Apple Lecture | Applied Linguistics and the Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages | Arts and Humanities

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Apple Lecture

The purpose of the APPLE (APPlied Linguistics and Language Education) Lecture Series is to engender lively professional dialogue in the ELT community. Invited speakers will address issues of cutting-edge research, innovative practice, or critical policy. The series, funded by an endowment from Language Innovations, Inc. (LINC), celebrates LINC's spirit and legacy. LINC was a non-profit group that published materials and fostered innovations among ESL practitioners in the area.

Below you will find information about previous Apple Lectures in reverse chronological order.

2015 James Paul Gee

Grammar, Language, and Discourse: A New Situated Approach to Language Teaching
Language, the World, and Video Games: Why and How All Learning is Language Learning


Afternoon colloquium

Evening lecture

APPLE Lecture 2016 Video

2012  Leo van Lier

Action-Based Teaching and Learning: An Ecological Perspective

Action-Based Teaching and Learning refers to an approach that puts the agency (or ability to act) of the learner at the center of attention. Language is not seen as an object (a set of grammar rules, vocabulary), but as a form of human action. Moreover, the processes of language learning involve the mind, body, emotions, and all the senses. In this presentation, content-based, task-based and project-based learning are all construed as approaches that put the learner's agency at the center. In addition, form-focused or grammar teaching can also be conducted in an action-based manner, in which linguistic action is future-oriented and not past-oriented, and success-driven rather than correctness-driven. Examples of classroom tasks illustrating an action-based approach will be given.

2011 Thomas Cobb

How the Language Teachers of the World Built a Data-Driven Web-Based Learning Tool

Every routine on the Lextutor website started life as a reverse-engineering of the language software used in a research study, but then developed in line with its many users' suggestions, for research or teaching purposes or both. This presentation will trace the evolution of some of Lextutor's most heavily used routines, from the origins of each in a research paper to its modification for many unexpected purposes. Concordancing, Vocabprofiling, Reaction Time research, and Cloze passage building are the main software stories. Behind the stories, the presentation will question the supposed gap between research and practice in applied linguistics.

2010 Antony John Kunnan

Language Assessment for Immigration and Citizenship

This talk will address language assessment for immigration and citizenship. Although language assessments were used for immigration in Australia (the infamous dictation test in early 20th century) and in the U.S. for naturalization of citizenship from 1952 (first as a statutory requirement and then as a standardized test in the 1990s), many countries today require the taking of tests for immigration (for example, the Netherlands) and citizenship (for example, the U.K.). In all these requirements and tests, the mandatory part is assessment of language ability in the dominant language of the country; other areas that are tested include history and government, knowledge of society or practical living.  Several recent concerns have been raised: (1) the issue of public monolingualism as the norm along with the degradation of the value of bilingualism, multilingualism and individual language rights (May, 2005; Kymlicka, 1995); (2) the varying levels of mastery expected and the type of language ability expected in different countries (Shohamy and McNamara, 2009); and (3) the meaningfulness of the requirements in terms of the requirements' purpose of social cohesion and civic nationalism in the case of the U.S. Naturalization Test (Kunnan, 2009). This situation raises some fundamental questions: What is the purpose of the language requirement for citizenship? Is the purpose an idealistic one like social cohesion or civic integration, or is the purpose more pragmatic such as functional ability in a country's dominant language? Or is the test working as an obstacle rather than something an applicant will aspire to?  No easy answers are available as immigration history, policy and politics and public language policy and testing are intertwined.

On February 12, 2010, Anthony Kunnan visited Teachers College and gave two presentations.

In the first presentation, attended by students in the Applied Linguistics and TESOL pro-grams, Dr. Kunnan talked about evaluating a test by building an evaluation argument.

For the second presentation, which was open to the public, Dr. Kunnan discussed language assessment in the context of tests for citizenship and immigration.

Dr. Kunnan began by picking apart commonly held assumptions about language, its relation-ship to the nation-state, and its relationship to identity. From that perspective, he critically looked at tests required for immigration and citizenship in a wide range of countries. The picture that Dr. Kunnan ultimately painted is one of a world in which testing requirements for citizenship vary wildly from one country to another. For instance, the US and Korea require language tests. Canada has no such requirement, but only offers civ-ics exams for citizenship in French or English. Belgium has no language test, but requires language ability in German, Dutch, or French.

Dr. Kunnan, in his talk, projected an uneasiness about testing for citizenship and naturalization. “What is the impact or the consequences of language requirements?” he asked. Do they really encourage applicants to take language courses? Are these requirements ultimately beneficial for society?

With the likelihood of in-creasing use of tests for immigration and citizenship, he ended his lecture with a call to those in assessment and applied linguistics to conduct research on tests for immigration and citizenship. He also asked researchers to question unlawful and discriminatory practices.

2009 Eli Hinkel

TESOL/AL Times Newsletter Article

Interview in TC Working Papers in Applied Linguistics, Vol 9, No 1 (2009)
TESOL/AL Times Article

In the tradition of a well-intentioned, Socratic gadfly, Professor Eli Hinkel goaded her audience with the verve of a seasoned and mirthful skeptic. Using a combination of deadpan stops and jabbing questions, Hinkel spent the duration of the 2009 Apple Lecture poking at the collective assumptions of TESOL and applied linguistics community attendees. “A great deal of teaching ESL is faith-based. Nobody knows anything. We all have our particular allegiances. Ladies and gentleman, we can argue until the cows come home,” Hinkel claimed.

More than a few earnest language researchers in the room were caught squirming in their seats when Hinkel summarily declared, “Much of the research is faith-based. If you are looking for it and you are conducting an empirical study, you will probably find it. If you are not looking for it, you will not find it.”

So, does this mean grad students should drop all the dissertations that are in the works? Of course not, and this was clearly not Hinkel’s point. Hinkel takes a practical approach to second language teaching that eschews ideology and encourages finding the instructional method most appropriate for the learning context. In a word, methodologies and research should not blind instructors to the realities of the instructional situation.

In her post-lecture discussion, Hinkel encouraged graduates of the TESOL and AL programs at Teachers College not to let their education and beliefs get in the way of their teaching.

“There is a certain element of superiority that a lot of Americans bring with them when they teach in an EFL setting…For those of you who are planning to go overseas to teach with your newly minted degrees, please be flexible,” implored Dr. Hinkel. Hinkel’s keynote lecture, titled Integrated and Separated Skills in Language Teaching: A Broad View of Current Trends, explored the various merits and disadvantages of teaching language skills in integrated and separated manners. According to Hinkel, both approaches have their merits and should be considered based on the learning goals of the target population. Although she admitted that a separated skills approach, which entails teaching the four language skills independently, has become as passé as yesterday’s bread in the U.S., she asserted that there remains a time and a place for such an approach. In large classroom settings, such as in China and Japan, local teachers of English often lack the sociolinguistic expertise and management ability to teach all the skills at once. “In most teaching contexts abroad, using integrated instruction would create a work burden that is not manageable in most situations,” explained Hinkel.

Hinkel mentioned that while a communicative and integrated approach to teaching English may suit the needs of an English Language learner studying in the natural, discourse-specific setting of an English-speaking country, this approach may not at all suit the needs of learners studying in non-English-speaking countries. For instance, in school systems that have the burden of meeting standardized performance requirements in the form of standardized testing, the thoroughness afforded by the separable skills approach can serve the most immediate needs of the students.

“In the countries where exams drive the world of language teaching, skills are only taught tothe extent that they are needed for the test,” explained Hinkel.

According to Hinkel, the separable-skills approach holds much greater sway outside the frontiers of the U.S. because the approach is easier for less proficient teachers to manage and it allows teachers to instruct particular skills with a depth of focus that is not possible with a more integrated, conversational approach.

Hinkel argued for a pragmatic approach to language instruction that keeps in view the institutional and situational constraints that generally do more to determine the focus and method of instruction than any particular research or pedagogical philosophy. As she outlined her understanding of the challenges facing researchers and educators, Hinkel exuded the perspicacity and reserve of a tweed-clad savant who has seen pedagogical trends come and go.

With a booming head of floating orange hair and a vaudevillian style that reflected the wit and understated wisdom of a tenured cross between Woody Allen and Harpo Marx, Professor Hinkel used her pitch-perfect delivery and linguistic tomfoolery to drive home her point.

“In other words,” summarized Hinkel, “your language learning objective can, will, should, could,might, possibly, probably, and perhaps will determine the way in which your language learningtakes place.”

2008 Bill VanPatten

Processing Instruction, Meaning-based Output Instruction, and Dictogloss: A Comparative Study (and Some Sundry Observations)

Interview in TC Working Papers in Applied Linguistics, Vol 8, No 1 (2008)
TESOL/AL Times Newsletter Article

In Dr. Han’s introduction to the afternoon’s second lecture, she asked the question, “Is Professor VanPatten real or fictitious?” In light of his numerous accomplishments and accolades, he seems more myth than man. However, he is real, and he is hilarious. The 90+ students, professors, and associates who attended “Processing Instruction, Meaning-based Output Instruction, and Dictogloss: A Comparative Study (and Some Sundry Observations)” got to enjoy more of his humor, but also gained a lot of interesting information.

His thorough discussion of the literature that prompted his studies, others’ attempts at replicating his original processing instruction (PI) study (VanPatten & Cadierno, 1993) and his own current research was incredibly informative, but also peppered with jokes that both gave my brain a rest and made the material less daunting for this SLA novice. The lecture’s main focus was VanPatten’s recent research at Texas Tech University on PI, meaning-based output instruction (MOI) and dictogloss (DG) and how they affect the acquisition of Spanish word order and clitic object pronouns. Very simply put, VanPatten and his colleagues found that students who received PI did better on comprehension and reconstruction tasks than those with MOI and DG, but those students who received MOI did slightly better on production tasks. The control group, who received traditional instruction, underperformed on all tasks.

VanPatten also looked at how explicit instruction affects students’ success with PI, MOI, and DG tasks. It seems that DG is completely dependent on explicit instruction, PI seems to be the least dependent, and, coupled with MOI, it improves students’ ability to interpret input. Given his findings, VanPatten concluded that PI is slightly more advantageous than the other models of instruction. The topic of successfully replicating studies reemerged when VanPatten discussed others who have tried to test the findings of the 1993 study, which determined PI to be more effective than traditional instruction in improving learners’ ability.

In his closing remarks, VanPatten stated that it is possible that each language has “three or four things that can cause ripples throughout the system, causing [learner’s target-language grammar] to restructure” and become more native-like. His studies show that attacking these key features using PI is an effective way of causing these “ripples.” When I heard this, I was very excited. How can we as language teachers use PI in our own classrooms? Sadly, we shouldn’t – VanPatten reported that teachers have had little success implementing PI activities because effective use relies on knowledge of mental processing strategies. He instead suggests that PI tasks be left to computer-lab activities designed by experts while the classroom provides what students can’t get elsewhere.

2006 William Grabe

Success with L2 Reading: From Research to Teaching

Interview in TC Working Papers in Applied Linguistics, Vol 6, No 1 (2006)
TESOL/AL Times Newsletter Article

Over 100 students, alumni, and visiting scholars attended the 2006 APPLE lecture titled, “Success with L2 Reading: From Research to Teaching” by Dr. William Grabe, Professor of English at Northern Arizona University and former President of AAAL (2001-2002). Teachers College Columbia University Working Papers in TESOL & AL had the honor of speaking with Dr. Grabe on the morning of the lecture. The following is an excerpt from the interview. Please visit for the full interview.

Dr. Grabe, as you describe in your review of L2 writing theory and practice, L2 writing models are derived in part from L1 writing research and theory-building. How might L1 writing theory and practice benefit from greater awareness of the research by their colleagues in L2 writing?

This is an academic and political question. […] Here is one way to think about it: L2 writing people tend to have a burden and the burden is called generative linguistics. How do you talk about language teaching and skills when your training is in generative linguistics? We all have to come to grips with this.

In the first language, they have the same burden—it is not the same source. They have to deal with postmodern critical interpretations. Most people in composition and rhetoric live in English departments and they have to work with their literature colleagues and they have to deal with this theory. That really shapes and defines how they talk about writing and how they think about writing, just like in applied linguistics we have these other backgrounds that may not make us the most effective for teaching writing or helping learning, but that is part of our background, too. So we are coming from really different worlds. […]

In L2 writing, we are more confronted with accountability. If we are not successful with L2 writers they do not get into universities or they really fail. […] Having said that politically, what can L1 writing people learn from L2 people? There is a good 1992 book by Ilona Leki in which she compares resident immigrant type populations coming up through the American school system with international students, and how they are so different in the classroom. That is just the best discussion of why L2 writing is going to be different from L1 writing professionals can learn from L2 writing people.

If you are not talking about the immigrant American population, the 1.5 generation, […] and you think about international students—well, the international students have no problems with seeing vocabulary and grammar instruction as useful and relevant. They really want feedback. They actually ask for more feedback. They tend to read it more carefully, they really see correction as something helpful and useful—after all, it is their second language. If you correct their second language, well, of course, they want it—they are perfectly comfortable and secure in their first language. You are not threatening the first language. But if you are talking about  1.5 generation and immigrant students—a lot of times English is their first language and are you threatening their language. It becomes a very different situation. It means that L1 people really have to understand L2 populations.

2005 Carol A. Chapelle

CALL Pedagogy: Suggestions from Research

Interview in TC Working Papers in Applied Linguistics, Vol 5, No 1 (2005)
TESOL/AL Times Newsletter Article

APPLE 2005 Enhanced input aside, Applied Linguistics and TESOL were very fortunate to be able to coax Dr. Chapelle away from her obligations as Professor in TESOL and Applied Linguistics at Iowa State University and as Second Vice-President of the American Association of Applied Linguistics long enough to deliver the fifth annual APPLE (Applied Linguistics and Language Education) lecture, “CALL Pedagogy: Suggestions from Research”, April 22, 2005. It was attended by over 100 faculty, students, alumni and staff drawn from the greater TC community.

In a follow-up to a more theory-oriented lecture that she had delivered earlier that afternoon, Dr. Chapelle enumerated six ways in which computerassisted language learning (CALL) can facilitate second language acquisition  (SLA).

The more modes, the better.

Among the great advantages of CALL is its ability to deliver aural as well as visual stimulation, making for a multimedia, multisensory experience. Hyperlinks in a reading passage, for example, permit access to the pronunciation, definition or graphic representation of words whose meaning may not be clear from their context.

Help helps.

When CALL users are given extra help in the course of task fulfillment, they tend to outperform the control group on post-test; i.e., short-term at least, this extra help would appear to give them the advantage. This was true of learners who were allowed to watch a video accompanied by subtitles in the target language.

Teachers need to help learners help themselves to help.

Having extra help at their fingertips does not necessarily translate to learners knowing enough about CALL to take advantage of it. Rather, it is incumbent on educators to act as the go-between, that learners might be able to make informed decisions about the role it ought to play in their CALL and in their SLA in general.

Explicit is better for learning grammar.

What this suggestion amounts to is drawing learners’ attention to ways in which their grammar diverges from the norm.

Dr. Chapelle gave as an example the Korean equivalent of the verb happen, which leads ELL speakers of that first language to overuse the passive in English. She argued that explicitly drawing those learners’ attention to that error is more efficacious in helping them to overcome it than more implicit means of instruction could be.

Plan for good computermediated communication (CMC) experiences.

In other words, the first assumption of educators should be that chatting online can provide valuable opportunities for learning; the challenge then is for educators to make it so. Dr. Chapelle went on to describe a chatroom task in which learners were found to self-correct. This is in line with the view that, because interaction forces learners to take the needs of their interlocutors into account, it demands a focus on form as a means to promoting the production of comprehensible output.

Think pragmatic competence.

Because CMC expands the classroom to encompass the world, it provides a variety of contexts in which learners can test their grasp of pragmatics. For example, the use distinction between the French pronouns ‘tu’/‘vous’ (translated as the English ‘you’) is difficult for native speakers of English to master. This was a verbal tic of which a certain learner's peers grew progressively less tolerant; with the use of CALL, we are to assume, the form was eventually acquired in a native-like way. 

2001 Marianne Celce-Murcia

Communicative Competence and the Role of Grammar

TESOL/AL Times Newsletter Article
The second lecture in the annual APPLE Lecture Series was held on April 6, 2001, with Dr Marianne Celce-Murcia as the featured speaker. She gave a speech entitled “Communicative Competence and the Role of Grammar.”

Co-author (with Diane Larsen Freeman) of The Grammar Book, Dr. Celce-Murcia is considered one of the foremost experts in the structure of English and its relation to the teaching of English as a second language. Dr. Celce-Murcia is interested in researching the application of empirical findings in functional language analysis and applied linguistic theory to the preparation and testing of materials developed to teach a particular problem.

Over one hundred people attended the lecture, and her address was enthusiastically received by the audience. Dr Celce-Murcia also held an afternoon session specifically for students in the programs. This provided a valuable opportunity for students to discuss issues of interest with Dr. Celce-Murcia and draw upon her extensive knowledge.

The purpose of the APPLE Lecture Series (APPlied Linguistics and Language Education) is to engender lively professional dialog in the ELT community. Invited speakers address issues of cutting-edge research, innovative practice, or critical policy. The series is funded by an endowment from Language Innovations, Inc. (LINC).

LINC was a non-profit group that published materials and fostered innovation among ESL practitioners in the region. The Lecture Series celebrates the spirit and legacy of LINC.

2000 Andrew D. Cohen

Developing Language Ability: Can Old Dogs Learn New Tricks?

TESOL/AL Times Article
The TC TESOL/AL Programs inaugurate a new APPLE Lecture Series on Friday, April 14, 2000, with a talk by Andrew D. Cohen, Professor of Applied Linguistics in the English as a Second Language Department at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Professor Cohen’s talk is entitled Developing Language Ability: Can Old Dogs Learn New Tricks? He is currently Director of the federally funded National Language Research Center, housed within the Center of Advanced Research on Second Language Acquisition at UM, and Secretary General of the International Association of Applied Linguistics. He has published books and articles on language teaching, testing, learning strategies, bilingual education, and research methods.

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