The field of English language teaching is in transition, as it seeks new approaches, and re-examines older ones, in order to address the range and level of English proficiency required for participation in today's global community. This article describes the context of the transitional period, discusses the contributions of second language acquisition theory and research therein, and reviews classroom principles and related techniques that have already emerged.
Based on a hermeneutic model for reading, we present a procedural item designed to test discretely several of the multiple ways readers comprehend and express themselves about the content and implications of reading passages. We begin by reviewing briefly findings about existing measures widely used in testing or research (e.g., multiple choice, cloze, recall protocols) in order to make the case that it may be useful to consider an alternative task format such as the one suggested here. Next, the procedural model itself is illustrated as a task hierarchy that can be adapted (scaled) to various levels of text difficulty and to various levels of student proficiency in the second language. Two ways to scale the procedural item (and the rationale in that scaling) are then discussed in detail: (a) the stages for recognizing versus generating language for different stages in completing the item and (b) the stages at which students are asked to use their native or a second language to provide answers. We conclude by summarizing the practical advantages of isolating and sequencing key processes that L2 research identifies as significant for comprehension.
Looking up in a dictionary in EFL invariably proceeds in terms of spelling. In listening comprehension tasks a learner must first convert the sound of an unknown word to its graphemic form, a far from trivial and thoroughly frustrating hit-and-miss procedure to beginners and lower-intermediates. The idea of a phonetic-access dictionary is developed, whereby the isolated spoken word is looked up directly in a phonetically transcribed lexicon of either the traditional hard-copy or the more flexible magnetic-media form. Typical applications and benefits to the EFL learner are presented.
This paper provides examples of student modeling techniques that have been employed in computer-assisted language learning (CALL) over the past decade. We further discuss two of our own systems and show how different types of CALL programs can, nonetheless, share similar conceptual designs of a student model. First, we describe the German Tutor, an Intelligent Language Tutoring System (ILTS) for German as a Second Language which contains a parser and a grammar that analyze student input. The student model is based on student subject matter performance and provides feedback and remedial exercises suited to learner expertise. Second, we provide an overview of Geroline, an online distance education course for ab initio German learners, and its student model. We show how a student model can support computerized adaptive language testing for diagnostic purposes in a Web-based language learning environment which does not rely on parsing technology. Here, student scores from libraries of sentence-based exercises are used as the raw input for the model.
Learner beliefs have traditionally been considered stable and static. According to recent research, however, they are dynamic and variable. Under this theory, the current study explores the effects of study abroad on beliefs. Belief questionnaires were administered to 70 English language learners while studying abroad in the United States. Learners were asked to reflect on their beliefs prior to arrival and at the time of the questionnaire administration to investigate what beliefs may change due to study abroad. The learners were divided into two groups according to their amount of time thus far abroad to see if amount of time abroad has an effect on belief changes. Factor analysis identified three underlying dimensions of the learner belief system, which concerned the teacher’s role, learner autonomy, and self-efficacy. Comparisons between pre- and during study-abroad beliefs revealed that learners experienced changes in their beliefs on learner autonomy and the role of the teacher. Those with more time abroad had significantly more changes in their belief systems, suggesting that learning context and length of context exposure influence belief changes. Interviews provided insight into how study-abroad influences beliefs. This study supports the view that beliefs are dynamic, socially constructed, and responsive to context.
Given that summer abroad programs are becoming more and more popular, the aim of the present study is to find out whether foreign language proficiency can be significantly improved during a summer stay of 3–4 weeks. The present study examines learners’ linguistic gains through oral fluency and accuracy measures as well as a listening comprehension task. Learners’ oral fluency is examined in terms of syllables per minute, other language word ratio, filled pauses per minute, silent pauses per minute, articulation rate, and length of the longest fluent run. The accuracy of learners’ oral production is measured by means of the ratio of error free clauses and the average number of errors per clause. In addition, learners’ errors are classified into 4 categories: morphological errors, syntactic errors, lexical errors and covered errors. Results reveal that these short stays do indeed producfe significant gains on most measures, and that proficiency level strongly affects the intensity of learners’ progress.
This paper starts by discussing research into the effect of background knowledge on English for Academic Purposes (EAP) tests and discusses EAP tests in which the content of at least some of the test components is related to students’ fields of academic study. This section shows how research has demonstrated that students do not necessarily do better if they are given tests in their own academic subject areas and how, because of the difficulties inherent in test-equating, such tests may not be testing the students fairly. The paper suggests, therefore, that for international EAP tests, English for Specific Academic Purposes testing be abandoned. In its second part, the paper discusses what EAP tests might consist of in the future. Instead of EAP proficiency tests, the paper suggests that there should be aptitude tests to find out whether L1 and L2 students would be capable of rapidly acquiring the requisite academic discourse practices once they had embarked on their academic courses. Such tests for L2 students should include a test of specific grammatical skills, so that receiving institutions can be sure that students have the requisite linguistic infrastructure needed to carry out academic work in English.
Much previous research into the revision strategies used by ESL writers has been comparative in nature and has sought to highlight the differences between skilled and less-skilled writers. Results of this research have invariably highlighted the ways in which less-skilled writers are unlike their “betters” and often conclude with recommendations as to how they might go about emulating what the more skilled writer does when he or she revises. As yet, however, little research has concentrated exclusively on the revision strategies of the less-skilled EFL writer or sought to enquire into the possible reasons for such revision behaviour. This study investigates the revision strategies of 15 Spanish native-speaker undergraduates writing in two different discourse types and in two time conditions. Post-writing interview protocols were also analysed to investigate the possible effect of self-imposed and context-imposed constraints on the revision process. Results suggest that, whereas these underachievers revise in similar ways to their ESL counterparts, revision strategies may be initiated by past learning experiences and respond to the perceived nature of the task and the current writing context.
The purpose of this study is to examine the multivariate relationships of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and the First Certificate of English (FCE), and to determine whether students' total score on the TOEFL or their overall score on the FCE tends to be a better predictor of their success at the University as measured by the overall grade-point average (GPA). Subjects were 86 students enrolled at the University of Bahrain. The multivariate prediction of the GPA from the scores on the FCE is very accurate. Regression analysis revealed that the FCE cloze, and sentence transformation subscores are the only test scores that contributed to the prediction of both student's GPA, and his or her GPA in English courses. The TOEFL section scores did not contribute enough to be maintained in the linear prediction model. Results indicate that the FCE is a better test instrument than the TOEFL, particularly when English is being taught as a foreign language. Since the TOEFL test did not appear to be an effective predictor of students' academic achievement at university level, using it as a test instrument in any of the major language courses taught at the university within an English as a Foreign Language context should be reconsidered.
One of the main challenges that US schools face in educating English language learners is developing their academic literacy. This paper presents case studies of two K-12 schools that successfully employ high-technology environments, including laptop computers for each student, toward the development of English language learners’ academic language proficiency and academic literacy. In the first school, Latino fourth-grade students use laptops and other new technologies for a wide variety of pre- and post-reading tasks as part of their effort to transition from learning to read to reading to learn. In the second school, diverse immigrant and refugee students at the middle school level combine technology use with Expeditionary Learning to carry out community projects leading to the development of sophisticated products. In both schools, technology is used to engage students in cognitively demanding activity, motivate independent reading, and provide scaffolding for language development, while the researchers also made use of technology to document learning processes and outcomes. Taken together, the schools offer valuable lessons for utilization of technology to promote academic literacy among culturally and linguistically diverse students.
Tutors in English for Academic Purposes (EAP) in Western higher education institutions are likely to meet, from time to time, overseas students who display what seem very dependent approaches to learning. This is perceived to be a particular problem in disciplines with a heavy cultural bias (implicit or explicit) such as the social sciences and humanities. Lecturers in these areas, in accordance with their educational philosophy, may emphasize the open-ended nature of many academic questions, while the students may be desirous of finding one correct answer in order to do well by “pleasing the teacher”. Such students may be very confused by questions which ask them to give their own views on an issue, or to critically evaluate the work of a respected authority. It was observation of the dependent approach to learning shown by one overseas student when confronted by learning tasks such as these, that suggested the possible value of carrying out a case study, to try to learn more about autonomy and dependence in the approaches to learning of overseas students. The intention was to discover what implications there might be for my work with similar students in future: and as a subsidiary objective, to try to help the student selected for the case study towards greater independence. The present paper describes the stages through which the case study proceeded, focussing in particular on the findings from an informal taped interview with the student, which influenced later stages of the case study. The case study is then looked at from the point of view of more general understanding of the nature of dependence and autonomy in learning and its implications for the work of the EAP tutor are assessed.
In recent years, second-language proficiency testing has become increasingly concerned with testing the ability to actually use a language. Despite widespread interest, however, there has been surprisingly little discussion of how to estimate the validity of a language-use test, how to construct one without losing control over what is being tested, or how to evaluate one after it has been constructed. The present paper is an attempt to derive, use and partially validate, for one small area of language use, a theoretical approach to the design of language-use tests, which will be called explicit direct testing.
This paper reports on a part of a year-long investigation into high school ESL students’ academic language development. Eight participants were pulled out of their intermediate ESL class for weekly 50-minute sessions with the author for a year. While the main focus of the sessions was reading news magazine articles for meaning, the author purposely drew students’ attention to potentially difficult grammatical forms. Four sessions were on sentence-combining strategies in which the participants practiced rewriting sentences and discussed their justifications for their grammatical and rhetorical choices. Multiple solutions were encouraged and the participants negotiated meaning derived from the various ways of rewriting the sentences. These sessions were audio-recorded and transcribed, and each participant’s written responses were analyzed for grammatical accuracy, clarity, and completeness in meaning, and compared with his/her oral justification. The stronger students in the group exhibited greater willingness to experiment with different ways of rewriting sentences and had an “ear” for what academic English sounded like. In contrast, the weaker students stumbled on individual words and had considerable difficulty when presented with multiple sentences. This paper discusses the critical role of the teacher in drawing students’ attention to form within a meaning-driven, interactive discussion of academic English.
This case study examined the learning outcomes of three learners of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) enrolled in different Writing for Academic Purposes courses. Of the many learning outcomes observed, some express self-perceived intrapersonal and interpersonal changes, which in previous research have been named “by-products” of writing courses [Katznelson et al., 2001; Pally, M., Katznelson, H., Perpignan, H., Rubin, B., What is learned in sustained-content writing classes along with writing? Journal of Basic Writing 21 (1) (2002) 90–115; Rubin, B., Perpignan, H., Katznelson, H., 2003. Affective and social changes perceived by students in EFL Academic writing Courses: sources and links. A paper presented at EARLI 10th Bienniel Conference at the University of Padua, Padua, Italy. August 28, 2003]. The research questions for the current study were: (1) What meaningful connections can be made between the three learners’ measured writing apprehension and their measured performance on timed essays on the one hand, and the course outcomes as perceived by the three learners on the other? (2) To what extent did the perceived non-writing learning outcomes – the “by-products” – express the long-term personal and social development of each learner? The data consisted of pre- and post-course scores on the Daly–Miller Writing Apprehension Scale (1975b) and on timed essays, learner responses to two open-ended questions and in-depth interviews, matched with the teachers’ reflective journals. The findings throw light on the idiosyncratic nature of “by-products” and their relationship to other learning outcomes for each student, and, more importantly, on how these “by-products” impact their lives as lifelong learners.
This paper addresses teachers and researchers of English as a second or foreign language who are interested in speech intelligibility training and/or vocabulary acquisition. The study reports a stress-pattern analysis of the Academic Word List (AWL) as made available by Coxhead [TESOL Quarterly 34 (2000) 213]. To examine the AWL in a new way, we identified patterns of word-level stress in the AWL's 525 headwords and 2454 sublist items, or 2979 polysyllabic academic words in all. The report's final table rank orders 39 patterns of word-level stress. We learned that the first 14 patterns encompass over 90% of the AWL's lexical items, while the remaining 25 patterns are low in frequency of occurrence. Results of our analysis may be coupled with information on word-level stress already available in the literature (e.g., systematic shifts in word-level stress—as well as corresponding changes in vowel quality—due to such phenomena as suffixation, derivational morphology, and other aspects of rule-based pedagogy). The paper's concluding section highlights the importance of introducing English for Academic Purposes (EAP) learners to such pattern phenomena in coordination with the word stress frequency data reported in the study.
This article reports on an investigation into the relationship between cooperative learning, perceptions of classroom social support, feelings of alienation from school, and the academic achievement of university-bound learners of English-as-a foreign language (EFL). One hundred and thirty-five participants (73 males, 61 females, and one participant with missing gender data) enrolled in 10 sections of an introductory English course at a private university in Lebanon participated in the study. The participants completed a modified version of the Classroom Life Measure [Johnson and Johnson, Journal of Social Psychology 120 (1983), 77] and their responses were correlated with their academic achievement. Whereas the analysis of the data revealed that cooperative learning and the degree of academic support provided by teachers are positively correlated with achievement, learners' feelings of alienation from school were found to be negatively correlated with achievement. Likewise, the analysis revealed that cooperative learning is positively correlated with the perceived degrees of academic and personal support provided by teachers and peers, but not correlated with the feelings of alienation from school. The results are discussed in light of previous research and with reference to the cultural context of the study.
Given the cost of running second or foreign language teacher training programs with a high number of in-school placement hours, the selection of candidates who are likely perform well academically and complete their studies is an important consideration. The purpose of the present study was to examine the potential offered by vocabulary profiles as predictors of academic performance in undergraduate Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) programs. To this end, vocabulary profiles were established for 122 TESL students by means of an analysis of 300-word samples of their writing. The students' scores on each profile component were then correlated with the grades they were awarded in two of the grammar courses in their program of study. Finally, the effect of the students' mother tongue on both their vocabulary profiles and academic results was considered. The findings of the study reveal that the students' vocabulary profile results correlated significantly with grades in the more procedurally oriented of the two courses. Furthermore, vocabulary profiles proved to be useful in carrying out a finer assessment of the language skills of high proficiency nonnative speakers than oral interviews can offer.
This article focuses on essays at undergraduate level, whether written in the native language or in a second language. It contributes to the view that students can improve the quality of their essays if they concentrate on the rhetorical effects of their writing. Taking a rhetorical-functional approach a study was made of the structuring of essay introductions and endings across six subject departments. The results suggest that the rhetorical organisation of these sections of essays is influenced significantly by the conventions adopted by the subject department. This study leads to several practical approaches, designed to heighten students' sensitivity to rhetoric. The first of these employs reading tasks that combine reflection and analysis; by drawing on departmental texts for this, the local conventions of the subject discipline become apparent. Secondly, the review of draft material by peers is contrasted with that done personally by the essay writer. Some practical suggestions are made for employing personal review effectively. The common goal of these approaches is to assist students to communicate with their readership more effectively through an appreciation of the reader's perspective.
A crucial component of academic lectures is the use of chunks, phrases and body language, and their role in facilitating understanding. This paper seeks to examine the functions and contexts of this component in the discourse of academic lectures. As we all know, giving a lecture may not always entail the good understanding of learners. The following study gives teachers or lecturers a reflection on the conditions under which some university teachers use chunks, phrases and body language to ensure better understanding. This topic has been relatively neglected, though any lecture should be judged by what the learners understand of it. The ideas to be discussed emerged from the original data collected from Jordan University of Science and Technology, Jordan, where two academic lectures given by two different teachers on the same topic were tape-recorded, analysed and interpreted. The study showed that teachers use various ways and means to have their messages understood properly. But, these ways and means can be different in terms of quality and quantity.
Suprasegmentals have been emphasized in ESL/EFL pedagogy since the advent of communicative language teaching. However, it is still unclear how individual suprasegmental features affect listeners' judgments of non-native speakers' accented speech. The current study began to specify relative weights of individual temporal and prosodic features for listeners' judgments on L2 comprehensibility and accentedness. Using the PRAAT computer program, 5 min of continuous in-class lectures from 11 international teaching assistants (ITAs) were acoustically analyzed for measures of speech rate, pauses, stress, and pitch range. Fifty eight US undergraduate students evaluated the ITAs' oral performance and commented on their ratings. The results revealed that suprasegmental features independently contributed to listeners' perceptual judgments. Accent ratings were best predicted by pitch range and word stress measures whereas comprehensibility scores were mostly associated with speaking rates. ITAs' acoustic profiles as well as listeners' comments on their rating offer practical implications to ITA program developers, ESL teachers, and future research in accented speech.
The author suggests that many teacher training courses merely encourage lip-service to methodological developments because they fail to provide participants with an opportunity to actually experience the methodology—to see it from the inside as it were. By failing to practise what we preach we may be sending a different ‘message’ from the one we think we are sending. The paper illustrates one way of setting up and running a self-access centre, by describing a specific situation, and contains examples of some of the materials used.“Teachers, like parents, need to find a way of fostering independence, but an independence based on the development of internalized criteria, not simply on the rejection of authority...” (Allwright 1978).
This paper intends to outline some of the pedagogical and administrative problems involved in the organisation and development of an open access and video library.In the first part of the paper, we briefly describe the layout of the library and the audience for which the system was created.The second part of the paper describes how we set about to improve the present system in practical terms in order to match the facilities available to the learners' needs, and part 3 offers a quantitative evaluation.Lastly, in part 4, we make a critical assessment of the limitations of the set up and describe how we intend to develop the sound and video “on the spot” library into a language learning resource centre, by creating a counselling service which will operate as a matching device between the resources available and individuals' needs and will be responsible for the provision of new materials used outside the premises to small independent groups of learners engaged in communicative activities.
This paper discusses the role of the self-access centre (SAC) in tertiary language learning and teaching, a role which has developed out of the changes that have occurred within the disciplines of Applied Linguistics and Education as well as from wider changes in technology and society itself. As the focus in language learning has moved, over the past thirty years, from the teacher to the learner, self-access language learning has emerged as a complement to the more traditional face-to-face learning model, with SACs now operating in many parts of the world.One aim of the study was to develop a theory of how a SAC operates, in other words to answer the question “What is a self-access centre?” Central to this is the place that the SAC plays in the learning and teaching process. The study suggested that the SAC plays four main roles: bringing together language learning and independent learning, enabling the learner to improve both linguistic proficiency and independent learning skills, providing the necessary resources and providing learner support. The study also identified a number of constraints that can hinder SACs from playing a fully effective and efficient role in the learning and teaching process.
Self-access in general, and computer applications in particular, can easily fall into the traps of either leaving learners too much alone, overwhelmed by information and resources, or directing them too much by transferring lockstep classroom methods to organization systems and programs. Neither alternative is desirable, for learners cannot be autonomous unless they have the ability to make meaningful choices. This paper focuses on three aspects of computer technology which allow learners to develop both cognitive and metagognitive skills that facilitate their autonomy. The first area has to do with database organization of materials in a self-access facility; this alternative offers multiple entry points for users. The second area is computer-assisted language learning and the importance of incorporating learner training elements in order to make it less directive. The last aspect is the use of menus to organize computer programs and files. In each case arguments are made to move self-access learning away from traditional applications in order for the technology to neither control nor ignore the learner. The aim is for technology to play the important role of guide.
Recent investigations into the reading processes of the efficient learner of English as a foreign language all tend to emphasize the importance of activating the “schemata” which already exist from first language reading and experience of the world. According to this view the same individual should be able to comprehend a text with almost equal facility whether it is written in the native language or the foreign language, given texts of equal conceptual load and sufficient foreign language competence. Classroom observation indicates, however, that this is not always the case. This observation was tested out in an experiment with native speakers of Hebrew in which the same respondent was asked to carry out the same task after reading texts in Hebrew and in English, texts which were expected to be as difficult conceptually in both languages. The results suggest that there is a powerful affective factor which completely blocks the reading in English of some students and severely limits the comprehension of a considerable number of others when they meet difficulties in the foreign language text. Some implications of the results for classroom instruction are mentioned.
Self-access and language advising are relatively recent and increasingly common types of language support offered in schools and tertiary institutions around the world. There is a great deal of anecdotal support for the positive contribution of such support to student learning. Self-access and language advising hold strong potential as learner-centred and highly flexible approaches. In addition, there are many sound practical reasons for offering self-access as complementary to or as an alternative to classroom teaching, especially in situations where existing learning needs are too great or diverse to be met by traditional methods. At the same time, there are concerns about the effectiveness (how well they help students learn) and efficiency (how quickly students learn) of these approaches and more research is clearly needed. This article reports how one centre has attempted to take into account some of the challenges reported in previous literature by developing an electronic learning environment that better prepares students for and guides them in their self-directed learning. In addition it reports on the implementation of an extensive monitoring system of student learning, that allows for the provision of more tailored language support than previously possible.
This paper reports on the development of a self-access center (SAC) within a university context, and focuses on the kind of support mechanisms provided to learners to enhance their self-directed learning (SDL) skills. After providing background information on the center and its counseling service, the paper shows how changes in the university administration policy as well as an evolving awareness of what was needed greatly influenced the support mechanisms provided, which eventually became more systematically and efficiently implemented in a credit-based SDL program. The positive results yielded in the final program evaluation seem to indicate that the support offered by the center is well appreciated by the learners of the program, and that this has been implemented to good end. Suggestions for more improvements as well as implications for further research are presented.
There is a great need to ensure that language tests are accessible to individuals with disabilities. Yet accessibility features can sometimes conflict with the validity of test scores. In some cases the nature of the conflict seems obvious, yet in other cases there is controversy, such as that concerning the use of a “readaloud” accessibility feature on tests of reading. What is needed is a more rigorous approach for reasoning about the validity implications of accessibility features. The approach described in this article seeks to integrate thinking about accessibility, task design, and validity – all in a framework of sharable terminology, concepts, and knowledge representations. We believe that such a framework can allow one to more accurately and quickly identify the validity-related consequences of design changes that are intended to improve accessibility for individuals with disabilities. Such a framework may permit greater inclusion of individuals with disabilities or other sub-populations without invalidating test results.
This article evaluates a multimedia program produced to support test takers facing a new performance test (the Classroom Language Assessment test) for English as a second language (ESL) teachers in Hong Kong as part of a language certification test. The article describes how groups of trainee ESL teachers in Hong Kong were first introduced to the test via the print syllabus produced by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government. After a 3-month time lag, they had the demands of the test explained to them again, but this time with the support of a multimedia program. After each session, the trainee teachers were asked to fill in a questionnaire which probed them for their understanding of the aims and demands of the test, their attitude towards the test and how confident they felt about passing. Paired t-tests run between the two sets of questionnaires revealed significant positive differences, indicating that participants felt the multimedia program helped them to better understand the test requirements. The paper concludes with a discussion of the importance of multimedia as syllabus ‘support’—especially in the case of oral or performance tests.
This paper shows how the phonological rules of progressive assimilation are not based on actual differences in the acoustic signal. The SoundEdit software on the Macintosh computer was used to collect and analyse data which showed that the signal contains the exact reverse of what the rules on assimilation predict. SoundEdit was also used to find out what exactly the “Bristol L” is. The possible application of SoundEdit in helping second-language learners improve their pronunciation is discussed.
This paper explores the potential of the use of voice recognition technology with second language speakers of English. The study is a development of an earlier study conducted with a small group of native speakers (Coniam, 1998a, TEXT Technology 8.). The current study involves the analysis of the output produced by a small group of very competent second language subjects reading a text into the voice recognition software Dragon Systems ‘Dragon Naturally Speaking’. As the program is speaker-dependent and has to be trained to recognise each person's voice, subjects first spent about 45 minutes reading a training text of some 3800 words. As the test text, they then read a second text consisting of 1050 words. The output produced by the software was analysed in terms of words, sub-clausal units, clauses and t-units. In terms of accuracy, the second language speakers' output on each category of analysis was significantly lower than that achieved by the native speakers. Nonetheless, the results were consistent in line with the native speakers' scores; i.e. that the highest accuracy scores were achieved at the lowest (and most discrete) level of analysis, the word level, and the lowest scores at the t-unit, or sentence level of analysis. The paper concludes that voice recognition technology is still an at early stage of development in terms of accuracy and single-speaker dependency. Nonetheless, the fact that consistent results have emerged suggests that the development of an assessment tool, such as a reading aloud test via voice recognition technology and determining a score through an analysis of the output, may be a testing procedure with potential.
This paper investigates the role of some selected psychological and personality traits of learners of English as a foreign language in the accuracy of self- and peer-assessments. The selected traits were motivation types, self-esteem, anxiety, motivational intensity, and achievement. 78 students of English as a foreign language participated in thirteen-week oral presentation tasks, during which they were asked to assess their own performance and that of their peers. The study concludes that assessment is a multifaceted process, which is affected by various psychological and personality traits of the raters. The results of the study seem to fall in line with the general pattern that learners possessing the positive side of a trait are more accurate than those who have its negative side, with the exception of students with high classroom anxiety. In addition, high reliability indices similar to those reported in the literature are obtained. The study also shows that long periods of practice and sufficient feedback have a positive effect on the accuracy of assessment. Finally, the study demonstrates that students with low self-esteem are the most accurate in assessing their performance, whereas learners with instrumental motivation are the least accurate.
The use of pair work has been promoted in both first (L1) and second (L2) language classrooms. In the L2 classroom, a number of studies have shown that learners working in pairs have more opportunities to communicate in the target language than in teacher-fronted classrooms. However, this research has also shown that the tasks generally used in such studies (eg. jigsaw) do not engage students in negotiations over grammar. In the language class where the development of both fluency and accuracy are important goals, what is needed is research on grammar-focused communication tasks investigating the effects of student negotiations over grammatical choices on the accuracy of production. The small-scale study reported here required tertiary ESL learners of intermediate to advanced L2 proficiency to complete three different types of grammar-focused exercises commonly used in the language classroom: a cloze exercise, a text reconstruction and a short composition. Each exercise type had two isomorphic versions, one to be completed individually and the other to be completed in pairs. A comparison of exercises completed individually with those completed in pairs suggested that collaboration had a positive effect on overall grammatical accuracy, but tended to vary with specific grammatical items.
Children who studied English as a foreign language in Hungary with a communication/content-based approach were compared with similar children who studied English with a form-based traditional approach. The former were slightly more accurate in their production of grammatical morphemes in an oral interview, and were more fluent, confirming that communication-based approaches do not sacrifice accuracy for fluency.
Building on Sheen’s (2007) study of the effects of written corrective feedback (CF) on the acquisition of English articles, this article investigated whether direct focused CF, direct unfocused CF and writing practice alone produced differential effects on the accurate use of grammatical forms by adult ESL learners. Using six intact adult ESL intermediate classes totaling 80 students, four groups were formed: Focused Written CF group (FG, n = 22), Unfocused Written CF group (UG, n = 23), Writing Practice Group (WPG, n = 16) and Control Group (CG, n = 19). A series of ANOVAs with post-hoc comparisons indicated that all three experimental groups (FG, UG and WPG) gained in grammatical accuracy over time in all the posttests. This suggested that doing writing tasks is of value by itself. The FG achieved the highest accuracy gain scores for both articles and the other four grammatical structures (i.e., copular ‘be’, regular past tense, irregular past tense and preposition), followed by, in order, the WPG, UG and CG. Overall, these results suggested that unfocused CF is of limited pedagogical value whereas focused CF can contribute to grammatical accuracy in L2 writing.
The article reviews briefly some of the international work that has been undertaken in the area of national assessment of educational systems and describes in greater detail a comprehensive Swedish programme which investigates the conditions and the results that currently prevail in the compulsory school. The focus is on that part of the programme which deals with the subject of English, and describes procedures, teachers' and pupils' attitudes, and attainment levels reached. It is concluded that goal achievement is largely in line with prescribed curriculum objectives and that teachers and pupils agree to a large extent on what should be given priority in the teaching. The results make it clear, however, that teachers have certain difficulties in meeting the corresponding needs, both as they themselves and the pupils see it. The implications of the findings are discussed.
A group of 107 students participated in a major study exploring the factors that influence language achievement when instruction is delivered by satellite television. Factors included the students' motivation, learning styles, learning strategy use, gender, previous language learning experience, and course level. Motivation was by far the most significant determiner of achievement, and learning strategy use was also very influential. Gender and learning style (visual, auditory, and hands-on) played potentially important roles, although previous language learning and course level were not especially explanatory. Specific implications are included for satellite language teaching, a delivery system that promises to become more widely used throughout the world as advances in technology continue.
Although researchers have examined the role of learning styles in foreign language achievement, many studies have investigated isolated dimensions of this construct (e.g. field independence/dependence). Relatively few studies have used a comprehensive learning styles instrument to determine predictors of achievement in college foreign language classes. Thus, the purpose of this study was to use a broadly focused learning style instrument to identify a combination of learning styles that might be correlated with foreign language achievement at the college level. It was hoped that findings from this study would facilitate the identification of college students who are at risk of underachieving in foreign language classes. Participants were 100 university students enrolled in either French or Spanish first and second semester courses. All possible subsets multiple regression analyses revealed that higher achievers in foreign language courses tend to like informal classroom designs and to prefer not to receive information via the kinesthetic mode. Certain learning style variables (i.e. responsibility and mobility), when included in the model, acted as suppressors, increasing the predictive power of classroom design preference and kinesthetic orientation with respect to achievement. The educational implications of these findings for understanding the potential relationships between learning styles and foreign language achievement are discussed, as are suggestions for future research.
This article reports on a study of the learning styles of two adult classroom learners of L2 German. Using data collected in a variety of ways it aims to explore to what extent and in what ways the learners' learning style varies, whether one learner's learning style results in more effective learning than the other's and the effect of the instructional style on the subjects' learning outcomes. A key distinction is made between a studial and experiential learning style. The results indicate that the two learners differed in their cognitive orientation to the learning task, that one learner might have abandoned her own preferred learning style in order to cope with the type of instruction provided and that the learning outcomes reflected what the learners set out to learn.
The main aim of this paper is to demonstrate the relevance of second language acquisition research to foreign language teaching. The area chosen for discussion is the English progressive aspect. German literature on foreign language teaching provides ample evidence that this area of English grammar constitutes a major problem for German students learning English. The background of the paper is a study by Vogel (1987) on the naturalistic acquisition of the English tense and aspect system by four German children. Some of his results are compared to the way in which—according to the textbooks—German teachers of English are supposed to introduce the English progressive in the classroom. Based on the results of this comparison, this paper makes some suggestions as to how the teaching of the progressive to beginners of English could be improved.
This paper looks briefly at some of the issues involved in the Variable Competence approach to Second Language Acquisition, by defining what is meant by variable competence, and then looking at variable rules and how they are acquired. The implications for the classroom are briefly summarized as examples of the practical correlates of variable competence models. Most importantly, the article looks at why the research implications of variable competence models are not considered to constitute an appropriate framework for Applied Linguistic research in the fields of Language Testing and Second Language Acquisition. Finally, the defences which variabilists construct against criticism are considered. The positions of Tarone and Gregg are described in some detail, and the work of Ellis is also considered. The main argument of the paper is that acceptance of a variable competence model of second language acquisition would lead to a position in which no second language research could be generalized beyond the context in which it was conducted.
This article is a report of a small-scale study of the effects of meaning negotiation on young children's acquisition of word meanings. The children listened individually and in small groups to directions containing words unknown to them. They were encouraged to negotiate their understanding of the directions. The results show that the children varied in their ability or willingness to negotiate, that they negotiated more effectively when part of a group, that negotiation aided comprehension, that the extent to which individual children negotiated was not related to their acquisition of word meanings and that there was no direct relationship between the children's comprehension of the teacher's directions and the target words. These results suggest that meaning negotiation may play a less prominent role in acquisition for children than it does for adults. They also raise questions about when negotiated input works for acquisition and when it does not.
This paper, based on H. Seliger's important distinction between strategies and tactics in second language acquisition, describes and analyses what the author considers to be six basic and universal tactics of second language acquisition. It also tries to define the relevant features of the two sets of factors, i.e. the learner and the learning environment, which determine the choice of a particular tactic. Each of these tactics is also referred to various contemporary language teaching methods which impose or encourage the adoption of a given tactic by the learner.
The paper examines the relationship between and the relevance of second language acquisition (SLA) and language testing (LT). Based on three dimensions of potential contributions of LT to SLA [(1) defining the construct of language ability; (2) applying LT findings to test SLA hypotheses; and (3) providing SLA researchers with quality criteria for tests and tasks] and three dimensions of potential contribution of SLA to LT [(1) identifying language components for elicitation and criteria assessment; (2) proposing tasks for assessing language; and (3) informing language testers about differences and accommodating these differences], this paper examines the interfaces of the two fields based on articles published in recent issues of the journals “Language Testing” and “Studies in Second Language Acquisition”. The relevance of LT to SLA is examined based on written interviews with leading scholars in SLA who were asked about the relevance of LT to their work. The results indicate very limited interfaces between the two fields as well as limited relevance of LT to SLA. The conclusions and implications discuss to the potential need of LT to broaden its focus and scope by addressing broader views of language learning and language processing such as: viewing language in its complexities and dynamics; involving the learners and test takers; marketing better LT theories to those out of the field; expanding the context beyond psychometrics; expanding the types of instruments used beyond tests; addressing educational issues; and working towards relevance.
The development of past tense verbal morphology among second language learners has been associated with the lexical-semantics of verbal predicates, or the saliency and frequency of past tense morphology. The relative effect of the above-mentioned factors was analyzed in written and orally elicited narratives of 14 classroom learners of English (native speakers of Spanish in their home country). The results show that the effect of the cognitive saliency of frequent and irregular verbal morphology appears to be more important than the effect of lexical aspect in the beginning stages of development of inflectional endings. The results were analyzed from the perspective of two distinct cognitive processes in the development of inflectional endings in a second language: lexical (item) learning versus rule-based learning. The above-mentioned findings are discussed in terms of the potential value of developmental sequences for second language acquisition.
Anecdotal reports from classroom language teachers suggest that students’ professed positive attitudes towards learning English and their language-related behaviors often do not match. Many claim “interest” in the language and, when pushed to explain, the learners tend to state that “it is necessary” to study English for their future careers or for study abroad. Very few seem to be motivated to acculturate to the target language culture or norms of communication. These reports motivated my decision to look into the attitudes of EFL learners in the form of a study of individual differences, specifically, one which focuses on the relationship among attitudes, learner self-identity, and willingness to accommodate to L2 pragmatic norms. This paper reports on evidence of the extent Japanese EFL learners seek to adopt L2 communicative norms. The descriptive account explores learners’ self-reports on attitudes towards the target language, subjective reactions to L2 pragmatic norms, and motivations towards accommodating to those norms. While the level of resistance to acquiring proficiency in the use of L2 pragmatic norms is not strong, the learners’ accounts indicate their efforts to establish a L2 self-identity compatible with their own individual goals.
Materials for the teaching of pronunciation have changed significantly over the past 50 years from emphasizing the accurate production of discrete sounds to concentrating more on the broader, more communicative aspects of connected speech. For many commercially produced materials, however, while the phonological focus has changed, the teaching techniques and task types presented continue to be based on behaviourist notions of second language acquisition, largely relying on imitation and discrimination drills, reading aloud and contrastive analysis of L1 and L2 sound systems. This paper briefly reviews recent research into the acquisition of second language phonology and examines if and how these research findings are reflected in currently used pronunciation teaching materials. Suggestions are made for the future production of materials that incorporate activities more fully addressing the communicative, psychological and sociological dimensions of pronunciation.
The success of computerized instruction in second-language acquisition requires that some FL teachers learn enough about the operation of computers to become able to direct the preparation of computerized materials. The kind of relationship that needs to exist between FL teachers and computer programmers is examined.The present limitations of computerized instruction are analyzed; much remains to be done in error analysis and adequate computer software must be developed. New technologies in the audio-visual domain (synthetic speech, digital compressed speech, videodiscs, etc.) may provide us with random, immediate access equipment which is either lacking or too expensive today.
The main thesis of this paper is that conducting class discussions on a computer network is an effective method for increasing the interactive competence of first-year foreign language learners because it provides students with the opportunity to generate and initiate different kinds of discourse. In addition, computer-assisted class discussion (CACD) allows students to play a greater role in managing the discourse, e.g. they feel freer to suggest a new topic, follow up on someone else's idea, or request more information. Written transcripts of discourse produced by first-year German students in CACD show that learners do indeed perform a number of different interactional speech acts: they ask more questions of fellow students as well as (occasionally) of the teacher; they give feedback to others and request clarification when they have not understood someone else; they end conversations with appropriate leave-taking utterances. In general, they take the initiative more than they do in the normal classroom, since the instructor's role has been decentralized. CACD thus provides students with the opportunity to acquire and practice more varied communicative proficiency. Although this is essentially written practice, the fact that the interactional structures resemble spoken conversation suggests that this competence can gradually be transferred to the students' spoken discourse competence as well.
A method is developed for the automatic ordering of texts based on the richness of their vocabularies. It further involves the specification of a Basic Vocabulary and of a gradual enlargement of this Basic Vocabulary linked to the study of the texts in the given order. The method is realized on a sample of Russian texts for first semester students at the University of Uppsala, Sweden. The result of the project includes a teaching aid and various material for the benefit of the teacher.