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James R. Nattinger Graduate Teaching Fellowship

The James R. Nattinger Endowed Scholarship was created to honor James R. Nattinger’s leadership in teaching and encouraging Linguistics learning and scholarship. The Scholarship provides support to students pursuing a Master of TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), and who have an interest in research.  The Nattinger recipient is expected to arrange to work with a faculty member in the department, on some research topic of mutual interest.


Applicants must be graduate students who are in good standing in the Applied Linguistics department or who have applied for admittance to the MA TESOL program.  To apply, fill out an application form and write a statement specifying your goals for future academic study in the disciple of linguistics, theoretical and/or applied. Submit both to the Department by February 1st. For more information and to apply see the Nattinger Teaching Fellowship Application.

Recent Recipients

Tim Krause 2014-2015
My education and professional backgrounds have always revolved around communicating information. Whether it was my first loves of theater and Spanish, or serendipitous careers in braille, journalism, and civic engagement, at the core of all of these has been a fundamental desire to exchange ideas in order for people to better understand one another. To that end, I’ve always been fascinated by how language works, how to construct meaning and manipulate nuance, how to read between the lines, and how to translate and interpret. To embrace another language is to intimately explore another culture while better understanding oneself. And so one of the qualities I really appreciate about PSU's MA TESOL program is how it fosters inquiry into the intersection of communication and culture.                                                                    .

When I began the program, I pictured myself more as a linguistics researcher who would use the TESOL component of the program to facilitate international travel. A year later, I still envision myself doing research, but now from the perspective of a professional language educator, one with a curiosity about creative curricula, a penchant for Freirian techniques, and an aspiration to be a "transformative intellectual." I am motivated by the opportunity to inspire students to think critically; to use language to express themselves and listen to others; and to create new prospects for themselves without ever giving up their first language, culture, or identity. Diversity, sensitivity, and mutual respect are vital, and I want my students to understand the power of language and its effect on opportunity, equality, and social justice.                                        .

The Nattinger Fellowship will provide me with the resources to complete additional coursework, the time for deeper contemplation of my research, and the opportunities to test these ideas in practice through student teaching and tutoring. For my thesis, I am examining the effects of age and gender on sound symbolism in English. Sound symbolism occupies a contested niche in linguistics, and there has been little work done from the vantage of language variation. This is an area with implications for both theory and application, and my ambition is to pursue doctoral research with applications in our day-to-day world. While this may align with my current study of phonosemantics, the breadth and depth of PSU coursework made possible by this fellowship could just as easily lead me to investigate something even more tangible, such as developing new curricula responding to the role of English as a world language.           .

I am humbled and immensely grateful for the opportunities the Nattinger Fellowship provides. It is both an honor and a privilege. I am looking forward to a productive and engaging year.

Rianna Morgan  2013 - 2014
As I started seriously working on my thesis' literature review, I was moderately aware of Dr. Nattinger’s scholarship.  What I did not know was his profound impact on my area of interest, the field of Formulaic Language studies.  I kept seeing citation after citation of his paper from 1980 about formulaic language, the prelude to the award-winning Lexical Phrases and Language Teaching that he and Dr. Jeanette DeCarrico published in 1992.  Dr. Nattinger was among the first in modern Linguistics to notice the nature of the mental lexicon might not be limited to single words and syntactically frozen idioms.  His article in 1980 pre-dates Pawley & Syder's seminal 1983 article, as well as Sinclair's formalisation of the Principles of Idiom and Open Choice.  Dr. Nattinger's work continues to be cited by researchers like Alison Wray and Nick Ellis, who are on the cutting edge of Formulaic Language research.                          

I am truly fortunate this award is helping me to follow in Dr. Nattinger’s scholarly footsteps.  First, it enables me to devote my time to being a Teaching Assistant for LING 390 Introduction to Linguistics and work on my thesis. Both have been interesting, beneficial and educational pursuits.  Second, this award enabled me to attend the AAAL conference, where I presented the preliminary results of my thesis research and participated in the sessions most pertinent to my research.  At this conference, I obtained excellent feedback from leaders in my field and met some of my intellectual heroines and heroes.  Finally, my future plans include working as a quantitative analyst and pursuing a Ph.D. in Linguistics, Quantitative Psychology, or Statistics.  Because of the Nattinger Fellowship, I have been able to greatly expand my computer programming and quantitative analysis skills. Both are crucial to my thesis and professional future.   
On a more personal note, Dr. Nattinger's contribution to scholarship and education are all the more special to me, because I am a member of the LGBT community as well.  Dr. Nattinger helped make it possible that more of us in academia might feel comfortable to be ourselves in front of the world.