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Heidi Byrnes Zurück
A native of Germany, I began university level studies in Germany and completed B.S., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees in the United States. I have been a member of the ordinary faculty of the German Department at Georgetown University since 1979.

My research, scholarship, and teaching address a range of issues pertaining to adult instructed second language learning and teaching, with a particular emphasis on German. This general interest has led to a focus on the development of advanced levels of literacy in non-native languages in a variety of areas.

Specifically, in considering phenomena that are central to L2 advancedness and learners' development toward them, I have turned to systemic functional linguistics as developed by M. A. K. Halliday as an advantageous theoretical framework. Its fundamental concern with oral and written texts that are embedded in contexts of culture and contexts of situation and realized in culture-specific genres provides the intellectual environment for most of my recent professional work. But I have also been influenced by sociocultural theory and the work of Vygotsky and Bakhtin. Together, these areas provided the intellectual context for the 2005 Georgetown University Round Table on the advanced learner, which I chaired. They have also informed four edited volumes, Advanced foreign language learning: A challenge to college programs (with Hiram Maxim, Heinle, 2004), Educating for advanced foreign language capacities (with Heather Weger-Guntharp and Katherine Sprang, Georgetown University Press, 2006), Advanced language learning: The contribution of Halliday and Vygotsky (Continuum, 2006) and The longitudinal study of advanced L2 capacities (with Lourdes Ortega, Routledge/Taylor & Francis, 2008).

In the German Department my interest in advanced literacies has enabled me to be instrumental in the creation of a four-year integrated content-oriented, genre-and task-based curriculum that has gained national and international recognition since its development from 1997 to 2000. The departmental website provides extensive information on this collaborative project, entitled "Developing Multiple Literacies," which involved the entire department, faculty and graduate students, and continues to advance our understanding of the nature of advanced instructed L2 learning. During the academic years 2006-2008, the Department engaged in extensive assessment of this curriculum effort, seeking input from all enrolled students (spring 2007) via a questionnaire, from all German majors (spring 2007) via focus groups, and from its alumni (fall 2007) via a questionnaire. The results of this extensive analysis were published in 2009 (Peter C. Pfeiffer and Heidi Byrnes.

Initially, empirical research associated with this unique curriculum focused on syntactic development across the five curricular levels, both cross-sectionally and longitudinally, and, specifically, on the development of textual abilities at the advanced levels. Constructs that are well theorized in SFL, such as theme and grammatical metaphor, have informed my empirical research on various aspects of writing development in an L2. Recently, this work has been expanded in two directions: (1) exploring writing development as an entry into overall language development (learning to write as writing to learn; and (2) considering APPRAISAL resources within the framework of interpersonal resources as a way of capturing learner's evolving intercultural capacities. This latter interest is part of a humanities assessment initiative.

The most comprehensive treatment of this line of research is available in a jointly authored monograph (with Hiram Maxim and John Norris) in the MLJ monograph series, entitled "Realizing advanced L2 writing development in a collegiate curriculum: From outcomes expectations to assessment" (MLJ, supplement to volume 94, monograph issue, Dec. 2010).

How L2 advancedness comes about in different acquisitional contexts has also been the focus of a Humboldt Foundation Transcoop Grant (2005-2007) that led to collaboration with the corpus-linguistic research group at the Humboldt University in Berlin, using its extensive resources for the analysis of learner data within FALKO (Fehlerannotiertes Lernerkorpus). Teacher oriented action research was the focus of a Spencer Foundation grant from 2000-2002 (with John Norris).

I see those efforts as broadening and deepening my earlier involvement, in the 1980s and 1990s, in the shift in foreign language education toward communicative- and proficiency-oriented approaches, including the Standards Project. An advanced literacy orientation motivates my current interest in reading and writing, curriculum and materials development, assessment of L2 abilities (especially in writing but also in content-based instruction), and integrated curricular structures for linking content, culture, and language. Publications on those topics have appeared in The Modern Language Journal, Language Testing, Language Teaching, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, Foreign Language Annals, Profession, Text, The German Quarterly, Die Unterrichtspraxis, in the Encyclopedia of Language and Education and in numerous edited volumes. Those topics have also been the subject of a variety of presentations at professional conferences, both nationally and internationally, and invited talks and keynote addresses. They have also influenced my undergraduate and particularly my graduate course offerings.

Over the years I have collaborated with colleagues in the Faculty of Languages and Linguistics on numerous projects, including collection of learner data under the GU-FLIRT project, teaching cross-listed courses in SLA, and seeking greater integration across departments in second language studies.

I continue serving as an Associate Editor of The Modern Language Journal, in charge of the twice-yearly column Perspectives, which addresses topics of current professional interest and, at times, controversy. Through Perspectives, I have gained a particular interest in foreign language education policy in the United States. See my cv for a complete list of the topics addressed in Perspectives. In addition, I am on the editorial board of the Journal of Second Language Writing, the annual AAUSC series, and the International Consortium on Task-based Learning and Teaching.

I have held diverse academic and administrative positions within the University, as department chair (1987- 93), as chair of Georgetown's reaccreditation self-study by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Universities (1991-93), and as Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs (1993-95). I have filled various leadership roles in the major professional organizations dealing with languages (e.g., the AAAL, AATG, ACTFL, MLA, the Northeast Conference, and the College Board). In 1989 AATG recognized me with the Outstanding Educator award, postsecondary level. In 2002 I received the Distinguished Service in the Profession Award of the ADFL; in 2003 my colleagues in the Faculty of Languages and Linguistics awarded me the outstanding service award; in 2004 I received the ACTFL's Nelson Brooks award; in July 2005 I was named George M. Roth Distinguished Professor of German; and since Sept. 2006 I have been a global partner in The Halliday Centre for Intelligent Applications of Language Studies, Hong Kong. I am listed as a Fulbright Specialist in the area of applied linguistics.

I currently serve as President of the American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL), after having served as the program chair for the 2010 conference in Atlanta.
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