SAREP WG4 “Individual differences”
Introducing (some of) our WG4 members!
University of Stockholm
I am a second year PhD student in French, focusing on second language acquisition, at the Department of Romance Studies and Classics at Stockholm University. In general, I am interested in individual variation in the acquisition of L2 French. In my thesis, I investigate individual differences in relation to the acquisition of idiomatic competence in a group of learners who spend a semester abroad in France. Idiomatic competence is operationalized both as the ability to provide idiomatic word sequences in text based on oral language, and as the production of idiomatic word sequences in oral production. Through a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods, I examine the potential role of TL use, social networks, vocabulary size, and personality in the development of idiomatic competence. Apart from my thesis topic, I am also interested in personal development during Study Abroad and its possible relation to target language use and progress.
I am a professor emeritus in French who has been working in the field of second language acquisition for several decades at the Department of Romance Studies and Classics at Stockholm University. In the center of my interest is the advanced and very advanced speaker’s use of L2 French at the ultimate stages of development. The last ten years I have been co-directing a research program called High Level Proficiency in Second Language Use at the same university (http://www.biling.su.se/forskning/forskningsprojekt/avslutade-projekt/programmet-aaa). The investigations so far have been effectuated at group level in areas such as morpho-syntax, formulaic language, information structure, syntactic complexity and, more lately, socio-linguistic competence in collaboration with Fanny Forsberg Lundell. In a recent publication on cultural migrants (individuals living in the TL country for at least 5 years) we set out to investigate characteristics at the individual level (Forsberg Lundell & Bartning, 2015). It is this area of individual differences at high level proficiency that I now would like to focus on in combining our results, quantitatively and qualitatively, of different linguistic features and measures leading to various individual profiles. The material used is the InterFra corpus (http://spraakbanken.gu.se/swe/resurs/interfra).
University of Bologna
I have been teaching English as a Foreign Language at the University of Bologna Language Centre since 1992.
In 2012 I obtained a PhD in Applied Linguistics from the University of Warwick with a thesis entitled “An exploration of Cross-Cultural Adaptation in the Context of European Student Mobility”. The research study showed how the individual journeys of sojourners can be extremely varied, and are affected by internal and external factors, such as motivations, expectations, personality, coping strategies, skills, characteristics of the environment, and chance, among others. The data – concerning 21 Italian university students – was in the form of interviews and weekly “diary-tables”, used to create graphs representing the ups and down of the individual experiences.
In terms of the research findings, the study revealed how the complexities of the adaptation process can be adequately understood within a model that caters for that complexity, while showing that this type of experience can be situated within the perspective of life changes. Anderson’s (1994) model seems particularly suitable in this context.
I also showed that European student mobility has changed since it was set up in 1987, and that increasing numbers of mobile students, the rise of instruction through the medium of English in many HE institutions, globalisation and technology, have changed the landscape within which these students move. Finally, I have shown how residence abroad does not necessarily bring enhanced intercultural skills, although these can be encouraged by providing the students with the concepts and language to describe their experiences, and opportunities for reflection before, during and after the experience abroad. This is the area in which HE institutions in Europe can play a significant role.
More recently, I coordinated the European project IEREST (Intercultural Education Resources for Erasmus Students and their Teachers). The aim of the project was to develop a set of teaching resources to be provided before, during and after study abroad, in order to encourage and support students in their intercultural learning. The resources are available here: http://www.ierest-project.eu/objectives.html
I have also co-edited two special issues on the topic of student mobility: “Intercultural Education for Student Mobility” (Intercultural Education 26 (1)) and “Perspectives and discourses on student mobility and interculturality” (Language and Intercultural Communication 16 (3)).
Department of Modern Languages, Literature, and Cultures
University of Bologna
I am Adjunct Lecturer in Foreign Language Teaching and teacher of academic writing in the School of Foreign Languages and Literature, Interpreting and Translation, University of Bologna, Italy. I hold an M.A. in intercultural learning through telecollaboration from the University of Bologna, and a Ph.D. in Foreign Language Learning and Teaching from the National University of Ireland, Galway. At present, my main research interests are intercultural language education, language socialisation abroad, and language learning and teaching in a sociocultural perspective.
I started researching Study Abroad quite recently, when I was the project manager of the IEREST project (Intercultural Education Resources for Erasmus Students and their Teachers, LLP 2007-2012, http://www.ierest-project.eu/). The project finished in 2015 and produced a set of resources for intercultural education to be provided to Erasmus students before, during, and after their stay abroad, in order for them to benefit from their study abroad experience in terms of intercultural learning.
My focus on interculturality and language learning quite naturally led to an interest in individual students’ experiences abroad in terms of social contacts, discursive constructions of diversity, plurilingual repertoires and personal development. In collaboration with my IEREST colleagues, I have addressed some of these themes in a number of recent articles. See for example the special issues in the “References” list below.
Josep Maria Cots
University of Lleida
I am Professor of English language and applied linguistics at the University of Lleida (Catalonia, Spain). I have carried out most of my research in the field of applied linguistics, focusing multilingualism and intercultural competence from a qualitative perspective. Between 1995 and 2014, I was the director of a research group on internationalisation and multilingualism in higher education. One of the projects that we carried out during this period focused on the impact of internationalisation and multilingual policies in bilingual universities; the other project centred around the impact of study abroad on the multilingualism, intercultural competence and European identity of students participating in the Erasmus exchange programme. At the moment, I am supervising two doctoral dissertations focusing on the individual and collective nature of personal narratives of study abroad.
Eötvös Loránd University
Kata Csizér graduated from Eötvös Loránd University, School of English and American Studies in 1998 and has been teaching English ever since. She holds a PhD in Language Pedagogy and wrote her dissertation on the foreign language learning motivation of elementary school students. She has been working at the Department of English Applied Linguistics, where she teaches various L2 motivation and research methodological courses. Her main field of research interest is the socio psychological aspects of second language learning and teaching as well as second and foreign language motivation. Hence, her interest in the Contact Hypothesis, that is how intercultural contact will shape students’ attitudes and motivation and as a result their achievement in foreign language learning. She participated in a number of national and international research projects and published more than 80 academic papers on various issues related to foreign language learning. She is on the editorial board of both Hungarian and international journals. Her recent publication includes an edited volume on self-related issues in foreign language learning (Csizér, K., & Magid, M. (2014). The impact of self-concept on language learning. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters). Currently, apart from working on this study abroad project, she is a member of the team editing a handbook on foreign language learning motivation.
Stefana Maria Dima
University of Timisoara
Ștefana Maria DIMA is a Senior Researcher at the West University of Timisoara (Romania). Her background in Economics shapes her current research interests in the sociological and economic aspects of study abroad experiences. She sees individual differences in students’ experiences as influenced by their well-being – an extremely complex concept, reflecting a wide set of factors ranging from objective to subjective (such as life-ability, living conditions, social networks, education, income and employment status). For more details on her work see http://ecreb.ro/staff; https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Stefana_Dima_cristea
Fanny Forsberg Lundell
I am an Associate professor of French at Stockholm University, with a special interest in Second Language Acquisition. Within the field of individual differences, I have dealt with personality in particular, but I have also included language aptitude in one of my studies. For personality measurements, I have used the Multicultural Personality Questionnaire. To date, I have mainly been investigating how individual differences affect ultimate attainment in adult learners in a migratory context, but I have also conducted one study on university students. Over all, I am interested in how psychological and social factors determine and shape language learning in adults. I supervise one doctoral student (Klara Arvidsson) within the field of study abroad and individual differences.
Department of Translation, Interpreting and Communication
From 2014 onwards we have systematically collected data on the impact of study abroad experiences on the intercultural competence and the multilingual effectiveness of the outgoing students of the Bachelor’s programme in Applied Linguistics, for whom a residence abroad is compulsory (Pauwels, T. & Eyckmans, J., 2016). In collaboration with our Swedish colleagues Fanny Forsberg Lundell and Klara Arvidsson we conducted a research project in which we investigated the relation between students’ multilingual effectiveness – measured by means of the Multicultural Personality Questionnaire (Van der Zee, K.I., van Oudenhoven, J.P., Ponterotto, J.G. & Fietzer, A.W., 2013) – and their phrasal competence in the target language (Forsberg Lundell, F., Eyckmans, J., Rosiers, A. & Arvidsson, K., under review). In 2015 we added a questionnaire to investigate our students’ intensity of L2 language contact and the situations in which they use the L2. This questionnaire is based on The Language Contact Profile (Freed, Dewey, Segalowitz & Halter, 2004) and was also part of a joint research project with our Swedish colleagues (Arvidsson, K, Eyckmans, J., Rosiers, A. & Forsberg, F., under review).
Two main findings that resort from the annual data collections are (1) that the impact of study abroad on our students’ intercultural competence shows a lot of individual variation, and (2) that the amount of contact with the L2 is rather low and restricted to a few language use contexts (Eyckmans, J. & Desmet A., 2016).We are currently developing a blended learning project (SALS, Study Abroad Language Support) that is directed at making our students more aware of the linguistic and cultural challenges they face when studying abroad and encourages them to make use of the target language in different contexts (informal and formal). By means of a computer application (SALSA, Study Abroad Language Support App) a system of learning interventions is being designed that is directed at increasing the amount of contact with the L2 and the diversity of that contact.
School of Oriental and African Studies
I am generally interested in students’ experiences during SA and their outcomes. Currently, I am particularly interested in students’ development of pragmatic competence and in their identity construction. Because students at SOAS are extremely heterogeneous and it is not possible to have a good sample size of relatively homogenous group of learners, I explore qualitative ways to examine differences in individuals’ experiences and their perceptions during their SA and their post-SA outcomes, rather than attempting to quantitatively examine the effect of pre-SA internal factors (e.g. motivation and personality) on post-SA outcomes. In the past, I studied SA outcomes of 5 male American students who studied in Japan for a year (please see the list of references). Though the studies were not originally meant to investigate individual differences per se, I could not help noticing striking differences among the individuals in nearly every respect. With a former colleague, I am currently analysing SOAS BA Japanese students’ pre- and post- interview data to see how they changed in the ways they use such language features as the use of speech levels and response tokens; with a current colleague, I examine the development of interculturality among BA students who have recently spent a year in Japan. In addition, I examine these BA students’ language portraits to learn the trajectories of identity construction from pre-SA, 4 months into SA, to post-SA.
I am a Professor in the Department of Language and Linguistics at Lancaster University, UK. My research interest includes the examination of the role of motivation, intercultural contact and self-related beliefs in study-abroad programs. I also research the development of vocabulary knowledge and fluency in study-abroad and how this development is influenced by individual difference factors. Among the types of study abroad programmes, my primary focus is on international students studying in the UK for longer periods of time.
University of Banja Luka
Republic of Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina
In general, my research interests range across different fields of psychology: quantitative research methods (I am a university lecturer in the field of statistics and research methods), effective learning strategies, assessment of personality traits, and social identity dynamics with particular focus on national, ethnic and religious attributes.
As for the SAREP, I would be particularly interested in studying two different types of formative outcomes related to study abroad experiences. First, I would like to explore changes in personality and social attitudes occurring among the students who make their mobility periods in culturally and politically contrasting countries (e.g. Eastern European students coming to Western European countries). Specifically, I would like to investigate in which ways such study abroad experiences influence stereotyping of others’ political and social systems, influence students’ value orientation and finally, if such experiences have even an effect on certain personality traits (all of the above would be measured in the beginning of and after mobility). My second interest would be in studying the effects of personality traits on the self-perceived quality of study abroad period; namely, I would like to explore whether certain traits might predict satisfaction of the study abroad above the effects of language proficiency and socio-economical characteristics. In addition, I would also be willing to join other projects which would be associated with my general research interests.
University College Cork
Annarita Magliacane is a PhD student in Applied Linguistics at University College Cork (Ireland). Her research is jointly supervised with the University of Naples Federico II (Italy). Her primary research interests lie in Second Language Acquisition, Sociolinguistics, Pragmatics, and Language Variation. In her current research she is focusing on the development of socio-pragmatic competence in L2 learners of English in a study abroad context and, more specifically, on the role of learner status in the acquisition of second language pragmatic markers during study abroad. Annarita has a Master’s Degree in “Linguistics and Translation for Special Purposes” from the University of Naples “L’Orientale” (Italy) and holds the Cambridge CELTA (Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults) from University College Cork, where she has also worked as EFL teacher.
University of Split
I teach English for Specific Purposes (English in Tourism and Business English) at the Faculty of Economics, University of Split. My interests have so far been in action research concerning various classroom activities in my teaching context such as using video in teaching, peer teaching, and primarily data driven learning. I have also developed various teaching materials.
Currently I am a PhD candidate of the SLA doctoral programme at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb. I am at the very early stages of my research which involves learning strategies and self-regulated learning situated in the context of study abroad.
University of Southampton
I am Convenor of SAREP Working Group 4, and Professor Emeritus in the Department of Modern Languages at the University of Southampton. I have longstanding interests in second language acquisition and in language education, particularly for Anglophone learners. Recently I have led a large scale project researching study abroad (the LANGSNAP project: www.langsnap.soton.ac.uk .) This project linked language learning with sojourners’ social networking and language experiences when abroad, and has provided helpful evidence on the individual characteristics which seem to promote a successful experience. I am very keen to pursue the issue of individual differences within the SAREP framework, so as to deepen our understanding of how to assist more diverse groups of mobile students to learn and develop effectively when abroad.
University of Bielsko-Biala
I am an Assistant Professor at the University of Bielsko-Biala, Poland. I obtained my PhD in Applied Linguistics at Birkbeck College, University of London.
My major interests include Personality/Emotional intelligence (EI) and its possible influence on the L2 use while being abroad and adaptation in the host culture. My previous research on Polish immigrants living in the UK and Ireland showed that indeed some of the personality and EI traits were related to the degree of the L2 use and self-perceived L2 proficiency (Ożańska-Ponikwia &Dewaele, 2012). Some more recent study (Ożańska-Ponikwia, 2016) showed that the degree of the L2 use was linked to different personality traits in the immigrant and non-immigrant sample. Some differences in personality traits were also reported among non-immigrant and immigrant informants. Based on these outcomes, it could be speculated that an individual’s personality profile could determine that individual’s willingness to communicate in the foreign language allowing immigrants for sustained L2 contact with native speakers of the target language, creating social networks and possibly facilitating adaptation in the host culture (Ożańska-Ponikwia, 2016).
I would be very much interested in researching mentioned above variables in the Study Abroad context.
Višnja Pavičić Takač
University of Osijek
My professional and research interests include individual differences in foreign language learning, especially language learning strategies, but I have also conducted research on other “classical” IDs, such as motivation, attributions, willingness to communicate. I am also interested in communicative competence, lexical development, cross-linguistic studies, pre-service teacher education and foreign language teachers’ competence.
As for SA, it has become my new interest since I supervised an MA thesis which was a self-reflective study on teaching English as a foreign language to very young learners in Spain conducted by my student, a Croatian pre-service teacher. I also conducted a study that compared learners of English and learners of German in Croatia in terms of the differences in the exposure to and the use of out-of-school context which was measured by and adapted version of Freed et al.’s Language Contact Profile (). We obtained very interesting results, such as that the ostensibly same at home context may be comprised of diverse strata linked to specific foreign languages which do not provide identical opportunities for context-related language learning activities, as well as that out-of-school context may be a significant contributing factor in foreign language learning. This directed my attention to several aspects that I would like to pursue. These include: the problem of measuring exposure to target language, comparing SA and AH contexts, in particular SA context which is NOT a second language context, and the influence of SA context on individual differences, particularly language learning strategies.
State University of Applied Sciences, Konin, Poland
Mirosław Pawlak is Professor of English in the English Department, Faculty of Pedagogy and Fine Arts of Adam Mickiewicz University, Kalisz, Poland, and Department of Research on Language Learning and Teaching, Faculty of Philology, State University of Applied Sciences, Konin, Poland. His main areas of interest include SLA theory and research, form-focused instruction, corrective feedback, pronunciation teaching, classroom discourse, learner autonomy, communication and learning strategies, grammar learning strategies, pronunciation learning strategies, motivation and willingness to communicate. His recent publications include Error correction in the foreign language classroom. Reconsidering the issues (2015, Springer), Willingness to communicate in the foreign language classroom: Combining a macro- and micro-perspective (with Anna Mystkowska-Wiertelak, 2017, Multilingual Matters), and several edited collections on learner autonomy, language policies of the Council of Europe, form-focused instruction, speaking in a foreign language, classroom-oriented research and individual learner differences. He is editor of the journals Studies in Second language Learning and Teaching and Konin Language Studies, as well as the book series Second Language Learning and Teaching, published by Springer).
University of Leeds
Clare Wright’s interest in individual differences focuses on the role of cognitive constraints, particularly Working Memory (WM), in terms of how WM may affect development of language knowledge and fluent use during SA. She has found in one study (2013) that WM, rather than quantity of interaction in L2, best predicted improvements in linguistic knowledge and oral fluency, for Chinese students of English over a year’s Study Abroad. She is currently investigating whether similar effects might be found among on English students of Chinese studying abroad; she is also investigating if and how different task demands (spoken vs written; monologues vs dialogues; with or without preparation; more or less complex) interact with WM. WM has had mixed success in studies, suggesting conceptual and methodological clarifications are needed to ensure greater validity and reliability. Furthermore most research into WM effects has so far been done on classroom learners, so not much has yet been done with SA participants. Thus collaborations among SAREP 4 members could thus shed valuable light on if and how WM is predicted to affect language development during SA.
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