May 24th: Dr. Robert Blake

February 22nd: Dr. Noriko Ishihara

October 25th 2016: Dr. Travis Bradley

October 11th 2016: Dr. Kenji Sagae

Feb. 23, 2016: Vai Ramanathan

Feb. 22, 2016: Scott Payne

May 24th: Dr. Robert Blake

Join us for our final invited talk of the 2016-2017 year as we invite our faculty advisor, Dr. Robert Blake, to give a lecture on online language learning.

February 22nd: Dr. Noriko Ishihara

October 25th 2016: Dr. Travis Bradley


October 11th 2016: Dr. Kenji Sagae



Talk Title:

Syntactic parsing of child language and automatic assessment of grammatical development


Automatic analysis of the linguistic structure of spoken utterances is a fundamental problem in computational linguistics. I will present a framework for accurate syntactic parsing of child language, and its application in automatic assessment of grammatical development using the Index of Productive Syntax. I will also discuss recent results that suggest that a language-independent data-driven approach to measurement of grammatical development in children is within reach.

Short bio:

Kenji Sagae is an assistant professor of Linguistics at UC Davis. After completing a PhD in Language Technologies at Carnegie Mellon University, he held research positions at the University of Tokyo and the University of Southern California, where he was a research faculty member of the Computer Science department. For the past year he was a co-founder ofKITT.AI, a natural language processing startup. His research interests are in computational linguistics and data-driven natural language processing, with a focus on analysis of linguistic structure.

Feb. 23, 2016: Vai Ramanathan

During our regularly scheduled meeting, Professor Ramanathan will be giving a talk about job searching and employment after our degrees are finished. Her workshops are a beloved tradition for members of the Cluster for Language Research and we are thrilled to have her back again this year.

Time: Tuesday February 22, 2016, 11am – 11:50

Location: 228 Voorhies Hall



Vaidehi Ramanathan, Professor of Linguistics at UC Davis


Vaidehi Ramanathan is a socio/applied linguist and professor at UC Davis. She is interested in the sociopolitical aspects of language learning and teaching, especially as they pertain to English, vernacular languages, globalization, language policies, teacher education, pedagogies, and literary practices. She is also interested in the languaging of “bodies” and “disabilities” and in the narrating and constructing of a “self” both through speech and writing.


Feb. 22, 2016: Scott Payne

Scott Payne, Principal Instructional Design Analyst at McGraw-Hill Education, will be discussing his work on SLA research in Digital Gaming Environments.

Time: Monday Feb 22, 2016, 12pm – 2pm

Location: 228 Voorhies Hall

“The Promise and Challenge of Conducting SLA Research in Digital Gaming Environments”

The potential for digital game-based language learning (DGBLL) seems almost endless. Never before have we had the ability to create such cuturally-rich, immersive contexts for language learning; however, research has not materialized to provide the empirical support for claims about the promise of DGBLL. In this talk, I will provide an overview of research findings including a discussion of gaps in the research base and address some of the challenges of investigating SLA in games. I will also introduce a new effort at McGraw-Hill Education to offer Practice Spanish: Study Abroad, a recently published Spanish language learning game, as a platform for promoting SLA research in digital game-based environments.
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Scott Payne is Principal Instructional Design Analyst at McGraw-Hill Education in Edmonds, Washington. He has worked in Language Acquisition at Amherst College, Penn State, and other institutions around the country. He earned his PhD in Cognitive Psychology, Second Language Acquisition, and Educational Technology from Washington State University in 2000.

Feb 5, 2016: Andrew Cohen

Professor Andrew Cohen, Professor Emeritus at University of Minnesota, will be discussing his research, “The Learning of Pragmatics from Nonnative Teachers” at UC Davis. Please attend this exciting talk.

Time: Friday Feb 5, 2016, 4pm – 5:30pm

Location: SS&HB 2203

The talk will focus on how nonnative teachers of a target language (NNTs) deal with pragmatics in their classes. The talk will start by describing what pragmatics entails. Then issues relating to the teaching of pragmatics will be identified, such as the language background of the teacher, comparisons between second- (L2) and foreign-language (FL) instruction, and the potential role of digital media and other means in providing models for pragmatic behavior. The talk will then report on an international survey (N=113) intended to probe into the experiences of NNTs of various languages while teaching the pragmatics of their language of instruction. Thirty native-language teachers (NTs) and 83 NNTs respondents were asked to indicate what they taught with regard to pragmatics. They were also asked to report on their experience as teachers of L2 and FL pragmatics (e.g., if they encountered classroom moments when they did not feel like an authority on some aspect of pragmatics, what they did about it). Since pragmatics is a meeting of language and culture, the teacher respondents were asked to assess their knowledge in both pragmalinguistics (language form) and in sociopragmatics (sociocultural knowledge). In addition, they were asked to give their opinion regarding similarities and differences between the teaching of FL as opposed to L2 pragmatics, as this traditional dichotomy gives way to a more hybrid reality in an increasingly globalized world. Similarly, they were asked about their methods for teaching pragmatics (e.g., their use of digital media and their handling of dialect differences). Finally, they were asked to suggest areas in which they would like to see research conducted that would inform the teaching of pragmatics. The talk will report the findings from the study, including statistical differences in reported teaching of criticism, sarcasm, and cursing, as well as in the use of digital media and in having their students gather data on pragmatics.

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User comments

Andrew Cohen is a professor in the Second Language Studies Program. He served as the Director of the Language Resource Center at the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) from 1993-2004 and has been active with numerous projects within CARLA.

November 24, 2015: Rick Kern

UC Davis Cluster for Language Research invites you to attend a talk by Rick Kern, Professor and Director of the Berkeley Language Center at the University of California, Berkeley.

Time: Tuesday, November 24, 4:10 – 5:00pm

Location: Voorhies Hall 228

Join us as we hear about Dr. Kern’s five principles and pedagogical goals for an integrated approach to second language learning. He will discuss the situated and relational nature of meanings, the effect of medium on language acquisition, and the way language, technologies, and texts mediate between ourselves and real and imagined worlds.


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Richard-Kern Richard Kern teaches courses in French linguistics, applied linguistics and foreign language pedagogy at UC Berkeley.