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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. The application period for 2017/18 ends on February 1st. Please visit Financial Aid's scholarship page HERE to apply.

Recent Recipients

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 Fellowship. 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 Fellowship. 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 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.