One major development of computer technology involving English writing is automated essay scoring (AES). Previous research has investigated different aspects of AES in writing assessment, such as human and automated scoring differences (Bridgeman, Trapani, & Yigal, 2012), and students’ essay structure identification (Burstein & Marcus, 2003). This study addresses two research questions. First, how does automated scoring differ from human scoring in EFL writing? Second, what are EFL learners’ perceptions of AES and its effectiveness? The instruments involved in this study include an AES system developed by Educational Testing Service (ETS), Criterion, and a survey. The findings of the study suggest that the AES and human scoring are weakly correlated. Besides, the study also finds that an AES system such as Criterion is subject to deliberate human manipulation and can suffer from insufficient explanatory power of computer-generated feedback. The pedagogical implications and limitations of the study are also discussed.
This study reports on a one-year-and-a-half longitudinal case study that examined students’ behaviors and learning outcomes under an online learning environment by using a blog visualization technique. Information visualization is a new area of study that is currently being developed. However, research that examines this topic in CALL was difficult to find. This study was conducted in a blended-format undergraduate English course for students who are science majors. Throughout the semester, the students wrote blogs and essays in English on Moodle. A blog visualization technique was also implemented. Three methods, namely, pre-/post-writing proficiency tests, text analysis of blogs and essay posts on Moodle, and a post-semester online questionnaire, were used for the analysis. The students consistently exhibited high work performance throughout the semester in terms of blog and essay posts. In addition, the students’ average writing proficiency score improved as a class community. However, two groups, the progressed and the regressed, reacted differently to the given learning environment, a phenomenon called “the to-do-or-not-to-do dilemma” in this study. Findings show that a learning environment that visually presents students’ work performance can contribute to the high performance of the entire group in an online learning environment. However, countermeasures against demoralization and regression should be implemented.
Since 2003, podcasting has quickly established itself and attracted a large worldwide audience, predicted to reach 37.6 million by the end of 2013. Mirroring this trend is its increasing use as an educational medium. Efforts in materials development and language education research have thus far focused mostly on audio podcasting, despite the fact that the growing proliferation of mobile devices with video capability has also made video podcasting (vodcasting) a viable pedagogical option. Given the relative novelty of vodcasting, it is not surprising that little research has thus far been carried out on the use of this medium. There are as yet little empirically supported insights into the use of vodcasts or students’ preferences and perceptions. This paper outlines the design and development of a course vodcast for German language beginners at a university in Singapore as well as the findings of an accompanying study based on a mixed research design employing a questionnaire consisting of quantitative and qualitative items, and focus group discussions. The analysis of the data reveals that students had the necessary technical and Internet resources to receive and view the vod-cast. While the access rate was high with 85.9% having viewed at least one unit of the vodcast, which was non-compulsory, and 65.0% at least half of the six units, these figures are lower than those reported in earlier studies for audio podcasts at NUS. Students’ perceptions of the vodcast’s design and quality were positive, although the mean ratings were slightly lower than those reported in previous studies for audio podcasts. Students would like to see improvements made to the technical quality of the units and to the design of the vodcast units, which they felt did not facilitate mobile use. A slim majority of the students preferred their course audio podcast to the vodcast, partly because the audio podcast had a broader coverage and contained more learning contents, but also because it was easier to access while on the move or performing other activities. The vodcast required more attentional capacity and was more distracting, making multitasking difficult.
Previous studies have shown that field independent (FI) learners dislike collaborative activities, while field dependent (FD) learners prefer to work with others. In addition, FI learners prefer an online learning environment, while FD learners feel disoriented in cyberspace. As research on computer-supported collaborative learning seldom investigates learners with different cognitive styles, it is worth examining how FI and FD learners perceive the learning experience when collaborative activities are implemented in an online learning environment. Thus, to fill the gap in the existing literature, 29 FI and 32 FD students at two universities participated in this study, and were requested to provide online peer feedback inside dyads and create a group e-book. Instruments included questionnaires and the Group Embedded Figure Test. The researchers used descriptive statistics, t-tests, and the constant analysis method to analyze the data. The results of the peer feedback activity showed that, for the FI students, the task of collaborating with four to five members to create a group e-book was more challenging than cooperating with just one group member. Even for FD students, using unfamiliar technological tools to interact with unfamiliar students could still be rather awkward, especially when the communication was asynchronous. Some pedagogical implications are provided to conclude this study.
Some principles or criteria are provided to learners when they use English learning websites or CALL materials (Economides, 2003; Jamieson & Preiss, 2005; Johnson, Hornikb, & Salas, 2008; Liu, Liu, & Hwang, 2011; Wang & Chen, 2009; Yang & Chan, 2008). However, little research has been conducted to describe a set of evaluation criteria for English courses, especially on English listening and speaking. The main purpose of the study is trying to construct a multi-dimensional set of criteria for English teachers to evaluate the quality of e-learning English listening and speaking courses. These criteria can assist English teachers in designing effective English listening and speaking courses to improve students’ English listening and speaking ability. The developmental research applied in this paper constructed and refined the evaluation criteria using literature review, procedure, experts’ reviews and document analysis (George & Mallery, 2003). These evaluation guidelines were based on the aspects of a) information for e-learning course, b) English teaching, and c) listening and speaking teaching. In order to achieve this goal, the researcher used a four-stage procedure to refine and form the evaluation criteria. In the first stage, the 98 preliminary criteria were conducted based on general information of e-learning course, English teaching and teaching English listening and speaking related researches. The second stage focused on experts’ opinions for the preliminary criterion through online Google Docs with five-Likert scale. The third stage was to conduct both experts’ and learners’ opinions according to the results of stage two. Last stage was to finalize the criteria based on quantitative and qualitative surveys. 90 items were finalized in the criteria for evaluating the English listening and speaking e-learning course.
Several studies have shown positive effects of a speed reading course on students’ reading speed improve-ment (Chung & Nation, 2006; Macalister, 2008, 2010). Yet, little research has aimed to see if the speed in-crease transfers to other types of reading and if it has any effects on other language skills. This study set out to answer these questions and examine the relationships between EFL reading speed, reading comprehension, and memory span by looking at the comprehension scores and language memory span results. It was found that the reading speed improvement in the speed reading course transferred to other types of reading and did not necessarily negatively affect comprehension. The results demonstrated that the treatment groups considerably expanded their memory span. Strong relationships between speed increases in the speed read-ing course, speed improvement in other types of reading and memory span development were also found.
Knowledge about how young English-as-a-second-language (ESL) readers draw inferences is important input for teachers when designing lessons to teach reading strategies. This paper reports on an enquiry into the inferencing behaviour of ESL primary school students, aiming to give directions to the lesson intervention of a larger action research project on explicitly teaching inferencing. Nine male Primary Six (Sixth Grade) students in the author’s class from a school in Hong Kong were selected to take part in the study. To reveal how they made inferences while reading English texts, they were asked to participate in a think-aloud session in which they read a narrative text and an informational text in English. Analyses of their protocols suggested that they had low performance in bridging and global inferencing, and that this situation was even more obvious with the informational article. Implications for the teaching of inferencing to enhance L2 reading comprehension were discussed.
This study is a replication of Sung’s (2012) study. This study investigated most frequently used Chinese-character learning strategies reported by 88 first-year college learners of Chinese, the factors underlying those strategies, and whether there is a relationship between those strategies and the learners’ Chinese-character test performance. The results found 20 most frequently used strategies reported by the learners. Furthermore, the factor analysis extracted three components, which explained 44% of the variance. The results of the multiple regression tests showed that the participants who reported frequently using particular phonological strategies did better on the phonological comprehension part of the test and the ones who reported frequently using orthographic strategies did better on the graphic comprehension, graphic production, and phonological pro-duction parts of the test.
This article investigates the experiences of two Mexican English teachers who took part in an international second language (SL) teacher professional development program working for one semester as Spanish lan-guage monitors in schools and at a university in Canada. Using a narrative approach, we interpret their expe-riences of the following: curricular structure of such professional development programs including experienc-es at work; professional homestay; English language immersion and continuing acquisition; living in Canada and encountering everyday Canadian culture; and professional and personal learning. We inquire how teach-ing a first language in the SL environment contributes to the development of SL teachers. The article also reviews the five recommendations of a preceding study (Plews, Breckenridge, & Cambre, 2010): professional recognition, individual and institutional goal-setting, personalized language and culture learning outcomes, the role of professional homestay and interaction with education administration, and time and guidance for critical reflection. Our narrative emplotment of the two participants’ experiences echoes the poem “Little Orphant Annie” and the tale of “Goldilocks”: the first tale recounts how someone is left to do menial chores yet inspires others; the second is about a chance initiative-taker who is disappointed by the “big people” but finds her way to right things for herself thanks to the “little people.” These narratives have led us to re-emphasize our previous five recommendations for effective SL teacher international professional develop-ment and to further recommend including a graduate-level SL course as the focal point of the program and site for relevant networking and future collaboration.
Prospective second language (L2) teachers need to learn how to teach culture along with language skills. With the introduction of the professional standards, culture has become more of a focus in the teaching pro-fession. This study examines how pre-service L2 teacher are prepared to teach culture by examining methods course syllabi. Using constant comparative methodology, ten methods course syllabi were analyzed. This data source was triangulated with course calendars, programs of study, and course and associated websites, to find out how much time and assignments/assessments were devoted to the teaching of culture. Results indicate that an indirect approach to the teaching of culture is prevalent. Changes in the way course instructors ap-proach the methods course are suggested to enable new L2 teachers to be better prepared to teach culture in the L2 classroom.
The current study aimed to investigate the possible relationship between Iranian English for academic purposes (EAP) instructors’ interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences and their self-efficacy beliefs. To this end, 120 language and content English for academic purposes instructors were asked to complete the excerpted items from McKenzie’s (1990) Multiple Intelligences Questionnaire and Tschannen-Moran and Woolfolk Hoy’s (2001) Teachers’ Sense of Efficacy Scale. The results of the Pearson product-moment correlation showed that there was a positive significant correlation between personal intelligences and self-efficacy. Furthermore, using an independent t-test, the researchers found that there was no significant difference among language and content instructors regarding their self-efficacy beliefs in EAP classrooms. Moreover, the results of a paired t-test revealed that language instructors would feel more efficacious in English for general purposes than in EAP classrooms. The conclusions and implications of the current study are discussed in light of the earlier findings.
Learner autonomy has been the recurring theme in language teaching and learning for more than three dec-ades. This study asserts that, in any given context, prior to taking any measures to develop autonomous learn-ing, it is necessary to scrutinize learners’ perceptions concerning their readiness to exercise autonomy. In this study, data were elicited from 405 EFL learners studying English in Kish Institute through a questionnaire, semi-structured interviews, and non-participant observations. The results reveal that there is a gap between learners’ consciousness of autonomous learning and their actual practice in the classroom. Learners perceived themselves to be motivated, resorted to their teacher as a source of knowledge and believed that teachers should raise their awareness towards practicing autonomy. However, the participants voiced their disagree-ment regarding constraints they faced when practicing autonomy. Reiterating the significance of studying attitudes and expectations that learners hold, the study concludes with implications for the stakeholders in-volved in the learning process with regard to learner autonomy and hopes to be a driving force behind further research.
Effective communication is more than a one-way expression of a speaker’s message. For communication to occur, the listener must understand and respond to the speaker’s message, and so it is important that the speaker think about the listener’s response and consider the ‘impact’ of their words, and whether or not their story is successfully drawing their listener in. In second lan-guage learning, an understanding of these aspects of communication – over and above learning to use expressions and grammar correctly – is important, if learners are to communicate effectively. To raise student awareness of the role impact plays in communication and to develop narrative skills, we have been running an Intermediate Japanese Language Digital Story Telling Project in the School of Culture, History and Language, College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University since 2009. Digital stories are short three to four minute multimedia produc-tions that combine a first-person narrative, with image and background music, and provide a pow-erful way of developing learner communicative skills. Digital stories also provide a place where textbook language learning combines with more authentic communication, where teacher-centered and student-centered approaches combine and where the storyteller interacts with their audience. While contextualizing our work within the discourse of foreign language teaching and learning, this paper will introduce the project and present an analysis of successful student productions. This will demonstrate how effectively Digital Stories can be used to develop student awareness of the importance of understanding the ‘impact’ of their words, if they are to communicate their message and to achieve more holistic communication goals. The Digital Stories discussed in this paper demonstrate that students have achieved this impact by employing sophisticated features not only in the language they use in the narration, but also in the background sounds and music, and in the images used to create their movies. Some have used humor, irony or suspense to draw their audi-ence into their story, while others varied their tone of voice and speech style to create the desired impact. The more impactful stories successfully employed not only these verbal features but also incorporated visual creativity to harness the full potential of the digital movie form.