Second Language Learners

Current Projects

The Acquisition of the Present Perfect in English and Spanish by L1 Portuguese Speakers

It is well established that languages that are typologically closer to the learner's native language are more easily acquired, as they provide more possibilities for positive transfer. In such cases, it is important to investigate if this facilitative effect is generic across the grammar or if it is specific to certain shared properties. This project focuses on the acquisition of the present perfect in English and Spanish by native speakers of Portuguese. In typological terms, Spanish is much closer to Portuguese than to English, since Spanish and Portuguese share not only an enormous number of lexical items but also many grammatical properties. However, the present perfect is one area where the grammars of Spanish and English converge and diverge in turn from Portuguese. The project's goal is to observe the performance of Portuguese L1 speakers in comprehension and production experiments in both English and Spanish to see if they behave differently given the characteristics of the three languages. (PI: Isaac McAlister)

The Acquisition of Nominal Agreement in Spanish by L1-Portuguese and L1-English Speakers

Description forthcoming. (PI: Andrea Faber - KSU)

Current Collaborations

Experimental Evidence on Language Learning

PIs: Luiz Amaral (UMass), Raquel Fellet Lawall (UFJF), Grazilele Frangiotti (UFSC), Paula (UFPR) e Ricardo Augusto de Souza (UFMG).

This is a collaboration among a group of scholars that got together in order to promote experimental work to study and support additional language learning in Brazil. The group holds regular meetings and organizes events to advance its mission. The first book chapter presenting the work done by individual members of the group is about to come out in a volume edited by Marcus Maia (UFRJ) and Márcio Leitão (UFPB): "A Aprendizagem de Línguas Baseada em Evidências Experimentais: Possíveis Interfaces entre a Psicolinguística e/o Ensino/Aprendizagem de Línguas Adicionais."

The Acquisition of Phrasal Verbs in English by Farsi Speakers

PI: Shaleleh Javadi (Univ. of Tabriz - Iran)

This project looks at the acquisition of certain phrasal verbs by learners of English whose first language is Farsi. The goals are not only to investigate the specific problems Farsi speakers encounter when learning the structure and use of phrasal verbs, but also include the potential facilitative effects of priming in a classroom treatment.

Previous Projects

Multiple Grammars and Second Language Representation

By looking at the acquisition of the overt pronoun constraint in Spanish by native speakers of English, Amaral and Roeper (2014a, 2014b) presented an extension of the multiple grammars theory for L2 representation. The results and discussions about the proposal appeared in a special volume of Second Language Research.

Intelligent Computer-Assisted Language Learning

TAGARELA is an intelligent computer-assisted language learning (ICALL) system that works as an intelligent electronic workbook, and provides students with opportunities to practice their reading, listening, and writing skills. Because it is a web-based system, it can be used anywhere there is a computer with internet access. TAGARELA uses Natural Language Processing technology to analyze students' input, and detect spelling, morphological, syntactic and semantic errors. This project was developed in collaboration with Detmar Meurers and Ramon Ziai (University of Tubingen).

LangBot was a project proposed and designed by Scott Payne (Amherst College). LangBot is an instant-messenger (IM) computer program that enables students to have queries about various foreign languages answered in real-time, online. The tool that operates as a human IM "buddy" searches various language web sites and a specially developed corpus of language to respond to student queries. The project was funded by the US Department of Education.