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College of Arts and Letters | Michigan State University

In the Spotlight

On this page we feature a member of the Second Language Studies Program. Right now our spotlight is on Scott Sterling!


September 2014

Scott Sterling


Hello world:

Like most researchers, my academic interests have grown organically from my past experiences and each reflects a little about me. My main research areas are: research ethics, humor, and technology. A fine collection of topics to be sure. During my undergraduate years I studied abroad in Costa Rica and realized two things about languages: a) regardless of how much classical Spanish literature I knew, no one else had read it or wanted to talk about it and b) people don't like to talk to the robot kid who can't understand jokes, sarcasm, or really use most pragmatic features of the language. These revelations have guided my interest in understanding how second language learners use and understand humor in their classrooms. Language learning takes a long time. Developing materials that are enjoyable and useful can make learning an enjoyable experience and should help keep learners motivated. To this end, I have been involved in research related to language play in Spanish classrooms, humor knowledge of ESL students, and the usage of humor between ESL and native English speakers.

Technology is a very important component of my life, both academically and personally. Academically, I have worked for a variety of different acronymed centers at Michigan State on a variety of different acronymed projects. For example, I have worked at Center for Language Teaching and Advancement (CeLTA) for the past three years and the Center of Language Education and Research (CLEAR) for the past year. At CLEAR, I am part of the CLEAR RIA (rich Internet applications) task force. We are attempting to update documentation, create tutorials, and move the applications to HTML5. At CeLTA, we have developed a number of tools mostly for autonomous language learning. We have developed a tech blog for teachers, and conversation partner guide available in Arabic, French, and teaching the responsible conduct of research from the University of Illinois. Research ethics are a vital part of conducting research and has only recently become a topic of interest in SLA. This is an area where I hope to make an impact as I believe that research should be fair and just for all people, regardless of their language abilities. When I am not working on academic pursuits, I enjoy listening to podcasts, reading, and failing to learn a variety of computer programming skills. If you would like to learn more about me you can visit my via email.


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