Presentations

I have given presentations (see titles, summaries, and recordings/slides/handouts below) at conferences for professional organizations including the American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL), the Canadian Association of Applied Linguistics (ACLA/CAAL), the International Association of Applied Linguistics (AILA), and Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).  I have also given invited presentations at the Sunshine State TESOL Conference, Sabanci University’s Freshman English Conference, the Symposium on Second Language Writing, and at institutions including Shih Chien University, Taipei, Shih Chien University, Kaohsiung, the Taipei Municipal University of Education, and Tamkang University.


A review of research on L2 writing instruction:  What learning transfers, and how far?  (Paper presented at AAAL conference, Chicago, Illinois, March 24-27, 2018)

A 9-dimension analytic framework used previously to analyze findings in psychology research on learning transfer was used here to review 47 studies of L2 writing instruction.  Patterns emerged to answer two questions:  What kind of learning transfers as a result of L2 writing instruction?  How far does that learning transfer?


Can communicative tasks increase L2 students' perceived self-efficacy?  (Paper presented to the Canadian Association of Applied Linguistics [ACLA/CAAL], at the annual Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities, Toronto, Canada, May 29-31, 2017)

L2 students' beliefs in their L2 capabilities (i.e., perceived self-efficacy [Bandura, 1994]) contribute to desirable outcomes like stronger performance on tests (Bong, 2002; Mills et al, 2006; Woodrow, 2011) and higher grades (Hsieh & Kang, 2010; Mills et al, 2007; Phakiti et al, 2013). A L2 teaching technique that has potential to increase students' perceived self-efficacy is communicative tasks (e.g., Ellis, 2003), because these have outcomes that demonstrate communicative success, and experience of success isa strong source of perceived self-efficacy (Usher & Pajares, 2008). However, research has yet to examine communicative tasks' influence on L2 students' perceived self-efficacy.

This presentation describes an experimental study designed to help fill this gap. 81 students from EFL classes at a high school in South Korea participated. Students were divided into three groups, all of which completed a perceived self-efficacy questionnaire (designed to reflect communicative abilities targeted in the South Korean English education curriculum). Over the next four weeks, the first group completed a series of 12 communicative tasks (i.e., information-gaps), the second group completed a series of 12 activities that were not communicative, and the third group did no activities.  Then, all three groups completed the perceived self-efficacy questionnaire again. Analyses showed that perceived self-efficacy increased significantly for the first and second groups, but not for the third group, leading to the conclusion that communicative tasks can increase L2 students' perceived self-efficacy, but are not the only way to do this. Implications for research and practice in L2 education will be discussed.

 

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Can communicative tasks increase EFL students' English self-efficacy?  (Presentation at the annual TESOL conference, Seattle, Washington, March 21-24, 2017)

L2 learners' perceptions of self-efficacy are important, contributing for example to motivation to use the language; however, little is known about the influence of L2 teaching on these perceptions.  This presentation describes a recent study that suggests communicative tasks can increase EFL students' perceptions of self-efficacy.

 

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Does variation in learning tasks help to promote transfer of L2 speaking fluency?  (Presentation at AAAL conference, Orlando, Florida, Apr. 9-12, 2016)

A goal for L2 teaching is helping students to improve speaking fluency.  Research has examined this topic, but little is known about whether improvements transfer to new situations.  This presentation describes a study of the influence of variation in type of learning task on ESL students' transfer of speaking fluency.

 

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Transfer of learning in ESOL education (Keynote presentation at the Sunshine State TESOL Conference, St. Petersburg, Florida, May 7-9, 2015)

A fundamental purpose of teaching English to speakers of other languages (ESOL) is to help learners successfully communicate beyond the immediate language-learning situation. To meet this purpose, students must be able to apply English learning in new situations (e.g., in other courses, at home, in a workplace). This involves learning transfer, which is the influence of prior learning on subsequent learning or performance. Without transfer — for example, if learning occurs in an ESOL classroom, but students cannot apply that learning beyond that classroom — ESOL education has limited value. In some education contexts, assumptions have been made that if learning occurs, transfer follows inevitably; however, over a century of research in several education-related areas (e.g., educational psychology, human resources development, second language education) suggests that learning does not inevitably transfer, and that transfer can, in fact, be difficult to promote. This presentation will explore learning transfer in ESOL education through a discussion of the following main questions: Does ESOL learning transfer? Why or why not? What can ESOL educators do to help promote transfer?

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Evaluating the transfer-promoting potential of ESOL materials (Breakout session at the Sunshine State TESOL Conference, St. Petersburg, Florida, May 7-9, 2015)

This hands-on session builds on an understanding that learning transfer is a fundamental goal of teaching English to speakers of other languages (ESOL). The focus in this session will be the practical application of a new concrete tool for evaluating the transfer-promoting potential of ESOL materials (e.g., textbooks). Session participants will try using this tool themselves to identify transfer-related strengths and weaknesses of some examples of current teaching materials. Discussion will focus on how the tool can be used effectively and efficiently, and ways the information it provides can be applied. For instance, session participants will develop ideas for supplementing the example materials in ways (e.g., with slight modifications to activities) that will enhance their transfer-promoting potential.

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Evaluating the transfer-promoting potential of L2 teaching materials (Paper presented at the AAAL & ACLA/CAAL conference, Toronto, Canada, March 21-24, 2015)

Transfer of learning beyond the classroom is a basic goal of L2 instruction. This presentation describes a new tool for use by teachers and researchers to evaluate the transfer-promoting potential of L2 teaching materials. The tool will be demonstrated through an evaluation of a collection of current ESOL textbooks.

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Transfer of learning in English-for-academic-purposes education (Plenary presentation given at the Sabanci University Freshman English Conference, Istanbul, Turkey, Sept. 18-19, 2014)

A fundamental purpose of English-for-academic-purposes (EAP) education is to help learners succeed in academic studies in English. For this purpose to be met, students must be able to apply EAP learning in new situations (e.g., in other courses throughout their programs of study). This involves learning transfer, which is the influence of prior learning on subsequent learning or performance. Without transfer — for example, if learning occurs in an EAP classroom, but students cannot apply that learning beyond that classroom — EAP education has limited value. In some education contexts, assumptions have been made that if learning occurs, transfer of that learning follows inevitably; however, over a century of research in several education-related areas (e.g., educational psychology, human resources development, second language education) suggests that learning does not inevitably lead to transfer, and that transfer can, in fact, be difficult to promote. This presentation will explore learning transfer in EAP education through a discussion of the following main questions: Does learning in EAP education contexts transfer? Why or why not? What can EAP educators do to help promote transfer?

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An ESOL materials evaluation framework with a learning transfer focus (Paper presented at the annual TESOL conference, Portland, Oregon, March 26-29, 2014.)

Transfer of learning beyond the ESOL classroom is a basic goal of ESOL instruction. ESOL materials can be designed to support this goal in a number of ways. This presentation describes and demonstrates a practical tool for evaluating existing ESOL materials (e.g., commercial textbooks) from a learning transfer perspective.

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Reviewing EAP instruction research: What learning transfers, and how far?  (Paper presented at the annual TESOL conference, Portland, Oregon, March 26-29, 2014.)

A 9-dimension analytic framework used to assess findings in psychology research on learning transfer is used to review over 40 empirical studies of EAP instruction. Patterns emerge to answer two questions: What kind of learning transfers in EAP instruction settings? How far (i.e., when and where) does that learning transfer?

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General EAP writing instruction and transfer of learning(Paper presented at the annual TESOL conference, Dallas, Texas, March 20-23, 2013.)

With general EAP writing instruction, learning is expected to transfer across a range of tasks and disciplines.  This presentation describes a case study that examined this issue and found that a range of learning outcomes did transfer from a general EAP writing course to various tasks in courses across disciplines.

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A review of research on English-for-academic-purposes instruction: What learning transfers, and how far?  (Paper presented at the annual AAAL conference, Dallas, Texas, March 16-19, 2013.)

A 9-dimension analytic framework used to assess findings in psychology research on learning transfer was used to review over 80 empirical studies of EAP instruction.  Patterns emerged to answer two questions:  What kind of learning transfers in EAP instruction settings?  How far (i.e., when and where) does that learning transfer?

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Workshop on English medium instruction.  (Invited workshop, Department of applied foreign languages, Shih Chien University, Taipei, Taiwan, June 27, 2012.)

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How to motivate students through the use of teaching activities.  (Invited workshop, Department of applied foreign languages, Shih Chien University, Taipei, Taiwan, June 21, 2012.)

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Exploring learning transfer in L2 writing education.  (Invited presentation, Department of English instruction, Taipei Municipal University of Education, Taipei, Taiwan, June 14, 2012.)

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Exploring learning transfer in L2 writing education.  (Invited presentation, Department of applied English, Shih Chien University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, June 13, 2012.)

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Exploring learning transfer in L2 writing education.  (Invited presentation, Department of English, Tamkang University, Taipei, Taiwan, June 6, 2012.)

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An investigation of motivation to transfer second language learning.  (Paper presented to the Canadian Association of Applied Linguistics [CAAL] at theannual Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities, Waterloo, Canada, May 28-30, 2012.) 

Motivation is critical in L2 learning, and the research literature on L2 motivation is vast (e.g., Dornyei, 2001, 2003).  The primary focus in this work has been motivation to learn a L2; however, an alternative focus worth considering is motivation to transfer L2 learning.  Transfer is a fundamental goal of L2 education:  If learning that occurs in a L2 classroom does not transfer beyond that classroom, L2 education has limited value.  Suggestions have been made that transfer of L2 learning is influenced by motivation-related factors (e.g., student effort [Hansen, 2000], value students place on skills [Leki & Carson, 1994], students’ socio-cultural attitudes [Waters, 1996]); however, there appears to be a gap in terms of empirical research on this topic.

To help fill this gap, the qualitative study described here explicitly and directly examined motivation to transfer L2 learning.  Data were gathered through semi-structured interviews with 40 university students.  These students were enrolled in several sections of an undergraduate EAP course and were concurrently taking other undergraduate courses in various disciplines.  The interviews provided data to answer two research questions: (a) Were students motivated to transfer learning from the EAP course to other courses? (b) What factors influenced this motivation?
Data analyses indicated that motivation to transfer (i.e., a combination of desire, favorable attitudes, and effort) was rare, and was influenced by eight factors (e.g., perceptions of opportunity for transfer; personal beliefs about transfer).  Implications of these findings for theory, research, and teaching practice will be discussed.

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English-for-general-academic-purposes writing instruction and transfer of learning. (Paper presented at the AAAL annual conference, Chicago, Illinois, March 26-29, 2011.)

With English-for-general-academic-purposes writing instruction, learning outcomes are expected to transfer across a range of tasks and academic disciplines.  This presentation describes a case study that examined this issue and found that a range of learning outcomes did transfer from an English-for-general-academic-purposes writing course to various tasks in courses across disciplines.

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Exploring learning transfer in second language writing education.  (Presentation given as part of the Arizona State University Applied Linguistics Speaker Series, Tempe, AZ, Dec. 3, 2010.)

A fundamental goal of second language writing education is that learners develop knowledge and skills that they can apply beyond the learning context.  In other words, if learning occurs in a L2 writing classroom but students cannot apply that learning outside that classroom, instruction has limited value.  This goal involves learning transfer, which refers to the application of learning in novel situations.  In some education circles, assumptions have been made that if learning occurs, learning transfer inevitably follows; however, a century of research on learning transfer in experimental and educational psychology suggests that learning does not automatically lead to learning transfer, and that learning transfer can, in fact, be difficult to stimulate.  This presentation will explore learning transfer in L2 writing education through a discussion of the following questions:  What is learning transfer in L2 writing education?  In what ways is learning transfer relevant in this area?  How has learning transfer in L2 writing education been investigated, and what has been learned?  Finally, what directions might be taken in future research on learning transfer in this area?

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Transfer climate and EAP education.  (Paper presented at the TESOL annual convention, Boston, Massachusetts, March 24-27, 2010.)

A fundamental goal in EAP education is that students transfer learning to mainstream courses.  Elsewhere, learning transfer has been linked to “transfer climate” (i.e., learners’ perceptions of support for learning transfer).  This study examines transfer climate in EAP students’ mainstream courses to determine the applicability of this construct in EAP education.

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Cross-linguistic influence and transfer of learning.  (Paper presented at the AAAL annual conference, Atlanta, Georgia, March 7-10, 2010.)

Despite few explicit connections, cross-linguistic influence (or language transfer) appears to be related conceptually to the psychology construct transfer of learning.  This presentation explores this relationship in detail, and suggests that research and theory on cross-linguistic influence can benefit from connections to research and theory on transfer of learning.

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Exploring learning transfer in second language writing education.  (Plenary presentation given at the Symposium on Second Language Writing [SSLW], Tempe, AZ, Nov. 5-7, 2009.)

A fundamental goal of second language writing education is that learners develop knowledge and skills that they can apply beyond the learning context.  In other words, if learning occurs in a L2 writing classroom but students cannot apply that learning outside that classroom, instruction has limited value.  This goal involves learning transfer, which refers to the application of learning in novel situations.  In some education circles, assumptions have been made that if learning occurs, learning transfer inevitably follows; however, a century of research on learning transfer in experimental and educational psychology suggests that learning does not automatically lead to learning transfer, and that learning transfer can, in fact, be difficult to stimulate.  This presentation will explore learning transfer in L2 writing education through a discussion of the following questions:  What is learning transfer in L2 writing education?  In what ways is learning transfer relevant in this area?  How has learning transfer in L2 writing education been investigated, and what has been learned?  Finally, what directions might be taken in future research on learning transfer in this area?

(View presentation slides)


Cross-linguistic influence and transfer of learning.  (Paper presented to the Canadian Association of Applied Linguistics [ACLA/CAAL], at the annual Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities, Ottawa, Canada, May 22-29, 2009.)

Cross-linguistic influence (CLI) (also called language transfer) is the influence that knowledge of one language has on a person’s learning or use of another language (Odlin, 1989; Jarvis & Pavlenko, 2008).  The body of research and theory on this phenomenon is extensive, reflecting the notion that CLI “is one of the most fundamental notions in L2 acquisition research” (Johnson & Johnson, 1998, p. 353).  Conceptually, CLI is related to transfer of learning, a psychology construct defined as the influence that prior learning has on subsequent learning or performance (Perkins & Salomon, 1994).  Despite this conceptual link, early work on CLI (e.g., Briere, 1966; Carroll, 1968; Selinker, 1969) explicitly distanced itself from transfer of learning research and theory, and in current literature on CLI, connections to transfer of learning are uncommon.  This may be unfortunate, because the body of research and theory on transfer of learning has developed tremendously, in directions that may be relevant to the study of CLI.

This presentation bridges this gap by exploring the relationship between CLI and transfer of learning.  Similar patterns in the existing research and theory on CLI and transfer of learning will be described to illustrate the depth of the relationship between these two constructs.  In addition, several themes in recent research and theory on transfer of learning will be highlighted as important for shedding light on CLI.  Implications for future research and theory on CLI will be discussed.

Note. The audio recording missed a 1-minute general introduction to the presentation.  Here is a transcription of that introduction:
“Hello everyone, and thanks very much for coming to listen to this presentation.  My name is Mark James and I am an assistant professor of applied linguistics in the English dept. at Arizona State University.  In today’s presentation, I’m going to be talking about these two phenomena:  cross-linguistic influence, or ‘CLI’ and transfer of learning.  As I’m going to explain, CLI and learning transfer appear, on the surface, to be similar constructs.  But, while each construct has been and continues to be the subject of extensive research and theory, there are relatively few explicit, constructive links to scholarly work on learning transfer in literature dealing with CLI.  It is worth taking a closer look at this gap, because if there is in fact a deeper relationship between these two constructs, research and theory on CLI might benefit from stronger connections to research and theory on learning transfer.  So, the purpose of my presentation today is to take a closer look at this situation.”  (…and the audio recording begins here…)

 

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L2 writing education:  Does “far” transfer of learning outcomes occur, and can it be promoted?  (Paper presented at the AAAL Annual Conference, Washington, D.C., Mar. 29–Apr. 1, 2008.)

Research suggests that differences between L2 writing instruction and target writing tasks inhibits the transfer of learning outcomes.  This study examines such a situation to see which learning outcomes transfer and whether transfer can be promoted by asking students to identify similarities between the writing task and their writing course.

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