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Open Access Publications from the University of California


The L2 Journal is an open access, fully refereed, interdisciplinary journal which aims to promote the research and the practice of language learning and teaching. It publishes articles in English on all aspects of applied linguistics broadly conceived, i.e., second language acquisition, second language pedagogy, bilingualism and multilingualism, language and technology, curriculum development and teacher training, testing and evaluation.

Volume 3 Issue 1 2011


Rethinking the role of language study in internationalizing higher education

This article critically examines current discourses of internationalizing higher education both inside and outside the humanities and considers whether some contemporary practices and positions taken on by departments of languages, literatures and cultures might actually undermine public perspectives on language study by encouraging conceptually reductive views of language. Three common myths about language study that commonly surface in discussions of internationalization are then identified and analyzed, with the intention of exposing the discursive traps that scholars of languages and literatures often set for themselves and finding new ways of explaining our potential role in institutional efforts to internationalize curricula.

L2 Arabic Dialect Comprehension: Empirical Evidence for the Transfer of Familiar Dialect Knowledge to Unfamiliar Dialects

Arabic is a diglossic language, and learners must become competent in both Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and a spoken dialect. However, Arabic dialects are typically not taught in U.S. classrooms. One reason is the question of which dialect to teach? This study looks at two cases of transfer between familiar dialect listening ability and unfamiliar dialect listening ability. The first is between Egyptian and Levantine dialects, where one is familiar and one is not (EL transfer). The second is from Egyptian and/or Levantine dialects to Iraqi, Saudi, and Tunisian dialects when the speakers of these latter dialects are accommodating towards MSA (Accommodation transfer). In both cases, correlations and partial correlations revealed significant and positive relationships between the comprehension of unfamiliar dialects and both familiar dialect listening ability and MSA listening ability. Multiple regression analysis revealed that familiar dialect listening ability was a significant predictor of unfamiliar dialect listening ability for EL transfer, and MSA listening ability was not. For accommodation transfer, both familiar dialect listening ability and MSA listening ability were significant predictors of the comprehension of unfamiliar dialects, although MSA listening ability was slightly better. The implications of these results for the Arabic classroom are discussed.

Team Teaching Beginning Spanish at a University: A Democratic Model

This study centers on a pilot project conducted at a research university to develop a democratic team teaching model for beginning language classes. The goals of the project were to design a solid model for delivery of the daily class material by two different instructors and to measure satisfaction with the model on the part of students and instructors. Written and oral evaluations by students showed a high level of satisfaction because of the exposure to two different accents, teaching styles and types of cultural presentations. Students also said they liked having the benefit of the different strengths of the two teachers. The instructors expressed high satisfaction because of the experience of collaboration, the greater amount of time that could be dedicated to each class preparation and the reduced amount of time spent in commuting to work.

Writing Instruction and Policies for Written Corrective Feedback in the Basic Language Sequence

This study presents results of a May 2009 online survey that asked foreign language program directors at U.S. universities about corrective feedback options their teachers use in response to student writing in beginning and intermediate courses. Survey categories included: 1) general information, 2) general written corrective feedback (WCF) policies, 3) specific WCF types applied at different instruction levels, and 4) open-ended commentaries. Results indicate a number of common tendencies: 1) teachers in most programs provide WCF on multiple drafts of student writing; 2) the number of programs with uniform writing policies has been recently increasing; and 3) written feedback on holistic aspects in addition to surface-level error correction is expanding. The study concludes with suggestions for further research and pedagogical applications.

The Acquisition of Verbal Agreement in Instructed Italian L2A

Researchers propose that L2 learners acquire the abstract features of agreement at relatively low levels of L2 proficiency (Bruhn de Garavito, 2003a, 2003b). However, some argue that there is also evidence for the use of default forms in learners’ errors (McCarthy, 2007, 2008), and that these may be predicted based on the morphological underspecification hypothesis (MUSH). Studies in Italian child L1A (e.g., Pizzuto & Caselli, 1992) and Italian adult L2A (e.g., Banfi & Bernini, 2003) have found evidence for the use of such variability and for defaults, in particular 3rd person singular forms. Similar results have been found in studies on the acquisition of L2 verbal inflection in other languages, including Spanish (McCarthy, 2007). Other views (e.g., the MSIH) propose instead that inflection is generally correct and that defaults surface as nonfinite/ bare forms not inflected ones (e.g., Prévost & White, 2000).

This present study examined the acquisition of verbal agreement in both comprehension and production by 85 university-level L2 learners of Italian. By analyzing accuracy rates, evidence was found for the acquisition of agreement morphology even at low levels of proficiency, particularly in comprehension. Although error rates were generally low, patterns emerged whereby certain persons of the verb (especially the 3rd person singular) were used as defaults to replace other forms. It is argued that results provide support for no impairment in adult L2A in general, and for the MUSH in particular.

The Cultural Identities of Foreign Language Teachers

Foreign language teachers are often migrants. They have traveled and lived in other countries either to learn or to teach a language. In 2005, Domna Stanton characterized language teaching as a cosmopolitan act-- “a complex encounter made in a sympathetic effort to see the world as [others] see it and, as a consequence, to denaturalize our own views” (629). Do foreign language teachers ‘denaturalize’ their views of their native culture through their encounters with the other culture? Could it be that “engagement with the Other necessarily mean[s] an abnegation of the inherited culture” (Mani, 2007, p.29)?

This study investigated not only in how far foreign language teachers affiliate with more than one culture but also how this cultural identity affects their classroom practice. To what extent do foreign language instructors claim multiple cultural identities? What advantages and disadvantages do foreign language instructors experience in the classroom in respect to their cultural identities? To what extent do foreign language instructors feel their cultural identity is relevant in the classroom? Results showed that foreign language instructors engage with their cultural affiliations intellectually, by embracing but not embodying “the other” culture.