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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.


Task Type Effects on Pragmatic Marker Use by Learners at Varying Proficiency Levels

Previous research has shown that the degree of structure in a task affects the complexity, accuracy, and fluency of L2 oral production (Foster & Skehan 1999).  The acquisition of pragmatic markers may be related to the development of second language fluency, but there is limited research on their use by second language learners on different task types.  This study examines the use of pragmatic markers on four different tasks that differ in their degree of inherent structure.  The results show that the most structured task, leaving a telephone message, led to a significantly lower frequency of pragmatic marker use than the other tasks.  The results also suggest that learners at different proficiency levels react differently to the degree of structure in various tasks.

Subjectivity and Spirituality during Study Abroad: A Case Study

In this paper, we examine the case of Veronica, an American undergraduate studying abroad in Paris, whose struggles to negotiate linguistic and cultural differences highlight a deeply personal and emotional attempt to reconcile the symbolic values she assigns to her national, ethnic and imagined identities. While at first glance this student’s accounts may seem self-centered, a closer inspection reveals a depth of worries, passions, and desires that suggests a degree of reflexivity and self/other awareness long associated with personal development, intercultural competence, and even spiritual conversion.  Considering this case study through the dual lenses of subjectivity and spirituality affords a reframing of Veronica’s desire to re-invent herself as indicative not of an urge to cling to the familiar but of an incipient metanoia, or a profound shift in her way of looking at herself and the world. Following the case study, we explore the implications of our approach for study abroad research and outline a curriculum for helping students address issues related to subjectivity and spirituality during a term abroad.


“I won’t talk about this here in America:” Sociocultural Context of Korean English Language Learners’ Emotion Speech in English

This article examines the relationship between language and emotion, especially drawing attention to the experiences and perspectives of second language (SL) learners. Informed by the sociocultural perspective on the construction of emotion and its representation, this study highlights the intertwined relationship among emotions, cultural contexts, perceived identities, and languages. Using a qualitative case study approach, we examined challenges and strategies of emotion speech in one group of second language learners: Korean adult English learners (ELs) in the United States. Analyses of two surveys with seventeen Korean ELs and interviews with four selected participants demonstrate: (1) A full communication of emotions across cultures and languages was challenging because of the lack of shared cultural contexts among speakers. (2) However, the acquisition of one’s second language included learning new cultural maps with which learners developed intercultural capacities to code switch across languages/emotions and, thus, to participate more fully in their second language community. (3) The code switching among SL learners often involved perceived personality change and identity negotiation in different languages since each language was associated with different cultural experiences and emotions/value orientations. Implications for the Second Language Acquisition field will be discussed.

Student Initiatives and Missed Learning Opportunities in an IRF Sequence: A Single Case Analysis

Most conversation analysis (CA) studies of the initiation-response-feedback (IRF; Sinclair & Coulthard, 1975) sequence have focused on teacher actions in the feedback move. In this article, I use CA to analyze student initiatives (Waring, 2011) within an IRF sequence in one excerpt from a Chinese as a foreign language class. The excerpt features a teacher using an IRF sequence to engage her students in a sentence-based translation exercise. I demonstrate how a student initiates a sequence following the teacher’s feedback move to make a negative assessment of the pragmatic soundness of the sentences, thus casting doubt on the teacher's epistemic authority. This initiating action and the subsequent interaction it generates bring contingency into the IRF sequence and create potential learning opportunities. As the teacher contends with the contingency, issues related to epistemic asymmetry and L1 and L2 identities are brought to the surface. Additionally, the potential opportunities to discuss the different pragmatic forces between yao in Chinese and to want in English when used in making requests are missed at multiple sequential junctures. Based on the analysis, I discuss teacher-student epistemic social relations within the IRF sequence and a methodological issue concerning the analysis of missed learning opportunities. I also offer reflection on how CA can be used for pedagogical intervention.

Thanks to Reviewers

The individuals listed below served as referees during the preparation of Volume 5 Issue 1 and Volume 5 Issue 2 of the L2 Journal. We wish to express our sincere gratitude for their insightful contributions to the quality of the articles published in this journal:


Wendy Allen; Dwight Atkinson; Fabienne Baider; Robert Blake; Kirk Belnap; Sofia Chapparo; Supatra Chowchuvech; Dan Disney; Isabelle Drewelow; Thomas Garza; Geoff Hall; David Hanauer; Yoko Hasegawa; Agnes He; William Heidenfeldt; Inez Hollander; Tes Howell; Claude Mark Hurlbert; Adam Jaworski; Mark Kaiser; Paula Kalaja; Celeste Kinginger; Glenn Levine; Dave Malinowski; Mairi McLaughlin; Julia Menard-Warwick; Adam Mendelson; Junko Mori; Michael Newman; Kate Paesani; Joan Peskin; Maria Prikhodko; Vaidehi Ramanathan; Philip Riley; Karen Risager; Angela Scarino; Jean Schulz; Virginia Scott; Jaran Shin; Sonia Shiri; Mette Steenberg; Patricia Sullivan; Guadelupe Valdés; Paige Ware; Jean Wong; Magdalena Wrembel; Lihua Zhang

Teachers' Forum

Using Interconnected Texts to Highlight Culture in the Foreign Language Classroom

SLA research on foreign language pedagogy has long demonstrated that culture is essential to language learning. However, presenting culture in the language classroom poses certain problems. For learners, there is a tendency to stereotype others and to rely excessively on the teacher. For teachers, there is a tendency to transmit isolated facts without elaboration and to associate a target language with a single monolithic culture. This article presents a pedagogical approach to culture that not only exposes students to networks of authentic texts but also motivates them to research for themselves the many subtleties of the target culture. By learning how to approach a network of texts, students gain deeper insight into the target culture and develop their ability to interpret texts that they will subsequently encounter on their own. This approach will be illustrated by a detailed lesson plan as well as an analysis of the responses of students who engaged with these materials in an advanced intermediate level French class.

Call for Papers

Critical Perspectives on Neoliberalism in Language Education

Language is increasingly understood as a commodified skill that allows learners, seen as language entrepreneurs, to compete in the global marketplace.  Language teaching has become increasingly privatized through the emergence of a global industry that presents language in pre-packaged, standardized forms in response to the needs of the free market. As language becomes both a target—as a technicized skill—and an instrument of neoliberalization, language education finds itself caught in the crossfire. Neoliberal ideology and policy affect decisions about which languages to teach and to learn, when, where, and to whom languages are taught, and how to teach them.


This special issue seeks to build on previous work related to globalization, language standardization, multilingual subjectivities, and linguistic imperialism, amongst other related topics. By situating these discussions within the frame of neoliberal ideologies and practices this issue seeks to critically explore the historically situated ways in which neoliberal discourse has influenced the field of language education in order to open up spaces for critical reflection and action.