Editorial (pp. 303–304)
Language learner’s errors are often seen as a vital resource for understanding their learning process. However, error diagnosis can be a big challenge for language teachers, especially in second language learning contexts when there are discrepancies between the prescribed standard and prevailing uses. This article explores Singaporean students’ Chinese language (CL) learning “errors” with an aim to understanding their difficulties in error diagnosis and correction, and proposing possible solutions to this practical problem in CL instruction. The students’ language outputs have many deviations in pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar vis-à-vis the Putonghua standards, yet the lack of a clearly stated standard at the official level leads to a dilemma for CL teachers in the management of such variations. It is suggested that in Singapore’s language environment, the localised usages be tolerated rather than treated as errors and corrected in order to minimise the perception/practice gap.
Inference is an important strategy that could be applied in listening activities. It could help one to grasp the meanings of an oral message by analysing textual and contextual information. When the listener has difficulties in activities because of his poor linguistic skills, it is strongly recommended that he apply the inference strategy efficiently. But how and to what degree does this strategy influence a listener’s performance? What is the relationship between one’s inference capacity and one’s linguistic skills in listening? In this article, we present two studies conducted with 16 French-speaking learners of Chinese. In the first study, we observed, by applying listening tests and a think-aloud protocol, how eight learners (at A2 level and B1 level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) carried out listening tasks with audio-visual texts. In the second one, we observed the difficulties of another eight learners (at A2 level) who listened only to audio texts (i.e. not the same tasks as in the first study). The results show that when visual clues are available, a listener’s performance is influenced to a certain extent by his capacity to apply the inference strategy. This capacity seems to be independent of his linguistic skills. Those who obtained high scores in the listening test could not always infer successfully when faced with an audio-visual presentation, while some of those who obtained low scores in the listening test showed a very strong capacity to make inferences with visual clues. Both of our studies demonstrate that a minimal linguistic level is required for successful listening comprehension, but the second study showed in particular that a low linguistic level handicaps listeners much more when they have only audio data available to them.
In this article, we put forward an approach to investigating learners’ ways of seeing the objects of learning (i.e. what they have to learn). This approach was inspired by Marton’s (1981, 1986, 1988, 2015) theory of phenomenography, which in essence aims at putting aside our own presuppositions so as to reveal the original nature of the different ways the objects of learning are seen by learners. The results of such investigation are then taken into consideration in designing activities for teaching the objects of learning. We will illustrate this approach with several examples of our projects in teaching Chinese characters to local children in kindergartens and junior primary schools in Hong Kong. As this approach is generic, it may also have practical implications to language teaching in general.
Role-playing activities are very common teaching activities used by teachers in the foreign language teaching field. Issues concerning role-playing activities are not new topics in the literature of foreign language teaching, however in an observation teachers have two extreme views on the effectiveness of role-playing activities. One is that such kind of activities is useful in foreign language teaching especially in speaking classes. On the other hand, there are opposite views saying that such kind of activities shows very little effect on language teaching, particularly when there lacks skillful facilitation on the part of the teachers. The observation shows that there is still some room to study role-playing activities in language classroom. By adopting research methodologies such as focus group study of language teachers and classroom observations, this paper presents a study on role-playing in language teaching using data and examples from teaching Chinese as a Second Language (CSL). This paper attempts to analyze role-playing activities design and the cultural identity of the roles assigned in the activities.
In this article, I will examine the challenge facing Hindi language teaching in Australia due to the development of distinct cohorts of learners covering a spectrum from heritage to non-heritage learners of Hindi. I shall situate this examination in the interaction between language teaching styles and assessment, which has been a feature of Hindi teaching in Australian universities since its establishment in the 1970s. Following the typology of Cook (2008), I shall consider how a succession of teaching styles has impacted Hindi teaching during this period and how the development of Hindi teaching styles has related to student assessment. I will then argue that, in response to the contemporary challenges presented by diverse student cohorts and the extensive use of online text based translation tools by students, there is a need to adopt a new comprehensive approach to assessment, incorporating real time activities based on task based learning activities.
The Hindi honorifics system works according to a complex set of pragmatic rules. Its morphological representation is present in nouns, pronouns, adjectives and verbs. It reflects intertwined relationships among individuals based on formality, familiarity, age, familial relationships, social status, caste and other social factors. Whilst the T-V distinction in most of the languages manifest itself in the use of the second person pronoun only, these distinctions are extended to the use of the third person pronoun and, to a certain extent, the first person pronoun in Hindi. This adds to the complexity in its acquisition by a foreign language learner of Hindi. The ability to make the T-V distinction, while speaking with a native Hindi speaker, is imperative for Hindi as foreign language (HFL) students to enact in culture-sensitive communicative competence. If used incorrectly, a HFL learner might give a misleading signal of his own personality or culture that could cease the opportunity for him to assimilate himself into the target society through language. This article offers detailed analyses of the Hindi honorifics system, its significance and culturally appropriate use. The article will also offer some suggestions for its acquisition by foreign language learners.
Writing skills are significantly assessed in academic contexts as part of the curriculum requirement and assessment of foreign or second language proficiency. Hence, much of language class time is devoted to the teaching of writing and written assignments. It is assumed that learners’ L2 writing develops over time in response to instruction, teacher feedback and practice. The present study investigated the writing development among learners of Thai as a foreign language at a university in Singapore over the period of a 13-week semester. Discourse measures of accuracy, fluency and grammatical complexity were employed to assess the language use. In addition, the overall quality of writing was explored through analytic scoring. The study found that students’ writing statistically improved after a 13-week language course. The findings in relation to the students’ language proficiency and writing instruction were discussed.
Research on teaching and learning situations and classroom activities for college-level Korean as a Foreign Language (KFL) is lacking, although the number of KFL learners is rapidly increas-ing worldwide. To fill this gap, this study conducted a survey of KFL teachers to examine the ac-tivities used and how they are employed by teachers in college Korean classrooms. The main focus of the study was on the analysis of classroom activities used and proposed by teachers based on the theory of multiple intelligences (MI). MI theory has been documented as a framework that not only helps foreign language teachers to design exciting and effective learner-centered activities, but also improves students’ learning outcomes. MI, however, is not widely known in the KFL field. The present study aimed to answer the following four questions. First, what are the current KFL teaching and learning situations in university settings outside of Korea? Second, how do KFL teachers perceive the roles of classroom activities and actually employ them? Third, do activities used in KFL classrooms activate all eight distinctive intelligences of MI theory? Finally, what classroom activities are required in the KFL context?
Contributors to this Issue (pp. 418–420)
Editorial (pp. 3–4)
This study examined five instructional techniques for teaching complex grammar online and their effect on learners’ ability to notice and process the Spanish subjunctive when it appeared in authentic input post experimental exposure. All participants were online learners of Spanish in their second semester of language study. Computerized visual input enhancement (VIE), operationalized as word animation, was used to increase the visual salience of the targeted grammatical form for web-based delivery. Four experimental groups – processing instruction with visual input enhancement (+PI +VIE), processing instruction without visual input enhancement (+PI –VIE), structured input with visual input enhancement (+SI + VIE), and structured input without visual input enhancement (+SI -VIE) – were compared with a group that received traditional instruc-tion (+TI). The results indicated that the +PI +VIE group outperformed the +TI group and the two SI groups (+SI +VIE and +SI -VIE) on an awareness measure and both PI groups (+PI +VIE and +PI -VIE) outperformed the +SI -VIE group on an input processing measure.
The present study examines the extent to which Poetry Writing 2.0 can create an expressive and creative English language learning environment. Drawing on ethnographic online posting and interview data, qualitative findings show the following main benefits of blended poetry writing: (1) this blended instruction builds an engaging writer and reader community; (2) it allows for negotiating topics of poems; (3) pictures or photographs as visual artifacts bring poetry writing to life; (4) Poetry Writing 2.0 can provide further impetus for peer and teacher scaffolding as dialogic support for students; (5) Facebook is seen as a social networking site for enacting expressive and creative language instruction; and (6) students prefer having their poems assessed in a humanistic way in order to experience the joy of poem writing. The contribution of the study is to enhance a better understanding of how poetry as a creative writing genre could be a catalyst for expressive and meaningful language instruction. The ultimate goal of the instruction is to help students engage in poetry writing as a platform for learning to write creatively. Implications for EFL teacher education and the reinforcement of partnerships between universities and schools in prepar-ing EFL teachers are discussed.
This study examines the L2 selves of ten students studying upper-intermediate or advanced Japanese at an Australian university. Through analysis of interviews and students’ diary entries about Japanese-related experiences in their daily lives, the study examines the types of L2 selves the students construct, and how these constructions are influenced by the students’ responses to their L2 experiences. The findings reveal that the students were all successful at envisioning themselves as someone using Japanese for work and/or leisure in the future, although the ideal L2 self of each student differed considerably in its contents and elaborateness. The study further demonstrates that students’ L2 selves were often multi-faceted, and could change even within short periods of time. It also indicates that the students engaged with a wide range of Japanese-related activities and experiences in and beyond the classroom, and that their process of making meaning from such emerging L2 experiences significantly impacted the construction of their L2 selves.
Professional learning communities (PLCs) are a form of collaborative professional development through which educators gather to explore selected issues related to their teaching and learning philosophies, and classroom practices. This study focuses on one professional learning community formed with five world language faculty members at an American university. All five faculty members teach undergraduate level world language courses at the university, namely, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, and French. This study describes how the participants worked together to build a sense of community and overcome challenges, both within and beyond the field of education. Data were gathered through field notes and transcripts. Upon analysis, the following positive findings were determined: PLCs help participants create collegial relationships. PLCs can change classroom practices. PLCs promote reflective dialogue among participants. PLCs provide professional learning opportunities. Among the challenges that confronted the group were time constraints, difficulty in maintaining focus, and the importance of the facilitator maintaining a proper balance of authority.
Increasing the knowledge of specialized English is often a demanding job for students at the tertiary level in Iran, for they have little exposure to English. The lack of textbooks for graduate students in many disciplines has intensified the dilemma. Due to this fact, this study aimed at designing ESAP (English for Specific Academic Purposes) materials for the graduate students of Islamic Jurisprudence. The theoretical framework for the materials development implemented in this study was one proposed by Jolly and Bolitho (2012). The secondary aim of this study was to improve the students’ reading skills by using the scaffolding literacy process proposed by Rose, Lui-Chivizhe, McKnight and Smith (2003). A preliminary draft of the new textbook was developed in collaboration between the researchers, as language teachers, and a subject specialist in Islamic Jurisprudence. The newly developed materials were team-taught to 32 graduate students of Islamic Jurisprudence for one semester. At the end of the semester, a 28-item questionnaire was administered to the students in order to explore the learners’ attitudes towards the textbook. The results obtained from students’ questionnaire responses, observations, informal conversations along with structured interviews conducted with 20 experts of Islamic Jurisprudence revealed the stakeholders’ satisfaction concerning the newly developed textbook.
The present study investigated the speaking skills problems faced by Iranian EFL freshmen and seniors from their own and their English instructors’ perspectives. To this end, 238 Iranian EFL students (138 freshmen and 100 seniors) and 30 English instructors from various universities participated in the study by completing a validated speaking skills problems questionnaire. To triangulate the data, 30 EFL students (15 freshmen and 15 seniors) and ten English instructors, selected randomly from among the participants of the study, also sat a semi-structured interview. The results of the study revealed that some socially-related and instructor-related problems, the lack of teaching facilities, and the curricula of the education system of the country were among the major problem-creating factors for the freshmen’s and seniors’ speaking skills. Furthermore, the t-test results showed that overall there was no significant difference between the freshmen’s and the seniors’ perceptions of their own speaking skills problems. The results of Chi-square analyses of the individual items of the questionnaire indicated that there was no significant difference between the freshmen’s and the seniors’ perceptions except for item 1 (I am afraid of making mistakes). In addition, the results of one-way ANOVA showed that overall there was no significant difference among the freshmen’s, the seniors’ and the instructors’ perceptions of speaking skills problems.
The emergence of Web 2.0 technologies has empowered language learners. Web 2.0 allows learners to prac-tice their target language with native speakers anytime and anywhere they wish, free of charge. Given the significant impact of Web 2.0 on language learning, it is imperative to examine learners’ uses of Web 2.0 inside and outside the classroom. Such an inquiry provides insights into the pedagogical actions required to promote the adoption of Web 2.0 to enhance language learning. Therefore, this study examined the extent to which Korean learners of Japanese adopted Web 2.0 to learn Japanese in formal and informal learning contexts. It also examined the factors inhibiting their use of Web 2.0 for language learning. The results identified the following factors inhibiting the adoption of technology in class: lecturers’ overestimated learners’ computer skills, there was an overreliance by lecturers on learners’ voluntary use of Web 2.0 outside the classroom, and there was a general lack of access to computer labs during class. The findings also suggested that learners’ insufficient knowledge of websites and applications, the absence of Japanese acquaintances offline, and low confidence to interact with Japanese native speakers inhibited the Korean language learners’ interactions with Japanese speakers online beyond the classroom.
List of External Reviewers 2015–2016 (pp. 159–160)
Contributors to this Issue (pp. 161–163)
Centre For Language Studies,
Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences,
National University of Singapore,
9 Arts Link, AS4/02-05 Singapore 117570
Copyright © 2004–2016 by the Centre for Language Studies
Date of Publication: 12 August 2016
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