PSUxLing6: Esther Brown (University of Colorado) & Gillian Lord (University of Florida)
October 9, 2020
9:00 am
ZOOM Virtual Room (Link will be provided)

PSUxLing6: Esther Brown (University of Colorado) & Gillian Lord (University of Florida)

The World Is Not Flat, So Why Are Our Textbooks?

Dr. Gillian Lord

Following the Modern Language Association’s (2007) recommendations, and in the face of declining enrollments nationwide, language programs are beginning to undertake serious self-reflection with respect to curricula and pedagogical approaches. This process often reveals the need to reenvision the approach to teaching languages, literatures, and cultures. One such way language educators look to innovate their teaching is by embracing digital tools, whether of their own design or those that accompany textbook packages. While there is no doubt that digital materials facilitate opportunities for fostering the “translingual and transcultural competence” called for by the MLA, it is less clear when and how these technologies will cease to be add-ons and begin to serve a more integrative function in transforming teaching and learning. To this end, Dr. Lord argues that the paper-based textbook has outlived its usefulness in today’s world, both logistically and pedagogically, and that the change we need in terms of how we teach cannot fully take place until we change the materials we use to teach. To demonstrate, Dr. Lord explains the theoretical underpinnings that went into the design and development of her new co-authored digital beginning Spanish textbook, Contraseña. To conclude, Dr. Lord will analyze student outcome data from learners using this program in order to show that this transformed approach benefits both students and instructors.


The Long-Term Accrual in Memory of Contextual Conditioning Effects

Dr. Esther Brown

Scholarly research on variable production of linguistic forms has provided a clear understanding of the ways in which factors of the target context can shape realizations of sounds, words, and constructions. Studies investigating variation in speech seek to consider, or statistically control, linguistic, extralinguistic, and/or discourse~pragmatic factors operating upon the target form of interest, because these predictors constrain the variation in anticipated ways. Conditioning factors of the context of use, in other words, affect linguistic form in probabilistic fashion. Usage-based research has determined that these forms, which reflect the probabilistic conditioning of the factors of the production context, become registered in memory as variant forms of words (and/or constructions). Thus, contexts of use affect linguistic productions and such productions, in turn, can impact lexical representations. Nevertheless, words differ significantly with regard to their exposure to conditioning factors of the discourse context. That is, opportunity biases arise naturally in use whereby some words co-occur with specific conditioning factors significantly more than others. The conditioning effects of contextual predictors accumulate differentially, then, across the linguistic forms of the lexicon. As such, it is productive in studies of variation (and change) to consider words’ proportion of use in specific discourse environments conditioning variation.

This talk will substantiate each of these claims [(ii) that context of use shapes linguistic form, (ii) that linguistic forms become registered in memory, (iii) that words differ in their likelihood of occurrence in conditioning contexts] using data from Spanish. Dr. Brown will present projects on phonetic reduction (durational shortening of words) and morphosyntactic variation (variable subject personal pronoun expression) that reveal evidence of lexically specific accumulation in memory of words’ ratio of occurrence in discourse contexts conditioning variation. Dr. Brown will discuss efforts to disambiguate whether these results reflect outcomes of opportunity biases (predictability of contexts), episodic traces of experiences (counts of produced forms), or both. Results of both projects are interpreted as supporting Exemplar Models of lexical representation.