Zotero resources

It’s been a while since I posted anything here. I finished my MRes, and got a Pass with Merit (to be confirmed, but the numbers in Moodle say so), and I am looking in great detail at doing a PhD.

Regarding the PhD, I’ll need something to support my reading and referencing a bit more. I’ve been learning R and R Markdown, though my knowledge is still a bit basic. Knowing that Zotero references can be plugged straight into R Markdown (apparently) comforts me a lot. Another thing that eases my mind is that you can create ‘Smart Playlists’ like when iTunes wasn’t bloated enough to crash constantly. (FOSS Academic) and that led me into a bit of a Zotero rabbit hole. There I was just happy to import BibTeX or DOIs, and I find, hiding in plain sight, this wonderful manual.

Appearance on the TEFLology Podcast

The TEFLology podcast (one of the hosts is my supervisor at my main job, just to get that out in the open) recently had a couple of episodes recorded live and I was on there for a bit of time in the second part (episode 104). It was really fun, and I am definitely keen on appearing on other people’s podcasts.

Slides on a Zoom session on Feedback with educators in Japan

The slides for this morning’s Zoom session on feedback are here.


  • We need a balance between general and detailed feedback.
  • Rubrics alone are not seen as useful. Notes on performance outside/beyond the rubric and more detailed feedback is required (NB, maybe not written).
  • Ongoing dialogic feedback, with perhaps a reflective plan of action (say a few bullet points) from students, could be more useful overall in facilitating student engagement with feedback.


A podcast episode with related methodologies by Sascha Stollhans was put out by Dustin Hosseini.

New Article: Investigating English Language Teachers’ Beliefs and Stated Practices Regarding Bottom-up Processing Instruction for Listening in L2 English

An article based upon my MA dissertation has just been published in the Journal of Second Language Teaching & Research. It is Open Access so you can access the full text, but here is a summary a bit longer than the abstract.

Language learners face difficulties in parsing what they hear into a meaningful message. There are still gaps in SLA research about how we do this and about how it can be taught. There was nothing about bottom-up (phonology level, syllable-level) listening. There is not much research on what teachers do or say that they do, so I wanted find out about this.

Not much has changed since John Field (2008) said that “the Comprehension Approach” dominates how listening is taught. This was supported by Siegel (2014), who found that most teachers used comprehension-based activities.

Based on speech learning models (Best, 1995; Flege, 1995, 2007), it would be advisable to educate learners to discern the difference between sounds (phonemes) that form part of the language being learned, but which do not form part of their first language. Also, ongoing practice with variations in these sounds would be helpful.

With words and grammar, there might be a psychological process of cueing (Ellis, 2006), which might also explain lexical priming and collocation. However, making things stand out appears to be key. Making things stand out does not mean only teaching isolated, citation-form words because this does not always carry over to listening skill acquisition (Bonk, 2000; Joyce, 2013). Instead this need to be balanced with listening to natural connected speech.

I wanted to find out whether teachers taught learners to decode single words and phrases, connected speech and phonological differences between languages. I did this by questionnaire and asked people over Twitter. I analysed the data in JASP and did some explorations in the data.

There is not a total absence of bottom-up instruction. A lot of use of stresses corresponded with bottom up instruction. A minority of teachers in my sample used knowledge of phonology of their learners’ first languages. There is a correlation between using this knowledge and regular single sound (phoneme) and connected speech instruction. However, there is a reluctance among teachers to teach single sounds and words. However, it should be noted that this is a minority activity. Most teachers in the sample said they did not consider differences between first and second language phonology, are reluctant or do not regularly teach decoding of single words and , phrases, though connected speech may be taught slightly more regularly.

References (in this summary)

Best C. T. (1995) A direct realist view of cross-language speech perception, in Strange, W. (ed.) Speech Perception and Linguistic Experience. York Press. 171-206. Retrieved April 25th 2017 from http://www.haskins.yale.edu/Reprints/HL0996.pdf

Bonk, W. J. (2000) Second Language Lexical Knowledge and Listening Comprehension, International Journal of Listening, 14:1, 14-31, DOI:10.1080/10904018.2000.10499033

Ellis, N. (2006) Language acquisition as rational contingency learning. Applied Linguistics 27, pp. 1-24

Field, J. (2008) Listening in the Language Classroom (ebook). Cambridge: CUP.

Flege, J. (1995) Second-language Speech Learning: Theory, Findings, and Problems. In Strange, W. (Ed) Speech Perception and Linguistic Experience: Issues in Cross-language research. Timonium, MD: York Press, pp. 229-273.

Flege, J. (2007) Language contact in bilingualism: Phonetic system interactions. In Cole, J. & Hualde, J. I. (Eds.), Laboratory Phonology 9. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 353-380.

JASP Team (2017). JASP (Version[Computer software]. Retrieved June 25th 2017 from https://jasp-stats.org/download/

Joyce, P. (2013) Word Recognition Processing Efficiency as a Component of Second Language Listening, International Journal of Listening, 27:1, 13-24, DOI:10.1080/10904018.2013.732407

Siegel, J. (2014) Exploring L2 listening instruction: examinations of practice. ELT J 2014; 68 (1): 22-30. doi:10.1093/elt/cct058

Publication: Duoethnography of Two EFL Teachers Developing Their Own Classroom Teaching Materials

My colleague Jon Steven and I have just had our article Duoethnography of Two EFL Teachers Developing Their Own Classroom Teaching Materials published in The Language Scholar (online first and it will be in the Autumn 2020 issue).

We talk about the motivations behind us developing our own materials and some of the challenges of materials development. We cover working conditions briefly, commercial issues of coursebooks versus classroom issues of teaching, originality, marketability, guarding against precarity, values and skills we aim to develop in learners.

It is open access, so anyone can read it. I certainly look forward to any comments or questions (and would be happy to pass any on to Jon as well).

New Sounds 2019 Presentation

I gave a presentation at New Sounds 2019 at Waseda University on Saturday 31st August. The title was How Should We Approach Teaching to Facilitate Phoneme Acquisition in English as a Foreign Language? Here are the slides I used. I hope you find them useful.

Download PDF


How can we assess whether learners have generally acquired phonology?

I said, ideally we would run a test to see what phonemes can be perceived. Where this is not possible we have to talk to our learners and see whether they understand what we say. This is particularly important for connected speech. An observation in Bonk (2000) was that his learners knew all the CVC words in his list but had problems perceiving them in a stream of connected speech.

How can we avoid orthography?

It is difficult. It requires teacher autonomy, knowledgeable and willing administrators.


Bonk, W. (2000) Second Language Lexical Knowledge and Listening Comprehension, International Journal of Listening, 14(1) pp. 14-31. DOI: 10.1080/10904018.2000.10499033

References to the presentation are in the slide deck PDF.

There is a preprint to come. It will be linked here when it is moderated at PsyArxiv

Little Assistances

Here are some things that I have been doing during my MRes to save a bit of time and effort in the reading and research process.

Searchable Notebooks: Google Docs (electronic), Bullet Journal (paper)

Whenever I read a paper or a chapter, I log it in a Google Doc because I have an Android phone and tablet. I can make them available offline and can copy and paste bits from PDFs. I usually use header 1 with the field of study, header 2 with the full or partial APA citation and header 3 with the date and normal text is just notes. I often add comments for action items in there as well. Another good thing is that I can copy and paste things across if they’re relevant to another project.

However, I’ve also started being more consistent in my use of the Bullet Journal method for notetaking. The indexing and task management are really useful and it is great to get a sense of what has been done (and where to find the notes on that topic). The key is spending about ten minutes first thing in the morning and ten minutes in the evening to reviewing and sorting out your daily logs.

Reference Manager: Zotero

This is so useful, to search through all the PDFs and stuff in my Google Drive. Before that I was using the aforementioned Google Doc as a notebook. I tried several reference managers before with an older computer and all failed miserably to install properly, with the Word extension for Zotero going weird, but I assume that was my old laptop. I have since got a new laptop and Zotero works like a dream. Some people much prefer Mendeley but Zotero is open source so even if it stops being actively updated, it’s unlikely to become completely useless. The Firefox extension is really convenient and so is the desktop software’s magic wand button where it completes the metadata from just a DOI, PMID or Arxiv ID.

Jargon Cheat Sheet: Google Sheets

I decided to set up something a bit more systematic to help my poor memory cope with juggling several projects at once and the vast amount of abbreviations and jargon that linguistics can throw at us. I just started it today so it is definitely a work in progress. You could use Excel or something else, but Google Sheets is convenient for me just because I’m a cheapskate Android user.

I set up three columns in each sheet:

  1. Abbreviation/Jargon term
  2. (Sub)field (e.g. linguistics, neuroscience, psychology, SLA)
  3. Meaning (definition and/or example).

Hopefully it will be an easy search to find something I forgot about or want to confirm.

Plans for 2019

Thanks for dropping by. I ended 2018 with a last gasp submission to New Sounds 2019, which links to my MRes research project on phoneme acquisition. Hopefully I get accepted but it looks a lot more scientific than anything I have been a part of so far. It will be good to get out of my comfort zone somewhat, though.

I also have a full-time job to start in April, which I am looking forward to very much. I will be teaching first-year university students so I am looking at articles on the transition between high school and university. I also want my students to make the most of the new self-access centre thst will open at the university so I am also looking at self-access and autonomous learning, too. I am particularly interested in learners’ autonomous L2 listening, so hopefully I shall gain some more useful insights into this.

Further on into the year, I should be collecting data over a 13-week period. This should conclude the the bulk of the pre-writing of my MRes dissertation.

Other than that, I do not know other classes that I will teach as a part-time instructor at my part-time job but I foresee making at least one corpus and doing some more work on essay writing and managing learner expectations and enabling them to assess their own abilities more accurately.