The Role of Meta-Analytic Talk in Foreign Language Development

Shannon with research team

Students

2019
Wharton

Faculty

Professor Human Development and Quantitative Methods Division
Lecturer in Linguistics

Project Summary

This summer I have been working on a study in the field of applied linguistics with Dr. Kara Moranski. Our ten week study is part of a larger long term research project that Dr. Moranski has been working on with Dr. Paul Toth of Temple University.

The goal of our project is to identify and analyze meta-analytic talk in speech data collected from high school Spanish students. Meta-analytic talk is defined as talking about or negotiating elements of the second language in the students’ native language. We can divide these learning related episodes (LREs) into categories such as lexical, pronunciation, target and not-target grammar, and language play.  We are also taking into account the time students spend orientating themselves to the task, as Dr. Toth is defining pragmatic related episodes (PREs).

I really enjoyed learning about the field and playing a small role in adding to a growing body of research surrounding meta-analytic talk. During my mentorship I was trained in how to use Transana speech-analysis software to assist with data transcription and coding. I have also been involved in compiling abstracts for the literature review and developing the coding scheme.

Since my mentorship began mid-summer, we are currently still doing analysis of the data. Research questions we are answering include: 1. How frequently and accurately do learners use the target structure in extension activities following a co-construction versus? 2. How frequently do LREs occur for both conditions and what is their thematic focus? 3. How frequently do PREs occur for both conditions? and 4. What is the relationship between learners’ meta-analytic talk in the extension phase and (a) the co-construction phase (for PACE group only), and (b) subsequent measures of L2 learning?

My favorite aspect of this research project is its combination of qualitative and quantitative methods of analysis. Serving as my introduction to social science research, this assistantship has become motivation to pursue statistics and linguistics. I hope to have the opportunity to attend one of the conferences Dr. Toth and Dr. Moranski will be presenting our findings at in the fall.