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Invited Speaker Series


Speaker: Dr. Anna Stetsenko

Date of talk: Mar 29, 2017

Title of presentation: Agency and Commitment to a Sought-after Future: Reclaiming Activism in Research and Theorizing


Recent advances in research and theories at the intersection of psychology and education have focused on situated, dynamic and culturally mediated processes. However, these approaches rarely address the ethical and axiological dimensions of the dominant onto-epistemologies and, as a result, do not offer sufficient grounds on which to resist current marketization of science and education. This talk will discuss a broadly dialectical-transformative approach, in expanding upon Vygotsky’s project, to address this gap. This approach offers a unique worldview underwritten by an activist stance premised on ideology of equality and social justice. The focus will be on how agency and commitment to a sought-after future are indispensable constituents of theorizing, methodology, and onto-epistemology that always entail and demand activist stance.


Speaker: Dr. Peter Smagorinsky

Date of talk: Feb 22, 2017

Title of presentation: Towards a social understanding of Mental Health


Dr. Smagorinsky will discuss his most recent work in neurodiversity which takes a social perspective on “disability” and “disorder,” viewing them as relational and situational rather than fixed in pathology. This talk will center on “mental health” as both whole-body and environmental and challenge assumptions about how to construct satisfying life pathways for the neurodiverse population. (See attached flyer for full abstract.)



Speaker: Dr. Olga Esteve

Date of talk: Jan 30, 2017

Title of presentation: "Helping Teachers to Reconceptualize their Teaching Practice through the Barcelona CBI-based Formative Model”


In the field of language teacher education in Europe, over the past years an increasing number of researchers and language teacher educators have engaged in a process for reshaping language teacher education programs in order to bridge the gap between theory and practice and promote a more meaningful appropriation of the pedagogical principles underlying the new official curricula for additional language learning. If we focus exemplarily on the Spanish region where I am based, i.e. Barcelona, this reshaping process has already had a considerable effect on teacher education programs, following the introduction of a new formative model (Esteve et al, in press). This model is based on a sociocultural perspective of language teacher development  (Johnson, 2009; Johnson and Golombek, 2016) and is carried out through an external dialogic mediation drawn both on the Vygotskian double stimulation principle, as applied by Engström (2011), and on the principles of Concept- based Instruction (CBI), as developed by Galperin (1992). During this process (student) teachers find their own pre-understandings about additional language teaching and learning when confronted with the scientific concepts related to the new pedagogical approach which also draws on Concept-based Instruction (Lantolf & Poehner, 2014; Negueruela 2008,2013): CBI for CBI.  In my presentation I will discuss how the CBI-principles are integrated into the design of the teacher education programs I have developed in the Barcelona region to prepare teachers to implement effective language instruction in schools. Details of program design and how teachers transferred and transformed what they learned in the teacher education program will be presented and discussed.



Speaker: Dr. Dwight Atkinson

Date of talk: Oct 03, 2016

Title of presentation: Homo pedagogicus: The evolutionary nature of second language teaching


Second language teacher educators tirelessly teach others how to teach. But how often do we actually define teaching? Without explicit, focused definitional activity on this most fundamental second language teaching (SLT) concept, it remains implicit and intuitive--the opposite of clear, productive understanding.

I therefore explore the definitional question "What is teaching?" in this paper. First, I establish the claim that the SLT literature rarely defines teaching explicitly or in any detail, most likely because of its technical "how-to" focus, and that this is a problem. Second, I introduce the idea of teaching as evolutionarily adaptive behavior (TEAB)--as existing fundamentally because it enables individual and group adaptation to our extremely varied and complex natural and social environments. Perhaps surprisingly in this context, TEAB is not uniquely human; therefore, third, I briefly summarize research on animal teaching to sharpen the focus on what may be special in human teaching. Fourth, I describe teaching as studied by anthropologists--as it varies across the broad tapestry of human societies and cultures. It turns out that classroom teaching is just one form, and a relatively rare and recent one, in our evolutionary past. Fifth and finally, I employ the results of this definitional exercise to examine, in an exploratory way, what happens in SLT environments, at least as I know them.



Speaker: Dr. Ken Hyland (Gil Watz memorial Lecture)

Date of talk: Sep 21, 2016

Title of presentation: International Publishing and the Myth of Linguistic Disadvantage


English is now more than a choice of language for those following an academic career; with globalization and growing managerialism in Higher Education, it has come to designate research of a high quality worthy of a place in peer-reviewed journals. Accompanying this dominance of English, however, are questions of communicative inequality and the possible disadvantages or even prejudice inflicted on L2 English-speaking academics.  In this paper I critically examine the evidence for linguistic disadvantage by a review of global publishing patterns, author attitudes, case studies and research into linguistic advantage together with my own interviews with EAL scholars in HK and analysis of journal peer reviews.  I show that while there is plenty of anecdotal evidence for disadvantage, framing this in terms of a coarse native/non-native distinction has serious problems and may serve to discourage non-Anglophone authors and perpetuate a deficit view of their writing.  The disciplinary conventions of disciplinary writing in English make serious demands on all academic writers, but these are less important than a lack of resources and research writing expertise.  So while a hindering factor in getting published, language is not a terminally decisive one. 



Speaker: Brian Paltridge

Date of talk: Apr 01, 2016

Title of presentation: Context and the Researching and Teaching of Academic Writing


Learning to write in the academy involves acquiring a repertoire of linguistic practices which are based on complex sets of discourses, identities, and values. These practices, however, vary according to context, culture and genre. This presentation discusses how these issues can be taken up in the researching and teaching of academic writing. It will do this, first, by examining how the notion of context is taken up theoretically in linguistics research more broadly and, then, how contextualised understandings of the use of language have been explored by academic writing researchers. It will then discuss ways in which the context in which students’ writing is produced impacts on the texts they are expected to produce and how students can be made aware of, and take account of this in their writing.



Speaker: Dr. Lourdes Ortega

Date of talk: Mar 21, 2016

Title of presentation: Multilingual Success: Continuous, Probabilistic, and Beyond Language


The phenomenon of bi/multilingualism is as old as humanity, but multilingualism has been catapulted to a new world order in the 21st century. In today’s globalized, transnational, technologized, highly mobile and wired world, increasingly numerous and more diverse populations of adults and youth live with two or more languages. Some do by choice, some by necessity, many for a complex mixture of reasons. How successful are they in their learning of new languages, ultimately? Traditionally, the field of second language acquisition (SLA) has answered this question rather pessimistically. But this may be a function of the willingness to directly compare the development of single-language competencies during early childhood to the development of multiple-language competencies later in life. This comparison is fundamentally invalid. Moreover, when multilingual success is directly compared to monolingual success, a late start will always lose out. I will explore an alternative view of multilingual success that is continuous and probabilistic, and that goes beyond language. It is continuous because the single phenomenon to be explained is the development of multiple-language competencies across the lifespan. Therefore, the same explanations can be investigated for early and late bilingualism: differential experience of language during usage events. It is probabilistic because we must make space for degrees of success, rather than categorical success or failure, for both early and late timings for multilingualism. Understandings of success must also go beyond language because strictly linguistic notions of multilingual competencies are insufficient to properly understanding the object of inquiry, since language mediates intersubjective thinking, feeling, and doing with others. A continuous, probabilistic view of multilingual success that is more than just linguistic in scope has transformative implications for SLA research and also for language teaching in educational contexts. It holds great potential to generate a research base that supports current innovative proposals for multilingual and transcultural approaches to language instruction.



Speaker: Dr. Wataru Suzuki

Date of talk: Mar 03, 2016


My talk consists of three main parts. In the first part, I will describe two theories that oriented research on the role of languaging in second language (L2) learning: sociocultural theory and cognitive psychology. The second part gives an overview of previous research findings about the effect of languaging on L2 learning. I also briefly review research regarding the role played by languaging in learning non-L2 knowledge (e.g., biology, physics, and mathematics). In the last part, I will consider implications for theory and research and then discuss L2 pedagogy.