Monday, October 25, 2010

33rd Second Language Research Forum at UMD

In October, the students from the Second Language Acquisition Program hosted the 33rd Second Language Research Forum, a major annual international conference in the field of SLA. It started with a two-hour presentation by Dr. Colin Phillips, who provided an overview of recent developments in experimental and computational tools for language science, with a focus on special considerations for SLA research. The talk was followed by seven concurrent free tutorial workshops, all filled to capacity:

1. Reaction Time Studies using DMDX (Nan Jiang)
2. E-Prime Workshop for Psycholinguistics in SLA (Annie Tremblay, Sunyoung Lee-Ellis, Anna Lukyanchenko)
3. Eye-Tracking for Language using Eyelink and ASL Remote Eye Trackers (Jared Novick, Susan Teubner-Rhodes, Alan Mishler, Shayne Sloggett)
4. Neurolinguistics using Electroencephalography (EEG) and Magnetoencephalography (MEG) (Colin Phillips, Wing-Yee Chow, Shannon Barrios)
5. New Considerations for Studies of Memory & Language (Brian Dillon, Erika Hussey)
6. Working with Children (Candise Chen, Min Wang)
7. Analysis and Visualization using R (Pedro Alcocer, Ewan Dunbar)

The conference proper started with the opening plenary by Dr. Michael Long (University of Maryland), who presented an embryonic theory of instructed adult SLA. The first day of the conference was celebrated with a free Welcome Reception at Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center, where attendees were treated to a choice of light meals and beverages. The second day of the conference saw a full day of colloquia, papers, posters, a workshop on how to get published in SLA, and another plenary talk on the topic of the L2 ultimate attainment given by Dr. Kenneth Hyltenstam (Stockholm University). In the evening, many SLRF attendees used the opportunity to socialize and network at the dinner reception, complete with a student jazz trio [provided by the UMD School of Music]. The remaining two days of the conference were filled with four colloquia, papers, posters, and two more plenary talks by Dr. William O'Grady (University of Hawaii) on language acquisition without an acquisition device, and Dr. Judith Kroll (Pennsylvania State University) on the consequences of bilingualism for cognition.
Overall, we think SLRF 2010 was a big success. The conference provided a venue for 424 faculty members and graduate students to meet, present their work, exchange and develop their research ideas. It featured 4 plenary talks, 6 colloquia, 2 workshops, 109 papers and 39 posters! Several seasoned SLRFers said this was the best SLRF they had ever attended, due mostly to the high quality of the presentations and the well-executed organization. Much of the success of the conference was due to two factors, generous financial support and a dedicated group of hard-working student organizers and volunteers. The faculty members and the Ph.D. students from the SLA Program would like to express their sincere thanks to those students and volunteers who contributed to the organization of the conference as well as to the conference sponsors: the School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures (SLLC), The College of Arts and Humanities (ARHU), the National Foreign Language Center (NFLC), the Center for Advanced Study of Language (CASL), the NSF Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) Program, and UMD’s Division of Research.

New Language Science Faculty: Hal Daume III, CS & LING

Hal Daume III is a new Assistant Professor in Computer Science, with a joint appointment in Linguistics. He is primarily interested in the interface between natural language processing, computational linguistics and machine learning.
His work in statistical modeling spans multiple aspects of language processing, including structured prediction, Bayesian methods, domain adaptation, and linguistic typology. Recently, he has been particularly interested in methods that involve processing many (100+) languages simultaneously, using linguistic insights (particularly from typology) to constrain the space of solutions that learning algorithms try to explore. He has latent interests in document summarization, discourse theory and language evolution.

Friday, October 1, 2010

HESP to host CLAN Training Workshop

On October 14, Nan Ratner, Chair of the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences, will host a workshop on new methods that allow greatly improved efficiency in transcribing and analyzing audio and video data. The workshop will focus on recently developed enhancements to the CLAN tools offered by CHILDES, the Child Language Data Exchange system (see here for more information: CLAN is a program released by CHILDES used in multimedia data organization and analysis.

Space is limited for the October workshop, due to the already high level of interest that it has generated, but you should feel free to contact Nan Ratner at if you are interested. The workshop will run from 4-6pm on Thursday October 14th in the Hearing & Speech Sciences graduate classroom (Lefrak 0135), and will guide participants through hands-on exercises. As an added bonus, Nan will bring wine and cheese, and additional donations of soda or snacks are welcomed.