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Language Resource Center

Events of 2018-2019

February 7
Thursday, February 7, 4pm Stimson G25
Followed by reception

Carol Chapelle
Distinguished Professor, Department of English and Linguistics
University of Iowa

"CALL Out of Class"
Technology brings a growing number of resources to language learners outside their regular hours of classroom learning. Many teachers take advantage of such resources by assigning CALL for homework assignments and even by developing hybrid, or blended, courses. Hybrid courses, requiring a fraction of the students' traditional seat time to be spent working online out of class, have shown promise when they are well designed and executed. Therefore, a central question in foreign language teaching today is how to design language learning activities for hybrid courses.
This presentation begins by briefly summarizing research results on hybrid language learning. It then outlines principles and practices to be explored for developing hybrid learning through the use of resources easily accessible through the internet. Principles are drawn from current theory in second language acquisition that emphasizes the individual and multifaceted nature of language learning. Such dynamic accounts include the need for students to use language to construct and interpret meaning as well as to engage with interesting content. Theory today encompasses a full range of concepts from the cognitive (e.g., noticing) and conversational (e.g., translanguaging) to the social (e.g., collaboration) and cultural (e.g., languaculture). These and other concepts are applied in pedagogical approaches such as task-based language learning and study abroad, but how can technology-mediated hybrid learning use such concepts to support and strengthen current classroom practices, particularly in the early stages of language learning? The principles and examples of hybrid language learning practices will stimulate participants' creativity by presenting ideas for use of CALL out of class.

Bio: Carol A. Chapelle is Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State University. Her most recent books are The Handbook of Technology and Language Learning and Teaching (Wiley, 2017; edited with S. Sauro) and Teaching Culture in Introductory Foreign Language Textbooks (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016). She is editor of The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics (Wiley, 2013) as well as co-editor of Language Testing and of the Cambridge Applied Linguistics Series of books. She is past president of the American Association for Applied Linguistics and former editor of TESOL Quarterly. Her research investigates language learning materials, particularly the use of technology in language learning and assessment.

Join us live on Zoom:
March 27
Wednesday, March 27, 4pm Stimson G25
Followed by reception

Sarah Mercer
Professor, University of Graz, Austria

"The Secret Ingredient of Effective Language Teaching:
Teacher Wellbeing"
The presentation will be via videoconference on Zoom

Teachers are the key to effective teaching. What they do matters enormously to their effectiveness as educators, but also who they are as a person matters possibly even more. Typically, professional development courses focus on what teachers can do for learners and the kinds of techniques and methods they can use, with an almost total neglect of the teacher as a person. However, as teachers, our attitudes, emotions, and motivations are defining for how we approach our professional roles. As Palmer states, "we teach who we are" (2007, p. 1).
In this workshop, we will focus on our professional wellbeing and sustainable steps we can take to ensure we are in the best possible frame of mind to teach to the best of our abilities. In particular, we will focus on combating stress, promoting positive emotions, enhancing physical wellbeing, addressing work/life balance and managing workplace relationships. Positive teacher wellbeing is not an indulgent luxury; it is the foundation on which effective and engaging teaching is built.

Bio: Sarah Mercer is Professor of Foreign Language Teaching at the University of Graz, Austria, where she is Head of ELT Methodology and Deputy Head of the Centre for Teaching and Learning in Arts and Humanities. Her research interests include all aspects of the psychology surrounding the foreign language learning experience. She is the author, co-author, and co-editor of several books in this area including Towards an Understanding of Language Learner Self-Concept, Psychology for Language Learning, Multiple Perspectives on the Self in SLA, New Directions in Language Learning Psychology, Positive Psychology in SLA, Exploring Psychology for Language Teachers (Winner of the IH Ben Warren Prize), and Language Teacher Psychology.

Join us live on Zoom:
April 16
Tuesday, April 16, 4:30pm Stimson G25
Followed by reception

Charlene Polio
Professor, Michigan State University

"Are Some Languages Really More "Difficult" to Learn?"
The U.S. Foreign Service Institute (FSI) created a table suggesting that for English speakers, certain languages take longer to learn than others. The FSI classified languages such as Spanish, as category I languages and other languages, such as Chinese, as category IV languages based on how long it took English learners to reach a certain level of proficiency. Although the table has been widely reproduced in the media and cited in applied linguistics articles, there are no empirical studies to support or refute the claims made by FSI. The first part of this talk will address what has been said about language difficulty and how that concept has been defined. I will also summarize the empirical research from second language acquisition that details what is known about which grammatical structures may be challenging.
I then report on a small-scale study that tracks differential progress across languages. The participants (N=40) were beginners of Spanish (category I), Russian (category III), and Chinese (category IV) in a summer domestic immersion program. The participants were tested at the end of their program on the American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) reading and listening tests and on the ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview. We also observed four different instructors of the beginning levels of each language and interviewed the directors of programs.
Despite the small sample size and self-selection of participants into languages, some trends emerged. First, as the FSI table predicts, all students of Spanish reached the Intermediate Mid level in reading while students of Chinese showed a median score of Novice Mid, and in Russian, a median score of Intermediate Low. Second, there was little difference among the three groups on the speaking test, suggesting that at the lower levels, when input is maximized, the FSI table may be misleading. Third, the listening results were difficult to interpret because the Chinese students' listening scores were both lower than the other groups' and below their speaking scores. Information from observations and interviews provide tentative explanations for the listening scores.

Bio: Charlene Polio is a Professor and Associate Chair in the Department of Linguistics & Germanic, Slavic, Asian & African Languages at Michigan State University, where she teaches in the MA Program in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and the Second Language Studies Program. Her main area of research is second language (L2) writing, particularly the various research methods and measures used in studying L2 writing as well as the interface between the fields of L2 writing and second language acquisition. She has also published and done research in the areas of second language acquisition, foreign language classroom discourse, and behavior differences in novice vs. experienced teachers. She is the co-editor of TESOL Quarterly and the past associate editor of the Modern Language Journal.

Join us live on Zoom:

September 28
Friday, September 28, 4pm Stimson G25
Followed by reception

Celeste Kinginger
Penn State University, Department of Applied Linguistics

"Language Learning in Intercultural Encounters Abroad"
Among educators and students, study abroad is routinely interpreted as a prime context for language learning. In effect, evidence exists to show that student sojourns abroad can be beneficial for all aspects of language development but that they are especially useful for fostering the social-interactive and pragmatic capacities least amenable to classroom instruction. Taking these findings as a point of departure, in this presentation I will argue for the value of in-country language learning as a multimodal and multisensory process in which language learning is contextualized within the intercultural encounters of everyday life. We will first consider selected studies documenting the effects of study abroad on socio-pragmatic abilities, as this research generates questions about how these abilities emerge from experience. Secondly, we will focus on recent studies examining contextualized processes of learning various languages (e.g., Chinese, French, English) in study abroad contexts, including homestay mealtimes and service encounters. Next, we will consider some of the ways in which these processes can be constrained such that students and hosts may not always profit maximally from their interactions. In conclusion, I will offer some suggestions for students wishing to enhance their language learning experience in study abroad settings.

Bio: Celeste Kinginger is a Professor of Applied Linguistics at the Pennsylvania State University, where she teaches courses in second language acquisition and education as well as advanced seminars, most recently, Narrative Approaches to Multilingual Identity and Second Language Pragmatics. She is affiliated with the Center for Language Acquisition in the University's College of Liberal Arts. Her research has examined telecollaborative, intercultural language learning, second language pragmatics, cross-cultural life writing, and study abroad. Her current work includes research on the learning opportunities afforded to students of French and Chinese during mealtime interactions abroad, and a nationwide survey and qualitative investigation of language study abroad alumni, funded by the U.S. Department of Education.
October 25
Thursday, October 25, 4:30pm Stimson G25
Followed by reception

Patsy Lightbown
Professor Emeritus, Concordia University

"Putting Form-Focused Instruction in its Place"
The goals and methods of foreign-language teaching change over time. Furthermore, at any given time, the goals and methods of teaching can be quite different in different contexts. It may also be said that the goals assumed by the teacher or the curriculum are different from those in the minds of the students. Indeed, within a class or program, students' goals and learning preferences differ across individuals.
Teaching and learning activities are sometimes discussed in terms of the relative importance of meaning-focused instruction and form-focused instruction. Traditional approaches to language teaching often emphasized rules, patterns, and vocabulary in anticipation of the time when students' basic knowledge of language form would be sufficient to allow them to use the language in meaning-focused activities. Other teaching approaches have emphasized a focus on meaning, delaying or minimizing attention to form, assuming that language form will gradually be acquired incidentally (or "naturally") as learners focus their attention on understanding and producing language that carries interesting and important meaning.
Research on language learning and teaching has largely confirmed the common-sense notion that students need both form-focused and meaning-focused learning activities. The challenge, of course, is in finding a balance between these important pathways to language knowledge and skill and in determining how that balance may change over time as learners' proficiency changes. At every stage of language development, it is important to put form-focused instruction in its place.

Bio: Patsy M. Lightbown is Distinguished Professor Emerita (Applied Linguistics) at Concordia University in Montreal. Since the 1970s, her research has focused on the importance of time in second language learning and on the complementary roles of meaning-focused and language-focused activities. She has studied the acquisition of French, English, and Spanish in classrooms in Canada and the U.S. Her 2014 book Focus on Content-Based Language Teaching appears in an Oxford University Press series that she co-edits with Nina Spada, with whom she co-authored How Languages Are Learned (OUP), an award-winning introduction to second language acquisition research for teachers, now in its fourth edition.
November 16
Friday, November 16, 4pm Stimson G25
Followed by reception

Christian Hilchey
Lecturer, University of Texas, Austin

"Open Media and the Next Frontier in Open Education"
Much of our experience as language instructors involves the use of closed materials, whether in the form of copyrighted textbooks, workbooks, or media such as popular music and film. Foreign language instructors have embraced the widening availability of internet media resources as a way of enhancing instruction. However, not all media resources are licensed equally and copyright concerns are often an impediment to sharing materials built using these media resources more broadly. How can we encourage sharing of materials and development of rich curricula that meet the needs of our students and foster proficiency?
This talk will begin with a presentation of Reality Czech, an open curriculum currently under development at the University of Texas at Austin. I will discuss the rationale for creating an open textbook as well as some of the ways using open resources has shaped the trajectory of the curriculum. I will argue that open resources can not only meet the needs typically met by copyrighted works, but often represent a better option for both instructors and students.
A large portion of this talk will be dedicated to demonstrating how the experiences gained during the development of the Reality Czech curriculum are more broadly relevant to language educators as a whole. Valuable openly licensed content is easily accessible, often with minimal searching. I will present strategies for discovering rich and usable materials on common media repositories and search engines (Google, Wikimedia, Flickr, Forvo, Pixabay, Youtube, etc.) as well as discuss various methods for editing them and integrating them into our courses.

Bio: Christian Hilchey is a lecturer in the Department of Slavic and Eurasian studies. He received his PhD in Slavic Languages and Linguistics from the University of Chicago in Spring 2014 and has taught at the University of Texas since the Fall of 2014. He has taught Czech language classes at UT from Beginning to the Advanced level (1st-5th year Czech). His interests include language teaching pedagogy and is currently writing an online open textbook Reality Czech along with the Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning (COERLL).

Join us live on Zoom: