Essay on Statement of Intent for HLT 1

Submitted By Song-Nim
Words: 1377
Pages: 6

What I am interested in Linguistics

I obtained my MA in applied linguistics, with a special interest in task-based development. Taking a class with Prof. Peter Skehan, I have developed my interest in Psycholinguistics and Cognitive Science. As a PhD student in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching, majoring in language processes and minoring in pedagogy, I wish to continue my desire in merging the gap between research and instructional practice. After taking two classes with Dr. Bever, and three with Dr. Nicol in psycholinguistics, bilingualism and writing systems, I have turned my interest into more specific and technical issues relating language processing in bilinguals’ mind and how to maximize their learning outcomes with better pedagogical intervention. For example, unlike English and Korean text, Chinese text doesn’t have spacing at the phrase boundaries to show how words and phrases are parsed. However, there has been empirical evidence suggesting that spacing is conducive to non-native language learners especially those that language learners used to spacing in their prior linguistic repertoire.

Statement of Research Intent

My goals for applying for the MS program of Human Language Technology are three-fold: 1) to acquire the first hand knowledge and skills in computational linguistics; 2) to potentially get some internship opportunities to work in the industry; and 3) in the long run, to attempt create a computer-mediated program to help second and foreign language learners (primarily English) to develop language proficiency (that can be measured in the dimensions of fluency, accuracy and complexity) by visualizing their spoken output so that they can pay attention to language form for the sake of what Swain (1986) called as comprehensible output.1

I am particularly interested in investigating how Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) can improve learners’ performance. Moreover, a computer-mediated program has the potential to tailor syllabi to address individual differences in the course of interlanguage development. With a computer-mediated program that focuses learners’ attention to “noticing the gap” (Swain, 1986) in their output; second or foreign language learners can improve in a few aspects including linguistic competence, accuracy and complexity, and their discourse competence, e.g. coherence, consistence and organization.
Let me give you an example of a conceptual model of a computer-mediated language-learning tool that can illustrate how the above theoretical framework can be applied. Through repetitions and adjustments of task conditions on the computer, language learners pace themselves in a series of tasks: first, given some visual and audio prompts, they may or may not have some time to prepare for the task depending on the task condition. While the task is being carried out, their output will be recorded, and transcribed before a final step (i.e. the transcription task), which they finally compare and contrast their own output. Ideally, a computer will be utilized to reduce the time needed for the transcribing component. The learning is more likely to take place when learners “notice the gap”, which is visualized on a computer device. This is in line with the idea of "self-talk", solipsism or ventriloquism, achieved through repeating one's output as input to modify output in the next round. This leaves the role of input as an independent variable. In the 1980’s, second language acquisition was equalized as having ample comprehensible input (Krashen). Input was stressed and probably over-emphasized and output just caught up with the deserved attention only since the advent of communicative approach. However, the relationship of the interaction of the two has not been investigated. The role of the teacher in such a learner-oriented approach assisted by CALL is important but not the central focus of this proposed research statement. The ultimate goal is to develop a computer tool for