Volume 1, Number 1, December 2004

Editorial

Articles

  • Desmond M. Allison
    Changing understandings of classroom practices
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    Do understandings of classroom practice change (ergative sense) or does somebody change them (transitive sense) when applied linguistic perspectives meet practitioner perspectives in language teaching? This article starts out as a selective review of the often complex and problematic relationship between applied linguistic thinking and language teaching experience, and develops into a position paper on the place of applied research and reflective practice in a journal such as e-FLT. My discussion gives attention to both aspects of this journal’s title, namely the electronic medium of communication and the teaching of foreign languages. Essentially, I attempt to renew and promote arguments against externally driven interventionist approaches, and in favour of more sustained interactive and reflective approaches towards understanding events and practices in FLT classrooms, including virtual ones. Closing comments briefly review some implications for teaching and learning investigations and conceptions of change management in education.
  • Anna Uhl Chamot
    Issues in Language Learning Strategy Research and Teaching
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    Learning strategies are the thoughts and actions that individuals use to accomplish a learning goal. Extensive research has identified the learning strategies used by students of a variety of second and foreign languages and a somewhat smaller body of research has documented the effectiveness of helping less successful language students improve their performance through learning strategy instruction. This article discusses current issues in language learning strategy research that affect teachers and learners of foreign languages. These issues include: identification procedures of learning strategies, terminology and classification of strategies, the effects of learner characteristics on strategy use, the effects of culture and context on strategy use, explicit and integrated strategy instruction, language of instruction, transfer of strategies to new tasks, and models for language learning strategy instruction. These eight issues are explored through a discussion of existing re-search that illumines the issues. Suggestions are presented for future research on issues that have not yet been thoroughly explored.
  • Erwin Tschirner
    Breadth of vocabulary and advanced English study: An empirical investigation
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    Worldwide, foreign language instruction – particularly EFL instruction – starts at increasingly earlier ages and takes up more space in the overall primary and secondary school curricula. The question is: Do long sequences of study necessarily lead to higher proficiency levels among students, particularly with respect to advanced competencies in receptive and productive skills, including academic language skills? As breadth of vocabulary has been identified as one of the most important indicators of reading proficiency and of academic language skills more generally, the present study focuses on vocabulary gain over eight years of English language instruction in secondary schools in Sachsen, a state in Eastern Germany. The study shows that even extended sequences of English instruction of eight years and more do not necessarily enable students to meet vocabulary thresholds for academic purposes. Even vocabulary goals such as in Sachsen that lie at the lower end of the ones suggested by research are met by very few students. Particularly the productive goals are missed by a wide margin. In addition to describing the vocabulary levels attained by the participants, the paper discusses the relationship between test scores and background data such as length of time spent in English-speaking countries, number of English language books read per year, study strategies, etc.
  • Toshio Okazaki
    A theoretical framework for Japanese reading instruction for children from abroad: the Endogenous Development Model
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    This article identifies two causes of the absence of methodology for teaching Japanese reading to children from overseas: 1. The absence of a theoretical foundation for the principle of acquisition of academic Japanese; 2. The absence of content-based reading instruction − that is, instruction for learning school subjects.
    This article then proposes the Endogenous Development Model as a theoretical framework for teaching Japanese reading to these children. This framework is designed to develop proficiency in reading academic Japanese based on first language proficiency and the cognitive, affective, social, and cultural abilities which these children have developed before their arrival in Japan. This article also presents a concrete format for the model, to realize the following goals: 1. With the support of the mother tongue, children understand textbooks and lectures on school subjects in Japanese so that they can progress in subject learning; 2. By making the content of subject learning in Japanese comprehensible, children learn Japanese academic language; 3. Through the use of the mother tongue for the purpose of learning academic Japanese, children maintain and further develop their mother tongue.
  • Stephen F. Culhane
    An Intercultural Interaction Model: Acculturation Attitudes in Second Language Acquisition
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    This paper puts forth a model to enhance understanding of second language acquisition (SLA) by integrating factors from acculturation research. An emergent approach to sojourner acculturation and intercultural inter-action is presented, the Intercultural Interaction Model (Culhane, 2003; 2001a; 2001b) depicting interaction patterns among SLA sojourners. It is suggested to be an analogous approach for learner motivation in SLA that can advance understanding of learner behaviour within second language (L2) and Culture (C2) instructional and residential contexts. Discussion of research into motivation in SLA and acculturation attitudes is presented as an overview and background to a construct introduced in the paper, interaction motivation. A brief review of research efforts aimed at evaluating this construct is made, followed by consideration of how it may broaden conceptualization of the multifaceted process of learning a second language.
  • Daming Xu
    Gender differences in foreign language learning: A study of Chinese university students' English usage (in Chinese)
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    Sociolinguistics literature has shown ample evidence for gender differences in language use, but the focus is usually on communities of native speakers and/or monolingual situations. The present study explores the issue of gender differences in language usage among foreign language learners, whose behaviors are conditioned both by the language ideologies of the target language and that of their first language. The case studied for the above purpose is that of university students in China studying English as a foreign language. One hundred students, half male and half female, were chosen to participate in the study, with their levels of English learning strictly controlled. In the experiment, the students were to provide twenty different but truthful answers to the question “Who am I?”. The written answers to the question by the students were examined both for their content and their linguistic characteristics, with a focus on finding any significant differences between the gender groups. The results are that both in the content, and in the vocabulary and syntactic ranges uniformity is the major characteristic but significant gender differences are found with a few variables. Gender differences in the content of writing include the following: male students talked more about sports while female students more about music; and female students talked more about their personal appearances. Gender differences in language use include the following: male students used “man” more often and “boy” less frequently when referring to themselves, while the female students used “girl” extensively but seldom used “woman”. A few of the female students also used “person” or “student” excessively to avoid gender-indicating words. Female students, when faced with the same writing task, used complex syntax structures more than the male students did. The study shows that even among learners at the lower-intermediate level, gender differences in English usage show up, reflecting both the inherent gender-bias of the lexical structure of the target language and the socio-psychological predispositions of the learners.
  • Thien Nam Nguyen
    Errors in using classifiers in learning Vietnamese as a foreign language (in Vietnamese)
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    Though there were previous studies on errors in the usage of classifiers in learning Vietnamese as foreign language (cf. Đại học Tổng hợp HN. 1975; Đại học Tổng hợp Tp. HCM 1995; Đại học Quốc gia HN, 1997), these have merely observed the errors but failed to analyse the causes of the errors due to the lack of a critical theoretical framework. While these studies have made some contribution to the teaching Vietnamese to foreigners, they failed to realize that the errors are intralingual errors. Consequently they have been unsuccessful in solving the roots of the causes. This study is arguably the first significant and thorough study on errors in using classifiers in learning Vietnamese as foreign language. In this study, the Error Analysis framework which was initiated by Pit Corder is used as a core framework for analyzing data. This has shed new light on aspects which were not addressed in the previous studies, and has helped to provide better solutions to the causes of errors. This article will try to (1) describe and analyze the errors in using classifiers in learning Vietnamese; (2) prove that these are intralingual errors; and (3) propose practical exercises in order to help learners minimize the errors. In general, there are three types of errors which are commonly committed by learners in using classifiers in Vietnamese. These are (1) omisson of some required classifiers; (2) addition of some unnecessary or incorrect classifiers; and (3) selection of an incorrect classifier. Through systematic observation and analysis of data from experiences in the teaching Vietnamese to foreigners from various backgrounds, I have come to the following conclusions: (1) classifiers in Vietnamese are linguistic components which are complicated, and not easily learned or properly applied by learners; (2) the errors in using classifiers in learning Vietnamese are intralingual errors. My data have proven that learners from various backgrounds tend to commit identical errors. This finding is especially important in terms of methodology as it helps Vietnamese language teachers to see that the errors do not arise solely because of interference from learners’ native tongues; and (3) most of the errors are due to overgeneralization, though there is a small number resulting from transfer of training and communicative strategy.

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