Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-1-2019


Understanding the relationship between first and second language use in the area of spatial language has broader implications for our understanding of language learning and consequences for the construction of bilingual assessment instruments for second language learners. This study shows that observing and interpreting the task of map drawing and the related behavior of explaining maps can be a way to explore the linguistic emergence of the conceptualization of spatial language (at a moment of simultaneous and synchronized incarnation). Altogether, 50 dyads (pairs) participated in the New Mexico Map Task Project; the project included native speakers of English, Russian, Japanese, Navajo, and Spanish.

In an examination of how the grammatical constructions used for spatial descriptions in a speaker's first language carry over into the usage of this speaker's second language, new observations include the intra-subject comparison of dyadic map task performances. Each non-native English-speaking dyad participates in two map task performances: one in their native language and one in their second language, English. Evidence was generated through morphosyntactic, phonological, and pragmatic analyses performed on the sound files of the transcripts. This evidence confirms the connection between the participants' productions of tokens of selected landmark names both in their native language and their second language.

Combining the results of linguistic analyses with educational assessment frameworks predicts the development of an instrument for use with immigrant and refugee students from areas of conflict.


multilingual acquisition, alternative assessment, immigrant education

Document Type




Degree Name

Educational Linguistics

Level of Degree


Department Name

Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies

First Committee Member (Chair)

Melissa Axelrod

Second Committee Member

Sylvia Celedon-Pattichis

Third Committee Member

Phyllis Wilcox

Fourth Committee Member

Zouhair Maalej

Fifth Committee Member

Holbrook Mahn