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Peter I. De Costa

Visiting Professor

Before joining MIIS, I taught academic writing in the ESL program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison while working on my doctoral degree in second language acquisition (SLA). Prior to that, I was a high school English teacher and a teacher educator in Singapore. My teaching interests include making SLA theory accessible to teachers for classroom application, developing teacher reflexivity to improve pedagogy, and encouraging the development of immigrant learners in ESL classrooms. I will be leaving MIIS at the end of this semester to take up a tenure-track position at Michigan State University which begins in Fall 2013.

For my dissertation, I worked with five immigrant students in an English-medium secondary school in Singapore and tracked their English language development over the course of a school year. Recent and forthcoming publications based on this study include:

De Costa, P. I. (2012). Constructing SLA differently: The value of ELF and language ideology in an ASEAN case study. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 22, 205-224.

De Costa, P.I. (2011). Using language ideology and positioning to broaden the SLA learner beliefs landscape: the case of an ESL learner from China. System, 39, 347-358.

De Costa, P.I. (2010). Language ideologies and standard English language policy in Singapore:  Responses of a 'designer immigrant' student. Language Policy, 9(3), 217-239.

De Costa, P.I. (2010). Reconceptualizing language, language learning, and the adolescent immigrant language learner in the age of postmodern globalization. Linguistics and Language Compass, 3(1), 1-12.

Several other recent publications include:

De Costa, P. I. (2011). Flexible citizenship and learning English: The case of a Korean ESL learner. In J. Watzke, P.C. Miller & M. Mantero (Eds.),  ISLS Readings in Language Studies Volume 2: Language and Power (pp.351-368). International Society for Language Studies, Inc.

De Costa, P.I., Bernales, C., & Merrill, M. (2011). Research in the doctoral program in Second Language Acquisition at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Language Teaching, 44(4), 542-548.

Tremmel, B., & De Costa, P.I. (2011). Exploring identity in SLA: A dialogue about methodologies. Language Teaching, 44(4), 540-542.

De Costa, P. I. (2010). From refugee to transformer: A Bourdieusian take on a Hmong learner’s trajectory. TESOL Quarterly, 44(3), 517-541.

De Costa, P.I. (2010). Let’s collaborate: Using developments in global English research to advance socioculturally-oriented SLA identity work. Issues in Applied Linguistics, 18(1), 99-124.

De Costa, P. I. (2007). The chasm widens: The trouble with personal identity in Singapore writing. In M. Mantero (Ed.), Identity and second language learning: Culture, inquiry, and dialogic activity in educational contexts (pp. 190-234). Charlotte, N.C:  Information Age Publishing.

I am fortunate to have been the recipient of several awards: the Fulbright scholarship (Harvard University, 2001-2002), the M.A.K. Halliday scholarship (conferred by the Applied Linguistics Association of Australia, 2008), the American Association of Applied Linguistics Graduate Student Travel Award (2010), the University of Wisconsin-Madison Dissertator Fellowship (2010), the Monterey Institute of International Studies Faculty Development Award (2011 and 2012), and the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Second Language SIG Dissertation of the Year Award (2012).

Given my teaching and research interests, I appreciate the opportunity to work with MIIS students as we collaborate on unpacking the valuable lessons that theory and practice have to offer.


Second Language Acquisition (SLA), sociolinguistics, pedagogical grammar, teacher education


PhD, Second Language Acquisition, University of Wisconsin-Madison;

MA, Applied Linguistics, Nanyang Technological University (National Institute of Education, Singapore);

MEd., Administration, Planning, and Social Policy, Harvard University

B.A., National University of Singapore


Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

EDUC 8515 - WritingFor Applied Linguistics      

• This course is designed to help you with the types of writing you will be doing in your courses this semester and subsequent semesters. Class time will focus specifically on literature reviews (as part of research papers), position philosophy statements, and using sources (for example, to situate research results or to provide rationales for pedagogical choices). We will also focus on individual needs as determined by the writing you are doing.

Spring 2012 - MIIS

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EDUC 8520 - Curriculum Design      

Explores areas of theory research and practice that have a bearing on curriculum and syllabus design. Leads students to develop their own curriculum design projects.

Prerequisites: Principles and Practices of Language Teaching.

Fall 2012 - MIIS

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EDUC 8620 - Practicum      

Provides students with an opportunity for supervised teaching experience in ESL or foreign language classes. Discusses classroom-centered research; reading, writing, listening, and speaking activities; professional development; materials development; and reflective teaching.

Spring 2011 - MIIS, Fall 2012 - MIIS

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EDUC 8650 - Portfolio Seminar      

Consists of a series of workshops leading to the integration of issues and ideas in the MA program, and to the development of a portfolio of work.

Fall 2011 - MIIS, Fall 2012 - MIIS, Spring 2013 - MIIS

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LING 8500 - Language Analysis      

Serves as an introduction to linguistic analysis. Includes projects based on fieldwork in phonology, morphology, syntax, discourse, and pragmatics. Discusses importance of language awareness. Includes pedagogical strategies for consciousness-raising.

Fall 2010 - MIIS, Spring 2011 - MIIS, Fall 2011 - MIIS

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LING 8510 - Intro to Sociolinguistics      

Introduces the interplay between language and society. Discusses regional and social dialects as well as the role of linguistic attitudes and language variation in language learning and teaching.

Spring 2011 - MIIS, Spring 2012 - MIIS, Spring 2013 - MIIS

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LING 8530 - Structure of English      

Examines the syntax and discourse of modern English for ESL and EFL teaching. Spotlights practical applications for the classroom. Prerequisite: Language Analysis

Fall 2010 - MIIS, Fall 2011 - MIIS

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LING 8630 - Second Language Acquisition      

Surveys, in seminar format, research in second-language learning relating to language teaching and learning. Discusses the role of affective variables, interaction, learner strategies, and learner factors in the language acquisition process. Prerequisite: Language Analysis

Spring 2012 - MIIS, Spring 2013 - MIIS

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