Control stimuli in experimental code-switching research

Article published in Languages.

The current study investigates whether there is variation among different types of control stimuli in code-switching (CS) research, how such stimuli can be used to accommodate heterogeneity, and how they can also be used as a baseline comparison of acceptability. A group of native Spanish–English bilinguals (n = 20) completed a written acceptability judgment task with a 7-point Likert scale. Five different types of control stimuli were included, with three types considered to be completely acceptable (complex-sentence switches, direct-object switches, and subject–predicate switches) and two types considered to be completely unacceptable (pronoun switches and present–perfect switches). Additionally, a set of present–progressive switches were included as a comparison, as their acceptability status is still actively debated. The participants as a whole exhibited the expected grammatical distinctions among the control stimuli, but with a high degree of individual variability. Pronoun switches and auxiliary verb switches were rated significantly lower than the complex-sentence switches, direct-object switches, and subject–predicate switches. These results show that control stimuli can also establish a baseline comparison of acceptability, and recommendations for inclusion in experimental CS research are provided.

doi:10.3390/languages4030067

Rethinking and shifting discourses and practice of “testing”: From accuracy to engagement with situated contexts

Co-authored book chapter published in the edited volume Pathways to paradigm change: Critical examinations of prevailing discourses and ideologies in second language education.

The chapter presents a reflective analysis of the discourse and practices regarding the written test in three coordinated introductory/intermediate language programs (French, German, and Spanish) at a large public university. Written tests that students complete in class are specifically targeted because this type of assessment tends to reflect traditional ideologies and practices, focused on measuring accuracy and declarative knowledge, at odds with calls for teaching (and assessing) language and culture as integrated and situated practices (Kramsch, 2014; MLA, 2007; National Standards, 2015). This chapter examines how the collective imagined conceptualizations of paper-based written tests affect discourse, design, and Graduate Teaching Assistants’ (GTAs) professional development. The analysis starts by considering the terminology used in each program, as it conveys specific ideologies about testing. To evaluate how successful the programs’ written tests are in reflecting the pedagogical approach, their role and position are examined, followed by a comparative analysis of three recent tests. The contribution then goes on to describe the current procedures for written test development and offers both a reflection of challenges encountered and possibilities for written tests in coordinated language programs going forward. The chapter concludes with general recommendations to engage into a rethinking and reframing of what testing language in the classroom means.

Modality in experimental code-switching research: Aural versus written stimuli

Co-authored book chapter published in the edited volume Code-switching – Experimental answers to theoretical questions: In honor of Kay González-Vilbazo.

Various methodological concerns are specific to code-switching research; however, the modality of experimental stimuli has yet to be thoroughly investigated. This study explicitly tests if the mode of presentation does in fact affect participants’ judgments in Spanish-English code-switching using two different syntactic phenomena: (i) pronouns and lexical DPs, and (ii) wh-movement. The results are parallel, but not identical for the two modalities. We found no difference on a global level, indicating that written code-switched stimuli do not produce depressed ratings. We found a few individual differences when looking at specific structures within the two phenomena. In those cases, the aural condition enhanced the ratings of more acceptable sentences. Crucially, these differences did not affect the interpretation of the results.

doi:10.1075/ihll.19.06kor

Like or tweet: Analysis of the use of Facebook and Twitter in the language classroom

Co-authored article published in TechTrends.

Social media has become a daily activity in today’s technological age, and with this development, educators are met with another possible tool to facilitate language learning. This study was conducted to examine the use of social media, in particular Facebook and Twitter, as a pedagogical instrument in beginning level Spanish courses. Two university-level, beginning Spanish courses were analyzed for student preference and academic impact of the incorporation of social media as a course component – one using Facebook while another using Twitter. Equivalent semester-long assignments were implemented into both the Facebook and Twitter classes. Results show that students exhibited an overall positive perception of skill increase and an awareness of Spanish-speaking countries and current events. Results further indicate that students viewed social media as a valuable learning tool for cultural awareness and target language usage. These findings support the use of social media as a pedagogical resource for the twenty-first century language classroom.

doi:10.1007/s11528- 018-0341-2