Editorial (pp. 3–4)
This quantitative study compares the effects of two different types of pre-reading activities on the reading comprehension of upper-level college students of Spanish: group approach and individual approach. Texts used focus on socio-political issues in several Spanish-speaking regions. The assessment tools are multiplechoice tests and written recall protocols. The multiple-choice test measures comprehension of text main ideas. Multiple-choice results indicate that individual pre-reading activities significantly increase reading comprehension. When examining recall protocols from a cumulative perspective, text main ideas, supporting ideas, and minor details are integrated into one cumulative grade (average of the three levels of ideas). This grade shows that neither pre-reading treatment shows any significant difference. However, when focusing on a specific level, individual pre-reading activities prompt participants to recall a significantly higher percentage of supporting ideas and minor details while showing no significant increase for main ideas. Group work treatment falls short in its ability to benefit reading comprehension.
This study investigates the effects of a two-month intervention programme based on the application of explicit and integrated strategy instruction with a sample of 192 Greek EFL learners attending the second year of upper secondary school. Students were divided into an experimental group, which underwent strategy training, and a control group, which followed the typical English language programme. Strategy use in both groups was evaluated with the use of the adapted Greek version of Oxford’s Strategy Inventory of Language Learning (SILL; Gavriilidou & Mitits, in press) which was distributed before and immediately after the intervention. The results indicated that after the completion of the intervention programme, the experimental group showed significant improvement in self-reported strategy use as a whole as well as in all strategy groups. Conclusions of the present study confirm the ‘teachability’ of learning strategies and suggest that explicit and integrated strategy training should have a role in the EFL classroom.
IResearch in cognitive semantics suggests that imagery can have a powerful mnemonic effect and that the dual coding of input (i.e. verbal representations and mental images) strengthens memory traces and facilitates information retrieval. The present study compared the effectiveness of two imagery-based techniques: a) pictorial support, which consisted of illustrations that depicted the literal meaning of the idiomatic phrases; and b) etymological notes, which explained the origin of the target phrases in the learners’ native language. Etymology was found to promote the retention of idiom meaning, while pictorial support facilitated the recall of their linguistic form. The results of the study are discussed in the light of the dual-coding theory and some directions for future research are offered.
This study explores the impact of the unique motivation and language skills of low-proficiency heritage learners on their performance in dictation tasks. A total of 24 beginner learners of L2 German were monitored for one semester while completing a dictation task in an intelligent computer-assisted language learning (ICALL) environment at a Canadian university. All native speakers of English, the participants were grouped by relationship to the target language community: 12 L2 heritage learners had at least one German parent, and 12 non-heritage learners had neither a German parent nor had travelled to a German-speaking country. Extensive computer log files, augmented by student questionnaires, were examined for learner behaviour and performance patterns. Results indicate that heritage learners on average made significantly more spelling mistakes and were more likely to access additional resources to complete the task than non-heritage language learners. This leads to a tentative conclusion that any benefit of motivational differences, phonological awareness and/or acuity from childhood L2 exposure is outweighed by literacy skills far below their communicative competence. The results of this study add to the growing body of research demonstrating that heritage learners have distinct learner behaviours and language skill sets and their pedagogical needs should be considered separately from traditional foreign language learners in the classroom.
This paper reports the results of a study carried out with intermediate learners of German and native speakers of German who participated in an online exchange. During the exchange, participants had to practice complex grammatical forms such as the subjunctive II. One group of students was allowed to utilize an online toolbar that identified subjunctive II forms written by native speakers in an online forum and provided activities for the students to practice those forms. The second group did not use the toolbar. The results showed that, with time, participants of the group working with the toolbar used more of the most difficult subjunctive II forms (irregular verbs) and more of those forms correctly than the group who did not have access to the toolbar.
The issue of whether automated writing evaluation programs facilitate student writing has provoked numerous discussions over the last two decades, but most findings are inconclusive. This study examines the degree of student satisfaction with the functions of Criterion®, how the program affects the revision practices of students, and why the program is helpful or unhelpful. The researcher surveyed 53 English major students at a Taiwanese university and examined 530 writing samples from them to discover the strengths and weaknesses of the program. This study used quantitative and qualitative methods to collect the data. The results revealed that many students valued the instant scoring speed (93.8%), the error analysis of usage (75.5%), and the feedback for organization and development (71.4%). However, most students were dissatisfied with the program’s scoring rubric (8.2%) and scoring summary (34.7%), the style error analysis (26.5%), and the ‘Plan’ tool (26.5%). The analysis of error correction rates in students’ final drafts confirmed that the feedback for grammar and usage errors was much more useful for student revision than the feedback for mechanics and style errors. The researcher verification showed that the current Criterion® tool is limited in its ability to detect errors related to tenses, conjunctions, compound words, word choice, and word order of indirect questions. Another problem of the program is that it may occasionally generate false alarm messages. AWEs have both merits and drawbacks, which may explain why approximately two-thirds of participants believed that the combination of machine scoring with the teacher’s explanations was the optimal implementation method for a writing class. Future studies may include more participants and investigate the extent to which these findings can be generalized to students with limited English writing proficiency.
This study investigates the impact of the introduction of hypertext utilizing electronic dictionaries in a Chinese as a Second Language program for intermediate level students at a Western university. It seeks to build on earlier frameworks concerning the impact of electronic glosses and dictionaries in promoting greater learner autonomy in intermediate L2 programs. During two project trials, questionnaires and focus groups were employed to solicit information about the students’ take-up of the new technology, their preferred learning styles, and their perceptions of the value of the e-learning tools and materials. The survey results indicate a relatively high level of take-up of the new technologies. Learners had a positive perception of the usefulness of these tools in assisting with class preparation, in promoting easier and more rapid reading, and in reducing learner fatigue. While learners found the use of electronic dictionaries to be beneficial for exploratory reading, there was also a preference for curated glossaries to complement their learning. Ongoing training and assistance were necessary to avoid a ‘digital divide’ in the take-up of e-technologies.
As a result of recent developments in communications technology, language learners have more opportunities to use Japanese outside the classroom, as well as to have increased access to resources. In future, Japanese language education could make active use of these new resources and might be able to utilise these technologies to promote language activities outside the classroom. How can we appropriate online resources to encourage learners to participate in interactions outside the classroom as well as to heighten their motivation in learning Japanese? In this article, we will discuss how we can use online resources in all their diversity. The article reports two case studies from the University of Western Sydney and the University of New South Wales Australia, which attempt to apply (i) the pedagogical theory of collaborative learning in designing a learning environment, (ii) second language acquisition theory, and (iii) the social networking service Bebo, to capitalise on the multifunctional potential of technology for Japanese language learning. Although the objectives of the courses and the learners differ, both cases aim to build an effective learning environment which promotes learning activities outside the classroom. The design of activities is aimed at meeting learning goals through the use of the social networking service Bebo. The study found that Bebo accommodates the lifestyle of the learners and stimulates collaborative learning among the learners, as well as strengthens their motivation in learning Japanese. However, we found issues that need to be addressed, such as the challenge of providing prompt teacher feedback and the limited support for the technological environment. If we can improve these issues and further eradicate any complications, we can promote collaborative learning activities not only in the classroom but outside the class as well. Furthermore, not only can Bebo enhance out-of-class learning, but it can also enable the implementation of tasks which are challenging to conduct in the classroom. Bebo can also contribute to the creation of a community of learning, which leads to a sense of belonging among the language learners as well as to the development of a network among them. As a result, it can help to support and motivate learners. Bebo is thus a resource that has great potential for the future of language learning.
List of External Reviewers 2014–2015 (p. 139)
Contributors to this Issue (pp. 140–142)
Centre For Language Studies,
Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences,
National University of Singapore,
9 Arts Link, AS4/02-05 Singapore 117570
Copyright © 2004–2014 by the Centre for Language Studies
Date of Publication: 30 June 2015
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