Professor of German (Applied Linguistics)
Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies
Waterloo Centre for German Studies
University of Waterloo
200 University Avenue West
Waterloo, ON, N2L 3G1
Modern Languages Building Room 104
email: mschulze ä uwaterloo.ca
I was born in Finsterwalde
one early morning in the last century, stayed home with my
mum, went to school, left town, got a degree as Diplomlehrer
of German and Russian from a teacher training college which
was incorporated soon after I left and is now part of the Universität
Leipzig . As part of these studies, I spent ten months
in my third year at the Калужский
государственный педагогический университет in Kaluga,
Russia. Talking about incorporation, I left east Germany after
that was incorporated, too, and went to England and worked
(part-time) as Lecturer in German at what became Sunderland
University while I was there. Then I got a faculty
position--before getting my PhD--and spent three years
lecturing German and Linguistics at the Manchester
Metropolitan University. Between 1995 and 2001, I was a
Lecturer in German Linguistics and CALL in the Centre for
Computational Linguistics at UMIST
where I also obtained my PhD in Language Engineering (German
Linguistics and Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL)).
Oh, yes UMIST was incorporated after I left and is now part of
University. Go figure ...
I like working with language, thinking about it, and thinking about how it can be learned as a second language. I also like working with computers--their writing is much cleaner than mine, their memory so much more reliable, and they are very good for working with language. If I had to state it in a nutshell, everything I do in my research has some connection to grammar--describing, learning, implementing--and to computers. Not to worry, it's not as nerdy as it sounds.
First, I am interested in ICALL, which stands for Intelligent Computer Assisted Language Learning. One way to describe ICALL would be to say it is the nexus of CALL and Artificial Intelligence - hence the adjective intelligent in front of CALL. Here, Artificial Intelligence means Natural Language Processing (NLP) - making computers understand (at least the structure of) human language and have them generate human language from some kind of computational data structure - and Student Modeling - creating and maintaining a data structure about the learning processes of a student and then using that data structure to infer further information about the student's learning: what feedback do they need to successfully correct an utterance or what learning material would be most beneficial for them next. For my PhD, I worked on Textana – a research prototype of a grammar checker for students of German. Using a parser Allan Ramsay, my doctoral supervisor, wrote, I tried to improve the system's 'knowledge of German' and have been working on it and with it a little ever since, but decided to go a different route with my new project--mocha--which deals with student modeling in ICALL and relies on complexity-scientific approaches to Second Language Acquisition. We are basically in the process of putting some NLP components together from scratch, we will then analyse learner texts for complexity, accuracy and fluency and then build the model(s). Sounds straightforward and easy, doesn't it? Rest assured--it is not. Quite a bit of work by a whole team of people here at the University of Waterloo and at Simon Fraser University (Trude Heift). If this sparked your interest in ICALL, Trude and I wrote a book on it.
Second, I am involved in the research on and the development
of online language learning courses. Together with
colleagues of my Department and from other units of the
University, we developed three distance education courses for
elementary and intermediate German at university in the early
2000s. This was the Geroline project. We gathered lots
of data from our learners and conducted a learning impact
study. Yes, we finally figured out that our students did learn
something with our online materials. And I am still working
with a medium-sized learner corpus filled with about 3,500
texts students wrote in these courses. The Geroline materials
have now been retired and we have created a new set of four
courses based on the Berliner Platz textbook series:
two elementary courses (GER 101 and 102) and two intermediate
courses (GER 201 and 202) are now up and running. Time to do
the first maintenance ... By the way, Geroline's younger
sister is called Gerla.
And last but not least, I am interested in Bilingualism--yes, there is a link to grammar again... The Kitchener Metropolitan Census Area has the highest proportion of German speakers in Canada. The first ones arrived more than two hundred years ago, the last ones came even later than I did. I am interested in their history, the way they write, the way they think about German and how they learned it. Oh, and if you like books, of course, there is one: on German minorities worldwide - language, culture, and history. In 2013, we started the Oral History Project, in which we interviewed 126 German immigrants to our region. Having completed the interviews and their transcription in 2015, we are now working on a book about the Germans of Waterloo Region.
Since I am on research leave at the moment, I am not
supervising any graduate students.
For the following completed MA/MSc theses and PhD dissertations, I was supervisor: