Volume 2, Number 1, June 2005

Editorial

Articles

  • Chieh-Fang Hu
    How much you learn from shared reading may depend on how sensitive you are to the sound structure
    show Abstract
    Shared reading has been promoted as one of the most effective techniques for developing early literacy skills. Yet relatively little is known about the cognitive factors underlying its processes. This study examined the effect of L1 phonological awareness on the individual differences in benefiting from shared reading of English. Sixth-grade Chinese EFL learners were administered a finger-point reading task, which assessed the synchronization of voice and print in shared reading. Children with poorer L1 phonological awareness were less able to map a spoken English word onto its corresponding print than children with better phonological awareness. They also recognized fewer words in the text in a word finding task subsequently administered. These differences could be attributed neither to the differences in the children’s prior knowledge of the text materials, nor to the differences in general English vocabulary knowledge, verbal short-term memory, speed in letter naming, or the one-to-one tagging concept. Finally, the two groups of children did not show differences in a written arithmetic task, indicating that the effect of phonological awareness was specific to the reading task.
  • Mark R. Freiermuth
    Purposeful writing in the ESP classroom: assessing the 'Beg, Borrow or Steal Simulation'
    show Abstract
    Writing presents difficulties for non-native speakers of English for a number of reasons; grammatical accuracy issues are a constant focus. However, the problem of producing purposeful and practical documents should not be overlooked. In this paper, we consider the importance of functionality in writing as an outgrowth of workplace language learning activities. In our setting, 26 Japanese computer science students participated in a simulation in an academic English writing class. The constructs of the simulation had students employed at one of two rival computer software companies. The students were given role cards outlining a problem that required immediate action. Following group discussions, the members of each group needed to write a report in English providing advice to their respective company president concerning the direction the company should take. Observation of students’ writings revealed that students were able to identify and write about important discursive functional elements common to problem-solution documents. Furthermore, a qualitative analysis of posttest debriefings revealed that students were motivated throughout the simulation, and could see the long-term value of participating in the simulation. It is suggested here that carefully and appropriately designed simulations can be a very effective way to teach writing to second language learners.
  • John Wong
    English listening courses: a case of pedagogy lagging behind technology
    show Abstract
    Of the four English language skills that are often taught separately, listening requires more efforts from both course developers and learners. Unlike courses for other skills, which are mostly paper-based, listening courses are a combination of paper-based materials in the form of a course book, and sound-based materials in the form of audio on tapes/compact discs. However, learners get to keep only the course book, and can access the course audio only in class, which essentially prescribes teacher-centered lessons. Learner autonomy, if it is to take place at all, necessitates a different delivery mode. The web seems to be the perfect candidate for an alternative mode. Jakob Nielsen (2003) states that information technology is maturing. When it comes to the multimedia capabilities of the web, we can probably argue that the technology is mature. However, listening course developers are reluctant to venture to the web and are still clinging to traditional ways of conducting listening classes. This paper discusses issues behind educators' apparently slow uptake of advances in web technologies that can be incorporated into the teaching of listening skills in a straightforward manner, and attempts to propose interim approaches as solutions.
  • Min-hsun Maggie Su
    A study of EFL technological and vocational college students’ language learning strategies and their self-perceived English proficiency
    show Abstract
    Research related to language learning strategies has prospered since the 1980s. The importance of language learning strategies in language learning has been proven and emphasized worldwide. Learners' language learning strategies are one of the key dimensions for successful language learning. EFL should be taken not only as a subject in school, but also as a prerequisite essential competency for the labor market. In Taiwan, the technological and vocational education system has a long history and plays an important role in cultivating highly professional human resources in Taiwanese economic and industrial development. However, due to the lengthy education system in Taiwan with entrance examinations and the high value Chinese place on one's academic performance, most of the students who choose to attend technological and vocational colleges tend to be those who do not perform well in academic subjects, including English. EFL in this system is a required subject that students, however difficult, still need to learn. There has only been limited research focusing on this specific group's learning of EFL. This paper researches the language learning strategies employed by Taiwanese technological and vocational college students, their self-perceived English proficiency and their interrelationship.
  • François Mangenot & Katerina Zourou
    Collective and self-directed learning: an experimental multimedia training project for future language teachers (in French)
    show Abstract
    Many authors consider the ability to work collectively as an important factor in autonomous learning. Another related factor is the management of the learning situation by learners themselves (i.e. self-direction). These two dimensions of autonomy will be looked at through the presentation of an experimental French-Australian project “Le français en (première) ligne”, which consisted in having French students in a M.A. program in French as a foreign language design multimedia activities for Australian students, beginners in French. The French student teachers carried out their collective work in several ways: students worked in pairs to create web-based resources, with an extensive tutorial feedback on ICT, and the entire class communicated about the created resources.
    The theoretical framework and the experimental context are presented in section 1 of this article. The chosen methodology is case study, based on a number of ecological data (mainly students' multimedia production, ethnographic observation, interviews, and questionnaires). Data analysis was conducted concentrating on the two issues of self-directed learning and collaboration, and their potential for teacher training in multimedia. In section 2, the authors then consider some of the effects of self-directed learning within the course. The results show that this learning mode augments motivation, but only if enough tutoring is provided. Subsequently, in section 3, the paper attempts to examine which collective dynamics have benefited individual learning processes (or not). An analysis of several modes of collective work was conducted, showing that half of the student pairs really collaborated while the others only cooperated, sometimes in a well-balanced mode (observed among two pairs), sometimes in an unbalanced mode (observed among two other pairs). There was no collaboration among the whole class but a positive competition was observed. Having Australian students as a target-group helps to make the multimedia production meaningful, especially in its cultural dimensions. Finally, in section 4, the authors propose a global assessment of the course, showing that the French students, although they had low computer literacy initially, feel capable, at the end of the course, of integrating ICT into a curriculum for French as a foreign language.
  • Văn Chính Nguyễn
    A study of the function word cứ in contemporary Vietnamese (in Vietnamese)
    show Abstract
    In this study, the author discusses the function word cứ in contemporary Vietnamese. This function word has been studied and analyzed by a good number of linguists. However, it has been observed and analyzed through traditional linguistic approaches. Using a new approach, which is based on the 'semantic approach', the author examined the semantic nature of the word more closely. This study has shed new light on aspects which were not addressed in previous studies and has helped to identify more subtle meanings as well as the functions and the important roles of cứ. Although it is listed in the same group as other function words such as vẫn and còn, cứ has other subtle meanings which the other two do not possess. These subtle meanings of cứ have been ignored by researchers who treat cứ as còn and vẫn. Thus, a better and more appropriate understanding of function words in general, and cứ in particular, will certainly help to uncover more about multifaceted nature of this group of function word. From the findings of this study, the author comes to the conclusion that function words play a very important and delicate role in contemporary Vietnamese.
    The findings from this study can be applied to the teaching of Vietnamese as foreign language to help teachers gain a better understanding of the importance of function words in Vietnamese. An accurate explanation of the subtle meanings of function words is essential for the teaching and learning of Vietnamese as a foreign language. It helps learners to achieve more comprehensive knowledge of the meanings and the usage of a particular function word. This will help learners obtain greater precision in using function words and to avoid misunderstandings or embarrassing situations when communicating with native speakers. Unfortunately, the subtle meanings, the most essential aspect of function words, have thus far been ignored or given inadequate treatment by previous researchers as well as materials developers. In the last part of this article, the author presents some models of practical exercises to help learners distinguish the subtle meanings of different function words in the same group and to acquire the precise usage of these function words, especially cứ.

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