Feng Xiao

Associate Professor of Asian Languages and Literatures; Coordinator of the Chinese Section
  • Expertise


    I conduct research to understand second language development in various settings (e.g., study abroad) and focus on pragmatics, a core component of human language that AI still cannot handle effectively (as illustrated by the Chinese room argument). Additionally, I collaborate with students on digital tools that can cater to individual differences in language learning and assist instructors in devising AI strategies for their courses. Moreover, I am actively involved in the authentication of Chinese cultural artifacts.

    Research Interests

    My primary research interests lie in pragmatics and second language development. For instance, I explore the distinction between “What do you mean by saying X?” (pragmatics) and “What does X mean? (semantics).” I am also intrigued by cross-linguistic and cross-cultural differences that can influence human thinking. This includes investigating the role of vague expressions in interactions across diverse cultures.

    Areas of Expertise

    • Pragmatics
    • Second Language Acquisition
    • Chinese Linguistics
    • Digital humanities
    • Data analysis
  • Work


    Xiao, F., Liu, G., Yu, Y., Wang, H., & Wang-Bramlett, D. (2023). ChatGPT and Chinese teaching. Studies in Chinese Learning and Teaching, 8, 1-13.

    Xiao, F., & Nie, K. (2023). Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on American students’ willingness to study abroad. In D., Zhang, & R., Miller, (Eds.), Crossing boundaries in researching, understanding, and improving language education: Essays in honor of G. Richard Tucker (pp. 257-270). Springer.

    Tiller, A, & Xiao, F. (2023). U.S. college students’ decision making on study abroad after the COVID-19 pandemic. Studies in Chinese Learning and Teaching, 7, 108-129.

    Li, S., Tang, X., Taguchi, N., & Xiao, F. (2022). Effects of linguistic proficiency on speech act development in L2 Chinese during study abroad. Study Abroad Research in Second Language Acquisition and International Education, 7(1), 116-151.

    Xiao, F. (2020). Instructional effects on acquisition of Chinese pragmatics. Studies in Chinese Learning and Teaching, 5, 1-28.

    Xiao, F., Taguchi, N., & Li, S. (2019). Effects of proficiency subskills on pragmatic development in L2 Chinese study abroad. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 41(2), 469-483.

    Li, S., Taguchi, N., & Xiao, F. (2019). Variations in Rating Scale Functioning in Assessing Speech Act Production in L2 Chinese. Language Assessment Quarterly, 16(3), 271-293.

    Xiao, F. (2018). Advanced-level pragmatics in instructed SLA. In P. A. Malovrh & A. G. Benati (Eds.), The handbook of advanced proficiency in second language acquisition (pp.461-482). Hoboken: Wiley & Sons.

    Xiao, F. (2018). Development of pragmatic competence in L2 Chinese study abroad. In A. Sánchez-Hernández & A. Herraiz-Martínez (Eds.), Learning second language pragmatics beyond traditional contexts (pp. 227-254). Peter Lang.

    Xiao, F. (2017). Development in the use of Chinese mitigation in interaction. Chinese as a Second Language Research, 6(1), 39-71.

    Taguchi, N., Xiao, F. & Li, S. (2016). Effects of Intercultural Competence and Social Contact on Speech Act Production in a Chinese Study Abroad Context. The Modern Language Journal, 100(4), 775-796.

    Taguchi, N., Xiao, F. & Li, S. (2016). Assessment of study abroad outcomes in Chinese as a second language: Gains in cross-cultural adaptability, language contact, and proficiency. Intercultural Education, 27(6), 600-614.

    Xiao, F. (2015). Proficiency effect on L2 pragmatic competence. Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching, 5(4), 557-581.

    Xiao, F. (2015). Adult second language learners’ pragmatic development in the study-abroad context: A review. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 25, 132-149.

    Ke, S. & Xiao, F. (2015). Cross-linguistic transfer of morphological awareness between Chinese and English. Language Awareness, 24(4), 355-380.

    Liu, Y. & Xiao, F. (2015). Comprehension of Chinese vague expressions: A comparison between heritage and non-heritage learners. Chinese as a Second Language Research, 4(2), 271-294.

    Taguchi, N., Li, S., & Xiao, F. (2013). Production of formulaic expressions in L2 Chinese: A longitudinal investigation in a study-abroad context. Chinese as a Second Language Research, 2(1), 23-58.

  • Education


    Ph.D., Carnegie Mellon University

    B.A., M.Ed., Beijing Language and Culture University

    Recent Courses Taught

    • Chinese Language in Society
    • Digital News Reading in Chinese
    • Chinese in the Working World
    • Advanced Chinese I&II
    • Intermediate Chinese I&II
  • Awards & Honors

    Awards & Honors

    Hirsch Research Initiation Grant, 2021-2023

    EnviroLab Asia Curricular Innovation Award, Henry Luce Foundation, 2020

    Andrew W. Mellon Grant for Digital Humanities, 2016-2019

    Hahn Fund for Innovative Teaching with Technology, 2016-2017; 2018-2019; 2020-2021

    Language Learning Dissertation Grant, 2015

    Modern Languages Department Dissertation Completion Scholarship, Carnegie Mellon University, 2014-2015

    Barbara F. Freed Award for Research on Language Learning in a Study Abroad Context, 2014-2015