Volume 3, Number 2, December 2006

Editorial

Articles

  • Wendy Y.K. Lam
    Gauging the Effects of ESL Oral Communication Strategy Teaching: A Multi-method Approach
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    This article will present the findings of an interventionist study designed to examine the effects of oral communication strategy teaching (OCST) on learners’ performance and on strategy use. Two classes in the secondary ESL classroom in Hong Kong participated in the study; one class received 16 hours of OCST and the other served as a comparison group. In weeks 1, 10 and 20, data were collected from the learners’ performance in group work discussions, self-report questionnaires, observations of learners’ strategy use, and stimulated recall interviews. The findings indicate that the treatment class generally outperformed the comparison class. In addition, there was corroborating evidence from the multi-method approach to support the view that young L2 learners tend to rely on ‘bedrock strategies’ in oral communication tasks. The findings will be discussed with respect to explicit and implicit learning and to a match between the cognitive/linguistic demands of strategy use and the learners’ proficiency level. Finally, the distinct advantages of using a multi-method approach to gauging the effects of OCST are appraised.
  • Marta Arumí & Olga Esteve
    Using Instruments aimed at Self-regulation in the Consecutive Interpreting Classroom: Two Case Studies
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    The aim of the research is to investigate the self-regulation processes in consecutive interpreting learning in the context of formal teaching in the university sphere. More specifically, we are interested in finding out about the relationship between consciousness of learning and learner autonomy based on the study of the self-regulation processes that result from the incorporation of teaching actions aimed explicitly at encouraging the process of reflection on learning itself.
    This research is part of a broader dissertation whose aim is to investigate the effect of the incorporation, into an education context, of mediation instruments for encouraging self-regulation processes in learners. 
    The specific aim of this paper, however, is to present the results arising from a particular teaching action; that is the introduction of the metacognitive guide instrument in the classroom for beginners in consecutive interpreting, focusing on two case studies. 
    Conceptually, our research takes as its main theoretical reference the area of the learner autonomy and its direct relationship with self-regulation processes. The theoretical assumptions can be found in the principles of the socio-cultural theory of learning (Lantolf, 2000). Methodologically, we apply the criteria of ethnographic research . 
    Among the main results obtained, the mediation instrument ‘metacognitive guide’ proves to be valid forms for verbalizing metacognitive reflection. At the same time, the analysis shows that self-regulation of learning itself develops in a cyclical and open process of reflection that shows different degrees or levels, making up a dynamic process. In this sense, the identification of different degrees of self-regulation can help to integrate and work with the metacognitive component in the classroom and in drawing up a learning-to-learn program that respects the micro-processes related to the levels of consciousness identified and which should prove useful for teaching purposes.
  • Siew Ming Thang & Pramanee Kumarasamy
    Malaysian Students’ Perceptions of the Environment Contents in their English Language Classes
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    Environmental education, considered to be a “blueprint for the future” (Ryan & Ray, 1991, p.7) emerged in the 1970s in recognition of the rapidly escalating deterioration of the environment. It is now a part of education around the world, as human damage to the environment has become a major international issue (Jacobs & Goatly, 2000). In the Malaysian education system, from the primary to secondary levels, students are introduced to environmental issues through a range of core subjects. The purpose of this study is to investigate students’ perception of environment topics in the English language syllabus. It seeks to find out whether students’ gender and proficiency levels have any effects on their perceptions of the environmental topics. In addition, the study aims to find out if students feel that these topics help in the improvement of their language skills. The sample for this study comprised 100 Form Five students from a Malaysian secondary school. A two-part questionnaire is designed as instrument. Mean Score Ranking and ANOVA were the two main methods used to analyse the data. A structured interview was used to substantiate the quantitative data. The findings reveal that gender seems to have limited bearing on students’ perceptions of the environment. However, the higher the proficiency level the more positive is students’ attitude towards the environment. In addition, students seem to be of the opinion that they gain more content knowledge than English language skills from studying the environmental topics. 
  • Larisa Nikitina & Fumitaka Furuoka
    Re-Examining Horwitz’s Beliefs About Language Learning Inventory (BALLI) in the Malaysian Context
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    In the past two decades the topic of beliefs about language learning has been attracting considerable research interest. The first to conduct a systematic research into the nature of language learning beliefs was Elaine Horwitz of the University of Texas at Austin, who developed the Beliefs About Language Learning Inventory (BALLI). This instrument has since been used to assess learners’ beliefs by many researchers. However, there have been criticisms regarding the validity of the instrument, especially the delineation of its themes into foreign language aptitude, the difficulty of language learning, the nature of language learning, learning and communication strategies, and motivation and expectations. This study aims to ascertain whether Horwitz’s choice of themes could be backed by inferential statistical analysis and employed factor analysis for this purpose. This study is different from others as it looks at the nature of the language learners’ beliefs in a multilingual setting, such as Malaysia. Participants were 107 students learning the Russian language at Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS). As a result of statistical tests, the following four factors were extracted: (1) motivation, (2) aptitude, (3) strategy, and (4) ease of learning. Overall, these results allow us to conclude that Horwitz’s instrument is a suitable tool for research on language learning beliefs in various socio-linguistic settings regardless of the language being learned.

  • Galina Kavaliauskienė , Lilija Anusienė & Viktorija Mažeikienė
    Weblogging: Innovation for Communication in English Class
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    This paper is an attempt to exemplify how weblogging can raise learners’ language awareness and prepare them for communication in the networked world. The research aimed at the investigation of applying innovative techniques for written and oral communication in English classes. An exploratory study of using a variety of ICT activities at tertiary level was conducted. Class experiences of creating weblogs for learning purposes and using them for online activities with university students who learn English for Specific Purposes are described. 
    The methods employed for data gathering and treatment consisted of administering specially designed questionnaires, analyzing students’ responses, carrying out weblogging activities, providing feedback to learners and evaluating learners’ performance in various online activities, and finally assessing the utility of weblogging.
    Our findings show that the experience of writing for an audience provides an important opportunity for learning English. Although there is a limitation to the study - the data are from a small sample of participants – this study yielded some practical insights and implications which are presented in this article.

  • Yuko Adachi
    The Problem of and a Proposal for Providing Japanese Language Support for Foreign Migrants in Japan (in Japanese)
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    The number of foreign migrants in Japan has increased tremendously, with the number of foreigners residing in Japan reaching 2,011,555 in 2005. Currently, there are insufficient opportunities for them to receive Japanese language education. This paper aims to describe the current situation of Japanese language education system for foreign migrants in Japan and to propose a program of Japanese language education to meet this need. 

    First of all, it proposes that such a program must allow for learners to acquire not just the language, but should also include the knowledge necessary for life in Japan (such as culture and customs) and for integration into the Japanese community, for the foreign resident is a member of this community.

    The proposed program involves both Japanese native speakers and foreign migrants as subjects of learning and in the classroom. It will allow for authentic communication in the classroom. Furthermore, native Japanese volunteers will be able to interact with migrant learners and to learn how to adapt their language to communicate with non-native speakers of Japanese. 

    The paper also provides an example of activities which is suitable for such a program involving volunteer groups. This activity is designed to allow Japanese native speakers and foreign migrants to actually understand the differences between their cultures through communicating with one another. The present proposal thus takes a different approach from current Japanese language education. However, if the goals of this proposal can be achieved, then a new multi-cultural and symbiotic society comprising both foreign migrants and Japanese residents will result.

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