Mat(hias) Schulze

Associate Professor of German
Director of the Waterloo Centre for German Studies

Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies
University ofWaterloo

200 University Avenue West
Waterloo / Ontario, N2L 3G1

View Mathias Schulze's profile on LinkedIn

... yes, that's me

e-mail: mschulze ä
phone: (+1) 519 888 4567 x 36627

Modern Languages Building
Room 304

Office Hours (Winter 2014)

M 4.30 - 5.30 pm
W 1.30 - 2.30 pm
If you would like to make an appointment, please contact me by email.
Pen Picture Research Publications Supervision Teaching CV

Pen Picture

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 Leipzig University. 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 in Manchester 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 Manchester University. Go figure ...
Ever since I have been at the Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies. Since January 2009, I am working a second job as the director of the Waterloo Centre for German Studies. Together with Bryan Smith (Arizona State University), I am editing the CALICO Journal, which is published by the North American association for Computer-Assisted Language Learning CALICO. Is this my third job?



I like working with language, thinking about it, and thinking about how it can be learnt 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.

Heift&Schulze 2007 Errors and Intelligence in Computer Assisted Language Learning. Parsers and Pedagogues

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.

ger 101 de

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. The two elementary courses (GER 101 and 102) and the first intermediate course (GER 201) have been running a couple of times and, as of writing this, the first group of students is taking the second intermediate course (GER 202) and we are trying to keep up with completing the materials and instructional sequences. By the way, Geroline's younger sister is called Gerla.

Later we tested tablet PCs in language learning, developed and researched an online course for intermediate learners of German in the WatPAL project. The course has been taught from 2003 to 2013 and I used to work with it for smaller CALL research projects. The last one we did was Estila, in which we tested the use of large (research) text corpora for language learning, in particular to foster students' increasing language awareness.

Diasporic Experiences

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 learnt it. Oh, and if you like books, of course, there is one: on German minorities worldwide - language, culture, and history.


Graduate Supervision

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:

  • Abbott, Ruth: A Description of German Verbal Prefixes Using the HPSG Formalism for Implementation in a Prolog Parser (MSc in Machine Translation 1997)
  • Autorino, Alyssa: FrenchMorphology in a Database Driven CALL Application (MSc in Machine Translation 1997)
  • Chatzi, Efstathia: Text Manipulation Project (MSc in Machine Translation 1999/2000)
  • Drashkaba, Tetyana: Second Language Acquisition Online: Investigating Input and Output by Beginners (MA German 2005)
  • Felten, Andrew: A CALL Application for Learning German Syntax (MSc in Computing 1997; co-supervisor with John Keane)
  • Heffner, Lori: Heritage Languages: The Case of Kitchener-Waterloo (MA in German 2003)
  • Kampen-Robinson, Christine: "Es kommt nur naturally.Ă“ Language Use of Sixth-Grade Students in an English-German Bilingual Program (MA in German, 2010)
  • Kern, Beate: Getrennt schreiben oder zusammenschreiben? Eine Untersuchung zu den Regeln der Getrennt- und Zusammenschreibung im Bereich der zusammengesetzten Verben (MA in German 2005)
  • Lee, Mi Ja: Error Analysis of Written Texts by Learners of German as a Foreign Language (MA in German 2003)
  • Leong, Lai-Mei: From Windows to Web: Comparative Study of Conventional and Web-Based CALL (MSc in Natural Language Processing 1998)
  • Penner, Nikolai: The High German of Russian Mennonites in Ontario (PhD in German 2009)
  • Pokorny, Bjanka: Language Frequency Profiling of Written Texts by Students of German as a Foreign Language (MA in German, 2009)
  • Preece, Deborah: Linking Elements in German Compounds - Corpus Study and Computational Implementation (MSc in Machine Translation1999)
  • Reineke, Silke: Mythos und Gnade: Schlagwörter, Topoi und weitere diskurslinguistische Phänomene im RAF-Diskurs in der Wochenzeitung 'Die Zeit' (MA in German, 2009)
  • Riley, Dawn: A Text-Linguistic Study of Post-Match Interviews in Football (MSc in Translation Studies 1998)
  • Schmidt, Martin: Neologismen der 90er Jahre - Kenntnis und Einstellungen unter Deutschsprecher/Innen aus Kitchener-Waterloo (MA German, 2006)
  • Serrand, Catherine: Problematik der Wortstellung im Mittelfeld des deutschen Satzes. Untersuchung der Positionierung von Adverbien an ausgewählten Beispielen (MA in German 2003)
  • Stephan, Martin: Das Passiv in Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar: Argumentverhalten deutscher Verben (MA in German 2003)
  • Taylor, Helen: Computer-Assisted Text Production: Feedback on Grammatical Errors Made by Learners of English as Foreign Language (MSc in Machine Translation 1998)
  • Wood, Peter: QuickAssist: Extensive Reading for Learners of German Using CALL Technologies (PhD in German 2010)


I teach Applied Linguistics for both undergraduates and graduates and German language at all levels. Over the years, I have taught
  • Second Language Acquisition (graduate: complex systems in SLA, learner variability),
  • Computer-Assisted Language Learning (graduate: introduction, multimedia authoring, CALI for written language, ICALL),
  • German language (elementary to advanced), Business German (beginners to final-year), German for Computing (final-year), German for International Hotel Management (all undergraduate levels), German Linguistics (introduction, language history, morphology, syntax, text analysis) (all undergraduate levels), German Landeskunde (first and second-year),
  • Sociolinguistics (introduction: undergraduate and graduate, discourse analysis, bilingualism, bilingual codes, German in Waterloo),
  • Computing for Language Students (first-year),
  • German and Russian at a comprehensive school in Leipzig.

porcellino, photo by chris hughes
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