British Association of Applied Linguistics Annual Conference 1st – 3rd September 2011

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British Association of Applied Linguistics Annual Conference
1st – 3rd September 2011

The Impact of Applied Linguistics”

Book of Abstracts


Plenary Sessions:

Diane Larsen-Freeman 1

Rick Iedema 2

Guy Cook 3

Individual Sessions 4

SIGS 150

Corpus Linguistics 151

Intercultural Communication 156

Language Learning and Teaching 160

Testing, Evaluation and Assessment 168

UK Linguistic Ethnography Forum 172

Vocabulary Studies 177


Clinical Linguistics – Invited Colloquium 182

Complex Systems – Invited Colloquium 195

Health Communication 200

Colloquium on Reading 205

Research Methods 211

SFL – Special Symposium 216


Posters 226

Index of delegates 255

Plenary Session 1

Title: The Impact of Applied Linguistics: Using a Complexity Theory Lens to Understand the Use of Repetition in Language Teaching

Diane Larsen-Freeman

Repetition is a time-honored practice in language teaching. Certainly, students’ repeating after the teacher was prominent in language teaching approaches informed by a behaviourist view of language learning. Vivian Cook wrote in 1969 “It is true that most second language teaching that takes place today makes extensive use of repetition of one type or other” (p. 213). While behaviourism has been largely discredited, repetition still to some extent persists in the language classroom. Its persistence suggests that it has value. This leaves me to wonder what repetition has to contribute to a post-behaviourist approach to teaching.

I do not have to be left with wondering, however. Applied Linguistics encourages us to inquire deeply into our practices in order to better understand them—as language professionals: teachers and teacher educators, researchers, policy makers, materials developers, etc.

In this talk, I will inquire into repetition using a Complexity Theory lens. From such a perspective, I will deny that anything can truly be repeated. I will nevertheless suggest that what learners think they are doing when they repeat something can indeed be helpful. I will show this by contrasting repetition, iteration, and recursion.

However, Applied Linguistics is also action-oriented. It is not enough to understand something. Thus, I will conclude by proposing that understanding repetition can help us to create conditions favorable for language learning.

About Diane:

Diane Larsen-Freeman is Professor of Education, Professor of Linguistics, Research Scientist at the English Language Institute, and Faculty Associate at the Center for the Study of Complex Systems at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is also a Distinguished Senior Faculty Fellow at the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont. Dr. Larsen-Freeman has been a conference speaker in over 60 countries around the world and has published books and over 100 articles in her areas of interest: second language acquisition, language teacher education, English linguistics, and language teaching methodology. Her book with Lynne Cameron, Complex Systems and Applied Linguistics (Oxford University Press), was awarded the prestigious 2009 Kenneth W. Mildenberger award by the Modern Language Association. Her latest book is the third edition of Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching, co-authored with Marti Anderson and published this year by Oxford University Press. Also this year Dr. Larsen-Freeman was presented the Distinguished Scholarship and Service Award by the American Association for Applied Linguistics.

Plenary Session 2

Title: Degeneracy rules: How social complexity affects research practice

Rick Iedema

This presentation explores the implications of social-organisational complexity for the research approaches that we deploy to study that complexity. The presentation draws on health care research to illustrate the nature of social-organisational complexity, and to describe the kinds of approaches that may be used to engage with that complexity. The presentation considers whether social-organisational complexity warrants what we'll refer to as 'methodological degeneracy'. Degeneracy is described as concept and made relevant to contemporary research practice. 

About Rick:

Rick Iedema (PhD USyd) is Professor in Organisational Communication and Director of the Centre for Health Communication at the University of Technology Sydney. He is also a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences of Australia. His research looks at the link between clinical communication and hospital organization. Most of his work focuses on clinical incident disclosure and clinical handover communication. His main achievements include developing patient-centred incident disclosure principles from over a hundred patient and family member interviews, pioneering a video-based approach to learning in complex health care organisations, developing a handover communication training kit that is now part of federal policy on patient safety, and systematising the ambulance-to-emergency handover process in New South Wales.

Plenary Session 3: The Pit Corder Lecture 2011

Title: Applied Linguistics: impact of, and impact on

Guy Cook, The Open University

Most discussions of the "impact of applied linguistics" accept the presupposition that "impact" is what academic research should strive for. In this lecture, I dissent from this assumption, and suggest that:

  • "impact" is the wrong word for what we should be aiming to achieve

  • it is a word which is not of our choosing, but belongs to a non academic discourse

  • that impact is not necessarily a measure of academic worth

  • that informed critique of establishment values should be one of the main roles of academics

  • that at this point in the development of applied linguistics, we should be more concerned about impacts ON applied linguistics than impacts OF applied linguistics

  • one impact on applied linguistics of particular concern is the claim by communications departments within universities to expertise in the use of language

  • another is governmental dismissal of the principle of academic freedom, and the framing of academic research as an instrument of government policy

About Guy:

Guy Cook is Professor of Language and Education at The Open University, UK. He was formerly head of TESOL at the London University Institute of Education (1991-1998), and Professor of Applied Linguistics at the University of Reading (1998-2004). He has published extensively on applied linguistics, English-language teaching, discourse analysis, literary stylistics, the language of advertising, and the language of public debates about food policy. He has been an invited speaker in over 40 countries. He was co-editor of the journal Applied Linguistics, from 2004-2009. He is Chair of the British Association for Applied Linguistics (2009-2012) and is an Academician of the Academy for the Social Sciences. His books include Translation in Language Teaching (2010) (Winner of the International House Ben Warren Prize), Genetically Modified Language (2004), Applied Linguistics (2003), The Discourse of Advertising (2001), Language Play, Language Learning (2000) (Winner of the Modern Languages Association Kenneth Mildenberger Prize), Discourse and Literature (1994) and Discourse (1989).

Individual Papers

Teaching and learning through a second language: developing insights into classroom practices.

Author(s): Oksana Afitska


Official educational polices in many sub-Saharan Africa countries require that a European language is used for educating children from a certain stage of their schooling. Research however suggests that the use of European languages in African schools may limit the capacity of both teachers and learners to engage effectively in education and therefore may contribute to teachers’ poor performance as educators and subsequently to children’s low achievement as learners. This paper presents an analysis of a biology lesson taught to Form II students in a state secondary school in Zanzibar and reveals typical classroom practices observed in many Zanzibar secondary classrooms. The data were collected by means of classroom observation and were analysed using Transana 2.40 software. The analysis and discussion focus around the following areas: (1) teacher and learner speaking time; (2) teacher questioning; (3) teacher feedback; (4) nature of learner talk; (5) teacher and learner use of L1; and (6) opportunities for L2 development. This presentation will be of interest to teachers, researchers and policy makers currently concerned with issues related to quality of school education in the contexts of L2 medium of instruction.

Are They Right Participants for the Right Strategies?: A case study in the Role of Levels of Language Ability and Gender in Strategy Use in Reading Section of TOEFL iBT

Author(s): Mohammad Alavi, Soodeh Bordbar

This paper investigates any significant differences in levels of language ability and role of gender in employing the test-taking strategies. It is an exploration for the application of proper strategies for the intended item types and the effects on the test sores. A list of test-taking strategies which was involved Reading and Test-management strategies (suggested by Cohen and Upton, 2006) in a test of reading comprehension of TOEFL iBT was employed. A total of 22 items, two computerized reading comprehension passages, were administered to undergraduate students (26 males and 40 females) majoring in English language and literature in a computer site at University of Tehran. The participants were asked to do the tests in no longer than 45 minutes and then specify the strategies that they employed in doing each reading comprehension item. Before administering the test, participants became generally familiar with the test procedures and test taking strategies in a pre-test session. Non-parametric statistics were used to analyze the collected data. The results showed that there is no significant difference among test-takers with respect to different language abilities and gender. However, the comparison of the amount of usage among participants with various language proficiencies showed that the Low and Medium group were out-performed in comparison with the High group. The results revealed that language learners tend to make use of different test-taking strategies in test of reading comprehension- whether the correct strategies for the correct item types or vice versa- in any levels of language abilities and gender. Furthermore, it is concluded that the use of strategies- either appropriate or inappropriate- espoused directly on the learner's scores. And if the use of strategies are not directed it may cause unsuccessful result in the exams. Subsequently, some purposeful teaching of related strategies is suggested.

Does Self-Exposure to Writing Styles and Rhetorical Structures Change EFL Rhetorical Writing?

Author(s): Ali Alghonaim

This study is conducted to show if self-exposures to reading texts change students' writing. The number of the participant students are twenty. They are EFL Saudi students taking a required writing course. Twenty out of two hundreds- students were randomly selected to participate in this study. The focus of the writing course was on writing argumentation. The text assignments that the students wrote were all argumentative. Later after the students submitted their writing assignments (first draft), they were given three selected pieces of relative argumentative essays to read and examine the organizational and rhetorical structures. Later, the participants were required to write an argumentative essay about the same topic (second draft). Their first and second drafts were coded, diagrammed, and analyzed. The result of the study showed that the participant students' second drafts did not change much. The changes were mainly limited to the common traditional essay features, such as the titles, introductions, thesis statements. The students also reported some difficulties in dealing with the texts. They were not able to analyze the reading texts by themselves because they did not know how to examine the texts and understand the various kinds of rhetorical structures.

Understanding the role of community based education in language maintenance: The case of an Arabic weekend school in Auckland

Author(s): Morad Alsahafi

Community heritage language schools have become a major part of the educational scene in multiethnic countries. Besides the immigrant family and community, the community language school represents one of the main strands in immigrant minority language and culture reproduction. Establishing community language schools represents a common practice among many immigrant minority groups in New Zealand. This paper examines the perceived role of an Arabic weekend school in the process of Arabic language and culture maintenance and development among New Zealand-raised Arab children. Set against a failure of overt macro-level language policies and planning by New Zealand dominant agencies and institutions on behalf of immigrant minority communities, this Arabic weekend school in Auckland provides an example of micro-level language planning activity initiated by the Arabic-speaking community.

Through an analysis of data gathered through semi-structured interviews with parents, children and teachers and observation at the Arabic weekend school in Auckland, this paper aims to gain insights into the participants’ perceptions of this school and its function within the Arabic-speaking community. The paper begins with a description of the school, including its rationale and purpose. Then, parent, child and teacher perceptions of the school as a community initiative for maintaining and developing the Arabic language and culture will be explored.


Author(s): Taghreed Alsaraj

To better understand why some language learners have more difficulty acquiring a target language, there has been a relatively recent increase in research into potential relationships between foreign language acquisition and affective variables (see Gardner, 1997). The present research utilizes a case study design, drawing on multiple sources of information regarding the experiences of female college students in a private college's English as a Foreign Language (EFL) program in Saudi Arabia. A combination of factors - the importance of learning English, the changes in the educational system, and the conservative culture - create a unique and intriguing environment for researching anxiety related to studying EFL. To gain insight into the learner's perspective of how FLA operates and to create a model of EFL learning that is consistent with the students' experiences, questionnaires, individual and group interviews, and informal classroom observations were used.

The primary questions driving the research in this study are as follows:

  1. What is the nature of Foreign Language Anxiety (FLA) in female-only EFL classrooms in this English-medium college in Saudi Arabia?

  2. Does FLA affect students' behaviour in this setting

  3. If so, how? And what are the consequences?

  4. How can knowledge gleaned from this research inform understandings of FLA more generally?

The case studies are examined and presented individually and compared. The students' individual experiences are analysed in the context of existing research literature. Finally, the implications and limitations, along with suggested recommendations for EFL teachers and policy makers in Saudi Arabia, are discussed.

Evaluative stancetaking in hard news reporting: apology press uptakes in the British press 

Author(s): Clyde Ancarno

There is no denying that, in some Western cultures at least, public apologies have become increasingly present. This is an indication of a migration of the speech act of apology from the private to the public sphere, and its use in an increasing range of public settings. In addition to spreading to new fields, such as law, medicine and business, this phenomenon has raised new questions. Research relating to the role of the media in public apology processes, and in the attribution of meaning to public apologies in particular, is timely.

This paper is based on the analysis of over 200 apology press uptakes in popular and quality British newspapers. The research is informed by pragmatics and critical discourse analysis which contribute to highlighting the ways in which news writers' evaluative stance may be identified in the texts examined.

The paper has two main aims: firstly, to introduce a public apology ‘felicity conditions' model based on press representations of what successful apologies are held to be, where ‘felicity conditions' are considered those conditions necessary for a successful use of the speech act in question; and secondly, to account for other ways in which evaluative stance taking permeate the media texts examined, where the objective voice of the reporter is expected to prevail. Owing to their pertinence to the study of evaluation, the following analytical categories are focussed on: (i) explicitly and implicitly evaluative metapragamatic comments and (ii) verbatim apologies and their immediate framing.

This research indicates that the ‘felicity conditions' presupposed by the media echo previous findings while also contradicting public apology usage. It highlights the news value-driven nature of much apology press uptakes and supports the view that hard news reporting is not devoid of the subjective voice of the reporter, but instead evidences patterns of overt and covert evaluation.  

Using Real life data to teach ‘Intercultural Communication'

Author(s): Jo Angouri

Given the international nature of socioeconomic activity and the mobility of people and businesses across borders, skills in Intercultural Communication (IC) have become central in educational curricula and policy documents (e.g. the National Occupational Standards for Intercultural Working in the UK). IC training for businesses and particularly for managers is also increasingly popular. At the same time, developing skills in IC is part of most language courses and particularly in relation to English as a Foreign Language, given the status of the language as one of the key languages of international commerce.

In light of the above, this paper reports on an ongoing study on workplace discourse and its pedagogic implications. I discuss intercultural talk as presented through texts (spoken and written) published in some of the best selling business English textbooks in the UK and compare this to widely used IC training handbooks aiming to help managers to communicate ‘effectively' across borders. The discussion is focused on the concept of miscommunication and suggested norms for handling multinational communication - as presented by textbook/handbook authors - to real life data drawn from multinational companies in Europe. My findings show that training materials often take a rather static view and treat culture as a homogenous unit with clear and distinct boundaries. Special attention is paid here to activities that focus on spoken interaction.  This paper will close by showing how findings of research on workplace discourse can be used to complement textbooks/training materials in order to develop learners'/trainees' skills.

Community metaphors: Towards a more sociolinguistic perspective on conceptual metaphor and embodied experience

Author(s): Sarah Atkins

The Internet has seen an extraordinary rise in geographically separate individuals coming together to discuss shared experiences, challenging any notions of face-to-face, physical co-presence as necessary for empathetic community relationships or conceptual common ground in interaction. The paper presented here looks at the metaphors two online health groups employ to describe their illnesses, in a way that becomes a means of signalling a shared community identity and empathy.

Metaphor has received considerable attention in studies of healthcare communication as a way of facilitating an understanding of illness experience (e.g. Gibbs and Franks 2002, Gwyn 1999). But the manner in which such metaphors are built up collectively and constitute an in-group culture between patients, rather than simply as individual cognisant subjects, is an aspect often left under-explored. This is indicative of cognitive linguistic views of metaphor more broadly, which have begun to take a somewhat neurologically deterministic view of their conceptual function and embodied logic, underplaying their cultural production (e.g. Lakoff and Johnson 1999).

Online health groups, which preserve the history of interactions as threaded messages, are able to document how metaphors and ‘ways of talking’ develop over time, in a manner not always possible to observe in other community contexts. This provides a means of exploring how illness metaphors become constitutive of in-group culture but also make certain cultural assumptions about patient experience in a globalised communicative context.

Gibbs R W and H. Franks (2002). ‘Embodied metaphor in women's narratives about their experiences with cancer.’ Health Communication 14(2): 139-65.

Gwyn, R. (1999). ‘“Captain of my own ship”: Metaphor and the discourse of chronic illness.’ In L.Cameron and G.Low (eds.) Researching and Applying Metaphor. Cambridge: CUP.  pp. 203-220.

Lakoff, G. and M. Johnson (1999). Philosophy in the Flesh. New York: Basic Books.

The sociolinguistics of framing healthcare simulations: acting or authenticity?

Author(s): Sarah Atkins, Celia Roberts

Simulated consultations are now a widely used educational strategy in the assessment and training of health professionals for dealing with patients (Williams et al 2003), associated with an underlying ideology of the ‘ethical imperative' for their use in developing a more patient-centred healthcare (Ziv et al 2006).

However, the particular context of the simulated medical encounter has been under researched in terms of the layered linguistic management it requires on the part of participants. The majority of studies have been concerned with whether simulations achieve authenticity, a perspective Seale et al (2007) challenge in highlighting the necessary frame ambiguity of simulations and the complexities behind their successful management. Such ambiguity raises questions about the particular sociolinguistic work that candidates and actor-patients do in doubly framing simulated medical consultations, managing the tension between mimicry of ‘real' encounters and appropriate performance to meet institutional priorities. This tension becomes of great consequence in the high-stakes encounters of licensing examinations for doctors, from which the data for this paper is drawn.

This lack of research on simulation is perhaps indicative of a more general trend in sociolinguistics to view the ‘natural', rather than ‘acted', communicative encounter as the ideal object of study. A linguistically detailed understanding of the interactional patterns apparent in theatrical performance, where actors can sustain a ‘dual consciousness' between inner experience whilst portraying outwardly different emotions for eliciting audience reaction (Konijin 1997), has not been attempted. This multiple frame management and inner experience in healthcare simulations, particularly in the context of an exam in which conduct is inwardly monitored in relation to assessment criteria, is of clear importance. The complexities of this double framing in simulated encounters is potentially one we must address in better understanding the difficulties and uneven pass rates that occur according to candidates' educational backgrounds.

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