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Meredith Cicerchia

Research Student, Faculty of Arts

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Biography

I am currently pursuing a PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Nottingham with a focus on Arabic as a Foreign Language (AFL) vocabulary acquisition and learning. I hold an MSc in Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition from the University of Oxford where my dissertation focused on vocabulary learning strategies for North American students of and a BA in French language and literature from Georgetown University.

Prior to beginning my PhD research, I spent ten years working across the language learning industry in various roles from teaching to project management, eLearning and curriculum development. Previously, I managed the special projects team at Education First where I led development of the EFSET, the world's first free standardized adaptive assessment tool and platform. I also managed an AFPAK curriculum development project for the US Defense Language Institute and have worked for several major language learning startups including Lingua.ly, Memrise and Flash Academy.

I am a native speaker of US English but I also speak fluent Italian, French and Moroccan Arabic and have additionally studied Modern Standard Arabic, Spanish, Russian, Danish and Urdu.

Expertise Summary

My PhD research focuses on Arabic word learning within an L1 English speaking non-heritage population. I am exploring difficulty drivers and the impact of multi-modal approaches to vocabulary presentation on response time and accuracy through a series of studies performed in the Nottingham Psycholinguistics and Language Learning Lab at the Centre for Research in Applied Linguistics, University of Nottingham.

Research Summary

My current research explores difficulty drivers and the impact of multi-modal approaches to vocabulary presentation on response time and accuracy through a series of studies performed in the… read more

Current Research

My current research explores difficulty drivers and the impact of multi-modal approaches to vocabulary presentation on response time and accuracy through a series of studies performed in the Nottingham Psycholinguistics and Language Learning Lab at the Centre for Research in Applied Linguistics, University of Nottingham.

Arabic as a Foreign Language (AFL) is widely considered to be one of the most difficult world languages for English speakers to learn. The US Foreign Service Institute rates Arabic a Category V language, estimating it takes four times as many hours to achieve proficiency than in a language more closely related to English.

My PhD aims to provide empirical evidence to further our understanding of the early challenges faced by AFL learners and contribute to a larger agenda that encourages more researchers in applied linguistics to involve Arabic in their studies.

Future Research

I am keen to evaluate the practical application of this research. To this end, I'm planning two studies which will explore optimal vocabulary presentation conditions. To facilitate cross-study comparisons and encourage more collaborative work in the field, I'm also undertaking a norming study as part of my PhD thesis. This norming study will collect picture naming, age of acquisition, and frequency of use data from Arabic native speakers on a set of 300+ images and MSA words to form a data set that can then be used by other researchers in subsequent studies.

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