Center forLanguage Acquisition

students watching instructor



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 assessment 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), a Title VI National Language Resource Center funded through the U.S. Department of Education, now in its fourth funding cycle
  • Instructed second language acquisition
  • Teaching and learning of foreign literatures and cultures
  • Study abroad
  • Language proficiency assessment
  • Development and analysis of learner corpora
  • Gesture in thinking and speaking
  • Crosslinguistic study of metaphor
  • Language awareness
  • Research methods

CLA Enrichment and Support Activities include:

  • Invited Speaker Series featuring internationally recognized experts in the areas of second and foreign language acquisition and applied linguistics (with generous support from Gil R. Watz, George C. and Jane G. Greer, William J. and Catherine Craig Kirby)
  • Language Teaching Forum
  • Penn State Fellowship in Foreign Language Education
  • Professional development seminars and workshops in language pedagogy
  • Downloadable teaching materials (via CALPER )
  • Gil Watz Fellows Program (for doctoral students) and Visiting Scholar Program (for faculty)
  • Support for faculty research projects
  • Travel Grant support for graduate students presenting at major national and international conferences in Applied Linguistics
  • International Summer Institutes in Applied Linguistics (2002, 2005, 2009)
  • Co-sponsorship of conferences and symposia, including Second Language Research Forum (2004), Pennsylvania Applied Linguistics Conference (2010), Dialogue and Dementia (2011), Pennsylvania State Modern Language Association (2011, 2014), Sociocultural Theory and Second Language Learning (2000, 2013)