Reading and Discussion Groups

Reading and Discussion Groups

There are several reading, research, and discussion groups organized by graduate students and/or faculty of the Department. These groups meet on a regular basis during the academic year in person or via Zoom. If you are interested in participating in one or several groups inquire with the contact listed for more information. 

Applied Linguistics and Politics Reading Group

This reading group meets to discuss the complex relationships between applied linguistics and politics. Politics here does not simply refer to the acts of politicians but also encompasses more broadly the totality of claims to power and authority made by a variety of social actors – private persons, journalists, and academics – in different discursive spaces such as political institutions, media platforms, educational systems, academic journals, etc. By reading and discussing both canonic and recent scholarship on ideology, identity, and power, the group seeks to achieve a deeper understanding of the role played by language in the production and/or contestation of inequalities and discrimination along lines of age, class, ethnicity, disability, gender, race, sexuality. Moreover, the group discusses the ethical implications (i.e. possibilities, challenges and double-binds) of a politically engaged applied linguistics. Readings are chosen based on interests of group members. Contact: Hannah Lukow at or Tommaso M. Milani at

Applied Linguistics Roundtable

The departmental roundtable is a forum for members of the department, visiting scholars, and collaborating researchers to report on completed or ongoing research. The roundtable meets bi-weekly during the academic year, with some sessions in the spring semester typically reserved for graduate students to trial papers that they will present at national conferences (such as the annual conference of the American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL) and the convention of TESOL International etc.). The schedule of presentations is prepared by a departmental committee, which consists of graduate students and faculty members. For details about the Applied Linguistics Roundtable, please visit the Roundtable web page.

Conversation Analysis Data Sessions

The Conversation Analysis (CA) Data Sessions grew out of a course as a way to regularly meet and discuss members’ data in an informal, productive setting. The web page is available at Contact: TBD

Corpus Linguistics Reading and Research Group

The Corpus Linguistics Reading Group meets to discuss and critique a recently published article of interest. These meetings have already led to a collaborative replication study, giving members the opportunity to apply their knowledge of corpus linguistics under the guidance of faculty experts. Such initiatives provide graduate students with invaluable practice using cutting-edge corpus research techniques to advance the field of applied linguistics. Contact: Xiaofei Lu at

Discourse Analysis Reading and Research Group

The Discourse Analysis Reading and Research Group is a project-based working group of grad students and faculty interested in the critical analysis of discourse and its application to real world issues and ideologies, from pedagogy to race, gender, immigration, crime, policy making, health, beauty, politeness and deference, competition and winning/losing, self- v. other-presentation, and so forth.  

The goals of this group are to 1) collaboratively design DA-based studies which reveal the relevant patterned instances of discourse through bottom up and emergent/fluid perspectives and observations, and 2) carry out these studies through full completion in the form of co-authored journal manuscripts. Contact: Susan Strauss or Sarah Jackson

ESP/EAP Reading Group

The ESP/EAP Reading Group holds bi-weekly meetings to discuss issues related to research and teaching within English for Specific Purposes (ESP) / English for Academic Purposes (EAP) contexts. Discussion center on readings that cover a wide range of topics including: specific purposes contexts within academic and professional domains (e.g. Law, Medicine, Business), teaching and research of oral/written genres from particular communities of practice, development of ESP/EAP curricular materials, preparation of ESP/EAP instructors, approaches to needs analysis, and considerations of learner agency in both classroom and work settings. No particular background in ESP/EAP is required or expected. Readings are chosen based on interests of group members. Contact: Meredith Doran at

Migration Studies Project

Migration Studies Project (MSP) is an interdisciplinary research group that focuses on generating and analyzing data and expanding the theoretical frameworks for the study of contemporary mobility. Participants focus on the complex intersections of forced migration, language, gender, racism, and neoliberalism through biweekly meetings. Through engaging discussions and hands on data analysis sessions led by participants, MSP seeks to foster a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by forcibly displaced populations, while also shedding light on the linguistic, gender-based, racial, and neoliberal dynamics that shape their experiences. The group is engaged in ongoing research on the communication of international STEM scholars. Occasionally, guest speakers give lectures on relevant topics. The activities of the group are posed on the MSP website at Contact: Suresh Canagarajah or Merve Özçelik

Multilingual Writing Research Group

The Multilingual Writing Research Group (MWRG) is an interdisciplinary, student-led group with members primarily from the departments of Applied Linguistics and English. The group supports research related to multilingual writing and writers through data sessions and workshops of members’ individual research projects. Additionally, the MWRG advocates for excellent multilingual writing instruction through creating and leading student and faculty workshops. In the past two years, the MWRG created and led workshops for multilingual graduate student writers through the graduate writing center. Additionally, we have provided professional development workshops for faculty at the Penn State University Park campus as well as the Erie, York, and Scranton campuses and the Dickinson School of Law. Contact: Suresh Canagarajah at

SLA Reading Group

The SLA Reading Group is a student-led group that holds bi-weekly meetings to read, discuss, and critique current empirical and theoretical literature connected to SLA, psycholinguistics, and usage-based accounts of learning. The group also conducts empirical research through replication of influential studies in our field and disseminates findings to the community of applied linguistics scholars and language practitioners through journal publications and presentations at major applied linguistics conferences. No prior training or experience is required to join this group. Contact: Kevin McManus at

Sociocultural Theory Discussion Group

This discussion group meets to read and discuss work in philosophy, psychology, and applied linguistics informed by and related to sociocultural theory. The readings and discussions are wide-ranging and are not restricted to socioculturally informed L2 research. The primary goal is to develop a deeper understanding of Vygotsky’s theory and methodology and how it differs from other theories and approaches to social science and SLA research. Contact: Jacob Rieker at