The Institute for the Empirical Study of Language is celebrating its 25th anniversary this fall by celebrating the collaboration and camaraderie of a small group of faculty and their impact on linguistic research at Ohio University.
IESL is an interdisciplinary program with professors and students from two different colleges and from three continents: North America, Europe and Asia. IESL professors are committed to providing scholarships and supporting each other and training their students.
âWe brought together professors from four disciplines to conduct research on languages ââin an interdisciplinary framework. It opened us up to how linguistic research is conducted in these other disciplines and broadened our approach to how we conduct research as an institute, âsaid Emilia Alonso-SameÃ±o, Ph.D., director of the institute and professor of Spanish in the modern languages ââdepartment.
The permanent faculty members and student members of the institute come from the Division of Communication Sciences and Disorders and the School of Rehabilitation and Communication Studies of the College of Health Sciences and Professions and from the Linguistics, Languages ââdepartments. Modern and Psychology Studies from the College of Arts and Sciences.
Adjunct faculty members, who collaborate with OHIO faculty members in linguistic process research, are appointed from academic institutions such as Denison University, Complutense University of Madrid, University of Navarre and Jawaharlal Nehru University.
âIESL has been a professional haven for me and other junior faculty members, whether permanent or auxiliary. It is the ideal forum to discuss ideas, propose new collaborative research and engage with the projects of other members. It is also a stimulating environment to develop mentoring relationships and support young professors throughout the tenure process, âsaid Alonso-SameÃ±o.
âIESL members are also open to lighter rates. Most of our meetings feature presentations of someone’s research, and these expand our own experience and sometimes spark new research ideas. Every now and then, however, we do slip into a party, perhaps to celebrate the end of the semester. Time is not wasted.
The aim of the institute is to involve its members in interdisciplinary scholarships, to provide opportunities for academic discussions and scientific engagement to faculty and students, and to train undergraduate and graduate students in the linguistic research through certificate programs. Since its inception, the IESL has offered theoretical and research training to prepare students for pursuing university studies in certain areas of linguistic research.
âWe have engaged with campus faculty in a variety of ways. We organized a conference on first and second language acquisition and learning, which attracted many teachers and clinicians from public schools. We hosted several Kennedy speakers, bringing together researchers of the caliber of David Pisoni (Indiana University) and a former student of John Locke (Lehman College). We sponsored international speakers like Jane Arnold (University of Seville, Spain) to give a plenary session at an ongoing CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning) conference, ânoted Alonso-SameÃ±o.
Establish strong interdisciplinary links
Starting an interdisciplinary institute with a small number of professors took a lot of perseverance.
The first challenge was communication.
âWe were all good in our own disciplines, but we had to learn what other disciplines could bring to a project. If representatives of three disciplines wanted to carry out a project together, each had to inform the other two of the strengths that their discipline could bring to the project. Was one strong in materials, another strong in methodology, another familiar with a really interesting problem in the field of language study? We couldn’t learn everything about another discipline, so our representative had to choose the relevant parts for the developing study and explain them to others. It takes time, but it can also open up an interesting idea that a single member would never have considered, âsaid Alonso-SameÃ±o.
A second challenge was the creation of a certificate program for undergraduates.
âWe thought that undergraduates in language studies had little chance of doing empirical research, and they needed that experience to be admitted to graduate school. We designed a certificate program that combined several language-related courses with hands-on research projects with three of our teachers from at least two different fields eg Linguistics and Spanish. It ended with a thesis project. It gave them a lot of research experience, and we thought it would give them an edge in graduate applications. It took over 10 years for this certificate to be approved by the Council of University Programs. The certificate has now evolved to be more in sync with other certificate programs offered on campus. Students do not need to write a thesis, but a publishable manuscript. We have also developed a certificate program for graduate students“, added Alonso-SameÃ±o.
Colleagues from all over the world
Over the years, the IESL has had a number of undergraduate students who have successfully completed the certificate program and continued on to graduate studies. One of them was Alba GarcÃa-Alonso, whose thesis project used eye movement technology to study reading strategies in Mandarin Chinese English learners. She was accepted into the MA program in Applied Linguistics at Penn State University.
Among the graduate students, several pursued doctoral studies in language sciences. One of these students was Ariadna SÃ¡nchez-HernÃ¡ndez, who completed her doctorate. in English Language and Linguistics from the Universitat Jaume I in Spain and is currently Assistant Professor at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid.
Another student in the program was Mark Gibson, currently a visiting scholar at the institute this semester. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Spanish here at OHIO and then earned a doctorate. in Linguistics from the Complutense University of Madrid, and is currently Assistant Professor of Linguistics at the University of Navarre in Spain.
SÃ¡nchez-HernÃ¡ndez and Gibson are currently auxiliary members of the institute.
For more information about the institute, contact Alonso-SameÃ±o at [email protected].