Selfie on the snowy bank of the Bow River

Dr. John Scott

Pronouns: he/him


Undergraduate Language Placement Advisor, German

Faculty of Arts, School of Languages, Linguistics, Literatures and Cultures

Contact information

Web presence

Phone number

office: 403.220.6557


Office: CHC112

I'm looking for...

Research partners

Our SSHRC-funded investigation of LVPT and HVPT focuses on

  • L1 English-L2 German
  • L1 English-L2 French-L3 German

Collaborators for other target languages or for the converse (L1 French) are welcome.

Learning opportunities

Nearly 10% of Canada claims German heritage, including Plautdietsch or 'Low German' communities. Please contact me about German letters, journals, etc. in need of translation to preserve this legacy.


Educational Background

BA Linguistics (minor: Music), University of Washington, 2001

BA German Language & Literature (minor: History), University of Washington, 2001

MA Germanic Studies, Indiana University, 2008

PhD Second Language Studies (minors: Linguistics, Germanic Studies, Indiana University, 2019


Thanks to the U.S. Navy, I was born in Bermuda and lived in Rhode Island and Alaska's Aleutian Islands before spending most of my childhood in Washington's Puget Sound area, where I grew up frequently hiking and camping in the Olympic and Cascade mountains.  In the summer after high school graduation, I visited Germany for the first time with a GAPP program in Tuttlingen, Baden-Württemberg.  My university years were spent mostly in Seattle, except for a year studying abroad in Freiburg, Baden-Württemberg.  I spent several years in Seattle after graduation, and then moved to Bloomington, Indiana for graduate school.  During grad school, I spent time abroad in Reykjavik, Iceland as well as Krefeld, Nordrhein-Westfalen and Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg.  Since earning my PhD in 2019, I've lived in Calgary with my wife and two daughters, where we happily explore the prairies and the Rockies alike.



Areas of Research

Second & Third Language Phonology

As a researcher of second-language (L2) phonology, I try to consider both the abstract arrangement of language sounds (general phonology) and specific problems of learnability when adults encounter new patterns in L2, such as the interactions between phonology and orthography in L2 and L3 contexts. The research we conduct in the L2+ Sound Learning Lab embraces the fundamental concerns of phonetics (study of the structure of language sounds), psycholinguistic experiment techniques, theoretical and empirical principles of category perception, and the role of position-sensitivity (i.e., where a sound occurs within a word) in acquisition and how phonological and phonotactic knowledge is represented in the brain.

More broadly, my background emphasizes phonology (synchronic and diachronic), including historical Germanic languages and Optimality Theoretic approaches, speech perception, and L2 lexical acquisition.

Phonetic Training for Foreign Language Learners

A rapidly growing area of applied linguistics research entails fostering early foreign language acquisition (FLA) through enhanced phonetic training, i.e., listening to carefully structured sounds to enhance one's ability to differentiate between sounds in the foreign language.  This can be done with many voices (high variability) or one voice (low variability), it can be done with beginners or more advanced learners, and it can be done in fewer, intense training sessions or in a gradual trickle over weeks.

My current research project in this area (“Multi-Voice Aural Training for Adult Learners' Perception of Foreign Sounds & Spelling”) is funded by Insight Development Grant #430-2021-00157 from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

Language Standardization and Policy

In addition to my central research areas, I am increasingly interested in the history of how languages (e.g., German) become standardized, the impacts of literacy on linguistic knowledge (epistemological) and on culture (positive and negative), and external factors that influence the field of language education (e.g., politics, funding, cultural attitudes about foreign languages, language purity).


Course number Course title Semester
LANG 301.01 Topics in Research Methods and Analysis: Signals, Symbols & Systems Winter 2023
GERM 202 Beginning German I Fall 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022
GERM 331 Continuing German I Fall 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022
GERM 467.02 Topics in German Linguistics: Diachronic Linguistics Fall 2022
GERM 204 Beginning German II Winter 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023
GERM 333 Continuing German II Winter 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023
GERM 353 Structure of German Winter 2021
GERM 503 Senior Projects in Language Winter 2020


Low- and High-Variability Phonetic Training in L2

Currently, my primary research project (“Multi-Voice Aural Training for Adult Learners' Perception of Foreign Sounds & Spelling”) employs a longitudinal and cross-sectional design to investigate the effects of low-variability (1 voice) and high-variability (multiple voices) phonetic training on the ability of beginning and intermediate adult learners of German to discern multiple consonants and vowels.

This research is funded by Insight Development Grant #430-2021-00157 from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

Open Educational Resources: Video Tools for Learning German Grammar

This project will produce Open Educational Resources (OERs) to aid teachers and students of German with the famously tricky learning challenge of German adjective endings.  Two videos, Gängsta' Gramma' and Gourmet Grammar, utilize metaphorical narratives to scaffold awareness of how the notoriously complex determiner-adjective declension paradigm works.  These are the first steps in the new GRAMMÆTAPHOR PROJECT, focused on the use of metaphors as a teaching tool for grammar, as well as other planned OER projects.

This project is funded by a University of Calgary Teaching and Learning Grant from the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning.