PhD candidate, German
Faculty advisor: Monika Chavez
Lucian Rothe is a PhD candidate in German, with a minor in Second Language Acquisition. He studies how foreign language learners perceive and imagine teachers and native speakers of different foreign languages. In a study of 110 first-year learners in German, Russian, Spanish, and French classes, he found that stereotypes students hold often influence their choice of language. Through the combination of their imagination and experience, those stereotypes can be reinforced. Lucian also found that students were more likely to associate certain teacher qualities with specific foreign languages, and that those qualities often extended to other native speakers of that language. Participants also described both teachers and native speakers of their language of study in more positive terms than those speaking other foreign languages.
His study provides evidence that biases against imagined communities of teachers and native speakers of other foreign languages influence whether students will pursue study of a language. It also highlights the teacher’s role in how students use their classroom experiences to make sense of their and others’ place in imagined social spaces.
A University Fellowship in his first year of graduate school helped Lucian get accustomed to graduate school and become successful in his studies. “Due to the fellowship, I was able to completely focus on my coursework in German studies during my first and second semester, which ultimately also helped me to start a PhD minor in Second Language Acquisition, and still finish my required PhD coursework within the expected four semesters,” he said.