Plenary Speakers

SLRF 2014 Plenary  


Dr. Donna Lardiere

Georgetown University 

(Thursday plenary)

Grammatical knowledge in SLA: Is anything unacquirable in principle or in practice?

The term ultimate attainment is a researcher construct often used in the field of second language acquisition. It refers to a hypothesized developmental endstate that includes a stabilized mental representation of the structure of a particular language for a particular learner. Focusing primarily on syntax and morphosyntax, I unpack this term and some of its corollary assumptions for late SLA, exploring the question of whether it is possible to attain nativelike knowledge in any given grammatical domain, the extent to which the question itself is theoretically interesting, and finally, the kinds of predictions that might be made based on learners’ prior language knowledge and the complexity of the linguistic phenomena in question. 

(Selected references)



Dr. Cristina Sanz

Georgetown University

(Friday plenary)

The learner in the crowd: Individual differences and effects of instruction 

Recently, a growing number of SLA researchers has been looking into how instructional conditions affect language development in different populations.  In their research, they have made a concerted effort to go beyond the monolingual college classroom learner to include learners who may differ in important ways, including age and language learning experience.  Studying these populations is important for obvious practical reasons. It also motivates the investigation of the role of bundles of individual differences, especially socio-cognitive factors, as well as the role of pedagogical factors in language development. Importantly, however, it is the complex interactions between the mind and its context that move front and center.

For example, there is evidence that in more explicit pedagogical conditions, older adults are disadvantaged compared to young adults. However, it is possible that by changing the type and timing of explicit information we may see a reduction in the negative effects related to aging. The picture is undeniably complex, as it should be. This keynote will present some of these complex patterns that are beginning to emerge from recent cross-sectional and longitudinal studies conducted in the lab, the classroom and in study abroad contexts.



 Dr. Randi Reppen

  Northern Arizona University 

(Saturday plenary)

Vocabulary and multi-word expressions in L1 and L2 Freshman writing 

This presentation explores the productive vocabulary of writers in a university required freshman writing course. Vocabulary is explored at several levels, including lexical diversity, reporting verbs, noun-noun sequences and multi-word expressions (i.e., 3 and 4 words n-grams), all through the lens of variability across two different task types (argumentative, analytical) written by students from three different first languages (L1) (Arabic, Chinese and English). 

These diverse vocabulary measures across different writing tasks from three L1s paint a clearer picture of both first language influences and the effect of writing task.  Implications for research design, corpus construction, and instruction are discussed.