Center for Language Acquisition at the Pennsylvania State University



The Center for Language Acquisition (CLA) is a research unit in the College of the Liberal Arts at The Pennsylvania State University. Its primary focus is conducting and supporting Applied Linguistics research on the teaching, learning, and assessment of foreign and second languages. In collaboration with foreign and second language-teaching units in the College of the Liberal Arts, the CLA also develops and disseminates second language teaching and asssessment materials based in the research paradigms of Applied Linguistics.


CLA Research Activities include:

  • Establishment and direction of the Center for Advanced Language Proficiency Education and Research (CALPER), one of fourteen National Language Resource Centers funded through the U.S. Department of Education, now in its third funding cycle
  • Research in second language acquisition
  • Research on the teaching and learning of foreign literatures and cultures
  • Research assessing the effects and efficacy of computer-mediated foreign language teaching and learning
  • Research on the assessment of language proficiency (Dynamic Assessment)
  • Development and analysis of foreign language learner corpora
  • Development and analysis of corpora based on learners' interactions with international teaching assistants (ITA Corp)
  • Creation of corpus-informed materials to support the professionalization of ITAs
  • Cross-linguistic study of metaphor
  • Research on the role of gesture in thinking and speaking


CLA Enrichment and Support Activities include:

  • Sponsorship of International Summer Institutes in Applied Linguistics (2002, 2005, 2009)
  • Ongoing invited speaker series featuring internationally recognized experts in the areas of second and foreign language acquisition and applied linguistics (with generous support from Watz, Spector, and Gorski)
  • Support for faculty research projects
  • Professional development seminars and workshops for foreign language and ESL teachers
  • Downloadable teaching materials (via CALPER)
  • Gil Watz Fellows Program (for doctoral students) and Visiting Scholar Program (for faculty)
  • Travel Grant support for graduate students attending major national and international conferences in
    Applied Linguistics
  • Sponsorship of conferences and symposia (SLRF 2004, PAALC 2010, Dialogue & Dementia 2011)
  • Support for the Migration Studies Project at Penn State


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