As an applied linguist, I have the privilege that my research directly interests intersects within the walls of the classroom: second and heritage language acquisition. These last couple of years I have been delineating the scope and objectives for my current and future research agenda. In broad terms, my research interests aim to intersect second language acquisition with study abroad, identity, and classroom and curriculum design.

Past Research
Heritage and Second Language Writing

Camus, P., & Adrada-Rafael, S. (2015). Spanish heritage language learners vs. L2 learners: What CAF reveals about written proficiency. EuroAmerican Journal of Applied Linguistics and Languages, 2(2), 32-51.

Recently, great interest has emerged in identifying the learning needs of heritage language (HL) learners. In comparing HL and second language (L2) learners, research suggests that L2 learners outperform HL learners when examining writing abilities (Montrul, 2010; Potowski, 2013). However, complexity, accuracy, and fluency (CAF) have been overlooked when examining HL learners’ writing proficiency, and it could provide a better picture of their writing skills in a spontaneous untimed assignment. To address this issue, 28 L2 learners and 18 HL learners completed an untimed written production task on a non-academic subject and their written proficiency was assessed through CAF measures (Norris & Ortega, 2009). Results showed HL learners significantly outperformed L2 learners on two complexity measures: accuracy and fluency. A possible explanation for these findings could be the type of task used (more spontaneous, less-controlled), which taps into a more implicit type of knowledge, favoring HL learners (Bowles, 2011).

Instructed Second Language Pronunciation

Peer-Review Article

Camus, P. (2019). The effects of explicit pronunciation instruction on the production of second language Spanish voiceless stops. Instructed Second Language Acquisition, 3(1), 81-103.

Doctoral Dissertation

Camus-Oyarzún, P. A. (2016). The Effects Of Pronunciation Instruction On The Production Of Second Language Spanish: A Classroom Study (Doctoral dissertation, Georgetown University).

Learning how individuals learn a second language has been my passion since before my graduate studies. That passion led to a doctoral dissertation that examines the effectiveness of second language explicit pronunciation instruction of adult second language (L2) learners of Spanish in a classroom setting. My dissertation writing established my commitment to keeping my research interests and the language classroom very close to each other. For my thesis, I put a special emphasis on the advantages of pronunciation instruction in the classroom and made a call for more teachers and practitioners to include pronunciation instruction in the L2-Spanish classroom. After coming to Soka, I began revising my dissertation for publication, and I submitted it as an article for publication in Summer 2018. In Spring 2019, the article “The Effects of Explicit Pronunciation Instruction on the Production of Second Language Spanish Voiceless Stops: A Classroom Study” was published in the journal Instructed Second Language Acquisition.

Current Research

Preparing For Study Abroad: A Task-Based Needs Analysis

Study abroad (SA) can be strenuous as second language (L2) learners can be challenged in terms of their language skills and intercultural awareness. In order to appropriately equip them, a task-based approach seems ideal to identify learners’ specific needs (Long 2015). The present study reports a multiphase needs analysis carried out to design a university Spanish course, geared for students preparing to study abroad in the following semester in Spanish-speaking countries. In Phase 1, qualitative interviews were carried out by contacting resident directors and students who had returned from their study abroad programs. These interviews generated a list of 38 tasks. In Phase 2, 60 students who had already been in a study abroad semester rated the frequency and difficulty of each task on a 40 item Likert-type questionnaire. Finally, in Phase 3, researchers analyzed and categorized target tasks identified in the needs assessment to create five major target task types. Results suggest that the needs of students in this particular institution centered predominantly around tasks that involve the use of colloquial speech in day-to-day environments. Finally, these reports informed course objectives and classroom tasks.

“Así que vení’ de California… ¿y queda’ tení’?”: estudiantes de intercambio y su grado de conocimiento del voseo chileno

En Chile, los pronombres tú y vos coexisten junto a sus respectivos paradigmas verbales de la segunda persona del singular. Este capítulo tiene como objetivo indagar hasta que punto las redes sociales cultivadas en Chile favorecen el grado de concienciación y uso del voseo chileno por parte de estudiantes de intercambio que aprenden español como segunda lengua (L2). Se realizaron entrevistas cualitativas y una tarea de comprensión auditiva a hablantes de español como segunda lengua que han cursado un semestre en una universidad chilena. Los resultados sugieren que el grado de conocimiento del voseo varia considerablemente debido a la naturaleza de las redes sociales formadas en el país.

Future Research

Bi/Multilingual Identity. Currently, I am moving and exploring other areas of inquiry in applied linguistics, that were not on my radar, such is identity. Currently, I am working on two projects in which language learning intersect with constructing identity. The first one is a longitudinal case study with my research assistant as she went on study abroad on Spring 2019 and I began to explore her language learning development in Spanish and how intersects with her identity as a multilingual international student. I’ve been interviewing and collecting data on her language abilities at different stages of her study abroad, and now in the last data collection point, the delayed post-test. My aim is that results of this study will contribute on our understanding of the multilingual dynamics that shape language learning during study abroad.

In my second project, I am exploring how Spanish-English bilinguals express their identity through the language choices they make. For this study, my research assistant and I collected data from bilingual students at different colleges. We wanted to compare how bilinguals express through language and how these language choices (including code-switching) intersect with their sense of being in the context of the diversity and multilingualism of Southern California.
© Pablo Camus
Maira Gall