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Meet Dr. Wolfersberger

Newest Visiting Professor from BYU-Hawai'i

Dr. Mark Wolfersberger

Growing up playing the drums and percussion, Dr. Mark Wolfersberger started out in music before serving a mission in Japan and deciding to earn his BA from BYU in Japanese Teaching. He went on to earn an MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from BYU before completing a PhD at the University of Auckland in Second Language Teaching and Learning. Dr. Wolfersberger joined the Department of Linguistics as a visiting professor in January in between teaching TESOL courses at BYU-Hawai'i.

His research has focused on the academic reading and writing processes of L2 English learners (people learning English as a second language), L2 English grammar acquisition, and TESOL teacher education. He explains that there is much to explore within the field of second language acquisition. Something he finds fascinating is the relationship between explicit grammar knowledge (what you can concretely explain) and implicit grammar knowledge (what you do or say without thinking). Implicit knowledge seems to drive language fluency and proficiency, but Dr. Wolfersberger is working to find out if explicit grammar knowledge gained through classroom instruction can become implicit. To what use is explicit grammar knowledge? How can teachers be more effective in teaching explicit grammar? Or should teachers focus on teaching implicit grammar?

In the winter, Dr. Wolfersberger is teaching two classes: ELING 350 - Basic Editing Skills, which he has loved teaching it because it utilizes his “grammar instructor brain,” and ELING 223 - Introduction to the English Language, which is similar to a class he has taught at BYU-H. He believes strongly in trying new things as a teacher, whether that be techniques or activities in a class or teaching new courses every semester. He describes one of his role models in the linguistics field, Neil Anderson, as always willing to try new things. Dr. Anderson was one of his favorite BYU professors and taught TESOL alongside Dr. Wolfersberger at BYU-H. From him, Dr. Wolfersberger has learned to be a “dedicated student of teaching,” never teaching the same course the same way twice and constantly reflecting on his own teaching. He hopes to be like Dr. Anderson and break down barriers by having open conversations and showing sincere love to students and fellow faculty.

When asked to give advice to rising TESOL and linguistics students, he said, “find something that makes you happy and that you love doing.” In his own experience choosing his fields of study, he listened to and followed the Holy Spirit, and urges students to seek and follow their own revelation from the Lord. Dr. Wolfersberger will be teaching courses at BYU until the end of summer term (including ELING 325 - The Grammar of English, ELING 223 - Introduction to the English Language, and LING 201 - Introduction to Modern Language), at which point he'll return to BYU-H.