Dr. Eric Friginal

Dr. Eric Friginal, Professor, Department of Applied Linguistics

Dr. Eric Friginal received his PhD in applied linguistics from Northern Arizona University (NAU) in 2008. He specializes in applied corpus linguistics, sociolinguistics, cross-cultural communication, distance learning, discipline-specific writing, bilingual education, and the analysis of spoken professional discourse. Prior to joining the GSU faculty, he was a lecturer in the Literacy, Technology, and Professional Writing area of the English Department at NAU and an instructor at the NAU School of Forestry, where he taught on-campus and online courses in technical and professional writing, professional editing, and rhetoric and writing in professional communities.

His main research program focuses on the exploration of professional, spoken interaction; the acquisition of fluency in ESL; and the study of language, culture, and cross-cultural communication in the context of outsourced call centers in the Philippines and India serving American customers and English in global, civil aviation. He makes use of corpus and computational tools as well as qualitative and quantitative research approaches in analyzing and interpreting linguistic patterning from corpora. He has received funding in support of his research from a U.S.-owned call center company operating in the Philippines, India, China, and Costa Rica. He was a recipient of a Fulbright grant from 1998-2000 and a $1 million U.S. State Department grant (with Gayle Nelson) for the GSU-University of Baghdad Linkages Program (2010-2013).

He is the author or editor of, among other books, “Corpus-Based Sociolinguistics: A Guide for Students” (2014, Routledge), co-authored with his doctoral student Jack A. Hardy; “Talking at Work: Corpus-Based Explorations of Workplace Discourse (2016, Palgrave McMillan, co-edited with Lucy Pickering and Shelley Staples); and “Exploring Spoken English Learner Language: Learner Talk,” with GSU alumni Joseph Lee, Brittany Polat, and Audrey Roberson (2017, Palgrave McMilla). His most recent book is “Corpus Linguistics for English Teachers: New Tools, Online Resources, and Classroom Activities (2018, Routledge).

I focus on the convergence of research approaches in applied linguistics, particularly corpus linguistics, discourse analysis, and multivariate statistical techniques as applied to studies of workplace discourse; professional, business interaction and intercultural communication; world Englishes, and instructional technology in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL). Currently, I’m working with colleagues from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) in Daytona Beach, Florida exploring the language of global civil aviation, especially during interactions between international pilots and U.S.-based air traffic controllers. A number of airline accidents resulting in more than 1,000 fatalities since the 1990s have been attributed, in part, to inadequate English language proficiency or limitations in intercultural awareness of pilots and air traffic controllers involved in the chain of events leading or contributing to the accident. We are developing language assessment and teaching materials, the design of personnel training programs for the aviation industry and the U.N. International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and various linguistic descriptions of “Aviation English.”

My work examines the way people utilize language in a variety of contexts—effectively or less so, as far as achieving the desired outcomes is concerned. By describing its use (or misuse), I hope to provide insights and techniques that will make verbal and written communication more effective and successful whenever possible. My work primarily in the areas of culture, communication, and language teaching and learning, therefore, impacts and has potential and practical applications in various global settings and research/pedagogical contexts. I am also the Director of International Programs at the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), so I have been privileged to be directly involved with GSU’s many global initiatives. An example of this is our successful $1 million grant (with Gayle Nelson) for a two-year University Linkages Program with the University of Baghdad, Baghdad, Iraq awarded by the U.S. State Department. This project focused on updating and strengthening Iraqi curricula, teaching methodologies, and classroom resources in disciplines such as English as a Second/Foreign Language (ESL/EFL), English Poetry and Literature, and Arabic-English Translation. Over 60 Iraqi professors and administrators have visited GSU and various departments at CAS for summer professional development workshops. This January 2018, I am co-directing an English Certification Program for Brazilian English teachers with GSU’s Intensive English Program administrators and faculty (Alison Camacho, John Bunting, Louise Gobron, and Wendi Conley). I continue to be motivated by these international collaborative projects; meaningful, positive change to people’s lives and professions, including my own, can result and has, in fact, resulted from these endeavors. I continually remind myself of this, and this awareness energizes and directs my work here at GSU.
Most of my undergraduate and graduate courses have incorporated opportunities for professional development, encouraging students to present their research projects or teaching innovations in regional, national, and international conferences in ESL and Applied Linguistics. Several of my undergraduate students in my Language in Society course over the years have presented and won awards at GSURC (Georgia State Undergraduate Research Conference) and my graduate students in my courses such as Technology and Language Teaching, Intercultural Communication, and Corpus Linguistics have also successfully presented conference papers and posters. My students have indicated that they are greatly motivated by and appreciative of these opportunities! This may mean that the “Aha! moment” in my courses comes from their awareness and appreciation for the fact that they are capable or able to present sophisticated research projects and innovations at this level. I make sure that my students feel comfortable enough with me to take risks, challenge themselves, think critically, and reflect thoroughly on the functions and applications of what we study so that their own ideas develop as much as possible and that they are able to share these (as experts) to other students and practitioners in our field.
Preparation and planning are essential for me and I’m somewhat anachronistic in that I am a chronic activity/appointment hard-copy list-maker, dependent on Post-it notes and spiral bound notebook planners for listing my daily, sometimes hourly activities. I experience a strange tactile and psychological gratification whenever I cross out items on my list for the day and satisfaction when I look at my growing archive of crossed-out Post-it notes, organized chronologically, which I keep with me in my office. This year, 2018, is my 10th year here at GSU and this collection documents my decade of GSU experiences, successes, and also setbacks.


Carl V. Patton was the president of GSU when I was hired in 2008, and I had a couple of opportunities to chat briefly with him before he retired, which I certainly enjoyed. I am a big fan of his work and what he accomplished in the areas of social action, urban planning, and community service. He was a major force in revitalizing Downtown Atlanta. I live downtown, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn when I moved that my apartment was originally part of President Patton’s residence for a while. From time to time, I still receive mail in my mailbox addressed to him. I can’t help but smile whenever I get one, as I carefully and conscientiously send it back to the post office.