View from Dr. LaFond's back yard

Larry L. LaFond, Ph.D

Not only is your story worth telling, but it can be told in words so painstakingly eloquent that it becomes a song.

--Gloria Naylor

View from my yard at dawn

Welcome! This page is a portal into some of my teaching, research, and service activities, and also provides a brief overview of my academic history. I am currently Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. I am also Associate Professor of English within SIUE's Department of English Language and Literature. Teaching has been the central focus of my life in the academy and I am very pleased to be at an institution that emphasizes and rewards excellence and innovation in teaching. Although my duties now are primarily administrative, I have taught, and continue to teach on occasion, undergraduate linguistics courses, composition, and graduate courses for students preparing for careers in English as a Second Language or other advanced graduate degrees. For a list of my recent teaching activities, click here.

My research program focuses on adult second language (L2) acquisition, particularly how L2 learning occurs in interfaces between syntax, discourse, morphology and semantics. My dissertation, and some of the publications springing from it, offered an Optimality-theoretic account of the pro-drop parameter, looking at the relative rankings of syntactic and discoursal constraints in English, Italian, and Spanish. Some of my current projects try to address how particular differences between learners (e.g., motivation, learning strategies, background knowledge, gender and identity issues) affect outcomes in L2 learning of syntax, phonology, or morphology. I am also involved in ongoing research in several additional areas: expressions of motion events in an L2, the ethics of assessing online learning, and the role of linguistics in language teacher education.

Within my university, school, and department, I am involved in a variety of service activities. I served as Chair of the Department of English Language and Literature from 2007-2010. For a more complete list of some of my service activities, click here.

A concise version of my earlier academic history is as follows: I did my undergraduate work at Concordia College (BA in Greek and Hebrew, 1980) and afterwards pursued advanced degrees in theology and pastoral ministry. I studied at Concordia Seminary (St. Louis) and Lutherisch Theologische Hochschule (Oberursel, Germany), and received my M.Div from Luther Seminary in 1986. I also completed coursework for a D.Min at The Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. In the mid-1990s, I shifted careers by formally pursuing graduate coursework in a field that had long interested me: Linguistics. I completed an MA in Applied Linguistics at Old Dominian University in 1997 and a Ph.D in Linguistics at the University of South Carolina in the summer of 2001. I have been a faculty member at SIUE since the fall of 2001.

Language is a powerful gift that every functioning human being has been given. To explore the nature of words, language, and human discourse is about as an exciting field as I can imagine, for it is in and through language that we breath our prayers, dream our dreams, share our ideas, and connect with each other with words of kindness and concern. It is in the word that we powerfully experience and communicate love, joy, and purpose for our lives.

If you would like to contact me visit the faculty page on the TESL/Linguistics website. If you click on my name on that page, it will also give you a current picture.

Last Update: July 05, 2007 by Larry LaFond