Lourdes Ortega at IATEFL 2018 on what SLA research is good for

The first plenary of the 2018 IATEFL conference in Brighton in April was given by Lourdes Ortega on the topic of What is SLA research good for, anyway? Scroll down for the YouTube link and start at around 05:18 though there were technical glitches are the talk doesn’t get going until around 09:00.  (This summary is based on what I could glean from the live stream: the set-up favoured the speaker over the slides, so references were hard to catch.)

Ortega started with a familiar opposition between teachers as practice-oriented “artists” versus researchers as thinking-oriented “scientists.” Some researchers claim to assist teachers, but others suggest research should be applied with caution (Hatch). The recent TESOL action agenda has as its 4th priority “to expand capacity for inclusive and comprehensive research,” underlining the continuing importance of research to the field.

Speaking as a “down-to-earth SLA researcher” to an ELT audience, Ortega urges language teachers to search SLA research for relevance and act only when they find it. They should also be careful not to seek simple universal truths since both SLA research and teaching are complex. These are the main take-aways from this talk. She arrives at this conclusion as follows.

Efforts to make SLA research relevant to teachers and teaching include:
  • alternative terms for research: inquiry, action research, and exploratory research (cf Garton, Allwright, Borg)
  • OASIS repository of accessible summaries (Marsden)
  • teacher association research (CAMELTA, Smith & Kuchah)
Ortega argues that “there is no constant for SLA research” but three possible research-teaching intersections. SLA research may
  • sharpen teaching (e.g. motivation research)
  • falls short of relevance for teaching (e.g., error correction research)
  • change teachers’ perspectives (e.g., age research, research on multilingualism)

Ortega examines each example in turn.

1. SLA research sharpens teaching: motivation

How can teachers motivate students? Motivation researchers cited include Dornyei and Ushioda. Research shows that specific teacher behaviours increase learner motivation and that these behaviours can be taught.

  • Guilloteaux & Dornyei, 2008: Korea 27 teachers, 1300 – connection with interests, personalisation, feedback without personal criticism
  • Moskovsky et al 2013: high schools, colleges – teachers can be trained to be more motivated
  • Lamb & Wedell 2015

This is an example of a successful contribution by SLA researchers to “improving teachers’ lives.”

2. SLA is not relevant to teaching: error correction

Most teachers do error correction but also worry about it. SLA research has investigated the question but has no good answer so far – the jury is still out. Research up to 2010 suggests reasons for pessimism (Truscott 1996, Mackey et al), while since 2010, findings suggest a role for error correction (e.g., Nassaji 2017). Ortega also provides examples of “teacher bashing” with respect to vague or inconsistent error correction (Zamel 1985; Chaudron 1988, Ellis 1990).

Ortega concludes that research is “unaccountable to the complexity of error correction practice” which I understand to mean ‘currently inadequate to determine an effect on language learning and so inform teaching practice.’ She gives examples of a) non-standard L2 use deriving from idiosyncratic personal preferences (“I came from Korea”) and b) low self-efficacy among L2 users (“I wasn’t taught in the right way”). Ortega quotes Mitchell (2000) on the complex factors guiding good teachers and suggests teachers see error correction as part of “a rich journey of personal self-discovery.”

Rather than lose faith in SLA research, teachers need to have realistic expectations.

3. Research is the only way to see differently: age, multilingualism

Two issues where SLA research provides new scientific knowledge and new understanding relevant to teaching are:

  • Age – is earlier better or not?
  • Multilingualism – do languages compete in a “zero-sum game?”

Ortega states that earlier is not better, all things being equal and across all contexts. In naturalistic immersion situations, later is faster. She cites work with bilingual language users (Blom & Bosma 2016), research on international adoptees, and sign language research. In foreign language contexts, later is faster initially, and no better or worse than earlier by end of high school (e.g. starting at 8 or 13 makes no difference; Munoz 2006, Pfenniger & Singleton in preparation). Even among adults in-country, these learners are faster than children for 1-3 years

Regarding multilingualism, robust but ignored findings show that languages support each other in the same individual. There is synergy rather than competition. Ortega cites

  • Agirdag & Vanlaar 2018: Pisa 2012 data on 120 000 students in 18 countries show that children using both a home language and a majority language at school do better in school (in majority language) than monolingual children
  • Winsler et al 2014 – Spanish home language supported English gains at school
  • Bylund Abramson – Spanish-Swedish bilinguals are best in home language but also majority language

Thus “more L1 means better L2,” and Ortega claims this finding is underutilised in policies, practices and thinking.

So earlier is not better and languages do not compete in a zero-sum game, and this shakes teaching practices, such as

  • Early start, pushed by governments and parents
  • Avoiding L1 in classroom
  • language pledges in study abroad programmes
  • strict language separation in bilingual teaching

These research findings suggest the above are questionable practices, worthy of closer inspection. Should we lose faith in current teaching practices? Ortega argues that we should not: the IATEFL programme involves several presentations on these topics which utilise this kind of research. She also quotes other authors on the complexity of language teaching.

Andon and Leung (2014) remind us that there are no straighforward recipes which are effective in all contexts. Adoniou (2015) refers to the complexity of teaching, encompassing (content of teaching, psychology of teachers and students, school context, sociocultural politics, SLA research), by comparing teachers’ knowledge to a tapestry: teachers must learn to find themselves in the cross-stitches.

For Ortega, then, research and teaching are both complicated and sometimes there is good synergy (e.g. motivation research), but other times there missed opportunities (e.g., error correction), and sometimes teachers need to adapt to research findings (e.g. age-related findings, multilingualism) to transform practice in line with scientific knowledge.

SLA research doesn’t have fixed value. Teachers should ask themselves:

  1. ​Does it amplify practice? Then apply it.
  2. Does the relevance leave me unconvinced? Then put it aside.
  3. Does it open up new understanding? Then engage with it.


Agirdag, O., & Vanlaar, G. (2018). Does more exposure to the language of instruction lead to higher academic achievement? A cross-national examination. International Journal of Bilingualism, 22(1), 123-137.
Andon, N., & Leung, C. (2014). The role of approaches and methods in second language teacher education. Language teachers and teaching: Global perspectives, local initiatives, 59-73.
Blom, E., & Bosma, E. (2016). The sooner the better? An investigation into the role of age of onset and its relation with transfer and exposure in bilingual Frisian–Dutch children. Journal of child language, 43(3), 581-607.
Bylund, E., Abrahamsson, N., & Hyltenstam, K. (2009). The role of language aptitude in first language attrition: The case of pre-pubescent attriters. Applied Linguistics, 31(3), 443-464.
Guilloteaux, M. J., & Dörnyei, Z. (2008). Motivating language learners: A classroom‐oriented investigation of the effects of motivational strategies on student motivation. TESOL Quarterly, 42(1), 55-77.
Lamb, M., & Wedell, M. (2015). Cultural contrasts and commonalities in inspiring language teaching. Language Teaching Research, 19(2), 207-224.
Mackey, A., Gass, S., & McDonough, K. (2000). How do learners perceive interactional feedback?. Studies in second language acquisition, 22(4), 471-497.
Moskovsky, C., Alrabai, F., Paolini, S., & Ratcheva, S. (2013). The effects of teachers’ motivational strategies on learners’ motivation: A controlled investigation of second language acquisition. Language Learning, 63(1), 34-62.
Muñoz, C. (Ed.). (2006). Age and the rate of foreign language learning (Vol. 19). Multilingual Matters.
Truscott, J. (1996). The case against grammar correction in L2 writing classes. Language learning, 46(2), 327-369.
Nassaji, H. (2017). The effectiveness of extensive versus intensive recasts for learning L2 grammar. The Modern Language Journal, 101(2), 353-368.
Pfenninger, S. E., and D. Singleton (I n prep a ) . Recent advances in quantitative methods in age – related research.
Pfenninger, Simone E. and David Singleton. ( In prep b ) . Beyond Age Effects – Facet s, Facts and Factors of Foreign Language Instruction in a Mu ltilingual State . Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
Winsler, A., Burchinal, M. R., Tien, H. C., Peisner-Feinberg, E., Espinosa, L., Castro, D. C., … & De Feyter, J. (2014). Early development among dual language learners: The roles of language use at home, maternal immigration, country of origin, and socio-demographic variables. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 29(4), 750-764.

Youtube link


Content curation: so long, and thanks for all the scoops …

Today I learned I can no longer use the free content curation platform to collect resources on my”topic” TELT. Somewhere between a blog and social bookmark site offering integration with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Scoop.it let me build a collection of links related to Teacher Education for Languages with Technology (or Formation des enseignants de langue avec les TICE).

I went to post a conference announcement (this one, if you’re interested. I used to upload them in one click to my Dropbox public folder then scoop the link, until Dropbox discontinued that handy option. There’s a theme developing here.)

Here’s the Scoop.it nag screen I got once I’d finished my post (not before I started filling out the fields):

Screen Shot 2018-04-05 at 11.58.43

So either pay or delete some old posts. I’ve been maintaining this resource for a while, so thought it might not matter so much if a few older posts disappear – they may well lead to dead links by now anyway. Still 3096 posts is quite a large number. How many are there in all, I wondered.

Screen Shot 2018-04-05 at 12.00.08


The writing’s been on the wall for while: the familiar pattern whereby free tools offer an initial range of flexible options and settings with decent support which are then progressively withdrawn and restricted to paying services. The intention is clearly to capitalise on users’ desire to maintain and develop an archive which is useful to themselves and followers, and not to lose the benefit of all previous investment of time and energy spent identifying and tagging resources.

Screen Shot 2018-04-05 at 12.09.49Screen Shot 2018-04-05 at 12.10.54

In the case of Scoop.it there’s a nod to network and gamification which I admit caught my fancy for a while, but I began to lose interest when we lost the custom search option. This means you can’t tweak the platform’s search options to restrict its suggestions to pre-selected resources, so you can’t filter out advertising, spam or other low-quality content. I continued adding resources I came across by other means, but it was the initial ease of finding, reading, commenting, tagging and sharing in a minimum of clicks that I found attractive.

Looking at my statistics for the first time in ages, I see I have 126 pages totalling 3145 links to online resources which I have been collecting since August 2011 with 61.5 views (however that is calculated). Presumably the archive will remain usable for while, and I’ve certainly derived benefit from it in numerous ways, in particular to

  • retrieve resources for teaching, including specific information for individual students
  • share information with a community of practice including other language educators and researchers, especially via Twitter
  • use the practice of content curation in language teacher education and open practices
  • inform conference presentations, workshops, and research articles on social media in language education and teacher preparation/professional development.

Below are links to some work by myself and colleagues that have used content curation as a tool for identifying teaching resources, as a practice useful in CALL teacher education, and as an efficient means of disseminating project results (and keeping track of audience reached).

In the meantime, I’ll be on the lookout for a useful alternative and perhaps ways of extracting the more useful content for further reuse and repurposing …

CALL teacher education

Social media in language teacher education

European projects on Open Educational Resources (OER) and Open Educational Practices (OEP) in language education

Erasmus+ 2014-1-UK01-KA200-001821

(Sept 2014 -August 2017)
Consortium of 6 European universities and institutes (Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Turkey, Wales)
Interactive language teaching with technologies.

  • SoNetTE (Social Networks in Teacher Education)

EACEA Lifelong Learning; 2012-4539 / 531150-LLP-1-NL-KA3-KA3MP
Consortium of 9 European universities led by University of Groningen, Netherlands.

  • iTILT (Interactive Technology in Language Teaching)
Teaching foreign languages with interactive whiteboards
EACEA Lifelong Learning: 511751-LLP-1-2010-1-BE-KA2-KA2MP
January 2011 – April l 2013
Consortium of 7 European universities and institutes (Antwerp, Barcelona, Bilkent, Cardiff, Heidelberg, Nice & Utrecht)

Language education in the tertiary sector: two reviews

I reviewed two recent edited volumes related to language teaching and learning in higher education, one focusing on telecollaboration or virtual exchange (O’Dowd & Lewis 2016), the other on languages for specific purposes (LSP), especially English and French (Sowa & Krajka 2017).

9781138932876Online intercultural exchange: policy, pedagogy and practice
Robert O’Dowd and Tim Lewis (eds.)
New York: Routledge, 2016
ISBN : 978-1-138-93287-6 (hardcover)
ISBN : 978-1-315-67893-1 (ebook)
308 pages




innovations-in-languages-for-specific-purposes-innovations-en-langues-sur-objectifs-specifiques_9783631719237_295Innovations in Languages for Specific PurposesInnovations en langues sur objectifs spécifiques. Present challenges and future promisesDéfis actuels et engagements à venir
Magdalena Sowa and Jaroslaw Krajka (eds.)
Bern: Peter Lang, 2017
ISBN 978-3631-71921-3
343 pages



The first collection focuses on different types of intercultural exchange made possible by technology:

“Online intercultural exchange: policy, pedagogy and practice, edited by Robert O’Dowd and Tim Lewis, deals with telecollaboration or virtual exchange at university level, including online exchange projects in foreign language education, research findings, pedagogical and technological guidelines, and practitioner case studies. Part of the Routledge series on language and intercultural communication under the direction of Zhu Hua and Claire Kramsch, the book includes three introductory and concluding chapters by the co-editors, and 14 chapters from 16 contributors both in Europe (UK, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, and Spain) and beyond (US, Canada, Australia, and Brazil)“. Alsic review

In my review I noted three interesting oppositions raised in several chapters

  • individual versus institutional initiatives: who is responsible for creating and maintaining online intercultural exchange?
  • actual versus virtual exchange: is study abroad necessarily preferable to telecollaboration?
  • successful versus conflictual exchanges: how can critical incidents shed light on important factors for effective teaching and learning?

The second volume gives an overview of teaching and learning French or English for specific purposes:

“The articles are organised into six sections: cross-linguistic dimensions, course design, tasks and skills, teaching resources, digital tools, and assessment. Each includes two to four chapters in French, English or both, for a total of seventeen articles (eight in French, nine in English) by twenty authors including practitioners, researchers, and teacher educators […] The authors in this collection are concerned with a variety of specific purpose domains, including business, law and social sciences, medicine and technical sciences, and academic or teacher preparation papers.” ASp review

In this review, too, I selected three common themes of interest to a wider readership

  • the essential role of the teacher in LSP, and the challenges of balancing language and content requirements;
  • a new focus on learner autonomy, particularly with respect to corpus linguistics approaches involving data-driven learning;
  • evaluation and assessment, which are important in course design and for institutional reasons, but also in LSP classroom practice.

Both books are recommended reading for those involved in language education at tertiary level for the wide range of practitioner voices which they include, and for their treatment of a broad spectrum of approaches, objectives and tools, raising interesting questions for colleagues working in different contexts and for stakeholders in this important area.



A disciplinary solution for second/foreign language teaching & learning at French universities

Transferring university language policy
Journée d’études, 16 mars 2018, EA 3816 FoReLL, Université de Poitiers

Internationalisation is currently affecting higher education in France in a number of ways. In the wake of the Bologna process and the attendant focus of EU attention on languages and technology, efforts to increase mobility and exchange across European universities have had far-reaching impact on second/foreign language education in terms of language certification, teacher education, and technology-mediated course delivery to name but these areas. National policy is also promoting an international dimension in French universities, with specific incentives to introduce and expand English Medium Instruction in a range of disciplines, particularly at graduate level. The challenges and opportunities of internationalisation are also felt in research communities involved in a broad range of disciplines from modern language studies, languages for specific purposes, research in the acquisition, learning, and teaching of second and foreign languages (particularly French and English), as well as corpus linguistics, translation studies, and computer-mediated communication. Moves towards cross-fertilisation of these fields under the umbrella of a broader definition of applied linguistics seem a promising avenue in this context. The present paper sketches a historical overview of the development of applied linguistics compared with the less commonly used linguistique appliquée in French-speaking education and research communities. It examines the limitations of innovation carried by individuals or small groups, and ends with a proposal to bring together the different interests in question under the banner of second language studies.

Le paysage de l’enseignement supérieur en France ressent l’impact de l’internationalisation actuelle de plusieurs façons. Suite au processus de Bologne par lequel la commission européenne a établi des priorités axées sur les langues et les technologies, des efforts pour promouvoir mobilités et échanges entre universités européennes ont eu des effets certains sur les domaines de la certification, la formation des enseignants et l’enseignement hybride et à distance, pour ne nommer que ceux-ci. Au niveau national une politique d’ouverture à l’international est également en marche avec notamment des incitations spécifiques pour la création et l’agrandissement d’une offre de cours dispensés en anglais dans diverses disciplines surtout aux niveaux master et doctoral (English Medium Instruction). Les défis qui relèvent de cette internationalisation touchent également les chercheurs dans des disciplines variées, allant de l’étude des langues, littératures et civilisations étrangères (LLCE), des recherches en langues de spécialité et formations en langues pour spécialistes d’autres domaines (LANSAD), passant par des travaux en acquisition-apprentissage-enseignement des langues secondes ou étrangères (en particulier le français et l’anglais), jusqu’à la linguistique de corpus, la traductologie et la communication médiée par ordinateur (CMO). Nous commençons par une brève esquisse historique de l’évolution du domaine de applied linguistics dans le monde anglophone par rapport à celui de la linguistique appliquée. Nous montrons les limites des innovations portées par des individus ou petits groupes et avançons une proposition disciplinaire avec pour objectif de réunir des communautés diverses sous une bannière de second language studies.


  • Beacco, J. C., Byram, M., Cavalli, M., Coste, D., Cuenat, M. E., Goullier, F., & Panthier, J. (2010). Guide for the development and implementation of curricula for plurilingual and intercultural education. Strasbourg: Council of Europe.
  • Blyth C.S. (2017) Open Educational Resources (OERs) for Language Learning. In: Thorne S., May S. (eds) Language, Education and Technology. Encyclopedia of Language and Education (3rd ed.). Springer, Cham
  • Brumfit, C. (1995). Teacher professionalism and research. In Cook, G. & Seidelhofer, B. (Eds). Principle and practice in applied linguistics, 27-41. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Condamines, A., & Narcy-Combes, J-P. (2015). La linguistique appliquée comme science située. In Carton, F., Narcy-Combes, J-P., Narcy-Combes,M-F., & Toffoli, D. (Eds). Cultures de recherche en linguistique appliquée. Paris : Riveneuve.
  • Deygers, B., Van Gorp, K., & Demeester, T. (2018). The B2 level and the dream of a common standard. Language Assessment Quarterly, 1-15.
  • Hulstijn, J. H. (2014). The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: A challenge for applied linguistics. ITL-International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 165(1), 3-18.
  • Kramsch, C. (2000). Second language acquisition, applied linguistics, and the teaching of foreign languages. The Modern Language Journal, 84(3), 311-326.
  • Long, M. (2017). Instructed second language acquisition (ISLA): geopolitics, methodological issues, and some major research questions. Instructed SLA, 1(1): 7-44.
  • O’Dowd, R., & Lewis, T. (Eds.). (2016). Online intercultural exchange: Policy, pedagogy, practice. New York: Routledge.
  • O’Keeffe, A., & Mark, G. (2017). The English Grammar Profile of learner competence. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, 22(4), 457-489.
  • Reinhardt, J. (2016). Preparing teachers for open L2TL: Frameworks for critical awareness and transformation, Alsic 19(1) : http://alsic.revues.org/2959
  • VanPatten, B. (2015). Where are the Experts?. Hispania, 98(1), 2-13.
  • Véronique, D. (2010). La recherche sur l’acquisition des langues étrangères: entre le nomologique et l’actionnel. Le français dans le monde-Recherches et applications, (48), 76-85.
  • Véronique, G. (2009). La linguistique appliquée et la didactique des langues et des cultures: une polémique française au cœur d’un débat international. La circulation internationale des idées en DDL, Recherches et applications–Le français dans le monde, (46), 42-52.
  • Whyte, S. (2017). Applied linguistics versus linguistique appliquée: innovation in language learning/teaching research in France (1964-2013). AILA, Rio de Janeiro, July.
  • Whyte, S. (2016). Who are the specialists? Teaching and learning specialised language in French educational contexts. Recherches et pratiques pédagogiques en langue de spécialité, 35(3)
  • Widdowson, H. (2017). Disciplinarity and disparity in applied linguistics. BAAL, University of Leeds, September.
  • Zourou, K. (2016a). Introduction to “Social dynamics in open educational language practices”. ALSIC Revue, 19, 1. https://alsic.revues.org/2920.
    Project websites

    Eportfolio for Online Language Learning Exchanges: Competences for the Telecollaboratively Effective Person. https://uni-collaboration.eu/sites/default/files/descriptors.pdf

    EVALUATE Evaluating and Upscaling Telecollaborative Teacher Education http://www.evaluateproject.eu/

    INTENT Integrating Telecollaborative Networks into Foreign Language Higher Education https://uni-collaboration.eu/node/544

    School-Teacher Professionalisation: Intercultural Resources and Languages (SPIRAL) https://spiral-euproject.eu

    UNICollaboration https://www.unicollaboration.org/

Recent edited volume on ESP didactics: GERAS Mons 2018


Sarré, C., & Whyte, S. (2017). New Developments in ESP Teaching and Learning Research. Research-publishing.net. 10.14705/rpnet.2017.cssw2017.9782490057016

Peer-reviewed edited collection, open access (PDF, ePub and print on demand).


Braud, V., Millot, P., Sarre, C., & Wozniak, S. (2015). «You say you want a revolution…» Contribution à la réflexion pour une politique des langues adaptée au secteur LANSAD. Recherche et pratiques pédagogiques en langues de spécialité. Cahiers de l’Apliut, 34(1), 46-66.
Millot, P., Wozniak, S., Sarré, C., & Braud, V. (2017). Quelles conceptions de la maîtrise de l’anglais en contexte professionnel? Vers une définition de la “compétence en anglais de spécialité”. Mélanges CRAPEL, 37.
Sarré, C., & Whyte, S. (2016). Research in ESP teaching and learning in French higher education: developing the construct of ESP didactics. ASp-La revue du GERAS, 69, p-139.10.4000/asp.4834
Whyte, S. (2016). Who are the specialists? Teaching and learning specialised language in French educational contexts. Recherche et Pratiques Pédagogiques en Langues de Spécialité: Cahiers de l’APLIUT. 10.4000/apliut.5487
Wozniak, S., Braud, V., Sarre, C., & Millot, P. (2015). Pour une formation de tous les anglicistes à la langue de spécialité. Les Langues Modernes, (3), 67-76.

New Developments in ESP teaching and learning research from Shona Whyte on Vimeo.


Anglais de spécialité en sciences humaines et sociales : recherches françaises

journee-etude-aliceVF3Alice Henderson et Frédérique Freund du laboratoire LLSETI à l’Université Savoie-Mont Blanc proposent l’argumentaire suivant pour une journée d’études en anglais de spécialité en mars 2018. Voir programme.

L’expansion du secteur d’enseignement des langues pour spécialistes d’autres disciplines (secteur Lansad) a fait émerger un grand nombre de questions linguistiques (au sens large du terme), didactiques, épistémologiques et politiques, propres à interroger les chercheurs et acteurs du terrain qui s’intéressent aux objets du domaine des langues dans le cadre particulier de l’enseignement supérieur. Le texte de la Commission formations de la SAES (Société des anglicistes de l’enseignement supérieur) rédigé en 2011 a eu pour objectif de distinguer le secteur Lansad de ses objets à travers la définition de trois termes-clés « Lansad », « Asp » (anglais de spécialité) et « didactique ». Le terme « Lansad » y est identifié comme se référant à un secteur d’enseignement des langues, au même titre que les filières pour (futurs) spécialistes, et la distinction est clairement posée entre « secteur d’enseignement » et « objets de recherche », confusion qui existait préalablement à ce texte, selon Van der Yeught (§28).

Les résultats de l’enquête nationale menée en 2015 par cette même commission (avec des membres renouvelés) montrent que le secteur Lansad se définit par l’hétérogénéité des projets pédagogiques en son sein. En ce sens, Van der Yeught a souligné que le projet pédagogique du secteur Lansad mérite encore d’être précisé :

(…) En 1993, Michel Perrin (Mémet 2001 : 312), suivi de quelques collègues qui y sont alors impliqués, propose l’acronyme secteur « LANSAD/Langues pour spécialistes d’autres disciplines ». Leur objectif est d’éviter l’appellation « enseignement des langues aux non-spécialistes » qui paraissait réductrice et négative.

Toutefois, si nous nous interrogeons sur le projet pédagogique précis qui motivait cette entrée des langues dans le supérieur, nous n’obtenons pas de réponse détaillée.

Or, les liens entre projet pédagogique et projet de recherche sont plus resserrés qu’ailleurs en Lansad où la structuration de la formation en anglais s’appuie non seulement sur la recherche fondamentale mais aussi sur la recherche-action (Macaire, 2010) et la recherche-développement (Guichon, 2006). Si l’objectif commun est la maîtrise d’une, et si possible plusieurs, langue(s)-culture(s) à un niveau de compétence donné en fonction de besoins identifiés, la question reste entière sur la définition des contours de cette « langue-culture ». En effet, dans le premier cas évoqué par la Commission formations de la SAES (« un enseignement destiné à des étudiants issus d’une même discipline »), le savoir-savant, objet de recherche, est la langue-culture de spécialité liée au domaine d’étude des étudiants ; dans le second cas (« un enseignement destiné à des étudiants issus de disciplines variées », le savoir-savant, objet de recherche, est la langue-culture, au sens large du terme. Dans ce second cas les recherches sont menées par des enseignants-chercheurs spécialistes des trois grands domaines traditionnels de l’anglistique : la littérature, la civilisation et la linguistique. Mais beaucoup reste à faire pour que le programme scientifique de « spécialisation du secteur LANSAD », selon les termes de Van der Yeught (§30) et que de nombreux chercheurs en anglistique appellent de leur voeux, arrive à maturité. Les recensions de Memet et Van der Yeught d’une part, et de Trouillon d’autre part le montrent. Ce dernier propose l’analyse suivante de la situation après une recension de la thématique des articles de recherche publiés dans Asp, la revue du Geras entre 1993 et 2007 et dans la revue English for Specific Purposes (dont The ESP Journal) de 1980 à 2010 :

(…) certaines disciplines sont sur-représentées alors que d’autres ne sont pratiquement jamais, voire jamais abordées : aucune occurrence pour la géographie n’a été trouvée par exemple. A l’intérieur du vaste domaine des sciences, certaines branches n’ont jamais fait non plus l’objet de travaux : on ne trouve aucun article en hydrologie. L’écologie ne fait son apparition qu’en 2010 et uniquement dans Asp.  Il en va de même pour des domaines qui relèvent de préoccupations extra-universitaires, comme la chasse ou la pêche, ainsi que pour les métiers de l’artisanat dont l’apprentissage ne se fait ni en grande école, ni à l’université : on ne trouve rien sur l’anglais de la boulangerie, l’anglais de la boucherie, l’anglais de la maçonnerie, l’anglais de la coiffure, etc. (51-52)

À notre connaissance, il n’existe toujours pas aujourd’hui de travaux de recherche permettant de commencer à décrire ou définir précisément les contours et la nature de l’anglais utilisé par les psychologues, les sociologues, ou les historiens dans la culture anglo-saxonne. Le domaine des arts, lettres et sciences humaines et sociales est ainsi largement sous-représenté dans les recherches en anglais de spécialité. L’anglais de spécialité étant défini comme « l’expression du spécialisé dans la langue » (Commission formations 3), tous ces anglais de spécialité, dans leur variété et variation, sont pourtant partie prenante du domaine de l’anglistique.

Cette situation s’explique peut-être par la structuration tardive du secteur Lansad dans les universités d’arts, lettres, langues et sciences humaines et sociales par rapport aux universités de sciences ou droit (Terrier et Maury §31-32). D’après Trouillon (2010), il semblerait en effet que les recherches menées en France sur les langues de spécialité sont, pour l’instant, avant tout liées aux domaines de spécialité dans lesquels les enseignants sont amenés à intervenir.

Le domaine des ALLSHS est donc le grand absent et c’est en ce sens que nous organisons, en collaboration avec le laboratoire Cultures Anglo-saxonnes (EA 801) – Axe 1 de l’Université Toulouse – Jean Jaurès, la deuxième d’une série de journées d’étude visant à proposer une caractérisation linguistique, historique et socio-culturelle de l’anglais des humanités et à démontrer en quoi cette langue fait évoluer les sciences et constitue, en cela, un adjuvant essentiel de langue anglaise. La première journée en janvier 2017 à l’université Toulouse – Jean Jaurès avait pour objet l’anglais de la psychologie et l’anglais de la philosophie, dans leur variété, variation et convergence. Cette deuxième journée, que nous organisons le 2 mars 2018 à l’université Savoie-Mont Blanc, sur le site de Jacob-Bellecombette, est dédiée à l’exploration de l’anglais de spécialité dans deux autres domaines des sciences humaines, à savoir l’histoire et la sociologie.

JOURNEE d’étude vendredi 2 mars 2018
Approche(s) de l’anglais de spécialité de la Sociologie et de l’Histoire
Université Savoie-Mont Blanc, Campus de Jacob-Bellecombette






Crosslinguistic perspectives on L2 studies

Screen Shot 2018-02-15 at 16.13.55We have just received news that our application to set up a new AILA Research Network on Crosslinguistic perspectives on second language studies: terms and concepts in French and English has been approved. Twenty-one colleagues from 15 institutions in 5 countries will be working together on this topic over the next three years in a series of events including a symposium at the AILA conference in Groningen in 2020. Henry Tyne of Perpignan University and myself are co-convenors.

Présentation en français


A main preoccupation of applied linguistics has historically been second and foreign language teaching. Indeed, the original name of the AILA organisation at its creation in 1964 was the Association internationale de linguistique appliquée à l’enseignement des langues vivantes.[1] Today, although the umbrella term applied linguistics has been extended to other disciplines and concerns, research on the teaching and learning of second or foreign languages remains a key area of our field (Long, 2017; Widdowson, 2017). In French-speaking countries like France, however, the term linguistique appliquée is no longer used by most scholars (Carton et al., 2015; Kramsch, 2009). This terminological slippage is problematic for an international organisation named after the French acronym, which seeks to appeal to a contemporary interdisciplinary interpretation of the field.

The diversification of research objectives, methods, and applications over the past fifty years has, perhaps inevitably, led to divergences in research traditions and in the disciplinarisation and institutionalisation of particular domains of applied linguistics in different AILA member countries, particularly as far as language learning and teaching is concerned (Smith & Iamartino, 2017; compare also Cuq, 2003 and Loewen & Reinders, 2011). The result is fragmentation and often miscommunication: research communities often working in closely related fields may not be aware of relevant research and findings of interest to all; those who do communicate may not understand one another’s contributions.  As a result, time and energy have necessarily been devoted to redefining terms, or motivating and explaining research frameworks for a wider audience, sometimes at the expense of advancing research agendas: “as if we had shown more concern for staking out the territory than building the house,[2]” in the words of one French commentator (Berthet, 2011).

The crosslinguistic perspectives on L2 studies network seeks to improve collaboration across French-speaking and English-speaking scholarly communities by offering a forum for participants to review, clarify, and update terms and concepts in second language acquisition, second and foreign language teaching, educational linguistics, and language education across the two languages.

Scope of the research network

The network seeks to address questions of conceptual and terminological correspondence and distinction in the area of L2 teaching and learning research, particularly with respect to French-speaking and English-speaking scholarly communities.

The objectives are to

  • identify domains of broad agreement (concepts and theories for which satisfactory translation equivalents exist; subfields where these coincide);
  • pinpoint particularly difficult areas (crosslinguistic gaps, terminological mismatch) and propose solutions to bridge gaps there; and
  • consider the utility and feasibility of a database of French and English terms in second language studies/didactique des langues.

This enterprise, while defined in relation to a specific bilingual project (a dictionary, encyclopedia or glossary), will necessarily involve broader discussion of epistemological, theoretical, and methodological issues related to second language studies/didactique des langues, including but not limited to corpus linguistics, translation studies, intercultural approaches, language for specific purposes, and CALL research, as well as praxeological concerns. This network will thus offer opportunities to continue long-running debate in AILA on definitions and directions for the field of applied linguistics.

We are aware that our project is both ambitious and fairly specific, and would no doubt benefit from a wider perspective including other languages and research cultures. In German-speaking contexts, for example, there is also extensive overlap among the terms Angewandte Linguistik, Fremdsprachenforschung, Sprachlehr-und lernforschung, and Fremdsprachendidaktik. We propose, however, to begin with the French/English perspectives which are of immediate concern to initial members of the network. Naturally if progress is significant and a second term for the network seems worthwhile, it would be useful to extend the project to additional research cultures and languages (e.g., major European languages, East Asian languages).

Participants and their affiliations


Aix en Provence Marco Cappellini* Aix Marseille University
Montpellier Amanda Edmonds Université Paul-Valéry, Montpellier 3
Nancy Alex Boulton Université de Lorraine
Nice Jean-Pierre Cuq

Simona Ruggia

Shona Whyte

Université Côte d’Azur

Paris Alice Burrows*

Jean-Paul Narcy-Combes

Paris 3 Sorbonne
  Natalie Kübler Paris 7 Didérot
Perpignan Henry Tyne Université de Perpignan Via Domitia
Réunion Christian Ollivier Université de la Réunion
Rouen Grégory Miras Université de Rouen Normandie


Cork Martin Howard University College Cork
Limerick Fiona Farr

Liam Murray

University of Limerick


Alberta Martine Pellerin University of Alberta, AB, Canada
Toronto Jeffrey Steele University of Toronto, ON, Canada
Berkeley Claire Kramsch University of California at Berkeley, CA, US
Pennsylvania Kevin McManus* Pennsylvania State University, PA, US


Neuchâtel Alain Kamber

Maud Dubois

Université de Neuchâtel

The 21 participants in our network include new* and experienced researchers in a range of areas of second language studies: French as a foreign language (Cuq, Dubois, Kamber, Ollivier, Ruggia), corpus linguistics (Boulton, Burrows, Kübler), CALL (Cappellini, Murray, Whyte), L2 acquisition (Edmonds, McManus, Steele), as well as teacher education (Pellerin, Farr), L2 sociolinguistics and study abroad (Howard, Tyne), intercultural competence (Kramsch) and epistemology (Miras, Narcy-Combes). The French AILA affiliate AFLA is fully represented (Boulton, Kübler, Miras, Narcy-Combes, Whyte).

Plan for ReN activities

Specific details of ReN events remain to be determined and will depend on the outcome of local applications for funding and related scientific meetings. Network members have provisionally agreed to the following plan:

2018 Journée d’études/colloquium/digital symposium Limerick/Nice/Perpignan
2019 Colloque AFLA: Crosslinguistic perspectives on L2 studies (France)
Journée d’études/colloquium/digital symposium Aix/Montpellier
2020 AILA symposium Groningen


Berthet, M. (2011). La linguistique appliquée à l’enseignement des langues secondes aux Etats-Unis, en France et en Grande-Bretagne. Histoire Épistémologie Langage, 33(1), 83-97.

Carton, F., Narcy-Combes, J-P., Narcy-Combes,M-F., & Toffoli, D. (2015). (Eds). Cultures de recherche en linguistique appliquée. Paris : Riveneuve.

Cuq, J-P. (2003). Dictionnaire de didactique du français langue étrangère et seconde. Paris: CLE international.

Kramsch, C. (2009). La circulation transfrontalière des valeurs dans un projet de recherche international. Le Francais dans le Monde, 46: 66-77.

Loewen, S., & Reinders, H. (2011). Key concepts in second language acquisition. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

Long, M. (2017). Instructed second language acquisition (ISLA): geopolitics, methodological issues, and some major research questions. ISLA, 1(1): 7-44.

Smith, R., & Iamartino, G. (2017). History of Language Learning and Teaching: Perspectives on Innovation. AILA Congress, Rio de Janeiro, July.

Widdowson, H. (2017). Disciplinarity and disparity in applied linguistics. BAAL conference, Leeds, September.

[1] International association of linguistics applied to the teaching of modern languages

[2] « comme si l’on s’était davantage soucié de borner le terrain plutôt que de construire la maison » (Berthet, 2011: 96)