On this page we feature a member of the Second Language Studies Program. Right now our spotlight is on Megan Smith, an SLS Ph.D. candidate!
My interest in second language acquisition has its roots in my experiences studying and working in Japan. In particular, I wondered why some of my non-Japanese friends and colleagues seemed better able to acquire Japanese than others. I also found the gap between my Japanese classrooms and natural Japanese language use vexing, and I wanted to know whether there were ways to teach language that translated better to real contexts.
My research interests are primarily centered on the nature and development of second language (L2) competence. With respect to the nature of competence, I have completed projects investigating the acquisition of anaphoric reference in near-native Turkish speakers, and L2 Japanese learners' knowledge of and ability to exploit case marking in Japanese. My dissertation investigates advanced L2 Japanese processing heuristics with native English and native Korean speakers. I am also interested in how L2 competence develops, and what language learners do with the input they are exposed to. This interest translates into work investigating both early-state grammars. With Bill VanPatten, I have done work investigating early-stage language learners' ability to extend SOV word order to new phrases. Our article investigating the role aptitude plays in this process was published in Studies in Second Language Acquisition.
In addition, I have taught both English as a Second Language and content courses related to second language teaching. I have taught intermediate to advanced ESL classes, and developed the Texas Tech Intensive English Program's academic writing classes. At Michigan State University, I have taught undergraduate classes on language teaching methods and English grammar. I also developed and piloted a summer class for the Japan Center for Michigan Universities' summer Career Culture Program. This class is called "Teaching English in Japan," and it focuses on the foundations of communicative language teaching, and contextualizes communicative language teaching in Japan.