James R. Nattinger Scholarship

The James R. Nattinger Scholarship was created to honor James R. Nattinger's leadership in teaching and encouraging Linguistics learning and scholarship. The fellowship provides support to students pursuing a Master of TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) 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. The Scholarship is usually $3,000-$4,000 per term for three terms depending on the endowment returns.

Apply for the Nattinger Scholarship

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. The application for the 2020-2021 academic year is now available.

To apply please complete the 2020-2021 Nattinger Application and submit all materials by email (linginfo@pdx.edu), or deliver in person to the Department of Applied Linguistics (UCB 335) by March 1st, 2020. 

Recent Recipients 

Amber Sanchez 2019/20

I believe that popular media can also be relevant to language teaching. One area of language pedagogy that could benefit from the inclusion of popular media is pragmatics instruction. I would like to explore the possibility of using television to help language learners develop pragmatic competence. One of the challenges for learners is that they often do not have access to the kind of input they need to develop pragmatic competence because they do not encounter the situations they will encounter in real life in the classroom. Incorporating television and other media can expose learners to more varied social situations in the target language and also provides an opportunity to develop critical thinking skills by asking learners to analyze the representations they see depicted on screen.

I am tremendously grateful to be this year’s recipient of the Nattinger Scholarship. The award will allow me to focus entirely on my studies and have the amazing opportunity to work with a faculty member on a research project. This experience will be invaluable in my future as an educator and researcher.

Rossina Soyan 2018/19 

I love learning, and I hope to keep learning for the rest of my life. I started school in the village of Beldir-Aryg (Tuva, Russia). When I was 12, I was accepted to a wonderful boarding school in Kyzyl where I used four languages for studying: Russian, English, Tuvan, and Turkish. I went on to study at Herzen University in St. Petersburg and majored in Translation Studies. I completed a graduate program at Lomonosov University in Moscow with a degree of kandidat nauk in Linguistics (PhD). I studied German, French, and Chinese at different periods of my life, but English is my biggest love story. 

I began my work career as a freelance and full-time translator. However, I realized that teaching in a university setting was more appealing to me. I liked interacting with both students and professors, sharing knowledge and learning with them. I started teaching as part of the graduate program at Lomonosov University and quickly became aware of my shortcomings as a teacher. I was an expert in content areas, but I lacked the skills in transferring this knowledge to students. I decided to continue my education.

I enrolled in the MA TESOL program at Portland State because the degree allows me to build an international network of colleagues, and acquire the skills necessary for teaching languages, as well as conducting and publishing research both in Russian and English. The Nattinger Fellowship will help me to make further steps in the same direction. I am honored to have an opportunity to work with a faculty member and pursue my interests as a researcher.

One way I would like to contribute is in the preservation and revitalization of endangered languages. My mother tongue is Tuvan, a minority language, though not in danger of extinction. However, I know that there are few textbooks for English speakers to learn Tuvan. I feel my experience in studying various languages, my undergraduate major in translation, my research background and the MA TESOL degree can support such an undertaking. I know that a Tuvan textbook may not be in great demand, but it will open doors to the Tuvan people and culture. This project has great social and personal relevance to me.

Sasha Krafft 2017/18

Language has always been a close friend of mine. When I was a child, I was a veritable vocabulary sponge. I used to relish in the sounds of words, and challenge myself to combine new words into unfamiliar phrases. My friendship with language quickly spawned into an intense love affair, an addiction even. My freshman year of college, I had already studied five languages other than English; and my bookshelf was dominated by language learning texts and workbooks. My addiction reached its all-time high on my 20th birthday when I set a rather unattainable goal for myself: I would learn one language a year, each year, until I turned 30 (that's 10 languages in 10 years). Suffice it to say, this goal did prove unattainable. What it did accomplish, however, was that it kept me motivated, and interested in learning. Through this self-motivated learning, I became fascinated with the learning process. And it was not long before my desire to constantly be learning morphed into a strong desire to teach. 

Prior to the M.A. TESOL program, I was given numerous opportunities (albeit somewhat premature) to teach ESL and EFL in various divergent contexts. Being thrust into the language classroom taught me a great deal about how to be flexible, present and responsive to student needs and interests. I was fascinated with the classroom dynamics. I was curious why some students responded to stimulus positively, while others would become disengaged. I would use my classroom as my own laboratory of sorts, experimenting with curricula and methodologies. While I was engaging in what I thought to be novice research, I was totally out of my depth. I decided it was high time to gain some of the skills and techniques that would enable me to be a better, more effective teacher- and researcher. 

After a lengthy search, I chose to apply for the M.A. TESOL program at Portland State University. I applied for the program because of the promise of a pedagogical praxis in the field of Applied Linguistics, appealed not only to my desire to teach English language learners; but also to my budding research interests. Therefore, as I continue my work with the program in the coming year, I would like the opportunity to develop and apply various research techniques to my many interests in the field. I am so fortunate that the Nattinger Fellowship provides me with the affordances and resources needed to conduct my professional research. 

I am the generation of student whose studies have bridged learning prior to; and learning concurrent with, the ubiquitous use of modern technology. Twenty-first-century humans rely on and utilize mediated spaces, and digital tools for communicative action more so than ever before in human history. I am interested in investigating the relationship between language and the use of technology. There is a research gap between the widespread use of technology, and utilizing technology as a tool for language learning. While computer-assisted language learning (CALL) is generally a welcome tool for educators and linguists alike; many are still reticent to accept alternative forms of mediated 'play' or games (such as mobile device-mediated games), as viable language learning tools. I am interested in examining whether language learners attend to device-mediated language with more salience than language provided by traditional classroom lecture. 

Prior to entering the MA TESOL program, I worked as a research assistant for a group that was focused on developing pedagogical revitalization tools for Chinook Wawa. What this experience did for me, in addition to enabling me to become a competent speaker of Chinook Wawa; was that it ignited my research interests in language revitalization efforts that I would like to investigate further. For my culminating experience, I want to synthesize my research interests in language revitalization and device-mediated language learning. I plan to gather a number of linguistic artifacts (songs, stories, and phrases) from Chinook Wawa speakers, and integrate them into a place-based augmented (AR) game. This game would become part of a database of digital multimedia tools and curricula-that the Chinook Wawa community has been developing and collecting over the last several years. I plan to work closely with the inspiring minds of the 503 design collective in many aspects of game design and testing. 

I am completely honored, and eternally grateful to have been selected as the 2017/18 recipient of the Nattinger Scholarship. This scholarship allows me to focus on the research at hand, and devote more time and attention to my studies. This project will be the jumping-off point for many diverse research avenues in both language revitalization, as well as device-mediated language learning. I look forward to the next year of discovery and wonder. 

Vanessa Howe 2016-17

My interest in the connection between technology and language first began while completing my BA in Applied Linguistics and German at Portland State. Through my coursework as a graduate student in both the Applied Linguistics and World Languages departments at PSU, I have enjoyed the unique opportunity to be mentored by innovative professors involved in cutting-edge research on the use of technology for language teaching. Combined with teaching German as a Graduate Teaching Assistant at Portland State, these experiences have fostered my interest in using mobile gaming technologies to mediate second language acquisition. The use of innovative pedagogical approaches incorporating gaming technology into a foreign language curriculum has the potential to attract students and increase motivation to learn in a declining academic interest area.

 The main objective of my Culminating Experience project is to create materials to facilitate the incorporation of an existing Augmented Reality (AR) place-based mobile game into the language classroom. The game, Chrono Ops, was created with the AR platform ARIS by the 503 Design Collective and focuses on green technology. AR gaming takes learning outside of the classroom into a real world space where language use is hypercontextualized as learners use language to discuss their immediate surroundings. While playing Chrono Ops, players visit sites on the PSU campus associated with green technology and sustainability, then in these locations, players follow prompts to complete language tasks such as recording a video explaining the advantages or disadvantages of solar energy.

Drawing on existing research on AR gaming and observations of video data of students playing Chrono Ops in English, I intend to build a German version of the game and design materials and activities around the game for use in a 2nd year German course. These materials would be used to scaffold students into gameplay as well as to assess learning outcomes after play.

The teaching materials will focus on building content vocabulary in green technology and sustainability to help students utilize the necessary terminology to discuss this topic. Practice in giving and asking for directions to help facilitate use of the target language during game play will also be included. During game play students engage in presentational speaking tasks, therefore another goal will be to build students’ skills in this area, including teaching the necessary formulaic language used in this academic register. A further aim of my project is to build on the existing game by adding a new module into the game highlighting another aspect of green technology. I will also explore ways to boost motivation during game play with an in game reward system that would include item collection or earning prizes within the game.

I am immensely grateful and honored to be a recipient of the Nattinger Scholarship. Not only does the fellowship help relieve some of the financial burden of graduate studies, it will allow me to take additional courses and help facilitate travel to conferences. I look forward to the coming year engaging in an emerging and expanding field that will undoubtedly open the doors to exciting opportunities for future doctoral research. 

Christine Holland 2015-16

My interest in culture and language began at an early age as my family moved often to remote areas of Oregon and Alaska; these moves necessitated the interaction with different cultures within the US including many new immigrants. Additionally, Japanese summer exchange students lived with my family and when I reciprocated by visiting Japan the following year, I enthusiastically embraced the idea of travel for experiencing different cultures and learning other languages. In the following years, I had the opportunity to study several languages as well as to live and travel in various countries throughout the world. Based on a lifelong exposure to and study of a variety of languages and cultures, I remain in awe of the human ability to learn and even create language. 

Prior to enrolling at PSU in 2013, I worked for the federal government in various capacities as an active duty military member in the Army, as a civilian employee of the Army and US Coast Guard, and as a contractor with various organizations within the Department of Defense. Over the course of that 20+ year career, I had the opportunity to travel widely and work with a variety of militaries and mariners from around the world. I realized early on that the common working language in these fields was English, regardless of nationality. The need for English proficiency was great, not only to communicate time-sensitive information using specialized language, but also to share day-to-day life experiences in a social context. Thus, my desire to teach English for Specific Purposes to this select population arose. 

When the opportunity to change careers presented itself, I entered the MA TESOL program at PSU to acquire the linguistic and teaching expertise needed to teach English. Initially, I saw myself gaining expertise as a teacher only. However, as I progressed through various linguistic courses, I became more intrigued with research in phonetics and the prospect of conducting research with mariners who do not speak English as a first language. My research and teaching interest is, therefore, in the field of Maritime English, with a focus on pronunciation and intelligibility among nonnative speakers of English. Of specific interest is how first language influence on speech production affects the intelligibility of the utterance to other nonnative speakers of English.
The Nattinger Fellowship will allow me the opportunity to take additional linguistic and statistics courses furthering my knowledge of linguistic research and analysis. Additionally, I will attend the International Maritime Lecturers Association (IMLA) conference and the International Maritime English Conference (IMEC) to network and interact with leading experts in the field of Maritime English. I hope to present my research findings on intelligibility at both conferences. While opinions on every aspect of Maritime English exist, little empirical research in my investigations to date, has been conducted on this population in their unique working environment. It is this gap in the research I hope to fill and explore after completion of my degree.
Finally, I am humbled, and feel it is an immense honor to receive the Nattinger Scholarship. I look forward to the opportunity to engage in research and further study in the coming year.


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 Scholarship 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 Scholarship 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 Scholarship, 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.