2014 Capstone Projects

1. Studying Abroad and the Enhancement of Cultural Awareness in Saudi EFL Programs

Ali Alamry

Over the last decade many researchers have shown interest in studying Saudis studying abroad, since Saudi Arabia has been remote from Western culture but exchange has escalated lately. Many of these studies have focused on the language challenges that those students face and discussed some cultural challenges along the way. This study approaches the experience from a different angle. It discusses the issue of studying abroad and the enhancement of cultural awareness in EFL programs in Saudi Arabia. It tries to link Saudis cultural experiences with what has been taught to them in EFL programs in SA. Topics such as awareness of western cultural examples as well as tolerance of cultural differences are discussed. To answer the research questions, a survey was conducted online and some of the researcher’s Saudi friends, who have been studying abroad, were asked to respond to it. The data were collected and tabulated using Survey Monkey. The data were also collected from short interviews.

2. Saudi Contrastive Rhetoric

Hamad Mohammed Alluhaydan

The aim of this paper is to provide an insight about contrastive rhetoric theory with concentrating on Kaplan’s claim about Arabic-speaking students’ rhetoric through investigating some Saudi students’ writing. It gave a historical review to the contrastive theory. Then, we went through some of the most famous opponents’ and proponents’ of contrastive rhetoric. Also, this paper pointed to the significant impact of genre and culture in studying contrastive rhetoric. We also talked about major grammatical and content issues with Saudi students’ writing.

3. Developing a Curriculum for a Legal English Workshop

Roberta Diamond

The aim of this paper is to review the development of the teaching of English for Specific Purposes (ESP); the cultural influences in the development of legal systems; the culture differences in the two major legal systems that reflect critical thinking and reasoning differences; the necessity for developing authentic content for English as a Second Language (ESL) programs designed for foreign lawyers; and a preliminary design of a curriculum and course materials for a seminar/workshop to introduce foreign lawyers to the English used in the common law, stare decisis, and the U.S. legal system.

4. From Facebook to the Five-Paragraph Essay: Raising Genre Awareness in the ESL Classroom

Tucker Dunn

This project focuses on raising genre awareness in a 2nd semester freshman ESL composition course of 23 students at a major Southwestern university.  The course emphasizes rhetorical analysis, incorporating academic research skills to move towards comprehensive issue analysis and, eventually, public arguments.  Throughout the course, students were exposed to a number of genres and the conventions of those genres, culminating in a final public argument paper in a genre of their choice with the additional requirement that students must write an analysis of their own writing, explaining how the choices they made in their arguments are appropriate for the genres and target audiences they chose.  In addition, students were given a pre-test in the first week and a post-test during the public argument unit to gauge their understanding of genre and conventions.

5. Cloud Feedback in a First-Year L2 Composition Class: Intentionality, Reciprocity and Meaning

Stephanie Fuccio

This semester I did action research with my two classes of English 108 students with regards to CALL based writing programs. Specifically, this study looks at our use of Google docs for feedback purposes, both peer to peer AND teacher to student feedback. The goal was to test out if students felt that the back and forth interactive potential of Google cloud software helped them improve their writing. Stop by to see the results of this study!

6. Examining the role of online translators in the writing processes of college-level L2 writers

Nick Halsey

This study promotes a dialogue between writing instructors and college-level L2 writing students about the role of free online machine translators (MT) in the writing process. Though anecdotal evidence suggests that college-level L2 writers make thorough use of online MT's while producing their written assignments, little research has addressed the nature of this usage or its impact upon the students' compositions. Twenty-two Chinese-L1 participants enrolled in a first-year ESL composition class were surveyed on their attitudes and experiences involving online MT. While all participants reported using online MT in the writing process, none had received instruction on the strategic use of this or any other translation technologies. In response to the survey, the researcher will implement a series of lesson plans that will show students the benefits and limitations of free online MT and introduce them to alternative translation resources. Students will then write a reflection, indicating whether or not the in-class lessons have encouraged them to use online translation resources in a more technologically-literate fashion.

7. Are English articles important when studying English? A study of Korean English Learning

BoRam Kang

English is a significantly important foreign language in South Korea. Unfortunately, many Koreans’ hope to possess advanced English proficiency, but it is difficult for them to have a command of English like native speakers of English. Furthermore, under the English education system in South Korea, the importance of English articles such as ‘a/ an’, ‘the’ and ‘⦰’ has been underestimated. English articles do not have equivalents in the Korean language so many Korean learners consider English articles not to be an important part of English. Specifically, Korean and English are different not only in terms of their own grammatical and lexical forms, but also in the writing system and the socio-pragmatics. This study is designed to investigate how Korean adult learners view English articles when learning English and how English articles are presented in the English grammar books; one used in Korea and another in America.

8. A Comparative Study of Two Writing Classes: Teaching Approaches, Student Collaboration and Influence on Students’ Writing Development

Mariia Khorosheva

U.S. universities are becoming more international, with students coming to study from a variety of countries. CESL is mainly responsible for preparing international students for the challenges they will encounter in their studies, which includes academic writing. This qualitative and quantitative study examines the effects that different teaching methods and activities have on student development. Issues of collaboration, grammar instruction and textbook use will serve as the basis for comparing teacher and student impressions in 2 intermediate CESL writing courses. Data is collected through student interviews, instructor interviews, as well as observations and a survey.

9. The motivations of Chinese College Level Students

Grace Liu

The purpose of this project is to find what kind of motivational factors have the most influence on current Chinese college level students who are learning English as mandatory, and whether their teachers understand their motivations. By giving a questionnaire (15 questions) to current Chinese college level students, the data was collected and analyzed from 5 motivational dimensions, which are Instrumentality, Direct contact with L2 speakers, Cultural Interest, Vitality of L2 Community, and milieu. The results can be used to help educators understand better what motivational factors are much effective to college level students and put these effective motivations to actual second/foreign language teaching.

10. Internet Technologies in Second Language Teaching and Learning (ITL2TL) in Cameroon: Obstacles, and Implications for Teaching in ‘the Developing World’

Timothy Mercer

There are many obstacles facing those who would implement Internet Technologies in Second Language Teaching and Learning (ITL2TL) in “the developing world.” Much of the literature on the subject deals with limitations that can be classified as either material (such as lack of hardware, software or electricity and prohibitively large classes), ideological (such as parental objections, software mandates or misaligned curricula) or executive (such as a lack of training, institutional and technical support). My presentation does not seek to diminish the importance of these limitations; rather, I venture to add a fourth class of limitation: techno-cultural. Techno-cultural limitations lie in the mindset of the would-be practitioner of technology and blind him or her from innovative, environmentally-responsive solutions to material, ideological and executive limitations. In my research, I find examples of techno-cultural limitations to the application of technologies in the “developing world” and demonstrate how they ultimately fail in relation to environmentally-responsive applications. I then present a pilot study, in which I attempted to collect empirical data on the current state of ITL2TL among US Peace Corps teachers in Cameroon as evidence of these techno-cultural limitations. I explain the various limitations of my pilot study and their implications on future research in this area. I conclude by presenting my working hypotheses for environmentally-responsive approaches to teaching with technology in the developing world.

11. Bemba in Zambia

Charles Phipps

There has been very little written about the language of Bemba in recent history.  Indeed, the first Bemba grammar was not even published until 1907, and since that time there has not been much written specifically about learning to speak and use Bemba as a Second Language (BSL). From 2004-2006, I served in the U.S. Peace Corps in the Central Province of Zambia where Bemba is spoken.  For two years, I was immersed in a rural Bemba speech community where I had the opportunity to learn and speak Bemba on a daily basis.  Furthermore, I was able to travel to different parts and cities of the country to witness the differences between how Bemba was spoken and used in a village and city setting. The scope of this Capstone project is the culmination of two years of field work learning and using the Bemba language in both rural and urban settings. Beginning with a brief background of the country of Zambia, the project then delves into the vast speech community of Bemba and the reasons behind the language’s rise as a lingua franca of the people.  The main features of City Bemba are examined and contrasted against a first-hand account of using Bemba at the Village level. Through a teacher profile interview, pedagogical methods concerning teaching and learning Bemba as a Second Language (BSL) are discussed and explained. Two BSL learner profiles follow with insights into BSL acquisition, difficulties, and successes. The last portion of this project is devoted to highlighting some of the current issues confronting Bemba including the paucity of literature in Bemba, and a quantitative study that looks at the frequency of Bemba use by Zambian nationals on social networking sites such as Facebook.

12. An Overview of CALL in Indonesia: Practices, Perspectives, Challenges, and Opportunities

Kristian Adi Putra

Regardless of the potential benefits of computer-assisted language learning (CALL) for language acquisition and development, some contexts, especially developing countries, still have an issue on accessibility to even a basic form of technology, e.g. electricity. Egbert (2010) highlights three areas of challenges of the implementation of CALL in limited technology contexts: (1) infrastructure, e.g. no software, no hardware, no internet access, etc., (2) ideology, e.g. parental objections, sociopolitical restriction, misaligned curriculum, etc., and (3) execution, e.g. limited funding, limited training, limited support, etc. Through online survey administered to 17 English teachers and 60 students in junior and senior high schools in urban and rural areas in Indonesia, and interview with the 10 out of 17 English teachers, I investigated how CALL has been implemented in Indonesia in the two settings, what challenges exist, how teachers and students see its benefits and challenges, and how both of them see the future of CALL in Indonesia, considering the available resources at schools and the emerging technologies easily accessed by students. The result shows that the challenges of the implementation of CALL in Indonesia are complex and typical as in other developing countries, yet still promising. Some potential resources for integrated CALL activity, especially those owned by students, such as smartphone, tablet, social media, and laptop, are continuously emerging and creating an opportunity as well as challenge for teachers to be able to adapt to the new trend and use it for pedagogical purpose. The result implies on the need of training on CALL to pre-service and in service English teachers and the need of providing schools with facilities that can be used for CALL activities.

13. Get a Job!  A Unit for Technology Enhanced Business English

Hsin-I Sher

This technology-enhanced business English unit consists of a series of task-based activities that have been designed to engage learners both in and out of the traditional classroom, with a shared, realistic goal in mind. Communicative language teaching method is implemented to develop better English speaking proficiency and interpersonal skills for business settings. This unit prepares the students to the international job market while improving students’ English skills in business contexts. Students will be engaged in practical activities such as CV writing, video interview, and online international job hunt. Teacher’s job when incorporating this unit is to be the facilitator of the class.

14. Finding Your Identity by Analyzing Others’:  First Semester Writing Syllabus

Evan Simpson

The teaching of writing to English Language Learners (ELL) is a hotly debated topic in the ESL and Composition communities: Should ELL students be mainstreamed or interspersed with native speakers? What kind of special skills do composition teachers need to possess in order to best serve their ELL students? While these questions are endlessly fascinating to debate, they are ultimately moot. The real question is, "How can we best teach our students (NS and NNS) to write in an academic environment?" The simple answer: teach them the language they need (ie Academic English) and genre conventions because, while it's obvious in hindsight but hard to initially realize, no one is raised speaking and writing in Standard Academic English. Therefore, I have created a first semester writing syllabus that attempts to teach students some of the academic language, academic skills, technical skills and genre conventions they will need to succeed in college. 

15. Instructor Commentary on L1 and L2 First-year Writing: A look at my own practices

Jennifer Slinkard

Composition teachers have recognized the importance of teacher feedback, and many scholars have offered advice on how (or how not) to provide feedback to student writing. More recently, scholars have begun to address teacher response on second language writers’ texts specifically. As the differences between L1 and L2 writing have long been acknowledged, it would hold true that teacher response to these forms of writing should also be different. However, limited work has been done on teacher commentary provided on texts that include both L1 and L2 writing. In my study, I observe similarities and differences in the types and amount of feedback I provide to my own composition students in a combination English 102/108 class.

16. Guyane: Socio-politics of Language Policies

Bianca Williams

French Guiana (Guyane) has a complex and convoluted past, which encompasses social-economic-political hierarchies and structures of oppression. Events in the past have created a present-day multilingual context and landscape within the region, as well as disparities within and throughout the education system/structure. Looking at the linguistic situation within this region, common practices and how they fit in with language learning, I consider the language policies created and implemented within the French education system and their effects on Linguistic Human Rights. 



College of Social and Behavioral Sciences