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Our faculty demonstrate their diverse interests and talents in their multifarious research activities. They have presented at numerous conferences, both within and outside of the United States, and have been published in a variety of academic journals.

From studying the use of virtual reality in the world language classroom to analyzing the role of explicit vocabulary instruction, our professors are at the forefront of their fields. They provide innovative and engaging teaching practices in the classroom that bring learning to life for students.


Recent Faculty Research

Martín Gómez Research Poster

Professor Antonio Martín Gómez studies how second language development is affected by our experience with target language input. When people learn Spanish in the United States, two learner types are common: bilingual (heritage language) speakers, who start learning early at home through oral interactions with their parents and siblings; and traditional classroom learners, who start later in life and are exposed to predominantly visual and written input. Although the Spanish from both learners is vulnerable to transfer effects from English (their dominant language), only heritage speakers are closer to native Spanish speakers in their use of adverbs typically used in informal speech, as in Vino rápido-/rápida-mente ’S/he came quick-∅/quick-ly’ after an elicited production task. This finding reinforces the idea that speaking and interacting with native speakers can help us acquire a more native-like use of words and sentences in the foreign language.

Our students have the opportunity to collaborate with our instructors to do research, as well as conduct their own!

Maighdlin McHugh presents her research at the 2023 SLA Graduate Student Symposium at UMN

Maighdlin McHugh (Class of '22) presented the results of an experiment on how undergraduate students of Spanish Phonetics develop a more native-like pronunciation of Spanish consonants / p t k / at three different points over the semester. The combined effects of explicit instruction in the classroom and the exposure to native Spanish input through a telecollaboration with Ecuadorian peers resulted in overall gains, although the benefits were more tangible with consonant / k / as in que 'that', findings that align with previous research studies and support the idea that native input combined with classroom instruction may result in a more permanent acquisition of foreign sounds. 

Recent Undergraduate Research Projects

GCL 310: Theories & Research in Second Language Acquisition students present their research at the Fall 2023 Symposium on Second Language Acquisition. 

Effects of SMART Goal Setting on Participation in a University Spanish Course

Gabby Congemi & Kelsey Miller presenting their research.

Highlight: 100% of students in a 300-level Spanish course reported increasing their participation after setting a SMART goal in class.

Click here for more information. 

Never Too Late: Why Students Begin Learning a Second Language at the University Level

Lizzie Nelson & Hailey Pitzl presenting their research.

Highlight: Students' motivation to begin learning a new language at UWL varied, depending on their goals. Of the 35 students surveyed in 100-level language classes, 29% reported intrinsic motivation due to interest, 31% reported integrative motivation fueled by culture, and 48% reported instrumental motivation to benefit their future career or communication with family/friends.

Click here for more information. 

General Education Teachers’ Preparation to Work with ELs: The Case of Professional Development

Jess Meyer, Mari Niedermair, & Kyler Rohde presenting their research.

Highlight: None of the six local elementary teachers interviewed for this project had received any professional development to work with English learners (ELs), a growing population of students in our area. 

Click here for more information. 

Comparing and Contrasting Feedback Preferences of Students and Professors in L2 Classrooms

Piper Mitchell, Brielle Lynde, Julia Schumaker presenting their research.

Highlight: Among the different types of feedback provided in 100-400 level language classes at UWL, oral feedback is most preferred by both students and professors.

Click here for more information. 

Professor Martin Gomez and Maighdlin McHugh, undergraduate research assistant

Maighdlin McHugh (Class of '22) and Professor Antonio Martín Gómez investigate how students of Spanish Phonetics develop their pronunciation of Spanish sounds throughout a semester course. More specifically, they examine whether students still transfer the acoustic phonetic properties of consonants and diphthongs in English to Spanish cognate words, as in "Panamá" or "Europa". The results from this experiment will inform what properties are more difficult to acquire in the target language.

Title page for collaborative research project, Dr. Megan Strom and Evan Nold

Professor Megan Strom carried out a summer research project with Evan Nold ('22) based on SPA 443: Immigrants, Covid-19, and the Media that illustrates how news articles in Spanish represent the Covid-19 pandemic in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers. Presented at the 50th Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Association of the Southwest's Virtual Conference.

View full conference presentation here.