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Research Methods in L2 Pronunciation Workshop

August 31, 2017 | University of Utah

Thanks to generous funding from the Office of the Vice President for Research at the University of Utah, we are pleased to announce that we will host a one-day research methods workshop on August 31, 2017. The workshop will be followed by the Pronunciation in Second Language Learning and Teaching (PSLLT) 9th Annual Conference September 1-2, 2017.

The schedule will be announced in May. The workshop, which will be held in the afternoon, will involve three one-hour sessions with two concurrent presentations per session. Registrants will be asked to select the presentations they will attend at the time of registration.


Presented by Tracey Derwing & Murray Munro


We will draw on our own experiences with a ten-year, largely quantitative study (Derwing & Munro, 2015) and other recent longitudinal work. Participants will consider a research question regarding an aspect of pronunciation learning, and together we will go through the stages necessary to design a longitudinal study. Target sample size and attrition, developing relationships with programs and participants, options for data analysis, and devising tangential studies will all be discussed. Together we will develop a checklist of strategies to guide prospective researchers toward a methodical and practical approach to conducting longitudinal research.

Learning outcomes

To conduct effective longitudinal research, it is important to try to anticipate problems that can arise and to mitigate their effects. Of particular concern are such challenges as a closed subject set, attrition, test focus, testing effects, missing data, and demotivation of participants. Without considering these issues in advance, researchers tread in risky waters indeed. In this workshop, participants will gain an understanding of how to implement the core aspects of a longitudinal study through (a) extensive planning prior to initiation of a project; (b) creating designs that allow for incremental publication, rather than waiting until the end; (c) incorporating flexibility to recognize opportune but previously unanticipated studies; (d) teamwork; and (e) organization and management of data, taking into account changing technological platforms.

About the presenters

Tracey Derwing is Professor Emerita at the University of Alberta and an Adjunct Professor in Linguistics at Simon Fraser University. Her primary interests are factors affecting communicative success for L2 speakers.

Murray Munro is a professor of Linguistics at Simon Fraser University. He is an applied phonetician whose interests include L2 pronunciation and forensic linguistics.

Presented by Charles Nagle


Mixed-effects modeling is a multidimensional statistical analysis that allows the researcher to partition and explain sources of within- and between-subjects variation by systematically manipulating the fixed and random effects structures of the model. Mixed-effects models are advantageous over more widely employed ANOVA because they are robust in the face of missing data and do not impose the same restrictions related to independence of observations. This workshop concentrates on fitting mixed-effects models in RStudio using the lme4 package. Participants will be provided with a brief overview of mixed-effects models and two methodological review articles before the workshop.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this workshop, participants will be able to (1) describe the advantages of mixed-effects modeling, (2) read data into RStudio and examine its structure, and (3) fit and evaluate basic mixed-effects models, including the unconditional and unconditional linear growth models, using the code provided. Participants will work with a longitudinal data set and an R script containing annotated code for all of the operations to be carried out during the workshop. A list of resources related to mixed-effects models will also be provided.

About the presenter

Charles Nagle is an Assistant Professor of Spanish in the Department of World Languages and Cultures at Iowa State University. His research examines individual differences and their relationship to pronunciation development over time.

Presented by Shelley Staples and Okim Kang


Corpora can help us to understand actual patterns of language use, including pronunciation, in particular contexts and by particular language learners. However, the use of corpora in the analysis of pronunciation features has been limited. At the same time, speech science has made progress toward identifying various pronunciation features that can show second language (L2) learners’ progress of language learning or predict their proficiency. It has become common for elements of speech production to be detected by instrument and computer-assisted acoustical analysis (e.g., PRAAT), which characterizes different aspects of pronunciation by examining patterns of speech properties.

Learning outcomes

This workshop will provide an introduction to using corpora for examining pronunciation features, including 1) building corpora of speech samples; 2) using Praat with pronunciation analysis; 3) coding corpus texts for pronunciation features; 4) using a free program to explore the use of coded texts to examine patterns.

About the presenters

Shelley Staples is an Assistant Professor in the English Applied Linguistics Program at University of Arizona. Her research focuses on the use of corpus linguistics for applications to language teaching and language assessment.

Okim Kang is an Associate Professor in the Applied Linguistics Program at Northern Arizona University. Her research concerns aspects of L2 pronunciation, speech perception and production, automated speech scoring, oral language proficiency assessment, and language attitudes.

Presented by Emily Moeng


The goal of this workshop is to introduce researchers to Mechanical Turk, with a focus on behavioral experiments that may require auditory stimuli. The workshop is primarily aimed at those with little to no experience with Mechanical Turk. This workshop will also introduce researchers to JsPsych, a JavaScript library for creating web-run human behavior experiments, including those that might require auditory stimuli. JsPsych is particularly well-suited for those who wish to run behavioral experiments through MTurk. Although some web coding experience is suggested, neither web coding nor experience with JavaScript are required.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this workshop, participants will (1) be equipped with the basic tools and knowledge to run an experiment through Mechanical Turk, (2) have experience with using JsPsych to create web-based behavioral experiments, (3) have an understanding of the limitations of an experiment conducted online and how to best adapt procedures for such an experiment, and (4) have an awareness of some pros and cons on conducting linguistic experiments through Mechanical Turk.

About the presenter

Emily Moeng is a graduate student in the Linguistics Department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She studies phonological acquisition, specifically how acquisition at one level of categorization affects categories at other levels.

Registration will open in May.

Call for workshop proposals PDF

We invite proposals for hour-long L2 pronunciation research methods workshops. Topics may include, but are not limited to, the use of corpora, analysis and manipulation of speech, ultrasound, eye tracking, electropalatography, neuro-imaging methods.

Workshop presenters will receive a $500 stipend (one stipend per workshop) to offset workshop and/or travel costs.

Presentations will be given in English. The online abstract submission site will open on January 9, 2017, and the deadline for submissions is April 7, 2017. Six workshops will be selected, and review outcome notifications will be sent in early May.

Proposals should be given a descriptive title, be double-spaced, have no more than 500 words, and should clearly indicate the workshop’s learning outcomes.

Abstracts should be uploaded to



Workshop Organizing Committee

Rachel Hayes-Harb

Shannon Barrios

Taylor Anne Barriuso

Catherine Showalter

Workshop Sponsor

Vice President for Research, University of Utah


Last Updated: 4/21/17