I have a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin, awarded in 1987. Prior to UT-Austin, I completed my Master's degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and my DEA French diploma at the University of Aix-Marseille, in France. Today I am a professor of Spanish and Portuguese Linguistics at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. Around 2013, I began to review and rearrange my notes taken during my graduate studies in France, to develop my current research platform using music notation to study prosody. I am currently working on a collaborative project at IRCAM, in Paris, where I am an invited researcher (chercheur-invité) in a team led by Professor Nicolas Obin to develop the use of musical notation to study speech prosody. My Ph.D. dissertation was fundamental to understanding as a graduate student how natural and artificial languages work. In my dissertation I tried to adapt to Brazilian Portuguese Dennis Klatt's work on synthetic duration for American English. I have a background in the Humanities and a great curiosity for the sciences.
My teaching is related to my views in research. I use the classroom experience in my research, and provide students with opportunities to experience the relationship of teaching and research. I have a very good idea of what it takes to acquire a new knowledge in a classroom setting. In addition to being a teacher and a researcher I am still a successful learner of additional languages and of academic topics of my interest. Part of my confidence regarding how we learn can be attributed to enlightening statement by Edgar Allan Poe: "Abstruseness is a quality appertaining to no subject of human consideration, per se. To him who approaches them by properly graduated steps, all topics are alike in facility of comprehension." I share this confidence with my students.
I do not carry any particular cognitive banner. I simply keep abreast of all teaching and research trends and use good sense when applying a given trend to my classrooms. In fall 2017, I will teach one of my classes online. I have been working on the materials for this class for about one year. The materials that I am developing for this online class is another innovative initiative that I bring to my Department of Spanish and Portuguese and KU. In the second class that I will teach, I will also present to my students a new approach to language instruction in Spanish, which consists of simplifying the syntactic rules for transitivity and non-transitivity of verbs in a single semantic rule based on the concepts of verbed and verber. The verbed/verber view of in/transitiviy is quite new and promising, and I decided to explore this idea with my students of Spanish in fall 2017. This will be an opportunity for my students in SPAN522-Advanced Studies in Spanish and I to explore new ideas in Second Language Acquisition. I will be working on this component of my course with a linguist at the Wake Forest University, in North Carolina, Dr. Luis González.
Therefore, I stay informed of new developments in Linguistics, but my teaching takes into account that teaching is not saying and learning is not listening, a saying that I borrowed from a classmate in graduate school, when I attended the University of Carolina at Chapel Hill. By the same token, I also subscribe to the ancient belief that we learn by teaching. My classes reflect these views of mine. I do make my students present or "teach" topics that we study on a regular basis, in the first 15-30 minutes of my classes. Each of them is given c. 7 minutes to make their presentations. My role during these short presentations is to moderate, correct and guide them as needed. This strategy prevents student from listening.
My assessment of how I achieve my teaching goals is based on the student performances. I honor student efforts and progress. I evaluate their efforts and progress through examinations and assignments that are either given to the whole class or in a one-to-one basis. Their main research papers also show me how well or not they assimilate the materials and consequently how I achieve my goals.
Teaching is also mentoring. My mentoring takes into account our expectations and responsibilities, as students and teacher. In our dialogues, I listen to and reinforce their awareness of our context of expectations. My one-to-one contacts with students are opportunities to discuss such awareness, our learning successes and failures. My teaching is strongly guided by the idea that good academic practices are key to succeeding as language learners, future teachers or professionals.
- Phonology and Phonetics
- Musical notation
- Hispanic Linguistics
- Second Language Acquisition SLA
- Spanish and Portuguese Applied Linguistics
- Speech and language prosody
One of the highlights of my research is the four-year USDE award that I received in 1999 to produce teaching and assessment materials for Portuguese, which benefited intellectually students and teachers. In 2007 and 2008 I received the Cramer Awards for Research, and in 2008 I published Pois não, a contrastive textbook to teach Portuguese for Speakers of Spanish. I am currently working on a new book, a descriptive analysis of Spanish and Portuguese, in which I apply the results of my current research work.
CURRENT RESEARCH –
My current research focuses on the transcription and analysis of speech prosody using musical notation. Prosody is a cover term for intonation, tone or pitch, duration, amplitude or loudness, timing or rhythm, sound quality, stress, accent, and phonological processes. Musical notation and musical theory have been used in the past in the transcription of speech, e.g. the speech transcriptions of the British scholar Joshua Steele. My research using musical notation aims at a better understanding of how speech prosody works, as well as at the improvement of applications that depend on prosodic studies.
THEORETICAL ISSUES –
One of the main issues in studies of speech prosody is the different views of Schools of Thought and the resulting methodological views used for analyses. The development of prosodic studies reflects the elusive nature of speech prosody. The disparity of approaches to analyze prosody and the almost chaotic proliferation of a non-standardized terminology in prosodic studies to date confirm the difficulty that we find when studying any area of prosody.
THE SOLUTION TO THESE ISSUES –
My current work is intended to provide insights to how speech prosody functions and to contribute to the solution of these issues regarding research methodology. Musical notation, contrary to other transcription systems, is fairly universal, especially in the Western World. It can point out language behavior in a way that allows for effectively transcribing and searching speech patterns. Musical notation is designed to represent both the dynamic and quasi-static music events and by extension, speech prosody. This is so because we can interpret speech "notes" as quasi-static events, given the existence of micro-movements in speech. Note durations, however, are dynamic, since they represent time with exactitude. Even the dynamic intensity can be inferred in MIDI data through velocity, namely the greater the intensity, the greater the MIDI velocity. Musical notation can bring us insights to predict and understand prosodic patterns in speech.
MY THEORETICAL VIEW –
I have an enthusiastic interest in linguistic studies. My view of human language systems is primarily dynamic. This is so because language is not static speech sounds. Language is also gestures and it is alive. It connects to contexts and to our body to communicate ideas. Language is a dynamic system of intentions. As Wilhelm von Humboldt already stated, language is a live organism. Although language systems are mainly dynamic, some of its elements are quasi-static or linear. It follows naturally that I do not agree with the emphasis given to language as a primarily static system. With this vision, I have the firm purpose of pushing my research to its edge, to look for solutions through unconventional approaches, and challenge prevailing paradigms.
- Phonology and Phonetics
- Musical notation, speech prosody, intonation, rhythm
- Spanish and Portuguese
- Romance languages
- Applied Linguistics
I serve as external reviewer for other US campuses in their foreign language programs, cases of promotion and tenure to associate and full professor, as a member of Editorial Boards, and as a reviewer of peer edited publications. I have worked in internal and external committees at KU.
In 1999, I received a four-year USDE award, which was both a research and service accomplishment. This was financially the highest award in my department. In addition to benefiting students and instructors of Portuguese, it also benefited the KU Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, the Hall Center for the Humanities and the College of Liberal Arts. My department has not recognized me for this award, but I think that I did a tremendous job of planning and implementing this highly competitive award, especially if one takes into account that it is not common to receive an award such as this one in the Humanities. I was the only principal investigator.
I continue my role as the assessment specialist in my department, a function that is very important for my Department and other units at the University of Kansas, because through my assessment graduate and undergraduate students for fellowships and scholarships (Fulbright, FLAS, and Tinker, to mention some) that require specific information about their language skills. Our Undergraduate Studies Committee is currently working on the assessment of our undergraduate program, and I am in charge of carrying on the assessment of our students through the training of our GTAs and data analyses of the results. This training consists of two or more workshops and a follow-up of their work. I organize all data entry, treat the data statistically, interpret the results and write an internal report that includes not only the results and discussion but also sophisticated assessment criteria. I am pleased to help my department and students across our campuses, which is one of the ways for me to compensate for the lack of mentoring our students in our M.A. and Ph.D. programs given that we do not have diplomas or certificates in Linguistics. I am isolated as a phonetician in a department with different academic traditions. But as I explain in this narrative, I continue to provide equally valid services in different venues.
My assessment through FLORS allows undergraduate to graduate in time, by exempting them of foreign language requirement if they pass the examination with me.
My e-production can also be considered a service to the world community, given that my materials have been downloaded regularly by many users in different countries, which documents an interest for my scholar production worldwide. I make these materials available for free at:
KU Scholars Works: https://kuscholarworks.ku.edu/ (search for Simoes)
I have a long record of student advising, since my first job as teacher at the University of Texas, at Austin, then at KU and Middlebury College during summers. My role as a supervisor and coordinator of lower division courses helped me to maintain valuable experience with undergraduate students and graduate teaching assistants, in these campuses. In my first years at KU, first as a Visiting Assistant Professor and then a tenure-track Assistant Professor, I single-handed the Basic and Intermediate language programs for years, while teaching three different classes, nine hours per week, every semester.
Currently my main mentoring is limited to 10-15 undergraduate advisees at KU, but I do use the accumulated experience that I had as an undergraduate and graduate advisor to help my students to succeed academically and in their future careers. My work as a scholar relates to my mentoring in the sense that it follows a carefully crafted plan. This plan is reflected in my ways of mentoring my students inside and outside the classroom and impacting on their lives.
In order to compensate for the minimal contact that I have had advising graduate students, due to a lack of a program in Linguistics in my department, I have been offering independent studies to a good number of undergraduate students, which is a work done on a one-to-one basis with undergraduate students. I consider this type of service is done in addition to my regular classes. I think that it is fair to take into account my work with the independent studies with my undergraduate students as a replacement for my lack of work with graduate students at KU.
. Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. https://u.osu.edu/caspslaposu2016/;