While millions of people study English around the world, many students have limited exposure to spoken and written English outside the classroom. Researchers like Michigan State University’s Shawn Loewen examine ways to maximize classroom instruction to improve second language acquisition. Loewen was invited to share this expertise as a Fulbright Scholar at a historic Polish university.
From October 2021 to February 2022, Loewen will serve as the Distinguished Chair in the Humanities and Social Sciences at Adam Mickiewicz University (AMU), Faculty of English, in Poznan, Poland, where he will teach one regular course for undergraduate and graduate students as well as a more specialized seminar for Ph.D. students in humanities and social sciences. He also will engage in research and scholarly activities, give talks and run workshops, and meet with researchers for consultation and mentoring.
“I felt honored that the Adam Mickiewicz University had invited me to apply for the Fulbright,” Loewen said. “I have heard of them through reputation, and I’m really excited to talk with teachers, understand their needs, and see what I can offer.”
As a Professor of Second Language Studies, Loewen said he’s thrilled to be working with a leading university in Central Europe for English language acquisition. With origins tracing back to 1611, the AMU has emerged as one of Poland’s top institutions of higher learning. In 2020, QS World University Ranking by Subject positioned the university among the best higher-level institutions in linguistics, English studies, and arts and humanities.
Shortly after being invited in January 2020, Loewen set out to study Polish. He also began outlining how he would apply pedagogies from his MSU courses to English language learning at the Polish university. In between, he has been getting a feel for the use of English across Poland and educating himself on Polish life and culture.
I’ve never spent time in Central Europe, and I’m looking forward to being there as a language learner and living life as an academic in a different context. The students and faculty there are top-notch, so it will be great to meet and work with them.Shawn Loewen, Professor of Linguistics
“I’ve never spent time in Central Europe, and I’m looking forward to being there as a language learner and living life as an academic in a different context,” he said. “The students and faculty there are top-notch, so it will be great to meet and work with them.”
While in Poland, Loewen looks to collaborate with faculty and to examine the relationship between teachers and researchers. He is interested in how the two groups interact, as well as the degree to which researchers consider teachers and teachers consider researchers when executing their professions and methodologies.
“As an applied researcher, I like to believe that my research impacts the classroom,” he said. “But I’d like to see to what extent.”
Most importantly, Loewen said the experience will help him build on his research and work in second language acquisition, as well as foster exchanges between faculty and graduate students from the two universities.