Congratulations to Mariana Centanin Bertho and Anna Fomchenko Buchanan, the 2020 CERCLL Graduate fellowship recipients!

The program is a one-semester professional development opportunity for foreign language GATs at the University of Arizona, that is intended to support work on projects related to CERCLL’s mission as a national language resource center. A public presentation and online resource will be available from each fellow, following the completion of their projects.

Mariana Centanin Bertho, PhD Candidate in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching

Supporting Oral Production and Comprehension of L2/L3 Portuguese Learners

The current project aims to create materials for the development of oral production and comprehension of students of Portuguese. The learners’ phonological acquisition in an L2 or L3 undergoes the process of evaluation of the sounds of the target language through the sounds of the learners’ L1 or other languages. This process is explained in models of speech acquisition, such as the Speech Learning Model, by Flege (1981), and the Perceptual Magnet Effect, by Kuhl and Iverson (1995), which suggests that sounds that are similar, but not identical, between the L1 and L2 phonological systems, may represent difficulties to the L2 learner. Research on the instruction of pronunciation has suggested that there are benefits in explicit instruction of pronunciation when followed by practice and feedback. Moreover, studies have demonstrated improvement in oral production when students are engaged in meaningful and complex tasks. Enlightened by these theoretical and empirical studies, this project aims to create supporting materials for students of Portuguese as an L2 or L3 to develop their oral production and comprehension. The majority of students of Portuguese at the University of Arizona are Spanish speakers, either as an L2, heritage, or native language. This population of students may encounter specific difficulties when learning Portuguese because of its similarity with Spanish. In order to address these specific demands, we propose to create a variety of activities that balances focus on form and general understanding in meaningful tasks designed to improve students’ oral production and comprehension.

Anna Fomchenko Buchanan, MA Candidate in Russian

Students’ Motivation in a Hybrid Language Class

This project will focus on the problem of students’ motivation in a hybrid language class. Low motivation toward completion of online activities has been found among students who study Russian language in hybrid sections. Ignoring or not paying enough attention to the online portion of the class negatively affects students’ success in learning a second language. Lack of motivation inhibits learners’ desire to study, affects the overall progress, and negatively impacts their decision to enroll in future language courses (Prinzi, 2007). The project will examine the quality of online materials that are used in hybrid Russian sections, as well as the factors that lower the motivation of L2 learners. The author intends to improve online materials and provide various solutions to increase students’ motivation in a hybrid language class. A students’ survey, which was conducted by the author last year, has shown that the online portion of hybrid classes did not appear to be entertaining. However, students tend to pay more attention to the online portion when it helps them complete written homework assignments. Almost half of the respondents admitted that the use of technologies was not easy for them, which suggests that online tutorials should not be too challenging for students to work on their own. The author intends to completely upgrade hybrid Russian course by reshaping the approach of teaching a hybrid section, renewing online tutorials, and designing new activities. Toward the end of the project, the author will provide practical recommendations for foreign language instructors on how to make the online portion of the hybrid class more engaging and valuable for students, which will increase students’ participation in online activities and make their experience in a hybrid class more beneficial.