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Education & Research Interests

My specific research interests are the core of theoretical linguistic research: phonetics and phonology. Primarily, phonology and its acquisition and substitution in a second language. Ultimately, I’d like to connect phonological research I conduct to get a better model of the language centers in the brain, primarily the audio cortex and Broca’s area. I’m also interested in phonology in historical linguistics, SLA, and computational linguistics. Specific to the fields of phonetics and phonology, I’m interested in Optimality Theory and Laboratory Phonology.

My education is in Linguistics, English, French & TESOL. As stated above, my primary interests in linguistics are phonetics and phonology. The more and more I delve into language acquisition research, the more I think my research interests lie somewhere between contrastive analysis and the creative constructionist theory of SLA. I’m also interested in Phonological research in historical linguistics, optimality theory, and I’m learning how to conduct some basic phonological computational linguistic research as well.

My L2 Teaching Philosophy

I cannot assume that everyone is like me and loves to learn language or even loves to learn at all. Some students are just more linguistically oriented and motivated than others. The only method I’ve learned that works is being fun and spontaneous. Bringing humor and games to the classroom is a way to get those students who are not linguistically apt to pick up language and/or have a lack of motivation to learn or participate. This kind of atmosphere is conducive to learning for all students of varying levels of motivation. I feel that by pursuing this teaching style, I can reveal the extrinsic value of the grammatical concept I’m teaching as well as the intrinsic enjoyment of learning. My ultimate goal is to help strengthen my students’ communicative competence.

My role as an L2 teacher is to give my students a fundamental knowledge of the English language. I want to explicitly teach grammar and then, give them authentic contextualized situations in which to practice the grammatical forms.  I do not think that including only explicit or implicit instruction is the best way to teach. In the article Rule Difficulty and the Usefulness of instruction, Pawet Scheffler discusses how language learning is much like learning to play chess. One can sit for hours on end trying to learn implicitly all of the complicated rules, but it would be easier to explicitly reveal the rules to the student and give them time to practice by making them play chess or, in the case with ESL students, giving them many contextualized situational activities.

Flexibility and sensitivity are important characteristics to have as an L2 teacher. When I can tell a certain exercise or activity just isn’t helping the students learn, I’ve got to be quick to switch gears and pursue a different style of teaching. Also, teaching with a cultural and racial sensitivity is an absolute must, especially for an L2 teacher. In my classroom, I make a concerted effort to be aware of and avoid cultural taboos.

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