Archive Fall 2019 Brown Bags

August 29
Starting off on the Right Foot: Advising Session for New MA Students

Presenter: Christina Higgins, Professor & Graduate Chair, Second Language Studies, UH-Mānoa

1. Navigating your MA progress
We will examine the MA advising form together and talk about optional tracks, core courses, seminar courses, and electives. Students will better understand what it takes to complete their degrees in a timely manner.
2. The relationship between language teaching and research
New students sometimes struggle to see connections between their interest in classroom teaching and research projects that they design and analyze in their courses; we will explore this and look at examples of research that are connected to teaching, as well as research on other topics in SLS that are not directly linked to classrooms.
3. Resources for academic and personal support
We will discuss the resources on campus that offer academic support (such as The Writing Center) as well as offices that offer counseling and other forms of support to students.

September 5

L2 Motivation Research: Recent Trends and How My SLS Dissertation Developed into Further Studies

Presenter: Chika Takahashi, Associate Professor, Ehime University, Japan

L2 motivation research has seen some developments as to its focus on individual learners and their dynamic changes that are often captured in longitudinal studies, including those examining learning languages other than English (LOTE). In this presentation, I will first discuss these trends in L2 motivation research. Then I will introduce two longitudinal studies that I conducted on the topic and discuss how those studies reflect the aforementioned developments of the field. The two participants were two of the high school students that took part in my dissertation, which I turned in to the Department of SLS in 2013. They are now very academically-oriented students at one of the top-tiered universities in Japan at the graduate level. They showed distinct patterns regarding the development of their English/LOTE motivation during the six years that I interviewed them, and these developments contrast with those reported in studies in the European contexts, where multilingualism is more highly valued than in Japan. This points to the importance of examining contextual factors when discussing English/LOTE motivation.

September 12

The importance of production for the acquisition of L2 grammatical structures

Presenter: Carrie Jackson, Professor of German and Linguistics, The Pennsylvania State University

An important question in instructed second language (L2) acquisition regards the relative effectiveness of comprehension-based instruction and production-based instruction for learning L2 grammatical forms. While recent meta-analyses (Shintani, 2015; Shintani, et al., 2013) show an immediate advantage of comprehension-based instruction for receptive knowledge and a long-term advantage of production-based instruction for productive knowledge, many questions remain regarding how these different instructional methods affect the underlying mechanisms that support L2 acquisition and use. In this talk I will present results from two recent studies investigating whether overt production promotes the acquisition and use of two different grammatical structures among L2 learners of German. In Study 1, 3rd semester German learners completed a structural priming task targeting the production of sentence-initial adverbial phrases (e.g., Auf dem Berg trägt der Junge eine Jacke “On the mountain the boy wears a jacket” vs. Der Junge trägt eine Jacke auf dem Berg “The boy wears a jacket on the mountain”). After listening to prime sentences that contained sentence-initial adverbial phrases, participants who were required to repeat the prime aloud before describing a new picture produced significantly more sentences containing a sentence-initial adverbial phrases than participants who simply listened to the prime sentences before describing subsequent pictures. In Study 2, 1st semester German learners completed a comprehension-based or production-based training unit targeting grammatical gender marking (e.g., ein blauer Becher “a.MASC blue.MASC cup.MASC” vs. eine blaue Schüssel “a.FEM red.FEM bowl.FEM”). The participants in the production-based training group outperformed the comprehension-based training group on all posttest measures. Together these studies highlight the importance of overtly producing target L2 grammatical forms during learning. I attribute this benefit for production to the cognitive mechanisms underlying language production, including utterance planning and lexical retrieval, and the need to maintain lexical and grammatical information in working memory while producing a sentence.