• Language testing and assessment
  • Corpus-based analysis
  • Language program and assessment standardization

Capital, Ideology, and Value Creation: A case study of an American learner of Korean

  • Presentation: (submitted)
  • I investigated the learning trajectory of an American student, Esther, who had multiple experiences of studying abroad in South Korea, and how her experiences of studying abroad impacted her. Key concepts included in the study are capital (Bourdieu, 1986), English ideology, and value creation. I looked at the interplay between these elements at micro-, meso-, and macro levels (Douglas Fir Group, 2016), as an effort to better capture the reasons why and how the participant learned Korean and the real-life consequences of the different kinds of experiences she encountered. From the analysis, I found that studying abroad served as the ground for her to gain different values. Firstly, studying abroad led her to make life-changing decisions to change her major and work for Liberty in North Korea. Secondly, the prevalent ideologies in South Korea and her symbolic capital as a Caucasian American positively enhanced her self-value. Thirdly, she actively participated in building relationships to learn Korean, help others, and shape her future in South Korea. This study shows how Esther’s experiences of studying abroad created values at the individual and social level, both as a language learner and a global citizen.

Examining the grammatical criterial features for CEFR levels in a learner corpus of written English

  • Presentation: (2017, March). American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL) conference, Portland, Oregon, USA.
  • The English Profile Project, a series of studies that examines the language produced at each CEFR level using corpora (Hawkins & Filipović, 2012), has identified forty-eight grammatical features that are characteristic of each level based on empirical research. However, it is uncertain whether these features are representative of different language learner populations. This study has investigated the extent to which the grammatical criterial features for CEFR levels are manifested in a Korean learner corpus of written English, the Yonsei English Learner Corpus (YELC). The frequency of feature use and results revealed that the actual use of the grammatical criterial overall did not align with the proposed levels, though in general more learners used the grammatical structures as the proficiency level increased. The selection and representativeness of the criterial features and their applicability at the global level are discussed.

Validation of a Korean Speaking Proficiency Assessment

  • Presentation: (2016, October). The Midwest Association of Language Testers (MwALT) conference, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA.
  • Collaborator: Ok-Sook Park, Michigan State University
  • The main focus of this project is to validate a web-based Korean Speaking Proficiency Assessment developed at a large Midwestern university. Ten students enrolled in 300- and 400-level Korean courses 1) self-assessed their proficiency based on ACTFL’s Can-Do Statements (ACTFL, 2013), 2) took both the Korean Speaking Proficiency Assessment and ACTFL OPIc, and 3) completed feedback questionnaires for both tests. The ratings for both tests and student feedback will contribute to investigating multiple aspects of the validity of the test from different perspectives of the stakeholders.

A survey on postsecondary Korean language programs in the United States

  • Publication: Kim, S. (in press). A survey on postsecondary Korean language programs in the United States.  Journal of the National Council of Less Commonly Taught Languages.
  • In this study, I diagnosed various aspects of organization and management of Korean language programs in the U.S. higher education as an example case. I surveyed 34 Korean language program coordinators across the U.S. in 2015. The report includes information about the current programs (i.e., faculty, courses, and proficiency goals), the recent and projected changes in course curricula, and the difficulties that program coordinators face. Further, I discussed the strengths and robustness of Korean language education in the U.S., and highlight factors that may inhibit potential improvement and constructive changes.

Exploring rater behaviors during a writing assessment discussion

  • Publication: Kim, S., & Lee, H-K. (2015). Exploring rater behaviors during a writing assessment discussion, English Teaching, 70, 97-121.
  • Presentation: (2013, July). The Korea Association of Teachers of English (KATE) international conference, Seoul, South Korea
  • This study explored a discussion held among raters for a writing assessment in a Korean university. In particular, we investigated rater behaviors that influence their decision-making processes as revealed in their interaction during discussions. Four raters independently assessed student writing samples using CEFR scales and then held a discussion session to agree on a single score for each sample. Observation and analysis of the rater discussion showed that there were differences in the degree to which individual raters’ initial judgments were reflected in the final decisions and that each rater’s argument style affected the degree. Raters’ personality dynamics, appreciation of student effort, and comprehension of students’ intended meaning were found to be prominent factors that influenced the process of score decisions. These findings have important implications for the use of discussion in performance assessment and for the rating process in general.

Update: April 2017