Andrew Cohen is a professor in the MA in ESL Program at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Campus. Since 1993 he has been Director of the National Language Resource Center at the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition. From 1996 to 2002 he also served as Secretary General of the International Association of Applied Linguistics (AILA). This interview was conducted electronically in January 2004.
|". . . in the late 1970s, I noticed that we weren't testing functional language behavior such as speech acts in the way we were testing other areas of language behavior."|
[ p. 2 ]I came to the field of pragmatics more recently, but out of my interest in language assessment. As I was writing my language testing book in the late 1970s, I noticed that we weren't testing functional language behavior such as speech acts in the way we were testing other areas of language behavior. It seemed like a gap to me. It was at that point that I shared my concerns with Prof. Elite Olshtain. Together we decided to try our hand at constructing a measure of speech act ability. Our efforts were published in Language Learning in 1981.
[ p. 3 ]
|". . . knowledge of speech acts such as requesting, refusing, complimenting, thanking, apologizing, and complaining, can be crucial for successful communication in second and foreign language situations."|
[ p. 4 ]What are the main points you emphasize in your testing research?
[ p. 5 ]What are your future projects?
[ p. 6 ]Research is currently being conducted to field test the three guidebooks in the Maximizing Study Abroad series. The primary research question is: To what degree and in what ways can a strategies-based approach to developing language skills and enhancing ability to function in a new culture, transmitted by means of a set of integrated study abroad guides for students, program professionals, and instructors respectively, promote language gain and cultural adaptation by students abroad? We have most of the data collected from two cohorts of 88 students altogether who were on study abroad either in Spanish or French-speaking countries. Half received the guidebook and half did not. In addition, during the 2003-2004 academic year, we are conducting a case study of nine study abroad advisors and five on-site coordinators using the Program Professionals' Guide and four instructors using the Instructors' Guide. So there is going to be lots of material to write up for this study in the form of reports and articles.
Boxer, B. & Cohen, A. D. (Eds.) (2004). Studying speaking to inform second language learning. Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters.I have just completed a major rewrite of a manual I co-authored with S. J. Weaver on styles and strategies-based instruction. We have been using this manual for eight years in our CARLA summer institutes at the University of Minnesota.
Hamilton, H. E. & Cohen, A. D. (2005). Creating a playworld: Motivating learners to take chances in a second language. To appear in J. Frodesen & C. Holten (Eds.), The Power of Context in Language Teaching and Learning. Boston: Heinle & Heinle.
Cohen, A. D. & Gómez, T. (2008). Towards enhancing academic language proficiency in a fifth-grade Spanish immersion classroom. In D. M. Brinton & O. Kagan. (Eds.), Heritage language acquisition: A new field emerging. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
[ p. 7 ]Cohen, A. D. (2004). Assessing speech acts in a second language. In B. Boxer & A. D. Cohen (Eds.). Studying speaking to inform second language learning (pp. 302-327). Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters.