Second Language Acquisition Student Research Forum

The Second Language Acquisition (SLA) Student Research Forum is sponsored by the Language Institute and the Doctoral Program in SLA. The forum features presentations of research studies by four University of Wisconsin-Madison SLA student scholars on a broad spectrum of topics, ranging from teachers’ personal histories, communication across space and materiality, learners’ perception of writing, and linguistic insecurity. Each presentation will be followed by a brief period of discussion.

Wednesday, March 3, 2:00 – 3:15 pm

Register HERE



Personal Histories and Teacher Cognition of Chinese EFL Teachers in Moments of Their Language Teaching

Situated in China and under the context of curriculum reform, this project is an effort to combine long-time separate research streams in language teaching and learning studies: the history-in-person perspective (Holland & Lave, 2001) and the discourse analysis perspective (Cazden, 1988). Informed by the concepts of “history-in-person” (Holland & Lave, 2001) and “teacher cognition” (Borg, 2003) as well as the theoretical framework of Practice Theory (Young, 2009), my dissertation project is a collective case study and entails multiple forms of data: interviews, the implicit association test, institutional documents, and classroom observation, to investigate the interaction among Chinese EFL teachers’ history of English learning, their attitudes toward two different English language teaching methods, the institutional context under which they work, and their current teaching practices in their respective classrooms. I found teachers’ histories of learning exerted a great influence on their way of teaching, which were also mediated by their respective institutional contexts including the schools’ curricula, class size, and their students’ level of English proficiency. I conclude with implications to revise EFL teacher training, the English curriculum innovation in China, as well as the study of foreign/second language teacher cognition.

Chen Sun’s research interests are language teaching and learning, teacher cognition and cultural pragmatics. Some of her dissertation findings have appeared on Language Teaching Research.


Learners’ Perceptions of their Foreign Language Writing Selves: The Case of Russian as a Foreign Language 

Writing is one of two productive skills that should be fostered in a foreign language (FL) classroom. However, researchers claim that the development of writing skills in foreign language instruction has been neglected or de-emphasized (Allen 2018; Rifkin 1995; Reichelt et al., 2012; Schultz, 2011; Menke & Anderson 2019). My observations of the learning and teaching processes in several foreign language programs in the U.S. indicate that the primary focus in a Russian FL classroom is to learn how to speak. Speaking is considered a true means of interaction with peers, friends, and instructors. Writing, in contrast, is a tool for language practice. Therefore, FL Russian learners may not see the value of not only learning how to write but especially of how to write in a variety of genres. To this end, I aim to ask learners to reflect on and describe their experiences of writing in Russian as an FL. I will compare learners’ perceptions of themselves as writers in Russian as FL and their perceptions of Russian instructors and Russian native speakers of them as writers in Russian. As such, overall, this project seeks to answer the questions of what or who influences learners’ motivated behavior and how this behavior impacts their incentive to acquire FL writing skills.  

Marina Tsylina graduated from Nizhniy Novgorod Linguistics University in Russia in 2006 with a major in Theory and Methods of Teaching Foreign Languages and Cultures. Since that time, she has been teaching foreign language courses. In terms of her dissertation research, she is interested in a very practical question of how Russian learners experience themselves in instructed learning. Namely, she focuses on learners’ perceptions of themselves as FL writers and how these perceptions impact their motivation to write in Russian.


Space and Materiality: Communications Across Contexts 

Drawing on data from a larger project, Global Story Bridges, this study explores how English language learners from different cultural and material contexts (Uganda and the U.S.) participate in digital intercultural exchanges. The findings highlight the ways in which linguistic resources are intertwined with the physical environment and everyday practices, and constitute the spatial repertoires (Pennycook & Otsuji, 2014; Canagarajah, 2018) that our participants use to communicate across contexts. Implications for fostering equitable communications across differences (Hawkins, 2018) and language education in a globalizing world are considered.

Eric Ho’s interests are related to issues of language and globalization, with a focus on how globalizing processes and transnational flows affect the use of languages and language education in multilingual/cultural contexts.


Linguistic Insecurity in Imagining Multilingual-Professional Identities and Trajectories in Language Learners’ Career Advising Appointments 

How does the social practice of career advising prompt collegiate language learners to imagine using the target language in professional settings beyond formal language study? This presentation examines how sociocultural artifacts in career advising appointments serve as cognitive tools that ignite language learners’ imaginations with respect to seeing and narrating themselves as young professionals who use, or have studied, a non-English language. The narrative analysis of 50 audio-recorded career advising appointments focuses on how advisors and advisees work through the questions and concerns that language learners raise concerning two emergent manifestations of linguistic insecurity that were observed across the datasets. Implications for promoting sustained engagement with the target language beyond classroom language learning are discussed.

Ryan Goble is the communications and NSLI-Y project assistant at the Center for Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia. His research has appeared in the Heritage Language Journal, Communication & Medicine, and Critical Inquiry in Language Studies. His dissertation, inspired by the Wisconsin Language Roadmap Initiative, uses narrative analysis to examine how collegiate language learners imagine multilingual-professional identity options and trajectories in career advising appointments.

Sponsors: Language Institute and Second Language Acquisition Doctoral Program, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Contact: Jana Martin, Language Institute

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Language Institute is committed to inclusive and accessible programming. To request an accommodation for this event, please contact Jana Martin three business days in advance.