Overview of Research Projects

The Language Institute’s research mission is fulfilled by its administration of the Second Language Acquisition (SLA) PhD Program, by small grants to support SLA faculty/student research partnerships, and by studies conducted in the Language Institute itself that have the goal of informing both instructional practice and advocacy efforts. Current and previous research studies in the Language Institute investigate speaking proficiency and learning outcomes of language programs, student and alumni perspectives on language learning and study abroad, the goals of students and national frameworks such as the Standards for Foreign Language Learning, and research, instructional practices, and outcomes of Language Flagship Programs.

Language Institute Studies

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Speaking Proficiency Outcomes of Face-to-Face and Online U.S. Intensive Postsecondary Summer Programs in Less and Least Commonly Taught Foreign Languages

Years

2020-2023

Description

This research study responds to national calls for research on the proficiency outcomes of U.S. foreign language programs (Winke & Gass, 2019). The study documents the speaking proficiency outcomes of intensive summer programs offered through Wisconsin Intensive Summer Language Institutes (WISLI) in both face-to-face and online/remote instructional contexts in 14 less and least commonly taught languages: Arabic, Bengali, Hindi, Indonesian, Kazakh, Persian, Portuguese (Brazilian), Tamil, Thai, Tibetan, Turkish, Urdu, Uyghur, and Uzbek.

Research lead

Dianna Murphy, Principal Investigator

Research team

Hadis Ghaedi, Student Assistant, Doctoral Program in Second Language Acaquisition
Felecia Lucht, Researcher; Director, Wisconsin Intensive Summer Language Institutes
Meg Malone, Outside Evaluator; Director of Assessment, Research and Development, American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL); Director, Assessment and Evaluation Language Resource Center; Research Professor, Georgetown University

Jana Martin, Researcher; Associate Director, Language Institute

Sonya Sedivy, Statistics Consulting and Services; Associate Research Scientist, Testing and Evaluation Services

Partner
Wisconsin Intensive Summer Language Institutes

Funding
U.S. Department of Education, Title VI, International Research and Studies (IRS) Program
ACTFL Research Priorities Grant

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Why U.S. Undergraduate Students are (not) studying languages other than English at the college level

Year
2019-22

Description
A survey of undergraduates on students’ perceptions of the value of proficiency in languages other than English, and on their reasons for (not) undertaking or continuing language study at the college level. Conducted with the UW Survey Center.

Research lead
Dianna Murphy

Research team
Jana Martin
Sonya Sedivy and Merve Sarac, Testing and Evaluation Services

Publications
Murphy, D., Sarac, M., & Sedivy. S. (forthcoming). Why U.S. undergraduate students are (not) studying languages other than English. Second Language Research and Practice.

Murphy, D. & Martin, J. (in preparation). Amplifying student voices: U.S. undergraduate student perspectives on expanding access to and increasing the relevance of language study.

Conference presentations
Languages for all? Student perspectives on the value of language learning, Dianna Murphy and Jana Martin, American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages 2020 Convention

Understanding the trend: Why are U.S. undergraduate students (not) studying languages other than English? Colloquium co-organizers Dianna Murphy, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Felix Kronenberg, Michigan State University, American Association for Applied Linguistics 2021 Virtual Conference

Making language study more accessible and relevant: Amplifying undergraduate student voices through a large-scale survey, Dianna Murphy, Jana Martin, and Kristin Dalby, University of Wisconsin-Madison, American Association for Applied Linguistics 2021 Virtual Conference

Why university students do and don’t study languages. An inter-institutional study to inform responses to declining enrollments in LCTLs, Dianna Murphy, with Felix Kronenberg and Koen Van Gorp, Michigan State University, AILA: 2021 World Conference of Applied Linguistics

Funding
College of Letters & Science; Departments of African Cultural Studies; French and Italian; German, Nordic, and Slavic; Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies; Spanish and Portuguese; Center for Russia, East Europe, and Central Asian; Center for East Asian Studies; Center for South Asia; Center for Southeast Asian Studies; African Studies Program.

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Why are(n’t) our students?: The gender and ethnoracial distribution of U.S. bachelor’s degrees in Russian language and literature over twenty years, from 1999–2000 to 2018–2019

Years
2020-22

Description
A report on the demographic profiles of undergraduate Russian majors in the United States over 20 years that documents the persistent underrepresentation of non-white students

Research team
Dianna Murphy
Hadis Ghaedi

Publication
Murphy, D. & Ghaedi, H. (2021). Who are(n’t) our students? The gender and ethnoracial distribution of U.S. bachelor’s degrees in Russian Language and Literature over twenty Years, from 1999–2000 to 2018–2019. Russian Language Journal 71(3), 17-39.

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Intensive Remote Instruction in Less Commonly Taught Languages: Instructor and Student Beliefs

Year
2020-21

Description
A mixed-methods study on student and instructor beliefs, experiences, and preferences in the context of intensive remote instruction of less commonly taught languages (LCTLs).

Research lead
Jana Martin

Partner
Wisconsin Intensive Summer Language Institutes

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Gender and Race/Ethnicity of U.S. Majors in Languages Other than English

Description
Report on the gender and race/ethnicity of undergraduate students who majored in a language other than English in the United States in 2010-14. Report includes data for foreign languages as a group, as well as for 50 individual programs that had at least one student earn a bachelor’s degree in the language in 2010-14.

Research lead
Dianna Murphy

Research team
Seo Young Lee

Publication
Murphy, D., & Young, S. L. (2019). The gender and race or ethnicity of majors in languages and literatures 0ther than English in the United States, 2010-14. ADFL Bulletin, 45, 2, 43-92.

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The Goals of Collegiate Learners and the National Standards for Foreign Language Learning

Years
2009-17

Description
A large-scale, mixed-method study, conducted in collaboration with the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), to investigate the alignment of postsecondary student goals with the goals of the National Standards for Foreign Language Learning (Standards). The study includes responses from 16,529 students at 11 postsecondary institutions across the United States, with interviews from 200 students at two of these institutions. The first research to examine learner perspectives with regard to the Standards, the study considers (a) whether college students have goals consistent with the Standards, (b) whether they expect to reach these goals during their formal language study, (c) whether these goals and expectations differ for first-year and second-year language students, (d) whether they differ for students of more and less commonly taught languages, (e) whether students understand the Standards and see the five goal areas as interrelated or in terms of hierarchies of priorities, and (f) how the Standards might encourage student reflection, especially regarding the relationships among language, culture, and thought.

Research lead(s)
Sally Magnan
Dianna Murphy
Narek Sahakyan

Student assistants
Shenika Harris
Colleen Hamilton
Nelly Martin
Sandra Elena Terra

Publications
Murphy, D., Sahakyan, N. & Magnan, S. The Goals of Collegiate Learners of Russian and the U.S. Standards for Learning Languages. In E. Dengub, I. Dubinina & J. Merrill, eds. The Art of Teaching Russian. Georgetown University Press, forthcoming in 2020.

Magnan, S., Murphy, D. & Sahakyan, N. (2014). Goals of collegiate learners and the Standards for Foreign Language Learning. Modern Language Journal Monograph Series, Volume 98.

Magnan, S., Murphy, D., Sahakyan, N., & Kim, S. (2012). Student goals, expectations, and the Standards for Foreign Language LearningForeign Language Annals, 45, 2, 170-192.

Funding
U.S. Department Department of Education, International Research and Studies Program Grant (2009-13)

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Exploring the U.S. Language Flagship Program: Professional Competence in a Second Language by Graduation.

Years
2014-16

Description
An edited volume on the history, goals, programmatic and instructional practices, outcomes and impact of federally funded Language Flagship Programs designed to provide opportunities for undergraduate students of any major to achieve a professional level of competence a second language by graduation. Languages prioritized for federal funding in this program are those that are critical to U.S. national security.

Co-Editors and Authors
Dianna Murphy
Karen Evans-Romaine

Student Editorial Assistants
Colleen Hamilton
Melissa Miller

Publications

Murphy, D. & Evans-Romaine, K. (Eds.). (2017). Exploring the U.S. Language Flagship Program: Professional competence in a second language by graduation. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.

Funding
National Security Education Program (2014-16)

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Student and Tutor Perceptions of Russian Flagship Tutoring

Year
2012

Description
A small-scale pilot study of student perceptions on the effectiveness of tutoring in the Russian Flagship Program. SLA PhD student Snezhana Zheltoukhova is expanding on this pilot in her dissertation research.

Research team
Dianna Murphy
Karen Evans-Romaine
Snezhana Zheltoukhova

Publication
Murphy, D., Evans-Romaine, K., & Zheltoukhova, S. (2012). Student and tutor perceptions of tutoring in a Russian Flagship Program. Russian Language Journal, 62(1), 107-127.

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The Impact of Study Abroad on the Global Engagement of University Graduates

Years

2010-14

Description
A study on the long-term impact of study abroad on the global engagement of UW-Madison alumni who did and didn’t study abroad as undergraduates. Conducted in collaboration with International Academic Programs and with the support of the UW Alumni Association.

Research team

Sally Magnan
Dianna Murphy
Narek Sahakyan

Student assistants

Alice Astarita
Carolina Bailey
Bicho Azevedo

Publication

Murphy, D., Sahakyan, N., Yong-yi, D. & Magnan, S.  The impact of study abroad on the global engagement of university graduates. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 24, Fall 2014, 1-24.

Funding

University of Wisconsin-Madison Office of the Provost Assessment Grant; International Academic Programs