Selected Projects

PhD Programs in Applied Linguistics in North America

I am currently collaborating with Roz Hirch in a long-term project that uses corpus-based methods including keyword analysis, topic modeling, and cluster analysis to shed light on what faculty at PhD programs in applied linguistics in North America are publishing on. Different aspects and data mining approaches to this project were presented at SLRF 2015AAAL 2016, and AACL 2016. Roz and I are currently focusing on website development for the project and preparing journal articles based on our analyses of the data. The project is presented in more depth on its own website: 

Collocational frameworks: Semantic and functional characteristics

Discontinuous formulaic language—phrases with an internal variable slot like in the * of—has been called ‘phrase frames’, ‘lexical frames’, and ‘frameworks’. The latter term was used by Renouf and Sinclair in 1991 and specifically referred to frames comprised of grammatical words surrounding a variable noun. This study examines the semantic characteristics of the noun fillers and functional characteristics of the frequent framework the * of the as it occurs in two corpora of native and non-native speaker authored argumentative and literary essays. Parts of this research are being done in collaboration with Hui-Hsien Feng. Hui-Hsien and I presented a paper at AACL 2016 and are currently preparing a manuscript.

Collocational studies in the EFL classroom

A collocational study uses corpus-based research methods to analyze the distributional characteristics of words and phrases. Collocational studies are often employed to uncover subtle differences between near-synonymous words and phrases. This project explores student perceptions and attitudes toward the pedagogical application of a collocation study in an EFL class. Learners were taught to use an open-access corpus to learn about the differences between near-synonyms. This research was presented at different points at CALICO, 2013 and JALT CALL 2013.

Corpus-based language learning

This project investigates learners’ perceptions and the efficacy of placing data-driven learning (DDL) at the center of a speaking course. The aim of the course is to teach students to use free online, open-access corpora to gain insights into the formulaic tendencies of their chosen target lexical items. This research was presented in various states at JALT CALL 2012; SLRF 2012. Published in ReCALL (2014), 26(2), 225-242.

Web as corpus

Some researchers in applied linguistics and SLA consider the web to be a “living”, dynamic corpus. Others argue against this citing the fact that the web is not a vetted, “principled” collection of texts. Either way the web exists and can be searched via search engines such as Google. This research project investigates whether or not EFL learners can make improvements to the “naturalness” of their writing by using web searches to shed light on the frequency of occurrence of potential formulaic sequences. This research was presented in various states at Thai TESOL 2011; JALT 2011. Published in Computer Assisted Language Learning (2013), 26(2), 144-157.

Professional identity of foreign teachers of English in Japan

Native English speakers enjoy abundant, and often well-paid, English teaching opportunities in Japan. However, many teachers feel that there is a “glass ceiling” for foreign teachers of English in Japan. This research project investigates the self-perceived professional identity of five foreign teachers of English in pre-tertiary education in Japan and contrasts that with how they believe they are viewed by their students and their Japanese colleagues. This research was published in D. J. Rivers and S. Houghton (Eds.), Native-speakerism in Japan: Intergroup Dynamics in Foreign Language Education (pp. 90-102). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.