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On-going Research Projects

Fluency in ENL, ESL and EFL: A contrastive corpus-based study of English as a first, second, and foreign language

This project (funded by the German Research Foundation: DFG GO 1760/4-1 & WO 2224/1-1) takes a holistic approach to investigate the fluency of speakers of English as a first language (ENL), a second language (ESL) and as a foreign language (EFL). As a database for the corpus analysis, we will use several components of the International Corpus of English (ICE; Nelson 1996) and the Louvain International Database of Spoken English Interlanguage (LINDSEI; Gilquin et al. 2010). In order to systematically assess how speakers of these three different types of Englishes establish fluency, these corpora will be analyzed for the linguistic variables that can potentially have an effect on a speaker’s fluency (i.e. ‘fluencemes’; Götz 2013: 8-9). For this purpose, an integrated, fluenceme-based taxonomy will be used to make it possible to describe fluency on three different levels: (1) the temporal variables in speech production (e.g. the length of runs, pause ratio, speech rate, etc.) as well as speakers’ use of fluency-enhancing strategies (e.g. discourse markers or prefabricated units), (2) the (potential combinations of) different/several fluencemes to overcome planning difficulties (fluenceme chunking) as well as their positions in the utterance (fluenceme positioning), and (3) correlations of fluencemes with extralinguistic variables (e.g. gender, age) that can predict the type and use of fluencemes in different types of Englishes (fluenceme preferencing).

Principal Investigators: ,

Please visit the project homepage on the DFG's GEPRIS website.

Pragmatic nativisation in spoken Sri Lankan English: a corpus-based study

This research project (funded by the German Research Foundation: DFG BE 5812/2-1) aims at the empirical description of pragmatic routines in spoken Sri Lankan English. It thus advances our understanding of spoken Sri Lankan English, which is also of relevance for other postcolonial Englishes. In comparison to British English, the historical ancestor of Sri Lankan English, and Indian English, the largest variety of English in South Asia and a direct geographical neighbour to Sri Lankan English, this project offers corpus-based descriptions of pragmatic nativisation of spoken Sri Lankan English with regard to organisational and actional pragmatic routines under consideration of sociobiographic speaker information. To ground said analyses in a valid database, the first representative corpus of spoken Sri Lankan English comprising many contexts of use from informal chats between friends to formal political speeches is completed and published as the Sri Lankan component of the International Corpus of English.

Principal Investigator:

Please visit the project homepage on the DFG's GEPRIS website.

Database of Early Pidgin and Creole Texts (DEPiCT)

The Database of Early Pidgin and Creole Texts (DEPiCT), funded by the German Science Foundation, assembles early attestations and descriptions of contact languages. The texts are annotated and made searchable online. This opens up new avenues for research: DEPiCT will be a standard reference database for historical linguistic studies on contact languages, both for individual languages as well as for comparative linguistic studies, and both from structural as well as from sociolinguistic perspectives. DEPiCT thus serves as an online backup and archive for posteriority, collecting and electronically saving data which at present is scattered among several researchers. It also offers a more complete overview and more comprehensive documentation of the development and history of individual contact languages. Furthermore, by allowing direct comparison between texts, DEPiCT makes it possible to evaluate the reliability of early sources. The comprehensive annotations allows for structural linguistic studies on grammaticalization paths as well as sociolinguistic and sociological studies on language use and attitudes in the early stages of contact languages.

Please visit the project website for more information.

Academic Trans- and Multiliteracy and the Challenges of English-Medium Instruction (EMI)

The PORTT research group at the Department of English and the Centre for Competence Development (ZfbK) of Justus Liebig University, Giessen/Germany, investigates the development of academic literacy, transliteracy and multiliteracy in different educational contexts. Whereas the term ‘literacy’ refers to the ability to read texts, to compose texts and to learn from textual material in one language, the concept of ‘transliteracy’ (Gentil 2005) takes into account that, in academic writing, which is always a material-based process, the language(s) of the material drawn on may differ from that of texts to be composed. Transliteracy requires translation competence in a functionalist sense. ‘Multiliteracy’ encompasses transliteracy and refers to (full) literacy in more than one language. To gain insight into the development of these forms of literacy, the members of the PORTT research group investigate cognitive processes of text reception, text production and translation using empirical methods such as think aloud, keystroke logging, screen recording and eye tracking. Its research focuses on the development of L1 (German) and L2 (English) academic writing skills and their interdependence, as well as translation competence development from the novice stage up to expert performance. Findings are being used to continuously optimize the teaching of these competences in various disciplines and degree programs and to develop best-practice approaches to be adopted in forms of English-medium instruction which make full use of students’ entire language resources.

Gentil, Guillaume (2005): “Commitments to academic biliteracy: Case studies of anglophone university writers.”
        Written Communication 22.4 (2005): 421–471.

portt_logo.pngPlease visit the official website.

Current research projects by members of the PORTT research group

  • The influence of translation competence on L1 and L2 academic writing: Cognitive processes of students of English Language & Literature and of Translation Studies compared (PhD project Ina Machura)
  • Text quality awareness and its impact on feedback: Subject-domain teachers, language teachers, writing fellows and peer tutors compared (writing centre research as part of the “Einstieg mit Erfolg” project funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research within its “Quality Pact for Teaching”, Susanne Göpferich)
  • The use of the L1 in L2 academic writing: Nuisance or cognitive catalyst? (PhD project Ekaterina Savarenskaia)
International Corpus of English: ICE-Ghana and ICE-Sri Lanka

The Sri Lankan and Ghanaian components of the International Corpus of English are both based at the University of Giessen. The written component of the ICE-SL corpus is now available, in SGML format and in a POS-tagged version.

Please visit the official ICE websites of ICE-Sri Lanka and ICE-Ghana.