Our research in second language acquisition and language teaching involves two complementary and inter-connected strands of investigation, both of which focus on the language learner. We work closely with our colleagues in the Lexical Studies and ALaW strands of the Language Research Centre, as well as with language teaching/training practitioners, particularly those in Swansea University’s English Language Training Services.
The first strand looks at the second language learner as an individual. We investigate how language is represented in that learner’s mind, and analyse the psycholinguistic factors which may influence that learner’s progress.
The second strand takes a more external approach and considers the role of the teacher, pedagogical practice and intervention studies to examine how we may teach learners more effectively.
Strand 1: Experimental approaches to second Language acquisition
Within the psycholinguistic approach, we investigate both syntactic and lexical processing in L2 learning as well as the relationship between lexical and syntactic development. We use experimental techniques, such as eye-tracking and reaction times analysis as well as a variety of spoken and written production methods. We are also interested in the role of individual differences (i.e. memory and aptitude) as additional factors to account for language learner variation in outcome. We have been working on the development of the LLAMA aptitude tests initially created by Paul Meara in 2005 and have developed reaction time based tests (dubbed the ALPACAAs) to further validate the LLAMA tests.
Strand 2: Classroom approaches to second language acquisition and language teaching
The second strand of research looks at the classroom side of second language acquisition. We investigate different methods of language teaching, including classroom intervention studies, and assess the impact on the learner. This includes the role of corrective feedback both from a teacher and learner perspective, interventions and assessments of methods of instruction. We focus both on the acquisition of skills (e.g. writing) and specific lexical and syntactic structures.
We have a fully equipped Applied Linguistics Research lab, which houses our SR Eyelink Portable Duo as well as laptops with e-prime and OpenSesame software. We also have a number of video cameras, voice recorders and noise-cancelling headsets. The lab is available to staff and students within the section for research purposes and equipment can also be borrowed to use in other settings, e.g. schools.