Three projects were awarded funding in the CERCLL Faculty Research Fellows competition for work to take place during the summer and Fall of 2020. Congratulations to Andrew Carnie and Jonathon Reinhardt; Emily Hellmich and Kimberly Vinall; and Narges Nematollahi!

Abstracts follow; webinars, teacher guides and other resources resulting from the research will be online in 2021.


Virtual and Interactive Experiences for Increasing Communicative and Cultural Competencies in Scottish Gaelic

Andrew Carnie, Department of Linguistics, Dean/Vice Provost for Graduate Education; with Jonathon Reinhardt, Department of English

Scottish Gaelic (SG) is a highly endangered language spoken natively by less than 30,000 people, yet it is
the real storehouse for hundreds of years of culture and is a critical touchstone for speaker identity. L2 learners
are thus the key to the maintenance and revitalization of this language. With a few exceptions, the tools for SG
language teaching have not changed in 50 years. Current methodologies are dominated by grammatical rule
learning, translation and vocabulary. There are few opportunities for real interactive language use or for the
teaching of cultural competency. We propose to broaden access to evidence-based modern pedagogical digital
materials such as interactive fiction and VR-based storytelling, connecting isolated SG learners with others through
tasks that simultaneously promote meaningful language use and development of intercultural competency.

 


Translating Machine Translation: Pedagogical Guidelines Based on Student Use

Emily Hellmich, Department of French & Italian, with Kimberly Vinall, De Anza College

Machine translation software (e.g., Google Translate) has increased in profile and performance, finding its way more frequently into the language classroom. That said, few guidelines on how to navigate these tools are available to instructors or students. An essential step in developing these guidelines is understanding how students use MT tools. While past research has focused on students’ perceptions of their use, little research to date has tracked exactly how students use these tools.

To that end, the current project aims to document and analyze how university foreign language learners use machine translation tools via a computer tracking study using screen capture technology and think aloud protocols. In doing so, we aim 1) to establish an initial portrait of how and why students learning three languages (French, Spanish, Mandarin) use MT tools and 2), using the study’s findings, to create pedagogical guidelines on the integration of these tools into classrooms

 


Developing an Online Theme-Based Picture Dictionary for Learners of Persian

Narges Nematollahi, School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies

This project develops the full infrastructure and a limited content for an online theme-based picture dictionary for learners of Persian at the college level. The online tool is to provide a multimedia environment in which the Persian words are matched with the objects and activities that are illustrated on a theme-based image. The user can see the word in the Persian script and listen to its pronunciation through an accompanying audio file. The project involves three main tasks: developing the software infrastructure, creating theme-based word lists for basic categories, and creating theme-based images reflective of the everyday life in Iran today. Based on a previous study of existing bilingual dictionaries of English and Persian, there is a lack of reliable resources for students of Persian for learning to use the words in correct contexts and with correct pronunciation. This project seeks to fill this gap.

 


 

For further details about this program and links to previous projects that it funded, click here.