Lama Nasif

2018 Hellman Fellow

Assistant Professor, Comparative Literature Program

Project Title: The Simultaneous Acquisition of Two Varieties of Arabic: Insights for Research of Bilingualism

Project Description:

Lama Nassif’s research focus is not on the more typical topic of the acquisition of two languages from birth, but on the simultaneous development of two language varieties within the process of language instruction.  Her research will shed light on some cognitive and affective processes invoked as learners process and produce language with two (or more) linguistic systems being active in their brains.

Lama will use her Hellman Fellowship to travel to the University of Texas-Austin to investigate how students in the university’s intensive Arabic program simultaneously process, represent, and produce speech in both Modern Standard Arabic and Colloquial Arabic.  In addition, she will study learners’ attitudes, motivation, and anxiety levels, and how they evolve over the course of Arabic study, using a mixed research design that analyzes both quantitative and qualitative data.  While in Austin, she will meet with three scholars whose work focuses on: 1) affect and learning strategies in second language acquisition; 2) bilingualism and ultimate attainment in second language acquisition; and 3) affect in educational psychology.  Lama’s hope is that her research will present implications for the study of second language acquisition and Arabic as a foreign language and for linguistic research in education in general.  She plans to write and publish two or three papers on her work.