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Open Access Publications from the University of California


Created in November of 1989, Issues in Applied Linguistics is a refereed journal managed, edited and published by graduate students of the UCLA Department of Applied Linguistics. The journal is published twice yearly and has established international distribution and a solid reputation in the field of Applied Linguistics.

Our aim is to publish outstanding research from students, faculty, and independent researchers in the broad areas of discourse analysis, sociolinguistics, language acquisition, language analysis, language assessment, language education, language use, and research methodology. We are particularly interested in publishing new departures and cross-disciplinary endeavors in the field of applied linguistics.

Issue cover


Por favor, ¿Puedo tener una Coca-cola, por favor? L2 Development of Internal Mitigation in Requests

The purpose of this study was to analyze the development of internal mitigating devices in requests by a group of second language (L2) learners studying abroad in Spain. The method of data collection was a role-play in which the learners interacted with a Spanish native speaker in two service-encounter request scenarios. The same role-plays were repeated at the end of the study abroad period. A group of Spanish native speakers (NSs) also performed the same role-play task once and their data served as a baseline against which to compare the L2 learners’ performance. The results of this study show that the L2 learners reduced their use of the politeness marker por favor “please” and started using other devices more frequently by the end of their study abroad experience; however, in comparison with the NS group, the range and quantity of their internal devices continued to be much lower.

Critical Perspectives on Interlanguage Pragmatic Development: An Agenda for Research

Research on L2 pragmatic development forms the mainstay of many interlanguage pragmatic (ILP) inquiries. Yet promoting L2 pragmatic competence becomes an exceedingly demanding task when different constraints are brought to bear. This dilemma is due in large part to contrasting theories on interlanguage pragmatics development. From exposure to instruction, ILP research has long wrestled with the practical problems in the way of such development. Adding these together, the field is in dire need of practically meaningful research to address the full spectrum of both the pragmatic construct and the factors to foster its development. Intent on piecing together disparate sources of theory and data, this review synthesizes research regarding key considerations in L2 pragmatic development from cognitive, sociocultural, psycholinguistic and independent vantage points. Meanwhile, it summarizes the current knowledge on ILP development and draws out critical questions in connection with the past research. It is argued that there is a dearth of an integrative model for the acquisition of pragmatic competence, which renders several controversies surrounding L2 pragmatic development, especially that of the relationship between grammar and pragmatic development patterns, implausible. To serve that purpose then, a model for the acquisition of L2 pragmatic competence is expounded. In conclusion, a research agenda involving two prime research questions is outlined for future directions.

A Cross-Sectional Investigation of the Development of Modality in English Language Learners’ Writing: A Corpus-Driven Study

The present research investigated the development of English modality in the written discourse of Arab second language (L2) English learners across six levels of English proficiency. Two hundred texts were randomly selected from each of the six levels resulting in a total of 1,200 texts. Following the concept-oriented approach (CoA) to second language acquisition (SLA), modal expressions were analyzed for frequency, type and combinations of modal auxiliaries and verbs. Results indicate that initially learners express the concept of modality with limited linguistic means at their disposal such as over reliance on the primary modals can and will. Expression of this semantic concept becomes more productive and variant as learners progress in their language proficiency. More forms and types of modal expressions emerge and learners make clear distinctions between forms and meanings.

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Center stage: direct and indirect reported speech in conversational storytelling

This paper explores how speakers use direct reported speech (DRS) and indirect reported speech (IDRS) in conversational narratives to establish the importance of particular story characters to the plot and to display the interactional goal of the story.  When the story is designed as being about a particular person, the speaker uses DRS to depict the character’s behavior and qualities, thus marking the centrality of the character to the plot. When the story is designed as being about a non-human phenomenon (e.g. the quality of healthcare, the noise in the neighborhood, etc.), the narrator may use IDRS to mark characters as secondary or even tangential to the plot.  By manipulating the grammatical resources of reporting someone else’s talk, storytellers can also manipulate the centrality of the story characters to the interactional point of the narrative, or the story’s “aboutness.”

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Using Student Writing Reflections to Inform Our Understanding of Feedback Receptivity

This study explores the reflections of 27 native and high-proficiency English-speaking students in two sections of a six-week U.S. college undergraduate content/writing course, to determine what factors influence student receptivity to peer feedback. Reflections stemmed from weekly writing journals designed to enhance process writing skill development, and assessed how amenable students were to peer feedback. Subsequent qualitative analyses resulted in four significant student-generated orientations, each with substantial potential to inform peer review as a component of classroom process writing. The four orientations were: a) overall value orientations; b) interpersonal assessment orientations; c) feedback level orientations; and d) critical assessment orientations. Based upon these findings, several suggestions for improving peer review classroom pedagogy are explored, resulting in implications for enhancing peer review practices more generally and the subsequent reception of student feedback, with relevance for L1 and L2 writing instructional contexts.

A micro-analysis of embodiments and speech in the pronunciation instruction of one ESL teacher

During the last two decades conversation analysis (CA) has been used in second language classroom research to understand how instructors and their students achieve teaching and learning (Barraja-Rohan, 2011; Koshik, 1999; Markee, 2004; Wagner, 1996). Recent scholars have taken an approach that combines analysis of both talk and the body (Majlesi, 2014; McCafferty, 2006; Olsher, 2003; Platt and Brooks, 2008). Along with the work of the recent scholars, this study looks at how one teacher effectively uses talk, the body, and material artifacts to teach pronunciation in an ESL class in an intensive ESL program. By looking at the teacher’s talk, her embodied movements, and her use of material artifacts, the study sheds light on how the teacher and her students achieve teaching and learning regarding stressed syllables/words and the pronunciation of the phrase ‘It would.’

Book Reviews

Review of the book [Reading, writing, and learning in ESL: A resource book for teaching K-12 English learners], by S. F. Peregoy & O. F. Boyle with K. Cadeiro-Kaplan

The book Reading, Writing, and Learning in ESL is a resource that can be helpful to educators as they develop curricula and materials for their classes, particularly if they work in cross-disciplinary contexts. The work is valuable for both beginning and advanced-level teachers.

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