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ARCHIVE Spring 2017 Brown Bags

January 26
Effect of Tracking Authentic Video Clips on the Enhancing of Comprehensibility and Intelligibility of L2 Speech: A Mixed-Methods-Approach

Presenter: Dianning Qu, Central South University, China

Though achieving successful communication and near nativelike standards tend to be the ideal goals of L2 language learners (van Maastricht et al., 2016), a foreign accent is such a common and normal phenomenon among learners of a foreign language (Munro, Derwing, & Morton, 2006) who are confronted with problems regarding comprehensibility and intelligibility to varying degrees. The past two decades have witnessed an ongoing interest regarding comprehensibility and intelligibility which have been investigated jointly or separately with accentedness. Related studies fall into several strands. A prominent one is characterized by the investigation into the factors contributing to comprehensibility and intelligibility in an bid to pin down possible areas to be dealt with if these important aspects regarding L2 speech were to enhanced. Such studies include those by O’Brien (2014), O’Neal (2015) and Saito, Trofimovich, & Isaacs (2016). Another strand of studies try to find out the relationship between accentedness and comprehensibility (Hendriks, van Meurs, & Hogervorst, 2016; Lima, 2016). Still another one line of research focuses on the influence of the linguistic background of raters on the rating scores of intelligibility and comprehensibility of L2 speech (Chen, 2015; Huang & Jun, 2015; Saito & Shintani, 2016). Enlightening as such research is regarding intelligibility and comprehensibility, studies which looked into the effect of actual pedagogical activities are few and sparse, not to mention the possibility and effect of enhancing such aspects through the aid of computer-assisted language learning (CALL) or Mobile Assisted Language Learning(MALL).

Using a mixed methods approach, the current study investigated the possible effect of promoting comprehensibility and intelligibility of Chinese adult learners of English through tracking short authentic video clips displayed on mobile phones through an app entitled Fun Dubbing. Each session was characterized by focusing on one particular aspect of supra-segmental features which have been documented to influence comprehensibility and intelligibility. Various kinds of data were collected from the 20 participants enrolled in a credit course that lasted for 5 3-hour sessions. Speech samples from all participants in the form of reading aloud before and after each imitation session were provided, in addition, free production using the phrases acquired in imitating the video clips was elicited from one third of the participants. Learners’ attitudes towards such a pedagogical attempt were investigated through the use of a questionnaire involving all participants and a structured interview with one third of the participants picked through random sampling. Preliminary results from analyses of the speech samples at different time points indicated that considerable improvement has been made regarding comprehensibility and intelligibility. Positive attitudes about the gains evolving from such a pedagogical activity are evidenced in the questionnaire and structured interview. The present study holds implications for a possible direction of introducing a new way of improving the ease of understanding and the amount of information intended by L2 speech though the use of mobile technology.

 

February 2
A Corpus-Based Study of Critical Discourse Analysis of News Reports on Climate Change in China

Presenter: Tingting Sun, China University of Geosciences

Concerned with ideology, relations of power and inequality in language, Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) is employed as a multi-dimensional, multidisciplinary approach to discourse analysis. Recently, news discourse has become a focus in critical discourse analytical research.

The present study has adopted Fairclough’s three-dimensional model, building on Halliday’s systemic-functional grammar as the theoretical framework. Corpus Linguistics has provided another approach to the present discourse analysis. The two corpora are built with sampled news reports on climate change from China Daily and The New York Times. The present analysis is conducted in three stages: description, interpretation, and explanation.

The present study concludes that the Chinese and American news media have employed different discursive strategies to construct and interpret their respective stances and ideologies. 1) As for the choices of vocabulary, theme, and news source, the Chinese and American news media have different focus. The Chinese news media stress the unanimous voice and stance on the issue of climate change and the Sino-U.S. cooperation. However, the American news media have given much attention to opinions of political parties and interest groups on this issue. 2) In terms of the system of transitivity, the Chinese news media tend to utilize a higher percentage of verbal processes to make statements by quoting governmental officials while its American counterpart focuses more on material processes to construct and report series of events.

The research objectives and significance of the present study mainly reside in two aspects. First of all, news reports on climate change from different countries are analyzed via a corpus-based comparative CDA approach, which may enrich the research area of Critical Discourse Analysis. Moreover, the present study reveals the hidden relationship between linguistic strategies and ideologies in news discourse, which will hopefully help the audience critically, comprehend news reports and enhance readers’ sensitivity to the media.

 

February 9
Trajectories of professional communicative repertoires in global working life: A longitudinal study

Presenter: Tiina Räisänen, University of Jyväskylä, Finland

The ongoing changes in society and various globalization processes shape individuals’ work practices. Global movements in working life generate a demand for particular kinds of identities, roles, career paths and mobile repertoires (Roberts 2010) across contexts and locations, places and spaces that are increasingly multilingual, heterogeneous and hybrid (e.g. Zhu Hua 2014). In particular, in the age of transnational and multinational business cooperation professionals increasingly need to use English as a business lingua franca (BELF, Louhiala-Salminen, Charles & Kankaanranta 2005) and navigate between discourses and ways of speaking in order to get their job done (e.g. Angouri & Miglbauer 2013; Räisänen 2013).

This talk presents my ongoing longitudinal, ethnographic study of Finnish professionals’ trajectories of socialization from educational contexts into global working life and the construction of their communicative repertoires during 2003-2016. The theoretical framework draws on sociolinguistic and discourse studies where diachronic studies on mobility and individual trajectories have been called for (e.g. Blommaert 2010; Heller 2011; Martin-Jones & Gardner 2012; Blackledge & Creese 2012).

The data for this project comprises interviews and audio- and video-recordings of authentic, face-to-face workplace interactions, fieldnotes, photos and computer-mediated communication collected at various sites by the researcher and the research participants. This talk first presents the background and main findings of an earlier study (Räisänen 2013) and then discusses ongoing work and future directions. This study shows how the participants’ repertoire construction changes over time and how their identities shift from language learners in educational contexts to competent language users in the workplace (e.g. Virkkula & Nikula 2010; Räisänen 2016).

 

February 16CANCELED DUE TO FAMILY EMERGENCY
More Than a Test: Self-Assessment for Life-Long Users of Multiple Languages

Presenter: Cindy Brantmeier, Washington University in St. Louis

The main goal for program assessments of second and foreign languages is to provide evidence that performance in a specific curriculum is changing and improving over time. The high stakes evaluation of learner abilities upon completion of each stage of acquisition often serves as a basis for substantiating whether or not learners are improving their skills as they advance to higher levels of language learning. Self-assessment (SA) instruments may provide rich evidence about individual and collective achievement as students evaluate their own learning and consolidate their language learning experiences. The present talk will review some prior SA research (Brantmeier, 2006; Brantmeier & Vanderplank, 2008; and Brantmeier, Vanderplank & Strube, 2012) and discuss current and ongoing investigations that offer evidence to validate the relationships between criterion-referenced SA instruments and language achievement. Findings (2012) revealed that learners at the advanced stages of acquisition make self-assessments that are significantly related to their language abilities, although the magnitude of the relations are not substantial suggesting there may be important moderators to be identified. Furthermore, SA test method effect may make the difference with advanced learners. A discussion about how SA can provide a valuable departure from traditional testing formats that helps the learner become aware of individual strengths and weaknesses will be offered.

Cindy Brantmeier (Ph.D. Indiana University) is Professor of Applied Linguistics and Education at Washington University of St. Louis. She serves as Director of Applied Linguistics, which includes the undergraduate major and PhD strand in Applied Linguistics in Education. She is Co-editor of Reading in a Foreign Language, a journal housed at the University of Hawaii, and was recently named Distinguished Visiting Professor at Northeast Normal University, China. Professor Brantmeier is principal investigator in the Language Research Laboratory, where her research team conducts experiments that examine variables involved in second language reading, language research methodology, and language testing and assessment. Professor Brantmeier has extensive experience teaching Spanish and ESL/EFL in the USA, Nicaragua, Mexico, Spain, and Costa Rica to students of all ages. She was the recipient of Washington University’s 2012 Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award.

 

February 23
Abstract linguistic knowledge in only-, first- and second-language processing

Presenter: Anne Cutler, Western Sydney University

The title subject will be illustrated by evidence from talker recognition and adaptation, phonetic-to-lexical mapping in L2, relearning of a lost language, and generalisation from speech perception to production.

Anne Cutler is a Professor and Research Chair at The MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development at Western Sydney University, Australia. Starting out as a teacher of German as a foreign language, she has become one of the most renowned psycholinguists worldwide. She is the recipient of the Spinoza Prize of the Dutch Science Council (1999), and the author of Native listening: Language experience and the recognition of spoken words (2012).

 

March 2 Two Talks
A New Lens for an Old Debate: Applying the Douglas Fir Model of SLA to Grammar Instruction in EAP Writing [Practice Talk]

Presenter: Anna Mendoza, UH-Mānoa Department of Second Language Studies

Novice EAP teachers encounter much contradictory advice on how to address grammar issues in the classroom; often, the result in practice is a vacillation between assimilationist and critical approaches according to the shifting dictates of clients and institutions. This presentation proposes a better approach by suggesting that optimal grammar learning occurs when teachers put different methods of instruction in their proper places and create complementary relationships between them.
The discussion begins with a model of language acquisition (Douglas Fir Group, 2015) that shows how the cognitive processes of language learning are influenced by micro-level social interactions, which are influenced by meso-level discourse communities and macro-level language ideologies. At the micro level, empirical research is presented to suggest that linguistic interactions for teaching grammar-meaning connections and those for teaching the grammar rules themselves differ significantly, leading to two vital types of learning activities: collaborative textual analysis using principles of Systemic Functional Linguistics to understand how content is structured through grammar, and one-on-one, form-focused tutorials. At the meso level, students should be engaged in task-based learning, which gives them opportunities to practice manipulating the target language for the purposes of identity construction in third spaces where the grammar forms and conventions are dynamic. At the macro level, students should be shown how to apply ethnographic inquiry to see the extent to which prescriptive grammar rules are used in actual oral and written communication. In short, only a holistic, integrated approach to grammar teaching can sufficiently develop students’ knowledge and meta-knowledge of grammar.

Identity (re)formulation [Practice Talk]

Presenter: Guðrún Theodórsdóttir, Associate Professor, University of Iceland

This talk builds on the notion that L2 learning is a social activity, displayed in interaction and that can be traced through the analysis of interactions over time (Markee, 2008). In a language-learning classroom, L2 users have the primary identity of and may be labeled “learner”, whereas outside the classroom ( in the wild, to borrow a term from Hutchins (1995)) the L2 ‘learner’ is occupied with many other possible identities and the interactional work associated with those identities (building friendships,performing service encounters, etc). They do, however, also do want to take advantage of the L2 environment to learn the language.
Research has shown that for L2 users to become L2 learners in the wild specific interactional work has to be done: word searches, orientation to linguistics features of the new language, making language contracts etc. (Theodórsdóttir, 2011, Theodórsdóttir and Eskildsen, 2015,). The frequency of use as well as potential development of these activities over time is the focus of this study. This investigation draws on a dataset of audio-recorded service encounters and conversations that a L2 learner of Icelandic made in her in her daily life over the period of three years, approximately 56 hours total. The investigation of the learner’s first year will show that in her first months of learning the new language she makes extensive use of language learning activities, adopting the identity of a L2 learner, whereas later in the year she gradually makes less use of them. This implies an identity reformulation to L2 speaker and not L2 learner. The results of this study are a contribution to a growing body of research of L2 learning using CA as its primary research framework.

Guðrún Theodórsdóttir is Associate Professor in Second Language Studies in the Faculty of Icelandic and Comparative Cultural Studies at the University of Iceland. Dr. Theodórsdóttir completed her PhD studies at the University of Southern Denmark in 2010, and her research interests are L2 learning in the Wild and L2 interaction. Her research framework is CA-SLA and MCA.Theodórsdóttir is a Visiting Colleague in the UH-Mānoa Department of Second Language Studies for spring 2017.

 

March 9 Two Talks

Telling Story, Teaching Grammar in a Persian Language Classroom [Practice Talk]

Presenter: Elham Monfaredi, UH-Mānoa Department of Second Language Studies

Storytelling as a social practice has been explored in a variety of interactional contexts, including workplaces (e.g. Hanlon, Nguyen, & Terazawa, 2014; Holmes & Marra, 2011), qualitative research interviews (Hansen et al., 2010; Kasper & Prior, 2015), immigration contexts (De Fina, 2003; Lee, 2015), families (Mandelbaum, 2010), and educational settings (Juzwik, 2004; Richard, 1999; Watson, 2007). However, the way stories may become interconnected topics for talk and occasions for L2 learning and teaching has largely remained underexamined in the education field. This paper offers a sample analysis of a story spontaneously produced by a teacher in a Persian language classroom.
The data comes from videotaped interaction in an upper intermediate-level Persian class with four students and the teacher, an L1 speaker of Persian, at a North American university. By combining multimodal conversation analysis and narrative analysis, the study aims to examine the interactional practices through which the storyteller and story recipient launch, produce, and end the telling of a story that fulfills the institutional goals of the language classroom. In this paper I consider stories not only as interactional achievements (De Fina & Georgakapoulou, 2015) but also as interactional vehicle through which grammatical structures can be taught. The analysis reveals how storytelling becomes relevant topical talk for teaching grammar and how the participants co-construct the telling from moment to moment through their interactional work. By giving focus to the practices through which the story telling contingently emerges for the purpose of clarifying a grammatical structure, this study breaks new ground in extending narrative analysis to natural classroom interaction.

Contrasting Categories of Culture in the Revitalization of ‘Ōlelo Hawaiʻi: A Discourse Analysis [Practice Talk]

Presenters: Mónica Vidal, Kendi Ho, & Machiko Hasegawa, UH-Mānoa Department of Second Language Studies

This paper examines the case of Hawaiian culture and language transmission, which provides an understanding of some of the challenges and paradoxes that exist in revitalizing a language that was banned for nearly a century and whose revitalization efforts have been in effect for over 40 years. One of the many far-reaching effects of this ban is that the majority of ‘Ōlelo Hawaiʻi [(ʻŌH) Hawaiian Language] teachers are now second language (L2) learners of ʻŌH (NeSmith, 2009), and from this arises the question of “authenticity”, manifested in a conflict between western epistemologies and Hawaiian ways of knowing, teaching, and learning.
In our paper, we hone in on Aunty Māmā (AM), who pursued Hawaiian Studies after having been raised, in part, by her ʻŌH-speaking grandparents, and whose much-younger siblings followed her path, but learned most of their ʻŌH in school. In group interviews (Frey & Fontana, 1993), AM provides examples of what she considers “a loss of the spiritual side” of the Hawaiian ways in the newer generations of ʻŌH learners, by comparing the textbook learning she sees being implemented, and contrasting it with how she learned from her grandparents. To understand how she negotiates this ʻauthenticity’, we provide analyses of how she  discursively constructs culture. We use Gumperz’s (1982) contextualization cues to analyze prosody and Bilmes’s (2011) notions of co-categorization and contrast, generalizations and specifications, implicative scaling, and markedness to analyze how she distinguishes between ʻauthentic’ and ʻinauthentic’ culture.
This research adds to our understanding of some of the struggles that families face in the revitalization of indigenous languages from a discourse analytic perspective and also complements the growing literature on “new speakers” of heritage languages (NeSmith, 2005; O’Rourke, Pujolar, & Ramallo, 2015).

 

April 6
Tracing the material basis of Japanese in Oahu’s linguistic landscape

Presenters: Christina Higgins, Professor in Second Language Studies, UHM; & Maiko Ikeda, PhD Student in East Asian Languages and Literature – Japanese Section, UHM

This presentation discusses some preliminary results from an ongoingresearch project on Oahu that examines the spread of Japanese in the linguistic landscape of touristic spaces. We begin by documenting the presence of Japanese in written forms on public signage, drawing attention to the ways that Japanese is becoming increasingly prominent in areas such as Kailua, where tourism activities have also become a more visible aspect in public space since 2010. We report on the ways that Japanese appears alongside English and other languages on signs, with consideration of its complementary and supplementary status on signs and its semiotic values. We also report on the ways that spatial repertoires of speakers has changed due to the flows of tourists out of Waikiki, based on our observations and interviews with shopkeepers, restaurant workers, and residents, who report having learned various degrees of Japanese to interact successfully with Japanese tourists. We then consider the material basis of the spread of Japanese by tracing how Japanese celebrities, guidebooks for Japanese tourists, and trolley buses work to produce new forms of language in public space.

 

April 13 Two Talks
Dynamic development of lexical sophistication through a series of academic tasks: A semester-long study [Practice Talk]

Presenter: Masaki Eguchi, Waseda University & UH-Mānoa Department of Second Language Studies

English Medium Instruction (EMI) , where a non-language subject is taught in English (Hellekjær, 2010), has been gaining popularity among higher educational institutions in EFL settings (Doiz, Lasagabaster, & Sierra, 2013; Taguchi, 2014). The pedagogical activities in EMI have various features in common with TBLT. It comprises various unfocused, real-world academic tasks (e.g., readings, presentations) with primary attention to meaning (Ellis, 2003 Ortega, 2015). It also reflects learners’ needs to prepare for future academic, professional goals in a meaningful context. In such classes, however, tracking the longitudinal development of linguistic performance has been an important agenda (Doiz et al., 2013; Ortega & Iberri-shea, 2005). In particular, lexical sophistication, defined as both quantity and quality of lexical resources a learner employs (Kyle & Crossley, 2015), is one of the topics that needs further investigation (Skehan, 2009).
The current study therefore investigated semester-long development of lexical sophistication in small group discussions in an EMI course. Three intermediate-level undergraduate Japanese learners of English in the target EMI (MTOEFL ITP = 543.3), who had previously taken at least one EMI course, agreed to participate in this study. The weekly EMI sessions comprised reading assignments, written open-ended quizzes, two student presentations, and group and classroom discussions. The small groups, the focus of the study, consists of four to five students in each of four groups. Every discussion task was recorded during the semester and transcribed (13 sessions). Indices of lexical sophistication were computed with TAALES (Kyle & Crossley, 2015), and were plotted to look for patterns of development for each index using Dynamic System Theory (DST) framework (Verspoor, De Bot, & Lowie, 2011).
The result confirms a view that development of lexical sophistication is multifaceted and incremental in nature (Schmitt, 2010). Whereas one of the participants increased the quantity of frequently used multiword chunks (i.e., Ngrams), another developed his quality of those chunks at the expense of the quantity (see also Bestgen & Granger, 2014). The results are discussed in terms of complexity theory, drawing on their experiences in EMI. The discussion further presents possible directions for further research in EMI classrooms in EFL settings.

The effect of strategic planning of oral CAF: A synthesis [Practice Talk]

Presenter: Mitsuko Suzuki, UH-Mānoa Department of Second Language Studies

The purpose of this paper is to synthesizes the findings of primary research studies that investigated strategic planning effect on oral complexity, accuracy, and fluency (CAF). Over 180 studies were initially collected, and reviewed for inclusion and exclusion to minimize the bias. In order to investigate the overall role of strategic planning in oral tasks, a special focus was put on the CAF measures and the operationalization of pre-task and main task, including (a) the instruction given prior to the planning, (b) type of pre-task planning activity, (c) length of planning time, and (d) type of main task. Following a brief review of past pre-task planning studies, this presentation will explore to what extent these variables may influence language learners’ oral task performance.

 

April 20
Faculty Showcase Talks: Learn what your professors and colleagues are doing (Part I)

Presenter 1: Kristopher Kyle, Assistant Professor in Second Language Studies, UHM
Presenter 2: Theres Grüter, Associate Professor in Second Language Studies, UHM