News from Current SLA Students


See also profiles of all current students here.



Bicho Azevedo and Colleen Hamilton volunteer their time helping children learn to write in Spanish and English at La Prensa Libre de Simpson Street. In this after-school program, which began in January 2014 as part of the Simpson Street Free Press of Madison, students 7 to 18 years old become journalists, using their bilingual skills to write articles about topics such as technology, science, history, economics, and the environment. They improve their reading and writing skills by learning to summarize, organize their thoughts, and structure and revise their texts. These activities reinforce and extend learning in school and help students integrate bilingualism into their educational future. Some students are heritage/native speakers of Spanish and others are second language learners who participate in Spanish-English immersion school programs in Madison.



Akira Kondo co-organized a colloquium with Dr. Ryuko Kubota (University of Toronto) entitled “Wrestling with Race in Applied Linguistics” at the 2015 AAAL Conference in Toronto, Canada. They invited prominent scholars (Dr. Awad Ibrahim, Dr. Suhanthie Motha, and Dr. Tonda Liggett) in the field of applied linguistics who work on issues of race, racialization, and racialized identities.



Aside from his dissertation work, in which he worked with adult English language learners in the U.S., Akira’s job at the World-Class Instructional Design & Assessment Consortium in the Wisconsin Center for Education Research has given him an opportunity to work with dual language learners (DLLs) aged 2.5-5.5, and he and his colleagues (i.e. his bosses!) wrote a paper on preschool-aged DLLs’ language use from a functional linguistics perspective drawing on Halliday’s systemic functional linguistics. This paper addresses a general lack of research to understand DLLs’ unique language development. They examined what DLLs CAN do functionally with language in relation to their real-life situations that matter to them, rather than if they know how to construct sentences without making grammatical mistakes. This study calls for standards and assessment development for DLLs. Soon the paper will be submitted for review at an appropriate journal.



Sandrine Pell spent the month of September in France, where she started her data collection for her dissertation. The topic of her research is Franco-Maghrebi students’ negotiation of identities within the French education system, and she reports that it was overall a success! She recruited 10 participants (more than she was hoping for), and 2 French teachers were very interested in her project and welcomed her in their classes. She enjoyed starting her own research, feeling that after all these years of taking courses, preparing for prelims and writing a proposal, things were finally getting real! Sandrine also enjoyed spending time with her family back home, immersing herself in the French culture after having been away for 15 years, and above all eating her mother’s amazing food. She will return to France in January for a second round of data collection. Stay tuned… 



Kazeem Sanuth has just gotten the position of a Junior Research Fellow in the Department of Linguistics and African Languages at Kwara State University (KWASU), Malete, Kwara State, Nigeria. In this position, he teaches classes in Yoruba Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition, helps with material development and serves as a mentor for undergrads who are conducting their final year research. Kazeem is spending the academic year in Nigeria to advance his dissertation research on Yoruba Language Study Abroad in South-West Nigeria. He hopes to be back in Madison next Fall.


photo caption: Kazeem Sanuth (right) & Dr Hakeem Olawalea (left) at KWASU



Leah Wicander recently presented at the Second Language Research Forum (SLRF) 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia, on her dissertation proposal and dissertation. The title of her presentation was “Looking beyond the surface: Student perspectives on the foreign language curriculum”. Leah was also fortunate enough to run into UW alums Jae Takeuchi and Shenika Harris (pictured). It was a wonderful experience listening to all facets of SLA and the future of our field, and she can’t wait for next year’s SLRF at Teacher’s College!



Leah Wicander (left), Jae Takeuchi (middle) & Shenika Harris (right) at SLRF, October, 2015.