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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.


From the L2 Journal Editor

Announcing new managing editor.

Cross-Cultural Understanding in Immersion Students: A Mixed Methods Study

This mixed methods study explored the development of cross-cultural understanding in a unique population of students in the U.S.: English-dominant students who had attended French or Spanish elementary immersion schools. Despite the fact that immersion schools have as a goal cross-cultural understanding and appreciation and affirmation of diversity, research has shown that this goal is not always met. This study featured one hundred thirty-one students from five immersion schools who responded to surveys, and 33 of those students who were interviewed. Data analysis procedures included a theme analysis of the interviews, a statistical analysis of the surveys, and an integrated consideration of the findings. It was found in both the quantitative and the qualitative data that the successful development of cross-cultural understanding in these immersion students was not necessarily a function of school activities. These students did not receive the same messages about the target culture(s), nor did they understand the concept of culture in the same way. However, cross-cultural understanding was certainly attainable, particularly with extracurricular exposure to the target language and culture, like living with members of the target culture(s) or undertaking meaningful travel experiences.

The “Gift”: Synesthesia in Translingual Texts

This article explores the relationship between multilingualism and synesthesia (neuro-psychological blend of senses). In the absence of research in any of the related fields, the author (a multilingual, a L2 scholar, a writer, and a synesthete all at once) views synesthesia through the lens of “translingual texts” written in L2 by multilingual authors and takes an interdisciplinary perspective, fusing L2 scholarship, cognitive theory, neuroscience, literary theory, and semiotics to investigate the complexities and subjectivities of the multilingual mind. ‘Translingual synesthesia’ appears to represent an idiosyncratic form of language emotionality and creativity, allowing translingual authors to transcend cognitive and linguistic realms and to embody L2 with personal imagery while simultaneously creating an aesthetic effect of “de-familiarization of the word” (“ostranneniye slova”).

Online Arabic Language Learning: What Happens After?

Learning Arabic, a category IV less commonly taught language, can be a daunting task even with the luxury of a five-day per week schedule, good teachers, office hours, and solid learning materials.  This study reports on the successes and challenges of teaching Arabic within a distance-learning environment.  With a grant from the Fund for Improvement of Post Secondary Education (FIPSE), the authors developed Arabic Without Walls (AWW) as a first-year online Arabic course supported by Web materials (e.g. text, graphics, sounds, short human-interest videos, and self-correcting Java-scripted exercises).  The AWW course was delivered in a Moodle wrapper with weekly chat (voice and text) sessions.  AWW was taught for two years at the University of California, Berkeley (2007--2009) under the direction of Sonia Shiri and then for two more years at the University of California, Irvine (2009--2011) by Maha Alsaffar.  The AWW course was designed to prepare students to seamlessly enter second-year Arabic with competence equal to that of those students studying Arabic in a face-to-face format.  The present study focuses on student outcomes and their reflections during and after this two-semester course.  Results showed that the main goals were achieved from both the teachers' and students' perspective.  In many cases, the small-group computer-mediated communication (CMC) sessions with sound and text gave students more personal attention than would have been possible in the classroom setting.  The overall student impression of this online learning experience suggests that AWW was a credible alternative for students who would otherwise had no access to Arabic instruction at their home institution or for those who had sought a more flexible learning environment due to their own schedules and life circumstances.


Keywords:  Online language learning, Arabic language, CMC chat

  • 4 supplemental files

The Effect of Context on the L2 Thinking for Speaking Development of Path Gestures

Different languages inherently present different thinking for speaking patterns, targeting different meaning components for expression. Previous research has demonstrated that second language learners largely tend transfer their first language thinking for speaking pattern to their second language, however, this paper presents evidence to the contrary.  Second language learners studying in the target language country demonstrate an unexpected thinking for speaking pattern. The data indicate that learners mainly use second language gesture patterns related to path when communicating in the second language.  The findings also support the notion that there are considerable linguistic benefits to study abroad that include more than just second language verbal developments; they also consist of the subtler aspects of language such as second language gesture usage.

Integrating Portfolios into the L2 Arabic Classroom

This is an action research study that reports on using student portfolios in a second language (L2) Arabic class. The goal of this study was to examine the validity of using portfolios as an L2assessment procedure and to ascertain the effectiveness of portfolios as an L2 learning tool. In this class, portfolios replaced weekly quizzes, which counted for 30% of the final grade. Portfolios were also used to supplement the course textbook, namely Al-Kitaab (Brustad, Al-Batal, & Al-Tonsi, 1995).Data sources for the study included traditional tests grades, oral interview grades, portfolio grades, a sixteen-item survey, and students’ reflections at the end of the course. The findings indicate that there is a strong correlation between portfolio grades, on one hand, and written tests and oral interviews grades on the other hand. It was also found that students perceived using portfolios as an effective L2 learning tool.

Learners’ perceptions of culture in a first-semester foreign language course

Researchers have voiced concerns about current teaching practices regarding the effective integration of culture within the foreign language curriculum as more than an add-on (Durocher, 2007; Knutson, 2006; Kramsch, 1993; Magnan, 2008; Omaggio Hadley, 2001; Perraudin, & Porfilio, 2011; Schulz, 2007; Wilbur, 2007).  This study takes an emic perpective to explore how the experience of a first-semester foreign language course can shape learners’ understanding of culture and perceptions of the interconnection between language and culture.

Twenty-two students, native English speakers, enrolled in four first-semester French courses, were interviewed three times during a semester. The four instructors were interviewed at the end of the semester. Data analysis revealed that a majority of the participants viewed language and culture as separate entities, that they were mainly concerned with linguistic competence and possessed an incomplete understanding of the concept culture. Based on these findings, pedagogical recommendations are discussed to support the development of learners’ understanding of the intrinsic link between language and culture.

Thanks to reviewers



The individuals listed below served as referees at various times during the preparation of Volume 4 of the L2 Journal. We wish to express our sincere gratitude for their insightful contribution to the quality of the articles published in this journal:


Wendy Allen, Fabienne Baider, Elizabeth Beaujour, Robert Blake, Martin Bygate, Andrew Cohen, Cecilia Colombi, Jean-Marc Dewaele, Patricia Duff, Sarah Freedman, Victoria González-Pagani, John Hayes, William Heidenfeldt, Emily Hellmich, Rick Kern, Celeste Kinginger, James Lantolf, Steven McCafferty, Adam Mendelson, Alastair Pennycook, Karen Ryding, Virginia Scott, and Chantelle Warner.

Introducing New Journal Feature: Teachers' Forum

We are proud to announce the introduction of a new section in the journal, Teacher’s Forum, to be edited by Rick Kern, specifically geared towards language lecturers and graduate student instructors.The Teacher’s Forum will offer a platform to share brief, refereed reports on second and foreign language pedagogical activities and research.