Skip to main content
Language Resource Center

Events of 2007-2008

September 10
Monday, September 10, 2007
Paul Toth, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Comparing outcomes for teacher- and learner-led discourse in task-based L2 Spanish instruction

Reception at 3:30, talk from 4 to 5:30, reception following
Noyes Lodge

For many years, task-based L2 grammar instruction has been viewed as the ideal means for achieving a focus on form within meaningful, purposeful communication (Ellis, 2003; Long & Crookes, 1993; Nunan, 1989). Within this framework, small-group, learner-led discourse (LLD) is claimed to better facilitate L2 development than whole-class, teacher-led discourse (TLD), given the presumed greater opportunities for negotiated interaction under LLD (Lee, 2000; Long & Porter, 1985; Pica, 1987). Nonetheless, studies directly comparing both formats are few, and recent work by Ohta (2001) suggests that TLD may benefit witnesses to negotiation as much as overt participants. This study investigates the relative strengths and limitations of TLD versus LLD by comparing quantitative and qualitative results for both formats under similar task conditions.
Participants included 78 English-speaking adults from 6 university course sections of beginning L2 Spanish, with two assigned to each treatment (LLD = 25; TLD = 28) and two others comprising a control group (n = 25). Instruction lasted 7 days and targeted the anticausative clitic pronoun se. One lesson was recorded and transcribed in each treatment group. Results on grammaticality judgment and guided production tasks administered before, immediately after, and 24 days following instruction indicated a stronger performance for TLD learners on both tasks. Although the transcript data reveals advantages for LLD that the quantitative data may not have captured, it also suggests a unique role for TLD instructors to facilitate L2 development by directing attention to L2 form and assisting learners in formulating L2 utterances. Based on these data, a proposal that teachers provide "procedural assistance" in L2 "output processing" will be made, given its potential to further L2 morphosyntactic development.
This study compares whole-class, teacher-led discourse to small-group, learner-led discourse using quantitative and qualitative data gathered under similar task conditions. Stronger outcomes for teacher-led discourse suggest that teachers, rather than learner peers, may more readily direct attention to target L2 forms and provide learners with procedural assistance in formulating output.

Paul D. Toth is an assistant professor of Spanish Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research on instructed L2 Spanish acquisition has appeared in Language Learning, The Modern Language Journal, and Studies in Second Language Acquisition. In 2002, he received the ACTFL/MLJ Paul Pimsleur Award for research excellence.

Oct 16
Tuesday, October 16, 2007, Noyes Lodge
Reception at 3:30, talk at 4, followed by reception after the talk
Integrating Task-based Instruction into Foreign Language Curriculum: A Working Model for Syllabus Design
Hong Gang Jin, Hamilton College

In the past decades, task-based language teaching (TBLT) has been recognized as a theoretically motivated and coherently articulated pedagogical approach to teaching foreign languages (Doughty and Long, 2003; Nunan, 2004; Willis, 2004). This presentation will focus on guiding principles and challenges with regard to implementing a task-based curriculum. First, I will introduce the 10 methodological principles proposed by Doughty and Long, 2003 and discuss the relevance between the methodological principles and second language instruction. Second, I will discuss benefits and challenges of integrating these principles into an effective curriculum and a series of classroom procedures. Finally, I will present a sample syllabus model of TBLT to highlight the key issues in implementing a coherent TBLT syllabus. The discussion will specifically focus on experiential-based TBLT curricular format, input-rich task design and sequencing, and form-focused and meaning-focused instructional techniques.
Professor Jin has recommended an article by Doughty and Long, as good background for the talk. This article provides an excellent summary of their 10 methodological principles, which are widely respected in SLA.
For anyone coming from off-campus, note that the number 10 bus leaves from the Seneca St. Parking Garage every 10 minutes, and stops within a block of Noyes Lodge.
Oct 26-27
Friday and Saturday, October 26-27, 2007
Symposium on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages
The German Cultural Studies Institute invites secondary and higher education teachers, faculty, administrators and other interested parties to participate in an international symposium on The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages and its effect on the teaching, learning, and assessment of languages in the U.S., to be held October 26-27. For more information and Program.
Oct 30
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
4 - 5:30, Noyes Lodge
Reception preceding and following
Language Materials based on Time-Aligned Annotated Digital Video
Alexander Nakhimovsky, Colgate University
Abstract: This talk will present a Multimedia Annotator program for creating and using multimedia-based language materials. The program makes it possible for relative beginners to use language materials based on unabridged (but heavily annotated) video recordings intended for native speakers. Samples of Russian and English language materials will illustrate the possibilities. The English materials are from advanced language courses for students of Computer Science and Economics, based on video recordings of MIT lectures and a television series. The Russian materials are based on a romantic comedy.
Nov 9
Friday, November 9, 2007
4 - 5:30 Morrill Hall 106 (note change of location)
Reception preceding and following the talk
Literary Discussions and Advanced Speaking Functions: Researching the (Dis)Connection
Rick Donato, University of Pittsburgh
This talk will present the findings of a study on the discourse features of class discussion in an advanced undergraduate Spanish literature course. Motivating this study is the need for research to determine how discussion in advanced undergraduate literature courses provides students with discourse opportunities to develop advanced language functions. Despite claims that literature classes play an important role in developing language proficiency, this issue has not received serious research attention.

Classroom transcripts were analyzed for the following features: a) discourse structure of the literary discussion, b) the use of teacher questions, c) verb tense distribution, and d) student uptake. The findings of the study will show how literary discussion affords or inhibits discourse opportunities to describe, to narrate in major time frames, to use extended discourse, to share opinions and arguments, to explore alternatives, and to hypothesize, all advanced and superior level speaking functions.

The talk will address the critical role that the study of literature plays in developing advanced language proficiency, as well as ways literature faculty and language teaching faculty might collaborate on identifying language goals for literature courses and what these goals might be.

Professor Donato is Associate Professor in the Department of Instruction and Learning within the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh where he coordinates the doctoral program in Foreign Language Education. He is a two-time winner of the prestigious ACTFL / MLJ Paul Pimsleur Award for research in foreign language education. His areas of research include innovative foreign language education in elementary schools, the relation of sociocultural theory to foreign language teaching and learning, and teaching foreign language grammar through a narrative-based approach.

This event is co-sponsored by the Departments of Asian Studies, German Studies, Romance Studies; the Africana Studies and Research Center; the Latin American Studies Program, the Southeast Asia Program and the Institute for European Studies.
Dec 4
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
LRC Fall Workshop

This event included a fairly brief overview of changes at the LRC and a demonstration of satellite TV resources and services. The LRC has put up three new satellite dishes and has reassigned the existing large movable dish. The smaller dishes allow us to receive Dishnetwork broadcasts and free-to-air broadcasts. The large dish is now receiving the International Network. We receive broadcasts in a total of 15 languages.
The teacher panels occupied most of the morning.
Feb 8
Friday, February 8, 2008
Noyes Lodge, 3:45 - 5:45pm
Reception preceding and following the talk

Advanced Language through Content and the student-centered curriculum: Two models

James Crapotta, Barnard College, and Jesús Suárez Garcia, Barnard and Columbia University.

How can we continue to develop our students' language skills and further their cultural literacy at the post-intermediate, pre-major stage? How do we create courses that shift the balance of power from the teacher to the learner? Our speakers will address these issues by first discussing the overall concept behind the Barnard/Columbia third-year Spanish course "Advanced Language through Content," with its attention to language and content. They will then discuss two versions of this umbrella course, both of which allow students to explore culture and construct meaning: (1) Cultura, a web-mediated model of telecommunication, and (2) Hispanic Cultures in the Age of Globalization, a model for extensive but focused internet exploration.
Mar 26
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Receptions at 3:30 and 5:30; talk starting at 4
Making the most of assessment and evaluation in college foreign language programs
John Norris, University of Hawaii, Manoa

In college foreign language (FL) education, we face considerable - and increasing - demand to assess our students' learning outcomes and evaluate our programs. However, while these processes are fundamental to effective and worthwhile education, their present utility in many tertiary FL settings may be limited at best. In this presentation, I first trace received traditions of assessment that have set the mold for current practice in college FL education; I also reflect on the constrained roles played by program evaluation to date. I then report key findings from a recent survey of college FL program administrators, highlighting their perceptions on the potential utility of evaluative processes, as well as their concerns and the constraints they face in getting useful assessment and evaluation done. In response, I propose a reconceptualization of how we go about assessing and evaluating by beginning with the more fundamental question of why we are doing so in the first place, and I outline a heuristic for situating each and every evaluative activity within its programmatic context, including internally-generated as well as externally-mandated assessments. I then demonstrate the kinds of supportive, even transformative, roles that assessment and evaluation can play in FL programs, in particular as approaches to dealing with the inevitable changes that are taking place across higher education and within our FL disciplines.

Dr. John M. Norris is a graduate faculty member in the Department of Second Language Studies at the University of Hawai'i. His work focuses on assessment, program evaluation, and task-based language pedagogy in second and foreign language education. He has taught language and applied linguistics, and consulted on assessment and evaluation projects, in Belgium, Brazil, Germany, Japan, Spain, and across the U.S., and his research has appeared in journals such as Foreign Language Annals, Language Learning, Language Testing, Language Learning & Technology, Modern Language Journal, TESOL Quarterly, and Die Unterrichtspraxis, as well as in several books and book chapters. Currently, he is the principal investigator for a three-year project (funded by the U.S. Department of Education) that seeks to enhance the capacities of college foreign language educators to engage in useful program evaluation practices.
Apr 7
Monday, April 7, 2008
Receptions at 3:30 and 5:30; talk starting at 4
Age and L2 Attainment

David Birdsong, University of Texas, Austin

What are the upper limits of attainment among post-adolescent second language (L2) learners? New perspectives on this question depart from the traditional emphasis on deficiency in favor of a more neutral approach to late L2 learners ' potential, an approach that considers what learners are capable of attaining alongside their shortcomings.
In this light the presentation reviews selected behavioral and brain-based studies of L2 knowledge and processing at the end state of acquisition. The talk recontextualizes well-known constraining and facilitating factors in L2 acquisition, in particular those that are subsumed under the macro-variable of age of immersion: L1 entrenchment, maturational state, experiential and psycho-social factors, biological mechanisms underlying cognitive decline and maintenance, etc. We also consider whether the evidence for age-related effects is compatible with various critical period accounts of L2 attainment.
Professor Birdsong has recommended an article that first appeared in Language Learning as background to this talk.
Apr 22
Report on the Consortium Conference based on the MLA Report: "Foreign Languages and Higher Education: New Structures for a Changed World"
We will hear brief reports from the teachers who attended the Consortium conference based on the recent MLA report. Some attendees will summarize the findings of the report and then discuss the conference itself. Here is the program from the conference. Here is an interesting and extensively commented article about the report.

Receptions at 3:30 and 5pm, event starting at 4pm
May 5 and 6
Monday and Tuesday, May 5 and 6, 2008
Noyes Lodge Language Resource Center
9am - 2:30pm each day. Light breakfast and lunch provided.
Workshop on the Use of Authentic Video in Language Teaching

Larry Vandergrift
Institute of Official Languages and Bilingualism, University of Ottawa, Canada


Benjamin Rifkin
Professor of Russian, Temple University

This was a two-step conference focused on the broad issues of language pedagogy involved in the selection and use of authentic video materials in the language classroom. Hosted by our European area studies consortium (Cornell and Syracuse) and the Language Resource Center, this event was open to teachers in all languages. About 45 teachers attended from Cornell and Syracuse. On Monday, May 5, the speakers first each gave presentations and answered questions. Professor Vandergrift's talk focused on the part of listening comprehension in SLA, the constraints for the learner in listening, and the role instructional settings can play in developing comprehension. Professor Rifkin spoke about the selection of multimedia materials, their presentation for greatest learning effect, and their integration into the all-skills curriculum. In the afternoon, the speakers addressed a practical materials project involving a specific setting and sets of materials for teaching a particular language, and they showed how they each would approach that challenge. Finally, they engaged the audience in question and answer about the deployment of these materials.

The second day, Tuesday, May 6, the language teachers from Cornell University and Syracuse met for an all-day workshop to develop specific uses of video materials for their own classrooms and to reconcile their use with the various demands of their curriculum. Teachers, in groups where appropriate, were encouraged to do some preparation in consultation with the LRC, to have media materials available to work with. The workshop was not focused on the technical aspects of video delivery, but technicians and facilities of the LRC were available for consulting. There was considerable interest in the program Ben Rifkin had used at Wisconsin, Multimedia Annotator, which he had also used to produce a large set of Russian materials online. The LRC staff offered an hour of demonstration in video editing and uploading. After a series of work sessions, the participants shared their results. Both speakers were available on Tuesday to consult with groups on their projects and to comment on the final presentations.

There were substantial behavioral change outcomes from the event. Several teachers asked for upload spaces and a good number expressed interest in using the Multimedia Annotator program were distributed.
May 7
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Noyes Lodge Language Resource Center
10am - 11:30 Light refreshments provided.
Virtual seminar on "grammaring" with Diane Larsen-Freeman

[Information from their website]
Teaching grammar often means giving students grammar rules and then having students practice the rules in drills and exercises. Students do learn about grammar this way, but they don't necessarily learn to use it for their own communicative purposes. Grammaring is a dynamic process. It is what enables ESL/EFL students to use grammar structures accurately, meaningfully, and appropriately. In this Virtual Seminar, we will learn about grammaring, how it is learned, and how to teach it.


Diane Larsen-Freeman is Professor of Education, Professor of Linguistics, and Research Scientist at the English Language Institute, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA. She is also a Distinguished Senior Faculty Fellow at the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont. Her recent books include The Grammar Book: An ESL/EFL Teacher's Course (2nd edition, co-authored with Marianne Celce-Murcia), Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching (2nd edition), Teaching Language: From Grammar to Grammaring, and Complex Systems and Applied Linguistics (co-authored with Lynne Cameron). She is also Series Director for Heinle's Grammar Dimensions: Form, Meaning, and Use, just out in its 4th edition.
Sep 25
Enter Date Here
Description of event goes here

Long Description here.