Second Language Education

The Second Language Education Emphasis is concerned with issues of theory and practice in the teaching and learning of languages beyond the first or native language. Faculty and graduate students have interests in both widely taught languages, such as English, Spanish, French, Mandarin, and German, as well as in those that are less commonly taught. An area of particular engagement involves the education of English-as-an-additional language students in the U.S. and abroad. Second Language Education faculty also engage in close collaboration with the Department of Applied Linguistics, with students in both programs benefiting from the collective theoretical and research expertise of scholars from both departments. Faculty and students approach second language education through sociocultural and critical theoretical frameworks and employ qualitative and discourse analytic approaches in their work. Specific lines of research include analysis of classroom interaction, technology-supported second language learning, classroom-based second language assessment, dialogic learning and teaching, language and identity, teacher preparation for the instruction of emergent bilingual learners, and the development of teacher interculturality and global competence.

Please survey the faculty’s work and make direct contact with the member who most closely addresses your interests.


Uju Anya

I’m working on a project examining American college student experiences in foreign language classrooms and study abroad programs to show that translanguaging persists despite mandates for monolingual immersion. I will use this project to propose ways translanguaging can be leveraged for more effective foreign language pedagogy, and I hope to bridge the traditional monolingually oriented approach to foreign language study with new approaches of multilingualism and multiplicity as fundamental principles in language learning. I’m also working on a project on racial inequity and underrepresentation of African American students in foreign language and study abroad programs. I analyze enrollment, degree attainment, study abroad participation, conduct case studies of institutions identified as potential exemplars of inclusive practices in postsecondary foreign language education, and do evaluations and evidence-based action research in collaboration with foreign language programs to change their curricula in ways that would be more culturally inclusive to successfully engage and retain black students.

Crosson Amy 72Amy Crosson

My research focuses on classroom-based interventions to support the academic language development of children and adolescents in under-resourced communities, with special attention to academic vocabulary learning, discussion quality, and argument writing.  In particular, I focus on language and literacy development of English Language Learners. I draw on quantitative and qualitative techniques to understand mechanisms that influence language learning and effects of instruction. My current project, English Learners’ Robust Academic Vocabulary Encounters (funded by the Institute for Education Sciences), actively welcomes graduate students to gain firsthand with data collection and analysis in classroom-based research.

Mari HanedaMari Haneda

I am currently involved in three main projects. The first is the co-editing of a Festschrift entitled, “Perspectives on language as action: Essays in honour of Merrill Swain” (to be published in 2018). The second focuses on the professional development of U.S. elementary and secondary school teachers. I serve as a co-investigator on the grant-funded large-scale project, “Partnering for radical school improvement: Preparing every teacher for English learners” (Principal Investigator, Dr. Annela Teemant at IUPUI). On this project, building on my previous micro-ethnographic work on dialogic interaction, with my PSU research team I am investigating the ethos and the dialogic processes involved in instructional coaching, which is designed to assist teachers in enacting linguistically and culturally responsive pedagogy. In the third project, I am collaborating with Dr. Suresh Canagrajah in the Department of Applied Linguistics at PSU. Drawing on poststructuralist approaches, we are studying multimodal academic communication in higher education settings. I welcome graduate students to participate in these and future projects in order to gain first-hand research experiences.

Michelle PasterickMichelle L. Pasterick

My research focuses on pre-service World Languages teachers’ development of intercultural competence, particularly during study abroad. Working from a sociocultural theoretical perspective, and using qualitative research methods, my questions center around how best to mediate teacher candidates’ development, what the development might look like, what factors (internal to the student and external in the context) impact that development, and how that development impacts candidates’ subsequent work in their classrooms. 


Matt Poehner

At present I am engaged in research collaborations with scholars at the University of Melbourne (Australia) and the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland). Both projects involve the use of Dynamic Assessment, which is an innovative approach to assessing learner abilities that integrates teaching as part of the procedure. The projects employ both quantitative and qualitative research methods to examine the performance of second language learners during Dynamic Assessment and how the continued development of their abilities may be supported both during the assessment and beyond.

Smolcic Elizabeth 72Elizabeth Smolcic

My research investigates teacher development in preparing to work with emergent bilingual English learners, particularly the development of teachers’ interculturality and sociopolitical consciousness and the instructional practices that support the learning of bilingual students in U.S. public schools.  Currently, I am working on a mixed method longitudinal study that explores teacher learning and teacher education practices within a short-term field teaching experience and cultural/linguistic immersion in Ecuador.  Secondly, I am co-editing a book entitled, Redefining Competence Through Cultural Immersion:  Teacher Preparation for Linguistic and Culturally Diverse Classrooms.  I welcome graduate student participation in these and future projects as well as participation on the instructional team in our immersion program in Ecuador.

General Contact

Matt Poehner

Professor in Charge, Second Language Education
159 Chambers Building
University Park, PA 16802

Staff Contact

Bonnie Richardson

Administrative Assistant
270 Chambers Building
University Park, PA 16802