382

Leonet, O., Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2019). Developing morphological awareness across languages: translanguaging pedagogies in third language acquisition. Language Awareness, 79(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2019.1688338

Bios:

Holger Hopp: Holger Hopp is a professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany). In his research, he investigates child and adult L2/3 acquisition and processing as well as heritage language acquisition and attrition. He uses several psycholinguistic methods to determine the directionality, scope and degree of cross-linguistic influence in bi- and multilingual speakers of different ages.

Jenny Jakisch: Jenny Jakisch is lecturer and researcher at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her PhD dealt with the role of English language teaching (ELT) for fostering multilingualism. Her current research interests include teacher education, classroom management and inclusive ELT.

Sarah Sturm: Sarah Sturm is a research assistant and PhD student at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her research interests include multilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language (with a focus on young learners) and learning strategies. In her PhD project, she is investigating the use of language learning strategies by young multilingual foreign language learners.

 

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‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Professor Jenni Rodd (UCL)

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

Bio: Professor Jenni Rodd conducts research into how we understand the meanings of the words that we hear or read, and how we combine together the information from individual words to construct representations of the meanings of sentences. She has a particular interest in how we use our recent and long-term experience with language to improve the efficiency of these processes. She is the director of The Word Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL.

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‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: literacy and cognition

Professor Ianthi M. Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Much research in multilingualism and its effects on cognition and language ability has focused on individuals in western societies. Socioeconomic status, language of education and language prestige have been identified as some of the factors that appear to influence bi/multilingual individuals’ linguistic and cognitive profile although most research on the role of bilingualism on cognition has not capitalized on such factors. I will focus on multilingualism in India, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (UNESCO, 2009). Linguistic variation across Indian speakers is vast and includes variation in the number of home languages used, societal/community languages, official medium of instruction in schools and actual language practices in the classroom.

As language is the primary vehicle of education and learning, variation in any of the above measures of multilingualism can affect the language experience of the school child and have knock-on effects on the development of school skills (basic and higher literacy and numeracy), or cognition. Focusing on the data from 1200 children from urban primary schools in Delhi and Hyderabad and from rural areas in Patna, all from deprived or severely deprived socioeconomic backgrounds, I will try to disentangle how language experience and linguistic diversity in the child’s immediate environment (school, family, community) affect school skills and cognitive abilities.

Participants attend government primary schools in slum vs. non-slum urban areas of Delhi and Hyderabad, or town vs. rural areas in Patna, as part of a four-year, large-scale research project (MultiLila). They were assessed on mathematical reasoning, word, sentence and text reading, as well as non-verbal IQ, inhibition and complex working memory skills. Children attend English-medium or regional language medium schools (Hindi or Telugu), meaning that their assessment, textbooks and language used in the classroom is the official medium of instruction.

Although the language of textbooks and assessment match the official medium of instruction, language practices in the classroom include language mixing with English-only input ranging from zero to 40%, in English-medium schools. Taking into account the child’s home language(s) and the extent to which they are used in the classroom I will present the participants’ performance on linguistic, reasoning and cognitive skills. Results indicate a significant effect of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the cognitive and school skills of children from underprivileged socioeconomic background.

Bio:

Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli works on language development in the first and second language in children and adults, as well as on language impairment, attrition, bilingualism, language processing and the interaction between language, cognitive abilities and print exposure. She recently held the positions of Professor of Multilingualism and Cognition at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and the positions of Professor of Psycholinguistics and Director of the Language Development Lab at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Professor Tsimpli held a ‘Guest of the Rector’ Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences for six months in 2012, a Visiting Professorship for six months at the University of Cyprus in 2007, and a Visiting Scholar position at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg in 2005. She is Associate Editor of Lingua and member of the Editorial Board of the journals Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Second Language Research, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, Biolinguistics (e-journal), Journal of Greek Linguistics and of the Book Series “Language Acquisition and Language Disorders”.

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‘A teaching intervention may not reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and phonological awareness’

Dr Bene Bassetti (University of Birmingham)

The orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words can affect how L2 learners and L2 users pronounce L2 sounds, even after years of immersion in an L2 environment. It is however not known whether a training intervention can reduce such orthographic effects on L2 phonology. This paper will report the results of a study (Bassetti, Cerni & Masterson, under review) that investigated whether a teaching intervention can reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and awareness.

Previous studies found that Italian learners of L2 English produce and categorise the same English consonant as two different sounds: a short consonant if it is spelled with one letter, and as a geminate (a long consonant) if it is spelled with double letters. This is because in written double consonant letters represent geminates, and Italian native speakers therefore recode English double consonant letters. Bassetti and colleagues used a randomised controlled trial design, and allocated 100 Italian high-school students to a phonological intervention or a control group.

The teaching intervention group explored the correspondences between double letters and sound length in English, using reflection, explicit teaching and practice. The control group practiced the same English spoken and written words without mentions of orthography. All participants performed a delayed word repetition task and phonological awareness task twice, pre- and post-intervention. The teaching intervention had no effects. It appears that once orthographic effects on L2 phonology are established, they are difficult to eliminate, whether with extensive naturalistic exposure or with a teaching intervention.

Reference: Bassetti, B., Cerni, T., & Masterson, J. (under review) Efficacy of a teaching intervention to reduce the effects of orthographic forms on second language phonology: A randomized controlled trial

Bio: Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti leads Language and Condition at Birmingham (LACAB).

Nathan Thomas is an Applied Linguistics Tutor on the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT) course.

He also teaches on the MA TESOL (Pre-Service) course at the UCL Institute of Education, where he is completing his doctoral research under the dual supervision of Jim McKinley (UCL) and Heath Rose (Oxford).

His research focuses mainly on theoretical developments in the field of language learning strategies and on international students’ strategic learning in higher education. He is also involved in other projects pertaining to English medium instruction and English language teaching. His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, ELT Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, System, and TESOL Quarterly. He has also presented at more than 50 conferences in 14 countries all over the world.

Before his assuming his current roles, Nathan worked for ten years in China and Thailand, most recently as Director of English as a Foreign Language for a private educational consulting company in Beijing. He completed an MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (which is now the MSc ALLT at Oxford), MEd International Teaching, MA Applied Linguistics (ELT), BA English, and various teaching certificates, all while working full time.

For further information, please click here.

 

Publications

Bowen, N. & Thomas, N. (2020). Manipulating texture and cohesion in academic writing: A keystroke logging study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 50, 100773.

Pun, J. & Thomas, N. (2020). English medium instruction: Teachers challenges and coping strategies. ELT Journal, 74(3), 247-257.

Thomas, N. & Osment, C. (2020). Building on Dewaele’s (2018) L1 versus LX dichotomy: The Language-Usage-Identity State model. Applied Linguistics, 41(6), 1005-1010.

Zhang, L.J., Thomas, N., & Qin, T.L. (2019). Language learning strategy research in System: Looking back and looking forward. System, 84, 87-92.

Thomas, N., Rose, H., & Pojanapunya, P. (2019). Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings. Applied Linguistics Review (Advanced Access), 1-18.

Thomas, N. & Brereton, P. (2019). Pedagogical Implications: Practitioners respond to Michael Swan’s ‘Applied Linguistics: A consumer’s view.’ Language Teaching, 52(2), 275–278.

Thomas, N. & Rose, H. (2019). Do language learning strategies need to be self-directed? Disentangling strategies from self-regulated learning. TESOL Quarterly, 53(1), 248-257.

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Abstract: English-medium instruction (EMI) refers the practice of offering academic subjects taught through English in countries where English is not the first language of the majority of the population. The growth of EMI in higher education (HE) has been well-documented, and the driving forces behind EMI are intertwined with goals related to the internationalization of HE. Although EMI as a phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent decades, little research has explored EMI across global regions, particularly in countries in the Global South. This study aimed to investigate the current situation with regards to the introduction and expansion of EMI in HE in 52 countries designated as recipients on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list. In doing so, the study aimed to shed light on EMI provision in many countries which are relatively less resourced and under-researched. The study involved 3 stages of investigation: (1) a country-level analysis with data collected through open-ended questionnaires from informed respondents to investigate the introduction and expansion of EMI in the 52 ODA recipient countries; (2) a website analysis of purposively sampled universities to examine what information with regards to EMI programmes is available; and (3) a survey of key institutional players to explore additional information about EMI programmes offered worldwide. The data was analyzed to explore global and regional trends, and the findings offer insights into the admission requirements, professional development opportunities, international student enrolment, and driving forces behind EMI programs. Based on the findings, recommendations are offered for researchers and practitioners.

Bio: Kari Sahan is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and an Honorary Norham Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She completed her DPhil in 2020 from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher–student interaction and the use of the L1 in EMI classrooms. Her work has appeared in journals such as ELT Journal, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, System, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.

Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.

 

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Children are powerful statistical spellers: They can learn novel written patterns with phonological counterparts under experimental conditions, via implicit learning processes, akin to “statistical learning” processes established for spoken language acquisition. Can these mechanisms fully account for children’s knowledge of written patterns? How does this ability relate to literacy measures? How does it compare to explicit learning? I address these questions in a series of artificial lexicon experiments, inducing graphotactic learning under incidental and explicit conditions, and comparing it with measures of literacy. Previous studies assessed learning of spelling rules which have counterparts in spoken language; however, while this is also the case for some naturalistic spelling rules (e.g., English phonotactics prohibit word initial /ŋ/ and accordingly, written words cannot begin with ng), there are also purely visual constraints (graphotactics) (e.g., gz is an illegal spelling of a frequent word-final sound combination in English: *bagz). Can children learn patterns unconfounded from correlated phonotactics? Developing and skilled spellers were exposed to patterns replete of phonotactic cues. In post-tests, participants generalized over both positional constraints embedded in semiartificial strings, and contextual constraints created using homophonic non-word stimuli. This was demonstrated following passive exposure and even under meaningful (word learning) conditions, and success in learning graphotactics was not hindered by learning word meanings. However, the effect sizes across these experiments remained small, and the hypothesized positive associations between learning performance under incidental conditions and literacy measures were never observed. This relationship was only found under explicit conditions, when pattern generalization benefited. Investigation of age effects revealed that adults and children show similar patterns of learning but adults learn faster from matched text.

Bio: Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps. Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

 

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Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps.

Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

Publications

Samara, Singh & Wonnacott (2019). Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental learning experiment with children. Cognition, Volume 182, 2019, Pages 25-30, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.005.

Singh, Samara & Wonnacott (accepted for publication in the Journal of Memory and Language). Statistical and explicit learning of graphotactic patterns with no phonological counterpart: Evidence from an artificial lexicon study with 7–8-year-olds and adults. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8px7n/.

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‘Plurilingual teaching and its effects on foreign language development

Professor Holger Hopp, Dr Jenny Jakisch and Sarah Sturm (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Research indicates that plurilingual teaching, i.e. integrating the learners’ (home) language repertoire into the teaching of a foreign language (FL), can improve FL achievement (Busse et al., 2019; Leonet et al., 2019). Against this background, we will present findings of a project in which a plurilingual approach to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) was implemented in four primary schools (year 4) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for 6 months. In each school, the English lessons of one group (intervention group) were extended by integrating the participants’ home languages whereas in the other group (comparison group) regular “monolingual” EFL lessons were conducted.

In our talk, we will present the research design as well as the teaching methods and materials that were used in the intervention group. We will also discuss how the young learners experienced the plurilingual lessons. Furthermore, we will show which effects the different teaching approaches had on the participants’ English achievement (vocabulary and grammar) and metalinguistic awareness by presenting data from longitudinal pre- and post-tests.

The data indicate that both monolingual and plurilingual participants gain FL competence during the 6-month intervention. However, the intervention group did not show differential learning gains compared to the comparison group. When testing for specific grammatical phenomena that were subject to instruction in the plurilingual lessons (e.g. questions), we found that the intervention group outperformed the control group. We conclude that addressing specific learners‘ plurilingual resources may support them in learning a foreign language. In our talk, we discuss the results and the potentials of plurilingual foreign language teaching.

References: Busse, V., Cenoz, J., Dalmann, N., & Rogge, F. (2019). Addressing Linguistic Diversity in the Language Classroom in a Resource‐Oriented Way: An Intervention Study With Primary School Children. Language Learning, 31(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12382

Leonet, O., Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2019). Developing morphological awareness across languages: translanguaging pedagogies in third language acquisition. Language Awareness, 79(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2019.1688338

Bios:

Holger Hopp: Holger Hopp is a professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany). In his research, he investigates child and adult L2/3 acquisition and processing as well as heritage language acquisition and attrition. He uses several psycholinguistic methods to determine the directionality, scope and degree of cross-linguistic influence in bi- and multilingual speakers of different ages.

Jenny Jakisch: Jenny Jakisch is lecturer and researcher at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her PhD dealt with the role of English language teaching (ELT) for fostering multilingualism. Her current research interests include teacher education, classroom management and inclusive ELT.

Sarah Sturm: Sarah Sturm is a research assistant and PhD student at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her research interests include multilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language (with a focus on young learners) and learning strategies. In her PhD project, she is investigating the use of language learning strategies by young multilingual foreign language learners.

 

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‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Professor Jenni Rodd (UCL)

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

Bio: Professor Jenni Rodd conducts research into how we understand the meanings of the words that we hear or read, and how we combine together the information from individual words to construct representations of the meanings of sentences. She has a particular interest in how we use our recent and long-term experience with language to improve the efficiency of these processes. She is the director of The Word Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL.

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‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: literacy and cognition

Professor Ianthi M. Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Much research in multilingualism and its effects on cognition and language ability has focused on individuals in western societies. Socioeconomic status, language of education and language prestige have been identified as some of the factors that appear to influence bi/multilingual individuals’ linguistic and cognitive profile although most research on the role of bilingualism on cognition has not capitalized on such factors. I will focus on multilingualism in India, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (UNESCO, 2009). Linguistic variation across Indian speakers is vast and includes variation in the number of home languages used, societal/community languages, official medium of instruction in schools and actual language practices in the classroom.

As language is the primary vehicle of education and learning, variation in any of the above measures of multilingualism can affect the language experience of the school child and have knock-on effects on the development of school skills (basic and higher literacy and numeracy), or cognition. Focusing on the data from 1200 children from urban primary schools in Delhi and Hyderabad and from rural areas in Patna, all from deprived or severely deprived socioeconomic backgrounds, I will try to disentangle how language experience and linguistic diversity in the child’s immediate environment (school, family, community) affect school skills and cognitive abilities.

Participants attend government primary schools in slum vs. non-slum urban areas of Delhi and Hyderabad, or town vs. rural areas in Patna, as part of a four-year, large-scale research project (MultiLila). They were assessed on mathematical reasoning, word, sentence and text reading, as well as non-verbal IQ, inhibition and complex working memory skills. Children attend English-medium or regional language medium schools (Hindi or Telugu), meaning that their assessment, textbooks and language used in the classroom is the official medium of instruction.

Although the language of textbooks and assessment match the official medium of instruction, language practices in the classroom include language mixing with English-only input ranging from zero to 40%, in English-medium schools. Taking into account the child’s home language(s) and the extent to which they are used in the classroom I will present the participants’ performance on linguistic, reasoning and cognitive skills. Results indicate a significant effect of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the cognitive and school skills of children from underprivileged socioeconomic background.

Bio:

Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli works on language development in the first and second language in children and adults, as well as on language impairment, attrition, bilingualism, language processing and the interaction between language, cognitive abilities and print exposure. She recently held the positions of Professor of Multilingualism and Cognition at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and the positions of Professor of Psycholinguistics and Director of the Language Development Lab at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Professor Tsimpli held a ‘Guest of the Rector’ Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences for six months in 2012, a Visiting Professorship for six months at the University of Cyprus in 2007, and a Visiting Scholar position at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg in 2005. She is Associate Editor of Lingua and member of the Editorial Board of the journals Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Second Language Research, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, Biolinguistics (e-journal), Journal of Greek Linguistics and of the Book Series “Language Acquisition and Language Disorders”.

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‘A teaching intervention may not reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and phonological awareness’

Dr Bene Bassetti (University of Birmingham)

The orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words can affect how L2 learners and L2 users pronounce L2 sounds, even after years of immersion in an L2 environment. It is however not known whether a training intervention can reduce such orthographic effects on L2 phonology. This paper will report the results of a study (Bassetti, Cerni & Masterson, under review) that investigated whether a teaching intervention can reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and awareness.

Previous studies found that Italian learners of L2 English produce and categorise the same English consonant as two different sounds: a short consonant if it is spelled with one letter, and as a geminate (a long consonant) if it is spelled with double letters. This is because in written double consonant letters represent geminates, and Italian native speakers therefore recode English double consonant letters. Bassetti and colleagues used a randomised controlled trial design, and allocated 100 Italian high-school students to a phonological intervention or a control group.

The teaching intervention group explored the correspondences between double letters and sound length in English, using reflection, explicit teaching and practice. The control group practiced the same English spoken and written words without mentions of orthography. All participants performed a delayed word repetition task and phonological awareness task twice, pre- and post-intervention. The teaching intervention had no effects. It appears that once orthographic effects on L2 phonology are established, they are difficult to eliminate, whether with extensive naturalistic exposure or with a teaching intervention.

Reference: Bassetti, B., Cerni, T., & Masterson, J. (under review) Efficacy of a teaching intervention to reduce the effects of orthographic forms on second language phonology: A randomized controlled trial

Bio: Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti leads Language and Condition at Birmingham (LACAB).

Nathan Thomas is an Applied Linguistics Tutor on the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT) course.

He also teaches on the MA TESOL (Pre-Service) course at the UCL Institute of Education, where he is completing his doctoral research under the dual supervision of Jim McKinley (UCL) and Heath Rose (Oxford).

His research focuses mainly on theoretical developments in the field of language learning strategies and on international students’ strategic learning in higher education. He is also involved in other projects pertaining to English medium instruction and English language teaching. His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, ELT Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, System, and TESOL Quarterly. He has also presented at more than 50 conferences in 14 countries all over the world.

Before his assuming his current roles, Nathan worked for ten years in China and Thailand, most recently as Director of English as a Foreign Language for a private educational consulting company in Beijing. He completed an MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (which is now the MSc ALLT at Oxford), MEd International Teaching, MA Applied Linguistics (ELT), BA English, and various teaching certificates, all while working full time.

For further information, please click here.

 

Publications

Bowen, N. & Thomas, N. (2020). Manipulating texture and cohesion in academic writing: A keystroke logging study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 50, 100773.

Pun, J. & Thomas, N. (2020). English medium instruction: Teachers challenges and coping strategies. ELT Journal, 74(3), 247-257.

Thomas, N. & Osment, C. (2020). Building on Dewaele’s (2018) L1 versus LX dichotomy: The Language-Usage-Identity State model. Applied Linguistics, 41(6), 1005-1010.

Zhang, L.J., Thomas, N., & Qin, T.L. (2019). Language learning strategy research in System: Looking back and looking forward. System, 84, 87-92.

Thomas, N., Rose, H., & Pojanapunya, P. (2019). Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings. Applied Linguistics Review (Advanced Access), 1-18.

Thomas, N. & Brereton, P. (2019). Pedagogical Implications: Practitioners respond to Michael Swan’s ‘Applied Linguistics: A consumer’s view.’ Language Teaching, 52(2), 275–278.

Thomas, N. & Rose, H. (2019). Do language learning strategies need to be self-directed? Disentangling strategies from self-regulated learning. TESOL Quarterly, 53(1), 248-257.

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Abstract: English-medium instruction (EMI) refers the practice of offering academic subjects taught through English in countries where English is not the first language of the majority of the population. The growth of EMI in higher education (HE) has been well-documented, and the driving forces behind EMI are intertwined with goals related to the internationalization of HE. Although EMI as a phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent decades, little research has explored EMI across global regions, particularly in countries in the Global South. This study aimed to investigate the current situation with regards to the introduction and expansion of EMI in HE in 52 countries designated as recipients on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list. In doing so, the study aimed to shed light on EMI provision in many countries which are relatively less resourced and under-researched. The study involved 3 stages of investigation: (1) a country-level analysis with data collected through open-ended questionnaires from informed respondents to investigate the introduction and expansion of EMI in the 52 ODA recipient countries; (2) a website analysis of purposively sampled universities to examine what information with regards to EMI programmes is available; and (3) a survey of key institutional players to explore additional information about EMI programmes offered worldwide. The data was analyzed to explore global and regional trends, and the findings offer insights into the admission requirements, professional development opportunities, international student enrolment, and driving forces behind EMI programs. Based on the findings, recommendations are offered for researchers and practitioners.

Bio: Kari Sahan is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and an Honorary Norham Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She completed her DPhil in 2020 from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher–student interaction and the use of the L1 in EMI classrooms. Her work has appeared in journals such as ELT Journal, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, System, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.

Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.

 

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Children are powerful statistical spellers: They can learn novel written patterns with phonological counterparts under experimental conditions, via implicit learning processes, akin to “statistical learning” processes established for spoken language acquisition. Can these mechanisms fully account for children’s knowledge of written patterns? How does this ability relate to literacy measures? How does it compare to explicit learning? I address these questions in a series of artificial lexicon experiments, inducing graphotactic learning under incidental and explicit conditions, and comparing it with measures of literacy. Previous studies assessed learning of spelling rules which have counterparts in spoken language; however, while this is also the case for some naturalistic spelling rules (e.g., English phonotactics prohibit word initial /ŋ/ and accordingly, written words cannot begin with ng), there are also purely visual constraints (graphotactics) (e.g., gz is an illegal spelling of a frequent word-final sound combination in English: *bagz). Can children learn patterns unconfounded from correlated phonotactics? Developing and skilled spellers were exposed to patterns replete of phonotactic cues. In post-tests, participants generalized over both positional constraints embedded in semiartificial strings, and contextual constraints created using homophonic non-word stimuli. This was demonstrated following passive exposure and even under meaningful (word learning) conditions, and success in learning graphotactics was not hindered by learning word meanings. However, the effect sizes across these experiments remained small, and the hypothesized positive associations between learning performance under incidental conditions and literacy measures were never observed. This relationship was only found under explicit conditions, when pattern generalization benefited. Investigation of age effects revealed that adults and children show similar patterns of learning but adults learn faster from matched text.

Bio: Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps. Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

 

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Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps.

Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

Publications

Samara, Singh & Wonnacott (2019). Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental learning experiment with children. Cognition, Volume 182, 2019, Pages 25-30, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.005.

Singh, Samara & Wonnacott (accepted for publication in the Journal of Memory and Language). Statistical and explicit learning of graphotactic patterns with no phonological counterpart: Evidence from an artificial lexicon study with 7–8-year-olds and adults. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8px7n/.

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‘Plurilingual teaching and its effects on foreign language development

Professor Holger Hopp, Dr Jenny Jakisch and Sarah Sturm (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Research indicates that plurilingual teaching, i.e. integrating the learners’ (home) language repertoire into the teaching of a foreign language (FL), can improve FL achievement (Busse et al., 2019; Leonet et al., 2019). Against this background, we will present findings of a project in which a plurilingual approach to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) was implemented in four primary schools (year 4) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for 6 months. In each school, the English lessons of one group (intervention group) were extended by integrating the participants’ home languages whereas in the other group (comparison group) regular “monolingual” EFL lessons were conducted.

In our talk, we will present the research design as well as the teaching methods and materials that were used in the intervention group. We will also discuss how the young learners experienced the plurilingual lessons. Furthermore, we will show which effects the different teaching approaches had on the participants’ English achievement (vocabulary and grammar) and metalinguistic awareness by presenting data from longitudinal pre- and post-tests.

The data indicate that both monolingual and plurilingual participants gain FL competence during the 6-month intervention. However, the intervention group did not show differential learning gains compared to the comparison group. When testing for specific grammatical phenomena that were subject to instruction in the plurilingual lessons (e.g. questions), we found that the intervention group outperformed the control group. We conclude that addressing specific learners‘ plurilingual resources may support them in learning a foreign language. In our talk, we discuss the results and the potentials of plurilingual foreign language teaching.

References: Busse, V., Cenoz, J., Dalmann, N., & Rogge, F. (2019). Addressing Linguistic Diversity in the Language Classroom in a Resource‐Oriented Way: An Intervention Study With Primary School Children. Language Learning, 31(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12382

Leonet, O., Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2019). Developing morphological awareness across languages: translanguaging pedagogies in third language acquisition. Language Awareness, 79(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2019.1688338

Bios:

Holger Hopp: Holger Hopp is a professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany). In his research, he investigates child and adult L2/3 acquisition and processing as well as heritage language acquisition and attrition. He uses several psycholinguistic methods to determine the directionality, scope and degree of cross-linguistic influence in bi- and multilingual speakers of different ages.

Jenny Jakisch: Jenny Jakisch is lecturer and researcher at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her PhD dealt with the role of English language teaching (ELT) for fostering multilingualism. Her current research interests include teacher education, classroom management and inclusive ELT.

Sarah Sturm: Sarah Sturm is a research assistant and PhD student at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her research interests include multilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language (with a focus on young learners) and learning strategies. In her PhD project, she is investigating the use of language learning strategies by young multilingual foreign language learners.

 

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‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Professor Jenni Rodd (UCL)

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

Bio: Professor Jenni Rodd conducts research into how we understand the meanings of the words that we hear or read, and how we combine together the information from individual words to construct representations of the meanings of sentences. She has a particular interest in how we use our recent and long-term experience with language to improve the efficiency of these processes. She is the director of The Word Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL.

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‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: literacy and cognition

Professor Ianthi M. Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Much research in multilingualism and its effects on cognition and language ability has focused on individuals in western societies. Socioeconomic status, language of education and language prestige have been identified as some of the factors that appear to influence bi/multilingual individuals’ linguistic and cognitive profile although most research on the role of bilingualism on cognition has not capitalized on such factors. I will focus on multilingualism in India, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (UNESCO, 2009). Linguistic variation across Indian speakers is vast and includes variation in the number of home languages used, societal/community languages, official medium of instruction in schools and actual language practices in the classroom.

As language is the primary vehicle of education and learning, variation in any of the above measures of multilingualism can affect the language experience of the school child and have knock-on effects on the development of school skills (basic and higher literacy and numeracy), or cognition. Focusing on the data from 1200 children from urban primary schools in Delhi and Hyderabad and from rural areas in Patna, all from deprived or severely deprived socioeconomic backgrounds, I will try to disentangle how language experience and linguistic diversity in the child’s immediate environment (school, family, community) affect school skills and cognitive abilities.

Participants attend government primary schools in slum vs. non-slum urban areas of Delhi and Hyderabad, or town vs. rural areas in Patna, as part of a four-year, large-scale research project (MultiLila). They were assessed on mathematical reasoning, word, sentence and text reading, as well as non-verbal IQ, inhibition and complex working memory skills. Children attend English-medium or regional language medium schools (Hindi or Telugu), meaning that their assessment, textbooks and language used in the classroom is the official medium of instruction.

Although the language of textbooks and assessment match the official medium of instruction, language practices in the classroom include language mixing with English-only input ranging from zero to 40%, in English-medium schools. Taking into account the child’s home language(s) and the extent to which they are used in the classroom I will present the participants’ performance on linguistic, reasoning and cognitive skills. Results indicate a significant effect of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the cognitive and school skills of children from underprivileged socioeconomic background.

Bio:

Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli works on language development in the first and second language in children and adults, as well as on language impairment, attrition, bilingualism, language processing and the interaction between language, cognitive abilities and print exposure. She recently held the positions of Professor of Multilingualism and Cognition at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and the positions of Professor of Psycholinguistics and Director of the Language Development Lab at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Professor Tsimpli held a ‘Guest of the Rector’ Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences for six months in 2012, a Visiting Professorship for six months at the University of Cyprus in 2007, and a Visiting Scholar position at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg in 2005. She is Associate Editor of Lingua and member of the Editorial Board of the journals Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Second Language Research, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, Biolinguistics (e-journal), Journal of Greek Linguistics and of the Book Series “Language Acquisition and Language Disorders”.

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‘A teaching intervention may not reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and phonological awareness’

Dr Bene Bassetti (University of Birmingham)

The orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words can affect how L2 learners and L2 users pronounce L2 sounds, even after years of immersion in an L2 environment. It is however not known whether a training intervention can reduce such orthographic effects on L2 phonology. This paper will report the results of a study (Bassetti, Cerni & Masterson, under review) that investigated whether a teaching intervention can reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and awareness.

Previous studies found that Italian learners of L2 English produce and categorise the same English consonant as two different sounds: a short consonant if it is spelled with one letter, and as a geminate (a long consonant) if it is spelled with double letters. This is because in written double consonant letters represent geminates, and Italian native speakers therefore recode English double consonant letters. Bassetti and colleagues used a randomised controlled trial design, and allocated 100 Italian high-school students to a phonological intervention or a control group.

The teaching intervention group explored the correspondences between double letters and sound length in English, using reflection, explicit teaching and practice. The control group practiced the same English spoken and written words without mentions of orthography. All participants performed a delayed word repetition task and phonological awareness task twice, pre- and post-intervention. The teaching intervention had no effects. It appears that once orthographic effects on L2 phonology are established, they are difficult to eliminate, whether with extensive naturalistic exposure or with a teaching intervention.

Reference: Bassetti, B., Cerni, T., & Masterson, J. (under review) Efficacy of a teaching intervention to reduce the effects of orthographic forms on second language phonology: A randomized controlled trial

Bio: Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti leads Language and Condition at Birmingham (LACAB).

Nathan Thomas is an Applied Linguistics Tutor on the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT) course.

He also teaches on the MA TESOL (Pre-Service) course at the UCL Institute of Education, where he is completing his doctoral research under the dual supervision of Jim McKinley (UCL) and Heath Rose (Oxford).

His research focuses mainly on theoretical developments in the field of language learning strategies and on international students’ strategic learning in higher education. He is also involved in other projects pertaining to English medium instruction and English language teaching. His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, ELT Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, System, and TESOL Quarterly. He has also presented at more than 50 conferences in 14 countries all over the world.

Before his assuming his current roles, Nathan worked for ten years in China and Thailand, most recently as Director of English as a Foreign Language for a private educational consulting company in Beijing. He completed an MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (which is now the MSc ALLT at Oxford), MEd International Teaching, MA Applied Linguistics (ELT), BA English, and various teaching certificates, all while working full time.

For further information, please click here.

 

Publications

Bowen, N. & Thomas, N. (2020). Manipulating texture and cohesion in academic writing: A keystroke logging study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 50, 100773.

Pun, J. & Thomas, N. (2020). English medium instruction: Teachers challenges and coping strategies. ELT Journal, 74(3), 247-257.

Thomas, N. & Osment, C. (2020). Building on Dewaele’s (2018) L1 versus LX dichotomy: The Language-Usage-Identity State model. Applied Linguistics, 41(6), 1005-1010.

Zhang, L.J., Thomas, N., & Qin, T.L. (2019). Language learning strategy research in System: Looking back and looking forward. System, 84, 87-92.

Thomas, N., Rose, H., & Pojanapunya, P. (2019). Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings. Applied Linguistics Review (Advanced Access), 1-18.

Thomas, N. & Brereton, P. (2019). Pedagogical Implications: Practitioners respond to Michael Swan’s ‘Applied Linguistics: A consumer’s view.’ Language Teaching, 52(2), 275–278.

Thomas, N. & Rose, H. (2019). Do language learning strategies need to be self-directed? Disentangling strategies from self-regulated learning. TESOL Quarterly, 53(1), 248-257.

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Abstract: English-medium instruction (EMI) refers the practice of offering academic subjects taught through English in countries where English is not the first language of the majority of the population. The growth of EMI in higher education (HE) has been well-documented, and the driving forces behind EMI are intertwined with goals related to the internationalization of HE. Although EMI as a phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent decades, little research has explored EMI across global regions, particularly in countries in the Global South. This study aimed to investigate the current situation with regards to the introduction and expansion of EMI in HE in 52 countries designated as recipients on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list. In doing so, the study aimed to shed light on EMI provision in many countries which are relatively less resourced and under-researched. The study involved 3 stages of investigation: (1) a country-level analysis with data collected through open-ended questionnaires from informed respondents to investigate the introduction and expansion of EMI in the 52 ODA recipient countries; (2) a website analysis of purposively sampled universities to examine what information with regards to EMI programmes is available; and (3) a survey of key institutional players to explore additional information about EMI programmes offered worldwide. The data was analyzed to explore global and regional trends, and the findings offer insights into the admission requirements, professional development opportunities, international student enrolment, and driving forces behind EMI programs. Based on the findings, recommendations are offered for researchers and practitioners.

Bio: Kari Sahan is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and an Honorary Norham Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She completed her DPhil in 2020 from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher–student interaction and the use of the L1 in EMI classrooms. Her work has appeared in journals such as ELT Journal, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, System, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.

Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.

 

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Children are powerful statistical spellers: They can learn novel written patterns with phonological counterparts under experimental conditions, via implicit learning processes, akin to “statistical learning” processes established for spoken language acquisition. Can these mechanisms fully account for children’s knowledge of written patterns? How does this ability relate to literacy measures? How does it compare to explicit learning? I address these questions in a series of artificial lexicon experiments, inducing graphotactic learning under incidental and explicit conditions, and comparing it with measures of literacy. Previous studies assessed learning of spelling rules which have counterparts in spoken language; however, while this is also the case for some naturalistic spelling rules (e.g., English phonotactics prohibit word initial /ŋ/ and accordingly, written words cannot begin with ng), there are also purely visual constraints (graphotactics) (e.g., gz is an illegal spelling of a frequent word-final sound combination in English: *bagz). Can children learn patterns unconfounded from correlated phonotactics? Developing and skilled spellers were exposed to patterns replete of phonotactic cues. In post-tests, participants generalized over both positional constraints embedded in semiartificial strings, and contextual constraints created using homophonic non-word stimuli. This was demonstrated following passive exposure and even under meaningful (word learning) conditions, and success in learning graphotactics was not hindered by learning word meanings. However, the effect sizes across these experiments remained small, and the hypothesized positive associations between learning performance under incidental conditions and literacy measures were never observed. This relationship was only found under explicit conditions, when pattern generalization benefited. Investigation of age effects revealed that adults and children show similar patterns of learning but adults learn faster from matched text.

Bio: Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps. Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

 

PLEASE JOIN US ON TEAMS ON THE DAY OF THE EVENT.

Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps.

Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

Publications

Samara, Singh & Wonnacott (2019). Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental learning experiment with children. Cognition, Volume 182, 2019, Pages 25-30, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.005.

Singh, Samara & Wonnacott (accepted for publication in the Journal of Memory and Language). Statistical and explicit learning of graphotactic patterns with no phonological counterpart: Evidence from an artificial lexicon study with 7–8-year-olds and adults. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8px7n/.

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‘Plurilingual teaching and its effects on foreign language development

Professor Holger Hopp, Dr Jenny Jakisch and Sarah Sturm (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Research indicates that plurilingual teaching, i.e. integrating the learners’ (home) language repertoire into the teaching of a foreign language (FL), can improve FL achievement (Busse et al., 2019; Leonet et al., 2019). Against this background, we will present findings of a project in which a plurilingual approach to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) was implemented in four primary schools (year 4) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for 6 months. In each school, the English lessons of one group (intervention group) were extended by integrating the participants’ home languages whereas in the other group (comparison group) regular “monolingual” EFL lessons were conducted.

In our talk, we will present the research design as well as the teaching methods and materials that were used in the intervention group. We will also discuss how the young learners experienced the plurilingual lessons. Furthermore, we will show which effects the different teaching approaches had on the participants’ English achievement (vocabulary and grammar) and metalinguistic awareness by presenting data from longitudinal pre- and post-tests.

The data indicate that both monolingual and plurilingual participants gain FL competence during the 6-month intervention. However, the intervention group did not show differential learning gains compared to the comparison group. When testing for specific grammatical phenomena that were subject to instruction in the plurilingual lessons (e.g. questions), we found that the intervention group outperformed the control group. We conclude that addressing specific learners‘ plurilingual resources may support them in learning a foreign language. In our talk, we discuss the results and the potentials of plurilingual foreign language teaching.

References: Busse, V., Cenoz, J., Dalmann, N., & Rogge, F. (2019). Addressing Linguistic Diversity in the Language Classroom in a Resource‐Oriented Way: An Intervention Study With Primary School Children. Language Learning, 31(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12382

Leonet, O., Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2019). Developing morphological awareness across languages: translanguaging pedagogies in third language acquisition. Language Awareness, 79(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2019.1688338

Bios:

Holger Hopp: Holger Hopp is a professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany). In his research, he investigates child and adult L2/3 acquisition and processing as well as heritage language acquisition and attrition. He uses several psycholinguistic methods to determine the directionality, scope and degree of cross-linguistic influence in bi- and multilingual speakers of different ages.

Jenny Jakisch: Jenny Jakisch is lecturer and researcher at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her PhD dealt with the role of English language teaching (ELT) for fostering multilingualism. Her current research interests include teacher education, classroom management and inclusive ELT.

Sarah Sturm: Sarah Sturm is a research assistant and PhD student at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her research interests include multilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language (with a focus on young learners) and learning strategies. In her PhD project, she is investigating the use of language learning strategies by young multilingual foreign language learners.

 

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‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Professor Jenni Rodd (UCL)

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

Bio: Professor Jenni Rodd conducts research into how we understand the meanings of the words that we hear or read, and how we combine together the information from individual words to construct representations of the meanings of sentences. She has a particular interest in how we use our recent and long-term experience with language to improve the efficiency of these processes. She is the director of The Word Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL.

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‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: literacy and cognition

Professor Ianthi M. Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Much research in multilingualism and its effects on cognition and language ability has focused on individuals in western societies. Socioeconomic status, language of education and language prestige have been identified as some of the factors that appear to influence bi/multilingual individuals’ linguistic and cognitive profile although most research on the role of bilingualism on cognition has not capitalized on such factors. I will focus on multilingualism in India, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (UNESCO, 2009). Linguistic variation across Indian speakers is vast and includes variation in the number of home languages used, societal/community languages, official medium of instruction in schools and actual language practices in the classroom.

As language is the primary vehicle of education and learning, variation in any of the above measures of multilingualism can affect the language experience of the school child and have knock-on effects on the development of school skills (basic and higher literacy and numeracy), or cognition. Focusing on the data from 1200 children from urban primary schools in Delhi and Hyderabad and from rural areas in Patna, all from deprived or severely deprived socioeconomic backgrounds, I will try to disentangle how language experience and linguistic diversity in the child’s immediate environment (school, family, community) affect school skills and cognitive abilities.

Participants attend government primary schools in slum vs. non-slum urban areas of Delhi and Hyderabad, or town vs. rural areas in Patna, as part of a four-year, large-scale research project (MultiLila). They were assessed on mathematical reasoning, word, sentence and text reading, as well as non-verbal IQ, inhibition and complex working memory skills. Children attend English-medium or regional language medium schools (Hindi or Telugu), meaning that their assessment, textbooks and language used in the classroom is the official medium of instruction.

Although the language of textbooks and assessment match the official medium of instruction, language practices in the classroom include language mixing with English-only input ranging from zero to 40%, in English-medium schools. Taking into account the child’s home language(s) and the extent to which they are used in the classroom I will present the participants’ performance on linguistic, reasoning and cognitive skills. Results indicate a significant effect of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the cognitive and school skills of children from underprivileged socioeconomic background.

Bio:

Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli works on language development in the first and second language in children and adults, as well as on language impairment, attrition, bilingualism, language processing and the interaction between language, cognitive abilities and print exposure. She recently held the positions of Professor of Multilingualism and Cognition at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and the positions of Professor of Psycholinguistics and Director of the Language Development Lab at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Professor Tsimpli held a ‘Guest of the Rector’ Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences for six months in 2012, a Visiting Professorship for six months at the University of Cyprus in 2007, and a Visiting Scholar position at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg in 2005. She is Associate Editor of Lingua and member of the Editorial Board of the journals Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Second Language Research, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, Biolinguistics (e-journal), Journal of Greek Linguistics and of the Book Series “Language Acquisition and Language Disorders”.

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‘A teaching intervention may not reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and phonological awareness’

Dr Bene Bassetti (University of Birmingham)

The orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words can affect how L2 learners and L2 users pronounce L2 sounds, even after years of immersion in an L2 environment. It is however not known whether a training intervention can reduce such orthographic effects on L2 phonology. This paper will report the results of a study (Bassetti, Cerni & Masterson, under review) that investigated whether a teaching intervention can reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and awareness.

Previous studies found that Italian learners of L2 English produce and categorise the same English consonant as two different sounds: a short consonant if it is spelled with one letter, and as a geminate (a long consonant) if it is spelled with double letters. This is because in written double consonant letters represent geminates, and Italian native speakers therefore recode English double consonant letters. Bassetti and colleagues used a randomised controlled trial design, and allocated 100 Italian high-school students to a phonological intervention or a control group.

The teaching intervention group explored the correspondences between double letters and sound length in English, using reflection, explicit teaching and practice. The control group practiced the same English spoken and written words without mentions of orthography. All participants performed a delayed word repetition task and phonological awareness task twice, pre- and post-intervention. The teaching intervention had no effects. It appears that once orthographic effects on L2 phonology are established, they are difficult to eliminate, whether with extensive naturalistic exposure or with a teaching intervention.

Reference: Bassetti, B., Cerni, T., & Masterson, J. (under review) Efficacy of a teaching intervention to reduce the effects of orthographic forms on second language phonology: A randomized controlled trial

Bio: Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti leads Language and Condition at Birmingham (LACAB).

Nathan Thomas is an Applied Linguistics Tutor on the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT) course.

He also teaches on the MA TESOL (Pre-Service) course at the UCL Institute of Education, where he is completing his doctoral research under the dual supervision of Jim McKinley (UCL) and Heath Rose (Oxford).

His research focuses mainly on theoretical developments in the field of language learning strategies and on international students’ strategic learning in higher education. He is also involved in other projects pertaining to English medium instruction and English language teaching. His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, ELT Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, System, and TESOL Quarterly. He has also presented at more than 50 conferences in 14 countries all over the world.

Before his assuming his current roles, Nathan worked for ten years in China and Thailand, most recently as Director of English as a Foreign Language for a private educational consulting company in Beijing. He completed an MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (which is now the MSc ALLT at Oxford), MEd International Teaching, MA Applied Linguistics (ELT), BA English, and various teaching certificates, all while working full time.

For further information, please click here.

 

Publications

Bowen, N. & Thomas, N. (2020). Manipulating texture and cohesion in academic writing: A keystroke logging study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 50, 100773.

Pun, J. & Thomas, N. (2020). English medium instruction: Teachers challenges and coping strategies. ELT Journal, 74(3), 247-257.

Thomas, N. & Osment, C. (2020). Building on Dewaele’s (2018) L1 versus LX dichotomy: The Language-Usage-Identity State model. Applied Linguistics, 41(6), 1005-1010.

Zhang, L.J., Thomas, N., & Qin, T.L. (2019). Language learning strategy research in System: Looking back and looking forward. System, 84, 87-92.

Thomas, N., Rose, H., & Pojanapunya, P. (2019). Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings. Applied Linguistics Review (Advanced Access), 1-18.

Thomas, N. & Brereton, P. (2019). Pedagogical Implications: Practitioners respond to Michael Swan’s ‘Applied Linguistics: A consumer’s view.’ Language Teaching, 52(2), 275–278.

Thomas, N. & Rose, H. (2019). Do language learning strategies need to be self-directed? Disentangling strategies from self-regulated learning. TESOL Quarterly, 53(1), 248-257.

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Abstract: English-medium instruction (EMI) refers the practice of offering academic subjects taught through English in countries where English is not the first language of the majority of the population. The growth of EMI in higher education (HE) has been well-documented, and the driving forces behind EMI are intertwined with goals related to the internationalization of HE. Although EMI as a phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent decades, little research has explored EMI across global regions, particularly in countries in the Global South. This study aimed to investigate the current situation with regards to the introduction and expansion of EMI in HE in 52 countries designated as recipients on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list. In doing so, the study aimed to shed light on EMI provision in many countries which are relatively less resourced and under-researched. The study involved 3 stages of investigation: (1) a country-level analysis with data collected through open-ended questionnaires from informed respondents to investigate the introduction and expansion of EMI in the 52 ODA recipient countries; (2) a website analysis of purposively sampled universities to examine what information with regards to EMI programmes is available; and (3) a survey of key institutional players to explore additional information about EMI programmes offered worldwide. The data was analyzed to explore global and regional trends, and the findings offer insights into the admission requirements, professional development opportunities, international student enrolment, and driving forces behind EMI programs. Based on the findings, recommendations are offered for researchers and practitioners.

Bio: Kari Sahan is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and an Honorary Norham Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She completed her DPhil in 2020 from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher–student interaction and the use of the L1 in EMI classrooms. Her work has appeared in journals such as ELT Journal, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, System, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.

Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.

 

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Children are powerful statistical spellers: They can learn novel written patterns with phonological counterparts under experimental conditions, via implicit learning processes, akin to “statistical learning” processes established for spoken language acquisition. Can these mechanisms fully account for children’s knowledge of written patterns? How does this ability relate to literacy measures? How does it compare to explicit learning? I address these questions in a series of artificial lexicon experiments, inducing graphotactic learning under incidental and explicit conditions, and comparing it with measures of literacy. Previous studies assessed learning of spelling rules which have counterparts in spoken language; however, while this is also the case for some naturalistic spelling rules (e.g., English phonotactics prohibit word initial /ŋ/ and accordingly, written words cannot begin with ng), there are also purely visual constraints (graphotactics) (e.g., gz is an illegal spelling of a frequent word-final sound combination in English: *bagz). Can children learn patterns unconfounded from correlated phonotactics? Developing and skilled spellers were exposed to patterns replete of phonotactic cues. In post-tests, participants generalized over both positional constraints embedded in semiartificial strings, and contextual constraints created using homophonic non-word stimuli. This was demonstrated following passive exposure and even under meaningful (word learning) conditions, and success in learning graphotactics was not hindered by learning word meanings. However, the effect sizes across these experiments remained small, and the hypothesized positive associations between learning performance under incidental conditions and literacy measures were never observed. This relationship was only found under explicit conditions, when pattern generalization benefited. Investigation of age effects revealed that adults and children show similar patterns of learning but adults learn faster from matched text.

Bio: Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps. Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

 

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Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps.

Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

Publications

Samara, Singh & Wonnacott (2019). Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental learning experiment with children. Cognition, Volume 182, 2019, Pages 25-30, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.005.

Singh, Samara & Wonnacott (accepted for publication in the Journal of Memory and Language). Statistical and explicit learning of graphotactic patterns with no phonological counterpart: Evidence from an artificial lexicon study with 7–8-year-olds and adults. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8px7n/.

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‘Plurilingual teaching and its effects on foreign language development

Professor Holger Hopp, Dr Jenny Jakisch and Sarah Sturm (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Research indicates that plurilingual teaching, i.e. integrating the learners’ (home) language repertoire into the teaching of a foreign language (FL), can improve FL achievement (Busse et al., 2019; Leonet et al., 2019). Against this background, we will present findings of a project in which a plurilingual approach to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) was implemented in four primary schools (year 4) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for 6 months. In each school, the English lessons of one group (intervention group) were extended by integrating the participants’ home languages whereas in the other group (comparison group) regular “monolingual” EFL lessons were conducted.

In our talk, we will present the research design as well as the teaching methods and materials that were used in the intervention group. We will also discuss how the young learners experienced the plurilingual lessons. Furthermore, we will show which effects the different teaching approaches had on the participants’ English achievement (vocabulary and grammar) and metalinguistic awareness by presenting data from longitudinal pre- and post-tests.

The data indicate that both monolingual and plurilingual participants gain FL competence during the 6-month intervention. However, the intervention group did not show differential learning gains compared to the comparison group. When testing for specific grammatical phenomena that were subject to instruction in the plurilingual lessons (e.g. questions), we found that the intervention group outperformed the control group. We conclude that addressing specific learners‘ plurilingual resources may support them in learning a foreign language. In our talk, we discuss the results and the potentials of plurilingual foreign language teaching.

References: Busse, V., Cenoz, J., Dalmann, N., & Rogge, F. (2019). Addressing Linguistic Diversity in the Language Classroom in a Resource‐Oriented Way: An Intervention Study With Primary School Children. Language Learning, 31(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12382

Leonet, O., Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2019). Developing morphological awareness across languages: translanguaging pedagogies in third language acquisition. Language Awareness, 79(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2019.1688338

Bios:

Holger Hopp: Holger Hopp is a professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany). In his research, he investigates child and adult L2/3 acquisition and processing as well as heritage language acquisition and attrition. He uses several psycholinguistic methods to determine the directionality, scope and degree of cross-linguistic influence in bi- and multilingual speakers of different ages.

Jenny Jakisch: Jenny Jakisch is lecturer and researcher at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her PhD dealt with the role of English language teaching (ELT) for fostering multilingualism. Her current research interests include teacher education, classroom management and inclusive ELT.

Sarah Sturm: Sarah Sturm is a research assistant and PhD student at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her research interests include multilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language (with a focus on young learners) and learning strategies. In her PhD project, she is investigating the use of language learning strategies by young multilingual foreign language learners.

 

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‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Professor Jenni Rodd (UCL)

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

Bio: Professor Jenni Rodd conducts research into how we understand the meanings of the words that we hear or read, and how we combine together the information from individual words to construct representations of the meanings of sentences. She has a particular interest in how we use our recent and long-term experience with language to improve the efficiency of these processes. She is the director of The Word Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL.

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‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: literacy and cognition

Professor Ianthi M. Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Much research in multilingualism and its effects on cognition and language ability has focused on individuals in western societies. Socioeconomic status, language of education and language prestige have been identified as some of the factors that appear to influence bi/multilingual individuals’ linguistic and cognitive profile although most research on the role of bilingualism on cognition has not capitalized on such factors. I will focus on multilingualism in India, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (UNESCO, 2009). Linguistic variation across Indian speakers is vast and includes variation in the number of home languages used, societal/community languages, official medium of instruction in schools and actual language practices in the classroom.

As language is the primary vehicle of education and learning, variation in any of the above measures of multilingualism can affect the language experience of the school child and have knock-on effects on the development of school skills (basic and higher literacy and numeracy), or cognition. Focusing on the data from 1200 children from urban primary schools in Delhi and Hyderabad and from rural areas in Patna, all from deprived or severely deprived socioeconomic backgrounds, I will try to disentangle how language experience and linguistic diversity in the child’s immediate environment (school, family, community) affect school skills and cognitive abilities.

Participants attend government primary schools in slum vs. non-slum urban areas of Delhi and Hyderabad, or town vs. rural areas in Patna, as part of a four-year, large-scale research project (MultiLila). They were assessed on mathematical reasoning, word, sentence and text reading, as well as non-verbal IQ, inhibition and complex working memory skills. Children attend English-medium or regional language medium schools (Hindi or Telugu), meaning that their assessment, textbooks and language used in the classroom is the official medium of instruction.

Although the language of textbooks and assessment match the official medium of instruction, language practices in the classroom include language mixing with English-only input ranging from zero to 40%, in English-medium schools. Taking into account the child’s home language(s) and the extent to which they are used in the classroom I will present the participants’ performance on linguistic, reasoning and cognitive skills. Results indicate a significant effect of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the cognitive and school skills of children from underprivileged socioeconomic background.

Bio:

Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli works on language development in the first and second language in children and adults, as well as on language impairment, attrition, bilingualism, language processing and the interaction between language, cognitive abilities and print exposure. She recently held the positions of Professor of Multilingualism and Cognition at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and the positions of Professor of Psycholinguistics and Director of the Language Development Lab at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Professor Tsimpli held a ‘Guest of the Rector’ Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences for six months in 2012, a Visiting Professorship for six months at the University of Cyprus in 2007, and a Visiting Scholar position at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg in 2005. She is Associate Editor of Lingua and member of the Editorial Board of the journals Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Second Language Research, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, Biolinguistics (e-journal), Journal of Greek Linguistics and of the Book Series “Language Acquisition and Language Disorders”.

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‘A teaching intervention may not reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and phonological awareness’

Dr Bene Bassetti (University of Birmingham)

The orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words can affect how L2 learners and L2 users pronounce L2 sounds, even after years of immersion in an L2 environment. It is however not known whether a training intervention can reduce such orthographic effects on L2 phonology. This paper will report the results of a study (Bassetti, Cerni & Masterson, under review) that investigated whether a teaching intervention can reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and awareness.

Previous studies found that Italian learners of L2 English produce and categorise the same English consonant as two different sounds: a short consonant if it is spelled with one letter, and as a geminate (a long consonant) if it is spelled with double letters. This is because in written double consonant letters represent geminates, and Italian native speakers therefore recode English double consonant letters. Bassetti and colleagues used a randomised controlled trial design, and allocated 100 Italian high-school students to a phonological intervention or a control group.

The teaching intervention group explored the correspondences between double letters and sound length in English, using reflection, explicit teaching and practice. The control group practiced the same English spoken and written words without mentions of orthography. All participants performed a delayed word repetition task and phonological awareness task twice, pre- and post-intervention. The teaching intervention had no effects. It appears that once orthographic effects on L2 phonology are established, they are difficult to eliminate, whether with extensive naturalistic exposure or with a teaching intervention.

Reference: Bassetti, B., Cerni, T., & Masterson, J. (under review) Efficacy of a teaching intervention to reduce the effects of orthographic forms on second language phonology: A randomized controlled trial

Bio: Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti leads Language and Condition at Birmingham (LACAB).

Nathan Thomas is an Applied Linguistics Tutor on the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT) course.

He also teaches on the MA TESOL (Pre-Service) course at the UCL Institute of Education, where he is completing his doctoral research under the dual supervision of Jim McKinley (UCL) and Heath Rose (Oxford).

His research focuses mainly on theoretical developments in the field of language learning strategies and on international students’ strategic learning in higher education. He is also involved in other projects pertaining to English medium instruction and English language teaching. His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, ELT Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, System, and TESOL Quarterly. He has also presented at more than 50 conferences in 14 countries all over the world.

Before his assuming his current roles, Nathan worked for ten years in China and Thailand, most recently as Director of English as a Foreign Language for a private educational consulting company in Beijing. He completed an MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (which is now the MSc ALLT at Oxford), MEd International Teaching, MA Applied Linguistics (ELT), BA English, and various teaching certificates, all while working full time.

For further information, please click here.

 

Publications

Bowen, N. & Thomas, N. (2020). Manipulating texture and cohesion in academic writing: A keystroke logging study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 50, 100773.

Pun, J. & Thomas, N. (2020). English medium instruction: Teachers challenges and coping strategies. ELT Journal, 74(3), 247-257.

Thomas, N. & Osment, C. (2020). Building on Dewaele’s (2018) L1 versus LX dichotomy: The Language-Usage-Identity State model. Applied Linguistics, 41(6), 1005-1010.

Zhang, L.J., Thomas, N., & Qin, T.L. (2019). Language learning strategy research in System: Looking back and looking forward. System, 84, 87-92.

Thomas, N., Rose, H., & Pojanapunya, P. (2019). Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings. Applied Linguistics Review (Advanced Access), 1-18.

Thomas, N. & Brereton, P. (2019). Pedagogical Implications: Practitioners respond to Michael Swan’s ‘Applied Linguistics: A consumer’s view.’ Language Teaching, 52(2), 275–278.

Thomas, N. & Rose, H. (2019). Do language learning strategies need to be self-directed? Disentangling strategies from self-regulated learning. TESOL Quarterly, 53(1), 248-257.

PLEASE JOIN US THE DAY OF THE EVENT VIA TEAMS.

Abstract: English-medium instruction (EMI) refers the practice of offering academic subjects taught through English in countries where English is not the first language of the majority of the population. The growth of EMI in higher education (HE) has been well-documented, and the driving forces behind EMI are intertwined with goals related to the internationalization of HE. Although EMI as a phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent decades, little research has explored EMI across global regions, particularly in countries in the Global South. This study aimed to investigate the current situation with regards to the introduction and expansion of EMI in HE in 52 countries designated as recipients on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list. In doing so, the study aimed to shed light on EMI provision in many countries which are relatively less resourced and under-researched. The study involved 3 stages of investigation: (1) a country-level analysis with data collected through open-ended questionnaires from informed respondents to investigate the introduction and expansion of EMI in the 52 ODA recipient countries; (2) a website analysis of purposively sampled universities to examine what information with regards to EMI programmes is available; and (3) a survey of key institutional players to explore additional information about EMI programmes offered worldwide. The data was analyzed to explore global and regional trends, and the findings offer insights into the admission requirements, professional development opportunities, international student enrolment, and driving forces behind EMI programs. Based on the findings, recommendations are offered for researchers and practitioners.

Bio: Kari Sahan is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and an Honorary Norham Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She completed her DPhil in 2020 from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher–student interaction and the use of the L1 in EMI classrooms. Her work has appeared in journals such as ELT Journal, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, System, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.

Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.

 

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Children are powerful statistical spellers: They can learn novel written patterns with phonological counterparts under experimental conditions, via implicit learning processes, akin to “statistical learning” processes established for spoken language acquisition. Can these mechanisms fully account for children’s knowledge of written patterns? How does this ability relate to literacy measures? How does it compare to explicit learning? I address these questions in a series of artificial lexicon experiments, inducing graphotactic learning under incidental and explicit conditions, and comparing it with measures of literacy. Previous studies assessed learning of spelling rules which have counterparts in spoken language; however, while this is also the case for some naturalistic spelling rules (e.g., English phonotactics prohibit word initial /ŋ/ and accordingly, written words cannot begin with ng), there are also purely visual constraints (graphotactics) (e.g., gz is an illegal spelling of a frequent word-final sound combination in English: *bagz). Can children learn patterns unconfounded from correlated phonotactics? Developing and skilled spellers were exposed to patterns replete of phonotactic cues. In post-tests, participants generalized over both positional constraints embedded in semiartificial strings, and contextual constraints created using homophonic non-word stimuli. This was demonstrated following passive exposure and even under meaningful (word learning) conditions, and success in learning graphotactics was not hindered by learning word meanings. However, the effect sizes across these experiments remained small, and the hypothesized positive associations between learning performance under incidental conditions and literacy measures were never observed. This relationship was only found under explicit conditions, when pattern generalization benefited. Investigation of age effects revealed that adults and children show similar patterns of learning but adults learn faster from matched text.

Bio: Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps. Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

 

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Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps.

Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

Publications

Samara, Singh & Wonnacott (2019). Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental learning experiment with children. Cognition, Volume 182, 2019, Pages 25-30, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.005.

Singh, Samara & Wonnacott (accepted for publication in the Journal of Memory and Language). Statistical and explicit learning of graphotactic patterns with no phonological counterpart: Evidence from an artificial lexicon study with 7–8-year-olds and adults. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8px7n/.

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‘Plurilingual teaching and its effects on foreign language development

Professor Holger Hopp, Dr Jenny Jakisch and Sarah Sturm (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Research indicates that plurilingual teaching, i.e. integrating the learners’ (home) language repertoire into the teaching of a foreign language (FL), can improve FL achievement (Busse et al., 2019; Leonet et al., 2019). Against this background, we will present findings of a project in which a plurilingual approach to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) was implemented in four primary schools (year 4) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for 6 months. In each school, the English lessons of one group (intervention group) were extended by integrating the participants’ home languages whereas in the other group (comparison group) regular “monolingual” EFL lessons were conducted.

In our talk, we will present the research design as well as the teaching methods and materials that were used in the intervention group. We will also discuss how the young learners experienced the plurilingual lessons. Furthermore, we will show which effects the different teaching approaches had on the participants’ English achievement (vocabulary and grammar) and metalinguistic awareness by presenting data from longitudinal pre- and post-tests.

The data indicate that both monolingual and plurilingual participants gain FL competence during the 6-month intervention. However, the intervention group did not show differential learning gains compared to the comparison group. When testing for specific grammatical phenomena that were subject to instruction in the plurilingual lessons (e.g. questions), we found that the intervention group outperformed the control group. We conclude that addressing specific learners‘ plurilingual resources may support them in learning a foreign language. In our talk, we discuss the results and the potentials of plurilingual foreign language teaching.

References: Busse, V., Cenoz, J., Dalmann, N., & Rogge, F. (2019). Addressing Linguistic Diversity in the Language Classroom in a Resource‐Oriented Way: An Intervention Study With Primary School Children. Language Learning, 31(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12382

Leonet, O., Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2019). Developing morphological awareness across languages: translanguaging pedagogies in third language acquisition. Language Awareness, 79(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2019.1688338

Bios:

Holger Hopp: Holger Hopp is a professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany). In his research, he investigates child and adult L2/3 acquisition and processing as well as heritage language acquisition and attrition. He uses several psycholinguistic methods to determine the directionality, scope and degree of cross-linguistic influence in bi- and multilingual speakers of different ages.

Jenny Jakisch: Jenny Jakisch is lecturer and researcher at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her PhD dealt with the role of English language teaching (ELT) for fostering multilingualism. Her current research interests include teacher education, classroom management and inclusive ELT.

Sarah Sturm: Sarah Sturm is a research assistant and PhD student at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her research interests include multilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language (with a focus on young learners) and learning strategies. In her PhD project, she is investigating the use of language learning strategies by young multilingual foreign language learners.

 

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‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Professor Jenni Rodd (UCL)

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

Bio: Professor Jenni Rodd conducts research into how we understand the meanings of the words that we hear or read, and how we combine together the information from individual words to construct representations of the meanings of sentences. She has a particular interest in how we use our recent and long-term experience with language to improve the efficiency of these processes. She is the director of The Word Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL.

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‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: literacy and cognition

Professor Ianthi M. Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Much research in multilingualism and its effects on cognition and language ability has focused on individuals in western societies. Socioeconomic status, language of education and language prestige have been identified as some of the factors that appear to influence bi/multilingual individuals’ linguistic and cognitive profile although most research on the role of bilingualism on cognition has not capitalized on such factors. I will focus on multilingualism in India, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (UNESCO, 2009). Linguistic variation across Indian speakers is vast and includes variation in the number of home languages used, societal/community languages, official medium of instruction in schools and actual language practices in the classroom.

As language is the primary vehicle of education and learning, variation in any of the above measures of multilingualism can affect the language experience of the school child and have knock-on effects on the development of school skills (basic and higher literacy and numeracy), or cognition. Focusing on the data from 1200 children from urban primary schools in Delhi and Hyderabad and from rural areas in Patna, all from deprived or severely deprived socioeconomic backgrounds, I will try to disentangle how language experience and linguistic diversity in the child’s immediate environment (school, family, community) affect school skills and cognitive abilities.

Participants attend government primary schools in slum vs. non-slum urban areas of Delhi and Hyderabad, or town vs. rural areas in Patna, as part of a four-year, large-scale research project (MultiLila). They were assessed on mathematical reasoning, word, sentence and text reading, as well as non-verbal IQ, inhibition and complex working memory skills. Children attend English-medium or regional language medium schools (Hindi or Telugu), meaning that their assessment, textbooks and language used in the classroom is the official medium of instruction.

Although the language of textbooks and assessment match the official medium of instruction, language practices in the classroom include language mixing with English-only input ranging from zero to 40%, in English-medium schools. Taking into account the child’s home language(s) and the extent to which they are used in the classroom I will present the participants’ performance on linguistic, reasoning and cognitive skills. Results indicate a significant effect of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the cognitive and school skills of children from underprivileged socioeconomic background.

Bio:

Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli works on language development in the first and second language in children and adults, as well as on language impairment, attrition, bilingualism, language processing and the interaction between language, cognitive abilities and print exposure. She recently held the positions of Professor of Multilingualism and Cognition at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and the positions of Professor of Psycholinguistics and Director of the Language Development Lab at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Professor Tsimpli held a ‘Guest of the Rector’ Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences for six months in 2012, a Visiting Professorship for six months at the University of Cyprus in 2007, and a Visiting Scholar position at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg in 2005. She is Associate Editor of Lingua and member of the Editorial Board of the journals Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Second Language Research, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, Biolinguistics (e-journal), Journal of Greek Linguistics and of the Book Series “Language Acquisition and Language Disorders”.

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‘A teaching intervention may not reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and phonological awareness’

Dr Bene Bassetti (University of Birmingham)

The orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words can affect how L2 learners and L2 users pronounce L2 sounds, even after years of immersion in an L2 environment. It is however not known whether a training intervention can reduce such orthographic effects on L2 phonology. This paper will report the results of a study (Bassetti, Cerni & Masterson, under review) that investigated whether a teaching intervention can reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and awareness.

Previous studies found that Italian learners of L2 English produce and categorise the same English consonant as two different sounds: a short consonant if it is spelled with one letter, and as a geminate (a long consonant) if it is spelled with double letters. This is because in written double consonant letters represent geminates, and Italian native speakers therefore recode English double consonant letters. Bassetti and colleagues used a randomised controlled trial design, and allocated 100 Italian high-school students to a phonological intervention or a control group.

The teaching intervention group explored the correspondences between double letters and sound length in English, using reflection, explicit teaching and practice. The control group practiced the same English spoken and written words without mentions of orthography. All participants performed a delayed word repetition task and phonological awareness task twice, pre- and post-intervention. The teaching intervention had no effects. It appears that once orthographic effects on L2 phonology are established, they are difficult to eliminate, whether with extensive naturalistic exposure or with a teaching intervention.

Reference: Bassetti, B., Cerni, T., & Masterson, J. (under review) Efficacy of a teaching intervention to reduce the effects of orthographic forms on second language phonology: A randomized controlled trial

Bio: Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti leads Language and Condition at Birmingham (LACAB).

Nathan Thomas is an Applied Linguistics Tutor on the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT) course.

He also teaches on the MA TESOL (Pre-Service) course at the UCL Institute of Education, where he is completing his doctoral research under the dual supervision of Jim McKinley (UCL) and Heath Rose (Oxford).

His research focuses mainly on theoretical developments in the field of language learning strategies and on international students’ strategic learning in higher education. He is also involved in other projects pertaining to English medium instruction and English language teaching. His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, ELT Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, System, and TESOL Quarterly. He has also presented at more than 50 conferences in 14 countries all over the world.

Before his assuming his current roles, Nathan worked for ten years in China and Thailand, most recently as Director of English as a Foreign Language for a private educational consulting company in Beijing. He completed an MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (which is now the MSc ALLT at Oxford), MEd International Teaching, MA Applied Linguistics (ELT), BA English, and various teaching certificates, all while working full time.

For further information, please click here.

 

Publications

Bowen, N. & Thomas, N. (2020). Manipulating texture and cohesion in academic writing: A keystroke logging study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 50, 100773.

Pun, J. & Thomas, N. (2020). English medium instruction: Teachers challenges and coping strategies. ELT Journal, 74(3), 247-257.

Thomas, N. & Osment, C. (2020). Building on Dewaele’s (2018) L1 versus LX dichotomy: The Language-Usage-Identity State model. Applied Linguistics, 41(6), 1005-1010.

Zhang, L.J., Thomas, N., & Qin, T.L. (2019). Language learning strategy research in System: Looking back and looking forward. System, 84, 87-92.

Thomas, N., Rose, H., & Pojanapunya, P. (2019). Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings. Applied Linguistics Review (Advanced Access), 1-18.

Thomas, N. & Brereton, P. (2019). Pedagogical Implications: Practitioners respond to Michael Swan’s ‘Applied Linguistics: A consumer’s view.’ Language Teaching, 52(2), 275–278.

Thomas, N. & Rose, H. (2019). Do language learning strategies need to be self-directed? Disentangling strategies from self-regulated learning. TESOL Quarterly, 53(1), 248-257.

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Abstract: English-medium instruction (EMI) refers the practice of offering academic subjects taught through English in countries where English is not the first language of the majority of the population. The growth of EMI in higher education (HE) has been well-documented, and the driving forces behind EMI are intertwined with goals related to the internationalization of HE. Although EMI as a phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent decades, little research has explored EMI across global regions, particularly in countries in the Global South. This study aimed to investigate the current situation with regards to the introduction and expansion of EMI in HE in 52 countries designated as recipients on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list. In doing so, the study aimed to shed light on EMI provision in many countries which are relatively less resourced and under-researched. The study involved 3 stages of investigation: (1) a country-level analysis with data collected through open-ended questionnaires from informed respondents to investigate the introduction and expansion of EMI in the 52 ODA recipient countries; (2) a website analysis of purposively sampled universities to examine what information with regards to EMI programmes is available; and (3) a survey of key institutional players to explore additional information about EMI programmes offered worldwide. The data was analyzed to explore global and regional trends, and the findings offer insights into the admission requirements, professional development opportunities, international student enrolment, and driving forces behind EMI programs. Based on the findings, recommendations are offered for researchers and practitioners.

Bio: Kari Sahan is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and an Honorary Norham Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She completed her DPhil in 2020 from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher–student interaction and the use of the L1 in EMI classrooms. Her work has appeared in journals such as ELT Journal, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, System, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.

Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.

 

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Children are powerful statistical spellers: They can learn novel written patterns with phonological counterparts under experimental conditions, via implicit learning processes, akin to “statistical learning” processes established for spoken language acquisition. Can these mechanisms fully account for children’s knowledge of written patterns? How does this ability relate to literacy measures? How does it compare to explicit learning? I address these questions in a series of artificial lexicon experiments, inducing graphotactic learning under incidental and explicit conditions, and comparing it with measures of literacy. Previous studies assessed learning of spelling rules which have counterparts in spoken language; however, while this is also the case for some naturalistic spelling rules (e.g., English phonotactics prohibit word initial /ŋ/ and accordingly, written words cannot begin with ng), there are also purely visual constraints (graphotactics) (e.g., gz is an illegal spelling of a frequent word-final sound combination in English: *bagz). Can children learn patterns unconfounded from correlated phonotactics? Developing and skilled spellers were exposed to patterns replete of phonotactic cues. In post-tests, participants generalized over both positional constraints embedded in semiartificial strings, and contextual constraints created using homophonic non-word stimuli. This was demonstrated following passive exposure and even under meaningful (word learning) conditions, and success in learning graphotactics was not hindered by learning word meanings. However, the effect sizes across these experiments remained small, and the hypothesized positive associations between learning performance under incidental conditions and literacy measures were never observed. This relationship was only found under explicit conditions, when pattern generalization benefited. Investigation of age effects revealed that adults and children show similar patterns of learning but adults learn faster from matched text.

Bio: Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps. Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

 

PLEASE JOIN US ON TEAMS ON THE DAY OF THE EVENT.

Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps.

Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

Publications

Samara, Singh & Wonnacott (2019). Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental learning experiment with children. Cognition, Volume 182, 2019, Pages 25-30, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.005.

Singh, Samara & Wonnacott (accepted for publication in the Journal of Memory and Language). Statistical and explicit learning of graphotactic patterns with no phonological counterpart: Evidence from an artificial lexicon study with 7–8-year-olds and adults. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8px7n/.

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‘Plurilingual teaching and its effects on foreign language development

Professor Holger Hopp, Dr Jenny Jakisch and Sarah Sturm (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Research indicates that plurilingual teaching, i.e. integrating the learners’ (home) language repertoire into the teaching of a foreign language (FL), can improve FL achievement (Busse et al., 2019; Leonet et al., 2019). Against this background, we will present findings of a project in which a plurilingual approach to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) was implemented in four primary schools (year 4) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for 6 months. In each school, the English lessons of one group (intervention group) were extended by integrating the participants’ home languages whereas in the other group (comparison group) regular “monolingual” EFL lessons were conducted.

In our talk, we will present the research design as well as the teaching methods and materials that were used in the intervention group. We will also discuss how the young learners experienced the plurilingual lessons. Furthermore, we will show which effects the different teaching approaches had on the participants’ English achievement (vocabulary and grammar) and metalinguistic awareness by presenting data from longitudinal pre- and post-tests.

The data indicate that both monolingual and plurilingual participants gain FL competence during the 6-month intervention. However, the intervention group did not show differential learning gains compared to the comparison group. When testing for specific grammatical phenomena that were subject to instruction in the plurilingual lessons (e.g. questions), we found that the intervention group outperformed the control group. We conclude that addressing specific learners‘ plurilingual resources may support them in learning a foreign language. In our talk, we discuss the results and the potentials of plurilingual foreign language teaching.

References: Busse, V., Cenoz, J., Dalmann, N., & Rogge, F. (2019). Addressing Linguistic Diversity in the Language Classroom in a Resource‐Oriented Way: An Intervention Study With Primary School Children. Language Learning, 31(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12382

Leonet, O., Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2019). Developing morphological awareness across languages: translanguaging pedagogies in third language acquisition. Language Awareness, 79(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2019.1688338

Bios:

Holger Hopp: Holger Hopp is a professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany). In his research, he investigates child and adult L2/3 acquisition and processing as well as heritage language acquisition and attrition. He uses several psycholinguistic methods to determine the directionality, scope and degree of cross-linguistic influence in bi- and multilingual speakers of different ages.

Jenny Jakisch: Jenny Jakisch is lecturer and researcher at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her PhD dealt with the role of English language teaching (ELT) for fostering multilingualism. Her current research interests include teacher education, classroom management and inclusive ELT.

Sarah Sturm: Sarah Sturm is a research assistant and PhD student at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her research interests include multilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language (with a focus on young learners) and learning strategies. In her PhD project, she is investigating the use of language learning strategies by young multilingual foreign language learners.

 

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‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Professor Jenni Rodd (UCL)

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

Bio: Professor Jenni Rodd conducts research into how we understand the meanings of the words that we hear or read, and how we combine together the information from individual words to construct representations of the meanings of sentences. She has a particular interest in how we use our recent and long-term experience with language to improve the efficiency of these processes. She is the director of The Word Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL.

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‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: literacy and cognition

Professor Ianthi M. Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Much research in multilingualism and its effects on cognition and language ability has focused on individuals in western societies. Socioeconomic status, language of education and language prestige have been identified as some of the factors that appear to influence bi/multilingual individuals’ linguistic and cognitive profile although most research on the role of bilingualism on cognition has not capitalized on such factors. I will focus on multilingualism in India, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (UNESCO, 2009). Linguistic variation across Indian speakers is vast and includes variation in the number of home languages used, societal/community languages, official medium of instruction in schools and actual language practices in the classroom.

As language is the primary vehicle of education and learning, variation in any of the above measures of multilingualism can affect the language experience of the school child and have knock-on effects on the development of school skills (basic and higher literacy and numeracy), or cognition. Focusing on the data from 1200 children from urban primary schools in Delhi and Hyderabad and from rural areas in Patna, all from deprived or severely deprived socioeconomic backgrounds, I will try to disentangle how language experience and linguistic diversity in the child’s immediate environment (school, family, community) affect school skills and cognitive abilities.

Participants attend government primary schools in slum vs. non-slum urban areas of Delhi and Hyderabad, or town vs. rural areas in Patna, as part of a four-year, large-scale research project (MultiLila). They were assessed on mathematical reasoning, word, sentence and text reading, as well as non-verbal IQ, inhibition and complex working memory skills. Children attend English-medium or regional language medium schools (Hindi or Telugu), meaning that their assessment, textbooks and language used in the classroom is the official medium of instruction.

Although the language of textbooks and assessment match the official medium of instruction, language practices in the classroom include language mixing with English-only input ranging from zero to 40%, in English-medium schools. Taking into account the child’s home language(s) and the extent to which they are used in the classroom I will present the participants’ performance on linguistic, reasoning and cognitive skills. Results indicate a significant effect of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in the cognitive and school skills of children from underprivileged socioeconomic background.

Bio:

Professor Ianthi Maria Tsimpli works on language development in the first and second language in children and adults, as well as on language impairment, attrition, bilingualism, language processing and the interaction between language, cognitive abilities and print exposure. She recently held the positions of Professor of Multilingualism and Cognition at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading and the positions of Professor of Psycholinguistics and Director of the Language Development Lab at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Professor Tsimpli held a ‘Guest of the Rector’ Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences for six months in 2012, a Visiting Professorship for six months at the University of Cyprus in 2007, and a Visiting Scholar position at the Collaborative Research Centre on Multilingualism at the University of Hamburg in 2005. She is Associate Editor of Lingua and member of the Editorial Board of the journals Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, Second Language Research, Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, Language Acquisition: A Journal of Developmental Linguistics, Journal of Applied Linguistics, Biolinguistics (e-journal), Journal of Greek Linguistics and of the Book Series “Language Acquisition and Language Disorders”.

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‘A teaching intervention may not reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and phonological awareness’

Dr Bene Bassetti (University of Birmingham)

The orthographic forms (spellings) of second language words can affect how L2 learners and L2 users pronounce L2 sounds, even after years of immersion in an L2 environment. It is however not known whether a training intervention can reduce such orthographic effects on L2 phonology. This paper will report the results of a study (Bassetti, Cerni & Masterson, under review) that investigated whether a teaching intervention can reduce the effects of L2 orthographic forms on L2 pronunciation and awareness.

Previous studies found that Italian learners of L2 English produce and categorise the same English consonant as two different sounds: a short consonant if it is spelled with one letter, and as a geminate (a long consonant) if it is spelled with double letters. This is because in written double consonant letters represent geminates, and Italian native speakers therefore recode English double consonant letters. Bassetti and colleagues used a randomised controlled trial design, and allocated 100 Italian high-school students to a phonological intervention or a control group.

The teaching intervention group explored the correspondences between double letters and sound length in English, using reflection, explicit teaching and practice. The control group practiced the same English spoken and written words without mentions of orthography. All participants performed a delayed word repetition task and phonological awareness task twice, pre- and post-intervention. The teaching intervention had no effects. It appears that once orthographic effects on L2 phonology are established, they are difficult to eliminate, whether with extensive naturalistic exposure or with a teaching intervention.

Reference: Bassetti, B., Cerni, T., & Masterson, J. (under review) Efficacy of a teaching intervention to reduce the effects of orthographic forms on second language phonology: A randomized controlled trial

Bio: Dr Bassetti is an applied linguist, who is researching bilingualism and second language learning. In particular, Dr Bassetti is investigating the learning and use of second language writing systems (scripts/orthographies), and bilingual cognition (language and thought in bilinguals and language learners). Dr Bassetti leads Language and Condition at Birmingham (LACAB).

Nathan Thomas is an Applied Linguistics Tutor on the MSc Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching (ALLT) course.

He also teaches on the MA TESOL (Pre-Service) course at the UCL Institute of Education, where he is completing his doctoral research under the dual supervision of Jim McKinley (UCL) and Heath Rose (Oxford).

His research focuses mainly on theoretical developments in the field of language learning strategies and on international students’ strategic learning in higher education. He is also involved in other projects pertaining to English medium instruction and English language teaching. His work has been published in leading academic journals such as Applied Linguistics, Applied Linguistics Review, ELT Journal, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching, System, and TESOL Quarterly. He has also presented at more than 50 conferences in 14 countries all over the world.

Before his assuming his current roles, Nathan worked for ten years in China and Thailand, most recently as Director of English as a Foreign Language for a private educational consulting company in Beijing. He completed an MSc Teaching English Language in University Settings (which is now the MSc ALLT at Oxford), MEd International Teaching, MA Applied Linguistics (ELT), BA English, and various teaching certificates, all while working full time.

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Publications

Bowen, N. & Thomas, N. (2020). Manipulating texture and cohesion in academic writing: A keystroke logging study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 50, 100773.

Pun, J. & Thomas, N. (2020). English medium instruction: Teachers challenges and coping strategies. ELT Journal, 74(3), 247-257.

Thomas, N. & Osment, C. (2020). Building on Dewaele’s (2018) L1 versus LX dichotomy: The Language-Usage-Identity State model. Applied Linguistics, 41(6), 1005-1010.

Zhang, L.J., Thomas, N., & Qin, T.L. (2019). Language learning strategy research in System: Looking back and looking forward. System, 84, 87-92.

Thomas, N., Rose, H., & Pojanapunya, P. (2019). Conceptual issues in strategy research: Examining the roles of teachers and students in formal education settings. Applied Linguistics Review (Advanced Access), 1-18.

Thomas, N. & Brereton, P. (2019). Pedagogical Implications: Practitioners respond to Michael Swan’s ‘Applied Linguistics: A consumer’s view.’ Language Teaching, 52(2), 275–278.

Thomas, N. & Rose, H. (2019). Do language learning strategies need to be self-directed? Disentangling strategies from self-regulated learning. TESOL Quarterly, 53(1), 248-257.

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Abstract: English-medium instruction (EMI) refers the practice of offering academic subjects taught through English in countries where English is not the first language of the majority of the population. The growth of EMI in higher education (HE) has been well-documented, and the driving forces behind EMI are intertwined with goals related to the internationalization of HE. Although EMI as a phenomenon has grown exponentially in recent decades, little research has explored EMI across global regions, particularly in countries in the Global South. This study aimed to investigate the current situation with regards to the introduction and expansion of EMI in HE in 52 countries designated as recipients on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list. In doing so, the study aimed to shed light on EMI provision in many countries which are relatively less resourced and under-researched. The study involved 3 stages of investigation: (1) a country-level analysis with data collected through open-ended questionnaires from informed respondents to investigate the introduction and expansion of EMI in the 52 ODA recipient countries; (2) a website analysis of purposively sampled universities to examine what information with regards to EMI programmes is available; and (3) a survey of key institutional players to explore additional information about EMI programmes offered worldwide. The data was analyzed to explore global and regional trends, and the findings offer insights into the admission requirements, professional development opportunities, international student enrolment, and driving forces behind EMI programs. Based on the findings, recommendations are offered for researchers and practitioners.

Bio: Kari Sahan is a researcher in the EMI Oxford Research Group and an Honorary Norham Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She completed her DPhil in 2020 from the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on language policy, teacher–student interaction and the use of the L1 in EMI classrooms. Her work has appeared in journals such as ELT Journal, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, System, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes.

Abstract: Phonological decoding proficiency has attracted ample attention in L1 reading research, and has been a key variable in prediction studies of L1 reading comprehension ability. Contrary to L1 research, L2 decoding skill has received less attention and it remains unclear whether, and the extent to which, this skill would explain any variability in the reading comprehension of adult L2 learners. This talk will present the findings of a study that aimed to investigate the unique contribution of L2 decoding proficiency to L2 reading comprehension, relative to the contributions of previously established predictors of L2 reading comprehension, namely, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. In this study, 216 Saudi university students were assessed on 6 measures: L2 pseudo-word decoding ability, L2 real-word decoding ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge, L1 reading comprehension, and L2 reading comprehension. A series of regression analyses showed that there was a significant relation between L2 decoding proficiency and L2 reading comprehension performance. Further, L2 decoding proficiency made a significant, yet small, contribution to L2 reading comprehension even after controlling for the effects of L2 vocabulary knowledge, L2 grammar knowledge and L1 reading comprehension. The talk will also shed light on the nature of the decoding difficulties experienced by a subsample of these learners using error analyses of their decoding outputs and their self-reported decoding experiences and processes. Finally, the implications of these findings for L2 reading theory and pedagogy will be discussed.

Bio: Hala Alghamdi completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Oxford in 2020. She is now an assistant professor in Applied Linguistics at the University of Jeddah, King Abdulaziz University previously. She is interested in second language reading, and more particularly, lower-level reading processes and predictors of second language reading comprehension ability.

 

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Children are powerful statistical spellers: They can learn novel written patterns with phonological counterparts under experimental conditions, via implicit learning processes, akin to “statistical learning” processes established for spoken language acquisition. Can these mechanisms fully account for children’s knowledge of written patterns? How does this ability relate to literacy measures? How does it compare to explicit learning? I address these questions in a series of artificial lexicon experiments, inducing graphotactic learning under incidental and explicit conditions, and comparing it with measures of literacy. Previous studies assessed learning of spelling rules which have counterparts in spoken language; however, while this is also the case for some naturalistic spelling rules (e.g., English phonotactics prohibit word initial /ŋ/ and accordingly, written words cannot begin with ng), there are also purely visual constraints (graphotactics) (e.g., gz is an illegal spelling of a frequent word-final sound combination in English: *bagz). Can children learn patterns unconfounded from correlated phonotactics? Developing and skilled spellers were exposed to patterns replete of phonotactic cues. In post-tests, participants generalized over both positional constraints embedded in semiartificial strings, and contextual constraints created using homophonic non-word stimuli. This was demonstrated following passive exposure and even under meaningful (word learning) conditions, and success in learning graphotactics was not hindered by learning word meanings. However, the effect sizes across these experiments remained small, and the hypothesized positive associations between learning performance under incidental conditions and literacy measures were never observed. This relationship was only found under explicit conditions, when pattern generalization benefited. Investigation of age effects revealed that adults and children show similar patterns of learning but adults learn faster from matched text.

Bio: Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps. Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

 

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Daniela is a post-doctoral researcher within the Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project at the Department of Education. Within this project, Daniela is responsible for leading on the collection, analysis and reporting of a learning app data generated by users. In this role, Daniela contributes to key components of the LiFT research programme and assists project investigators in developing a research agenda aimed at evaluating the educational content of learning apps and carrying out research to investigate language learning potential and parental engagement in using learning apps.

Before joining the Department of Education, Daniela was a doctoral student at the Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, Division of Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Wonnacott. Her work lies at the intersection between learning, memory, and language and investigates key questions for literacy learning and instruction. She designed and carried out learning experiments that focused on the contribution of statistical learning processes to children’s learning of spelling patterns. This research was a continuation of her MSc Language Sciences project, also carried out at UCL’s Division of Language and Cognition.

Publications

Samara, Singh & Wonnacott (2019). Statistical learning and spelling: Evidence from an incidental learning experiment with children. Cognition, Volume 182, 2019, Pages 25-30, ISSN 0010-0277, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.005.

Singh, Samara & Wonnacott (accepted for publication in the Journal of Memory and Language). Statistical and explicit learning of graphotactic patterns with no phonological counterpart: Evidence from an artificial lexicon study with 7–8-year-olds and adults. Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/8px7n/.

APPLIED LINGUISTICS LUNCHTIME SEMINAR SERIES

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‘Plurilingual teaching and its effects on foreign language development

Professor Holger Hopp, Dr Jenny Jakisch and Sarah Sturm (Technische Universität Braunschweig)

Research indicates that plurilingual teaching, i.e. integrating the learners’ (home) language repertoire into the teaching of a foreign language (FL), can improve FL achievement (Busse et al., 2019; Leonet et al., 2019). Against this background, we will present findings of a project in which a plurilingual approach to teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) was implemented in four primary schools (year 4) in Lower Saxony, Germany, for 6 months. In each school, the English lessons of one group (intervention group) were extended by integrating the participants’ home languages whereas in the other group (comparison group) regular “monolingual” EFL lessons were conducted.

In our talk, we will present the research design as well as the teaching methods and materials that were used in the intervention group. We will also discuss how the young learners experienced the plurilingual lessons. Furthermore, we will show which effects the different teaching approaches had on the participants’ English achievement (vocabulary and grammar) and metalinguistic awareness by presenting data from longitudinal pre- and post-tests.

The data indicate that both monolingual and plurilingual participants gain FL competence during the 6-month intervention. However, the intervention group did not show differential learning gains compared to the comparison group. When testing for specific grammatical phenomena that were subject to instruction in the plurilingual lessons (e.g. questions), we found that the intervention group outperformed the control group. We conclude that addressing specific learners‘ plurilingual resources may support them in learning a foreign language. In our talk, we discuss the results and the potentials of plurilingual foreign language teaching.

References: Busse, V., Cenoz, J., Dalmann, N., & Rogge, F. (2019). Addressing Linguistic Diversity in the Language Classroom in a Resource‐Oriented Way: An Intervention Study With Primary School Children. Language Learning, 31(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12382

Leonet, O., Cenoz, J., & Gorter, D. (2019). Developing morphological awareness across languages: translanguaging pedagogies in third language acquisition. Language Awareness, 79(2), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/09658416.2019.1688338

Bios:

Holger Hopp: Holger Hopp is a professor of English Linguistics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany). In his research, he investigates child and adult L2/3 acquisition and processing as well as heritage language acquisition and attrition. He uses several psycholinguistic methods to determine the directionality, scope and degree of cross-linguistic influence in bi- and multilingual speakers of different ages.

Jenny Jakisch: Jenny Jakisch is lecturer and researcher at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her PhD dealt with the role of English language teaching (ELT) for fostering multilingualism. Her current research interests include teacher education, classroom management and inclusive ELT.

Sarah Sturm: Sarah Sturm is a research assistant and PhD student at the department of English and American Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig. Her research interests include multilingualism, teaching English as a foreign language (with a focus on young learners) and learning strategies. In her PhD project, she is investigating the use of language learning strategies by young multilingual foreign language learners.

 

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‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Professor Jenni Rodd (UCL)

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

Bio: Professor Jenni Rodd conducts research into how we understand the meanings of the words that we hear or read, and how we combine together the information from individual words to construct representations of the meanings of sentences. She has a particular interest in how we use our recent and long-term experience with language to improve the efficiency of these processes. She is the director of The Word Lab and a Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the Department of Experimental Psychology, UCL.

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‘Multilingualism in underprivileged contexts: literacy and cognition

Professor Ianthi M. Tsimpli (University of Cambridge)

Much research in multilingualism and its effects on cognition and language ability has focused on individuals in western societies. Socioeconomic status, language of education and language prestige have been identified as some of the factors that appear to influence bi/multilingual individuals’ linguistic and cognitive profile although most research on the role of bilingualism on cognition has not capitalized on such factors. I will focus on multilingualism in India, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world (UNESCO, 2009). Linguistic variation across Indian speakers is vast and includes variation in the number of home languages used, societal/community languages, official medium of instruction in schools and actual language prac