Digging Deep: Developing Second/Foreign Language Expertise - Inaugural Professorial Lecture for Lawrence Zhang Event as iCalendar

22 August 2017

6:30 - 7:30pm

Location: J1 Lecture Theatre

Website: Register here

Professor Lawrence Zhang
Professor Lawrence Zhang

Digging Deep: Developing Second/Foreign Language Expertise

5.30 – 6.30pm drinks reception in A201, A Block

6.30 – 7.30 public lecture in J1 Lecture Theatre

Language learning is a complex human endeavour. This complexity has been widely acknowledged by academics in the field of second/foreign language education, though not necessarily by the general public, or scholars whose research interest is not in this area.

Because of the complicated nature of language learning, many learners through many years of language learning become expert users of these languages – while others struggle.

In his Inaugural lecture, Professor Lawrence Zhang will traverse nearly 40 years of his own language teaching and learning experience and examine the dynamism of the development of second/foreign language expertise.

He will explore the language learning enterprise through multi-theorisations suggesting that developing second/foreign language expertise is in effect a complex dynamic metacognitive process. As a result of this process, an inevitable pattern of learner individual differences (LID) is  demonstrated in the way that some learners become ‘successful’, whereas others do not.

Understanding individual learner differences in the context of second language learning will enable teachers to deepen our understanding of the possibility of theory-practice nexus for improving pedagogical practice.


Lawrence Zhang joined the University of Auckland in late 2011 as an Associate Professor and was promoted to Professor in Dec 2014, the very first Professor of Linguistics-in-Education/TESOL in this Faculty. A stellar scholarship student, Lawrence earned a Postgraduate Diploma in ELT (Distinction) on a full Singapore Government scholarship and PhD with a full scholarship from Nanyang Technological University.  His Post-Doctoral research at Oxford University was published in TESOL Quarterly. That paper was selected for the “TESOL Award for Distinguished Research” in 2011 by the TESOL International Association, USA. Lawrence has had extensive international experience. In 2016 his dedicated leadership led to the award of "50 at 50", which acknowledged "50 Outstanding Leaders" around the world in the TESOL profession when the Association celebrated its 50th anniversary in Baltimore, Maryland. In 2017 he was elected to the Association’s Board of Directors. Lawrence’s scholarship is exemplary to many in his discipline, with over 100 refereed journal articles, chapters and reviews to his name and a total of $700,000 external research grants. He has actively served the profession as an advisory/editorial board member for over 5 leading international SSCI-indexed journals. He is Co-editor for TESOL Quarterly and Co-Editor-in-Chief for System.

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