SLS730 Seminar in Second Language Education: Project-Based Learning and Teaching (new course for Spring 2018)

This seminar will help students gain theoretical depth and practical perspectives concerning project-based second language learning and teaching. Originally developed (in L1 contexts) by Kilpatrick and Dewey (e.g., Kilpatrick 1918) as an approach to learning and teaching which focuses, holistically, on practical projects and group learning activities reflecting community- and societally-based needs (and tasks), in current developments this now relates closely with ecological perspectives on applied linguistics (van Lier, 2004). Research projects that focus on community-related needs will be encouraged (see e.g., Leavy, 2007).

A major topical focus within the seminar will be content consistent with the upcoming (August 2018) UHM NFLRC-sponsored conference, the Fourth International Conference On Interactivity, Language & Cognition (CILC IV). This will prepare students to participate in CILC IV (including volunteering and interacting with conference participants). “The theme of CILC2018 is Educational Enskilment, Event, and Ecology. These intersecting ideas converge on how processual events sustain human and community becoming. In addition to addressing these issues, we welcome papers that discuss how Eastern and Western assumptions about knowledge and becoming can be linked, and how such links may be fruitfully exploited in theory and practice. Thus, in Chinese philosophy there is a reciprocal metaphor that connects the cosmos and the body through Qi, an energetic flow that operates on different scales. In the West, proponents of 4E cognition (Embodied, Embedded, Extended, Enactive) are increasingly preoccupied with ideas that share similar assumptions. We propose to explore Qi in both its holistic macro and micro potentials and ask how concepts like ecosystems, events, and Qi, contribute to our understanding of languaging, thinking, and feeling” [from conference call].

Kilpatrick, W. H. (1918). The project method: The use of the purposeful act in the educative process. New York: Teachers College, Columbia University.

Leavy, P. (2017). Research design: Quantitative, qualitative, mixed methods, arts-based, and community-based participatory research approaches. New York: Guilford Press.

Van Lier, L. (2004). The ecology and semiotics of language learning: A sociocultural perspective. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

SLS680R Tools Used for Transcription and Quantifying Qualitative Data (new course for Fall 2016)

Technological prevalence and advancement pushes the envelope of human limitations on data management, such as data collection, analysis and report. This course aims to prepare researchers and teachers to handle qualitative data ranging from millisecond pico-scale dynamics to macro massive data. We will examine readily available, open source tools that can advance conducting research, for example ELAN, Transana, and Discursis. Such tools can help with transcription, organization, retrieval and systematic analysis of qualitative data, such as ethnographic observation and interview data, interactional dialogues, conversations, and discourses, and multimodal actional nonverbal and dynamic process data. For example, we can look at data generated from classroom interaction audio and video recordings, as well as coordination data taking place at a workplace, or data from co-problem solving tasks. The course will also touch on methods and tools for quantifying the aforementioned qualitative data. For example, we will look at content analysis, rubric design, and automizing quantification of qualitative data. We will explore each of the tools with hands-on lab sessions. We will discuss tools use for transcription and analysis by emphasizing unit of analysis, and research questions rooted in wide range of theoretical and analytical frameworks.

We will explore software packages that have been used for transcription and analysis of linguistic, interview, discourse, interaction data,  such as Transana ( (Links to an external site.), free to enrolled students), ELAN (Open source, (Links to an external site.)) and  Discursis (Purchase, (Links to an external site.))

SLS760 Seminar in Second Language Use: Ecological & Sociocultural Approaches to L2 Learning (new course for Fall 2014 |Fall 2016)

This seminar is designed to explore second language acquisition and language learning from perspectives that classical SLA does not usually take into consideration, namely ecological, sociocultural approaches. Topics regarding both epistemological and ontological orientations will be organized into the following modules,

  • Learners: Are they truly individual beings cognizing or processing learning only in the brain, or are they only social beings who learn through socialization and interaction? Or are they ecological and dialogical beings who appropriate biological substrate, sociocultural values, semiotic resources for sense making?
  • Environments/contexts: All research paradigms and pedagogical treatments consider the relationship between the learner and environments. Are environments considered as containers that function in the background? Are learners and environments reciprocally co-defining and co-changing? How are learners and environments connected? What are the roles of teacher, technology, community and personal biography in language development?
  • Unit of analysis: Unit of analysis is the major entity that defines the ontological nature of your research and ultimately determines the values of finding in pedagogical practices and phenomenological discoveries. We will consider and compare a wide array of approaches on unit of analysis from different research paradigms, such as individuals, groups, tasks, t-units, turns, agent-environment coupling, communicative projects, etc.
  • Methods and Analytical tools: technological prevalence and advancement pushes the envelope of human limitations on data management, such as data collection, analysis and report. We will examine readily available tools that can advance conducting research from ecological and sociocultural approaches.
  • Pedagogical Implications: Synthesizing the first 4 topics, this module explores what an ecologically and socioculturally oriented classroom looks like. This includes such topics as action-based learning, place-based learning, pedagogy as multimodal design, student-teacher relationships that are beyond the segregation between teacher-centered and learner-centered dichotomies.

This seminar is dedicated to the legacy of Leo van Lier’s work on The Ecology and Semiotics of Language Learning

SLS750 Social Media, Agency and Languaging (Twitter: #SMAL | Spring 2012 | )

This seminar will provide opportunities for students to investigate various phenomenological and empirical questions, not from dichotomous view, but an integrated view that does not exclude dichotomous standpoints. Students from traditions of classical SLA cognitivist, sociolinguistics, interventionist, ethnography, phenomenology traditions, and so on, are welcome to the course. By engaging in readings, online synchronous and asynchronous discussions, interaction with guest lecturers, hands-on activities on wide range of social media, and a research project, we will fulfill the main class goal of developing new perspectives on second language learning and development.

Specifically, we will explore notions of agency from diverse traditions, such as cognitive, sociocultural, dialogical, ecological and distributed perspectives. Agency can be treated as an individual autonomy in cognitive views; as a “socioculturally mediated and dialecticaly enacted” activity in sociocultural theory (Lantolf & Thorne, 2006); as flexible action that takes into account relative environmental factors that reveals both prospectivity and retrospectivity (Reed, 1996) in the ecological framework; as “a dialogical self, contextually interdependent with others and with contexts, moving between different positionings but still part of continuities” (Linell, 2009, p. 113); as part of the dynamics of human interactivity that gives rise to the use of linguistic aspects, material artifacts and values-realization (Steffensen and Cowley, 2010; Hodges, 2009).

By the same token, Languaguaing has emerged in recent literature ranging from applied linguistics tradition of grammer – grammering (Larsen-Freeman, 2003) and output-languaging (Swain, 2006) to biosemiotics of doing things together recurrently in the praxis of socioculturally established activities of daily life Maturana, 1988), as well as well to the dialogical sense of inguistic actions and activities in actual communication and thinking (Linell, 2009). Thus, agency and languaging are inseparable when looking at language learning and development as a holistic endeavor. We will also explore the notion of translanguaging from Maturana’s point of view (e.g. Garcia, 2009; Zheng, 2012).

By looking into these recently emerged dynamic concepts from both applied linguistics and related fields, such as cognitive sciences, philosophy and psychology, this course seeks to strike a balance via a distributed view of language that both perspectives of cognitive and social and environing factors, linguistic and languaging phenomena, autonomy and agency contribute to human interactivity. In this light, we will examine the omnipresent role of social media for shaping agency and (trans)languaging practices and vice versa. A arrange of social media including social networks, mobile apps, digital narrative production, affective computing and gamification will be covered in the course.

SLS 680P Tasks, Activities and Learning Environments (Summer 2010, Fall 2012, Spring 2014)

This course addresses new understandings of learning as they apply to second language instruction and instruction in general, namely “embodied learning”, “joint coordinated action” and “dialogical approaches to instruction”. The course content will have two main parts: one strand being current literature in New (Media) Literacies, Computer-Supported Learning Environments, Ecological Linguistics, Activity Theory, Distributed Cognition; the other being literature and class projects related to designing second language learning or general learning tasks, activities and learning environments. At the end of the course students will be equipped with cutting-edge understandings of theory and practice and able to put them into practice by way of designing and implementing practical class activities and learning tasks suitable for in-person as well as on-line learning environments, such as course management systems (e.g., Lualima), web conferencing (e.g., Elluminate, WizIQ, etc.), online role-playing games (e.g., World of Warcraft), sandbox games (e.g., Minecraft), virtual worlds (e.g., Second Life, Quest Atlantis), social networks (Facebook, Google+).

SLS 750 Distributed Language and Multimodal Analysis (Spring 2011|Spring 2012 ) (site is temporarily down)

In this course, we will explore new ways of looking at communication and interaction (e.g., student-teacher, human-computer, doctor-patient interactions, and other professorial and mundane interaction) by using an array of multimodal analytic toolkits. A common thread in these approaches is illuminated by Edward Hutchins’ seminal work on “Cognition in the Wild”, which considers material artifacts as part and parcel of human cognition and communication. Rather than treating them as decorations or backgrounds of communication, material artifacts or external representations augment our thinking and communication, extending cognition beyond the skull.  “They allow us to think the previously unthinkable” (Kirsh 2010). For example, a particular choice of color, in combination with other features, indexes a particular evaluative language stance; A particular gesture or body movement signals a pattern of meaning-making and sense-making along and/or in combination with language; A particular type of technology (such as Facebook social media, Youtube video, or Second Life virtual world) invites different trajectories of interaction and meaning-making practices.

Backgrounded on these perspectives, we will look at multimodality from different aspects of literature; for example, Baldry and Thibault’s multimodal transcription and text analysis, Charles Goodwin’s embodied interaction, Carey Jewitt’s multimodal approach to technology, literacy and learning. We will explore software packages that have been used for multimodal transcription and analysis, such as CHILDES (open source), Mutlimodal Web Analyzer (open source), and Transana (, free to SLS 750 students).

SLS618 Language and Learning Technologies
(Past URL:

What is language? How do we understand language and language learning in the light of learning technologies? How do we make sense, make meaning and realize values when technologies are involved in the learning environment. Learning technologies, ranging from vernacular use of Skype to sophisticated virtual world technologies, bring us new challenges and opportunities for communication and social networking, as well as learning & teaching.

In this course,

  1. We will explore dialogical perspectives of language and its implications for sharing, co-construction, co-authoring and co-creation of identity and meaning in technology supported learning environments
  2. We will investigate the affordances of technologies as indicated by members of the class (through needs analysis) for language learning and teaching
  3. We will design, and conduct studies of a specific technology that you are interested in.  A range of research questions are encouraged by using quantitative methods, ethnography, discourse analysis, conversation analysis and multimodal analysis.

SLS 680P Second Language Pedagogy: Integration of Technology into Teaching and Learning (Fall 2009)

SLS 600 Introduction to Second Language Studies (Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011)

SLS 418 instructional Media (Fall 2010, Spring 2012, Spring2014)

SLS 380 Bilingual Education (Spring2010):


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