The Center for Language Acquisition (CLA) is a research unit in the College of the Liberal Arts at The Pennsylvania State University.
SCT & SLL Research Working Group: XXth Annual Meeting
20th Sociocultural Theory and Second Language Learning Research Working Group Meeting
September 26-28, 2013
The XXth annual SCT & SLL Research Working Group Meeting was hosted by the Center for Language Acquisition and the Center for Advanced Language Proficiency Education and Research (CALPER) at Penn State.
This three-day event featured hour-long sessions involving 20-minute presentations of scholarly works in progress, followed by intensive audience feedback and discussion. Presenters and attendees hailed from a wide range of institutions and countries.
The full schedule of events is available here. Further information about the SCT & SLL Research Working Group, as well as links to previous years' meeting schedules, is available at sctresearch.org. Questions regarding past and future program events may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
CLA INVITED SPEAKER SERIES
February 3: Lecture from Professor Elizabeth Bernhardt
Dr. Elizabeth Bernhardt, Professor of German and Director of the Stanford Language Center, presented an invited lecture entitled:
"Revisiting three key dilemmas in second language reading"
Date: Monday, February 3, 2014
Time: 4:00-5:30 p.m.
Location: 22 Deike Building
This presentation focuses on three unresolved dilemmas in discussions of second language reading. The first dilemma, the proficient reader or proficient text, is the most publicly contentious. Some investigators search for features of text that render some texts more difficult than others and then superimpose those features onto a notion of second language reading development. Others search for reader behaviors as indicators of comprehension development independent of text type or genre. Until there is an understanding of the dilemma rather than a dismissal of it, little progress can be made in understanding the phenomenon of second-language reading. The second dilemma, strategy instruction or comprehension instruction, has received little or no research attention. In fact, teaching comprehension in a second-language is virtually unheard of, masked by strategy instruction. In parallel to the proficient texts-readers dilemma, little progress can be made in the field until it distinguishes between teaching strategies and teaching comprehension. The final dilemma, L1 or L2 in the instruction or assessment of L2 comprehension, confronts a long-held dogma regarding the exclusive use of the foreign language. Yet the role of L1 literacy in L2 literacy is undeniable. Until there is an acceptance and understanding of the L1 in L2 literacy development, the field risks suppressing the key strength that any L2 learner possesses. The paper contends that these dilemmas are stifling progress in developing knowledge about the second-language reading process and will argue for a reader-based model of proficiency that embraces literacy knowledge that second-language readers already possess.
Elizabeth Bernhardt is the John Roberts Hale Director of the Language Center at Stanford University. Her research focuses on second-language reading, teacher education, and policy and planning for foreign- and second-language programs. She has received multiple awards for her scholarship and leadership in second language education, including the MLA's Mildenberger Prize for her book Reading Development in a Second Language, and the Distinguished Service to the Profession Award from the Association of Departments of Foreign Languages (ADFL).
April 14, 2014: Dr. Holbrooke Mahn (University of New Mexico) will deliver the Gil Watz Memorial Lecture at 4 p.m.
Details regarding this upcoming lecture will be posted shortly.
October 16: Lecture from Professor Charles Goodwin
Dr. Charles Goodwin, Professor of Applied Linguistics at UCLA, presented a lecture entitled:
"The Co-operative organization of human action"
Date: Wednesday, October 16
Time: 4:15-5:45 p.m.
Location: Foster Auditorium, Paterno Library
Human action is built by actively combining materials with intrinsically different properties: language, prosody, gesture, embodied participation frameworks, and materials in the environment. The simultaneous use of different kinds of resources to build single actions has a number of consequences. First, different actors can contribute diferent kinds of materials to the construction of a single action. Someone with aphasia who cannot produce lexical and syntactic structure can nonetheless contribute crucial prosodic and sequential materials to a local action, while appropriating others' lexical contributions, and thus become a powerful speaker in conversation, despite catastrophically impoverished language. Second, action can be built through transformations of the materials provided by a prior action. Third, the distributed, compositional structure of action provides a framework for developing the skills of newcomers within structured collaborative action. Combinatorial heterogeneity sits at the heart of human action in interaction, creating within the unfolding organization of situated activity the distinctive forms of transformative collaborative action in the world.
Charles Goodwin is Professor of Applied Linguistics at UCLA. His interests include video analysis of talk-in-interaction, cognition in the lived social world, aphasia in discourse, languagein the professions, and the ethnography of science. His publications include Rethinking Context (co-edited with Alessandro Duranti), Cambridge, 1992), Conversation and Brain Damage (Oxford, 2003), and a wide range of journal articles.
November 13: Lecture from Professor Michael Ullman
Dr. Michael Ullman, Professor of Neuroscience, Linguistics and Psychology at Georgetown University, gave the following lecture:
"Do we learn language in the same brain systems that rats use to learn a maze? Evidence from a multidisciplinary investigation of first and second language"
Date: Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Time: 3:45-5:15 p.m.
Location: 112 Chambers
Increasing evidence suggests that language learning and use crucially depend on two long-term memory systems in the brain, declarative memory and procedural memory. Because the behavioral, anatomical, physiological, cellular and genetic correlates of these two systems are quite well-studied in animals and humans, they lead to specific predictions about language that would not likely be made in the more limited study of language alone. This approach is thus very powerful in being able to generate a wide range of new predictions for language -- including for first and second language, individual differences, and a range of language disorders.
I will first give some background on the two memory systems, and then discuss the manner in which language is predicted to depend on them. One of the key concepts is that to some extent the two systems can subserve the same functions (e.g., for navigation, grammar, etc.), and thus they play at least partly reduandant roles for these functions. This has a variety of important consequences for normal and disordered language. I will then present multidisiplinary evidence (behavioral, neurological, neuroimaging, electrophysiological) that basic aspects of language do indeed depend on the two memory systems, though in different ways across different unimpaired and impaired populations. I will discuss normal first and second language, individual and group differences (e.g, sex differences), and our work on disorders, focusing on developmental disorders (e.g., Specific Language Impairment, dyslexia, autism, and Tourette syndrome.)
Dr. Ullman is Professor in the Department of Neuroscience, with secondary appointments in the Departments of Neurology, Linguistics and Psychology, at Georgetown University. He is Director of the Brain and Language Laboratory and the Georgetown EEG/ERP Lab. His research examines the brain bases of first and second language, how language and memory are affected in various disorders (e.g., autism, Specific Language Impairment, aphasia, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Huntington's diseases), and how such factors as sex, handedness, and genetic variability affect the brain bases of language and memory.
CLA Travel Grants
Travel grants are available through the Center for graduate students for travel to/from conferences.
Download the Center for Language Acquisition travel grant application
Students may also apply for Department of Applied Linguistics travel grants.
Download the Applied Linguistics travel grant application
Notice: The Center and Applied Linguistics forms used for submitting requests for travel funding have both been updated. Please review the latest form, and verify that you are using this version when submitting a travel request.
Gil Watz Dissertation Grants
The Center for Language Acquisition, in conjunction with the College of the Liberal Arts, provides up to five dissertation research awards per academic year for doctoral students working on a dissertation in applied linguistics. For more information click here.
Gil Watz Visiting Scholars Program
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