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Speaker: Marilia Ferreira

Title of presentation: Contributions of Cultural Historical Activity Theory to Academic Literacy


Academic literacy in English has become a high valued commodity due to the
internationalization of universities and the increasing pressure upon postgraduate students
and academics, specially from non-English speaking countries, to publish in well-ranked
international journals. There are several perspectives that study academic literacy: from more
textual approaches like corpus linguistics (Hyland, 2004, 2008) and English for Academic
Purposes (Swales & Feak,2004) to more sociological ones like Academic Literacies, based on
the New Literacies movement (Lea and Street, 1998; Lillis and Curry, 2010) and with a
geopolitical view (Canagarajah (2002). The aim of this talk is to discuss the contributions of the
cultural historical activity theory perspective to the topic and how it sheds light on several
issues like concept formation, mediation, dialectical thinking, and practice. These issues will be
discussed based on data from an academic writing course in English for Brazilian graduate
students which was implemented using Davydov's pedagogical approach (Davydov,1988).





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.