Dean, Faculty of Humanities
Faculty of Humanities
- Second language acquisition
Not many people know that multilingual speakers are more common on this planet than monolingual - or single language - speakers.
Over his career, Dr. John Archibald, Dean of Humanities at the University of Victoria, has studied how people learn these second, third or fourth languages.
Dr. Archibald's research focuses on the acquisition of phonology. He probes why some sound systems are easier to learn than others, which relates to issues concerning foreign-accented speech.
One basic question that he has worked on over the years is whether adult learners can learn elements in a second language that aren't in their first language.
Dr. Archibald's current project focuses on what parts of speech make it harder to understand some second language speakers over others.
Specifically, he looks at stress errors in second language speech. What happens if you emphasize the wrong parts of a word? He asks the question: do different kinds of stress errors cause different kinds of trouble?
For Dr. Archibald the study of linguistics goes right back to the age old question of "how do we come to know what we know?" He hopes that by teaching students the diversity of what language can do, they will have a better understanding of human culture as a whole.
Dr. Archibald is passionate about getting his research out into the community and communicating with parents, schools and governments about the importance of multilingual education. His past policy work with the Alberta government led to a DVD project distributed to every school in Alberta.
Dr. Archibald is also the co-editor, with William O'Grady, of the longstanding best-selling introductory text on linguistics, Contemporary Linguistic Analysis.
Dr. Archibald has worked with a number of schools on bilingual education issues.