ARCHIVE Spring 2016 Brown Bags

January 21. Testing the Teachability Hypothesis: A Systemic Theoretic Instruction Approach to Teach Chinese Word Order

Presenter: Dr. Xian Zhang, Guandong University of Foreign Studies

According to Pienemann’s (1984, 1987, 1989) Teachability Hypothesis (TH), formal instruction cannot affect the route of acquisition of processing procedures predicted by Processability Theory (1998). Relying on Piagetian theory, Pienemann (1987) argued that the quality of instruction cannot override universal developmental sequences. Following Piaget, Pienemann proposed that teaching, whether explicit or implicit, is only effective when learners are developmentally ready to move to the next immediate stage in the processing hierarchy (i.e., X+1). Vygotsky (1978) argued that psychological development is not predetermined and universal and instead depends on the quality of cognitive tools and social relationships, most especially in educational settings. He therefore reverses the relationship between teaching and development and proposes that the dialectic of teaching-learning (obuchenie in Russian) creates the pathway that development follows. As a result, the quality of instruction makes a difference in what Vygotsky called the artificial development of the person—artificial because it is intentionally provoked. Pienemann, Biase, & Kawaguchi (2005) proposed the Topic Hypothesis, which claims that learners must progress through three sequential stages in acquiring the syntax necessary to appropriately use this feature of Chinese. The stages are as follows: SVO, ADJUNCT+SVO, OSV. Studies by Gao (2005), Wang (2011), and Zhang (2007) have uncovered evidence that supports the Topic Hypothesis for Chinese. Based on Gal’perin’s (1970) theory of Systemic Theoretical Instruction, this study supports Vygotsky’s contention that instruction, if properly organized, can determine development. The study focuses on Chinese topicalization. Four L1 English learners of L2 Chinese who were at Stage 1, SVO, received instruction on Stage 3, OSV prior to Stage 2, ADJ+SVO. Results of spontaneous speech production tasks indicate that these learners were capable of producing OSV structures before they could produce the ADJ+SVO structure.


February 4. Measuring syntactic development in L2 writing: A usage-based perspective

Presenter: Mr. Kristopher Kyle, Georgia State University

The construct of syntactic development has been of interest in second language acquisition (SLA) studies in general and L2 writing development studies in particular for some time. The most frequently used indices of syntactic development have been conceptualized as the complexity of clauses or T-units (e.g., Wolfe-Quintero et al., 1998; Ortega, 2003; Lu, 2011). Usually this is operationalized as counts of particular structures (e.g., dependent clauses per T-unit) or the length of structures (e.g., mean length of clause). The underlying assumption in such studies is that as learners develop, they produce clauses and T-units that are more complex. Results however, have been mixed, and recently new perspectives on syntactic development, such as usage-based theories (e.g., Ellis, 2002; Gries, Hampe & Schönefeld, 2005), have gained traction.

Usage-based theories of language development suggest that a key factor in language development is frequency (Langacker, 1987; Bybee, 2006). Pieces of language (often referred to as constructions; Goldberg, 1995) that are encountered and used more frequently are more likely to be learned, regardless of their structural complexity (Ellis, 2002). Although constructions are hypothesized to occur at all levels of language, verb argument constructions (VACs), which consist of a main verb and its argument(s), are commonly investigated. One issue with extant VAC studies is that they have only looked at a limited set of VACs. This is mostly due to the resource-heavy nature of extracting VACs from large datasets.

In this talk, I discuss a new method of extracting VACs automatically from both reference corpora and learner data. This method allows for a comprehensive account of the frequency profiles of VACs in the 450 million-word Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA; Davies, 2010). I demonstrate how indices based on these profiles can be used to model syntactic development both longitudinally (using longitudinal learner corpora) and across writing proficiency levels (using TOEFL essays). Implications for second language acquisition in general and L2 writing development specifically are discussed.

Kristopher Kyle is a PhD candidate in the Department of Applied Linguistics and ESL at Georgia State University. His interests include second language writing, second language assessment, and second language development. He is particularly interested in the interface between corpus linguistics, computational linguistics, and second language research.


February 5. Practice Talks

“Why you acking like one mahu for?”: Encountering indigeneity and sexual identity in language use in Hawai‘i

Presenter: Mr. Michael Garrett, UHM

This presentation discusses indigeneity and sexual identity in language through an analysis of the contemporary use of the Hawaiian term māhū. Through semi-structured interviews, the study explores the knowledge that participants have of dominant discourses of pre and postcolonial Hawai‘i that inform their use of the term māhū. The presentation focuses on an analysis of interviews with 10 Hawaiian-identifying non-heterosexual men who were born and raised in The Hawaiian Islands. Using the discourse-analytic framework of Reisigl and Wodak’s discourse-historical approach (DHA) (2000; 2009) and Silverstein’s indexical order (2003), I analyze what ideologies (past and present) contribute to participants’ communicative acts using this gendered term. An analysis of the participants’ responses requires a theoretical framework that accounts for the interdiscursivity of the word’s historical and contemporary meanings for the organization of social categories. Preliminary findings show how these men recognize māhū as indexing a specific sexual identity for both interlocutors depending on prosody, humor, and attitude. While some men presume their interlocutors to recognize discourses of Western sexuality (or homosexuality), others expect members to recognize the indigenous meanings of Hawaiian māhū when speakers share similar local-Hawaiian backgrounds and identities. I argue that the effects of Western binary sexuality as introduced during the colonization of Hawai‘i has created multiple social identities for local non-heterosexual men today, and while some categories may be stigmatizing, others offer discourses of indigenous and sexual empowerment through a type of collective ethnic identity formation process.


Creating a positive classroom atmosphere

Presenter: Ms. Min Namkoong, UHM

Having the sense of belonging and a sense of community promotes comfortableness. In the classroom context, students are the member of community, and a classroom is the learning community. Therefore, It is important to create classroom as open environment where students feel comfortable to engage actively both in academic and social setting. The role of teachers is significant, influencing the classroom atmosphere. Teachers can construct the sense of community serving the role as a community organizer.  The purpose of this study is to explore the teacher’s role in creating the positive classroom atmosphere where students feel comfortable and belong. The data is collected from ESL course where majority students are from China, Japan, and Korea. In the research study, it shows that having positive and personal relationship with a teacher and classmates is one of the possible reasons that could create a sense of classroom atmosphere that feels like a community. Based on the classroom observation, field notes, and interview, it could be said that positive classroom atmosphere could be fostered by a teacher. Furthermore, what triggers the level of comfortability and closeness in order to create the classroom atmosphere is through communication and sense of humor. Teacher initiated conversation outside of classroom context has made students feel connected to the teacher, therefore, they are at ease to talk in the classroom. Also, exchanging and sharing opinions and conversation between students have resulted in the comfortableness and feeling closeness, which influence the likability of the class as well. Therefore, it is encouraged teachers to foster more speaking focused activities during class. Moreover, a teacher sharing outside of classroom context conversation with students is encouraged to show interests in students on a personal level. Students coming from different culture and background to learn a language would benefit from this type of classroom style.


February 11. Unveiling the interrelatedness of beliefs, emotions, and identity in language learning and teaching

Presenter: Dr. Ana Maria F. Barcelos, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Brasil

Although recent studies on language learning and teaching beliefs point towards a sociocultural view of beliefs, the relationship between beliefs, emotions and identities have not been part of the studies in Applied Linguistics (AL). With more than two decades of research about language learner beliefs (Barcelos 2000, 2003, 2007), there has been scant connection with emotions and identities. Several researchers have already called for the inclusion of the emotional dimension in SLA and in teacher cognition (Dewaele, 2005; Borg, 2006). Even in psychology, although there is a wide literature on cognition and emotion concerned with affective influences on memory, thinking, and social judgment, “there is almost no reference to research on beliefs” (Fiedler and Bless, 2000, p. 144). In this talk I contend that beliefs, emotions and identity are co-constructing, overlapping concepts that become richer when studied and theorized together. Through re-analysis of several studies on beliefs in Applied Linguistics and a review of studies on beliefs, emotions and identities in fields such as Psychology and Education, I discuss how beliefs, emotions and beliefs are intrinsically and interactively related and the implications of this finding for research on beliefs, emotions and identities in AL, as well as in language teacher education.


February 12. Critical dialogue in TESOL teacher education: Implications for teacher identity construction

Presenter: Dr. Arman Abednia, School of Education, Edith Cowan University, Australia

TESOL teacher education research has recently documented an increasing awareness of the significant impact of teacher identity on different aspects of teachers’ professional growth and success, such as teaching quality (Clandinin & Connelly, 1996), decision making (Bullough, 1997), and creativity and autonomy (Singh & Richards, 2006). This awareness has resulted in a growing literature on contributions of TESOL teacher education to teacher identity construction. Different procedures for teacher development have been reported as conducive to teacher identity formation, such as action research (Trent, 2010), collaborative reflection in group meetings (Farrell, 2011) and online communities (Hsiu-ting, 2008), paired-placements (Dang, 2013), and critical reflection (Abednia, 2012). However, there seems to be a paucity of published research specifically focusing on how teacher learners negotiate their identities during their conversations with each other and the teacher educator in the classroom. The present paper reports on how this takes place in a TESOL Graduate Certificate of Education in Australia. An analysis of two critical dialogues, in which a teacher educator’s ideas are questioned by the teacher learners, shows how these dialogues instantiate a constructivist and transformative discourse of teacher education despite the wider technical-rational discourse, and, therefore, promote the identity of teachers as transformative intellectuals.


February 18. Researching demotivation: What has been done and what can be studied?

Presenter: Dr. Keita Kikuchi, Kanagawa University

After Dörnyei (2001) introduced the topic of demotivation to our field, many researchers have studied what demotivates second language learners. In this talk, the presenter first will give a brief overview of research related to learner demotivation. Using his own studies (Kikuchi, 2015), he will then discuss what future studies may focus on next. Research on learner demotivation should be classified into studies of demotivators, the process of demotivation, and demotivated states. At the end of the presentation, he will point out methodological issues when studying demotivation and welcome participants to consider how they can design “publishable” studies.


February 25. The integration of linguistic and non-linguistic information in L2 processing

Presenters: Ms. Hyunah Ahn, UHM

The recent decade has seen a rise of studies that focus on difficulties L2 learners experience when multiple sources of information have to be processed simultaneously (Clahsen & Felser, 2006; Sorace, 2011; Sorace & Filliaci, 2006). Reviewing findings from the recent literature in L1 and L2 processing and acquisition, Philips & Ehrenhofer (2015) argued that processing, predictions, and multiple-domain information integration form a triad of language learning essentials and called for research that delves into the issue of processing information from multiple domains.

The talk will introduce a dissertation that investigates the integration of linguistic (definiteness) and non-linguistic (world knowledge) information in L2 processing. Four experiments investigate (1) if L2ers have the same linguistic knowledge of definiteness as uniqueness as L1ers, (2) if both L1ers and L2ers can use the linguistic information of “definiteness as uniqueness” to predict upcoming linguistic materials, (3) If L1ers and L2ers share the same type of world knowledge, and (4) how L1ers and L2ers react when linguistic and non-linguistic information refer to the same or different referents. The findings show that (a) L2ers are slow not shallow processors, (b) they can use linguistic information to predict upcoming linguistic materials, and (c) the dominance of non-linguistic information in processing, which influences not only L2 but also L1 processing, should be factored in to discussing language learning and teaching.


March 10. Writing workshop for underserved, multilingual adolescent girls

Presenters: Ms. Priscila Leal & Dr. Betsy Gilliland, UHM

This presentation describes developing and teaching a workshop about writing a college or scholarship statement of purpose (SOP) to support adolescent girls’ school retention and college attendance through academic literacy and understanding of application processes. This project, therefore, not only intended to teach the girls to write a particular genre, but also to teach them about resources supporting college-going and career readiness.

Six 90-minute meetings led the girls from brainstorming to polishing an SOP. Ten to fourteen girls ages 12 and 19 attended the weekly workshops in a community-based youth program and completed their SOPs. As low-income Pacific Islanders, a Hawaii population at high risk of dropping out of school, the girls were still learning academic English and navigating the school system. Data including drafts of the girls’ statements of purpose and audio recordings of workshop discussions throughout the workshops were collected.

In this presentation, we describe the workshop sessions and their respective goals and products with a focus on the girls’ experiences and writing during the project. We show examples of the girls’ writing and talk about how they were supported to share their personal stories with each other as inspiration for deeper understanding of the genre of the SOP and of what institutions look for in scholarship applicants. We share resources and engage the audience in discussion of the processes and of possibilities for incorporating similar workshops in other contexts with which they are familiar.


March 17. An argument-based evaluation of blended learning in the English Language Institute

Presenter: Dr. Ruslan Suvorov, UHM

Blended learning has become commonplace in foreign language education. While numerous studies have investigated blended learning at the micro-level of individual CALL applications or in the context of a language classroom, there is a perceived dearth of research on blending technology in language instruction at the level of an entire program, or meso level. The issue is further complicated by the lack of a rigorous heuristic method for evaluating blended learning approaches in modern language programs, despite the existence of research on foreign language program evaluation. To address this gap, this semester-long case study conducted in the English Language Institute (ELI) at UHM adopted an argument-based framework (Chapelle, Enright, & Jamieson, 2008; Kane, 2006) to undertake a meso-level evaluation of (a) participants’ views on blended learning, and (b) main factors affecting the implementation and sustainability of blended learning approaches in the ELI. This four-stage evaluation entailed constructing an argument by outlining claims, inferences, warrants, underlying assumptions, and types of evidence required to support the claims. Evidence obtained from semi-structured interviews with language instructors and program administrators, student surveys, and the ELI documentation was analyzed and utilized to present and appraise the argument. Implications of using an argument-based framework for blended language program evaluation will be discussed.


April 7. Second/Foreign Language Teacher Expertise: A Workshop

Presenters: Carrie Bach, Ricky Domingo, Danny Farias, Emily Gazda, Kevin Gomoll, Dong Hwa Kang, Peggy Kang, Bozheng Liao, Naemi McPherson, Min Namkoong, and Huy Phung

The study of expertise in teaching has been motivated by the professionalization of teachers. It is claimed that expert teachers possess sophisticated knowledge and skills. But within the field of second and foreign language (L2) teaching, teacher expertise is a topic that does not receive a great deal of attention. The workshop will begin with review of the relevant findings of research on L2 teacher expertise, focusing on the main characteristics. Then workshop participants will develop their own programs to examine their teaching.


April 14. Development, funding opportunities, DSLS, and you

For many a professional in academia and the nonprofit sector, obtaining funding is an essential, if not indispensable, skill in keeping one’s research alive and disseminating the results of that research.

The objectives of this presentation are threefold: (1) to provide an introduction to the main concepts and practices in the field of fundraising, a.k.a. development, so that early-career professionals in the Department of Second Language Studies can gain a better understanding of the larger context of where funds come from, how funds are developed, and why gaining a wider perspective on the source of funds can help in applications for funds; (2) to discuss Second Language Studies funding opportunities available to students for furthering their academic work; and (3) to make visible the fundraising successes that the Second Language Studies Student Association has already accomplished.

Fundraising is an often overlooked area in professional learning. This presentation makes the connection between fundraising, funding opportunities, and why it’s necessary for teachers and students alike to build upon their skills and understanding in these areas so that they can reach beyond perceived financial boundaries in their own professional development.

SaraLyn Smith is Director of Development at the UH Foundation with responsibilities for UH Mānoa Arts and Humanities; Languages, Linguistics & Literature; and Libraries.

Additional presenters include SLS Department Chair Graham Crookes, SLS Program Specialist Emily Lee, and SLSSA Co-Presidents Dan Holden and Carrie Bach.


April 21. Tips for publishing in Second Language Studies – Brown Bag Organized by SLSSA Academic VPs

Faculty Panelists: Dr. James Dean Brown & Dr. Gabriele Kasper, UHM
Graduate Student Panelists: Prem Phyak & Jay Tanaka, UHM

How do you get your work published during your time in the Department of Second Language Studies? The goal of this panel is to share some tips of publishing with graduate students in our program and related fields: how to find research topics, how to plan out the writing schedule, and how to reach research sources. This panel is going to discuss these issues from the varying perspectives of both current PhD students in SLS and SLS faculty members. The panelists will first talk about their own experiences in academic writing, and then have a general discussion about getting their work published. In the second part of the Brown Bag, the attendees will be encouraged to ask their own questions concerning the challenges, opportunities, and/or technical issues in publishing, such as presenting conference papers, publishing journal articles, and publishing books.