L2 Journal

The L2 Journal is a fully refereed, interdisciplinary journal which aims to promote the research and the practice of language learning and teaching. It publishes articles in English on all aspects of applied linguistics broadly conceived, i.e., second language acquisition, second language pedagogy, bilingualism and multilingualism, language and technology, curriculum development and teacher training, testing and evaluation.

This site provides a list of all article titles and the opening lines of the abstract, together with links to the article on the L2 Journal site; for the full abstracts, articles, citation information and complete search capability, please go to the L2 eScholarship site.

Current Issue: Volume 9 Issue 2

Beyond a Tolerance of Ambiguity: Symbolic Competence as Creative Uncertainty and Doubt

Tolerance of ambiguity has been referred to as “the indispensable component of symbolic competence” (Kramsch, 2006, p. 251) and the recommendation was later made for college-level language instructors interested in emphasizing symbolic competence in their classrooms to “bring up every opportunity to show complexity and ambiguity” (Kramsch, 2011, p. 364). Within foreign language (FL) education, however, there is often a tendency to encourage negotiation of meaning in intercultural communication as a means of overcoming ambiguity. Yet ambiguity is an integral attribute of poetic and academic language as well as of day-to-day interactions, and embodies the very experience of language learning. Thus, FL pedagogies that incorporate the notion of symbolic competence emphasize …

Performing Deafness: Symbolic Power as Embodied by Deaf and Hearing Preschoolers

Symbolic competence, “the ability to actively manipulate and shape one’s environment on multiple scales of time and space” (Kramsch & Whiteside, 2008, p. 667), offers researchers and educators the ability to understand how learners position themselves. This positioning involves a vying for semiotic resources as a means to question established constructs and re-signify or reframe them (Kramsch, 2011). Theorizations of symbolic competence have thus far given limited attention to the multimodal dimensions of intercultural communication in action, that is, during the process of positioning. In this study, I utilize the operating principles of symbolic competence (positioning, historicity, reframing, and transgressions) to explore the embodied uses of symbolic power (Bourdieu, 1982) in multimodal interactions between deaf and hearing preschoolers. Specifically, this project asks: …

Exploring Symbolic Competence: Constructing Meaning(s) and Stretching Cultural Imagination in an Intermediate College-Level French Class

This study, conducted in a 300-level college French class with15 students, builds on previous research on symbolic competence (Kramsch, 2009, 2011). Using a film scene and a “Semiotic Gap Activity,” we examine how students construct meaning. What do students prioritize? What do they bring from their past symbolic representations? Are they aware of their own perspectives? What do they gain from the activity? Students were divided …

Le Pouvoir du Théâtre: Foreign Languages, Higher Education, and Capturing the Notion of Symbolic Competence

The study of foreign languages has historically been a cornerstone in higher education for a variety of very good reasons, one being that it will help students develop a sensitivity to diversity. This rationale is compelling in theory, but requires a practical approach for instruction that actually guides students towards such a learning outcome. Current research (e.g., Byrnes, 2006; Kramsch, 2006; Swaffar, 2006) has argued that the traditional focus on the development of communicative competence often promotes a functional understanding of the target language and dominant cultural values, thereby obscuring …

Volume 9 Issue 1

Mapping Monolingualism within a Language/Race Cartography: Reflections and Lessons Learned from ‘World Languages and Cultures Day’

An interactive exhibit at a university’s ‘World Language Day’ challenges systems of privilege that organize the study of ‘foreign’ and ‘world’ languages. Through discursive framing, participants’ written responses reveal an alignment with hegemonic ideologies of race and nation that elevate English monolingualism as a proxy for a White, virtuous cultural order within which ‘World language’ education safely—and additively—finds its place.

Negotiating Power In L2 Synchronous Online Peer Response Groups

Many synchronous computer-mediated communication (SCMC) studies have been conducted on the nature of online interaction across a range of pragmatic issues. However, the detailed analyses of resistance to advice have received less attention. Using the methodology of conversation analysis (CA), the present study focuses on L2 peer review activities in a synchronous online context: that of giving and receiving advice based on participants’ writing drafts. In L2 peer review activities, advice givers are momentarily positioned as the …

Business Spanish in the Real World: A Task-Based Needs Analysis

The growing demand for Spanish for Specific Purposes (SSP) courses at universities in the United States in the last two decades (Klee, 2015) has brought to light the need for more theoretically driven research in this field, which can inform pedagogical decisions and materials design. The present study conceptually replicates Serafini and Torres (2015), adopting a Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT) approach to instructional design, and it aims to contribute to the under-researched field of SPP by …

The Effects of L2 Proficiency on Pragmatics Instruction: A Web-Based Approach to Teaching Chinese Expressions of Gratitude

This study investigated whether the effects of pragmatics instruction delivered via a self-access website in a Chinese as a foreign language learning environment vary according to learners’ language proficiency. The website provided learners with explicit instruction in how to express gratitude appropriately in Chinese and offered them pragmatic consciousness-raising activities for practice. Two groups of learners who differed in Chinese proficiency received …

Redesigning an Introductory Language Curriculum: A Backward Design Approach

In response to calls for curricular change in foreign language programs and institutional requirements to evaluate programmatic effectiveness, this article presents a backward design approach to the redesign of an introductory French curriculum grounded in the framing concept of cultural literacy. In addition, data from student evaluations, written exams, and instructor feedback illustrate how program evaluation efforts have contributed …

The Impact of a Computer-Mediated Shadowing Activity on ESL Speaking Skill Development: A Pilot Study

This pilot study explored the instructional value and potential of a computer-mediated shadowing activity for improving English as a Second Language (ESL) learners’ speech intelligibility. Prospective International Teaching Assistants (ITAs), who were enrolled in an ESL classroom communication class at a large public university, completed a computer-mediated shadowing activity using two web resources, Go Animate and TED talks. Then, these adult ESL participants …

Teaching Strategies to Develop Inquiry and Literacy Skills: Languaging in Foreign Language Immersion Education

One-way, or foreign language, immersion schools face unique challenges as they seek to support the literacy development of their students. This manuscript draws on sociocultural theories of literacy development and the concept of languaging, the process of using language to make meaning. Working with two classrooms over one semester, we asked: How were fifth-grade students using language to make meaning and develop new skills during literacy activities? Where and when did students apply their learning? Teaching the strategies in English, the authors posit, provided students with moments …

Volume 8 Issue 4

Transdisciplinary Approaches to Language Learning and Teaching in Transnational Times: Introduction to the Special Issue

The initial ideas for this special issue transpired from an invited symposium panel, “Interdisciplinary Approaches for Language Teaching and Learning in Contemporary and Transnational Spaces,” that I organized for the 2014 AILA (Association Internationale de la Linguistique Appliquée) World Congress in Brisbane, Australia. With the acceleration of globalization, mobility, technological change, and the continued rise of youth with transnational identities and complex linguistic practices, I was compelled to talk about the need for …

Reconceptualising Learning in Transdisciplinary Languages Education

Understanding and working with the complexity of second language learning and use in an intercultural orientation necessitates a re-examination of the different theories of learning that inform the different schools of second language acquisition (SLA). This re-examination takes place in a context where explicitly conceptualizing the nature of learning in SLA has not been sufficiently foregrounded. It also necessitates understanding how language itself, as the substance or object of learning a second language, is conceptualized. Neither the theorization of learning, nor of language on its own is sufficient to provide an adequate account of second language learning for contemporary times. In particular, this paper argues …

A Transdisciplinary Approach to Examining and Confidence-Boosting the Experiences of Chinese Teachers of Chinese in Finland

With the current rise of China as a political, cultural, and economic superpower, Chinese as a foreign and second language has gained popularity worldwide. Finland is also responding to this global wave, as is reflected by the increasing number of Chinese courses in formal and informal settings in the Nordic country. Yet not all actors involved in the promotion of Chinese seem to experience instruction in the language in the same way. This study investigates how Chinese teachers of the Chinese language, who represent the majority of the ‘workforce’ for instruction in this language in Finland, perceive Chinese language education and their role in it…

Translations and Paradoxes of ‘Western’ Pedagogy: Perspectives of English Language Teachers in a Chinese College

This paper engages the perspectives of teachers working in an English language department of a vocational college in China. It takes a transdisciplinary approach, applying constructs from the fields of comparative education, postcolonial theories in education, and critical applied linguistics to a case study of English language teaching; while the study assumes somewhat one-way flows of ‘best practices’ from ‘West’ to ‘East,’ it maintains a postcolonial skepticism of the East-West binary and of essentialist notions of culture and progressive education. Specifically, it situates the shifting conditions and practices of so-called Western pedagogies in China under heightened transnationalism …

Whose ‘Crisis in Language’? Translating and the Futurity of Foreign Language Learning

This contribution questions to whom and to whose learning experience has the idiom of crisis that so pervades the domain of U.S. foreign language teaching been addressed. The authors report on an advanced foreign language classroom-based study from 2013, in which undergraduate German learners translated a 14-page prose poem about translingual experience—“Das Klangtal” (“The Sound Valley”) by British-Austrian poet and translator Peter Waterhouse (2003). The course—located at a university in the American Southwest—created an opportunity for the students and the instructor to reflect on a constellation of relations—transdisciplinarity, translingualism, and transcontextuality—often perceived under the aegis of a “crisis” of the subject. Through an analysis of the students’ reflections as translators, readers, and languagers, the study considers …

Localizing the Transdisciplinary in Practice: A Teaching Account of a Prototype Undergraduate Seminar on Linguistic Landscape

Building upon paradigms of language and languaging practices as local phenomena (Canagarajah, 2013; Pennycook, 2010, Pietikäinen & Kelly-Holmes, 2013), this paper narrates a teacher’s experience in an undergraduate seminar in applied language studies as an exploration in transdisciplinarity-as-localization. Taught by the author in 2012-2013, the seminar was intended as an introduction to the politics of societal multilingualism as visible in the linguistic landscape of public texts. As such, it relied upon …