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.

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: 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.

SIGLTA meeting on Friday 20th April: An Investigation of Assessment Practices in Mexican EMI Programmes

You are cordially invited to attend the Special Interest Group in Language Testing and Assessment (SIGLTA) meeting. SIGLTA is a faculty-supported postgraduate student-led reading/research group. The meeting is at 17:00-18:00 on Friday 20/04/2018 in room 1097, Avenue Campus (building 65).

Abstract: Assessment is an essential part of teaching and learning practices, in fact, assessment is oriented to develop the students’ academic skills. However, nowadays in Higher Education Institutions (HEI) where the instruction is offered in a second language and where neither the teachers nor the students are native speakers of such language; assessment could represent a double challenge for the instructors. On the one hand, they have to design authentic, valid and reliable assessment tools that represents the proper students’ skills’ development in the topic to be learned; and on the other hand that shows enough evidence that the students are improving their language skills.

The aim of this study is to examine the assessment practices of content teachers in a University in Mexico where English language is used as the Medium of Instruction (EMI); and where the students are no required to prove language competences at the beginning of their courses. The objective is to evaluate to what extent content teachers are consciously including language features in their assessment practices and the level of integration of content and language in this particular programme. Overall, it is expected that the results of the data analysis and interviews with the content teachers could be used in the design of a framework to help content teachers to develop valid and reliable assessment tools in higher education in programmes where the main goal is the integration of content and language.

Biodata: Lizbeth Morales-Berlanga, 2nd year PhD student at the University of Southampton. Her research project specialises in assessment and language testing in EMI environments in Mexico and Latin America, her previous research provides information about teachers´ perspectives in assessing speaking skills in English for Academic Purposes (EAP) courses. Her research interests include assessment methods and assessment practices in EAP, EMI, CLIL and ELF contexts.

Brazilian language students learn English online with retirees

The Independent has reported on a scheme in a Brazilian language school, which is helping students to improve their English by linking up with elderly Americans online. Some unlikely friendships have developed between the young Brazilian learners and the American retirees, many of whom live lonely lives in retirement homes.

To find out more about the scheme, read the full article on the Independent website.

New issue of University of Southampton International English newsletter published

The second issue of the University of Southampton’s quarterly newsletter, International English, has been published by the Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies (LLAS). The newsletter is designed for academics across the world who are using English professionally, whether teaching their discipline in English, or using English to promote their research at conferences. Read more…

International students invited to sample British history and culture

International students from across the world will be attending an International Summer School at the University of Southampton in 2014. The Summer School will introduce participants to British culture, with classes in English Literature, Film Studies, History and Music, visits to historic places and cities including London and Bath, and organised social events.

CLLEAR seminar today: ‘Inspiring teachers: Multi-Word vocabulary and literacy development in children with English as an Additional Language’

Dr Victoria Murphy from the University of Oxford will be delivering a talk today, Wednesday 5th February, for the first CLLEAR seminar of the semester. The seminar will be taking place from 5:00-6:30pm in Lecture Theatre C, Avenue Campus, at the University of Southampton, and is entitled, ‘Inspiring teachers: Multi-Word vocabulary and literacy development in children with English as an Additional Language’. All welcome!

‘Teaching in higher education through the medium of English’ courses

The University of Southampton will be running a number of courses in “Teaching in higher education through the medium of English” over the coming year. Dates for the next two courses are 20th–24th January 2014 and 31st March–4th April 2014.