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Language Resource Center

Events of 2014-2015

This year's events are co-sponsored by the Einaudi Center for International Studies, the Institute for European Studies, the East Asia Program, the South Asia Program, the Southeast Asia Program and the Departments of Romance Studies, Near Eastern Studies, German Studies and Asian Studies.

November 11
Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Pedagogical perspectives on error correction

Younghee Sheen
Research Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics
Department of World Languages and Cultures, American University

Wednesday, November 11, 4pm followed by reception
Noyes Lodge

The field of second language teaching and learning has seen a number of pendulum swings in how errors should be viewed. In the 1950s and 1960s, behaviorist theories of language learning that emphasized habit-formation deemed errors as damaging to learning and thus in need of immediate eradication. In the 1970s and 1980s, more nativist theories about language learning saw errors as a natural part of the learning process and thus correction was not needed. More recently, interactionist theories of language learning have reinforced the view that errors are natural and unavoidable, but also have considered errors to be 'treatable'.

What is undeniable is that language teachers have to deal with learner errors on a daily basis. How then are they to respond to learner errors given the mixed messages emanating from researchers and theoreticians? Error correction has been an intense object of inquiry in the Applied Linguistics field for at least two decades. Accordingly, a plethora of research has presented its robust findings on the efficacy of error correction and the extent to which this can be mediated by a host of individual learner factors, such as motivation, language analytic ability and working memory. Nevertheless, a disconnect remains between research and practice with regard to the utility of error correction because many teachers in the language classroom are still left with the question of what they should do about learner errors on a daily basis.

My talk will address the following questions from the pedagogical perspective: (a) What are errors?; (b) Should teachers aim to correct all errors or be selective?; (c) What criteria should teachers use to select errors for correction?; and (d) What specific ways can teachers correct oral and written errors. After providing my understanding of several key findings from the research on error correction, I will also consider each finding in terms of my own unique experience as a language learner, language teacher and teacher educator.
February 27
Friday, February 27, 2015

Principles and practices of a literacy-based approach to language teaching

Rick Kern
Professor and Director of the Berkeley Language Center
Department of French, University of California, Berkeley

Friday, February 27, 4pm followed by reception
Noyes Lodge

What principles should guide language and literacy education in the current era of globalization and intense social and technological innovation? Rather than attempting to distinguish between "new" literacies and "old" literacies, I propose an approach that brings attention to relationships between current and past literacy practices in order to prepare learners for the future. This approach focuses on the development of functional reading and writing abilities, but within the broader context of an exploration of how material, social, and individual factors influence the ways we design meaning and how mediums influence our fundamental ideas about what writing and communication are. The presentation will develop a set of principles and goals for this educational approach, then propose ways to achieve those goals through a "relational pedagogy" that focuses on how meanings emerge from interactions among material, social, and individual resources.
March 12
Thursday, March 12, 2015

Heather Willis Allen
Assistant Professor of French University of Wisconsin-Madison

Thursday, March 12, 4pm followed by reception
Noyes Lodge

April 14
Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Interactional Practices and Actions Comprising L2 Teaching

Joan Kelly Hall
Professor of Applied Linguistics Penn State University

Tuesday, April 14, 4pm followed by reception
Noyes Lodge

This presentation focuses on current research that draws on the micro-analytic power of conversation analysis to examine the multimodal practices and actions by which L2 teaching and learning are accomplished. We will take a close look at findings on two practices. The first is teacher self-talk, a practice that maintains student engagement in instruction and at the same time creates opportunities for empathetic relationships to develop between teachers and students. The second practice helps preserve L2 teachers' epistemic status as expert language knowers when their status is challenged by student questions about grammar. The findings allow us to see what really happens in L2 classrooms and thus provide us with "instructive descriptions of our worlds that rewrite how we see" (Macbeth, 2013). The presentation will conclude with a discussion of the implications of such insights for L2 teaching and teacher preparation programs.