Department of Applied Linguistics  |  College of the Liberal Arts  |  Center for Language Acquisition


“The only good learning is that which is ahead of development” – Lev S. Vygotsky







Me teaching "Susan" (a pseudonym) about social distance during my dissertation study.

Rémi A. van Compernolle

PhD Candidate in Applied Linguistics (ABD)
Department of Applied Linguistics
The Pennsylvania State University
305 Sparks Building

Curriculum Vitae




Research Interests

My research focuses primarily on second language (L2) acquisition and pedagogy. I am particularly interested in L2 pragmatics and sociolinguistics, classroom discourse and interaction, and the use of Internet and computer technologies in language learning and development. I incorporate both quantitative and qualitative research methods into my work as a means of understanding L2 development as a multifaceted process.


Current Projects

Dynamic Assessment of Pragmatic Competence in English as a Second Language

This study explores the use of Dynamic Assessment (DA) as a tool for assessing English as a Second Language (ESL) learners' pragmatic competence, with specific focus on the speech act of requests. The study involves adapting established assessment instruments (e.g., discourse completion tasks) to include intervention from an assessor (mediator) to support learners during the task, thereby revealing not only what learners are able to do independently (current developmental level) but also those abilities that are in the process of formation. In turn, assistance provided by the mediator has the potential to support learner development during the assessment itself.

Mediated Development of Second Language Sociopragmatic Capacity through Concept-Based Instruction

This study investigates the development of advanced second language sociopragmatic capacity among university learners of French. The study focused on teaching holistic concepts relevant to sociopragmatic meanings, such as social indexicality, self-presentation, social distance, and power, and then mapping those meanings onto illustrative features of language (i.e., forms). The study documents the development of conceptual knowledge (i.e., what learners understand about the concepts/meanings), learners' emerging orientations to using language and judgments of social appropriateness and desirability (i.e., the meanings they assign to language forms), and learners' abilities to put their knowledge and orientations to language to use during spoken-interactive tasks (i.e., the ability to use language).

Instructional practices and actions created in classroom talk-in-interaction

This study—conducted under the auspices of the Penn State Conversation Analysis Research Group—explores how classroom instruction is accomplished through talk-in-interaction. The Group is particularly involved in data collection and analysis of classroom discourse which may lead to significant understandings of teacher talk, student talk, teacher pedagogies and student learning. Data include videorecordings of naturally occurring classroom interactions taking place within intact ESL and applied linguistics courses.


Selected Publications (A full list is available here)

van Compernolle, R. A., & Williams, L. (Eds.). (in preparation). Sociocultural theory and second language pedagogy [Special issue]. Language Teaching Research. [Scheduled for July 2013]

Williams, L., & van Compernolle, R. A. (Eds.). (in preparation). Computer-mediated discourse and interaction in language learning and language teaching [Special Issue]. Canadian Modern Language Review. [Scheduled for September 2012]

van Compernolle, R. A., & Williams, L. (forthcoming). Reconceptualizing sociolinguistic competence as mediated action: Identity, meaning-making, agency. Modern Language Journal.

van Compernolle, R. A., & Williams, L. (forthcoming). Thinking with your hands: Speech-gesture activity during an L2 awareness-raising task. Language Awareness.

van Compernolle, R. A., & Williams, L. (forthcoming). Promoting sociolinguistic competence in the classroom Zone of Proximal Development. Language Teaching Research.

van Compernolle, R. A., Williams, L., & McCourt, C. (2011). A corpus-driven study of second-person pronoun variation in L2 French synchronous computer-mediated communication. Intercultural Pragmatics, 8(1), 67-91.

van Compernolle, R. A. (2011). Responding to questions and L2 learner interaction competence during language proficiency interviews: A microanalytic study with pedagogical implications. In J. K. Hall, J. Hellerman, & S. Pekarek Doehler (Eds.), L2 interactional competence and development. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

van Compernolle, R. A. (2010). Incidental microgenetic development in second language teacher-learner talk-in-interaction. Classroom Discourse, 1(1).

van Compernolle, R. A., & Williams, L. (2009). Learner versus non-learner patterns of stylistic variation in synchronous computer-mediated French: Yes/no questions and nous versus onStudies in Second Language Acquisition, 31(3), 471-500.

van Compernolle, R. A., & Williams, L. (2009). Variable omission of ne in real-time French chat: A corpus-driven comparison of educational and non-educational contexts. Canadian Modern Language Review, 65(3), 413-440.





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