Have a Question? Contact the Humanities Office or an Academic Unit

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Time:  2:30-4:00PM

Room: BSB B103

Speaker:   Dr. Aline Godfroid, Associate Professor of TESOL and Second Language Studies, Michigan State University

Title:  Attention in second language acquisition: Towards an explanatory model

Attention has occupied a central place in theories of second language acquisition (SLA), dating back at least to Schmidt’s noticing hypothesis (Schmidt, 1990). The noticing hypothesis states that attention to language form, coupled with a low level of awareness, enables the representation of these forms in working memory, which may then give rise to more durable learning. Different methodologies have been proposed over the years to measure attention, including circling or underlining (e.g., Izumi, Bigelow, Fujiwara, & Fearnow, 1999), note taking (e.g., Izumi, 2002), and think-aloud protocols (e.g., Alanen, 1995). More recently, eye tracking—the real-time registration of a participant’s eye gaze—has emerged as a particularly sensitive measure of learner attention (Godfroid, Boers, & Housen, 2013), extending the measurement of the eye gaze as an index of overt attention in other disciplines (Wright & Ward, 2008). In this talk, I will present an overview of the expanding field of eye-tracking research on learner attention.

Originally framed in terms of the noticing hypothesis (Godfroid, Housen, & Boers, 2010; Smith, 2010), work on attention in SLA signaled a new direction in second-language eye-tracking research, with a goal of linking processing and acquisition. Attentional processing has traditionally been observed under incidental learning conditions, meaning the participants in an eye-tracking study engage in a natural, meaning-focused language task (e.g., reading a text, chatting with an interlocutor). Unbeknownst to them, the task contains learning targets (e.g., novel words or grammar) or language-related episodes (i.e., feedback) that can help advance their knowledge. Eye-tracking research has shown that language learners generally do attend to these target forms in the input; moreover, length of processing (as a measure of attention) is positively related to the learners’ performance on surprise vocabulary or grammar post-tests (Godfroid et al., 2013, 2017; Godfroid & Uggen, 2013; Mohamed, 2017; Pellicer-Sánchez, 2016; Smith, 2012). In an expansion of this basic paradigm, researchers have now begun to manipulate task instructions in an effort to compare incidental and intentional learning conditions (Choi, in preparation) or implicit and explicit instruction (Cintrón-Valentín & Ellis, 2015; Indrarathne & Kormos, 2017a, 2017b; Issa & Morgan-Short, forthcoming) more directly. Results have generally favored more explicit types of instruction (Choi, in preparation; Indrarathne & Kormos, 2017a, 2017b) and suggest the role of attention in the learning process may be causal (Choi, in preparation). Taken together, this growing body of eye-tracking research has the potential to corroborate empirically what theorists have posited for decades, namely that attention is pivotal to adult second-language learning.


3 Hour Workshop with Dr. Aline Godfroid

Date: Thursday January 25, 2018

Time: 9:30am to 12:30pm

Room: BSB 117

Title: Experimental tasks and paradigms in second-language vocabulary learning

A growing number of researchers investigate aspects of second-language vocabulary learning as a cornerstone of learning another language. This workshop introduces selected topics and tasks that have shaped the vocabulary research agenda in recent years and are likely to continue doing so. Fundamental to a discussion of vocabulary tasks and paradigms is the distinction between intentional and incidental learning (e.g., Hulstijn, 2001), which refers to whether or not participants are explicitly informed their task is to learn new words. To some extent, the intentional-incidental distinction mirrors vocabulary learning that takes place in instructed and naturalistic contexts, respectively, such as the language classroom and language learning while immersed in a foreign country. I will present an overview of natural language tasks that have been used to study vocabulary learning under incidental conditions and present the major questions that have guided research in this area. For intentional learning conditions, the paired-associates learning paradigm remains the gold standard for lab-based research due to its relative ease of implementation and flexibility of use. During the workshop, I will present an overview of the methodological decisions that need to be made when designing a paired-associates learning experiment. Finally, in the area of vocabulary assessment, the multicomponential nature of vocabulary knowledge (Nation, 1990, 2000, 2013) is now well recognized, as seen in the use of multiple tests of word form, meaning, and use. Even so, these tests continue to be primarily explicit-declarative (e.g., recognition or recall tests), leaving out other dimensions of lexical knowledge. In the final part of the workshop, I will present a selective overview of real-time methodologies—reaction time measurement, priming, and eye-movement recordings—that hold promise for measuring implicit-tacit or procedural vocabulary learning and knowledge (Godfroid, under review). The goal of this workshop is to provide a broad overview of issues in vocabulary studies combined with in-depth discussion of selected techniques to promote well-informed and well-designed research studies.


Godfroid, A. (under review). Sensitive measures of vocabulary knowledge and processing: Expanding Nation’s framework.

Hulstijn, J. H. (2001). Intentional and incidental second-language vocabulary learning: A reappraisal of elaboration, rehearsal and automaticity. In P. Robinson (ed.), Cognition and second language instruction (pp. 258-286). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Nation, I. S. P. (1990). Teaching and learning vocabulary. New York: Newbury House.

Nation, I. S. P. (2001). Learning vocabulary in another language (1st ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Nation, I. S. P. (2013). Learning vocabulary in another language (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.