LINGUIST List 14.3132

Fri Nov 14 2003

Confs: Applied Linguistics/The Netherlands

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  1. ms.schmid, Graduate workshop on research designs and data analysis in L1 attrition research

Message 1: Graduate workshop on research designs and data analysis in L1 attrition research

Date: Tue, 4 Nov 2003 05:37:11 -0500 (EST)
From: ms.schmid <>
Subject: Graduate workshop on research designs and data analysis in L1 attrition research

Graduate workshop on research designs and data analysis in L1
attrition research

Date: 15-Dec-2003 - 16-Dec-2003
Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Contact: Monika S. Schmid
Contact Email:

Linguistic Sub-field: Applied Linguistics

Meeting Description:

At this graduate workshop, research designs, data collection and
analysis methods and the role of theoretical frameworks in L1
attrition research will be discussed. Participants include senior
researchers and graduate students. Graduate workshop on research
designs and data analysis in L1 attrition research

VU Amsterdam, 15 - 16.12.2003

Monika S. Schmid
Engelse Taal en Cultuur
Faculteit der Letteren
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
De Boelelaan 1105
1081 HV Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Phone: 0031-20-4446435
Fax: 0031-20-4446500

a) Senior researchers:

-Prof. Kees de Bot, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen. Prof. de Bot is
internationally one of the leading figures in the area of language
attrition, he has been conducting and supervising research on this
topic since the early 1980s.

-Dr. Ayse Gurel, Bogazici University Istanbul. Dr. Gurel has written
her McGill-University PhD thesis on the L1 attrition of Turkish in an
English-speaking environment. She is an expert on attrition within a
Government-Binding approach.

-Prof. Frans Hinskens, VU Amsterdam. Prof. Hinskens has expert
knowledge on methodological and practical issues involved in data
analysis in research on language variety and change, particularly
contact-induced language change.

-Dr. Barbara Koepke, Universit� de Toulouse - Le Mirail. Dr. Koepke
has been studying language attrition since 1996 and is one of the
international experts in the field, especially from the perspective of
psycholinguistics. Her recent work on the topic includes the
editorship of a special volume of the Journal of Neurolinguistics, as
well as the co-organization of an international conference on
methodological issues in the study of L1 attrition, together with
Dr. Schmid, at the VU Amsterdam in Aug. 2002. Publication of the
conference volume is anticipated in 2004 with John Benjamins,

-Dr. Monika S. Schmid, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Dr. Schmid has
been researching language attrition since 1996. Her recent work
includes a research monograph (2002, First Language Attrition, Use and
Maintenance, Amsterdam/Philadelphia:John Benjamins), the organisation
of an international conference (s. under Dr. Köpke) and
preparation of the conference volume to be published with John
Benjamins in 2004, and various articles in international journals and

b) Graduate students
-Emanuel Bylund, graduate student at the University of Stockholm,
Sweden, investigating the tense-aspect distinction in the attrition of
L1 Spanish in a Swedish environment
-Susan Dostert, graduate student at the Heinrich-Heine-Universit�t
D�sseldorf, Germany, working on the L1 attrition of English in Germany
within the framework of the Activation Threshold Hypothesis
-Chrissy Hosea, student at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, working
on the fossilization of Dutch in Indonesia.
-Katja J�skelainen, graduate student at the University of Vienna,
Austria, investigating attitudes towards attrited Finnish in a German
-Mathilde Jansen, graduate student at the Meertens-Institut Amsterdam,
investigating social and socio-psychological factors in dialect
levelling of Frisian on the islands Ameland and Terschelling.
-Merel Keijzer, graduate student at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam,
investigating L1 Dutch in English-speaking contexts within the
framework of the regression hypothesis.
-Nana Leppanen, graduate student at the University of Oulu, Finland,
investigating the attrition of Finnish case-marking in the US and the
task-dependency, i.e. the influence of different types of elicitation
techniques on subjects' performance.
-Dorota Lubinska, graduate student at the University of Stockholm,
Sweden, investigating the attrition of Polish in a Swedish environment
from the point of view of bilingual development
-Conny Opitz, graduate student at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland,
investigating the link between L1 and L2 proficiency (L1 German and
Russian, L2 English).
-Dora Beatriz Ramirez, graduate student at the State University of New
York at Albany, USA, investigating the L1 attrition of Spanish in the
United States
-Liefke Reitsma, graduate student at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen,
working on Interference Frisian in the context of the Separate
Development Hypothesis.
-Lina Weilemar, graduate student at the University of Stockholm, ,
Sweden, working on attrition within the theoretical frameworks of
generative linguistics and psycholinguistics.

Participation in the workshop is free. We gratefully acknowledge the
financial support from NWO and the Faculteit der Letteren, VU

The study of first language attrition is currently entering its third
decade. However, after twenty years of diligent investigation
resulting in numerous theoretical and empirical papers the questions
on this topic still greatly outweigh the answers. Findings from
individual studies seem to indicate that it cannot even be said with
any certainty whether a first language in which a certain level of
proficiency has been reached can ever undergo significant attrition,
let alone how or why it might.

There are many reasons for this failure to arrive at a more integrated
and explanatory framework. Some are theoretical, some methodological,
and some are linked to communication or lack thereof between
individual researchers. These are the problems that this workshop is
trying to address. A further problem is, of course, the extraordinary
complexity and multi-facetedness of the phenomenon of language
attrition. It is our belief, however, that this last issue cannot even
begin to be tackled unless the first three have been solved.

It has recently been pointed out to what degree language attrition
studies have, in recent years, suffered from the breakdown of the
close research network that was present in Europe, specifically in the
Netherlands, in the 1980s and early 1990s (Köpke & Schmid,
forthc.). Language attrition, which - mainly through the efforts of
researchers in the Netherlands - was a very European subject for
investigation until the late 1990s, is now fast becoming a topic in
which international interest is on the increase, while research within
Europe, paradoxically, seems on the decline.

Given the increasing interest world-wide in issues of minority
languages, ethnicity, migration, and other subjects that have a
sociocultural impact that reaches far beyond the confines of
linguistics as such, it seems vital to us to put Europe back on the
cutting edge of research in this field. In order to do this, this
research network has been created with a view of providing support and
advice from experienced researchers to graduate students in the
field. We hope thus to stimulate the work and improve the quality of
the research conducted here. Needless to say, researchers from outside
the European Union are more than welcome within the network.

With this network we aim at ushering in a new period of first language
attrition research. Together we will attempt to develop a unified and
crosslinguistically applicable or adaptable blueprint for a research
design, while placing strong focus on forging and strengthening links
and collaboration through the international research community. Within
the project, different modules will investigate specific linguistic
and methodological frameworks and theories, such as the regression
hypothesis and the cross-linguistic influence hypothesis, on the basis
of an investigation of the attrition of various languages in various
linguistic settings. By co-ordinating various projects from their
incipient stages, we attempt to circumvent the problem that has thus
characterized (especially graduate) research on attrition: namely,
that everyone setting out to investigate attrition feels compelled to
re-invent the wheel.

The crosslinguistic approach will make it possible to compare findings
from different languages and therefore come to more general
conclusions. It will also allow re-assessment of findings from
previous studies of language attrition, and provide a framework of
research for subsequent studies to adopt. It is hoped that the
emphasis which this project places both on standardization of methods
and on international cooperation will act as a stimulus that may
continue to bring together researchers worldwide, and encourage them
to contribute to the development of a more unified framework of

A first step towards this goal was made in January 2003, when 12
researchers from 5 different European countries gathered at the VU
Amsterdam to discuss their projects, all but one of which were in the
beginning stages. It was decided to adopt a core elicitation battery,
consisting of
-a C-test as a relatively formal test assessing overall proficiency
-the CITO-interview, which is a semi-structured interview to elicit
spontaneous conversation
-a questionnaire on language use
-a questionnaire on self-assessment/Can-Do scales in L1 and L2 based
on the Common European Framework of reference
-a re-telling of part of the Charlie Chaplin film "Modern Times", as
it was used in the European Science Foundation project on adult
language acquisition, and in other language acquisition studies by
members of this group since
-a matched guise experiment by means of a piece of spoken test in L1
and L2, in order to gauge attitudes towards these two (or more)

Progress has since been made on developing these instruments for the
languages which are represented in the network, one pilot study (on
Dutch in the UK) has been conducted, and further pilot studies will be
carried out over the coming months. At the meeting this coming
December, these tests will come under further scrutiny, we will
compare findings from the pilot studies and discuss possible necessary
adaptations to the design which will have to be made before the next
phase of data gathering can begin.

In later stages of the various projects, we will gather again to
discuss further findings as well as their statistical analysis and
interpretation. At this stage, we envisage meetings at (roughly)
yearly intervals for the coming three to five years.
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