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Leila Ranta (2019)

Speaker: Leila Ranta

Date of Talk: November 11, 2019

Location: Foster Auditorium

Title and abstract: 

Can SLA make more of a difference? Grappling with the research-practice divide in relation to grammar instruction

Many would agree with the statement that grammar instruction is an important component of second language learning and teaching. It has been a core activity of language teaching over the centuries and, more recently, an active area of enquiry among second language acquisition researchers. But the question remains whether and how the findings from this growing body of theory and research can actually help teachers teach grammar more effectively. Indeed, the image that is commonly evoked of the relationship between research and theory, on the one hand, and on teaching practices, on the other, is that of a divide. In this presentation, I will discuss different issues relating to this relationship including a review of the findings from the form-focused instruction literature; examination of some evidence relating to whether research has influenced the teaching of grammar; and presentation of a pedagogical framework for grammar instruction that I use in my teacher education courses. In the last part of my talk, I will consider the question of what this all means for how researchers plan form-focused studies so that they may be more relevant to language educators.  



Dr. Leila Ranta is an Associate Professor in the TESL program in the department of Educational Psychology at the University of Alberta. She received her graduate training in applied linguistics at Concordia University in Montreal where she was involved in several large-scale research projects dealing with the effect of form-focused instruction. One of these, a study of corrective feedback in French immersion co-authored with Roy Lyster and published in Studies in Second Language Acquisition was awarded the Paul Pimsleur Award for Research in Foreign Language Education in 1998. Her other research activities have dealt with the topics of L2 aptitude, fluency, and naturalistic language exposure. Leila Ranta is currently co-editor (with Xavier Gutiérrez) of the journal, Language Awareness and serves as a member of the executive of the Association for Language Awareness. She has also served as a board member of the Canadian Association of Applied Linguistics and of the Quebec and Alberta ESL teachers associations (SPEAQ and ATESL).