Category Archives: Linguistics News

Two Way Immersion Programs

Pitt County Schools is launching a dual language immersion program at Belvoir Elementary School in the fall, where 48% of students are native Hispanic speakers. The program, with rotating instruction in Spanish and English, will be offered to all incoming kindergartners with parent approval.
Pitt County Schools World Language Coordinator, Ann Borisoff, says research shows there are scholastic benefits to bilingual instruction. “What happens is that a different part of the brain is accessed when you are working with a bilingual situation. Actually, learning in a lot of cases goes a lot faster and students obtain the same or better results on academic achievement tests as do their monolingual peers,” Borisoff.

»» WNCT Story

(Last year’s post from 3/21/14):
Pitt County Schools is doing a feasibility study on two-way immersion programs to start in 2015-16. In such programs the entire curriculum is taught partially in Spanish and partially in English. Prof. Ann Borisoff who has just completed a dissertation on this subject was featured in an article in The Daily Reflector on March 4, discussing the benefits of such an approach in Pitt County where schools like Belvoir Elementary are 48% Hispanic.
Borisoff said that not only do all the students become bilingual and biliterate, but achievement improves and students develop cross-cultural competence. Data from programs such as the dual immersion program in Greene County have shown that students in such language immersion programs not only learn the standard curriculum despite the language challenges, but actually perform equal or better on grade level tests than their mono-lingual peers. A sample classroom might be an equal mix of native-Spanish and native-English speakers on an alternate day schedule in which the same curriculum is taught exclusively in Spanish one day and in English the next.

Linguistics discovery of common ancestor tongue

Linguists have traced the roots of English, Hindi, Greek and all Indo-European languages to a common ancestor tongue first spoken on the Russian steppes as much as 6,500 years ago.

New research from the University of California-Berkeley emerged after linguists analyzed reconstructed vocabulary, including words such as “I am,” “bear,” and “wood” from more than 150 living and dead languages, as well as archaeological data.

»» Read more

May 28, 2014. Visit by a National Expert on Dual Language Immersion


On Wednesday, May 28th, Dr. Kathryn Lindholm-Leary, Prof. Emerita San Diego State, was able to sit in on a discussion involving representatives from several departments at ECU concerning Dual Language Immersion programs. Included were possible steps for implementation and how DLI programs in schools would change the way we prepare educators to teach children through dual language education. She then gave a presentation to community members and school superintendents of Eastern North Carolina interested entitled “Benefits and Challenges of Dual Language Programs. Research and Implications.” She shared her findings about DLI effectiveness in student learning for both English-speakers and Spanish-speakers. She answered questions concerning this research, and participated in a discussion with several groups interested in learning more about this topic.

Thursday, May 29th, and Friday, May 30th, were spent visiting 2 different school settings in the area. First, we visited Greene County schools, a district which was a pioneer in our region, having implemented a DLI, the Los Puentes program, over ten years ago. With Dr. Lindholm-Leary, we observed classes at the elementary and intermediate level to assess the strengths of the program, as well as areas for growth and further development. On her last day here, Dr. Lindholm-Leary visited Pink Hill Elementary School in Lenoir County, to speak to teachers and administrators about dual language research, and gave a presentation to show concrete findings in the positive effects of this type of education.

Having Dr. Lindholm-Leary present with us for a few days gave us an additional perspective on our current and previous work on the Engagement and Outreach Scholars’ Academy project, along with an opportunity to reach out to the community and start a meaningful conversation on Dual-Language Immersion programs in our schools.

— Stephen Fafulas

Student Research and Achievements



Student Research and Achievements

Rachel Mehaffey

Robert H. Wright Alumni Leadership Award
and Phi Beta Kappa Honoree:

M. Rachel Mehaffey, EC Scholar
BS Chemistry, BS Applied Physics, Hispanic Studies minor
Future Plans: Pursuing a PhD in Chemistry and Physics at UT Austin

Rachel Mehaffey

Phi Beta Kappa Honoree:

Mariah Richards, BS Hispanic Studies Education
Future Plans: Graduate School, MA in Spanish and Latin American
Linguistic, Literary and Cultural Studies, NYU in Madrid

AnnaLawrence2014 Research and Creative Activities Week Presenters:
· Anna Lawrence (right – BA-Hispanic Studies) Paper: The Personified Cultural Contrast in “Blancanieves”
· Joshua Mangum (2nd major BA-Hispanic Studies) Poster: An Information-Theoretic Approach to Cellular Decision-Making Strategies
· Jennifer Moser (BS-Hispanic Studies Education) Poster: The Effects of Implementing Authentic Materials in a Foreign Language Classroom
· Laura Pons (2nd major BA-Hispanic Studies) Paper: Blancanieves: The True Hero
· Jessica Chirico (Classical Studies Minor) Poster: New Technologies in the Public Library
· Megan Mehaffey (Hispanic Studies Minor) Poster: Insight into the Location of DNA Xenobiotic Damage by Mass Spectrometry
· Sandra Ross (Hispanic Studies Minor) Paper: Comparison and Contrast of Sethe and Scarlett as Independent Women

Graduate School Fellowship Recipient: Samantha Belmont, MA in French Studies, LSU

2014 Conference Presentations
Mario Becerra and Briceida Rodriguez presented A sociolinguistic analysis of morphosyntactic phenomena in the Spanish of Pitt County: A pilot study’ at the SLINKI (Spanish Linguistics in North Carolina) Conference at Appalachian State University in February and again at the Southeastern Conference on Linguistics (SECOL) in North Myrtle Beach in March.

Students present at Spanish Linguistics in North Carolina Conference


On February 8, Mario Becerra and Briceida Rodriguez, who are completing a BA in Hispanic Studies and are student members of the SoCIOLing (Study of Community Involvement and Outreach & Linguistics) Lab, presented the poster ‘A sociolinguistic analysis of morphosyntactic phenomena in the Spanish of Pitt County: A pilot study’ at the SLINKI (Spanish Linguistics in North Carolina) Conference held at Appalachian State University. Under the mentorship by Dr. Stephen Fafulas and Dr. Ricard Viñas-de-Puig, the students summarized the results of the research project in which they investigated the expression of future and clitic doubling constructions by native Spanish speakers from Pitt County.