Subject-predicate code-switching: Testing the need of a matrix language through embedding

Book chapter published in the edited volume Hispanic linguistics: Current issues and new directions.

There is continued debate on what determines the rule-governed behavior of intrasentential code-switching. Central to this debate is whether it is essential to differentiate between the languages involved, i.e., a matrix language and an embedded language. In favor of such an approach is Myers-Scotton’s (1993, 2002) Matrix Language Frame Model, whereas MacSwan’s (1999, 2014) Minimalist approach to code-switching operates independently of such a notion. To compare these two frameworks, a written Acceptability Judgment Task was completed by highly proficient Spanish-English bilinguals. The results suggest that the (un)grammaticality of the subject-predicate switch in embedded contexts does not align with the predictions made by the proposal by Jake (1994), an analysis that operates under the Matrix Language Frame Model. Proposals within the Minimalist approach to code-switching, both van Gelderen and MacSwan (2008) and González-Vilbazo and Koronkiewicz (2016), however, are effective at predicting grammaticality.

doi: 10.1075/ihll.26.12kor

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.


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.