Iowa State University
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Department of English


TESL/Applied Linguistics: Ph. D. Program



Our doctoral program in Applied Linguistics & Technology was launched in the fall semester of 2005. The program aims to meet the growing need for professionals in areas of applied linguistics that intersect with computer technology. Learn more about this new program by reading more about:

Why Study AL&T at ISU?

  • Join an expanding area of research and practice at the interface of language and technology, including corpus linguistics, computer-assisted language learning, and computer-assisted language assessment.
  • Enter a growing profession with job opportunities in academics and business. Study with internationally known faculty who will mentor you as you develop professional expertise in your areas of interest.
  • Develop your expertise in technology for English language analysis, learning, and assessment.
  • Acquire practical teaching and research experience in a technology-rich environment where you can learn and experiment.
  • Take advantage of technology-related assistantship opportunities, including teaching ESL, teaching first-year composition, and assisting professors in research.
  • Be part of a diverse, stimulating English Department which includes a doctoral program in Rhetoric and Professional Communication and other areas of English, including an MA program in TESL/Applied Linguistics.
  • Take your place in the history of ALT at ISU by helping to shape its future.
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What is Applied Linguistics?

The name "applied linguistics" is known world wide to denote analytic and empirical linguistic approaches for investigating topics related to second language acquisition and language use. This field employs a variety of distinctive analytical and empirical methods to find solutions to such language problems as how best to teach English as a second language, how to evaluate language ability fairly, how to program a computer to recognize linguistic input, or how to analyze the linguistic structure of professional prose (e.g., the experimental scientific article) so that the structure can be taught effectively. As these examples indicate, applied linguistics can denote the linguistic study of a range of language-in-use phenomena. Any particular doctoral program in applied linguistics typically focuses on a narrower set of the broad issues falling within the scope of applied linguistics.

The name applied linguistics is used to denote professional organizations such as the American Association of Applied Linguistics and the International Association of Applied Linguistics, a national research center and information clearinghouse called the Center for Applied Linguistics, and journals focusing on issues of second language acquisition and language use such as Applied Linguistics, Issues in Applied Linguistics, and International Review of Applied Linguistics.

You can learn more about the broad discipline of applied linguistics through texts that introduce the field such as the following:

Chapelle, C. A. (Ed.). (2014). The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics. New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.
Hunston, S., & Oakey, D. J. (Eds.). (2010). Introducing Applied Linguistics: Concepts and Skills. New York: Routledge.
Dörnyei, Z. (2007). Research Methods in Applied Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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Applied Linguistics and Technology

Over the past years changes have occurred in the computer hardware and software technologies implicated in second language teaching, second language assessment, language analysis and many aspects of language use. As a consequence, at the heart of current research in applied linguistics are questions concerning many technology-related issues:

How can technology intersect with language teaching practices in beneficial ways? What links should be made between second language acquisition research and technology-based language learning? How can learning accomplished through technology be evaluated? How does technology change basic issues of construct definition, validation, and fairness in language assessment? How does it affect the pragmatics of interpersonal communication? How does it change linguists' perspectives on grammatical and lexical patterns in language? How can technology expand and sharpen research across all areas of applied linguistics? These questions illustrate that the issues at the intersection of applied linguistics and technology are as complex as they are important.

Despite the significance of technology-related issues in applied linguistics, it seems that in many places of the English-speaking world, technology is taken for granted as it becomes integrated into everyday practices. As a consequence, the dramatic changes it offers for second language learners, teachers, and the profession have not been sufficiently investigated. Applied linguists need to engage more consciously and proactively with today's complex language-technology reality, which creates new opportunities and challenges for language learners as well as applied linguists engaged in language teaching, assessment and research. The Applied Linguistics & Technology program at Iowa State University was developed in response to the need for focused inquiry through a combination of knowledge about applied linguistics and technology.

The Applied Linguistics & Technology program at Iowa State University focuses on applied linguistics and technology. With its ever-expanding role in international communication in general and its prominent role as the language of technology, English is arguably the language tied up with technology in the most multi-faceted ways. Moreover, technology plays an important role in teaching and assessment of virtually all languages today.

To learn more about applied linguistics and technology, read books such as

Chapelle, C. A. (2003). English language learning and technology: Lectures on applied linguistics in the age of information and communication technology. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing.

Chapelle, C. (2001). Computer applications in second language acquisition: Foundations for teaching, testing, and research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Crystal, D. (2001). Language and the Internet. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Posteguillo, S. (2003). Netlinguistics: An analytic framework to study language, discourse and ideology in Internet. Castello de la Plana, Spain: Universitat Jaume.

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Program Goals and Methods of Evaluation
Program Goals

Graduates of the doctoral program in Applied Linguistics & Technology, should be able to

  • synthesize fundamental issues and concepts in applied linguistics
  • use computer technology for constructing and implementing materials for teaching and assessing English
  • conduct empirical research and engage in critical analysis to evaluate computer applications for English language teaching and assessment
  • engage in innovative teaching and assessments through the use of technology
  • evaluate multiple perspectives on the spread of technology and its roles throughout the world, particularly as they relate to English language teaching

Evaluation Methods

Measures for evaluating students' success in meeting program goals include evidence of their

  • reformulation of knowledge from coursework in applied linguistics to course projects, portfolio materials, and dissertation
  • development of software for course assignments and for technology in teaching
  • participation in evaluation projects in technology courses and in dissertation research
  • use of technology in teaching and in technology practicum courses
  • reasoned selection of critical perspectives toward technology in course papers and the dissertation

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AL&T Currlculum

The curriculum for the Applied Linguistics & Technology program consists of coursework in the following areas: Foundation Courses; Core Courses in Applied Linguistics; Technology in Applied Linguistics; Research Methods; Electives; and Dissertation Research. Students will also be required to fulfill a foreign language requirement and pass a portfolio assessment, a preliminary examination, and a final oral examination. The program consists of 72 credits.

Foundation Courses (12 credits):

  • Computer Methods in Applied Linguistics (English 510)
  • Introduction to Linguistic Analysis (English 511)
  • Grammatical Analysis (English 537)
  • Sociolinguistics (English 514)

Core Courses in Applied Linguistics (15 credits):

  • Second Language Acquisition (English 517)
  • Second Language Assessment (English 519)
  • Literacy: Issues and Methods for Nonnative Speakers of English (English 524)
  • Methods in Teaching Listening and Speaking Skills to Nonnative Speakers of English (English 525)
  • English for Specific Purposes (English 528)

Technology in Applied Linguistics (9 credits):

  • Computer-Assisted Language Learning (English 526)
  • Computational Analysis of English (English 520)
  • Practicum in Technology and Applied Linguistics (English 688)

Research Methods (12 credits):

  • Discourse Analysis (English 527)
  • Research Methods in Applied Linguistics (English 623)
  • Qualitative research methods (e.g., Soc 513)
  • Quantitative research methods (e.g., Stat 401)

Electives (12 credits)

Four courses, two of which must be Seminars in Applied Linguistics and one of which must be in technology. The Seminar in Technology and Applied Linguistics (English 630) is a repeatable course because topics will vary. Students must take this course twice to fulfill this requirement. The course in technology may be either a seminar in applied linguistics or a course in another discipline.

Other electives may be taken in areas such as English Literature, Curriculum & Instruction, Anthropology, Foreign Language Literature and Linguistics, Rhetoric and Professional Communication, Computer Science

Dissertation (12 credits)

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Information for Applicants

Ph.D. applicants must have completed a Master's degree prior to their first semester in the program.
Minimum TOEFL scores for Ph.D. applicants: 111 (IBT)/ 640 (PBT)

Application Deadline: January 5 (fall entry only). Find more information about applying to the graduate programs in the English Department

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