Patrick Bolger

Patrick Bolger's picture

Biography: 

I am originally from Silicon Valley, in Northern California. After serving in the Peace Corps in Honduras (1992-1994), I got my MA in Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (1997). I taught English for a few years in Monterey (CA), Shantou (China), and Cali/Medellín (Colombia). In 2005 I completed my Ph.D. in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching from the University of Arizona. From there, I accepted a posdoc at the Centre for Comparative Psycholinguistics at the University of Alberta, under Dr. Gary Libben. Two years later in 2007, I became a professor there. My son was born in the same year, and my daughter in 2011. My son was diagnosed with autism in 2011, soon after which my wife and I decided that, given his condition, it was too difficult for us both, at that time, to keep up the publish-or-perish lifestyle. My wife took a job at the University of Southern California, and I became an independent scholar. I just recently took up a position as a Lecturer/Administrator at California State University, Monterey Bay.

Disciplines: 

Current research areas: 

Heritage Speakers of Spanish vs. Native Speakers and 2nd Language Learners
Co-researcher: Gabriela Zapata (University of Southern California)
It is well established by now that speakers of minority languages often acquire the minority language differently than either native speakers (who learned it as a majority language) or second language learners. Specifically, there is reason to believe that some of the later-learned grammatical features of the minority language are at risk as heritage speakers enter the school system and are overwhelmed by the majority language. Our aim in this research is to test for subtle differences in grammatical processing in these areas. Currently, we are analyzing data we collected on a maze task (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19182136) using eyetracking to obtain more precise data. We are focusing on structures that are likely to be transferred from English. For instance, double-object constructions without the personal -a- preceding a non-pronominal person are ungrammatical in Spanish (e.g., **"José le dio el libro Theresa."), but if heritage speakers are influenced by English IO-DO double-object constructions (e.g., "Joe gave Theresa the book."), they might be slower than native speakers to reject the ungrammatical Spanish sentence.

Recent scholarly activity: 

The Acquisition of Vocabulary in Second Language Spanish Classes.
Co-researcher: Dr. Gabriela Zapata (University of Southern California)
The purpose of this classroom- and lab-based research project is to investigate the variables that affect the acquisition of vocabulary by second-language (L2) learners. It examines the effectiveness of different methods of vocabulary presentation in beginning, Spanish language classes. Using mixed-effects modeling to analyze the data, this study will offer an in-depth examination and analysis of the current methods of vocabulary teaching in the proper contexts (i.e., the classroom), constituting an important step towards a better understanding of teaching methodologies that can facilitate or hinder the acquisition of vocabulary in the L2. The findings of the study could result in the improvement of current L2 methodologies and textbooks, which, in turn, would benefit students’ learning.

Letter versus Grapheme Perception in Native and Non-Native speakers of English.
Co-researcher: Dr. Susanne Borgwaldt (University of Siegen).
This project stems from my dissertation work. The basic point of the research is to help determine whether and how the grapheme-phoneme relations in multi-letter units or graphemes (2 or more letters that represent one “sound”, like the <ai> in “said”) are perceived early on as opposed to computed mentally later on. The main experimental paradigm used has been letter detection with masked (or subliminal) priming, which is where participants see an almost imperceptible stimulus for a very short time before they see a target, at which point they have to decide whether or not a particular letter is present (in the target). We typically vary the nature of the prime.

Transfer of the Perceptual Span from Non-Alphabetic to Alphabetic Writing Systems.
The focus of this line of research is to investigate whether and how attention mechanisms during reading that operate ideally for non-alphabetic writing systems are used by second-language readers of English. The direction and grain size of writing systems vary. For example, whereas English is read from left to right and has symbols (letters) that represent “sounds,” Hebrew and Arabic are read from right to left, and Japanese uses symbols that represent either syllables or morphemes. These differences across writing systems affect how much attention readers of these languages pay to graphical information that either precedes or follows where their eyes are at any one moment (the perceptual span). These habits may carry over and noticeably affect their reading in English as a second language. To investigate this, I have used natural reading and the moving-window paradigm, where the amount of information perceived by the retina is varied. 
 

Recent publications: 

Refereed Articles

Refereed Presentations

    • Zapata, G. C., & Bolger, P. A. (2014, Mar.). Dative constructions by monolinguals, early bilinguals, and L2 students. Paper presented at the Second International Conference on Heritage/Community Languages, Los Angeles, CA (USA).
    • Bolger, P. A., Zapata, G., & Mateu-Martin, A. (2011, Apr.). Semantically clustered contexts and L2 vocabulary: A classroom- and laboratory-based study. Paper presented at the UIC Bilingualism Forum, Chicago, IL (USA).
    • Bolger, P. A., & Borgwaldt, S. (2010, Jul.). The time course of letter detection: The role of digraph status, lexicality and frequency. Poster presented at the 7th International Conference on the Mental Lexicon, Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
    • Columbus, G., Baayen, H., & Bolger, P. A. (2010, Jul.). Processing multiword units: Degrees of idiomaticity seen through eye movements. Paper presented at the 7th International Conference on the Mental Lexicon, Windsor, Ontario.
    • Miwa, K., Bolger, P. A., Dijkstra, T., & Baayen, H. (2010, Jul.). The case of different scripts: Cross-linguistic effects in Japanese-English bilingual word recognition. Paper presented at the 7th International Conference on the Mental Lexicon, Windsor, Ontario.
    • Zapata, G. C., & Bolger, P. A. (2010, Jul.). The effect of semantically clustered contexts on L2 vocabulary learning: A classroom- and laboratory-based study. Poster presented at the 7th International Conference on the Mental Lexicon, Windsor, Ontario.
    • Bolger, P. A. (2009, Aug.). Predicting saccade length in the L2 reading of English passages: A pilot study using mixed-effects modeling. Poster presented at the 15th European Conference on Eye Movements, Southampton, England.
    • Columbus, G., & Bolger, P. A. (2009, Aug.). Multiword unit processing in native and proficient non-native speakers of English. Poster presented at the 15th European Conference on Eye Movements, Southampton, England.
    • Columbus, G., & Bolger, P. (2009, May). L2 processing of Multiword Units: an eye movement study. Paper presented at the First Conference on Second Language Processing and Parsing, Lubbock, TX (USA).
    • Bolger, P. A., & Borgwaldt, S., & Jakab, E. (2008, Oct.). Crosslinguistic letter detection: Effects of lexicality and orthographic transparency. Poster presented at the 6th International Conference on the Mental Lexicon, Banff, Alberta.
    • Bolger, P. A., & Zapata, G. (2008, Aug.). How semantic homogeneity in story contexts affects vocabulary learning. Paper presented at the 15th World Congress of Applied Linguistics, Essen, Germany.
    • Bolger, P., & Zapata, G. (2006, Oct.). Does semantic clustering in story contexts inhibit vocabulary learning? Paper presented at the Alberta Conference on Linguistics, Banff, Alberta.
    • Bolger, P., & Zapata, G. (2006, Oct.). Effects of semantic categories on L2 vocabulary learning: A closer approximation to learning via textbook. Poster presented at the 5th International Conference on the mental lexicon, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec.
    • Bolger, P., & Borgwaldt, S., & Jakab, E. (2006, Oct.). Letter detection with masked priming: A crosslinguistic study. Poster presented at the 5th International Conference on the Mental Lexicon, McGill, Montreal, Quebec.
    • Bolger. P. (2005, Oct.). Letter detection with masked priming: Tentative evidence for mandatory activation of abstract syllable structure in the reading of Spanish. Paper presented at the Alberta Conference on Linguistics, Banff, Alberta.
    • Bolger, P. (2005, Jul.). Spanish-English orthographic transfer. Paper presented at the 14th World Congress of Applied Linguistics, Madison, WI (USA).
    • Bolger, P. (2004, Oct.). Alphabetic transfer in English and Spanish. Poster presented at the 27th Annual Second Language Research Forum, State College, PA (USA).
    • Bolger, P., & McKee, C. (2003, Oct.). Deaf children’s development of English as an L2. Paper presented at the 26th Annual Second Language Research Forum, Tucson, AZ (USA).
    • Bolger, P. (2003, May). Sensitivity to English orthographic rimes among L1-Spanish grade-school children. Paper presented at The 8th Annual Applied Linguistics Forum at the Universidad de las Americas, Puebla, Mexico.
    • Bolger, P. (2002, Apr.). Comparing deaf and hearing children learning to read English: A look into morphology. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Association of Applied Linguistics, Salt Lake City, UT (USA).

Programming Languages
SAS, SPSS, R

Experiment-Building/Analysis Software
DMDX, Experiment Builder (SR Research), Data Viewer (SR Research), E-Prime, Brain Vision Analyzer (Brain Products, GmbH), ActiView (Biosemi)

Company: