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Joanna White, PhD

Professor Emerita, Education

Joanna White, PhD

Dr. Joanna White is Associate Professor in the TESL Centre, Department of Education, where she has directed the B.Ed. TESL, TESL Certificate, and the M.A. Applied Linguistics programs. She taught French at the high school level and ESL to adults, and since 1984 has taught a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses in second language acquisition, ESL pedagogy, and practice teaching. In her teaching and in her classroom-based research, she is interested in the relationship between classroom practices and second language learning outcomes. With colleagues at Concordia, McGill, l'Université du Québec a` Montréal, and the Universidad de Barcelona, she has recently carried out several large studies in intensive ESL classrooms in elementary schools in Quebec and Spain. These studies have investigated implicit and explicit form-focused instruction, the development and assessment of oral proficiency, and the development of metalinguistic awareness in the learners' first and second languages. Program comparison studies have investigated the effects on learning outcomes of different amounts of instructional time in regular and intensive ESL classes, of different distributions of instructional time across several models of intensive ESL, as well as the pedagogical practices of intensive English second language and French first language teachers.

Dr. White's research has been funded by the Quebec Ministry of Education, the TESOL International Research Fund, the Société pour la promotion de l'enseignement de l'anglais, langue seconde au Québec (PEAQ), and by Concordia University General Research Funds. She presents her research findings regularly at international conferences, some of them listed below.

Dr. White has supervised eight M.A. theses to completion, two others are in progress, and she has served on numerous M.A. and PhD thesis committees. The topics are varied and include form-focused instruction (e.g. textual enhancement), peer corrective feedback, materials design, teacher training, the age factor, motivation, vocabulary, and computers in language learning.


BA, French language and literature, Randolph-Macon Woman's College
MA Teaching French, Yale University
PhD, Second Language Education, McGill University

Professional experience

TESL Centre, Concordia University:
Associate professor, 1997-present.
Assistant professor, 1995-1997.
Lecturer, 1986-1995.
Part-time instructor, 1984-1986.

Continuing Education Language Institute, Concordia University:
ESL Instructor, 1979-86.

Montreal Catholic School Commission:
ESL teacher, adult education, 1976-79.

Guilford High School, Guilford, Connecticut:
French teacher, 1960-1969

Current projects

Dr. White has several research interests related to classroom-based second language teaching and learning. She is interested in investigating the relationship between the first and second (or additional) languages of young classroom-instructed learners from two perspectives. First, she to continues to examine how instruction can speed up learning of linguistic features in a second language which are problematic for learners who mistakenly assume that they function in the same way as features in their first language. For instance, French first language learners of English have difficulty acquiring the possessive determiners, his and her, perhaps because of their deceptive similarity to son and sa. Similar problems have been observe with speakers of Spanish and Catalan, whose first language rules for this feature are also different from English. With Drs. Carmen Mu?oz (Universidad de Barcelona) and Laura Collins (Concordia University), she is looking at acquisition of pronouns, including his and her, by learners of different ages in regular and intensive programs in Quebec and Catalunia. A second area she wishes to explore further involves the potential benefits that learning a second language may have on writing in the first language. Some data have already been collected and are being analyzed. As well, with her colleagues, she is involved in developing procedures to analyze oral production data from individual and paired tasks. Data for this work were collected in Quebec regular and intensive classes and come from the Oral Proficiency Project (with Dr. C. Turner, McGill) and the TIRF project (with Dr. L. Collins, Concordia).

Courses taught

Apli 621Language Development
Apli 630Language-teaching Methodology
Apli 651 Classroom-based SLA Research
TESL 324 Methodology I
TESL 426 Pedagogy: Primary
TESL 433 Practicum
TESL 466 Internship: Primary
TESL 488 Internship Seminar
TESL 498 Advanced Topics in TESL: Materials Development

Professional memberships

American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL)
Association for Language Awareness (ALA)
Canadian Association of Applied Linguistics (CAAL)
Canadian Journal of Applied Linguistics (CJAL),
Editorial Board Center for the Study of Classroom Processes (CSLP)
Société pour la promotion de l'enseignement de l'anglais, langue seconde au Québec (SPEAQ), CSLP
CSLP Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)

Selected publications

Journals and book chapters

White, J. & Turner, C. Comparing Children's Oral Ability in Two ESL Programs. Canadian Modern Language Review. (to appear June, 2005)

Spada, N., Lightbown, P. & White, J. (2004). The importance of meaning in explicit form-focused instruction. In Alex Housen (Ed.), Investigations in Instructed Second Language Learning (pp. 199-237). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

White, J., & Ranta, L. (2002) Examining the interface between metalinguistic performance and oral production in a second language. Language Awareness, 11, 259-290.

Lightbown, P. M., Halter, R., White, J., & Horst, M. (2002). Comprehension-based learning: The limits of "Do it yourself". Canadian Modern Language Review, 58.

White, J. (1998). Getting the learner's attention: a typographical input enhancement study In C. Doughty and J. Williams (Eds.), Focus on Form in Classroom Second Language Acquisition (pp. 85-113). Cambridge,: Cambridge University Press.

White, J. and Goulet, C. (1995). Getting your primary ESL students hooked on books. Speaq-Out, 24 (2), 7-13.

White, J., and Lightbown, P.M. (1988). Asking and answering in ESL classes. In G.H. Irons, (Ed.), Second Language Acquisition: Selected Readings in Theory and Practice. Welland, ON: The Canadian Modern Language Review. Reprinted from The Canadian Modern Language Review, 1984, 40, 228-244.

Vogel, P., Brassard, M.L., Parks, S., Thibaudeau, S., and White, J. (1983). The communicative classroom: tasks, materials, methodology. In M. Clarke and J. Handscombe (Eds.) On TESOL '82: Pacific Perspectives on Language Learning (243-252). Washington, DC: TESOL.


Turner, C. & White, J. The development of oral proficiency in grade 6 ESL intensive programs. Submitted to the Ministère de l'Education du Québec, June, 2003..

White, J. Projet de collaboration au sujet de l'nseignement des langues entre la Commission Scolaire des Affluents et l'niversité Concordia. Submitted to the Commission scolaire des Affluents, June, 2002.

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