Yingzhao Chen, SLS student, wins 2021 Duolingo Research Grant

The Duolingo Research Grant, launched in 2020 to support student research about language learning and teaching with technology, has announced that their 2021 research grants have been awarded to six doctoral students, including Michigan State University student Yingzhao Chen. Yingzhao is a PhD student in the Second Language Studies program, and was awarded a research grant for her study Comparing L1 and L2 Glosses in Vocabulary Learning from Digital Reading.

Yingzhao’s study explores how hyperlinked glosses (i.e., short definitions of words) written in learners’ first or second language influence vocabulary learning from reading. The amount of time learners spend on each gloss is tracked and learning gains are measured in terms of learners’ speed and accuracy in recognizing and recalling the newly learned words. The study investigates the effects of (a) target word frequency in texts, (b) learners’ gloss engagement, and (c) L2 proficiency.

“I think technology serves two roles here. It is used to improve research design, by allowing me to track learner behaviors during reading. Technology also improves the learning experience and allows learners to access the reading and learn the language anytime anywhere.”

Yingzhao Chen, Duolingo Grant recipient

Yingzhao hopes that the findings from her study will benefit learners, teachers, and digital learning platform designers and shed light on how to design materials best for the development of word knowledge that can be retrieved fluently in everyday tasks such as reading, with implications for learners, teachers, and digital learning program designers. Dr. Shawn Loewen, a professor in Michigan State University’s Second Language Studies program, is supervising the project and is pleased at the commitment to research that the Duolingo research grants demonstrate.

“I’m very excited that the innovativeness of Yingzhao’s project has been recognized with this grant. Her research will provide more evidence about how to increase the effectiveness of language learning apps and online language instruction. I’m also very pleased to see Duolingo supporting L2 research; it shows a commitment to the future of instructed second language acquisition that goes beyond their own immediate interests.”

Dr. Shawn Loewen, project supervisor

The Duolingo research grants are available to both doctoral and masters students. The Duolingo Dissertation Grant Program encourages doctoral students at the level of advanced candidacy to apply once their dissertation proposals have been approved by the relevant departmental authorities at their institutions. Up to five doctoral grants of $5,000 are awarded each year. The Duolingo Grant Program for master’s students encourages students who have approved thesis proposals related to language learning with technology to apply. Up to five $1,000 grants are awarded each year. More information about applying for these grants can be found at this webpage.