Category Archives: PhD Research

Practical Corpus Linguistics by Martin Weisser

Practical Corpus Linguistics: An Introduction to Corpus-Based Language Analysis

Practical Corpus Linguistics: An Introduction to Corpus-Based Language Analysis by Martin Weisser

Practical Corpus Linguistics is a great introduction to analyzing language data with hands-on exercises using free software and websites. For anyone interested in textual analysis, corpus linguistics, and digital humanities, this book will get you started on the basics. There are other introduction to corpus linguistics books available, but this appears to be the only one that is designed as more of a how-to guide rather than a theoretical overview.

Chapters include collecting and cleaning data, concordancing, querying mega corpora online, frequency analysis, keywords in context, and part-of-speech tagging. There are even chapters on regular expressions and XML. Each chapter features several exercises for you to try out, as well as solutions to and comments on the exercises. There is also a companion website for the book with more exercises as well as updates.

The BYU website was changed shortly after the book was published, so you will need to check the companion website for instructions on using the new interface for accessing the Corpus of Contemporary American English. However, the old website is still available. You will also need to download the free software, AntConc, and create a free account at the BNCweb site to follow along with the exercises.

If you prefer to analyze languages other than English, check out a simple analysis of telenovela Spanish phrases I carried out using DownThemAll to collect transcripts, Python to clean the text files, and AntConc to find the most common phrases.

More Corpus Linguistics

The 8-week Corpus Linguistics MOOC at Futurelearn is another great introduction to the methodology. Both Lancaster and Birmingham run Corpus Linguistics summer schools in the UK every year if you’re able to travel to them.

If you’re interested in learning more programming for humanities research (usually in Python), try the lessons at Programming Historian and check out my list of Digital Humanities tools. Martin Weisser also wrote Essential Programming for Linguists (using Perl) that you might be interested in.

World Congress of Applied Linguistics - AILA 2017 in Brazil

AILA 2017 in Brazil: World Congress of Applied Linguistics

AILA 2017: World Congress of Applied Linguistics

The 18th World Congress of Applied Linguistics (AILA 2017) will be in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from July 23 to 27, 2017. The call for papers has been extended to May 31, 2016, so submit your proposals (in English, Portuguese, or Spanish) for papers, posters, workshops, or symposia at the official website.

This is the largest gathering of applied linguists in the world, and it only happens once every 3 years. The last one was in Brisbane, Australia, and since I was doing my PhD in Australia at the time, I was fortunate enough to go. Over 1,500 delegates attended and the conference ran for 5 full days. It was an exhausting, but amazing, week. The theme for this year is Innovation and Epistemological Challenges in Applied Linguistics.

AILA 2017 also has a Facebook page if you’d like to follow their updates. I don’t think there’s an official Twitter hashtag but I use #AILA2017

Hope to see you all in Rio next year!

If you’d like to start learning Portuguese in preparation for your trip to Brazil, check out the Portuguese tutorial with audio recordings by native speakers, the Foreign Service Institute course From Spanish to Portuguese, and the Romance Languages Comparative Vocabulary Lists or Verb Conjugations!

Dr Jennifer Wagner

Introducing Dr Jennifer Wagner

It’s official. I am Dr Jennifer Wagner.

As of December 10, 2015, my degree was conferred by the university council and I have the right to call myself a doctor. My PhD took more than four years, even though nine months at the end was mostly doing paperwork and waiting. The actual research and thesis writing portion was around 3.5 years, which is normal for a PhD in the Commonwealth where there is no coursework. I wrote almost 80,000 words on language and culture in French textbooks. I like to joke that my thesis is a 300 page complaint of the way textbooks teach French – but honestly, I’m only half-joking.

So what led me to do an entire PhD on French textbooks? Anger, mostly. And the frustration at learning things in class that I never heard or used in real life and being utterly confused at the French I heard and read everywhere in France. I learned French in the days before Youtube, or FluentU, or Yabla, and I couldn’t afford expensive cassettes or CDs to listen to French – but that is exactly what I needed. I’m still surprised at how many of my students today think that reading a textbook means they will be able to understand spoken language and have conversations with their peers. Sorry, but it’s not going to happen. Technology is your friend.

I have returned to the US since my Australian visa was expiring but I am looking for jobs in North America, Europe, or Australia/New Zealand. Please let me know if you hear of opportunities in Applied Linguistics, French, or English as a Second Language. If it involves languages, then I’m interested.

 

Applied Linguistics Associations of Australia & NZ Conference in Adelaide 2015

The 2015 combined conference of the Applied Linguistics Associations of Australia and New Zealand (ALAA and ALANZ) – together with the Association for Language Testing and Assessment of Australia and New Zealand (ALTAANZ) – will be held November 30 to December 2 in Adelaide, Australia. The Research Centre for Languages and Cultures at the University of South Australia will be hosting the conference, with the theme Learning in a Multilingual World. Abstracts can be submitted until February 28 at this site.

Applied Linguistics Associations of Australia

This conference was not held in 2014 due to the AILA World Congress in Brisbane. The conference in 2013 was held in Wellington, New Zealand, and it will return to New Zealand again in 2016. I was excited to find out that my research centre and university were hosting the conference this year, but I may no longer be in Australia by November since my visa expires in October. Fingers crossed that I find a job soon that keeps me in this part of the world!

AILA World Congress 2014: International Applied Linguistics Association Conference

I was in Brisbane all last week for the AILA 2014 World Congress, the largest conference for applied linguistics in the world. It is held every three years and I had just missed out on the Beijing conference in 2011 by one month when I first started my PhD. I presented my research on stylistic and geographic variation in French textbooks and was pleasantly surprised at how many people were interested in my presentation. The conference was quite large – over 1,600 delegates – and exhausting but definitely worth it. The program was over 200 pages, not including the abstracts, and there were about 25 parallel sessions to choose from. I found all of the plenaries interesting and was overall impressed by how well run everything was. I can’t imagine organising a conference of this size is an easy task.

Opening ceremony of the AILA Olympics

Opening ceremony of the AILA Olympics

You can check out the program and abstracts via the website to see the diversity of presentations and symposia. It can be a bit overwhelming reading through it all – now imagine having to choose only one session among all of them. Tough decisions!

Plenary on language that looks like English but isn't really

Plenary on language that looks like English but isn’t really

I tended to stick to the strands on language teaching, learning and educational technology. I even found myself in a talk that reported on a Māori teaching course, which I wasn’t expecting from the title since it didn’t mention any specific languages. Hearing Māori – and let’s be honest, incredibly adorable New Zealand accents – is always nice!

So happy to find myself in a talk about Māori language

Jocelyn even said a mihi before the presentation and it was beautiful

My favorite presentation was by Tom Cobb since it’s very relevant to my research. He has recently been adopting English-based corpus tools to French, which also helps improve his amazing Compleat Lexical Tutor website.

Top 2,000 words of French account for 92% lexical coverage

Top 2,000 words of French account for 92% lexical coverage (cf only 80% in English)

Even though it’s winter in Australia right now, it was in the 20s C / 70s F in Brisbane. I love Queensland! However, learning about the existence of gigantic burrowing cockroaches at the (free!) Queensland Museum did leave me a little traumatized…

Swimming in winter

Swimming in winter

The next AILA World Congress will be held in August 2017 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil! See you in South America, my fellow applied linguists!

The end of my PhD is near, so what’s next?

I have just finished writing the last chapter of data analysis for my thesis. Now I need to write the conclusion and abstract, update my literature review, and do some final revisions then the printing and binding of four copies. Technically I have until March 2015 to submit, so if I haven’t managed to find a job this (Australian) summer, I’ll at least still have student status for a while longer. You’re probably thinking that I could finish in no time since I don’t have much left to do, but I have about seven jobs right now – more than half are actually volunteer positions – so I can’t exactly work on my thesis every single day. Plus turning my chapters into manuscripts to submit to journals takes a while, but needs to be done sooner rather than later since finding an academic job without having research publications is very difficult.

This may or may not be the same size as my stack of data and thesis copies...

This may or may not be the same size as my stack of data sets and thesis copies… [Photo Credit: gadl via Compfight cc]

I love all of my jobs though and wouldn’t give any of them up without a fight. The most time-consuming right now is teaching three classes this semester: first year French, second year French, and a tutorial on intercultural communication. I am a tiny bit obsessed with finding and creating fun speaking and vocabulary activities for my French students (see exhibit A: my Teaching French at Uni board on Pinterest).

I’m in Brisbane this week for the 1,600 delegate-strong AILA World Congress (the most important applied linguistics conference in the world!) and then I’m off to Sydney in October for the Easter Island exhibition that I’m co-curating as well as Taiwan in December to present at the Pacific History Association conference.

I’m also an assistant editor of the Journal of New Zealand & Pacific Studies which publishes two issues a year and has an annual conference in Europe, for which I’m an organiser, as part of the New Zealand Studies Association. (We’ll be in Vienna in July 2015, btw.) Add to those being the student representative for PhD students in my School (I get to complain on behalf of all of the students! I love complaining!), a research assistant, and webmaster of five websites, and hopefully you will understand why I have very little free time these days.

My current student visa expires in October 2015 and I’m still a little unclear as to whether the Department of Immigration changes the expiration date if your degree is conferred before your candidature is up. (It seems that international undergrads who finish their degrees early only have 28 days before they must leave the country.) I’m crossing my fingers that a visa-sponsoring academic job in Australia or New Zealand is available for next year but I’m also trying to prepare for the worst, i.e. packing up everything and moving across the ocean at my own expense for the third time in my life.

Plan B is submitting an expression of interest to obtain a resident visa for New Zealand since university lecturer is currently on the Long Term Skill Shortage List. Plan C is putting my stuff in storage, having friends look after Charlie and basically hanging out in Honolulu or LA until I can find a permanent way back to this part of the world. Just as one language will never be enough for me, one nationality and one passport will never be enough either.

I’ll post a summary of my time at AILA next week, but in the meantime I’m tweeting about the presentations and plenaries I’m attending and you can also check out the hashtag #AILA2014.

Applied Linguistics, CALL and French Conferences in 2014 and Beyond

Upcoming conferences on applied linguistics, computer-assisted language learning/teaching with technology, general language teaching & learning or French studies:

 
Applied Linguistics / Materials Design

Organization Dates Abstracts due Location
American Association of Applied Linguistics (AAAL) March 22-25, 2014 closed Marriott Downtown in Portland, Oregon
Canadian Association of Applied Linguistics (CAAL / ACLA) May 26-28, 2014 ?? Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario
Materials Development Association (MATSDA) July 28-29, 2014 ?? University of Liverpool in Liverpool, England
International Applied Linguistics Association (AILA) August 10-15, 2014 closed Convention Centre in Brisbane, Australia
British Association of Applied Linguistics (BAAL) September 4-6, 2014 March 1, 2014 University of Warwick in Coventry, England
American Association of Applied Linguistics (AAAL) March 21-24, 2015 August 20, 2014 Fairmont Royal York, Toronto, Canada
International Applied Linguistics Association (AILA) August 2017  ?? Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

I don’t believe the applied linguistics associations of Australia or New Zealand will be holding conferences in 2014 since the AILA World Congress is in Australia.

 

Computer-Assisted Language Learning / Teaching & Learning with Technology

Organization Dates Abstracts due Location
Computer-Assisted Language Instruction Consortium (CALICO) May 6-10, 2014 closed Ohio University in Athens, Ohio
European Association for Computer-Assisted Language Learning (EUROCALL) August 20-23, 2014 January 31, 2014 University of Groningen in Groningen, the Netherlands
Technology for Second Language Learning (TSLL) September 12-13, 2014 May 23, 2014 Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa
Globalization and Localization in Computer-Assisted Language Learning (GloCALL) – jointly sponsored by Asia-Pacific and Pacific CALL associations October 10-11, 2014 April 30, 2014 Ahmenabad, India
Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education (ASCILITE) November 23-26, 2014 ?? University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand
International Association for Language Learning Technology (IALLT) August 11-15, 2015 ?? Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts

 

Language Teaching & Learning (Secondary and Tertiary Levels)

Organization Dates Abstracts due Location
Association for Language Learning (ALL) April 4-5, 2014 ?? Lancaster University in Lancaster, England
Foreign Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics May 9-10, 2014 February 15, 2014 Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
New Zealand Association of Language Teachers (NZALT) July 6-9, 2014 May 16, 2014 Convention Center in Palmerston North, New Zealand
American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) November 21-23, 2014 January 15, 2014 Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas
Canadian Association of Second Language Teachers (CASLT) with International Federation of Language Teachers Association (FIPLV) and Ontario Modern Language Teachers’ Association (OMLTA) March 26-28, 2015 May 1, 2014 Sheraton/Crowne Plaza, Niagara Falls, Ontario
Australian Federation of Modern Language Teachers Association (AFMLTA) July 9-12, 2015 ?? Melbourne, Australia
American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) November 20-22, 2015 ?? Convention Centre / Marriott Hotel, San Diego, California
American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) November 18-20, 2016 ?? Convention & Exposition Center / Westin Riverfront Hotel, Boston, Massachusetts
American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) November 17-19, 2017 ?? Music City Center / Omni Hotel, Nashville, Tennessee

 

French Studies

Organization Dates Abstracts due Location
Association for French Language Studies (AFLS) June 25-27, 2014 January 10, 2014 University of Kent in Canterbury, England
The Society for French Studies (SFS) June 30-July 2, 2014 closed University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, Scotland
American Association of Teachers of French (AATF) July 19-22, 2014 ?? Astor Crowne Plaza Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana
Federation of Associations of Teachers of French in Australia (FATFA) July 25-26, 2014 February 21, 2014 University of Melbourne in Melbourne, Australia
Association canadienne des professeurs d’immersion (ACPI) October 23-25, 2014 ?? Halifax, Nova Scotia
Australian Society for French Studies (ASFS) December 3-6, 2014  June 30, 2014 RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia
American Association of Teachers of French (AATF) July 8-11, 2015 ?? Saguenay, Quebec

Applied Linguistics Conference in New Zealand

I’m off to New Zealand in two weeks to present at the Applied Linguistics Association of New Zealand / Applied Linguistics Association of Australia conference in Wellington. My presentation is “Formality and Francophonie: Stylistic and geographic variation in university textbooks of French” (Spoiler alert: there isn’t much.) The conference is November 27-29 at Victoria University of Wellington and I plan to live tweet the sessions I attend, probably with the hashtag #alanz2013.

Wellington with cable car (Wikimedia Commons)

Wellington with cable car (Wikimedia Commons)

Then on November 30, Michelle will be joining me from the US and we will begin our annual vacation together. (Remember our European and Australian vacations?) We’ll be exploring both the North and South Islands of New Zealand as well as the Cook Islands, which is in free association with New Zealand.

This will be my first trip to a tropical island in the South Pacific and my first experience with Polynesian languages. I hope to learn more Maori and Cook Islands Maori because right now my vocabulary is limited to kia ora / kia orana.

Conferences for Applied Linguistics, CALL, Language Teaching & Learning and French

If you’re interested in attending or presenting at conferences on applied linguistics, computer-assisted language learning, modern/foreign languages or French studies, here are some upcoming conferences. You still have time to submit abstracts for some of them. I plan on being in Wellington this November for the ALAA/ALANZ conference and Brisbane next August for the AILA World Congress. Any other organizations or conferences I should know about? My main areas are materials design, technology in language teaching/learning and vocabulary acquisition/teaching.

Applied Linguistics / CALL

Organization Dates Abstracts due Location
Computer-Assisted Language Instruction Consortium (CALICO) May 21-25, 2013 Manoa, Hawaii
Canadian Association of Applied Linguistics (CAAL / ACLA) June 3-5, 2013 Victoria, British Columbia
International Association for Language Learning Technology (IALLT) June 11-15, 2013 Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Worldwide Association for Computer-Assisted Language Learning (WorldCALL) July 10-13, 2013 Glasgow, Scotland
Materials Development Association (MATSDA) July 13-14, 2013 Liverpool, England
British Association of Applied Linguistics (BAAL) September 5-7, 2013 Edinburgh, Scotland
European Association for Computer-Assisted Language Learning (EUROCALL) September 11-14, 2013 Evora, Portugal
Applied Linguistics Association of Australia / NZ (ALAA / ALANZ) November 27-29, 2013 April 8, 2013 Wellington, New Zealand
Vocab@Vic December 18-20, 2013 April 12, 2013 Wellington, New Zealand
American Association of Applied Linguistics (AAAL) March 22-25, 2014 August 21, 2013 Portland, Oregon
International Applied Linguistics Association / AILA World Congress August 10-15, 2014 April 30, 2013 Brisbane, Australia

 

Language Teaching & Learning / French

Organization Dates Abstracts due Location
International Conference on Languages, Literature and Linguistics April 29-30, 2013 Johannesburg, South Africa
Association for French Language Studies (AFLS) June 6-8, 2013 Perpignan, France
Languages & Cultures Network for Australian Universities (LCNAU) July 3-5, 2013 Canberra, Australia
Australian Federation of Modern Language Teachers Association / New Zealand Association of Language Teachers (AFMLTA / NZALT) July 5-8, 2013 Canberra, Australia
American Association of Teachers of French (AATF) July 11-14, 2013 Providence, Rhode Island
International Conference on Linguistics, Literature, & Cultural studies in Modern Languages September 12-13, 2013 May 1, 2013 Murcia, Spain
American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) November 22-24, 2013 Portland, Oregon
Australian Society for French Studies (ASFS) December 9-11, 2013 August 31, 2013 Brisbane, Australia
Association for Language Learning (ALL) March ???, 2014 UK?
American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) November 21-23, 2014 San Antonio, Texas

 

I’ll continue to update this post if I find more conferences.