The EPIC Program funded two grant opportunities for faculty and graduate students as part of the EPIC-Lang(uage) initiative to support language instruction at UCLA and amplify the research work of faculty and graduate students in language pedagogy. Our goals were to support projects which advance or enhance evidence-based and inclusive teaching methodologies, facilitate cross-discipline collaboration, and produce shareable teaching resources for instructors across languages.
The EPIC-Lang Pedagogical Grants for Individual Projects focused on developing smaller-scale teaching interventions or innovations for language instruction, while the Pedagogical Grants for Collaborative Projects focused on developing larger-scale pedagogical projects by a team of up to three persons. Proposals for each were required to show integration of inclusive and equitable teaching practices and encourage collaboration across disciplines and/or languages. Special considerations were made for proposals enhanced by instructional technology, especially for remote/online teaching or distance learning.
Grant Recipients – Winter 2022
Principal Investigator: Asako Takakura, Asian Languages & Cultures
PrincipaI Investigator: Asako Takakura, Lecturer in Asian Languages & Cultures
Abstract: The project aimed to enhance the spontaneous Japanese language learning of beginners at the college level. The project consisted of pairing Japanese words and phrases with copyright-free images of scenes from Studio Ghibli anime movies. This project initially intended to provide more affordable, generic Japanese language learning materials to students who transferred to UCLA from other campuses and institutions.
What they did: Research was conducted to find the vocabulary and expressions introduced in the two major commercial textbooks (Genki and Tobira) for Japanese as world language (JWL) learners. Photos were sorted and reviewed to correspond with the Japanese course curriculum for the 2021–2022 academic year. After the files were sorted and labeled, self-study materials were created for those who learned the same content using other textbooks. Files were sorted and practice questions created in the question banks of Bruin Learn. All questions can be shared by exporting them in xml files.
Outcome: The sample project aimed to enhance the spontaneous Japanese language learning of beginners at the college level. The materials created for this project could be applied to any language.
Principal Investigator: Magdalena Tarnawska Senel, European Languages and Transcultural Studies
PrincipaI Investigator: Magdalena Tarnawska Senel, Director of the German Language Program and Lecturer at the Department of European Languages and Transcultural Studies
Abstract: The project aimed to develop a course for graduate and undergraduate students serving as TAs for language and culture classes that explored language instruction through the lens of inclusion, decolonization, and social justice.
What they did: The EPIC grant supported the design, development, and implementation of a course for graduate and undergraduate students who are either TAs for language and culture classes at UCLA and/or are interested in exploring theories and practices of teaching languages through the lens of inclusion, decolonization, and social justice. It allowed for the hiring of a research assistant to compile and annotate a bibliography of articles for the course.
Outcome: By promoting critical pedagogy in language instruction, this course will enhance inclusivity and equity in the classroom and beyond.
Principal Investigator: Hongyin Tao, Asian Languages & Cultures
PrincipaI Investigator: Hongyin Tao, Professor in Asian Languages & Cultures
Co-Investigators: Dayoung Jeong and Cheer Wu, Ph.D. students in Asian Languages & Cultures
Abstract: This project investigates inclusive language education in the field of Teaching Chinese as a Second or Foreign Language (CSL/CFL). While research has shown how the field of CSL/CFL can create a more inclusive learning environment, there is still limited research that investigates an authentic classroom of language teaching and learning. To this end, investigators conducted a video-based study where teacher-student interaction in CSL/CFL classrooms were systematically analyzed.
What they did: Twenty recorded teaching videos from publicly available resources in mainland China and North America (e.g. YouTube, Youku videos) were compiled and organized according to learners’ proficiency level and lesson content. Next, all of the collected videos were transcribed and annotated following common discourse analysis conventions as outlined in Du Bois et al. (1993). Third, based on the video collection, a set of coding categories was developed to assess the level of student engagement, taking into account language structure, prosody, and embodied action and visual displays. Data collection and data coding have yielded preliminary results that are under development into publishable scholarly articles.
Outcome: Results described in a coding manual that can be used by the wider CSL/CFL research community, with sample data and the coding manual being made publicly available on a website dedicated to inclusive Chinese language education. It is expected that similar lines of research will continue in the future as funding becomes available.
Principal Investigator: Leslie Sherwood, UCLA Writing Programs
PrincipaI Investigator: Leslie Sherwood, Continuing Lecturer in UCLA Writing Programs
Abstract: This project involved designing an accessible, multimodal Bruin Learn module entitled “Shaping sentences for rhetorical effectiveness” to be used by students and instructors. This series of activities is intended for students learning English as an Additional Language, as well as developmental writers, to enhance their strategy for writing sentences using varied syntax—a hallmark of more advanced academic writing. Additionally, these activities can be referenced by other language instructors and perhaps revised for a contrastive rhetoric approach to language teaching.
What they did: This project involved designing a module in Bruin Learn entitled “Shaping sentences for rhetorical effectiveness” that consists of an overview as well as a self-review checklist and resource guide. The module also includes two sub-units: “Coordinating and Using transitional expressions” and “Subordinating and Using relative clauses.” These sub-units included an audio recording, PowerPoint presentation, and a quiz with written answers accompanied by audio commentary. UCLA’s Office of Online Teaching and Learning was consulted during the design of this module to ensure materials were accessible.
Outcome: The materials created can be productively used in a variety of contexts for students and instructors, as either primary or supplementary learning materials.
Grant Recipients – Spring 2022
PrincipaI Investigators: Julia Calderon, Tania Varela, Juliet Falce-Robinson - Spanish and Portuguese
PrincipaI Investigators: Julia Calderon and Tania Varela (Ph.D. students), Juliet Falce-Robinson (Professor) in Spanish and Portuguese
Abstract: This project developed Project-Based Learning (PBL) assignments and rubrics for the Advanced Composition for Heritage Learners course (Spanish 27) currently offered by the Spanish and Portuguese Department at UCLA. The team created four projects to offer students practice opportunities to preserve and expand their knowledge and to become familiarized with other dialects of Spanish.
What they did: The researchers created four collaborative projects (two midterms and two finals) for students to engage in grammar, writing, listening, speaking, and cultural activities that are relevant to their daily lives. For graduate teaching assistants and lecturers who will teach Spanish 27 in the future, the project materials also include a timeline, mini-lessons, and rubrics to assess both the process and the final product.
Outcome: The main objective of the Development of Project-Based Learning (PBL) assignments and rubrics was to ensure consistency across the heritage learners language program. In addition to materials supporting instructors, the project will also offer workshops for the Department of Spanish and Portuguese to discuss and explain PBL as well as the specific implementation of the activities.
Principal Investigators: Leslie Sherwood & Laila Hualpa, Writing Programs
PrincipaI Investigators: Leslie Sherwood & Laila Hualpa, Faculty in Writing Programs
Abstract: This project sought to research and design an English language oral skills placement exam for UCLA’s summer ESL program. It also codified learning outcomes for the suggested course sequences and developed a placement rubric that incorporates student self-evaluation.
What they did: This project sought to research and design an English language oral skills placement exam for UCLA’s summer ESL program to explore how inclusive and equitable principles can be applied to designing a proficiency placement system as less attention has been paid to issues of equity impacting placement decisions. The project also considered language placement exams that are able to differentiate at least two groups of language learners: intermediate and high-intermediate to advanced students
Outcome: The project PIs reviewed a variety of academic source texts, including more recent scholarship on language assessments, towards the development of a speaking and listening placement exam system, as well as a brief overview of best practices for assessing oral communication skills in language classes. Based on their research, the PIs created a Speaking & Listening Placement Exam Template and a general placement rubric.
Principal Investigators: Icaro Carvalho, Isaac Gimenez, Claudio Ramos, Juliet Falce-Robinson - Spanish and Portuguese
PrincipaI Investigators: Icaro Carvalho, Isaac Gimenez, and Claudio Ramos (Ph.D. students), Juliet Falce-Robinson (Professor in Spanish and Portuguese
Abstract: This project created a database of activities and materials to complement each chapter of the Portuguese textbook Ponto de Encontro. As the textbook has not been revised since 2013, this intervention incorporated readings from updated digital sources and more intentionally highlighted diverse voices and topics.
What they did: The EPIC Portuguese Language and Culture Project was a collaboration to address major issues identified with existing course materials. The team created a database of activities and materials that complement each chapter of the textbook Ponto de Encontro, which was originally published in 2007 and last revised in 2013. These new materials will be added to the Bruin Learn sites for Portuguese courses 1, 2, 3, 11A and 11B.
Outcome: The EPIC Grant supported the design of activities to engage students with more contemporary subjects and themes. Grammar exercises were carefully designed to help students better understand specific Portuguese syntax and the culture of Portuguese-speaking countries. The whole creative process was based on the idea that culture and grammar work together during foreign language acquisition.
Principal Investigators: Juliana Wijaya & Jenjit Gasigitamrong, Asian Languages & Cultures
PrincipaI Investigators: Juliana Wijaya and Jenjit Gasigitamrong, Faculty in Asian Languages & Cultures
Abstract: This project focuses on developing proficiency-based reading assessment tasks for Indonesian and Thai students. It utilizes ACTFL Reading Proficiency Guidelines and the Proficiency-Oriented Performance Tasks developed by the University of Chicago Office of Language Assessment.
What they did: This project focused on developing proficiency-based reading assessment tasks for Indonesian and Thai students utilizing the ACTFL Reading Proficiency Guidelines and the Proficiency-Oriented Performance Tasks developed by the University of Chicago Office of Language Assessment. The PIs also collaborated on developing the Indonesian and Thai reading assessment tasks based on this design and target intermediate and advanced level students.
Outcome: The project culminated in the creation of two sets of sample proficiency exams measuring students’ ability to functionally read Indonesian and Thai through the use of authentic tasks that students might encounter in the target language-use domain.