Letter from Director Cathy Stafford


Greetings from the UW-Madison Doctoral Program in Second Language Acquisition! 


In this latest installment of SLANG, we are pleased to bring you news about the students, alumni, and faculty in our extended UW-Madison SLA community. As you will see, in the past year our community has remained actively engaged in research, teaching, and outreach activities in SLA and allied fields. We hope that this newsletter will serve on an ongoing basis to help us all keep in touch from Van Hise to all points across the globe! We invite you to enjoy “catching up” as you read this edition of SLANG, and we also invite you to submit any news so that we may feature it in future editions.


Our core faculty continues to provide a solid foundation for the SLA Program as instructors, research collaborators, and advisors. Last year we welcomed two new core faculty members, Professors Gail Prasad (Curriculum & Instruction) and Kate Vieira (English), and their presence has already contributed notably to the vibrant intellectual community that is the UW-Madison SLA Program. We are proud of what our program has accomplished over the course of the past year, and we continue to be so very appreciative of the dedicated team of core faculty, invaluable administrative support in the Language Institute, and the outstanding group of students and alumni that make up our community. 


To provide a few examples of the program’s accomplishments since the last edition of SLANG, with funding from the Language Institute, we’ve been able to continue collaborations between students and faculty through summer research partnerships. Five such partnerships were funded for the summer of 2016. To give an idea of the diversity of research projects that were advanced through these partnerships, Professor Jacee Cho and SLA student Amy Clay worked on designing and piloting of test items for a project that examines Korean and Russian L1 speakers’ use of articles in English. Professor Richard Young and SLA student Chen Sun traveled to Wuhan, China to lay groundwork for a project that examines the relationship between formative experiences of teachers-in-training and what they do later on as practicing teachers. Chen Sun and Professor Young successfully enrolled a group of 24 secondary and post-secondary instructors during the summer trip, and they returned to China this spring to continue work on the project. Professor Katrina Thompson and African Cultural Studies student Kathryn Mara collaborated on a project entitled “Progressive Muslims Through Discourse”. Kathryn transcribed 20 hours of recordings for coding and analysis. Six partnerships are planned for the summer of 2017, and we look forward to reporting on them in the next edition of SLANG. 


The program has continued offering professional development opportunities, including a Fall 2016 workshop on interviewing for academic jobs facilitated by Professors Katrina Thompson and Naomi Geyer. We have also continued the tradition of bi-weekly lunchtime chats, at which students, faculty and special guests gather informally to get to know one another and exchange ideas about research, teaching, and other facets of life in and outside of the academy.


We continue to take part in the Annual Second Language Acquisition Graduate Student Symposium, this year hosted by a new partner (joining us with the University of Iowa), the University of Minnesota. The theme of this year’s Symposium was Second Language Teaching and Learning: Diversity and Advocacy, and participants reported that it was an excellent conference. 


Students Amy Clay and Lauren Goodspeed secured funding for and organized a very successful professional development mini-conference, “Setting Yourself Up for Success”, in March of this year. The event coincided with alumna Isabelle Drewelow’s homecoming visit to UW, and she and alumnus Akira Kondo (via Skype from his office at Amazon in Cambridge, MA) participated in a panel discussion on strategies for setting and accomplishing professional goals.


Accomplishments abound for our current SLA students, as well. For instance, Sara Farsiu was awarded a Scott Kloeck-Jenson Fellowship to support her dissertation research, which she will conduct in large part in Germany. Sara was also inducted into the UW-Madison Teaching Academy as a 2017 Future Faculty Partner. In other news of recognized teaching excellence, Lauren Goodspeed received the campus-wide Innovation in Teaching Award. Ryan Goble published two research articles, one in Heritage Language Journal titled “Linguistic Insecurity and Lack of Entitlement to Spanish among Third-Generation Mexican Americans in Narrative Accounts” and another (co-authored with Professor Caroline Vickers, California State University, San Bernadino) in Communication and Medicine titled “‘Shift’ ‘n ‘control’: The computer as a third interactant in Spanish language medical consultations”. Sandrine Pell and Snezhana Zheltoukhova each received a Mellon-Wisconsin Fellowship for Summer 2017; as fellows, Sandrine and Snezhana are sure to make good progress writing their dissertations!


In news about program alumni, this year saw two of our graduates promoted to Associate Professor with tenure at their universities: Isabelle Drewelow (University of Alabama) and Paula Garrett-Rucks (Georgia State University). As if tenure weren’t accomplishment enough, Isabelle was also awarded the 2017 Educator of Excellence Award from the Alabama World Languages Association, and Paula received the Nelson Brooks Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Culture (from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) for her book Intercultural Competence in Instructed Language Learning: Bridging Theory and Practice.


Alumna Michele Back (University of Connecticut) published a book titled Transcultural Performance: Negotiating Globalized Identities (Palgrave Macmillan). Alumnus Peter De Costa (Michigan State University) received the 2016 Emerging Scholar Award of the Language and Social Processes Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association. Peter has also been appointed co-editor of TESOL Quarterly, a position he will begin in January 2018.


In soon-to-be alumni news, Bicho Azevedo has just wrapped up her first year as an Assistant Professor of Spanish at the University of San Diego. In January, Snezhana Zheltoukhova moved to Florida to begin a position as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Russian at Stetson University.  This fall, Amy Clay will begin a job as Teaching Assistant Professor of French and Director of the French Language Program at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.  


On May 12, the SLA Program had a bumper crop of students participate in the PhD graduation ceremony. The seven students who “walked” were Bicho Azevedo, Amy Clay, Colleen Hamilton, Nelly Martin, Margaret Merrill, Ae Ree Nam, and Leah Wicander. Also visiting Madison to celebrate graduation that weekend was program graduate Shenika Harris (Lindenwood University, St. Charles, MO). As we (reluctantly!) wave a fond farewell to this special group of SLAers, we prepare to welcome three new students to the program this fall. And you’re sure to find news about all these SLA community members’ successes in future editions of SLANG!


Finally, as Professor Junko Mori reported in the last edition of SLANG, our campus continues to feel the effects of drastic cuts in state support (read more about the UW-Madison budget at budget.wisc.edu.) One such effect has been the restructuring of the home departments of several SLA faculty. Change is never easy, but departments and, importantly, the fantastic people who are the beating heart of any academic program, have guided these changes with remarkable wisdom and grace over the past year. Despite its ongoing budget challenges, the University of Wisconsin continues to uphold the integrity and intellectual rigor that make it a great place to be (and to be from!). On Wisconsin!