Iowa State University
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Department of English


TESL/Applied Linguistics: Projects

OverviewAutumn at Iowa State

The students and faculty of the M.A. TESL/AL and Ph.D. ALT programs work on a variety of projects for both teaching and research purposes. Read about some of the recent projects and materials that are in progress or have been completed at Iowa State.



Synthesizing Research on Computer-Assisted vs. Classroom Second/Foreign Language Instruction
Funded by Iowa State University

Research Team: Carol A. Chapelle, TESL/AL Professor, and Maja Grgurovic, ALT PhD student

This project examines findings on the effectiveness of Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) through analysis of comparison studies on computer-assisted vs. traditional language instruction from 1970s to 2006. These studies compare the language learning outcomes of teaching using computer technology (such as CALL programs, web, computer applications) and using face-to-face instruction without any technology. To help CALL researchers efficiently identify relevant comparison studies, a database of more than 85 empirical second and foreign language studies was compiled. The studies were obtained by a computer search of three electronic databases (LLBA, ERIC, and Dissertation Abstracts) and a hand search of six journals (CALL, System, CALICO Journal, ReCALL, LLT, and TESOL Quarterly). Readers can search the database using a key word search or categories in drop-down menus. A short synthesis of comparison studies by language skills was also created. The second phase of the project will involve a meta-analysis of database studies. Read more and search the database...

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Life as a Second Language, A Simulation

Funded by Iowa Department of Education and U.S. Department of Education

Research Team: Roberta Vann, TESL/AL Professor, Karen Nichols, Iowa Department of Education, Lavina Hirsu, TESL/AL graduate student, Rachel Gannon, ESL certification undergraduate student.

As part of a week long seminar for 600 Iowa educators August 7-11, participating teachers will have the opportunity to experience life in a second language through participation in our Iowa-state designed simulation. The goal of the simulation is to help Iowa educators gain insight into the challenges of being a newcomer in a school system and experience what helps and hinders them in these endeavors. The experience involves participants taking on the roles of immigrant families as they travel to the land of Polyopolis, Euphonia where they are assigned a series of tasks such as registering children in school, finding housing, and buying stamps. All tasks must be negotiated with native-speakers in more than a dozen other languages including Spanish, Urdu, Nuer, Chinese, Arabic, and Vietnamese ... read more

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Statistical Modeling of ESL Language Use Patterns

Funded by the ISU College of Liberal Arts and Science

Research team: Mohammad Haji-Abdolhosseini, TESL/AL Assistant Professor, and Anna Kosterina TESL/AL MA student

This project aims to find patterns of language use and error in learners
of English as a second language with respect to their levels of English
proficiency and their native language by studying a corpus of writings
produced by such learners. The language backgrounds under study are
Chinese and Spanish.

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Read, write, and listen: Revising the ISU English Placement Test

Funded by the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching.

Research Team: Dan Douglas, TESL/AL Professor, Volker Hegelheimer, TESL/AL Associate Professor, and Yoo Ree Chung, ALT PhD student

Accurate assessment of the English proficiency level of incoming non-native speakers of English is crucial for the continued success of these students at ISU. Currently, the results from the English Placement Test (EPT), which is administered at the beginning of each semester, are used to place students into writing, reading comprehension, or listening comprehension courses offered in the English Department. However, the current test is a paper-based multiple choice test that has been in use for a number of years with minimal revisions during that time. While related to the current specific academic English needs of the students, it is a more general test of English language proficiency. Additionally, the scoring mechanism does not allow for enough diagnostic information for students and their instructors. The main goals of this project are to revise the current EPT, to make it more useful for diagnosing the proficiency of international students, and to make the administration and scoring of the test more efficient and convenient for both students and the university.

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Integrating podcasting into ESL listening classes

Funded by the Center for Online Learning.

Research Team: Volker Hegelheimer, TESL/AL Asociate Professor, and Anne O'Bryan, ALT PhD student

Most international students arriving at Iowa State University are required to take an English Placement Test (EPT) designed to determine if students require additional instruction in English in order to succeed in their studies. The available courses offered by the English Department at ISU cover subjects such as academic writing, academic reading strategies, and academic listening strategies. The focus of this project is on enhancing the existing academic listening courses by re-organizing the current curriculum and by integrating both audio and video podasting units. Read more...

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Enhancing and Advancing Science for English Language Learners (EASEL)

Funded by the U.S. Department of Education and the Iowa Department of Education

Research Team:  Roberta Vann, TESL/AL Professor, (P.I.), John Levis, TESL/AL Associate Professor, Joanne Olson, Curriculum and Instruction, Associate Professor, Katherine Richardson-Bruna, Curriculum and Instruction Assistant Professor, Dan Douglas, TESL/AL Professor, and Elena Cotos, Lavinia Hirsu, and Monica López Ceballos, TESL/AL graduate students.

As more native speakers of other languages enter Iowa classrooms, mainstream teachers are facing challenges in knowing how to meet the needs of these learners. This project has the following goals:

  • Heighten participant insight into the needs of ELLs in science classes
  • Provide a model of inquiry-based and strategy-centered science teaching
  • Provide practice in using research-based strategies that enhance learning for all students
  • Enhance professional development and collaboration between science and ESL teachers, AEA consultants, and university colleagues.

The Iowa State team is accomplishing these goals by: 1) providing intensive in-service sessions for teachers and Area Education Associates in Science during summers 2005 and 2006, 2) creating and supporting ESL and science teacher teams at selected sites, and 3) creating supporting materials, including a manual and dvd, as teacher and AEA resources.

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Developing a Corpus-based ESL Academic Research Course

Funded by the ISU Liberal Arts and Sciences Computer Advisory Committee

Research Team: Viviana Cortes, TESL/AL Assistant Professor, Nur Atkas, TESL/AL MA student

With the help of a Liberal Arts and Sciences Computer Advisory Committee grant, Viviana Cortes has developed discipline-specific corpora to help ESL graduate students learn about writing research in their individual disciplines. Read more or watch a video of Dr. Cortes and M.A. TESL/AL student Nur Atkas presenting on the project.

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Processes and Use of Knowledge in Performing New TOEFL Listening Tasks

Funded by Educational Testing Service

Research Team: Dan Douglas, TESL/AL Professor, Volker Hegelheimer, TESL/AL Associate Professor, Nadia Jaramillo, TESL/AL MA student, Soh-Youn Kim, TESL/AL MA student, Fushun Le, TESL/AL MA student, and Anne O'Bryan, ALT PhD student.

For the past 10 years, Educational Testing Service (ETS) has been working to modify the TOEFL test for Internet usage. This research project investigates the cognitive processes and use of language and content knowledge by test takers who use the new TOEFL listening test tasks. Read more...

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Empirical evaluation of CALL use for ESL students' learning processes and outcomes

Funded by the International Research Foundation for English Language Education

Research Team: Carol Chapelle, TESL/AL Professor, Joan Jamison, Applied Linguistics Professor, Northern Arizona University (NAU), Reiko Komiyama, Applied Linguistics PhD student, NAU, and Mehmet Sahin, Curriculum and Instruction PhD student, ISU.

This project aims to evaluate ESL learners' use of state-of-the-art multimedia CALL through a multiple case-study methodology for examining the effectiveness of computer-assisted language learning (CALL) materials at three US and three international sites. Read more...

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Developing an on-line EFL course in Chile

Cynthia Myers, adjunct instructor of English, spent 5 months in Chile developing a multimedia EFL curriculum. Myers worked as a consultant to a team of 16 writers and computer programmers to develop the Web-based course. Read more...

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Each semester, students taking English 510, Computer Methods for Applied Linguistics, students create Web-based Teaching Units for their final projects. Browse select units below according to topic and year.

Composition unit (Fall 2004)
The case of the missing librarian - A mystery story (Fall 2004)

Pronunciation (Spring 2004)
Conjunctions (Spring 2004)
Russian 101 (Sprting 2004)
Kiswahili (Spring 2004)

Pronounciation help (Fall 2003)
The stolen Mona Lisa (Fall 2003, tense consistency)
Driver's license help (Fall 2003)

Cultural gaps (Fall 2002)
American classroom culture (Fall 2002)
Computer skills (Fall 2002)

Adaptive" reading test (Spring 2001)


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