ARCHIVE Fall 2016 Brown Bags

September 1
Employment Opportunities That Complement Your Studies

Presenters: Ray Allen, International Student Services Advisor, UHM; Priscilla Faucette, English Language Institute Associate Director & SLS Undergraduate Advisor, UHM; Emily Lee, SLS Program Specialist & Employment Officer, UHM

What are the employment opportunities within SLS and across the UH campus? What are the visa requirements for on- and off-campus work for international students? Which language schools and programs on O‘ahu require a BA or an MA for their instructors? What opportunities exist within the Hawai‘i Department of Education (DOE)? Are you aware of your “student advantage”? If these questions have been on your mind, then attendance at this Brown Bag session is a must!

Information will be tailored for new undergraduate and graduate students. Our goal is to help you find your best employment opportunity “fit” for connecting practice and theory. Please feel free to also bring your own questions.


September 8
Practice Talks for Second Language Research Forum (SLRF; Part I)

Identification and Discrimination of Tone by L2 Learners of Mandarin

Presenter: Wenyi Ling, SLS PhD Student, UH-Mānoa

In Mandarin, tones are necessary to differentiate lexical meanings (Yip, 2002). However, in actual speech, there is great variability in the acoustic realization of tones due to variation across talkers and context. This may be one reason why tone is particularly difficult for L2 learners of Mandarin (Yang, 2011; Pelzl, 2015). Previous research found that native Chinese listeners perceive tones on a pitch continuum more categorically than listeners with no knowledge of a tonal language (naïve listeners; Hallé et al., 2004). Here we ask how English-speaking adult L2 learners of Mandarin perceive tones compared to these two groups, and whether L2 proficiency modulates their performance on tone perception tasks.

Twenty-six adult English-speaking L2 learners of Mandarin, 30 native Chinese speakers, and 30 English speakers with no knowledge of Mandarin completed an identification and a discrimination task consisting of monosyllables (/pi/, /pa/) with pitch from 9-step continua between two naturally produced tones (including all 6 possible tone pairs). In the identification task, participants chose which of two alternative tones they heard; in the discrimination task, they heard three test syllables in an AXB configuration and indicated whether X was identical to A or B. Proficiency was collected from a listening test and self-report.

Results from identification confirm more categorical perception, indicated by steeper slopes, in native vs. naïve listeners; critically, the L2 group differed significantly from both, patterning between them. Moreover, L2 proficiency correlated significantly with identification slopes (r = – 0.32, p < 0.05), suggesting higher proficiency may lead to more native-like tone identification.

In discrimination, however, L2ers were not significantly different from naïve listeners. Both were more accurate than native speakers. Native speakers’ lower accuracy reflects reduced sensitivity to within-category differences, a direct consequence of categorical perception. The lack of difference between L2 and naïve listeners indicates L2ers’ developing tone categories were not strong enough to dominate their acoustic perception.

The inconsistency between identification and discrimination results suggests that while L2ers developed some phonological tone categories, their ability to use this knowledge automatically during speech perception may be more fragile and task-dependent.

Lower and Higher-Level Processing Skills in L2 Chinese Reading Comprehension

Presenter: Wei-Li Hsu, SLS PhD Candidate, UH-Mānoa

This presentation is a practice for the coming SLRF 2016, and I appreciate any feedback. The following is the original conference abstract.

Based on qualitative data, students often report that learning Chinese characters is one of the major challenges for them. Accordingly, most research has focused on Chinese character-recognition skills for reading Chinese as a second language (L2). However, the emphasis on character-recognition skills also implies that L2 Chinese readers are constrained by their limited L2 vocabulary and ignores the active role L2 readers play in the process.

This study examined three groups of reading processing skills, and the three groups were further divided into two broad categories, i.e., lower-level and higher-level skills, with one group falling into the former and two into the latter category. The lower-level skills, which were related to character-recognition, included ortho-phonology skill, ortho-semantics skill, and morpheme skill. The two groups of higher-level skills were comprehension skills and strategy-use. The comprehension skills were measured by three tests, a multiple-choice grammar test, a fill-in-blank cloze test, and a multiple choice passage comprehension test. A strategy-use questionnaire was conducted to investigate participants’ strategy use while responding to the three comprehension tests.

A hypothesized model of structural equation modelling (SEM) was developed and tested to understand the contributions of the three lower-level skills and strategy-use to comprehension skills examined in the three comprehension tests. The results suggest that (1) the three comprehension tests significantly contributed to reading comprehension with passage comprehension test exhibiting the highest factor loading; (2) reading test performance was significantly explained by character-recognition skills and strategy use; and (3) different from a study of L2 English reading (Purpura, 1997), the reported cognitive strategies directly and positively contributed to reading comprehension while monitoring strategy, as a metacognitive strategy, directly and negatively contributed to character-recognition. The indirect negative effect of monitoring strategy and the direct positive effect of cognitive strategies may suggest that the complementary nature of strategy use is first activated by monitoring strategy and then the facilitative function of strategy use is regulated through cognitive strategies which are regulated by metacognitive strategies. The difference between L2 English studies and this study may be explained by lower proficiency of the study’s participants leading to higher conscious reliance on  character-recognition, rather than the direct effect of cognitive strategies on grammar and vocabulary-level processing reported in Purpura (1997).


September 15

12:00–12:30 IHS Volunteering Information Session
12:30–1:10   SLRF Practice Talk (20 min); Q&A (10 min); feedback (10 min)

Information Session about Volunteer Tutor Opportunity at Institute for Human Services (IHS)

Presenter: Monique Chyba, Professor of Mathematics, UH-Mānoa

The Department of Mathematics has been working with the Institute for Human Services (IHS), the largest homeless family shelter in Hawai’i, for 6 years to support children in the after school program at IHS in an educational program that involves volunteer tutors. Graduate students from the Math Department have helped provide a weekly presence in the after school program, and assist particularly with math- and science-related activities. Since many children at IHS are first generation English speakers, language-related support is also sorely needed, so we are currently looking for volunteers from the SLS department (graduate or undergraduate students) interested in tutoring at IHS. Dr. Chyba will provide more information and answer questions about this program. Please come if you think you might be interested in helping out at IHS!

Practice Talks for SLRF (Part II)

L2 Learners’ Adaptation to Teacher Accent

Presenter: Bethany Schwartz, SLS PhD Student, UH-Mānoa

Intelligibility of accented speech has been researched from many perspectives using dictation and reaction time tasks. For example, in terms of L1 speakers listening to L2 and regional accents, Clarke & Garrett (2004) found L1 speakers adapted to accents within a few sentences. However, a follow-up study by Floccia, Butler, Goslin, & Ellis (2009) found that, once surprise over accent change was accounted for, L1 listeners did not habituate. Despite substantial interest in differences between native and non-native language teachers (Kalin & Rayko, 1978; Lambert, Hodgson, Gardner, & Fillenbaum, 1960), little research has examined how L2 learners adapt to accented speech. Findings indicate that that accents like the listener’s own and L1 accents were easier to process than unrelated L2 accents (Leikin, Ibrahim, Eviatar, & Sapir, 2009), suggesting that amount of exposure plays a role in accent habituation. Much of this research, however, has focused on short term changes, thereby limiting the ecological validity strength of the findings in terms of instructed SLA.

The current study examines the longitudinal change in reaction times before and after 4 weeks of exposure to one of two teacher accents (American English or Japanese). Fourteen participants were recruited from two intact EFL classrooms of a summer course for Faculty of Science students in Thailand with low to intermediate proficiency. All participants listened at a computer to 60 sentences ending in high-frequency monosyllable nouns, half presented in Japanese accent, half in American English. After each sentence, participants were immediately shown a color photo and pressed a “yes” or “no” button to judge if the photo matched the last word. Reaction times were measured from the onset of the photo presentation. Forty of the sentences had matching photos and 20 mismatched fillers. Mean RTs were analyzed for change from session 1 to session 2. The mean difference RTs between the two sessions were also analyzed for the accent that matches the participants’ own teacher’s accent (treated) versus the other (untreated) accent. Expected results will show stronger improvement for the treated condition with implications about the need for exposure to a variety of accents in instructed SLA.


September 29
Teach, Reflect, and Learn: Teaching and Research in Thailand with the 2016 SLS Practicum (Part I)

Presenters: Kelly Bolen, Lucas Edmond, Myra Rafalovich, & Kiriko Shimaji, SLS Graduate Students, UH-Mānoa

Since 2007, the SLS 690 practicum in Thailand has given graduate students the opportunity to gain international college teaching experience in a setting where the students have little opportunity to use English outside the classroom. More than just another teaching job, the practicum allows participating teachers to develop their identities as teachers and researchers within a supportive community of practice. In these two brownbag sessions, participants from the 2016 practicum group share their stories, describing what they learned from teaching and conducting research in their classrooms over the summer.

Made possible thanks to partial funding from the SLS Graduate ‘Oihana Maika’i Fund for Professional Development


October 13
What I wish I’d known at the start of my degree: Words of wisdom from graduating/alumnae MA/PhD students in SLS

Organized by SLSSA Academic VPs Anna Mendoza and Mitsuko Suzuki

Last year, SLSSA held a well-attended Q&A session with alumnae and graduating students on their plans after graduation and what they had learned during their time in the department. New and current students who have questions about how to socially and academically navigate life in SLS to “get the most” out of their programs should not miss these diverse, first-hand accounts. In addition to speaking about important lessons learned during their programs, our panelists will be sharing wisdom about the job hunt. If you’re looking to attend a Brown Bag presentation that’s both practical and personal, this is the one!


October 20
Mastering Library Research

Presenter: Sveta Stoytcheva, Second Language Studies Librarian, UH-Mānoa

*Bring Your Own Devices* Event

Join the Second Language Studies Librarian for a presentation on improving your research skills and habits. Topics that we will cover include understanding library databases (search more strategically and efficiently!); an overview of citation management tools (stay organized!); and an introduction to open access and ScholarSpace, the UH Manoa institutional repository (share your research!). There will be plenty of time for Q&A, so bring your questions about the library collections or services.


November 3
Teach, Reflect, and Learn: Teaching and Research in Thailand with the 2016 SLS Practicum (Part II)

Presenters: Carrie Bach, George Smith, Mitsuko Suzuki, & Jay Tanaka, SLS Graduate Students, UH-Mānoa

Since 2007, the SLS 690 practicum in Thailand has given graduate students the opportunity to gain international college teaching experience in a setting where the students have little opportunity to use English outside the classroom. More than just another teaching job, the practicum allows participating teachers to develop their identities as teachers and researchers within a supportive community of practice. In these two brownbag sessions, participants from the 2016 practicum group share their stories, describing what they learned from teaching and conducting research in their classrooms over the summer.

Made possible thanks to partial funding from the SLS Graduate ‘Oihana Maika’i Fund for Professional Development


November 10
Test-taking strategies during the completion of multiple-choice items from the Michigan English Test: Evidence from eye tracking and verbal reports

Presenter: Ruslan Suvorov, Language Technology Specialist, Center for Language & Technology, UH-Mānoa

The past decades have witnessed a surge of interest in research on test-taking strategies in second language assessment (e.g., Cohen, 1998; Kashkouli & Barati, 2013). Understanding strategies used by L2 test-takers can play a critical role in validation research (Bachman, 1990; Schmitt, Ng, & Garras, 2011) that has been traditionally restricted to the use of statistical methods (O’Sullivan & Weir, 2011). To investigate test-taking strategies, researchers usually employ concurrent or retrospective verbal reports (e.g., Cohen & Upton, 2007; Plakans, 2009) that are prone to reactivity and veridicality risks (Bowles, 2010) and should be supplemented with behavioral data that can provide information about test-takers’ actual engagement with L2 tasks (Brunfaut & McCray, 2015).

The present study aimed at leveraging emergent methodology that combines eye tracking and retrospective verbal reports to investigate strategies used by test-takers during their completion of 58 multiple-choice items from the Michigan English Test (MET). Using the convergence model of the data triangulation design, the study entailed (a) gathering eye-movement data from 15 non-native speakers of English while they were completing the MET, and (b) using eye-movement recordings as a stimulus for participants to describe test-taking strategies they employed for answering each item. Data from the visual scanpath analysis of eye-movement recordings were converged with the data elicited through retrospective verbal reports to provide evidence of the types of test-taking strategies used by L2 learners. Results reveal a variety of test-taking strategies for answering multiple-choice items and indicate that test-takers (a) differ in terms of strategies they employ to answer such items, and (b) rely on test-wiseness strategies that tend to inflate test scores. Implications of the study suggest that the multiple-choice format appears to encourage the use of test-wiseness strategies that may introduce construct-irrelevant variance and pose threats to the validity of proposed interpretations and uses of test scores.


December 1
Place-based Language Learning Using Mobile Technology: An Analysis of an Original MALL Game and Its Redesign for a HELP Course

Presenters: Dan Holden & Yang Liu, SLS Graduate Students, UH-Mānoa

In the field of Second Language Studies (SLS), there has been a growing interest in research in the areas of Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) and Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL) since the early 2000s. In addition to these researcher interests, the idea of using video games as language learning tools, particularly in online contexts, has been gaining popularity as well. In Holden & Sykes (2011), the researchers describe their unique work in a high school Spanish classroom which used an augmented reality MALL game that combined elements of mobile technology and video game design to create a new experience for the second language users. By utilizing a combination of theories of place-based learning and MALL, the research team at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa was able to design their own augmented reality game to be implemented in the Hawai’i English Language Program (HELP).

After analyzing both in-game data and conducting a series of post-game interview data with both students and administrators, the game, Guardians of the Mo’o (Mo’o 1.0), was deemed to be successful in achieving its initial design goals and was given support to possibly become part of the regular HELP curriculum, pending modifications. This paper outlines the theoretical background for creating such a game, as well as provides a detailed analysis of how Mo’o 1.0 was created and ultimately played by the target group of language learners. Then, the focus will be shifted to explain how the second version of the game (Mo’o 1S) was redesigned and modified to fit into a new experimental course in the HELP summer curriculum.