The coursework for both my MA and PhD in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese has had, without a doubt, a significant impact on me as an individual, a teacher, and a scholar. I cannot express how thankful I am for the training and support I have received from our department. It has been the perfect place for me to develop my scholarly voice and has allowed me to explore many different topics in the realm of Hispanic linguistics and second language acquisition.
Graduate perspective: Daniel Jung
I have always attributed my love for linguistics to my fascination with second and foreign language learning and teaching, and I am grateful to have been able to explore these topics through my coursework at IU, both in and outside of the department. My research largely centers around the question of why we see differences in rate and outcome of foreign language learning—why some students progress faster than others, and some get farther. This question has interested me since my very first language class, and I believe that individual differences, such as motivation, working memory, or personality, are at the heart of answering this question.
My research focuses on examining different parts of this question, namely, how individual differences such as motivation change through time and in response to external pressures, and how they mediate learning progress and achievement. I lead a research group in the department which examines the individual difference profiles of students in our language program over two years. This project examines how their individual difference profiles—composed of key individual differences such as motivation, personality, learning styles, learning strategies, and working memory—change over two years of study and also how these profiles mediate success and continuation in the program. Data from the first semester has recently been published in a special issue of Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching (Volume 10, Issue 1). I have also worked with Megan DiBartolomeo and Vanessa Elias on the role of motivation in the acquisition of pragmatics (how learners learn how to say what to whom and when) during study abroad. We have recently published the pilot data from this project in the international journal Letrônica (Volume 12, Issue 4).
My previous projects take a macro-perspective to understanding the question of differences in rate of learning and achievement, examining change over the course of years, but recently I have begun to examine change from a micro-perspective as well. This involves collecting more fine-grained data to better understand the process of motivational change and, importantly, what this change means for learning and acquisition. My dissertation, tentatively titled "Examining the role and dynamicity of L2 Spanish course engagement and outcomes," examines motivational change over the course of a semester. This project takes a closer look at how motivation mediates learning, connecting it to the concept of engagement (active participation in behaviors supporting second language learning), an under-researched variable in the foreign language classroom. Finally, I look to link both of these constructs to course outcomes, examining how these variables differentially predict performance on the major assessments of a third-year conversation and composition course. Work of this nature is important because it brings current, empirical debates on the nature of individual differences to bare on learning and achievement in the classroom to improve our understanding of instructed second language acquisition.
For the 2020-2021 academic year, I will be joining the faculty of the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at Butler University as a Future Faculty Teaching Fellow. The Future Faculty Teaching Fellowship, offered through the University Graduate School of Indiana University, is designed to give advanced PhD students the opportunity to experience faculty life in a different academic setting to enhance their career preparation. Being able to teach in a new university, and prepare new types of classes, such as the Spanish Pronunciation/Phonetics class, will allow me to grow as an educator and further refine my pedagogy. I am looking forward to this new chapter in my professional development and joining Butler's faculty!