Letter from SLA Director Cathy Stafford

Greetings from Madison! 


We are pleased to bring you the latest installment of SLANG, with news about the students, alumni, and faculty in our extended UW-Madison SLA community. As you will see in these pages, 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 as one way to help us all keep in touch from Van Hise to all points across the globe! We hope you enjoy “catching up” as you read this edition of SLANG, and we invite you to submit any news so that we may feature it in future editions.


Our core members  continue to provide a solid foundation for the SLA Program as instructors, research collaborators, and advisors. We are proud of our program’s accomplishments over the course of the past year, and we continue to be so very appreciative of the dedicated team of faculty, invaluable administrative support in the Language Institute, and the outstanding group of students and alumni that make up our community. 


I’d like to highlight some the program’s accomplishments since the last edition of SLANG. First, with funding from the Language Institute, the SLA Program has been able to continue supporting several research collaborations between SLA students and faculty through summer research partnerships. Six such partnerships were funded for the summer of 2017, and four are currently underway for the summer of 2018. To give an idea of the diversity of research projects that were advanced through these partnerships, last summer Professor Maggie Hawkins and SLA student Bingjie Zheng traveled to Uganda to conduct interviews with practicing teachers to explore English and native language use in education. Professor Gail Prasad and recent SLA Program graduate Colleen Hamilton collaborated to make progress on a volume co-edited by Professor Prasad and Professor Nathalie Auger (Université Paul-Valery – Montpellier III) with contributions from several North American and European applied linguistics scholars regarding their own language biographies and research trajectories. The work of the partnership entailed translation from French to English of a number of scholars’ essays. SLA student Ryan Goble and I analyzed 14 interviews with Hispanic migrants who have lived in the U.S. for 15 years or more to examine how they co-constructed narratives related to Spanish language maintenance and use.


The SLA Program was extremely well represented at this year’s AAAL conference in Chicago. Several current students, faculty, and alumni presented their work as stand-alone papers or as part of colloquia. During the conference, many of us gathered for an enjoyable evening of food and fellowship at a dinner organized by SLA student Scott Stillar. We were delighted to have the chance to catch up – if only briefly – with SLA lumni, including Michele Back, Carolina BernalesPeter De Costa, Shenika Harris, Atsushi Hasegawa, Margaret Merrill and Chiharu Shima.


Back on campus in Madison, the SLA Program continues to offer professional development opportunities on a regular basis. For example, shortly after AAAL, SLA students Lauren Goodspeed and Ryan Goble organized a workshop titled “Riding the AAAL Wave”. As the catchy title suggests, the workshop centered on how to take advantage of the inspiration and momentum we so often feel after a professional conference. SLA faculty, students, and the marvelous Program Coordinator Wendy Johnson continue to gather at bi-weekly lunchtime chats, where we meet informally to exchange ideas about research, teaching, and other facets of academic and non-academic life. Over the course of the last academic year the SLA Program and the Language Institute were thrilled to welcome to Madison Professors Kathleen Bardovi-Harlig (Indiana University – Bloomington), Michele Back (University of Connecticut, and SLA Program alumna, of course!), and Li Wei (University College – London). Our community relished many opportunities to interact with this diverse set of scholars in the classes they visited, the workshops they facilitated, and following the public lectures they delivered during their visits to campus.


As many of you likely were already aware, Professors Junko Mori and Maggie Hawkins co-edited the January 2018 special issue of Applied Linguistics. The topic of the issue is “Considering ‘Trans-’ Perspectives in Language Theories and Practices”, and if you haven’t read it cover-to-cover yet, definitely include it on your summer reading list!


There is no shortage of accomplishments to report about our current SLA students. For example, Kazeem Sanuth co-authored (with Professor Mori) an article entitled “Navigating between a Monolingual Utopia and Translingual Realities: Experiences of American Learners of Yorùbá as an Additional Language,” which appeared in the above-mentioned special issue of Applied Linguistics. Also, Kazeem was awarded a National Federation of Modern Language Teachers’ Associations (NFMLTA) Dissertation Grant and a Mellon-Wisconsin Fellowship for Summer 2018 to advance work on his dissertation. Bingjie Zheng was awarded a NFMLTA/Modern Language Journal Conference Travel Support Grant and a NFMLTA/ National Council of Less Commonly Taught Languages Graduate Student Research Support Award. Sara Farsiu received a Spring 2018 University Housing Honored Instructor award for her outstanding work as an instructor of Persian.


For recent news about program alumni, please see the full story on our Alumni News page. As you read about all they’ve been up to, I’m sure you’ll find yourself nodding in agreement that the SLA community couldn’t be prouder of the impressive mark our alumni are making on the field in such a variety of substantive ways!


From the soon-to-be alumni “news desk,” this fall Lauren Goodspeed will begin a job as Lecturer and Coordinator (of French 1002, 1022, and 1003) in the Department of French and Italian at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. And on May 11, Jennifer Gray, Fatemeh Mirsharifi, and Snezhana Zheltoukhova participated in the PhD graduation ceremony. Since 2017, Fatemeh has been a Lecturer in Persian at the University of California – Berkeley, and Snezhana has been a Visiting Assistant Professor of Russian and Director of Language Commons at Stetson University in Florida. Jennifer Gray has been a Visiting Instructor in French at Beloit College for the past four and a half years.


As we sweep away the confetti from our celebration of the accomplishments of recent and soon-to-be SLA Program graduates, we prepare to welcome two new students to our Program this fall. Tim Cavnar will be joining us after completing his Master’s in the UW English Department’s program in English Language and Linguistics, and José Luis Garrido Rivera will be coming to us from the University of Delaware, where he earned his Master’s in Spanish Literature and Foreign Language Pedagogy. I’m certain that I speak for all of us when I say that the SLA community is very much looking forward to keeping abreast of these new members’ achievements in future editions of SLANG! In the meantime, enjoy a rejuvenating and productive summer, keep in touch, and On Wisconsin!