a picture of Giuli Dussias

My Teaching

I teach undergraduate courses that encompass 200-level introductory linguistic courses to 400-level courses designed to examine Spanish morphology and syntax as well as to train future language teachers on sound classroom teaching practices. At the graduate level, I teach general introductory courses on theories of second language acquisition and psycholinguistics, courses specific to the acquisition of Spanish as a second language, and courses more directly related to my research area.

Whether I teach courses at the undergraduate level or at the graduate level, my goal in the classroom is to develop a passion for learning in my students and to use the subject matter as a tool to help my students to become skilled thinkers. My classes are organized around two major goals. The first one relates to course content and is aimed at making students aware of the basic questions that linguists and psycholinguists ask, to show how data is gathered to answer these questions, how hypotheses are supported, and how to choose between competing theories. The second goal relates to course skills. I capitalize on the different disciplines that my students bring to my classrooms to teach them how to become effective problem-solvers. Thus, whereas I show students in the humanities how to analyze a problem formally by exposing them to rigorously stated problems that have a clear range of appropriate solutions, I achieve the same goal with science students by showing them how to apply an algorithm-based approach to solve problems in natural language.

My philosophy of teaching is grounded in the belief that learning best takes place when students are engaged in the collective analysis of a problem to arrive at a mutually satisfactory solution. To enhance critical thinking, I generate tasks that encourage students to problem-solve in the context of collaborative discussions. I provide a relaxed atmosphere for students to express their ideas openly, while at the same time showing sensitivity and respect for the ideas of others. Because I recognize that students possess different learning styles and learning abilities, I strive to provide my students with individual attention. I encourage students to visit me during office hours, and always make time to address their questions and concerns. In addition, I incorporate the use of state-of-the-art technology for the delivery of classroom materials designed to anchor the concepts introduced and discussed during our face-to-face interactions.

My intense commitment and devotion for teaching extends outside the confines of the classroom. I have been the primary mentor of seven graduate students and fourteen undergraduate students since my arrival at Penn State. During our hourly meetings once a week, we discuss progress towards the completion of research projects, venues to present and publish research findings, and progress towards the completion of their degrees. I highlight the importance of collaboration and group learning by encouraging them talk to each other and to their peers about matters ranging from experimental design and technical aspects involved in the programming of experiments to issues concerning data analysis and interpretation. I underscore the contribution of their research findings to the field by encouraging them to submit their work for presentation at different conference venues. In 2011-2012 alone, the students in my lab and I presented eleven papers at major national and international conferences, such as the International Symposium on Bilingualism, the Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages and the Workshop on Bilingualism.

To promote the international engagement by U.S. undergraduate and graduate students to conduct research in the language science of bilingualism, in 2010 we were awarded a 5-year grant from the National Science Foundation Partnerships in International Research and Education (OISE 0968369: Bilingualism, mind, and brain: An interdisciplinary program in cognitive psychology, linguistics, and cognitive neuroscience—PI, Judith Kroll; Co-PIs, Giuli Dussias, Janet van Hell, Ping Li; PIRE). So far, we have sent 17 undergraduate students and 8 graduate students to our partner sites in Beijing (China), Bangor (Wales), Granada (Spain), Tarragona (Spain), Leipzig (Germany), Nijmegen (The Netherlands) and Lund (Sweden) to conduct research on bilingualism. In recognition of the mentorship I provide to my graduate and undergraduate students, I received the 2012 Outstanding Faculty Adviser Award from the College of The Liberal Arts. In addition, my efforts to internationalize bilingualism research were recognized with the 2012 Penn State’s Spirit of Internationalization Award.

My Courses & Sample Syllabi

Course Description

Introduction to the fundamental components of linguistics using data from the Spanish language. SPAN 215 Introduction to Spanish Linguistics (3) Spanish 215 will introduce students to the fundamental components of linguistics (phonology, morphology, syntax, lexicon, and semantics) using data from the Spanish language. The course requires no previous knowledge of linguistics, but presupposes familiarity with Spanish at the 15 credit level or higher. The underlying purpose is to awaken students' interest in Spanish linguistics; to provide them with a foundation in the terminology and concepts necessary for studying higher level courses that are part of Spanish major and minor curricula; and to help them to decide which of the upper level classes they would be most interested in taking. Student performance in the course will be evaluated by (a) exams designed to verify their familiarity and understanding of linguistic terminology and concepts, their skill in doing phonetic transcription, and their ability to solve problems in phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics, and (b) their preparedness and participation in classroom activities

Course Description

This course provides a tutorial introduction to the theory and methods of the major perspectives within language science that provide converging evidence on the representation and processing of two languages in bilinguals and second language learners. The disciplines to be covered include linguistics, psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and speech-language pathology. The course will be team taught by faculty with expertise in each of these disciplines. The topics to be covered include introductions to each of the component disciplines, an overview of current faculty research, and an introduction to the design and implementation of cross-disciplinary collaborative research that cuts across two or more areas. The seminar will also introduce students to translational research in order to foster the development of a cross-disciplinary science that is much broader and deeper than the traditional domains of basic and applied sciences. Where appropriate, the seminar will include selected hands-on laboratory demonstrations.

The goal of this course is to provide students entering the language sciences from different disciplines an appreciation of the range of theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of bilingualism. A specific aim of the course will be to demonstrate the way in which cross-disciplinary collaboration produces a more complete understanding of the way in which bilinguals represent and process their two languages. A critical goal will be to illustrate how such an approach can be achieved without losing the depth of scholarship typical within an individual discipline and how basic research can be translated to solve real world problems (e.g., literacy among non-native English speaking children or deaf adults). A further practical goal will be to demonstrate the way in which research on bilingualism can be conducted effectively in a geographically restricted location such as central Pennsylvania.

Course Description

There is no single path to professional development for academics in any given discipline. For students training to work across the disciplines, there are additional challenges to develop breadth without sacrificing expertise and to learn to negotiate the different cultures that have historically been associated with each of the component areas of study. This course will address issues of professional development with specific attention to the unique nature of cross-disciplinary research in the language sciences. We will discuss the writing of journal articles and grant proposals, we will attempt to demystify the grant and journal review process, talk about how to acquire skill in formal presentations at national and international conferences, how to develop collaborations here and abroad, how to seek mentoring advice yourself and how to provide mentoring advice to the students working with you. The seminar will also provide training in the responsible conduct of research in a broader range of research settings than typically encountered within disciplinary graduate programs. During the semester, other faculty and students will join us to share their special expertise on particular topics.

Course Description

This is a survey course which covers core topics in adult bilingual language processing and provides direct experience with some of the most common research techniques employed by investigators to research issues related to language processing. Class meetings are divided into three parts. The first part will be devoted to the presentation of background for a new topic or subtopic. This will be done by me. During the second part, students will present papers discussing empirical research related to bilingual or monolingual sentence processing. The third part of the course provides some hands-on experimental techniques employed in the study of language processing. Students will be introduced to the software and hardware to run studies that use self-paced reading tasks and eye-movement records as tools for investigation.

Course Description

This seminar will provide an in-depth examination of codeswitching, with both historical grounding and a review of contemporary codeswitching work. To begin the course, we will provide an historical overview, focusing on seminal papers in the field, so that students have an understanding of how syntactic constraint-based approaches to codeswitching arose in the literature, in large measure as a means of establishing that codeswitched language was not “a-lingual,” but rather a reflection of constraints derived from the bilingual’s two grammars. As we explore the issue of constraint-based approaches, we will also carefully examine methodological issues in these constraint-based models, focusing in particular on the limitations of the data and data collection paradigms that have constituted the basis for the theoretical claims made in the literature. In particular, we will critically evaluate a major issue in the codeswitching literature regarding the data: the debate regarding the relative value of corpus-based versus so-called competency-based data collection paradigms.

Our discussion of the methodological drawbacks and consequent limitations of traditional syntactico-structural approaches to codeswitching will serve as a transition to the second half of the course. Here, will focus on more recent approaches to codeswitching from a processing perspective. This line of work began with Joshi’s work in the mid-1980s and has been extensively explored by Myers-Scotton in her 4-M model, which is both linguistically and psycholinguistically informed. We will also address work from a purely psycholinguistic perspective, which addresses issues arguably related to codeswitching (such as lexical switch tasks) from a perspective that has not been informed by linguistic theorizing. We will attempt to related psycholinguistic research of this type to more linguistically informed approaches to the complex array of issues arising in codeswitching.