Next CLLEAR talk: Findings from GECO: The Ghent Eye-tracking Corpus of Monolinguals and Bilinguals Reading an Entire Novel

The next Centre for Linguistics, Language Education and Acquisition Research (CLLEAR) talk will take place on Wednesday 22nd May 2019 at 4:30pm in Lecture Theatre C, Avenue Campus (Building 65). The talk is entitled “Findings from GECO: The Ghent Eye-tracking Corpus of Monolinguals and Bilinguals Reading an Entire Novel” …

Next CLLEAR seminar: A dynamic typology of syntactic change in contact Englishes

CLLEARThe next Centre for Linguistics, Language Education and Acquisition Research (CLLEAR) seminar will take place on Wednesday 15th May 2019 at 4pm in Lecture Theatre C, Avenue Campus (Building 65). The talk is entitled “A dynamic typology of syntactic change in contact Englishes” and will be delivered by Devyani Sharma from Queen Mary, University of London. All welcome!

Here is the abstract for this seminar:
Postcolonial Englishes are an ideal testing ground for the influence of universals and language transfer in contact languages. However, the tendency to conduct static comparisons of contributing grammars to an outcome grammar often overlooks a dynamic aspect of the actuation problem, namely ‘why certain instances of variation become changes and others don’t’ (McMahon 1994). I assess this question in relation to contact settings: Why does only a subset of variable usage become entrenched over time in a given contact variety? An initial comparison of several syntactic features in Indian English and Singapore English supports a strong substrate, rather than universalist, basis for new usage. However, a closer examination shows that only some of these variable features have stabilised and become deeply embedded across the community. Substrates cannot fully account for this subtler distribution. They over-predict change. To better understand which forms become more entrenched, I turn to a sociohistorical hallmark of postcolonial Englishes: diminishing input from the source variety. Drawing on models of input sensitivity from second language acquisition theory (the Subset Principle; the Interface Hypothesis), I develop a two-dimensional typology to assess the relative role of substrate difference and input demand (the degree to which rich input is needed for the acquisition of a specific syntactic form) in stable outcomes in New Englishes. Both appear to be operative but substrates may be the more powerful force, as certain entrenched forms point to hard limits on learnability due to the substrate grammar, despite low input demand. Modelling contact as dynamic phases of individual learning embedded within a changing linguistic ecology helps to account for selective change over time within wider feature pools of variability. It also uses long-term outcomes of social contact to feed into theoretical questions of featural representations and learnability.

Research centres event on Wednesday 20th March: “Perspectives on the concept of the ‘native speaker'”

Research centresThe next seminar, which combines speakers from four of our research centres, will be held on Wednesday 20th March from 4-5:30pm in Lecture Theatre C at Avenue Campus (Building 65). The seminar is entitled “Perspectives on the concept of the ‘native speaker'” and will be presented by a range of staff from the department. All staff and students are welcome for what will be a lively session!

Here is the abstract for the seminar:
Over recent decades, the notion of the ’native speaker’ has been much discussed and often contested in applied and socio-linguistics. In this cross-centres seminar, speakers from our four research centres, CGE, CLLEAR, MeXsu and TNS will each present their own approach to the notion, and the seminar will then be opened up to the audience for comment and discussion. The speakers are Rob Baird and Sonia Morán Panero representing CGE, Laura Dominguez representing CLLEAR, and Clare Mar-Molinero representing both MeXsu and TNS.

Next CLLEAR seminar: Aspirations of youth, English for future life plans in a school in Catalonia

CLLEARThe next Centre for Linguistics, Language Education and Acquisition Research (CLLEAR) seminar will take place on Wednesday 13th February 2019 at 4pm in Lecture Theatre C, Avenue Campus (Building 65). The talk is entitled “Aspirations of youth, English for future life plans in a school in Catalonia” and will be delivered by Adriana Patino-Santos from Modern Languages and Linguistics at the University of Southampton. All welcome!

Here is the abstract for this seminar:
The implementation of English as the language of instruction to teach content, usually referred to as Content and Language Integrated Language (CLIL) programmes, is changing the lives of teachers and students alike in Spain, as they deal with a set of issues related to new forms of teaching content though their second and, in the case of Catalonia, third language. Complementing my previous research on the portrayal of liberal selves among CLIL teachers in Catalonia (Codó & Patiño-Santos 2018), this presentation explores the narratives of secondary school students who attend these programmes. Through ‘life project stories’ (du Bois-Reymond 1998) and contrasted with ethnographic information, I aim to give an account of the ways in which a group of youngsters navigate social relations and imagine future plans under the new circumstances imposed by language policies that aim to neoliberalise the Catalan education system (Martinez & Albaiges Blasi 2013). ‘Generation’, even though a debatable concept within the sociology of youth (Furlong 2013), will be brought into the discussion to show how the ways in which young people engage with English in their daily lives signal an important ongoing generational shift in Spain, product of a set of recent traumatic collective events.

Next CLLEAR seminar: The political economy of language education research (or the lack thereof): Nancy Fraser and the case of translanguaging

CLLEARThe next Centre for Linguistics, Language Education and Acquisition Research (CLLEAR) seminar will take place on Monday 10th December 2018 at 5pm in Room 3031, Building 7, Highfield Campus. Please note the change of day and time from usual. The talk is entitled “The political economy of language education research (or the lack thereof): Nancy Fraser and the case of translanguaging” and will be delivered by David Block Allen, ICREA Professor in Sociolinguistics from the Departament d’Anglès i Lingüística, Universitat de Lleida – Catalonia, Spain. All welcome!

Here is the abstract for this seminar:
This paper problematises the politics of language education research with regard to social injustice, which is not only cultural, but also material. Its starting position is that most language education research today is, following Nancy Fraser, recognition-oriented, in that it takes on culture and identity-based injustices such as racism, gender bias, religious bias and LGBTQ-phobia. It does not, however, have much to say about more economic and class-based injustices – redistribution issues – and it does not draw on the political economy literature essential to any attempt to explore such issues. The paper develops these arguments and then applies them to a specific area of language education research which has become popular in recent years, translanguaging. It concludes that while translanguaging research may deal with recognition issues, in particular ethnolinguistic racism, it is not likely to alter in any way the underlying the current capitalist order which is causing deep and profound damage to the social fabric of societies worldwide and surely is the most likely cause of the poverty in which many translanguagers live. Language education research thus needs to work at the level of recognition, as it already does, while also taking on redistribution issues.

Next CLLEAR seminar: Grammatical innovations in Multicultural London English

CLLEARThe next Centre for Linguistics, Language Education and Acquisition Research (CLLEAR) seminar will take place on Wednesday 24th October 2018 at 4:30pm in Lecture Theatre C, Building 65, Avenue Campus. The talk is entitled “Grammatical innovations in Multicultural London English” and will be delivered by David Thomas Hall from Queen Mary, University of London. All welcome!

Here is the abstract for this seminar:
Recent years have seen growing interest in interdisciplinary research at the intersection of sociolinguistics and formal linguistic theory, sometimes called Sociosyntax (see e.g., Cornips and Corrigan 2005; Lingua special issue on formalising syntactic variation (2010), vol 120.5). Recent research into urban multiethnolects in the UK (e.g., Cheshire et al 2011) has revealed unexpected syntactic properties in emerging varieties of English, particularly Multicultural London English (MLE). Research on MLE has so far been carried out in a variationist sociolinguistic framework (Cheshire et al 2011 a.o), but here I report on my research into grammatical innovations in MLE in a broadly generative framework. I focus on the new pronoun man and preposition+definite article drop (P-D-drop). I will present analyses for the two phenomena, and discuss how the study of grammatical variation picked up through sociolinguistic research can inform our understanding of the limits of the language faculty from a minimalist perspective.

Next CLLEAR seminar: Thinking ahead in a second language: On the role of prediction in L2 processing

CLLEARThe next Centre for Linguistics, Language Education and Acquisition Research (CLLEAR) seminar will take place on Wednesday 9th May 2018 at 4pm in Room 1177, Building 65, Avenue Campus. The talk is entitled “Thinking ahead in a second language: On the role of prediction in L2 processing” and will be delivered by Theres Gruter from Hawaii. All welcome!

Here is the abstract for this seminar:
The role of prediction in native language (L1) processing has been investigated, and debated, extensively over the past couple of decades. Yet it is only in the last few years that prediction/anticipation in second language (L2) processing has become a topic of interest. In this talk, I will discuss how the investigation of prediction in L2 processing may help us move beyond the common but rather unsatisfying description of differences between L1 and L2 speakers as L2 learners having “a processing problem”. In recent and on-going research in our lab, we have used online (visual-world eye-tracking) and offline methods to probe to what extent L2 listeners engage in proactive ‘thinking ahead’ during sentence and discourse processing. Drawing on findings from studies targeting various linguistic cues that can give rise to anticipatory processing – including classifiers in Mandarin Chinese and grammatical aspect in English – I will argue that L2 speakers do not necessarily differ from L1 speakers in whether or not they engage in prediction, but in how and when they engage in prediction, and what information they use to generate expectations about upcoming information. Taken together, these findings suggest that prediction is a universal mechanism of human language processing (and behaviour more generally), and that L1 and L2 speakers make adaptive use of this mechanism depending on its utility given their knowledge and processing goals.

Next CLLEAR seminar: Theoretical linguistics and the scientific method in the language classroom

CLLEARThe next Centre for Linguistics, Language Education and Acquisition Research (CLLEAR) seminar will take place on Wednesday 2nd May 2018 at 4pm in Lecture Theatre C, Building 65, Avenue Campus. The talk is entitled “Theoretical linguistics and the scientific method in the language classroom” and will be delivered by Julio Villa-García from the University of Manchester. All welcome!

Here is the abstract for this seminar:
In this talk, I pursue the view defended in recent work (Bosque 2018, i.a.) that the way we teach language has traditionally been based on labelling (“this is a noun”; “this is a predicate…”), rather than on actual analysis. This contrasts starkly with what happens in scientific disciplines, where students look at evidence, glean generalisations, formulate hypotheses/theories and then make predictions about what will happen. I contend that such a pattern-enchanted approach can be beneficial in the language classroom when it comes to the teaching of grammar, as in addition to finding generalisations about how the grammatical system works, students also develop a number of lifelong transferable skills.

In the second part of the talk, I argue that the findings of theoretical research can aid language teaching, since the quality of the input that we expose our learners to can improve significantly. This is because research on theoretical linguistics has come up with more precise generalisations than those typically found in pedagogical grammars (Rothman 2010, i.a.). In fact, there is no need for teachers or students to be trained in linguistics (i.e., there is no real need to overload students with metalanguage or with too many technicalities). To this end, I provide a number of practical examples suggesting that the gap between theoretical research and pedagogical practice in the language classroom can actually be bridged.

Next CLLEAR seminar: ‘I’ll have a burg[ə] and a fant[ʌ]’: acquiring variation in a new language

CLLEARThe next Centre for Linguistics, Language Education and Acquisition Research (CLLEAR) seminar will take place on Wednesday 25th April 2018 at 4pm in Room 1177, Building 65, Avenue Campus. The talk is entitled “‘I’ll have a burg[ə] and a fant[ʌ]’: acquiring variation in a new language” and will be delivered by Dr Gerry Howley from the University of Sheffield. All welcome!

Here is the abstract for this seminar:
In this paper, I present results from a mixed methods study that combines quantitative analysis with ethnography. I examine the acquisition of vernacular dialect variation by Roma migrants in Manchester, England. While it is now widely recognised that migrants can acquire local dialect features in a new language, it is still unclear why some speakers acquire more features than others. I analyse variation across a range of vocalic variables to establish what social factors impact upon Roma migrants acquiring (or not) local patterns of variation. Results indicate that speakers with more open friendship networks produce more vernacular patterns of variation, providing further, fine-grained understanding of why some migrants may acquire more dialect features than others. Increasing (super)diversity in Europe’s cities brings issues of migration and integration to the top of political agendas. When a migrant acquires a dialect in a new language, this can be seen as an indicator of the way he is positioning himself within the local culture.

Next CLLEAR seminar: Methodological considerations in measuring ambiguous relative clause attachment strategies in bilinguals

CLLEARThe next Centre for Linguistics, Language Education and Acquisition Research (CLLEAR) seminar will take place on Monday 16th April 2018 at 15:30 in Room 1011, Building 67, Highfield Campus. The talk is entitled “Methodological considerations in measuring ambiguous relative clause attachment strategies in bilinguals” and will be delivered by Elena Valenzuela from the University of Ottawa. All welcome!

Here is the abstract for this seminar:
It has been argued that monolinguals and bilinguals differ in how they resolve ambiguities in relative clause attachment. Cuetos and Mitchell (1988) first noted that sentences as in (1) and (2), which contain a complex NP of the type “NP of NP” followed by a relative clause (RC), are parsed differently depending on the language:
(1) She kissed the brother(NP1) of the poet(NP2) that was on the balcony.
(2) Elle a embrassé le frère(NP1) du poète(NP2) qui était sur la balcon.
In English (1), the poet is on the balcony whereas in the same sentence in French (2), it is the brother who is on the balcony. Languages can be grouped according to the parsing strategy for monolinguals: high attachment (Spanish, French, Greek, Italian, Japanese, etc.) and low attachment (English, Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, Romanian, etc.).

Dussias and Sagarra (2007) found that language dominance was the Spanish-dominant bilinguals with limited exposure to English preferred high attachment in both languages, while bilinguals with extensive exposure to English preferred low attachment in both English and Spanish. Valenzuela et al. (2015) examined the parsing strategies of bilinguals in code-switched sentences and also found that language dominance and exposure played the greatest role for parsing. However, in these previous studies, participants were all living in an English environment at the time of testing which may have influenced so-called language dominance. In our study we test French/English bilinguals living their dominant language environment.
This research examines parsing strategies in monolingual and code-switched sentences to address the following research questions:
i. Does language dominance play a role in parsing strategies?
ii. Does direction of the language code-switch affect processing?
iii. Does the direction of the language code-switch affect processing differently based on individual’s language dominance?

Two groups of bilinguals: French/English living in English dominant environment (n=15) and French/English living in French dominant environment (n=14) were tested on their parsing strategies of French, English, and French/English code-switched ambiguous relative clauses. Participants were given two experimental tasks: Sentence Judgment Task and Sentence Completion Task. Results show that across the board low attachment was preferred regardless of the language environment and language dominance of the participant. This may suggest that, as in Dussias and Sagarra (2007), language exposure plays an important role. However, this may also be due to the prolonged language contact situation in Canada resulting in an emerging dialect. Results will be discussed in terms of language dominance, frequency of language usage, and appropriateness of the methodology used.