Conference Abstracts

Papers: Abstracts
(listed alphabetically by author)

Language Practices, Identity, and Negotiating Membership: The Affordances of Social Networking Sites.

Amani Alageel
(University of Arizona)

Second language researchers have recently turned attention to the linguistic, social, and cultural affordances that online  spaces offer for L2 leaners (Black, 2006, 2007; Lam, 2000, 2004, 2009). Adopting a multiliteracies perspective (Gee, 1996; Knobel & Lankshear, 2008; New London Group, 1996), this study aims to understand how the affordances of social networking sites (SNSs) have made them perfect environments for creative multilingual language practices that, enhanced by multimodal affordances and changes in power relations, have enabled L2 learners to enact their bilingual identities and legitimate their voices as speakers of the L2. Drawing on the theoretical concept of imagined communities (Wenger, 1998; Norton, 2001) helped to understand how social networking with an imagined global audience increased the three participating youths‘ possibilities for creative language use and experimentation with global identities. The research methodology was also enriched by the affordances of the SNS investigated, which enabled the researcher to conduct a longitudinal  ethnographic case study, including participant observation, field notes, retrospective interviews, and discourse analysis of the participants’ posts. The results of the multilayered analysis show how the youths used English and code switching in a creative and innovative “recognized ways” to “generate, negotiate, and communicate” personal and literal meanings, enact  multiple selves, such as competent English speakers, bilinguals, and glocal persona, and to participate in multiple local and global, imagined and actual communities. The study sheds light on the interplay between technology affordances, language practices, and identity performance.

The use of grammatical metaphors in native and non-native PhD dissertations

Nawaf Alsallami
(Iowa State University)

Grammatical metaphors occupy a dominant place in academic writing  (Halliday, 1985). It is one of the main qualities that distinguish academic writing from spoken language and other registers of writing. This importance warrants extensive investigation of how grammatical metaphors are used and the frequency by which they occur in published academic writing. For second language (L2) learners, familiarity with grammatical metaphors could help them in approximating the writing norms of their target academic domains. This study seeks to contribute to our knowledge about grammatical metaphors by analyzing their patterns of use in native and non-native PhD dissertations. By employing computational techniques for analyzing text, this study was able to examine a corpus of six PhD dissertations (224158 tokens) from the discipline of Applied Linguistics. The computational tool developed for this study had an accuracy of 0.67, a precision of 0.56 and a recall of 0.94. Furthermore, the tool had 0.60 inter-rater reliability (IRR) agreement with one human rater and 0.26 with a second human rater. The two human raters had 0.53 IRR agreement with each other. Results show differences between native and non-native dissertations in the frequency of grammatical metaphors per thousand words and the diversity of grammatical metaphor types.

A computational perspective on linguistic form and meaning

Evgeny Chukharev-Hudilainen
(Iowa State University)

This theory-oriented paper will discuss conceptual viewpoints on the relationships between form and meaning and their implications for applied computational linguistics. Onomasiological schools of linguistic thought, such as Czech functional structuralism, systemic functional linguistics, and cognitive grammar, have been very productive in the theoretical description and explanation of language. However, the applications of these theories in computational approaches to language study have been limited. Although in part this limitation has to do with the inherent “rejection barrier” (Piotrowski, 1999) between natural and artificial intelligence, we believe that the strengths of human and computer ways of producing and perceiving language can be synergized in hybrid (human-computer) language processing tools.

Based on Leontyeva’s (2006) model of “soft” understanding of natural texts and Piotrowski’s (1999) concept of linguistic automaton, we propose a framework for the development of hybrid (human-computer) tools in applied computational linguistics, with special emphasis on computer-assisted language learning. We will demonstrate the applications of our framework on the example of the development and operations of an emerging automated writing evaluation system. In the development phase, our framework informs the processes of the elicitation and formalization of linguistic knowledge. At run-time, the automated system allows for “graceful fallbacks” to human analyses of meaning. We believe that such combination of human and automated processing of texts in a hybrid system can benefit the efficiency of the system.

The role of the interpersonal in modes of technology-mediated feedback in ESL writing

Kelly Cunningham
(Iowa State University)

This study uses a systemic functional linguistics (SFL) framework to look at how the mode of technology influences the way feedback is given in an intermediate ESL writing course for the purpose of revision. Following a study of twelve participants who revised based on feedback given by electronic text or screencast in a counterbalanced design over four assignments, the screencast feedback itself was studied initially with a qualitative key word analysis. This analysis brought up elements of the interpersonal metafunction, which prompted further analysis using this lens to better understand the differences between the two technology-mediated modes of feedback.

This presentation will explore the use of the interpersonal in technology-mediated feedback on intermediate ESL writing and its potential impact on the use of feedback for revision by tying this discussion of the interpersonal metafunction with a focus on modality to the observed student use of feedback, rate of successful revisions tied to feedback and survey responses and interviews relating to student perceptions of the feedback. These findings suggest that simply changing the technology used to provide feedback, and by doing so changing the mode in which it is provided, in second language writing, we may better address the interpersonal and in doing so, feedback shifts in such a way that become more approachable, understandable and thereby effective for revision.

Computational analysis of word choice errors in a learner corpus of Spanish students of English

Fiorella Dotti
(Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)

Lexical errors are abundant on learner corpora. Most of them, such as spelling errors and false friends, have been thoroughly addressed by previous studies. Word choice errors (errors that do not fall in any of the previous categories, and that are simply incorrect for that sentence, but not grammatical errors) present a challenge from a computational point of view. As a consequence, the research process is slowed down, since linguists have to manually code these errors in order to be able to properly address them. This considerably raises the cost of carrying out research in this area.

In order to process data in a more efficient and economical way, I propose a method for automatic recognition of word choice errors in a corpus of Spanish students of English at the university level, taking into account both their native language and the target language. The reason for using both languages is meant to be able to make a distinction between errors that are motivated by interference, so as to aid researchers working on interlanguage transfer.

Even though existing automatic correction systems are often able to find an error and sometimes propose a correction, they do not attempt to identify the underlying cause, rendering them insufficient to researchers and teachers trying to assess the difficulties that their students are experiencing. To promote uniformity, I have used (with permission) an existing annotation scheme used in Spanish universities (as defined by the TREACLE project) in this system.

Addressing Article Errors in a corpus of Spanish learners of English: an alternative approach

Fiorella Dotti, Mick O’Donnell
(Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)

One of the most common errors in the language of English learners involves the incorrect presence of absence of the article in noun phrases. We offer a restatement of the problem in a clarified model of the critical referential contexts which condition article presence or absence in English. We hope that a simpler scheme will help understand the issues involved and allow for easier annotation without compromising a detailed analysis of student errors.

Our particular interest is with the teaching of English as a Foreign language in a Spanish University context. We wish to identify which of the various referential contexts are most problematic for our language learners and to explore how each of these error types evolve with increasing proficiency.

To realize this study, we used a subset of the WriCLE corpus (Rollinson and Mendikoetxea 2010), as annotated for errors under the TREACLE project (Murcia Bielsa & MacDonald, 2013). This error-annotated corpus consists of 78 essays (around 67,000 words) by University learners of English. 7,330 errors are identified, of which 671 involve incorrect absence or presence of the article. Each essay is associated with a proficiency score provided by the Oxford Quick Placement Test (UCLES, 2001).

We extended the coding in terms of providing the referential contexts of the error by identifying various issues including:

  • whether the entity being referred to is abstract or concrete; or generic or specific;
  • issues related to the syntactic environment of the expression in the L1 (under the assumption that learners are translating from their L1)

The contribution of parallel corpora to the development of academic literacy

Leticia Giesta
(Federal University of Campina Grande – Brazil)

The attention to academic literacy as a social practice entrenched in values and actions of particular disciplines allows teachers and students to go beyond grammatical structures and isolated vocabulary to exploring discourse practices and communicative behaviors. This presentation will illustrate the importance of understanding linguistic and rhetorical resources in disciplinary discourses in L2 reading practices, and the contribution of parallel corpora to the development of academic literacy. To do so, results from a study of lexical elements identified as frequent in Physics academic discourse will be presented. The analysis is based on a bilingual parallel corpus (Portuguese/English) consisting of 868 PhD thesis abstracts in Physics and their translations, selected from the top-rated PhD programs in Brazil from 2009 to 2012. Lexical elements from the Academic Word List (Coxhead, 2000) and the Academic Vocabulary List (Gardner & Davies, 2013); 4-word clusters considered by Hyland (2008) as frequent in academic discourse; and reformulation markers (Hyland, 2007) were identified and analyzed in the corpus. The analysis has allowed identifying linguistic patterns in the target language, as well as in the source language, characterizing aspects of that particular academic discourse. The most frequent structures and functions were explored and compared to what is found in the literature. Finally, multimodal activities that provide opportunities for students to observe and discuss how other members of their academic community use discourse were created. These data have allowed the exploration of parallel corpus for research and pedagogical purposes, supporting the argument that parallel corpus contributes to developing academic literacy.

Grounded ethnography and functional discourse analysis for foreign language curricular development

Jesse Gleason
(Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven)

Differences between the way language is taught at the upper and lower division has been dividing modern language departments for decades (Byrnes, 2002; Maxim, 2005; MLA, 2007). By preparing learners for future advanced target language use situations, third year foreign language(FL) courses have a unique opportunity to be a rich testing ground for discovering the ways that language learning and technology are most effectively integrated across levels. Chronicling a collaborative partnership between an instructor and an applied linguist, this multiple case study harnessed grounded ethnographic methods (Charmaz, 2006; Glaser & Strauss, 1967) in conjunction with systemic functional discourse analysis (Martin & White, 2005; Mohan, 2011). Specific findings revealed that while grammar tasks were beneficial for building up students’ knowledge of language form, culture and writing tasks were instances for the teacher to support students’ understanding of how language construes content. Four specific task types and two instructional technologies were shown to effectively help learners develop their academic discourse in third-year courses. This study makes a contribution to the fields of Spanish-as-a-FL and blended language learning by showcasing the types of technology and tasks that are beneficial for students’ language development in third-year FL courses. Furthermore, it outlines how grounded ethnographic research coupled with systemic functional discourse analysis can facilitate the development of technology-enhanced FL curricula across levels.

 @LanguageUser #L2_4_me_2

Jennifer Gray,
Lauren Primuth
(University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Our presentation focuses on language learners claiming “the right to speak” through the use of Twitter. When communicating, the unequal power dynamic between language learners and native speakers is apparent. Bourdieu (1977) wrote, “speech always owes a major part of its value to the value of the person who utters it” (p. 652).  However, social media interrupts this hierarchical structure.  Because Tweeting is an individual’s expression of the self as interpreted by others, language learner identity construction is a logical step in the process. According to Norton (2000), the term identity “[references] how a person understands his or her relationship to the world, how that relationship is constructed across time and space, and how the person understands possibilities for the future” (p. 5). Learners of a language often negotiate what it means to be a language learner, struggling to gain fluency in the target language. Through this negotiation they work to define their identity as not just a learner but also a user of the language, navigating through their position relative to native speakers and fellow language learners and users. Through the use of Twitter, we claim that students were able to join the conversation.

The participants of this study were beginner and intermediate level students of French (n=20) enrolled at a small liberal arts college. The participants were monitored using pre- and post-surveys and by the observation of individual Twitter feeds, conducted on a weekly basis. The data was coded for who is tweeting @who, #thepurpose and character usage.

(Re)claiming Voices: Digital Storytelling (DST) and Second Language Learners

Yurimi Grigsby, Carolyn Theard-Griggs, Christopher Lilly
(Concordia University Chicago)

Technologies are changing the way we teach and learn languages. Digital storytelling has been implemented as an instructional strategy in language education since the early 2000s (Vinogradova, 2014). Meadows (2003) defines digital stories as short, individual, multimedia stories. Vinogradova (2014) regards them as including verbal, visual, and even musical narrative components that are often autobiographical and deeply personal forms of expression. As a teaching and learning strategy, DST has been shown to be beneficial for connecting content with prior knowledge (Martin, 2010) and memory enhancement (Schank, 1990), as well as encouraging a higher level of confidence and motivation for learning (Grisham, 2006). Several researchers have explored the unique narrative qualities of DST that center on identity negotiation and the myriad ways in which culturally and linguistically diverse students make meaning out of project-based multimodality and its complexity (Burgess, 2006; Hull & Nelson, 2005; Li, 2007; Meadows, 2003). DST addresses and supports current communities of practice theory (Lave & Wenger, 1991) through its collaborative nature.

Digital storytelling has increased rapidly within second and foreign language education because it is highly adaptable to content, it is based on and promotes student engagement, and it facilitates the growth of the classroom as a community of practice (Vinogradova, 2014). This presentation will examine the representative research behind digital storytelling for the second language learner, and offer some strategies for its implementation into practice. This presentation will also explore the critical implications DST holds for teaching and learning in the 21st century multiliterate classroom.

Promoting Positive Classroom Dynamics and Performance in Second Language Teaching: Connecting Learning Environments with the ACTIVote Component of Interactive Whiteboard Technology

Fan-Wei Kung
(Queen’s University Belfast)

This study examines the teaching of the ACTIVote component of interactive whiteboard technology (IWT) in an English for specific purposes (ESP) context at two universities in the US. While the potential of IWT has received much attention nowadays in the field of computer assisted language learning (CALL), little empirical research attempts have been endeavored to ascertain the effectiveness and teachability of this technology. To fill this gap, sixty-four English as a second language (ESL) learners were recruited with their data gleaned through various ethnographic approaches including classroom observations, researcher journal, video, audio recordings, semi-structured interviews and pre-post questionnaires to explore their perceptions and attitudes underpinning their learning trajectories via IWT. The ACTIVote component in IWT was further probed and examined in this study based upon learners’ uses and preferences observed in class. Results indicated that learners are able to pinpoint several pedagogical benefits of using IWT for their language learning. It was further discovered that IWT could substantially facilitate L2 learning processes by affording learners more autonomy which fosters positive classroom dynamics. Privacy and other variables were found to influence their affect tremendously through this technology. This presentation will not merely delineate how the ACTIVote component of IWT could be utilized in an ESL context, but also provide several important pedagogical implications for language teachers for effective L2 teaching and learning via IWT.

Measuring Second Language Writing Development: The Emergence of Functionality

Stephanie Link (Iowa State University)

Studies of second language (L2) development traditionally use measures of syntactic and lexical complexity, accuracy, and fluency (CAF) to describe different features of learners’ production and proficiency (Housen, Kuiken & Vedder, 2012; Wolfe-Quintero, Inagaki, & Kim, 1998). From a complex systems perspective, the interaction between the CAF constructs provides understanding of learners’ collective patterned behavior (Larsen-Freeman, 2006); however, current CAF measures are heavily influenced by assessing word- and sentence-level abilities of learners and often ignore discourse beyond the sentence and learners’ ability to construe meaning and content. The present paper argues for the inclusion of a functionality construct to assess learners’ meaning-making abilities, thus extending the triad to that of CAFF (complexity, accuracy, fluency, and functionality). A longitudinal, case-study design was conducted to assess the development of two individual learners as they completed two levels of English as a second language (ESL) academic writing courses. Multidimensional measures of CAF constructs were used to gauge L2 writing development. Additional measures from a systemic functional view were established to demonstrate the emergence of functional language for real world purposes. Findings showed that both learners followed unique developmental trajectories with struggles in different sub-constructs of CAF. However, the two learners were most distinct in their demonstration of functional abilities. The results add to existing knowledge of multivariate measures for assessing L2 writing development and support the development of an automated writing evaluation tool that provides individualized diagnostic feedback for theory- and data-driven teaching and learning.

Capturing L2 learners negotiating for meaning

Aurore Mroz
(Colby College)

This paper will discuss the gains in terms of research methodology that the use of video screen capture has led to in a research study focusing on the L2 learners’ critical thinking process. Intermediate students of French at the college-level worked in a team to solve a complex problem while being immersed in a 3-D virtual learning environment (Cinet Second Life), serving as a narrative anchor for the problem at stake. Students’ avatars’ interpersonal interactions (verbal and non-verbal) were recorded during the 10 days of their collaboration, and served as the primary data in a mixed methods study to investigate the functions of students’ discourse, beyond its form, in order to determine the nature of their critical thinking process through episodes of sustained
negotiation of meaning.

Leveraging Technology to improve College Freshmen America Sign Language Composition

Kristin Mulroony, Frank Griffin
(Gallaudet University)

Gallaudet University has been a bilingual institution since it was established in 1864. Although the manifestation of it’s ‘bilingual’ mission has evolved over time, Gallaudet University has always focused on improving students American Sign Language (ASL) and written English to a diverse linguistic population of whom some are learning ASL as a second language. A challenge that educators have had is how to effectively give feedback on a language that does not have a written form. Further, how to help students recognize that language of ASL is a tool that can be used for different purposes and one’s effectiveness using it can be improved. ASL, as a lesser studied language as compared to English, means instructors have far fewer educational resources available to use in how to instruct students to improve their ASL compositions. As instructors of one of the first college-level ASL composition courses in the U.S., we have leveraged two types of technology to help mitigate these challenges.

The two technologies that used were: Lecture Capture Video and QuickTime Pro Screen-recorder. In this talk we describe the benefits these technologies have had on our ability to teach ASL composition as well as the impact these technologies had on students’ ASL compositions.

A Linguistic Analysis of Aviation English in Korean English as a Foreign Language Context

Moonyoung Park
(Iowa State University)

Aviation English can be defined as a comprehensive but specialized subset of English for Specific Purposes (ESP) related broadly to aviation which consists of both the plain language and aviation phraseologies for radiotelephony communications. A decade of research exploring aviation English in radiotelephony communication has highlighted the limitations of the non-native English speaking air traffic controllers’ and pilots’ poor command of English as a possible threat for aviation safety. Hence the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) policy requires non-native English speaking air traffic controllers and pilots to bring their English to an appropriate standard. Responding to urgent needs for aviation English training, this study aims to identify the characteristics of actual spoken aviation English and to build small specialized aviation English corpus for aviation English training and testing. This study uses a corpus analysis to investigate the collocation, lexical bundles and frequency of the target corpus, and also employs a discourse analysis to reveal the characteristics of aviation English transcripts. The present study is based on the 114 episodes of aviation radiotelephony discourse recorded in an air traffic control tower and three Flight Coordination Centers (FCC) in Korea exemplifying routine air traffic control situations involving native English speaking pilots and Korean English speaking air traffic controllers. Findings highlight unique features of aviation English corpus focusing on the grammatical, textual, functional, and sociolinguistics aspects and will be useful for language teachers and test developers for aviation English testing and training.

Toward Improving L2 Phonetic Skills Using Speech-Recognition

Faizah Sari
(Surya University)

Previous studies suggest that there is a lack of consensus in the term ‘intelligibility’ when it comes to international intelligibility of English as L2 varying from intelligibility as ‘a blanket term’ to the current ‘higher-level concept of understanding’ (Jenkins, 2000). However, in the actual process of learning L2 speakers still need pedagogical help in overcoming issues in achieving basic L2 phonetic skills, at least on the interlanguage level, such as producing the correct articulation or determining stress placement. This study explored integration of technology in an L2 pedagogic environment (Lys, 2013; McNeil, 2014) through the learner’s own speech samples. Speech data were sampled from a diverse group of participants consisting of 38 L2 speakers of Taiwanese and Indonesian background based on a list of English words and phrases typically challenging for Asian speakers (Sari, 2011). Audio data were digitally measured and compared to those of identical lexical produced by native speakers on online dictionaries through its listening tool and to a corpus of English interaction. The results suggest that L2 learners experience improvement in L2 phonetic skills in particular ways using the acoustic support, and that the integration provided room for developing a voice-recognition tool to help L2 learners overcome phonetic problems that are unique to L2 contexts, for instance, specific sounds and/or the suprasegmentals. Additionally, this study found a middle ground between an audio input of original speech of the L2 speaker and a database of native sounds using Pocketsphinx that adequately addressed L2 speaker’s phonetic skills.

Utilizing Technology to Facilitate Learner Autonomy

Kyle Talbot, Kate Hein
(University of Iowa)

Researchers have suggested that learner autonomy should be seen as an essential goal of all second language learning. By transferring responsibility and ownership of the language learning process from the teacher to the students through curriculum design, both teachers and learners can become empowered: teachers, through the ability to further understand their students’ expectations, goals, and motivations, and students, in the sense that they have more control of their own learning and thus may demonstrate increased motivation to take responsibility for their own learning processes. This presentation reviews principles of language course design to promote learner autonomy, and suggests practical ideas of how technology can be utilized in order to more effectively facilitate increased learner autonomy.  This presentation details how a variety of different technological resources can help teachers meet the practical challenges of facilitating autonomy among heterogeneous learners. Through demonstrations and handouts, attendees will be familiarized with such tools as Evernote, Voicethread, Twitter, Jing, and other applications that are readily available and easily adaptable for classroom use.

 Why do(n’t) language learners enjoy serious games?

Arthur Wendorf

(University of Texas at Austin)

Researchers have argued that serious games have great potential as educational tools for a variety of different reasons. One of the most frequently cited reasons is the idea that digital games are enjoyable. However, empirical research has revealed that serious games are not considered to be as enjoyable as had been predicted. If digital games are not enjoyable for learners, then the question arises: Are they are worth pursuing as a tool for language instruction?

My hypothesis during this study was that adult language learners could find digital games enjoyable if these games were incorporated into actual class settings. I compared the data from previous studies with the data from my own study. The game used in my study was designed to teach participants vocabulary that they needed to learn for their class. Participants were also offered in-class credit. They rated their enjoyment on a Likert scale and filled out a detailed questionnaire in which they explained the ratings they had provided.

The results from this study indicate that participants did in fact tend to rate the game in this study as more enjoyable than the participants in other studies had rated the games used in those studies. The analyses of the comments also reveal that participants were largely incapable of distinguishing between how enjoyable the game was and how helpful they thought it was. I argue that these results confirm my hypothesis that the context of a serious game has a direct impact on learner enjoyment.

Chinese Language Learners’ Online Communication with Native Speakers for the Purpose of Completing a Culture Project – An Exploratory Study

Shenglan Zhang
(Iowa State University)

Being able to communicate with native speakers online to help and get help and being able to collaborate with people from a different culture are two of the most important objectives in foreign language learning. The main purpose of this study is to investigate the Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) process between Chinese learners in America and native speakers of Chinese in China. This study explores 1) how beginning level Chinese learners interact with native speakers of their age in a college in China via Skype or QQ for the purpose of finishing a presentation project on Chinese culture or comparison between Chinese culture and American culture, 2) how the beginning level learners feel about this experience, 3) whether there are any difficulties that the learners have in the process of CMC with the target language native speakers and what they are, if any. Data include participants’ chat history, their reflection on this experience and a survey. The result shows that participants used many face to face communication strategies as well as strategies specific to online communication. There are stages of meaning negotiation and development of communication skills and growth of mutual understanding. Despite the problems caused by the time difference, cultural difference, and technological difference, the participants expressed that this experience was very beneficial for their current learning and their future interaction with native speakers.

Posters: Abstracts
(listed alphabetically by author)

State Exams in Spain: New Perspectives For Fairer Language Tests through the OPENPAU Project

Miguel Fernandez
(Chicago State University)

Jesus Garcia Laborda 
(University of Alcala de Henares, Spain)

Spain has a remarkable deficit of foreign language knowledge as proved by the European Survey of Language Competence. Most students, who may have studied up to 12 years of foreign language, hardly achieve a lower intermediate competence level in reading and writing and elementary in Speaking. Based on the expected benefits of positive washback on language education the OPENPAU project began in 2012 in Spain. It intends to support standardized tests as a positive asset in language education. The only standardized language test in Spain is the Foreign Language section in the University Entrance Examination (PAU). The paper has a traditional reading-writing-grammar construct that needs to be renewed in order to improve its impact, reduce the delivery costs, make performance more realistic and authentic and improve its accountability. This poster introduces such topics such as the use of computer and alternative delivery means (such as ubiquitous language testing, mobile based language testing and so). Apart from these, the Spanish OPENPAU project is actually researching of the effect of the Zone of Proximal Development and its application in high stakes testing through Dynamic Assessment and Interactional Competence. The poster intends to show the effects and proposals of the OPENPAU project in light of current developments done in the USA. The poster has three main sections: 1) the testing situation in Spain in high stakes language testing, 2) technology based developments and 3) the benefits and current pilot studies in Dynamic Assessment for authenticity and realistic production.

L2 as Computer Display Language: Incidental Vocabulary Acquisition through Computer Tasks Unrelated to Language Learning

Margaret Godwin-Jones
(Pyatigorsk State Linguistic University)

Incidental vocabulary acquisition has often been defined as “the learning of one thing, e.g. vocabulary, when the learner’s primary objective is to do something else, e.g. to communicate” (Laufer and Hulstijn 10). Given this definition, how will vocabulary be acquired when the primary objective is non-communicative, or even not related to language at all? For example, a learner wants to upload pictures to Facebook, but all toolbars and menus on his computer are set to Russian. Will he acquire technological vocabulary as he completes his non-communicative task?

Today’s younger learners are considered to be very technologically savvy. Therefore, setting a computer’s display language to a student’s L2 should not impede computer usage, as students already know which menu options contain which functions. This will also help promote digital literacy in the L2 and force the student to be a more independent and motivated learner, thus increasing learner autonomy.

Frequency has also been shown to play an important role in learning vocabulary (Peters 75-76). If a learner’s computer is set to his L2, he will see certain lexica every time he uses his computer, which in today’s “plugged-in” society means very frequently. How will this affect not only incidental vocabulary acquisition, but also correct translations of collocations? If Hillary Clinton’s translator had his computer set to Russian in 2009, for example, he likely would have correctly translated “reset” based on the Russian word “to restart (a computer)” after seeing this word every time he opened his file options.

Rethinking Intermediate Language Instruction Through a Modular E-textbook

Robert Godwin-Jones
(Virginia Commonwealth University)

The optimal teaching and learning environment for intermediate language learning provides a solid core of basic language resources, but also allows for sufficient flexibility to accommodate a variety of student abilities/backgrounds, learning goals, and personal/professional interests. This is difficult to accomplish using a traditional print textbook. What is needed is a modular approach, which combines content common to all students enrolled, with options to work in areas of need or interest. I am creating a modular e-textbook for German to be shared as an OER (open educational resource) textbook, combining a basic grammar reference and a reader. While the readings and media are often linked to particular language structures, there is a recommended but no required sequencing order, allowing learners to review, preview, and advance as needed or desired. The e-textbook combines grammar tutorials with readings from a variety of copyright-free sources, as well as multimedia (short video and audio clips). The tutorials and modules are created using standard HTML. They can be used as standalone resources, integrated into a learning management system, or combined into an e-textbook. I’ve also begun importing the HTML into the EPUB 3 format, so that the modules can be accessed through e-readers.

Maximizing Vocabulary Instruction through Screencasts

Kate Hein, Kyle Talbot
(University of Iowa)

The need for focused instruction on second-language vocabulary is well-established in the literature. While this instruction may be explicit or implicit in nature, there seems to be a desire among students for explicit explanations of lexical items, particularly those items which appear in textbook lists. By using free software to record instructional screencasts, teachers can design and deliver vocabulary lessons which encompass multiple dimensions of word knowledge, including contextual usage and collocational behavior. Screencasts allow teachers to present vocabulary through definitions, visuals, and example sentences culled from corpora such as Just-the-Word and the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA), thus moving beyond mere memorization of definitions to considerations of the functions and uses of lexical items in context. By delivering explicit instruction outside the classroom, teachers may use class time to develop students’ productive vocabulary knowledge through interactive activities that require students to think critically and creatively about the target vocabulary in context.

This presentation will include a brief overview of relevant research on the teaching and learning of vocabulary, including the role of productive practice in the development of active vocabulary knowledge. The presenters will demonstrate how to make a vocabulary screencast using free software. Attendees will receive a bibliography and a step-by-step guide to making and using screencasts for vocabulary instruction.

Weblogs in the ESL Speaking Classroom

Yuchiao Huang, Diana Yukhno
(Northern Arizona University)

How can weblogs enhance learners’ speaking skills and be integrated into speaking classes? Many studies (e.g., Sun, 2009) focus on the usage of weblogs in ESL classes for improving learners’ reading and writing skills. However, there is little research investigating the effectiveness and implementation of weblogs in speaking classes. In order to explore this issue, several empirical studies aimed at the role of e-portfolios and voice blogs in developing speaking skills were reviewed. This paper will begin with an introduction to weblogs. An example of the implementation of these weblogs in speaking classes will be demonstrated. Students’ perceptions of weblog use and effectiveness will be also addressed. The results of the literature review indicate that weblogs advance students’ fluency, vocabulary richness, and language quantity. Though no significant development of syntactic complexity of students’ oral production results from weblog use, students have a positive attitude toward usage of weblogs in speaking classes. Participants will learn the benefits of using weblogs as well as methods and techniques for incorporating them into classes for improving learners’ oral performance.

Ideational meaning in “instructional discourse” on a speaking test for prospective ITAs

Zhi Li
(Iowa State University)

Using Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) as an analytic framework, this study investigated prospective international teaching assistants’ (ITAs) “instructional discourses” in the TEACH section of Oral English Certification Test (OECT) at a large Midwestern university. OECT, an institutional English speaking test for prospective ITAs, offers four levels of certification (Level 4, Not certified to Level 1, Fully certified) and its TEACH section contains a 5-minute simulated mini-lecture on an introductory topic in a specific subject. A small balanced corpus was formed with the TEACH performance data from 40 prospective Chinese and Korean ITAs in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). The corpus data were annotated with a coding scheme of the transitivity system under the SFL framework, which embodies the Ideational Metafunction of language and refers to the way people construe the world with linguistic resources at clause level. Major elements in a transitivity system include Participant, Process, and Circumstance. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression analysis were conducted to distinguish the use of transitivity system by prospective ITAs of different OECT levels. Analysis of concordance lines of the coded features was conducted to complement quantitative findings. The analysis results show that there are some noticeable differences in the use of Participant types and Process types by fully certified and uncertified ITAs, which indicate their different approaches to content delivery and stance construction in their mini-lecture. The findings in this study could be informative to both rating scale development for the TEACH section of OECT and ITA courses.

Using YouTube to Enhance L2 Listening Skills: Animated Cartoons in the Italian Classroom

Stefano Maranzana
(University of Arizona)

Today’s language teachers find increasing resources online that allow greater variety of authentic material. With the opportunities offered by digital video, the traditional listening comprehension activity has reached new potential for incidental learning and learner’s autonomy (Robin, 2011). While conscious attention is on the message delivered by the audiovisual, learners assimilate new words from context without intending to do so, stimulating incidental vocabulary learning (Carlisle, 2007). Video’s inherent multimodality makes sensory information available in various semiotic codes, allowing to the comprehension of information via separate channels (Guichon & McLornan, 2008).

This case study involves three students of advanced Italian at a large American University. It will argue in favor of video cartoons as a valuable tool to foster a constructive environment for the acquisition of the L2 (Bahrani, 2014). Specifically, we will look at British award-winning preschool cartoon Peppa Pig in its Italian version. The rationale for choosing this particular cartoon includes: 5 minutes of episode length, authentic interpersonal language and descriptive prose, slow pace of speech, familiar every-day and humorous stories, free online access and the possibility to activate captions. Furthermore, this cartoon may be used for listening comprehension for the 30 other languages in which it has been translated.

Feedback from university-level students confirms the potential of this particular cartoon and will be presented in this poster. Students reported strong motivation due to the low affective filter environment (Rule & Ague, 2005) as well as improvement in areas like vocabulary, pragmatics and idiomatic expressions from contextual clues.

The development of an automated speech recognition supported video game for learning Spanish vocabulary

Todd Paben (University of Texas at Arlington)

Due to the scarcity of opportunities for output in the language learning classroom, many learners are forced to focus on the receptive skills of language learning, and thus lack a balanced development of functional language. Because video games have become a daily activity for a majority of young learners (Rideout, Foerh, & Roberts, 2010), video games that integrate automated speech recognition can be used to increase opportunitiesfor output.   This poster presentation will introduce a work in progress on a video game for learning Spanish vocabulary.  The game teaches vocabulary through presenting the player with new words and phrases along with a situation in which the vocabulary must be used to achieve an in-game objective, a principle in line with theory on task-based language teaching (Ellis, 2009). Automated speech recognition, a critical feature of the game, is used as a means for the players to control the gameplay with their voices while at the same time learning new vocabulary. The process of selecting vocabulary based on frequency of use while at the same time using the vocabulary functionally has proven to be a significant challenge in the design of the game. In the presentation, the game will be presented briefly and the strategies used to meet the frequency/function challenge will be discussed. These strategies can perhaps provide a different perspective on our understanding of the connection between the acquisition of the functional use and corresponding forms of newly acquired vocabulary.