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CEAPS Brown Bag Series - Chinese/Japanese Linguistics Roundtable

Event Type
chinese language, japanese language, less commonly taught languages assessment, linguistics
Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies
2090B Foreign Languages Building (707 S. Mathews Ave., Urbana)
Feb 16, 2018   12:00 - 1:30 pm  
Marco Aurelio Silva Fonseca (PhD Student, Linguistics); Yuyun Lei (PhD Student, EALC); You Li (PhD Student, EALC)
Registration (lunch provided with registration)

Japanese Vowel Devoicing in Spontaneous Speech

by Marco Aurelio Silva Fonseca (PhD student in Linguistics)


This paper aims to evaluate the duration of devoiced vowels in Japanese through a corpus-based approach. Vowel devoicing in Japanese is usually observed in high vowels between two voiceless obstruents (Han 1962). For instance, the word /kiken/ “danger” may be realized as [ki̥keŋ]. This study intends to evaluate the findings of previous studies on Japanese vowel devoicing employing The Corpus of Spontaneous Japanese (National Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics 2004).  This study is innovative since past studies have focused on experimental data while this analysis employs spontaneous speech data and contributes to the discussion in the literature between laboratory vs. spontaneous speech (Xu, 2009).


Marco Fonseca is a first-year PhD student in Linguistics at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He holds a BA in Linguistics from the Federal University of Minas Gerais and an MA in Linguistics from the University of Tokyo. He is interested in phonetics/phonology, corpus linguistics, second language acquisition, and Japanese linguistics.


A Curriculum-based Approach to Assessing Less Commonly Taught Languages

by Yuyun Lei (PhD student in EALC)


This presentation talks about a curriculum-based approach to assessing language proficiency of Chinese, a less commonly taught language (LCTL) in US universities. Because there are limited testing resources and low proficiency profiles of learners, LCTL programs face great challenges in developing reliable and valid tests with appropriate difficulty levels and content coverage. To address this challenge, this study employs a curriculum-based approach to develop an elicited imitation (EI) test for a university-level Chinese language program. Based on the program’s curriculum, the curriculum-based EI test was made with three sets of items (k=30), each targeting key vocabulary and grammar at a different course level. Fifteen Chinese learners took the test and a non-curriculum-based EI test (developed by Wu & Ortega, 2013). Test results and analyses showed that the curriculum-based EI test demonstrated better test qualities. Learner feedback also confirms that the curriculum-based EI test is more appropriate for the target learners.


Yuyun Lei is a third-year PhD student in East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is interested in teaching and assessing Chinese as a second language. Her research interests include L2 Chinese proficiency development, L2 Chinese speech production, and L2 pedagogy.


Backward Build-up Elicits Better Repetition: Evidence from an Empirical Study

by You Li (PhD student in EALC)


This study examines, in sentence build-up drills, which build-up direction is more effective. Our data supported backward build-up, since it elicited repetition with fewer total and whole-sentence errors; and extended participants’ tipping point. In addition, participants with different working memory (WM) levels performed equally well in the backward direction, whereas the low-WM group made significantly more errors in the forward direction.


You Li is a Ph.D. student in East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her research interests lie in Chinese linguistics, psycholinguistics, and second language processing. Specifically, she is interested in how working memory affects language processing and learning.

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