vol 1 (1) december 2012 - International Journal of Language

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vol 1 (1) december 2012 - International Journal of Language
The International
Journal of Language
Learning and Applied
Linguistics World
Copyright IJLLALW, December 2012
INTERNATIONAL EDITORIAL BOARD
Dr. A. Lystor Smith (Canada)
Dr. Amin Marzban (Iran)
Dr. Amrendra Kumar Singh (India)
Dr. Anjali Verma (India)
Dr. Anwar Mourssi (Oman)
Dr. Bahman Gorjian (Iran)
Dr. Eliza Tampson (Spain)
Dr. Goodarz Alibakhshi (Iran)
Dr. Hana’ Khalief Ghani (Iraq)
Dr. Ilknur (PEKKANLI) SAVAŞKAN (Turkey)
Dr. Monir Atta-Alla (USA)
Dr. Md. Motiur Rahman (Saudi Arabia)
Dr. Vahid Parvaresh (Iran)
Dr. Seyed Jalal Abdolmanafi (Iran)
Dr. Suleyman Davut Göker (Cyprus)
Dr.Yuan Yuan (China)
Hadi Hamidi (Iran)
Seyed Foad Ebrahimi (University Putra Malaysia)
Seyed Hossein Kashef (University Sains Malaysia)
Taher Bahrani (University Malaya, Malaysia)
Mahboobe Keihaniyan (Iran)
Mohammad Javad Riasati (University Putra Malaysia)
Mohammad Taghi Farvardin (Iran)
Masoud Mahmoodzadeh (Iran)
Nima Shakouri (Iran)
Saeid Najafi Sarem (Iran)
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The International Journal of Language Learning and Applied Linguistics World
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 TABLE OF CONTENTS
Psycholinguistic Approach to Second Language Acquisition
Parviz Maftoon & Nima Shakouri
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Teaching Global English- a shift of focus on language skills
Abraham Oommen
12
Exploring the Relationship Between Foreign Language Proficiency and
Cultural Intelligence
Ebrahim Khodadady & Shima Ghahari
22
On the Role of Vocabulary Instruction in Communicative Performance of
Iranian EFL Learners: Tasks Revisited
Amir Marzban & Amin Marzban
31
Impacts of Learning Reading Strategy on Students’ Reading Comprehension
Proficiency
Mohammad Reza Ahmadi Gilani & Hairul Nizam Ismail & Abbas Pourhossein Gilakjani
47
Integrating E-Mail Summaries of Internet Radio into the Foreign Language
Classroom: An Experiment with German
William C. McDonald
63
The Impact of Reflection and Metalinguistic Feedback in SLA: A Qualitative
Research in the Context of Post Graduates
Anwar Mourssi
90
The Comparative Effect of Different Task Processing Conditions and L2 Decision 107
Making Oral Production
Sepeedeh Hanifehzadeh & Sara Ebrahimi
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Psycholinguistic Approach to Second Language Acquisition
Parviz Maftoon
pmaftoon@srbiau.ac.ir
Department of Foreign Languages and Literature, Science and Research Branch,
Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran
Nima Shakouri
Shakouri.ni@gmail.com
Department of Foreign Languages and Literature, Science and Research Branch,
Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran
Bio Data
Parviz Maftoon is Associate Professor of teaching English at Islamic Azad University, Science
and Research Branch, Tehran, Iran. He received his Ph.D. degree from New York University in
1978 in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). His primary research
interests concern EFL writing, second language acquisition, SL/FL language teaching
methodology, and language syllabus design. He has published and edited a number of research
articles and books. He is currently on the editorial board of some language journals in Iran.
Nima Shakouri is currently a Ph.D. candidate of TEFL at Islamic Azad University, Science and
Research, Tehran, Iran. He has taught English courses for over a decade at different universities.
Moreover, he has published some articles in international journals and some English textbooks
for GE and ESP courses.
Abstract
The notion of mental representation has been a core assumption led to the revolution in cognitive
sciences. Whether this representation is symbolic or connectionist was always a source of
contention. Also, there has been controversy whether the mind should be viewed as modular or a
bundle of modules. The paper claims in psycholinguistic approaches there is less concern with
the interface between syntactic form and pragmatic function. The shift from competence-oriented
theory to performance-oriented theory was an impetus that motivates the authors to have a
theoretical study on the tenets of models suggested.
Key words: competition, psycholinguistics, interlanguage, cline
Introduction
The psycholinguistic approach to second language (L2) learning focuses upon what humans
know when they talk and how they acquire that knowledge and how that knowledge is put to use.
Matlin (1994) states that the central approach of psycholinguistic theory, in general, is that
people, especially the young, are biologically predisposed to language learning and that what is
learned is not so much a string of words but transformational rules that enable the language
learner to understand the sentences heard. This means that developmentally appropriate
instruction must be considered in second language learning.
In this regard, Reichle (2010) argues that while psycholinguistics has set its sights on many
morphosyntactic phenomena in the existing body of research, for the most part, it has ignored the
intriguing area of information structure. He further continues that information structure can be
described as the interface between syntactic form and pragmatic function, or in other words, the
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 way in which a speaker uses cues from sentence structure to guide a hearer toward knowing what
is more or less important in a sentence. Henceforth, information structure lies at the intersection
of semantics and syntax. In the present paper, the writers are going to elucidate the thought and
language interaction from psycholinguistic perspectives.
Literature review
Psycholinguistics is simply defined as the study of the relationship between human language and
human mind. Psycholinguistics is a branch of cognitive science that investigates how an
individual uses (e.g., produce and comprehend) and acquire language (Treiman, Clifton, Meyer,
& Wurm, 2003). In short, three important processes are investigated in psycholinguistics: (1)
language production, (2) language comprehension, and (3) language acquisition. From many
questions that psycholinguistics attempts to answer, it, specifically, addresses two questions (1)
what knowledge of language is needed for us to use language? and (2) what cognitive processes
are involved in the ordinary use of language?
The notion of mental representation has been a core assumption led to the revolution in cognitive
sciences. For this purpose the metaphor of network construction provided a tool to deal the
mental representations (Zelewski, 2010). These networks might be either symbolic or
connectionist in nature, though both share in the feature of computation, but what the nature of
this computation is raises a question. To Garson (2010), computation may be considered
symbolic manipulators or functional implementers. Symbolic manipulation holds due to the
linear nature of such systems, it does not experience graceful degradation. If a rule is lost, the
system cannot respond at all to any situation which would have employed that rule. In contrast,
functional implementation denotes that there is interconnected processing units, each of which
has an activation level. For computation to take place there are two conditions: they must
represent vehicles of some kind, and the context of those vehicles must represent the probable
causal processes (Garson, 2010). In such a network, if one rule is lost, its quality can be retained.
In fact, connectionist approach, in contrast with symbolic approach to modeling cognition, is
called subsymbolic; that is, it deconstructs symbols into smaller units called microfeatures
(Rumelhart & McClleland, 1986); furthermore, as Zelewski (2010) maintains, they are not
meaningful by themselves and their cumulative meaning depends on the larger pattern of
connectivity within which they are being activated.
The re-emergence, in the mid-1980s, of neural networks in the form of parallel distributed
processing (PDP) networks (Rumelhart & McClelland, 1986) usually referred to as the
connectionist theory of mind emanated from the early symbolic tradition of the 1970s. Among
the early developments in symbolic traditions, Rumelhart’s (1975) schema theory and Rosch’s
(1978) prototype theory are noticeable (cited in Zelewski, 2010, pp. 94-95). In a nutshell, as to
Flower (1994, cited in Zelewski, 2010) asserts “connectionism is not a theory of how knowledge
is remembered but of how it is constructed out of memory” (p. 95).
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Psycholinguistic approach to production and comprehension
Unlike socio-cultural approaches that see language and thought highly interwoven,
psycholinguistic approaches view language and thought as related but completely independent
phenomena (Claros, 2009, p. 142). In the same line, Lantolf (2000) says “publicly derived
speech completes privately initiated thought” (p. 7). Meanwhile, Lantolf holds the most
fundamental concept of sociocultural theory is the mediated mind. As Lantolf further adds,
human behavior is the result of the integration of mediation into human activity as a functional
system. In fact, it is language that makes it possible for us to gain control over thought.
From both approaches (i.e., psycholinguistic and sociocultural approaches), interaction plays a
significant role in the process of L2 development. However, there are subtle distinctions; in a way, in
the psycholinguistic approach the individual internal cognitive processes are activated so that
activation allows the individual to access the comprehensible input needed to further advance in the
acquisition of the L2 (Long, 1996 cited in Claros, 2009, p. 143); in socio-cultural approach,
however, social interaction allows interlocutors, with the help of each other to organize their
cognitive processes and along the same line to con-construct the knowledge about the L2 (Lantolf,
2000). Thus, for psycholinguistic theorists learning is viewed as a cognitive individual process
happening within the individual and then takes a social aspect. What is vital for psycholinguistic
theorists is that the exposure to comprehensible input and negative feedback leads to language
learning (Long, 1996, cited in Claros, 2009, p. 143). To sum up, psycholinguistic approaches to
language learning conceive language learning as a cognitive and individual process in which
knowledge is constructed as the learner (1) exposed to comprehensible input (Krashen, 1985), (2) is
given opportunities to both negotiate meaning (Long, 1997), and (3) receive negative feedback.
These three features are well supported by Krashen’s input hypothesis, and Long’s interaction
hypothesis.
Krashen (1985) argues that to understand and learn language, s/he must be exposed to the linguistic
input that is a little beyond his/her current level of competence. Krashen summarizes his view
in his famous i+1 concept which indicates that the input the learner receives must contain
some slight amount of new information in addition to what s/he already knows. To Krashen,
comprehensible input is not just a necessary condition, but it is the sufficient condition.
According to Long’s (1997) interaction hypothesis, comprehensible input is the result of
modified interaction. By modified interaction, Long means the various modifications that native
speakers or other interlocutors create to render their input comprehensible to learners. For
example, native speakers often slow down their speech to nonnative speakers, speaking more
deliberately. According to Long (as cited in Claros, 2009), input comprehensibility increases as
learners interact and use different types of interactional modifications (i.e., comprehension
checks, confirmation checks and clarification requests) to overcome communication breakdowns.
To many scholars, (Krashen, 1985; Vandegrifff, 1999; Van Patten, 1996), comprehension has
cognitive, affective, and communicative advantages. Cognitively, they (Krashen, 1985:
VanPatten, 1996, cited in Kumaravadivelu, 2006, p. 140) point out that it is better to concentrate
on one skill at a time. Affectively, speaking in public frightens and embarrasses students. Thus,
they have to speak only when they are ready. Communicatively, listening is inherently interactive
in that listeners try to work out a message. In learning-centered approaches, pedagogists
(Krashen, 1985) Prabhu, 1987) believe that comprehension helps learners firm up abstract
linguistic structures needed for the establishment of mental representation of the L2 system.
Prabhu (1987) (as cited in Kumaravadivelu, 2006, p. 140) lists four factors to explain the
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 importance of comprehension over production: Unlike production, comprehension (1) causes a
sense of security, (2) allows the learners to be imprecise, (3) is readily adjustable, and (4)
involves language features that are already present in the input addressed to the learner.
Claros (2009) states what Long (1997) puts forward seems to sparkle interest among the so-called
interactionists who turned their research agendas to examine how speakers modify their speech
and interaction patterns to allow their interlocutors to participate, understand and keep the flow of
conversation.
Ferreira and Anes (1994) outline the difference between the spoken and written language. They
argue during reading, the language learner can control the rate at which information is taken in;
readers can slow down or speed up the input to suit their level of comprehension, as far as the
segmentation of information available in the perceptual input varies. Furthermore, in the written
language, word boundaries are marked by spaces, and sentence boundaries are marked by
terminal punctuation marks. According to Ferreira and Anes, word and phrasal boundaries are not
so clearly marked in the spoken language. Word boundaries are seldom acoustically indicated;
often a pause will occur within a word and not between two adjacent words. With this
background, research shows that reading has been studied more extensively than spoken language
processing.
The most accepted model of language production is that of Levelt (cited in Szito, 2006, p. 157).
To his model,
speech goes through three levels. For the first level, thoughts are formulated in a
unit called Conceptualizer (1). This means that the message is generated here but
has no linguistic form yet – it may appear in pictures. When it is ready, the
message is sent to the next unit, the Formulator (2), where it will be
grammatically and phonetically shaped. The Formulator is connected to the
Lexicon, from where it takes the words and other units of expression. In the third
step, the message goes to the Articulator for articulation (3), that is, for speech.
This whole process takes place very fast.
Psycholinguistic models of language acquisition
Similar to the models of first language L1 acquisition, most models of L2 acquisition also
emphasize the role of rules. In the same vein, such models, to date, have depended on a
competence-based linguistic theory. To better appreciate such models of competence-based
linguistic theory, two of the most influential models of this type are the interlanguage hypothesis
and monitor theory. The former holds an L2 learner, at any time in the process of acquisition,
develops an interim-stage grammar. This interim grammar or interlanguage changes in response
to incoming data so that with continued exposure to sufficient and appropriate input, the
interlanguage grammar , by a series of successive approximations, moves closer and closer to the
standard grammar of the target language (Kilborn, 1994, p. 919). According to the monitor
theory developed by Krashen (1985), there are two types of knowledge: acquired and learned.
Acquired knowledge is used for communication, while learned knowledge is to edit the acquired
knowledge. The learned knowledge becomes active when there is sufficient time to apply the
rules, focus on form: the language user must be focused on correctness or the form of the output
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and knowledge of the rules. Accordingly, these two processes, acquisition and learning, jointly
contribute to developing competence in L2. Acquisition is responsible for the ability to know or
feel that a sentence is grammatical or ungrammatical, without explicit reference to the rules of
grammar. Learning, as to Krashen, is responsible for the explicit knowledge of grammatical rules
and ability to state them. In sum, the role of learning is to edit or monitor the form of utterance
based on the explicit knowledge base at the speaker’s disposal. Thus, an adult’s competence in
L2 derives mainly from the unconscious internalization of rules; indeed, to Krashen acquisition is
responsible for our fluency in L2. However, McLaughlin (1978) takes issue with the
acquisition/learning distinction proposed by Krashen (1985). He proposes that “it is impossible to
know whether subjects are actually operating on the basis of rules or feel” (p. 317). In much the
same way, Kilborn (1994) puts forth the notion of rule may be too rigid to capture a process as
complex and dynamic as language acquisition. Rule-based models have two major shortcomings:
(1) they tend to be all-or-nothing, either a rule is present or it is not, and (2) rule-based models
derive from theoretical accounts of single linguistic systems, considered one at a time (Kilborn,
1994, pp. 920-921).
In contrast with competence-oriented models, notably interlanguage theory and monitor theory,
several models are posited in favor with performance-oriented theory. To better appreciate
performance-oriented models, here we adapt the competition model to the study of language
acquisition. In the competition model, the focus is attached not only to the linguistic forms that
are acquired, but also to the cognitive constraints that govern learning and using forms for
communication (Bates & MacWhinney, 1982, cited in Kilborn, 1994, p. 923). Accordingly,
Kilborn (1994) adds that the competition model adheres to functionalist tenets in that formfunction mappings are made as directly as possible. However, the strong functionalist position
which posits one form to one function is rejected in favor of a multiplicity of form-function
mappings. In short, what the competition model holds is that the treatment of obligatory rules are
quantitatively, rather than qualitatively, different.
A basic concept from function-to-form mapping is that acquisition of both L1 and L2 involves a
process of grammaticalization. Grammaticalization, as Hopper and Traugott (2003) refer to,
occurs when a lexical item changes into one that serves a grammatical function, or a grammatical
item develops into new grammatical form. Basic to work on grammaticalization is the concept
of cline. Cline has both historical and synchronic implications:
From a historical perspective, a cline is conceptualized as a natural
“pathway” along which forms evolve, a schema which models the
development of forms. Synchronically, a cline can be thought of as a
“continuum”: an arrangement of forms along an imaginary line at which is a
fuller form of some kind, perhaps “lexical,” and at the opposite a compacted
and reduced form, perhaps “grammatical”. (Hopper & Traugott, 2003, p. 6)
The term cline, according to Hopper and Traugott (2003, p. 6), is a metaphor for the empirical
observation. From the point of view of change, forms do not shift abruptly from one category to
another, but they go through a series of small transitions, transitions that tend to be similar in
type across languages. Michel and Myles (2004) elucidates such shift in this way that a
grammatical function (such as the expression of past time) is first conveyed by shared
extralinguistic knowledge and inferencing based on the context of discourse, then by a lexical
word (such as yesterday), and only later by a grammatical marker (such as the suffix -ed). For
example, if you ask a beginning learner of English what he did the day before he might say I
play soccer, relying on context to convey the meaning of past time; a somewhat more advanced
learner might say Yesterday I play soccer, using an adverb to convey the meaning of past; and a
still more advanced learner might say I played soccer, using the grammatical inflection -ed.
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 To delve into the theoretical background of the competition model, let us elaborate in this way
that competition model of Bates and MacWhinney (1987) explores a position that views both L1
and L2 language acquisition as constructive that rely not on universals of linguistic structure,
but on universals of cognitive structures. Hence, their views reap the benefits of functionalist and
connectionist view of both L1 and L2 learning that attribute the development to learning and
transfer rather than to the principles and parameters of Universal Grammar. Accordingly,
MacWhinney (1997) maintains that his model can be best understood in terms of the
commitments it makes to four major theoretical issues: (1) lexical functionalism, (2)
connectionism, (3) input-driven learning, and (4) capacity.
The basic claim of functionalism is that the forms of language are determined and shaped by the
communicative functions to which they are placed. These forms are either standard lexical items
(words) or more complex constructions (idiom). The pressure of communicative function is
considered to be the primary determinant of language development. In order to model the
interaction between lexical mappings, the competition model uses connectionist models. As
MacWhinney (1997) claims, competition, gradience, emergence, and transfer are four properties
of these neural network. Of these four, transfer is the most important for understanding L2
acquisition process. Moreover, in the debate between nativism and empiricism, MacWhinney
(1997) emphasizes the role of input rather than principles or parameters. The capacity of short
term memory must also be regarded, as this model relies on the underlying conceptual
interpretation in determining the utilization of processing capacity. Miller (1956, cited in
Yoshino, 1996, p. 171) pointed out that there are certain limits to the span of memory and the
span of perception in short term memory. His discovery of the limited capacity of short-term
memory is now a prominent landmark in the history of cognitive psychology. Regarding the
capacity limitations on short-term memory, Oyama, Kikuchi, & Chihara (1981), refer to two
levels. The first limitation is concerned with the transfer of information from iconic memory to
short term memory, and the second relates to the saturation of the limited capacity of short-term
store (2-8 sec stimulus duration).
Like the competition model, the Autonomous Induction Theory proposed by Carroll (2002) also
aims to account for the constrained nature of acquisition of linguistic knowledge by adopting a
generative, symbolic approach to the representation of knowledge and by specifying the way in
which linguistic information is proposed by parsers. Under this account, parsing procedures are
revised overtime, making novel linguistic information available to the learner (Hulstijn, 2007).
Although Autonomous Induction Theory puts some emphasis on universals, it gives important
roles to induction in explaining L2 acquisition. Carroll (2002) argues against the claim of total
access to universal grammar, especially when comparing L1 and L1 acquisition. A crucial
component of Autonomous Induction theory is Induction Theory. As cited by Selinker, Kim and
Bandi-Rao (2004), “induction learning has a basic property, some components operating
autonomously within the theory of modularity” (p. 83). Carroll took issues with classical
induction theory in that it claims that feedback serves key roles guiding learners from one mental
state to another. In line with the competition model, she adopts the notion of competition
whereby analyzing a novel form involves competition among various information sources from
different levels.
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To delve into the philosophy behind Autonomous Induction Theory, Carroll (2002) makes a
distinction between inductive reasoning and inductive learning. Inductive learning takes place in
that part of the mind computing conceptual structures, and inductive reasoning affects
representations within the autonomous systems of the language faculty. Inductive reasoning
appears in the form of inferencing. Although no one denies the stance of inferencing in
interpreting the input, little is stated how information encoded in one type representation
(conceptual) is turned into an autonomous representational formats (phonetics). According to
Carroll, inductive learning is not inductive reasoning. Even it is different from mechanistic
responses to environmental changes in that the results of i-learning depend upon the content of
symbolic representations in working memory and long-term memory. I-learning begins with the
failure of current representations to fit active mental models in conjunction with specific stimuli
or some other computation (Carroll, 2007, p. 168). When parsing system fails to detect such
discrepancy, induction learning ends. Put similarly, when students fail to detect errors,
fossilization occurs.
Conclusion
In a nutshell, Chomsky (1957), unanimous with many generative linguists (e.g., Fodor, 1987),
makes the following claims concerning language and cognition: (1) modularity issue: that is,
language is a component of cognition, separate from other components; (2) learnability issue: that
is, children can learn the language of their environment by virtue of an inborn universal grammar
(nativism) that restricts the power of their grammars; and (3) mental representational that
connotes knowledge of language must be represented with symbolic architectures, i.e., systems of
principles and rules operating on abstract categories. What makes a bone of contention is that
how this knowledge of learner is going to be represented. Traditionally, this representation has
been viewed as symbolic connectionism. What makes a connectionist framework distinct with
symbolic one is the notion of frequency: the more frequently the system is exposed to the word
CAT, the more readily this string will form a strong bond in contrast to strings which will never
or seldom occur such as ACT or TAC. Thus, learning takes place when the individual discovers
the difference between what s/he experiences and what the outside world represents.
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Teaching Global English- a shift of focus on language skills
Abraham Oommen, M.A., B.Ed., TESOL (England), (Ph. D)
Research Scholar, Singhania University, Pacheri Bari, (Raj), India
Abstract
The importance of English as a global language is unquestionable and to become a competent
user of this language is demand of the time. English language learning in the simplest way can be
defined as the development of the four language skills which enables the learners to integrate and
use them through suitable strategies as the situation demands. This study investigates the tertiary
level teachers’ perceptions about the importance and use of English language skills for academic
and career needs of the learners in the teaching of English as a global language. This study was
conducted as a pilot study of a major study on ‘Teachers’ perceptions about the teaching of
English as a global language at the tertiary level education in Ethiopia’. The participants of the
study were twenty three (23) tertiary level teachers of English from five universities in Ethiopia.
They were served with fourteen (14) Likert scale items as a questionnaire to investigate their
perceptions about the importance of different English language skills and the frequency of the use
of these language skills for different purposes in academic and career contexts by the learners.
The result shows that the teaching of English as a global language is a mere shift of focus on the
language skills-listening and reading since global English itself is a pragmatic (media dominated)
pedagogy in the use of English globally.
Key words: Global English, teachers’ perceptions, integrated skills, segregated skills,
comprehension skills, productive skills, Likert-scale
Introduction
According to Crystal (2010), bringing global English into the classroom is essential if the
purpose of English language teaching is to empower students to encounter the English speaking
world with confidence. With regard to language teaching, there are two aspects to be considered;
teaching comprehension and teaching production. However, the main impact of global English is
in the teaching of comprehension that is, teaching listening comprehension and teaching reading
comprehension.
This study aims at investigating the tertiary level teachers’ perceptions about the importance of
different language skills in academic and career pursuits of the learners and the frequency of use
of these skills at various situations so as to enable them to face the global English speaking world
with confidence. The result shows that teaching of English as a global language in the classroom
is a shift of focus on comprehension skills which has long been neglected in many non-native
settings, especially in Ethiopia.
English has played a dominant and longstanding role as a medium of instruction in educational
sector of Ethiopia. All universities in the country are supposed to use English as their working
language; they ought to produce documents, hold meetings, write minutes and reports, etc. in
English. The increasing use of English in most government and business sectors in Ethiopia,
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 hence, demands a strong English language competency and mastery of the skills of
comprehension and expression from the students coming out of universities (Negash, 2006).
In this context it is worthwhile to understand what the tertiary level teachers perceive about the
importance of English language skills and their use for the learners in the context of English as a
global language as teachers’ perceptions have great impact on the classroom instruction. Studies
have been done on teaching language skills by Nunan (1992), Robinson (1991), Hutchinson and
Waters (1987), and Yalden (1987). But in the back ground of globalization and the status of
English as a global language, what the teachers perceive about the importance and use of these
language skills to the students in their academic and career pursuits has not been addressed
specifically so as to teach the language in a perspective different from that of a second or foreign
language, especially in Ethiopian tertiary level education.
Literature Review
This study investigates the perceptions of Ethiopian tertiary level teachers about the emphasis
and focus of English language skills for the learners in the teaching of English as a global
language. So this literature review is organized to discuss matters concerned with English
language skills in terms of comprehension skills and productive skills, segregated and integrated
skill approach and finally the shift of emphasis on the skills in the context of teaching English as
a global language.
By language skills, we mean, the way language is used (Richards, Platt & Platt, 1992), and are
traditionally conceived as consisting of reading, writing, listening and speaking. Skills are the
building blocks and effective elements of language teaching and learning process. For effective
communication in any language, we need these four skills. The natural way of learning our first
language begins with listening, then speaking, after that reading, and finally writing.
Comprehension and Productive skills
The four English language skills are grouped in: receptive skills (listening and reading) and
productive skills (speaking and writing). These dyads are also termed as comprehension skills
and production skills (Crystal, 2003).Investigations into the social, cultural, economic, and
political contexts of English learning have provided much insight into populations of learners and
their specific learning goals. While some may need to speak and write English for academic and
professional purposes, others set out to develop conversational or reading skills. In certain
context of English teaching and learning, preference was given to reading and writing while
listening and speaking remain neglected. Thus it becomes essential to know about the
fundamental factors such as the learner, the context and the resources in order to determine how
particular skills are taught and learned (e.g., Breen, 2001; Breen & Littlejohn, 2000).
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Krashen (1982) proposed that in language teaching, more effort should be devoted to developing
learners’ comprehension competence than their productive competence. He claimed that learners’
productive ability will arise naturally from comprehension abilities. In particular, Krashen
stressed that meaningful comprehension rather than focused production is all that is needed to
facilitate language learning. Recent researches on second language acquisition, however, do not
fully assume that productive skills will arise naturally from comprehension skills.
Segregated and Integrated Skills approach
Traditional English language teaching often resorted to the teaching of the four language skills
separately, and materials and activities designed usually focused on one specific skill and others
were ignored (Jing, 2006). In the past, listening and reading skills in English as a second
language were not considered as much important as speaking and writing, but it was in the
1960´s when secondary skills came into fashion (Anderson & Lynch, 1988). The segregation of
the skills is not consistent with the nature of language development in the first language context.
In the first language context all language skills are interrelated. The interrelatedness of the
language skills can be deduced from observation of a child's development of oral and written
language which follows the sequence of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. In this
connection, Strang (1972) noted:
‘Listening proceeds speaking and reading. Children acquire their native tongue
through listening to and imitating the speech of their parents. Speaking is basic
to both reading and writing.’ (p. 291)
In segregated skills approach, the mastery of discrete skills, such as reading and writing or
reading and speaking are considered as the key to successful language learning and language
learning is typically separated from content learning (Mohan, 1986).
However, research has shown that integrated skill approach is the natural way of learning a
language. In real life, language skills are rarely used in isolation; it is a rare situation where one
of the four skills occurs alone. For example, to engage in a conversation, one needs to be able to
speak and comprehend at the same time. To make language learning as realistic as possible,
instruction has to integrate language skills simultaneously which is a requisite in communication.
“Often one skill will reinforce another; we learn to speak, for example, in part by modeling what
we hear, and we learn to write by examining what we can read” (Brown, 2001). For instance,
teaching reading can be easily tied to instruction on writing and vocabulary, and oral skills
readily lend themselves to teaching pronunciation, listening, and cross-cultural pragmatics
(Hinkel, 2001; Lazaraton, 2001; McCarthy & O’Keeffe, 2004).
Shift of focus on skills in a global language context
In an age of globalization, when English has become a global language for communication,
pragmatic objectives of language learning place an increased value on integrated and dynamic
multi-skill instructional models with a focus on meaningful communication and the development
of learners’ communicative competence (Hinkel, 2006, P:113). Moreover, most cross-cultural
interactions take place between non-native speakers of English rather than between native and
nonnative speakers (e.g., Canagarajah, 2005; Jenkins, 2000).
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 Most of these non-native speakers ‘don’t speak RP, don’t speak General American but they speak
accents tinged with Chinese and Japanese and French and German and all the varieties let alone
Welsh and Scottish and Irish, Liverpool and Birmingham and Cockney and all of those’(Crystal,
2012, in an interview). Since English truly is a global language (Crystal, 2003), all English
language learners need to be prepared for future encounters with speakers of varieties of English
that differ from their own (Jenkins, 2000, 2006). One way to prepare learners is to expose them to
different varieties (Matsuda, 2003). Examples of different English varieties are available on the
Internet, radio, television, and in different newspapers from around the world (Cook, 1999).
Crystal (2010) also points out the need of focusing on the comprehension skills (Listening and
Reading) in instruction in the context of teaching English as a global language enabling the
learners to familiarize themselves with the range of variations in the spoken and written language
of English. It does not mean that productive skills (speaking & writing) be neglected but it should
go on as it is being taught at present in different context. In production, nothing changes. One
cannot produce all the varieties of English in the world. Global English does not have much
impact there and it does not insist everybody has to speak one accent and one dialect. In short, in
terms of production, global English doesn’t have much effect but in terms of comprehension it
changes everything.
Research Questions
This study answers the following research questions:
•
What do the participant Ethiopian tertiary teachers feel about the importance of different
language skills in the learners’ academic career needs?
•
What do the participant teachers perceive about the use of English language skills for
different purposes by the learners?
Significance of the study
Ethiopia is in a phase of developmental transitions. As international trade, investment, and
communication in Ethiopia increase, those who can effectively interact in English with the rest of
the world will be best positioned to succeed. The urge for this has already been felt in the
academic, career and social lives of the learners. In Ethiopia, university students have to do much
academic reading in English. It is not only for university that students need mastery in English.
They will also need the language for their career opportunities. In many professional
environments, English skills and English proficiency are considered to be the essential
requirements. For jobs in Education, the computer industry, journalism, film, public relations,
English is no longer just a benefit but often a necessity. English is also playing a rather important
role in the daily lives of the modern Ethiopian youths. For example; turn on the radio, TV,
computer or surf the internet; English turns out to be a strong media language for communication.
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In this study learners’ needs of different English language skills are approached on the basis of
academic and career needs apart from the role they play in the lives of the learners. So this study
can reflect the actual needs of the learners in a globalised society and the necessity to shift the
focus of language skills learning in the existing situation in Ethiopian tertiary education.
Methodology
This study is both qualitative and quantitative based on literature review and a questionnaire
survey conducted on 23 tertiary level teachers of English from 5 universities in Ethiopia. The
questionnaire survey contained 14 Likert- scale items, divided into two sections. Likert-type or
frequency scales use fixed choice response formats and are designed to measure attitudes or
opinions (McLeod, 2008). These ordinal scales measure levels of agreement/disagreement. So, in
this study this valid measurement instrument is used.
In the first section the shifting focus of the four skills in learners’ academic and career needs is
addressed. A five-point Likert- scale (5= very important, 4= important, 3= somewhat important,
2= not important, 1= unnecessary) was used. The second section contains 10 Likert-scale items
requiring the frequency of learners’ use of the skills in different context for both academic and
career needs (5= always, 4= usually, 3= often, 2= sometimes, 1= rarely). The first two contexts
are related to listening skills, next two are of speaking skills, and then three following contexts
are related to reading skills and the last three represent writing skills. In both sections, the
responses and their ‘Mean’ are taken to comprehend the data and for clear analysis.
The Participants
This study was supported by 23 tertiary level teachers from 5 universities including the university
where the researcher worked for two years. Most of the instructors were fresh graduates who got
entry into university undergraduate teaching through a national competitive test. Of the 23
instructors, 18 held Bachelor of Arts degree and 5 held Master’s Degree in Teaching of English
as a Foreign Language and 3 had teaching diploma and were senior members. All of them taught
English Language to undergraduate students in the first year of their study. Masters’ degree
holders also taught English main students other than English language general course to students
with other subjects such as science, commerce, business studies and computer. The researcher’s
choice of this population for data collection proved to be very useful in this study because most
of them were fresh graduate instructors who held the fervor of learners’ expectations from
teachers and their reflection on the questionnaire items were free from any pretence.
Results
The participants' responses to the questionnaire are presented below based on the importance and
frequency of use of the skills in academic and career needs in tables 1 & 2 and figures 1 & 2.
Table 1 and the bar diagram 1 present data about teachers’ perceptions on the importance of
different skills in academic and career needs of the learners.
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 Skills Listening Speaking Reading Writing Table 1: Teachers’ perceptions about the importance of different English language skills in
academic and career needs of the learners
Very important Important Somewhat N
ot Un Mean important important necessary Acad. Career Acad. career Acad. career Acad. Career Acad. Career Acad. Carr. 11 4 17 2 10 7 5 1 10 9 6 15 12 13 8 7 2 5 0 5 1 3 7 12 0 5 0 1 0 0 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4.4 3.5 4.7 3.8 4.3 4.1 3.7 3.2 Fig 1: Teachers’ perceptions about the importance of different English language skills in
academic and career needs of the learners
The data in Table 1 and Figure 1 show that of the four language skills, listening skill (overall
mean=4.3), followed by reading (overall mean=4.2) have been perceived to be the most
important skill for both academic and career needs of the students. On the other hand, speaking
skill (overall mean=3.8) viewed important in career and writing skill (overall mean=3.5) viewed
important in academics, altogether have been viewed important but not as much as listening and
reading by the participant teachers.
Table 2 and bar diagram 2 present data about teachers’ perceptions on the frequency of use of
English language skills for different purposes in academic and career needs of the learners.
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Table 2: Teachers’ perceptions about the use of English language skills for different purposes
by the learners
Contexts Listening to lectures Watching television Speaking face-­‐to-­‐
face On the telephone Reading Books & journals Reading letters, faxes or e-­‐
mail Reading News papers & reports Writing letters, faxes or e-­‐
mail Writing notes & reports Writing papers for a journal etc. Always Usually Acad. Career Acad. Often S ometimes Rarely Mean career Acad. career Acad. Career Acad. Career Acad. Carr. 3 0 7 8 12 12 1 3 0 0 3.5 3.2 0 0 5 5 8 6 9 7 1 5 2.7 2.5 0 2 2 7 8 6 12 6 1 2 2.5 3.0 0 0 2 5 5 6 9 11 7 1 2.1 2.7 3 0 10 0 6 7 3 12 1 4 3.5 2.1 2 5 8 9 10 7 2 2 1 0 3.3 3.7 2 1 8 9 11 10 1 2 1 1 3.4 3.3 0 0 6 5 8 6 7 10 2 2 2.8 2.6 2 2 6 5 9 9 4 6 2 1 3.0 3.0 2 0 2 0 7 6 7 11 5 6 2.5 2.0 18
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 Fig 2: Teachers’ perceptions about the use of English language skills for different purposes
by the learners
Findings with regard to the frequency and use of the language skills, the participant teachers
perceive that listening and reading skills are used frequently by the students. Especially, listening
to lectures (mean=3.5) and reading books, journals, letters, e-mails, newspapers (mean= 3.3) are
the highest frequency contexts where the participants feel that their students use listening and
reading skills for academic purposes. In these contexts, speaking and writing skills score a
frequency of use (mean) = 2.5 and 2.7 respectively.
Whereas, listening to lectures (mean=3.2) and reading letters, newspapers, reports, e-mail etc.
(mean =3.3) are the peak contexts where the students use listening and reading skills for career
needs. In career needs, the use of skills such as speaking (mean=3.0) and writing (3.0) also rank
close to the comprehension skills in the contexts of speaking face to face and writing notes
respectively.
Discussion
It is apparent from the data analysis that comprehension skills (listening & reading) are perceived
to have a priority over productive skills such as speaking and writing. The result is in
conformation with what Crystal (2010) points out that global English in classroom prepares the
learners to face the English speaking world with confidence and that global English gives focus
to the comprehension skills. So, it is evident from the analysis of the data that comprehension
skills are more important than productive skills. It is also true that only when we comprehend
well, we can produce meaningful output. Since the rapid spread of English as a global language
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gives rise to varieties of English as it is used by people with different first languages, it is the
demand of the time to make the students aware of these varieties by enabling to listen to and read
a lot of English from different parts of the world.
Interestingly enough, all the language skills have been perceived by the subjects to be important
regardless of being used frequently or not. However, there was an agreement in perceiving
listening and reading skills to be at the top in terms of both frequency of use and importance. The
role of global English in classroom teaching and the shift of focus on language skills are
conspicuous from this study. There is immense hue and cry over bringing a global English
pedagogy for the classroom but it is obvious that global English in itself a practical pedagogy for
global use of English and the point here is the shift of focus on the comprehension skills.
Limitations of the study
This study is limited in the sense that it takes into account only the perceptions of the tertiary
teachers. If students’ actual needs are considered, it will surely add depth to this study. Moreover,
the population from whom the data was collected is quite small and could have been widened.
Further, this study is hoped to give some insight into the teaching of English as a global
language. In Ethiopia, English has a wide coverage of functionality as a sole medium (or side by side
with Amharic) in education, business and trade interactions and transactions, media and
communication, etc. However, despite such a wide spread and ‘multispectral’ use of English, the
appropriateness and accuracy of the English in use is low. So this study may pave way for further
researches on students’ needs in a globalised society and can add to the quality of English language
education and training in Ethiopia.
Conclusion
To sum up, the current study explored teachers’ perceptions about the importance and use of
English language skills for the students’ academic and career needs in the context of teaching
English as a global language. The result shows that teaching global English doesn’t require a new
pedagogical approach but a shift of focus on the language skills as the time demands. The need of
the hour is to prepare students competent enough to face the English speaking world for which
they have to comprehend the world which entails the necessity of shifting the focus on
comprehension skills in language pedagogy as well as to face the challenges of the globe which
this language has conquered.
References
Anderson, A., & Lynch, T. (1988). Listening. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Breen, M. (2001). Learner contributions to language learning: New directions in research.
Harlow, England: Pearson.
Breen, M., & Littlejohn, A. (2000). Classroom decision-making. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
Brown, H. D. (2001). Teaching by Principles: An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy
2nd Ed., New York: Pearson Education
Cook, V. (1999). Going beyond the native-speaker in language teaching. TESOL Quarterly 33
(2): 185–209.
Crystal, D. (2002). The English Language: A guided tour of the language. London: Penguin
Books.
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 Crystal, D. (2010). English as a 'global' language? www.macmillanglobal.com/blog/teachingtips/david-crystal-english-as-a-global-language. Published on 19th April, 2010 in
Teaching Tips by Matt Kay.
Crystal, D. (2003). English as a global language. 2nd ed.Cambridge:Cambridge University
Press.
Hinkel, E. (2001). Building awareness and practical skills for cross-cultural communication in
ESL/EFL. In M. Celce-Murcia (Ed.), Teaching English as a second or foreign language
(3rd ed., pp. 443–458). Boston: Heinle & Heinle.
Hinkel, E. (2006). Current Perspectives on Teaching the Four Skills: TESOL Quarterly 40 (1):
109-131.
Hutchinson, T., & Waters, A. (1987): English for Specific Purposes, Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
Jenkins, J. (2006). Current perspectives on teaching world Englishes and English as a lingua
franca. TESOL Quarterly 40 (1): 157–81.
Jing, W. U. (2006). Integrating skills for teaching EFL—Activity design for the communicative
classroom. Sino-US English Teaching 3 (12).
Lazaraton, A. (2001). Teaching oral skills. In M. Celce-Murcia (Ed.), Teaching English as a
second or foreign language (3rd ed., pp. 103–115). Boston: Heinle & Heinle.
Lynch, T., & Anderson, A. (1988) Listening, Oxford University Press
Matsuda, A. 2003.The ownership of English in Japanese secondary schools. World Englishes 22
(4): 483–96.
McCarthy, M., & O’Keeffe, A. (2004). Research in the teaching of speaking. Annual Review of
Applied Linguistics 24: 26–43.
McLeod, S. A. (2008). Likert Scale. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/likertscale.html
Mohan, B. (1986). Content-based language instruction, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Negash, T. (2006). Education in Ethiopia: From crisis to the brink of collapse. Nordiska
Afrikainstitutet - 33. Uppsala, Sweden: Nordiska Afrikainstitute.
New Routes, Disal. (2009) Interview with David Crystal by Jack Scholes www.davidcrystal.com/ DC articles/Creative12.pdf
Nunan, D. (1992): Collaborative Language Learning and Teaching, Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
Report on a Future Search Conference (2012): Enhancing the Quality of English Language
Education in Ethiopia: Sponsored by the Embassy of the United States of America in
collaboration with The Ministry of Education of the Government of the Federal
Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the Institute of International Education, and Ambo
University © Copyright 2012 by the Institute of International Education
Richards, J., Platt, J., & Platt, H. (1992). Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied
Linguistics. Harlow: Longman
Robinson, P. (1991). ESP Today: A Practitioner’s Guide, Hemel Hempstead: Prentice Hall.
Sifakis, N. C. (2004). Teaching "EIL"--Teaching "International" or "Intercultural" English? What
Teachers Should Know. System: An International Journal of Educational Technology
and Applied Linguistics 32 (2): 237-250.
Yalden, J. (1987): The Communicative Syllabus, Hemel Hempstead: Prentice Hall.
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Exploring the Relationship Between Foreign Language Proficiency
and Cultural Intelligence
Ebrahim Khodadady and Shima Ghahari
Ferdowsi University of Mashhad
Abstract
This study employed a Persian Cultural Intelligence Scale (CQS) and a disclosed Test of English
as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) to explore the relationship between cultural intelligence (CQ)
and English as a foreign language (EFL) proficiency. The administration of these two measures
to one hundred forty five undergraduate university students majoring in various fields of
knowledge in three Iranian universities showed that both the CQS and its Cognitive,
Motivational, Behavioral, and Metacognitive factors are significantly but negatively related to the
TOEFL and its structure subtest. However, when the EFL learners were divided into low, middle
and high proficiency groups on the basis of their TOEFL scores, the scores of the middle
proficiency group on the TOEFL and its structure subtest showed negatively significant
correlations with the CQS and its Cognitive and Motivational factors indicating that only this
group rate their own cultural intelligence higher in order to improve their low and developing
EFL proficiency in general and its structure in particular. However, no significant relationships
could be found between the reading subtest of the TOEFL and the CQS of low, middle
(intermediate) and high proficiency groups. Neither did the four factors underlying the CQS
correlate significantly with the reading subtest of the three groups. The implications are discussed
and suggestions are made for future research.
Keywords: Cultural intelligence, foreign language, structure knowledge, reading comprehension
ability
Introduction
Theoretically cultural intelligence is defined as the ability to interact effectively in multiple
cultures. The theory has been successfully operationalised into a Cultural Intelligence Scale
(CQS) by Van Dyne, Ang and Koh (2008) consisting of twenty items. Since its literature has
already been adequately addressed by its designers, interested readers are referred to their study
to save space. This study will focus on the Persian CQS translated and validated by Khodadady
and Gahari (2011) [henceforth K&G] because it has been carried out in the same context, i.e.,
Iran. The CQS was administered along with the disclosed Test of English as a Foreign Language
(TOEFL) to 145 undergraduate university students who spoke Persian as their mother language
in order to explore whether any significant relationship exists between test takers’ cultural
intelligence and their foreign language proficiency.
Factors Underlying the Persian Cultural Intelligence Scale
The Persian CQS employed in this study consists of four factors extracted by K and G (2011) ,
i.e., Cognitive, Motivational, Behavioral and Metacognitive.
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The Cognitive factor of CQS addresses a person’s familiarity with the similarities and
dissimilarities present in the economic, social norms, and religious orientations of different
cultures. As the familiarity increases so does that person’s cultural intelligence (Brislin,
Worthley, & MacNab, 2006). Although an extensive discussion of this factor appears in many
scholarly papers dealing with management and business (e.g., Muzychenko, 2008; Thomas et al.,
2008), no significant relationships have been established so far between the cognitive factor of
the CQS and abilities such as foreign language proficiency (FLP).
Motivational Factor
Motivational factor refers to the high capability, motivation, and interest of a person to learn and
function confidently in cross-cultural situations (Bandura, 2002). Though Crowne (2008) asserted
that “individuals who have had multiple vacation experiences abroad, and who are therefore
probably high in motivational CQ, would like to receive additional training on interacting
effectively in other cultures” (p. 397), no relationships have been established between the
Motivational factor of the CQS and abilities such as the FLP.
Behavioral Factor
Behavioral factor underlies a range of verbal and nonverbal behaviors such as employing
appropriate words in various situations and employing a suitable tone accompanied by acceptable
gestures and facial expressions (Gudykunst, Ting-Toomey, & Chua, 1988). Crowne (2008) found
that the Behavioral factor of the CQS shows a negative relationship with part-time students’
employment. She argued that these usually older students might have had experiences with
students coming from different cultures and thus were well aware of the problems involved in
social interactions and thus doubted their ability to interact effectively with others resulting in
their “lower behavioral CQ” (p. 398). Crowne did not, however, provide any correlation
coefficients to reveal the size of the negative relationship. Nor are there any other studies
documenting a significant relationship between the Behavioral factor and abilities such as the
FLP.
Metacognitive Factor
Metacognitive factor comprises a given person’s awareness of other peoples’ culture and their
constant appraisal of the accuracy of their knowledge in order to adjust their behavior to
unfamiliar ones. Brislin, Worthley, and MacNab (2006) and Triandis (2006) believed that
persons with high Metacognitive intelligence question their cultural assumptions and adjust them
during and after interactions. Similar to Cognitive, Motivational, and Behavioral factors, no
significant relationships have been established between the Metacognitive factor and abilities
such as the FLP.
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Methodology
Participants
One hundred forty five undergraduate students, 107 female (75.9%) and 34 male (24.1%), took
part in the research voluntarily. However, four of them were excluded from the study because
they had not been able to get any items right on the TOEFL. The remaining 141 were studying
Biology (n = 48, 34.0%), Chemistry (n = 1, .7%), English Language (n = 53, 37.6%), Geology (n
= 1, .7%), Law (n = 30, 21.3%), and Physics (n = 8, 5.7%) at Ferdowsi University of Mashhad (n
= 115, 81.6%) and Tehran University (n = 26, 18.4%). One hundred twenty four (87.9%) were
single and only 17 (12.1%) were married.
The participants’ age ranged from 17 to 47 (Mean = 20.44, SD = 3.98) and were born in
Esfahan (n = 1, .7%), Kerman (n = 1, .7%), Khorasan (n = 111, 78.7%), Khuzestan (n = 2, 1.4%),
Mazandaran (n = 3, 2.1%), Qom (n = 1, .7%), and Tehran (n = 22, 15.6%) provinces. They spoke
Persian (n =137, 97.2%) and Turkish (n = 4, 2.8%) as their mother language. While the majority
(n = 106, 75.2%) had not travelled abroad, 33 had visited the Asian countries of Afghanistan,
Dubi, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Turkey (23.4%) and only two participants (1.4%) had been
to the English speaking countries of America and Canada.
Instruments
Three instruments were administered in this study, i.e., a bio questionnaire, Persian CQS and the
disclosed TOEFL consisting of two subtests.
Bio Questionnaire
The bio questionnaire consisted of twelve short answer and multiple choice items dealing with
the participants’ university name, their field and year of study, age, gender, marital status,
education level, place of birth, place of living, language spoken at home, foreign languages
known, travelling abroad, the countries visited and duration of visit.
The Persian Cultural Intelligence Scale
The Persian CQS validated by K and G (2011) was employed in this study. The CQS was
verified by being administered to 854 undergraduate and graduate students at three universities in
Iran. The obtained results are presented in Table 1. As the table shows, the 20-item CQS is a
highly reliable measure of cultural intelligence, i.e., α = .86, as are its Cognitive, Motivational,
Behavioral, and Metacognitive factors, i.e., α = .81, .82, .74, and .72, respectively. The four
factors together explain 43.12% of variance in the CQS.
Table 1: Descriptive statistics of the CQS and its factors
CQS and its factors
No of
Std.
Mean
items
Deviation
Alpha
Rotation Sums of Squared Loadings
Eigenvalues
% of Variance Cumulative %
Cognitive
6
25.78
6.812
.81
2.588
12.941
12.941
Motivational
5
15.44
6.003
.82
2.368
11.839
24.780
Behavioral
5
15.32
5.520
.74
1.997
9.983
34.763
Metacognitive
4
12.29
4.282
.72
1.671
8.357
43.120
Cultural Intelligence
20
68.83
16.277
.86
-
-
-
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 Disclosed Test of English as a Foreign Language
The structure and reading sections of Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) disclosed
by the ETS were used in this study. While the first section “measures the ability to recognize
grammatical structures and word usage of standard written English as used in colleges and
universities in North America,” the second “measures the ability to read and understand short
passages that are similar in topic and style to those that students are likely to encounter in North
American colleges and universities” (ETS, 2003, p. 11). These two subtests consist of 40 and 50
multiple choice items, respectively, and measure proficiency in English as a Foreign Language
(EFL). The alpha reliability coefficient of the TOEFL estimated in this study was 0.95.
Procedure
After having the Persian CQS and the TOEFL printed and copied, the researchers contacted
general English instructors as well as those who offered specialized courses to undergraduate
students majoring in various fields of science in person and were asked to encourage their
students to take part in the project. Though the length of the TOELF and its administration along
with the CQS necessitated spending one complete session of their classes, some teachers agreed
when they talked to their students. They participated voluntarily because they were preparing
themselves for the graduate programs part of which required English language proficiency. Upon
arranging for an appropriate session, the researchers attended the classes in person and
administered the bio questionnaire, CQS and the TOEFL under standard conditions in a single
session.
In order to establish high, middle and low proficiency groups, the participants’ raw scores on the
TOEFL were converted into Z-scores. While Z-scorers of +1 and higher were treated as highly
proficient those falling at -1 and lower were classified as low in English proficiency. The
participants whose Z-scores fell between -1 and +1 were considered as middle in English
proficiency (this section should be removed to the procedure).
Data analysis
The internal consistency of the disclosed TOEFL and its two structure and reading subtests were
estimated via Cronbach Alpha. In order to determine whether the items comprising the TOEFL
had functioned well, their item facility (IF) index was calculated by dividing the number of
correct answers by the total number of answers given. The discrimination power of items (ID)
was obtained by correlating individual items by the total scores obtained on the test. The
relationship between language proficiency and cultural intelligence was explored by employing
the Pearson Product Moment correlation. The hypotheses below were formulated to be explored.
H1. The participants’ scores on the disclosed TOEFL will correlate significantly with the Persian
CQS and its constituting factors.
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H2. The correlation coefficients between the TOEFL and the Persian CQS as well as its
constituting factors will be higher for high proficiency EFL learners.
Results and discussion
Table 2 presents the descriptive statistics of the disclosed TOEFL and its structure and reading
subtests. As the table indicates, the TOEFL itself is a highly reliable measure of English language
proficiency, i.e., α = 0.95. The structure subtest is almost as reliable as the TOEFL, i.e., α = .94.
The alpha reliability coefficients of reading subtest is relatively lower, i.e., 0.89, due to its being
more difficult than the structure subtest, i.e., mean IF = 0.17 vs. 0.47. The very difficulty level of
the reading subtest has lowered its mean discrimination index, i.e., 0.25.
Table 2: Descriptive statistics of the TOEFL and its subtests
Tests
Structure
Reading
TOEFL
Items
Mean
Standard deviation
Mean IF
40
50
90
18.82
8.55
27.37
9.850
6.693
15.081
.4671
.1699
0.30
Mean ID Alpha
.4946
.2476
0.36
.94
.89
.95
Table 3 presents the descriptive statistics and Scheffe post hoc test of high, middle and low
proficiency groups established via Z-scores. As can be seen, the mean score of high proficiency
group on the TOEFL, i.e., 52.6, is higher than that of middle and low proficiency groups, i.e.,
24.3 and 8.3, respectively. The One Way ANOVA analysis of Z-scores obtained by the three
groups show that they are significantly different (F = 218.058, df = 2, p <.0001) in their English
language proficiency. The Scheffe post hoc test showed that the mean score of high prophecy
group is significantly different from both middle and low proficiency groups.
Table 3: descriptive statistics and Scheffe post hoc test of proficiency groups
Groups
Low proficiency
Middle proficiency
High proficiency
Total / Sig.
N
Mean
19 8.53
96 24.27
26 52.58
141 27.37
Std.
Deviation
3.389
8.559
4.420
15.081
Std.
Error
.777
.874
.867
1.270
Subset for alpha = 0.05
1
2
3
8.53
24.27
52.58
1.000
1.000
1.000
Table 4 presents the correlation coefficients obtained between the TOEFL, its subtests, CQS and
its four factors for all proficiency groups. As can be seen, the TOEFL and CQS correlate
significantly but negatively with each other (r = -.37, p <.01), explaining 13.69 percent of
variance in each other. These findings confirm the first research question, i.e., the participants’
scores on the disclosed TOEFL will correlate significantly with the Persian CQS and its
constituting factors. They also lend support in a reverse direction to philosophers such as de
Saussure (1966), Dilthey (1989), Foucault (1994), Sapir (1921), Von Humboldt (1876), Whorf
(1956) and Wittgenstein (1980) who argued for a mutual relationship between first language and
culture. They show that the EFL learning and culture are significantly, though negatively, related
to each other.
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 Table 4: Correlations between the TOEFL and CQS as well as their subtests and
factors for all proficiency groups
Tests
Cognitive Motivational Behavioral Metacognitive CQS
TOEFL
-.35**
-.28**
-.23**
Structure
-.37**
-.31**
-.24**
**
Read
-.25
-.17
-.16
** Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed)
* Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed)
-.21*
-.22**
-.16
-.37**
-.39**
-.25**
The negative and significant relationships found between the EFL proficiency and cultural
intelligence and its four factors, however, present a dilemma. They question the need for
addressing culture in EFL classes as suggested by Genc and Bada (2005) and equipping learners
with opportunities to go beyond what they already know and to learn to engage with unplanned
and unpredictable aspects of language as suggested by Scarino and Liddicoat (2009) simply
because the negative relationships found between the TOEFL, CQS, and its underlying factors
for all proficiency groups imply that the more culturally intelligent the learners are, the less
proficiency they will acquire in their EFL.
Table 5: Correlations between the TOEFL and CQS as well as their subtests and factors for high,
middle and low proficiency groups
Groups
Tests
Cognitive
Motivational Behavioral Metacognitive CQS
TOEFL -.134
.288
High
Structure -.154
.240
proficiency
Reading -.068
.229
*
TOEFL -.225
-.213*
Middle
*
Structure -.236
-.256*
proficiency
Reading -.067
-.016
TOEFL .058
-.215
Low
Structure -.185
-.245
proficiency
Reading .376
.017
** Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed)
* Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed)
.025
-.086
.113
-.106
-.142
.013
.020
-.027
.075
-.040
.120
-.166
-.130
-.159
-.004
-.058
.013
-.115
.049
.029
.049
-.235*
-.274**
-.029
-.078
-.203
.179
The conclusion reached on the basis of all proficiency learners’ performance on the TOEFL is
not, however, supported when they are divided into three distinct proficiency groups. As can be
seen in Table 5, the scores of neither high nor low proficiency groups reveal any significant
relationship between the TOEFL and CQS. Nor do the structure and reading subtests of the
TOEFL correlate significantly with the CQS of these two groups and thus disconfirm the second
hypothesis that the correlation coefficients between the TOEFL and the Persian CQS as well as
its constituting factors will be higher for high proficiency EFL learners.
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The lack of any significant relationship between the high and low EFL learners’ proficiency and
their cultural intelligence questions teaching English culture as advocated by Bakhtiarvand and
Adinevand (2011), at least at beginning and advanced levels of EFL proficiency. They believe
that culture is “an inseparable part of the way in which we live our lives and the way we use
language, [and] an important requirement for learning English is the acquisition of cultural
knowledge” (p. 112). Their argument does not hold true even for middle proficiency learners
whose TOEFL and CQS correlate significantly (r = -.24, p <.05) because its direction is negative,
implying that the less culturally intelligent they become, the higher their language proficiency
will be.
The negatively significant relationship between EFL proficiency and cultural intelligence is
further revealed when the structure subtest of the TOEFL is correlated with the CQS (r = -.27, p
<.01). This result shows that while 5.76 percent of variance in language proficiency is explained
by cultural intelligence, it increases to 7.29 percent for the structure subtest of the TOEFL alone.
Surprisingly, however, the reading subtest of the TOEFL does not correlate significantly with the
CQS, implying that what they read and understand in the EFL has little to do with English
culture.
Similarly, out of four, the Cognitive (r = -.24, p <.05) and Motivational (r = -.26, p <.05) factors
underlying the CQS of middle proficiency participants show slightly higher but negative
correlations with the structure subtest than with the TOEFL itself, i.e., r = -.23, p <.05 and r = .21, p <.05, respectively. These significant correlations emphasize the reverse culture relatedness
of language structure when it involves the dissimilarities present in the economic, social norms,
and religious orientations of Persian and English cultures as perceived by the middle proficiency
Persian speaking EFL learners and their desire to have vacation experiences in English speaking
countries.
Conclusion
English as a foreign language (EFL) proficiency relates significantly but negatively not only to
cultural intelligence but also to its Cognitive, Motivational, Behavioral, and Metacognitive
factors when all proficiency levels are taken into account. However, when the participants are
divided into high, middle and low proficiency groups on the basis of their TOEFL scores, cultural
intelligence and two of its factors, i.e., Cognitive and Motivational, correlate significantly and
negatively with the EFL proficiency of middle group, indicating that the less they know of
English culture, the more they can focus on and improve their EFL proficiency in general and its
structure in particular both cognitively and motivationally.
The presence of a negative relationship between the EFL proficiency and cultural intelligence is
not unique because Khodadady, Fatemi and Etminan (2012) found a negatively significant
relationship between the EFL proficiency and field independency cognitive style. When they
administered an S-Test, a cloze multiple choice item test developed on authentic texts whose
choices are related syntactically, semantically and discoursally not only to the key-response but
also to the words comprising the texts (see Khodadady, 2012), as an EFL proficiency measure
and the Group Embedded Figures Test (GEFT) as a measure of cognitive styles, they found that
although field independent (FI) English learners outperformed their field dependent (FD)
counterparts on the S-Test, i.e., they were more EFL proficient, their performance showed
relatively weaker and unexpectedly negative relationships with the GEFT (r = -.22, p <.05) than
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The International Journal of Language Learning and Applied Linguistics World
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 that of the FD (r = .25, p <.01). In other words, the less analytical cognitive style the EFL learners
adopt, the more proficiency they gain in the EFL.
However, when Khodadady, Fatemi and Etminan (2012) divided their participants into low,
middle and high proficiency groups on the basis of their S-Test scores, significant relationships
could be established between cognitive styles and EFL proficiency neither for low nor for high
proficiency groups (I was wondering if the author(s) could bring these details I previous sections
to be discussed and compared with the present study in the conclusion). Similarly, no significant
relationship could be found between cultural intelligence as measured by the CQS and language
proficiency as measured by the TOEFL in this study either for low or for high proficiency EFL
learners. The middle proficiency EFL learners’ cultural intelligence and its Cognitive and
Motivational factors, nonetheless, correlated significantly but negatively with their EFL
proficiency and its structure, indicating that these learners rate their own CQ high in order to
provide themselves with cultural cognition and motivation as significant latent variables
contributing to their EFL learning.
Although the TOEFL and its structure subtest scores of the middle proficiency EFL learners
correlate significantly and negatively with the CQS and its Cognitive and Motivational factors,
no significant relationship could be established between the reading subtest of the TOEFL and
the CQS and its Cognitive, Motivational, Behavioral, and Metacognitive factors for the same
group. The findings of this study, therefore, show that that reading EFL texts in order to
comprehend their content has nothing to do with the cultural intelligence of not only middle but
also low and high proficiency EFL learners, at least as it is measured by the CQS employed in
this study. Future research is, however, required to find out whether similar results could be
found if the present study is replicated with university students majoring in English language and
literature. Employing other methods of EFL proficiency testing such as cloze tests, C-Tests and
S-Tests and developing a different measure of CQ may also indicate whether there is any
significant relationship between cultural intelligence and testing methods.
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 On the Role of Vocabulary Instruction in Communicative
Performance of Iranian EFL Learners: Tasks Revisited
Amir Marzban
Department of Foreign Languages, Sepidan Branch, Islamic Azad University, Sepidan, Iran
amir.marzbann@gmail.com
Amin Marzban
Department of Foreign Languages, Sepidan Branch, Islamic Azad University, Sepidan, Iran
amin.marzban@iausepidan.ac.ir / a_marzban_eng@yahoo.com
Bio Data
Amir Marzban received his MA in TEFL. He has been teaching TEFL and ESP courses at
Islamic Azad University and other state universities over the past few years. His areas of interest
include teaching methodology and syllabus design.
Amin Marzban received his Ph.D. in applied linguistics from the University of Isfahan and is
currently an assistant professor in TEFL at Islamic Azad University. He has been teaching major
and non-major courses at state and azad universities over the past decade and has been
continuously publishing in popular journals. His areas of interest include teaching methodology
and psycholinguistics.
Abstract
The present study aimed to examine the effect of task-based vocabulary instruction on
communicative ability of Iranian EFL learners. To this end, 100 learners of intermediate level at
Iran Language Institute (ILI) in Shiraz, Iran were selected through Oxford Placement Test. Upon
randomizing to form the experimental and control groups, each participant in the pre-test was
interviewed with the expectation of recording simple answers using a movie camera, so that two
raters could score them based on the standardized scale of IELTS speaking. The experimental
group underwent the treatment afterwards i.e., learning new words via task-based instruction
while the control group merely received definitions of vocabulary through memorization. Upon
fulfilling the treatment, the participants of both groups in the post test were re-interviewed to
compare the means of raters' scores for each student in their pre-post tests performances. The
results of a series of t-tests indicated that the experimental group outperformed the control in
terms of their communicative ability as affected by the vocabulary learning techniques. The
results lay further proof on the practicality of task-based teaching in an EFL classroom. The study
also approves of IELTS speaking test rating validity.
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Key terms: Communicative language ability, Task-based language teaching/ learning,
Vocabulary instruction.
Introduction and background of the study
Task-based learning is an area which has grown in importance greatly during the last ten years,
and can be discussed from a number of perspectives. Through tasks, teachers can have a number
of options for enhancing attention to learn vocabulary. One of such options is to allow learners to
work cooperatively to make sense of unfamiliar vocabulary via tasks. In addition, words used
meaningfully by other members of the group would result in better recognition of words
eventually. A motive behind any piece of research in this realm is, thus, the observation of
students' attitudes upon facing unfamiliar vocabulary when using the target language in
communication outside the classroom, either for work, travel or recreation (Newton, 2001).
The notion of learning unprecedented vocabulary through efficient approaches and its
simultaneous effects on communicative ability has long been of significance in the field of
Teaching English as Foreign Language (TEFL) (e.g., Arnaud & Savignon, 1997; Bogaards,
2001). When learners meet new vocabulary, helpful and responsible techniques should be
employed to fix the words in their long term memory so that they can be retrieved easily and used
efficiently in the upcoming conversations. Should such techniques be used, learners can deal with
unknown vocabulary more smoothly during communicative performance.
As mastery of vocabulary is an essential component of second language acquisition (SLA),
effective second language vocabulary learning proves important to English language learners
(Hunt & Beglar, 2005, p.1). That is why language teachers and researchers have realized the
significance of different pedagogical tasks in second language (L2) vocabulary learning that
involves learning of a great load of lexicon. That is why a considerable number of researchers,
syllabus designers, and educational innovators have long stressed the need for a move in
language teaching towards task-based approaches to instruction (Prabhu, 1987; Nunan, 1989;
Long & Crookes, 1991; Gass & Crookes, 1993, a,b).
The issue of vocabulary learning has been discussed in numerous English teaching contexts and
societies so far. But what all teaching methods and their psychological foundations such as
faculty, behavioristic, cognitivistic, humanistic or psycholinguistic are concerned with, seem to
be quite varied (Birjandi, Mossalanejad, & Bagheridoust, 2000, p. 83). Different concepts act as
guidelines for the sequences and forms of language areas (grammar, vocabulary,
pronunciation…), skills (listening, speaking, reading, writing), culture (literature and fine arts,
everyday life of target language speakers…), language learning, language teaching, interactions,
and classroom authorities. However, no specific strategies (e.g., among various teaching
methods) can be taken into account to make the above language areas, for instance, more
effective. Among all language areas, vocabulary is of great significance; however, learning
vocabulary (regardless of other language areas e.g., grammar, pronunciation…) is not commonly
explained independently, and if ever explained, learners cannot determine a common acceptable
strategy to learn words more quickly and efficiently in order to be able to trace them in future
communications.
Thus, the problem to address is to determine a suitable strategy or technique to fulfill vocabulary
learning. In each particular vocabulary learning situation, it is initially necessary to identify the
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 learner, task, and context configuration, otherwise the learning strategy will not be fully analyzed.
That is because some strategies are more learner-dependent, some are more task-dependent, and
others are more context-based (Mohseni-Far, 2008). A learning strategy (technique) covers a
series of activities and efforts one follows, which consequently completes a successful learning
task. The learner continues to select, deploy, monitor, and assess the usefulness and effectiveness
of these activities to see if any revisions are needed in the case of the plan and action.
Vocabulary learning strategies have so far been studied as a subcategory of language learning
strategies. Meanwhile, they are applicable to a wide variety of language learning tasks which
would include task-based vocabulary instruction for instance, the core issue of the present study.
Thus, this study is concerned with the effective techniques to learn vocabulary and the helpful
strategies to learn new words which is likely to be noticed in learners` future communicative
performances as well. The present work is to investigate if the answer to this question is
classroom tasks.
Rationale for the study
The process of vocabulary learning through tasks can have various outcomes. The first assumed
result is making better sense of words as to what application they imply, whether concrete or
abstract. By getting some help of the focused task; meaning, form, and essence of words are
eventually determined. The next outcome goes to memory enhancement concerns. In the socalled generation effect, what learners have generated before are more apt to be remembered than
those which are just read and memorized (Kinjo & Snodgrass, 2000; Moshfeghi & Sharifian,
1998a, 1998b). A tendency to obtain such results would make the present piece of research even
more essential to convey.
A related influence of this study can also be seen in decoding versus encoding of the words.
Having incorporated the environmental context in vocabulary learning, the learner can discover
the meaning of information given in a complicated way by observing it in a simple or brief
manner. Therefore, tasks are responsible for the improvement of perception and consequently
learners' production in their future communicative conversations. The above-mentioned outcomes
as the result of task-based vocabulary instruction require learner`s subconscious attention. This
would suggest a more decisive role for learning vocabulary through tasks. This is predicted to
undoubtedly influence him/her to exert new words in their subsequent dialogues and
conversations to obtain a remarkable output.
Previous research
Theoretical Consideration
It has been argued that task related issues are two fold. The first, is a number of definitions,
distinctions, and features of a task among different types of tasks, e.g., unfocused versus focused
ones. The other factor seems to examine tasks from the perspective of SLA research and
language pedagogy. There are two core questions that remain important within the discussion of
tasks. What is a task exactly? Are there any differences between a task and other language
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learning devices, for example, an activity, or an exercise? There is no complete agreement as to
what constitutes a task, making the definition problematic (Crookes, 1986, p.1). Task definitions
address a number of dimensions, from among the scope, the perspective of a task, its authenticity,
psychological processes, its outcome, and the linguistic skill to perform a task are important ones.
A task is a structured plan for the provision of opportunities for the refinement of knowledge and
capabilities entailed in a new language and its use during communication (Breen, 1989). But
Long (1985) defines a task differently, as a piece of work undertaken for oneself or for others,
freely or for some reward. Thus here, examples of tasks include painting a fence, dressing a child,
filling out a form, buying a pair of gloves, making an airline reservation and so forth. A task can
also be defined as an activity or action which is carried out as the result of processing and
understanding language, i.e. as a response (Richards, Platt & Weber, 1985). For example,
drawing a map while listening to a tape, or to an instruction and performing a command.
As mentioned, not only tasks but also other language learning devices, such as activities, or
exercises are available. But a task is not mainly the same as others in use. Tasks primarily call for
meaning-focused language use. In contrast, exercises are activities that primarily ask for formfocused language use. However, it is necessary to mention that the overall purpose of tasks,
learning a language, is the same as exercises (Ellis, 2003, p.3). Although a task requires the
participants to act primarily as language users, an exercise requires them to act primarily as
learners. Moreover, Widdowson (1998) argues that what distinguishes a task from an exercise is
not 'form' as opposed to 'meaning', but rather the kind of meaning involved. Whereas a task is
concerned with 'pragmatic meaning', i.e. the use of language in context, an exercise is concerned
with 'semantic meaning', i.e. the systematic meanings that specific forms can convey irrespective
of context. The above definition and the preceding discussion reflect a general view of what a
task is.
But what constitutes a task is partly variable and there is a need for a generalized definition. In
order to get such a definition, some criterial features of a task should be identified here. The first
feature is that a task is a work plan, a task is a plan for learner's activity. The second feature refers
to primary focus of a task which is on meaning. Since a task seeks to develop second language
proficiency through communicating, it requires a primary focus on meaning. Then, a task should
involve real-world processes of language use. In fact, learners need to engage in a real-world
language activity, for example, completing a form, or even to take part in a language activity that
is artificial, for example, determining whether two pictures are the same or different. The fourth
feature refers to four language skills. A task as a work plan may require learners to listen to or
read a text, and may require them to employ a combination of both receptive and productive
skills. The next feature, as mentioned before, refers to cognitive processes and what engages a
task in them. Selecting, classifying, ordering, reasoning, and evaluating information in order to
carry out the task are the main cognitive processes to employ. And the last feature is that a task
has a clearly defined communicative outcome. The non-linguistic outcome of a task serves as the
goal of the activity for learners, and the stated outcome of a task determines when participants
have completed a task. As mentioned, the identification of criterial features of a task is helpful to
constitute a generalized definition of a task. Thus, a task can be defined as a work plan that
requires learners to process language pragmatically in order to achieve an outcome that will be
evaluated in terms of whether the correct or appropriate content has been conveyed (Ellis, 2003,
p. 16).
Tasks in language pedagogy is another issue then. Like researchers, language teachers have not
been slow to recognize the value of tasks. But they have differed mainly in the use of tasks, some
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 teachers have incorporated tasks into traditional language-based approaches to teaching, while
others have put tasks as units of teaching in their own right and have designed all courses around
them. These two ways of using tasks can be referred as task-supported language teaching and as
task-based language teaching (Ellis, 2003, p. 27). Next considerations refer to vocabulary
learning/ teaching and communicative language ability. When asking a non-language specialist
about his/her common sense view of how languages are learned, his/her response would most
probably be the substitution of words in one`s first language for the corresponding words in the
second language. Thus words are perceived as the building blocks upon which a knowledge of
the second language can be built (Carter, 1987). In recent years, a number of various linguists
have considered basic questions regarding words: What is a word? What is an idiom? And how is
a word best defined? (Lyons, 1977a).
Regarding vocabulary teaching—that is, the teaching of vocabulary items that come up without
warning in the course of a lesson. The second part deals with planned vocabulary teaching—that
is, where the teacher goes into the classroom with an item or a set of vocabulary items that s/he
has decided beforehand to be taught during the course of the lesson. Being able to deal with
unanticipated vocabulary problems is a key skill in the art of second language teaching, although
it is not a topic that has received much attention from teacher educators. There are two great
dangers in unplanned vocabulary teaching. One is that the teacher may not go far enough in
dealing with the new word, and after the teacher's efforts, the students still do not understand the
meaning of the word. The other is that the teacher may go too far, devoting an excessive amount
of time to the word and other related words (Celce-Murcia, 1991, p. 299).
The last section is communicative language ability which is a basis for both the development and
use of language tests, and language testing research. It determines the ability to use language
communicatively, and involves both knowledge of or competence in the language, and the
capacity for implementing or using this competence (Widdowson, 1983; Candlin, 1986). This
framework is presented as a guide to chart directions for research and development in language
testing. While this framework is based largely on research in linguistics and applied linguistics, it
has evolved through empirical research in language testing (Bachman & Palmer, 1982a). So, the
model is a result of refinement on the basis of empirical evidence, illustrating its utility for
guiding and informing empirical research in language testing.
Empirical review
One way to see the overall task of vocabulary learning is through the distinction between
knowing a word and using a word. In other words, the purpose of vocabulary learning should
include both remembering words and the ability to use them automatically in a wide range of
language contexts when the need arises (McCarthy, 1984). In fact, evidence suggests that the
knowledge aspect (both breadth and depth) requires more conscious and explicit learning
mechanisms whereas the skill aspect involves mostly implicit learning and memory (Ellis, 1994).
Vocabulary learning strategies, therefore, should include strategies for "using" as well as
"knowing" a word.
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Another way to view vocabulary learning is to consider it as a process of related sub-tasks. When
learners first encounter a new word, they might guess its meaning and usage from available clues.
Some learners might proceed to look it up in the dictionary. Others might take down notes along
the margins, between the lines, or on separate vocabulary notebooks. Some learners will repeat
the new word a number of times until they are comfortable with it. Others will go beyond simple
rote repetition to commit the word to memory. Some would even try to use the word actively.
Each of these task stages demands meta-cognitive judgment, choice, and deployment of cognitive
strategies for vocabulary learning. And each strategy a learner uses will determine to a large
extent how and how well a new word is learned. To date, most of the empirical research on
vocabulary learning strategies in a second language have focused on different sub-tasks of
vocabulary learning. Fewer studies can be found on person-related vocabulary learning strategies.
Now, let's look at how authentic video accompanied by subtitles can help vocabulary learning in
the foreign language class. A subtitled video clip, as a task, provides a triple connection between
image, sound and text, sound and text being linked by translation when standard subtitles are
used (Danan, 1992). This fact is relevant enough when we think about the importance of visual
associations in memory for vocabulary learning, and how this type of connection generally
encourages greater retention in lexical terms. This mnemonic power of images is here enhanced
by the presence of sound and text together; when this text appears in the form of translation, the
associations in memory are enhanced even further. Hence, the potential usefulness of authentic
subtitled video clips in vocabulary learning should not be negated.
However, it is generally acknowledged that L2 vocabulary learning happens in the course of
reading for comprehension. As to the lexical processing strategies (i.e., ignoring, consulting, and
inferring), research suggests that L2 learners who are left on their own generally ignore
unfamiliar words, infer only when there is a specific need, and consult on a very selective basis
(Bensoussan & Laufer, 1984). Because attention to an unknown word seems to be a prerequisite
for any learning to occur (Ellis, 1994; Schmidt, 1994), high rates of ignoring would thus severely
limit the learning potential. To be more successful in terms of lexical learning, L2 learners are
encouraged to ignore and mark unfamiliar vocabulary while reading the text for the first time.
The reasoning is that inferring word meanings is potentially a productive strategy for vocabulary
learning. That is, through the use of lexical inference most L2 learners engage themselves in
"considerable hypothesis and testing about word meaning" and, at the same time, "the rich
psychological and linguistic context that text provides can act as a cognitive hook for the memory
of new words" (Fraser, 1999).
Future research can also examine how the other forms of contextual encoding (i.e., remembering
new words with context, and using a new word in context) relate to other strategies and to
learning results. And drawing on recent research, it shows how a vocabulary learning goal can be
effectively designed into many speaking activities; and it shows how it is possible to plan what
vocabulary is likely to be learned in particular activities. Speaking tasks such as mini-lectures,
ranking activities, split information tasks, role plays, and problem solving discussion are not
usually thought of as having vocabulary learning goals. One of the reasons for this is that it seems
difficult to plan vocabulary learning as a part of a syllabus using activities that are largely
productive, unpredictable, and subject to the whims of the people who happen to be in the
discussion group.
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 Method
The present study was concerned with the process of vocabulary learning through tasks and the
impact of such a process on the final product (i.e., communicative ability) of Iranian EFL learners
studying at Iran Language Institute. Also, it shared a number of characteristics with both
quantitative and qualitative analysis, and was basically experimental in nature. The study, thus,
investigated the following research question:
-Does task-based vocabulary learning have any effect on communicative performance of Iranian
EFL learners as tested by IELTS speaking module?
Participants
The participants of this study consisted of 100 intermediate male students at the Iran Language
Institute (ILI) within the age range of 17 to 24 who were randomly selected and split into two
groups of 50. The justification for choosing these participants (i.e., particular target population)
was that during their 3 years of studying English they had been exposed to a sufficient corpus of
formal and mildly informal L2 English at ILI and this was taken as the minimum requirement of
being able to take part in the present researcher`s communicative interviews. To make sure of the
homogeneity within the groups, Oxford Placement Test (OPT) was also administered.
.
Instruments
In order to homogenize the proficiency level of students, the Oxford Placement Test 2 (OPT,
Allen, 1992) was used. The test has long been reported to enjoy acceptable reliability for different
nationalities across the globe (e.g., Hornby, 1989). The study was done in the language
laboratory context since students' oral communicative ability was to be tested both before and
after the instruction. This was done to seek any significant difference in the way new vocabulary
was internalized. An interviewer was asked to convey a structured interview with the participants
in both pre-instruction and post-instruction activities (i.e., dialogs). Two raters, too, were scoring
each student in both interviews based on the standardized scale of IELTS speaking test which is
designed to assess the speaking ability of EFL learners based on the four criteria of
pronunciation, grammatical range and accuracy, fluency and coherence along with lexical
resource. A camera was also used to film the participants during the interviews for the raters to be
better able to score the interviewees based on their performance using the related scale.
Stimuli
Due to manageability concerns, the participants were placed in two groups of 50, for whom two
different approaches of vocabulary learning were used. As for the first group, vocabulary were
taught through tasks, but for the second group, vocabulary definitions and explanations were
merely given. The main concern regarding the above research question was the type of tasks to
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use. Since target language tasks are aimed to fulfill communicative purposes and outcomes, a few
collaborative tasks were applied to the present design. Such tasks included: Fill in forms, fill in
charts, role-plays, and decision-making tasks. Furthermore, the suggested tasks were taught by
the instructor based on Willis (1996)'s task-based learning (TBL) framework; namely, consisting
of a pre-task, task cycle and language focus (Harmer, 2001).
For the experimental group, the pre-task included getting the students to familiarize with the
topic and highlighted words and phrases. During the Task cycle, the students performed the task
in pairs or small groups while the instructor monitored from a distance. And in the language
focus stage, the students examined and discussed specific features of any listening or reading
section in which they had looked for the intended task.
As for the control group, students memorized a number of definitions of the same vocabulary
used in the tasks proposed for the experimental group of the study. Regarding the type of
interviews and their questions as pre- post tests, there was very little flexibility in the way
questions were asked. In other words, the interviews were structured. This interview type
followed a pre-prepared, elaborate schedule/guide which contained a list of questions covered
closely with every interviewee. Thus, the researcher could frame questions that would yield only
the needed answers, questions that were closely linked to the vocabulary tasks and their related
words given in sequence to both experimental and control groups of learners during the period of
instruction, and were asked by the same interviewer in the same way in both pre and post-test
interviews. Finally, the scale by which raters could score participants' performance in both prepost tests interviews was the standard IELTS speaking module scale retrieved from Cambridge
IELTS series.
Procedure
Each of the two groups learned the intended list of vocabulary using a different approach. The
experimental group learned them through tasks by being exposed to new words through taskbased instruction while the control group used definitions of vocabulary and memorized them
one by one.
Upon randomly assigning intermediate students to two groups of thirty through Oxford
Placement Test (OPT), each participant in both groups, as the pre-test, was interviewed by asking
5 questions and receiving 5 answers about 3 specific topics chosen from the tasks that would be
given to the experimental group during the instruction. This was done with the expectation of
receiving simple answers. Also, the interviews were filmed so that the 2 raters could score them
based on the standardized scale of IELTS. The raters were chosen from among the few official
IELTS examiners who were available in the city of Shiraz. The mean of raters' scores for each
participant in the pre test to compare with later mean scores of learners in the post test was
calculated. Afterwards, two different instruction methods were used for both groups of
participants. For the first, vocabularies were taught through tasks while for the second group,
through definitions and explanations.
After one month of instruction for the experimental group (i.e., two weeks of Instruction
followed by one week of practice and gap between tests and instruction period), the participants
were re-interviewed on the same specific topics and questions related to instructed tasks, to find
out if there was a significant difference between the two groups in using the learned vocabulary
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 in their communicative performance. Once again, 2 raters scored the participants of both groups,
as the post-test, by watching the recorded interviews based on the pre-designed standardized
scale of IELTS. The mean scores were calculated one more time for each student in order to
compare the results in the pre and post-tests. In the end, a series of matched t-tests were
administered.
Inter-rater reliability
As previously reiterated, learners were filmed while being interviewed, and two raters scored the
participants of the two groups by watching the recorded interviews based on the pre-designed
standardized scale of IELTS in both pre and post-tests. Since more than one rater was involved in
the rating of all examinees, the consistency of ratings given by different raters should be
determined. In order to do so, a type of reliability, inter-rater reliability, was delineated. In
examining inter-rater consistency, the first step was calculation of correlation coefficient between
two different raters in pre and post-tests for the two groups. Having gained the correlation
coefficient of raters in each test for the two groups, the inter-rater reliability could be obtained.
The results are shown in table 1.
Table 1: Inter-rater reliability
Epre Epost Cpre
Cpost
R
0.86
0.69
0.78
0.75
r
0.9
0.8
0.8
0.8
tt
As the above table shows, almost all values are more than 0.7. Since any value less than 0.7 will
be an indication of room for improvement in the briefing of raters or the system of scoring that
has been used.
Findings of the study
Having obtained the results from the raw data, statistical analysis was carried out within the
framework of "within type" and "between type" effects. The results of within group t-tests
applied to both the experimental and control groups who learned vocabulary differently, one via
tasks and the other through memorization, in both pre and post interviews are summarized in
table 2. Figures 1 to 4 also illustrate the differences more clearly.
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Mean
5.9750
7.0833
5.8917
6.1333
Pair 1
Pair 2
50
50
50
50
S. Error
Mean
.19341
.16318
.20010
.20543
1.05934
.89378
1.09600
1.12521
df
29
29
Epre – Epost
Cpre – Cpost
SD
Sig. (2-tailed)
.000
.000
EPRE
6
5
4
3
2
Frequency
P2
Epre
Epost
Cpre
Cpost
1
0
4.00
4.50
4.25
5.00
4.75
5.50
5.25
6.00
5.75
6.75
6.25
7.25
7.00
7.75
EPRE
Figure 1: Within group effects of the experimental group in pre-test
EPOST
6
5
4
3
2
Frequency
P1
Table 2: Within group analysis
N
1
0
5.50
5.75
6.25
6.50
6.75
7.25
7.50
7.75
8.00
8.25
8.50
EPOST
Figure 2: Within group effects of the experimental group in post-test
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 CPRE
5
4
3
Frequency
2
1
0
3.75
4.50
4.25
5.25
5.00
5.75
5.50
6.25
6.00
6.75
6.50
7.25
7.00
7.75
7.50
CPRE
Figure 3: Within group effects of the control group in pre-test
CPOST
6
5
4
3
Frequency
2
1
0
3.75
4.50
4.25
5.00
4.75
5.50
5.25
6.00
5.75
6.50
6.25
7.00
6.75
8.00
7.75
CPOST
Figure 4: Within group effects of the control group in post-test
The results indicate a significant difference within each group before and after instruction. The
mean score of the experimental group in post-test (7.08) was relatively higher than its mean score
in pre-test (5.97). Also, the difference in mean score of the control group in pre-test (5.89) and
post-test (6.13) was significant. A different battery of matched t-tests were also run to analyze the
between-type effects. The results of between group t-tests presented for the experimental and
control groups in both pre-post interviews are outlined in table 3.
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Table 3: Between group analysis
Pair
1
Pair
2
Epre
Cpre
Epost
Cpost
Mean
N
SD
5.9750
5.8917
7.0833
6.1333
50
50
50
50
1.05934
1.09600
.89378
1.12521
Pair 1
Pair 2
Epre – Cpre
Epost – Cpost
df
29
29
S. Error
Mean
.19341
.20010
.16318
.20543
Sig. (2-tailed)
.057
.000
As expected, the result indicates a significant difference between two groups in post-test after the
instruction, while the difference between them in pre-test is not as strongly significant as the
former. The mean score of the experimental group in post-test (7.08) is higher than the mean
score of the control group in post-test (6.13). This way, the instruction has successfully made a
change in participants` performance. However, the mean score of the experimental group in pretest (5.97) and the mean score of the control group in pre-test (5.89) are not distant enough from
one another to make a significant difference.
Discussion and conclusion
This study was conducted to check for any significant effects of task-based vocabulary
instruction on communicative ability of the participants as could be detected through IELTS
speaking sub-test. The answer was eventually affirmative. Indeed, vocabulary learning via tasks
proved to be influential in communicative ability of Iranian EFL learners. Tasks were found to
have a significant effect on better understanding of instructed vocabulary and consequently on
learners' communication as well. It was also found that different vocabulary learning options used
for both groups during the period of instruction; namely, task-based approach for the first and
definition based approach for the second, influenced learners` performance in communicative
settings to different degrees.
Since application of tasks rather than using vocabulary definitions and explanations would
change sheer form into meaning plus form which would consequently help learners obtain a
remarkable communicative ability and follow expression, interpretation, and negotiation of
meaning instead of just questioning and answering, results of a series of matched t-tests carried
out on within and between type effects, too, proved meaningful differences. Accurately speaking,
the experimental group achieved significantly better results than the control group in the posttest. Finally, the results provided a fair amount of evidence for the rejection of the null hypothesis
of the study. Therefore, task-based vocabulary instruction has had a significant positive effect on
communicative ability of Iranian ILI EFL learners. The validity of IELTS speaking scoring scale
is once again proved to work checking for fluency and coherence, lexical resource, grammatical
range and accuracy and pronunciation.
The results of this study first indicated that communicative ability couldn't be presented and fully
transferred by itself; rather, speakers of language were able to communicate using different forces
and learning strategies among which task-based vocabulary learning can be thought of as one of
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The International Journal of Language Learning and Applied Linguistics World
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 the most updated and influential ones. In addition, the obtained results could prove the efficiency
of tasks and incidental learning conditions created by teachers in comparison with other activities
and conditions. This means that:
1) Learners' communicative ability can be best influenced by vocabulary learning. That's why the
question of learning vocabulary has been discussed in many previous language teaching contexts
to determine the best strategy among all, to learn words more quickly and efficiently in order to
be traced by learners in their future conversations and communications.
2) Tasks and their accompanying instructions have been found to affect vocabulary learning and
ultimately learners' communicative ability.
3) Vocabulary intake using tasks is a psychological process and cannot be directly observed. As
such, it is difficult to observe in naturalistic settings.
4) Vocabulary learning happens through tasks rather than exercises, while exercise is some formfocused language use on the part of language learner under intentional conditions, task is a
meaning-focused language use on the part of language user under incidental conditions. Like the
tasks used in the present study, that are administered under incidental conditions, this may not
have precluded some of the participants from intentionally attempting to memorize or deduce
rules from the input.
5) The results also support the notion of promoting more process-oriented syllabi in language
teaching contexts.
6) At last, it is concluded that this very technique can be once more suggested to be used more
seriously by teachers to reinforce new words.
The results of this piece of research can act as a further proof to the reliability of task-based
approach realized in a less commonly observed context of vocabulary instruction which is still
neglected in many EFL educational settings in Iran. The issue of vocabulary learning remains one
of the most problematic domains within the country of Iran as a part of Asian context of language
learning and teaching.
Nevertheless, the present study also suffered from a few limitations. First, the participants taking
part in interviews were all of intermediate level of proficiency while incorporating other
proficiency levels would have also yielded interesting results. Second, applying other scales of
assessing speaking ability of learners instead of IELTS could lead to other generalizations
regarding the communicative ability of participants. Finally, the tasks used in this piece of
research were all of pedagogic type while using more real life ones could be also informative.
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Appendix 1
Examples of the tasks applied to vocabulary instruction of the study
a) Fill in forms
Listen to the conversation and write the missing words for each student.
Name: John
Age:
Country:
Birth Date:
Married:
Single:
Occupation:
Name: Anna
Age: 35
Country:
Birth Date:
Married:
Single:
Occupation:
Name: Andrew
Age:
Country:
Birth Date:
Married:
Single:
Occupation:
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Hobbies: Jazz
Hobbies:
Hobbies:
Appendix 2
The standardized scale based on which raters scored the examinees
Student
Assessment criteria (score)
1. Ability to communicate effectively (2)
2. Ability to use appropriate vocabulary
structures (2)
3. Ability to ask/answer questions (1)
4. Ability to take initiative in a
conversation (1)
5. General fluency (1)
6. Structural accuracy (1)
7. Intelligibility (1)
46
√: Acceptable
*: Unacceptable
°: Fair
and
Total
score
(0-9)
The International Journal of Language Learning and Applied Linguistics World
(IJLLALW)
Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 Impacts of Learning Reading Strategy on Students’ Reading
Comprehension Proficiency
Mohammad Reza Ahmadi Gilani (PhD candidate, corresponding author)
School of Educational Studies, Universiti Sains Malaysia
11800, Penang, Malaysia
Tel: + 60-17-527-1870 E-mail: E-mail: mr.ahmadi2720@gmail.com
Associate Prof. Dr. Hairul Nizam Ismail, PhD
School of Educational Studies, Universiti Sains Malaysia
11800, Penang, Malaysia
Tel (Off): (04) 653-3760-Tel (hp): 012-4122539,E-mail: hairul@usm.my
Abbas Pourhossein Gilakjani
Islamic Azad University of Lahijan, Iran. Email: abbas.pouhossein@yahoo.com
Abstract
In recent years, learning reading strategy has become an important factor in literacy education.
Research has suggested that learning reading strategies can be taught to students whose
foreign/second language is English. Although the study shows an improvement in the students’
reading comprehension proficiency and a positive reaction to the benefits of learning reading
strategy. Learning reading strategy is one of the most important skills, receives the special focus
on reading comprehension proficiency in foreign language learning. This paper will discuss
whether “learning reading strategies” enhance students reading comprehension or not. This lack
of good reading strategy skills is exacerbated by the central role of reading comprehension in
education success. One solution to the problem of poor reading comprehension is the learning of
reading strategy skills. This paper defines the key words, reading strategy process and reading
comprehension proficiency, the relationship between learning reading strategies and reading
comprehension. The findings indicated that reading strategies had a positive effect on the English
reading comprehension proficiency.
Keywords: Learning reading strategy, Reading comprehension proficiency, Reading strategies
Introduction
Reading comprehension is one of the main important elements in English language learning for
all students because it provides the basis for a substantial amount of learning in education
(Alvermann & Earle, 2003; Kirsch, de Jong, LaFontaine, McQueen, Mendelovits, and Monseur,
2002). Chang (2006) explained that English language teaching is one of the vital elements of
international communication activities. So, students need to be trained to use language in
different areas such as reading, writing, speaking, and listening to contribute their international
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communication. Moreover, in foreign language learning, one of the most important factors for the
learners is the method which teachers use in their teaching to facilitate learning (Grabe & Stoller,
2002).
Researchers indicated that learning reading strategies have a positive effect on students’ reading
comprehension proficiency (National Reading Panel, 2000). But as Guthrie, Wigfield, Barbosa,
et al., (2004) stated that the evidence rests primarily on instructional research in which single
cognitive strategies are taught in controlled experiments. As a matter of fact, little is known about
the issue of how learning reading strategies might facilitate in reading comprehension
proficiency. In learning reading strategies program, reading strategy practice is often supported
by classmates/instructor learning arrangements (Palincsar & Brown, 1984). Moreover, a few
studies have been conducted related to the identification of the effective elements of reading
strategies in reading comprehension.
According to Carrell, Gajdusek, and Wise, (1989), reading strategy is defined as a direct
instruction in reading comprehension and has consistently produced positive results in
comprehension. Reading strategy is one of the keys to make instruction explicit enough to
facilitate learners’ enhancement of meta-cognitive control of strategy use by providing clear and
extensive explanations of the value of strategy use and information on when and how to use them
(Palincsar & Brown, 1985). Reading strategies instruction has an important effect on reading
comprehension and motivates students for reading (Druitt, 2002; National Reading Panel, 2000).
Learners’ motivation level affects their willingness of using reading comprehension strategy
(Choochom, 1995). Resarchers believe that teaching productive reading strategies motivate
students to read and facilitate reading comprehension (Anderson, 2003; Eskey, 2002; Grabe,
2004),
Development of reading strategy skills of English language learning in young generation is an
important element in their preparation for effective roles in the society. Despite the recognition of
the value of English language learning in the world, there are some obstacles to achieving
acceptable standards of teaching and learning in this area. But, reading strategies should be
focused on this area and help students to improve their English language learning through reading
(Chareonwongsak, 2002). Reading strategy can lead students to interest and motivate them to
reading comprehension (Chandavimol, 1998).
According to Koda (2004), learning reading strategy not only compensates for the learners’
comprehension deficiency but also enhances their critical thinking. Similarly, Palincsar and
Brown (1984), learning reading strategy helps students, especially low-achieving learners, ignore
comprehension failure and develop their retention in the context. Pressley (2006) noted that
English language students need to be taught strategic reading through reading strategies
instruction.
Reading strategy is a reading technique and study skill which makes reading more effective and
facilitate learning (Oxford & Crookall, 1989). Oxford and Crookall (1989) elaborated that
reading strategy is a process used by the learners to improve reading comprehension and
overcome comprehension failures. It is a purposeful, cognitive action that students take when
they are reading to help them construct and maintain meaning and is often categorized as those
behaviours designed to help students before, during, and after they read (Oxford & Crookall,
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 1989). In this study, reading strategy refers to the technique that students would use in their
activities and reading comprehension which is based on reciprocal teaching strategy.
Janzen and Stoller (1998) argued that learning reading strategy instruction is rewarding for both
English language students and their teachers. They contended that it activates students autonomy
and self-awareness of the meaning constructing process and it also provides learners for academic
reading comprehension proficiency. They also elaborated that learning reading strategy
instruction prepares an efficient technique for instructors to motivate learners’ participation in
their studying and teach them how to read effectively. Consequently, the purpose of this study is
to investigate the impact of learning reading strategy on reading comprehension.
Reading Strategy
Mokhtari and Reichard (2002) explained that reading strategies are activities or actions that
readers utilize to construct meaning and facilitate their reading. Reading strategies are techniques
or styles that students choose in their reading comprehension (Cohen, 1986). Brantmeier (2005)
defined reading strategies as techniques which learners use in the process of reading
comprehension in order to read and figure out the context. Reading strategies allow students to
evaluate their reading comprehension achievement (Kletzien, 1991).
There are various definitions of reading strategies. Jimenez, Garcia, and Pearson (1996)
explained reading strategies as deliberate actions that learners select to establish and improve
their reading comprehension. According to Cohen (1986), reading strategies are the mental
processes involved in the reading techniques chosen by the students while reading. Usually, these
techniques are selected consciously to facilitate reading comprehension. Reading strategies are
important as they help readers to reach their reading goals and achieve good results in reading
(Block, 1986). As such, students or readers who do not use any strategies in reading usually face
difficulties in reading comprehension.
Mcnamara (2007) defined reading strategies as cognitive and behavioural activities which help
learners in their reading. It is important for EFL instructors to be familiar with reading strategies
and expose their students to the various kinds so that students know how and when to utilize
them (Chamot, Barnhardt, El-Dinary, & Robbins, 1999).
Component of Reading Strategies
According to Oxford (1990), there are six components of reading strategies that are important and
easy for learning. By learning these strategies, learners will be more motivated in their reading
comprehension. The reading strategies are namely predicting, skimming, scanning, inferring,
guessing the meaning of unfamiliar words, and self-monitoring.
Prediction
Prediction refers to the technique of using the readers’ prior knowledge to guess the meaning or
the message of the text from the topics, pictures, key words, or constructions. It is one of the most
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effective factors that motivates students to read and understand the meaning of the context
(Oxford, 1990).
Skimming
Skimming refers to the technique of reading passages quickly in order to get its gist. In
skimming, readers do not look for specific information but only for general information (Grellet,
1986).
Scanning
Scanning is quite similar to skimming in that both of them require a quick glance of a text. The
difference is that in skimming, readers try to get the general or main information of the text but in
scanning, the readers would like to obtain specific information. In scanning technique, readers are
looking to find particular information – the answer to his/her questions. So, readers need to move
their eyes quickly across the passages for particular words or phrases (Grellet, 1986).
Inferring
Inferring refers to activities of reading between the lines which means that readers need to know
how to get the message from the words and sentences in a text. So, inferring is defined as the
interaction between words in a sentence/phrases or between sentences or phrases (Kristin, Leah
& Soro, 2009). There are seven types of inferring activities:
A. Knowing what a pronoun in a sentence refers back to.
B. Making assumption about the next sentence and guessing the content of the next passage.
C. Predicting the definition of new words in the text.
D. Making hypothesis across the text about the behaviours of a character in different locations.
E. To be familiar with the connections of words and how they will be used in a specific text.
F. Knowing the relationships as written at various times in contexts.
G. While reading a text fill gaps related to background knowledge (if any).
Guessing the meaning of new words
Guessing the meaning of new words helps readers to read and understand text quickly because
difficult words usually create problems for students and are obstacles in reading comprehension
(Smith, 1994). Furthermore, the best way to find the meaning of new words is to draw inferences
from the context rather than using a dictionary (Smith, 1994).
Self-monitoring
This strategy is one of the most important factors that allows readers to regulate their reading.
Awareness of using this strategy helps learners to solve their problems in reading. Kern (1989)
found that proficient readers use self-monitoring combined with other strategies in their reading
comprehension.
Importance of Reading Strategy
Ben-David (2002) stated that readers often encounter problems in reading the text and have
difficulties in understanding the meaning of the context but reading strategies help them in
learning foreign language and reading comprehension. In fact, students will be able to relate
newly acquired information to their prior knowledge in context areas which is an essential part of
reading comprehension skill.
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 Trabasso and Bouchard (2002) explained that reading strategies can be taught explicitly while
students are learning subject-specific content through authentic reading tasks. According to
Dehnad (2005), reading strategy provides learning opportunities, facilitates learning and recalling
of information as well as strengthening the reading comprehension ability of language learners.
Learners need to be explicitly taught how to properly use reading strategies to monitor their
reading comprehension. Through the employment of reading strategy such as meta-cognitive
instruction in English class, EFL learners will be able to improve their reading comprehension
and experience a higher level of competency which will further motivate them to read on a
regular basis (Block, 1992). Chamot (2005) stated that students have their own preference of
strategy, but in order to become motivated and selective strategy users, EFL learners should selfmonitor their reading strategy. In other words, EFL learners need to consciously know what and
when to apply appropriate reading strategy when comprehension fails.
Studies on reading strategies training demonstrated that readers who struggled in reading
comprehension showed significant improvement after receiving explicit instruction in metacognition (Baker, 2002; Cohen, 2003; Duffy, 2005; Grabe, 2004). Therefore, students should be
exposed to multiple reading strategies as well as the appropriate use of those strategies for better
results. In addition, readers should be taught to become more aware of their own reading
behaviour and the processes involved in reading.
Learning Reading Strategy
Learning to read strategies refers to any sets of activities, stages, programs, or techniques that
help students to keep, achieve, or evaluate information (Wenden & Rubin, 1987). Learning
strategies are explained as a designed behaviour and belief that students utilize during studying to
facilitate in recognizing, learning and understanding (Richards, Platt, & Platt, 1992).
O’Malley and Chamot (1990) defined learning strategy as an individual plan and beliefs that are
used by the students in order to improve their reading comprehension, motivation, and the
willingness to obtain more information. They added that learning strategies are particular styles
of information processing that help students to keep the information after reading comprehension
activity or learning. It was added that learning strategies in reading are the way of information
processing that is consciously chosen by students to help them improve the learning of
information in second or foreign language (Cohen, 1990).
Similarly, Oxford (1990) defined learning strategies in reading as activities or any sets of actions
that are chosen to facilitate learning by making learning enjoyable and easier so that the
attainment of new information will be more effective. It was added that learning strategies in
reading are specific actions which learners can take to ensure that information can be obtained
more quickly and easily as well as be applied in new situations.
Theories/ Models of Reading Strategies
Oxford (1990) concluded that there are generally two kinds of reading strategies, i.e. cognitive
and meta-cognitive strategies. Cognitive strategy refers to the mental activities involved during
learning but meta-cognitive strategy refers to the students’ awareness of their cognitive process in
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learning. For example, planning, setting goals, self-monitoring, self-management, and selfevaluation. O’Malley, Chamot, Stewner-Manzanares, Kupper, and Russo (1985) suggested three
models of reading strategies in reading, i.e. (1) Metacognitive Strategies, (2) Cognitive Strategies,
and (3) Socio-affective Strategies. Each of the strategies is elaborated as follows:
Metacognitive Strategies
Metacognitive strategies are administrative actions taken in reading which include planning for
learning, thinking about the process of learning, self-management, self-monitoring, directed
attention, observing, correcting of one’s comprehension or production, direct attention and
evaluating at the different learning phases, for example, before, during, and after learning
O’Malley et al., (1985). Metacognitive strategy refers to supervise, control or self-direct language
learning. They are as planning, prioritizing, setting goals, and self-management, Rubin (1987).
Cognitive Strategies
Brown (2007) elaborated that cognitive strategies are related to particular learning assignments
and are based on direct manipulation of the learning material. Some of the main important
cognitive strategies listed by Brown (2007) are as a deduction, inference, repetition, note taking,
resourcing, translation, recombination, grouping, imagery, auditory representation, key word,
contextualization, elaboration, and transfer. Cognitive strategies are the activities which are taken
in learning or problem-solving that involves direct analysis, transformation, or synthesis of
learning materials (Rubin, 1987).
Socio-affective Strategies
Brown (2007) stated that there is a strong relationship between socio-affective strategies as well
as social-mediation activities and interacting with others. Cooperation and asking questions for
clarification is the main factor of socio-affective strategies in learning. Socio-affective strategies
are activities that students are exposed to the opportunities that can be a great help to practice
their knowledge. Moreover, these strategies offer exposure to the foreign/second language
learning and assist in learning indirectly (Rubin, 1987).
Rubin (1987) stated that socio-affective strategies are strategies such as communication
strategies, communication strategies which are not directly related to language learning because
their attention is in the process of communication through conversation. Communication
strategies are used by students while facing with some problems regarding their communication
and conversation. The general communication strategy is to use one’s communicative knowledge
to remain in the conversation.
Reading Comprehension Proficiency
Reading comprehension proficiency is the constructing meaning and thinking before, during and
after reading by integrating reader’s background knowledge with the information presented by
the author in the context (Meissner & Yun, 2008; Sweet & Snow, 2003). Reading comprehension
is the constructing meaning which is acceptable and accurate by connecting what has been read to
what the students already know and thinks about all of this information until it is recognized. The
purpose and final goal of reading instruction is comprehension. However, one of the most
important goals of skilled reading is decoded and understanding written text (Block & Pressley,
2002), it should be considered and emphasized on reading comprehension proficiency rather than
an end in itself. A short list of examples of comprehension strategies includes comprehension
monitoring, cooperative learning, using graphic and semantic organizers including story maps,
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 answering questions about what has been read, creating students’ own questions about what they
have read, using prior knowledge to connect what they read to what they already know, and
summarizing what they have read (Learning Point Associates, 2004; http://www.learningpt.org).
These proficient readers agree that using reading comprehension strategies would help them
understand more of what they are reading and motivate them in their activities in reading.
Readers need to know when and how to use these reading comprehension strategies and it is
essential to understand various kinds of texts such as informative text, stories or poetry.
Proficient readers utilize comprehension strategies without being directed to do so. They have
become self-regulated in their use of comprehension strategies while reading.
Reading comprehension proficiency is a combination of the reader’s cognitive and metacognitive processes, which a reader has to make inferences on the passage of a text or at the end
of a story by using information from different sources: the title, the pictures, or generally from
the previous paragraphs. The reading comprehension processes occur when the reader
understands the information in a text and meaningfully interprets it appropriately (Ahmadi &
Hairul, 2012; Blair-Larsen & Vallance, 2004).
Reading comprehension is the conclusion of recognition and understanding among readers and
the context (Eskey, 2005). Accordingly, Rosenblatt (1978) stated that reading comprehension is
related to the transaction among the text and reader. It is believed that readers establish and
construct their own meanings in the context and can share those understandings and recognition
with other students. One of the most important factors of the beginning stages of reading and
reading comprehension development is decoding and the ability to recognize words in texts
(Adams, 1990). However, comprehension relates to both vocabulary recognition skills and higher
order thinking skills.
Reading comprehension proficiency is a process to understand the message of written language
and furthermore, that readers go through context; evaluate meaning and, finally arrive at a selfselected location (Duke, 2003). Van Den Broek and Kremer (2000) explained that readers in
reading comprehension proficiency create an image and its definition toward the comprehension
process in their mentality. On the other hand, Martin, Chang and Gould (2008) stated that reading
comprehension is one of the most important factors in language learning. Their idea was
supported by the fact that many researchers highlighted the point that reading will facilitate and
enhance language learning. Reading also facilitates readers to develop themselves in various
situations such as general knowledge, writing skills, and spelling (Ahmadi & Hairul, 2012;
Harmer, 2007).
According to Reid and Lienemann (2006), reading is a difficult process which involves the
ability to read real words in isolation or in context with comprehension. Readers should be able
to comprehend the context in many different content areas; they need the ability to construct
meaning from written language by manipulating, constructing, and translating text. Accordingly,
Erfani, Iranmehr, and Davari, (2010) and Farhady (2005) said that in Iranian university context,
reading comprehension is the most important skill to be acquired by the students, and it is the
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most effective motivation factor for them to be successful in their study (cited in Ahmadi &
Hairul, 2012).
Types of Reading
In general, there are two types of reading namely Extensive and Intensive Reading. The
following sections will explain these types of reading.
Extensive Reading
Hedge (2003) explained extensive reading as scanning and skimming activities and quantity of
material. Extensive reading is reading in quantity in order to gain a general information about
what is read, obtaining the gist to facilitate reading comprehension. Accordingly, Hafiz and
Tudor (1989), Grabe and Stoller (2002) defined extensive reading as a large amounts of reading
in contexts within their linguistic competence with the purpose of learning to read. Furthermore,
it is considered a pedagogically efficient method to teach reading by having students read many
materials in their linguistic process (Ahmadi & Hairul, 2012). According to Richards and
Rodgers (2003), extensive reading is the reading book after book where the readers should focus
on the meaning of the text, while it gives them a general information of the text. Field (1985)
illustrated that extensive reading is a rapid and effective method of reading a text for a general
meaning and all interested and pleasure reading is defined as extensive reading.
Intensive Reading
Reading in details to recognize and understand the meaning of the words and the definition of
passage is called Intensive reading (Day & Bamford, 1998). This reading focuses on syntactic
and semantic forms in the text, details in structure, with the aims of understanding literal meaning
and implications. Day and Bamford (1998) explained that intensive reading is a close study of
contexts, sentences or paragraphs and it will activate the shift from a first language to foreign
language; hence it develops the readers’ reading comprehension proficiency. According to Hedge
(2003), in Intensive reading, students usually read a text to recognize the writer’s message(s), it is
as reading carefully and slowly for detailed recognizing. Hafiz and Tudor (1989) argued that
intensive reading is generally at a slower speed and provides a higher degree of recognizing to
improve and refine word study skills, enlarge passive vocabulary, reinforce skills related to
sentence structure, increase active vocabulary.
Models of Reading
There are three models of reading: the bottom-up model which emphasizes on the contexts, the
top-down model which emphasizes on the readers, and the interactive model which emphasizes
that the reading process is guided by an interaction between the text information and the reader’s
previous knowledge (Ahmadi & Hairul, 2012; Tolstefl, 2007). The following sections discuss
each of the models in more details.
The Top–Down Model
According to Eskey (2005), in top-down model, prior information, guessing, main idea,
contextual prediction, scanning and skimming are provided; the prospects and previous
information contribute readers to understand the meaning in their reading process. In this reading
model, students begin to read a context and use their background knowledge to obtain new
experiences and knowledge (Aebersold & Field, 1997). In top-down model, students utilize their
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translate the message of written language in their own language in a meaningful form (Smith,
2004). So, proficient readers do not need to read all of the words in a passage, but they will
understand the message from the context by getting some important words and sentences (Cohen,
1990). In other words, the model of top-down emphasizes on reading proficiency and focuses on
predicting the message by using the readers’ background knowledge related to the passage.
The Bottom-up Model
In the bottom-up model readers focus on surface meaning, using a dictionary for translating new
words for helping reading comprehension (Dubin & Bycina, 1991). This model of reading is
usually used at the earlier level of learning (Hayashi, 1999). Reading process in the bottom-up
model starts with the decoding of the smallest elements of linguistic especially phonemes and
words, continued with creating meaning from the larger elements (Carrell, 1989). Gough (1972)
stated that bottom-up model emphasizes on the print itself, whereas reading is the starting point
to grasp recognizing in words description, letters information, linguistic elements and sentences
before understanding the meaning of the whole text. Grabe and Stoller (2002) supported the idea
by stating that the bottom-up model is a mechanical model, where readers translate the content
mentally from smaller units; obviously, readers’ previous information may not be considered too
much in the process. Accordingly, Ahmadi and Hairul (2012) stated that the whole process of
defining content through decoding of new words is called bottom-up reading process.
The Interactive Model
The combination of the two aforementioned models (bottom-up and top-down) is called
Interactive model (Ahmadi & Hairul, 2012). This model of reading is based on information from
various parts such as semantic information, lexical, schemata, orthographic and syntactic
(Stanovich, 1980). Interactive model covers what top-down or bottom-up model uncovered in the
whole reading process (Rumelhart, 1977). This model emphasizes on the relationship between
the text and the readers. Anderson (1991) said that interactive model is the most effective
approach to teach the first and second language speakers to read. Accordingly, Grabe (1991)
stated that interactive model is efficiently to bridge between students with higher-level and lowerlevel of reading comprehension proficiency. Stanovich (1980) and Eskey (2005) claimed that
because poor readers have limited the ability of bottom-up approach, they use top-down model
more than proficient readers.
Findings of Learning Reading Strategies and Reading Comprehension Proficiency
An effective number of empirical researches have established a positive relationship between
learning reading strategies and reading comprehension proficiency in students’ EFL/ESL learning
activities. For example, Brookbank, Grover, Kullberg, and Strawser (1999) have detected that the
use of learning different reading strategies enhanced the learners’ reading comprehension
proficiency. Research in EFL/ESL contexts that have been done to explore the relationship
between learning reading strategies and success in reading comprehension proficiency by
nonnative speaker students have produced interesting results, and reading strategies facilitated
their comprehension proficiency. According to Golinkoff (1975), poor readers peruse various of
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texts in the same manner (traditional manner) and do not follow to learn reading strategies in
their reading process.
According to Ahmadi and Pourhossein (2012), findings indicated that reading strategy has a
significant positive impact on the English reading comprehension proficiency. Reading strategy
improves the reading ability of both the proficient and less proficient readers. Readers use
reading strategies and know what, when, how, and why to use these strategies in reading
comprehension process. Furthermore, students learn reading strategies to identify the main idea
of a paragraph, to clarify unclear words, phrases, or sentences, and summarize their reading. The
reading strategies help readers overcome difficulties when reading texts as they plan and monitor
their comprehension, and evaluate their planning and its outcome. For these reasons, it can be
concluded that reading strategy is a kind of reading instruction that facilitates the teaching of
English reading comprehension proficiency Ahmadi and Pourhossein (2012).
Accordingly, Cziko (1980) found that ESL/EFL learners with lower proficiency depend on
orthographic features of the text words while advanced proficiency learners are more sensitive to
syntactic, semantic, and discourse cues. However, with reference to Chinese EFL learners, only a
few studies on their learning reading strategies have been reported, but serious attempts at
investigating the effectiveness of explicit and overt strategy training of Chinese EFL readers on
English reading comprehension proficiency have been lacking. Gu (1994) explained that his good
and poor students were different in strategy use in reading comprehension. The correspondence
between skill/strategy use and reading comprehension proficiency does not necessarily apply to
students (Chu, 2000).
Readers, regardless of their reading proficiency, want to use more local reading strategies than
global strategies (Chia, 2000). Accordingly, Parry (1996) elaborated that her students’ stronger
tendency to use ‘bottom-up’ strategies than ‘top-down’ strategies since it was closely related to
their traditional approach. As a result, in order to counterbalance the powerful effects from L1
reading experience, improving a deeper level of processing to assist readers understand the
importance and function of global strategy use is emphasized. Su (2001) examined the influence
of learning reading strategies about the English reading proficiency of students, and the
conclusion show that readers feel that the reading strategies they learned are helpful to improve
their reading ability.
According to Song (1998), in a reading strategy training investigation which was modified from
the procedure improve by Brown and Palincsar (1984) in an ongoing EFL university reading
comprehension classroom. It was concluded that learning reading strategy is one of the effective
factor in improving EFL reading comprehension proficiency. The finding suggested that foreign
language reading pedagogy, especially for adult students in academic settings, should include
explicit and direct strategy training.
Conclusion
This study generally detected a positive relationship between readers’ language proficiency and
reading skills/strategies. The ability to recognize a text is based not only on the student’s
linguistic knowledge, but also on general knowledge of the world and the extent to which that
knowledge is activated during processing. The conclusion of all ESL/EFL investigations and the
view of reading comprehension as an interactive process between the reader and the text lead to
several implications for the teachers. If the unfamiliar content of a text has an effect on reading
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 comprehension, then it must be considered as a criterion in the selection of reading materials and
in the evaluation of reading comprehension. So, knowledge of reading strategies is of particular
importance to teachers who have a responsibility towards presenting materials for reading
instruction. According to learning reading strategies, our background knowledge about strategies
and its pertinence to the text determines the ease or complexity of understanding that text. In
other words, no matter how well a reader may know a language, he or she cannot read in that
language with good comprehension if the subject matter or the content of the text is one he or she
knows absolutely nothing about.The following suggestions are recommended towards reading
comprehension proficiency in the classrooms:
1. The reading comprehension teaching method should be really new and interesting and texts
should be taught from these reading comprehension new strategies. And also teachers need to
design various types of reading strategies activities to improve their students’ understanding of
these materials and motivate them in their activities.
2. Teachers should motivate their students in learning reading strategies and they should be
sensitive to their students’ hidden comprehension problems which can be facilitated through
reading strategies.
3. Teachers should help their students change their attitudes towards traditional reading approach
and help them to learn new reading strategies in reading comprehension proficiency and need to
assist their students to become independent and proficient readers through learning reading
strategies about when, where, and how to use the reading strategies while reading the text . And
also students should have enough time to exercise their understandings of the reading strategies.
4. Learning to read strategies are recommended for foreign language reading instruction,
especially for learners in university settings might benefit from the collaborative comprehension
strategy instruction with the help from both their peers and teachers.
Thus, it is important for EFL English language teachers to know the longitudinal nature of
comprehension strategy instruction, encouraging students to become strategic is a long term
process with learning reading strategies. Readers’ effective use of reading strategies, particularly
some of the top-down strategies such as predicting and making inferences requires teachers’
thoughtful planning to help them conceptualize the nature of the reading process and raise their
awareness of the necessity for a shift in reading behaviours. Improving readers’ strategic reading
is not simply a matter of introducing them to a number of reading strategies. Developing mastery
of the comprehension strategies involves teachers’ constant modelling and instant feedback for
mastery of the comprehension strategies not only at the beginning but through the whole
implementation of comprehension strategy instruction.
Acknowledgement
The researchers would like to thank Mr Abbas Pourhossein Gilakjani, Mrs sareh shaker haghighi
for their extensive and insightful discussions and comments on the paper.
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 Integrating E-Mail Summaries of Internet Radio into the Foreign
Language Classroom: An Experiment with German
William C. McDonald
University of Virginia
wcm@virginia.edu
Abstract
Traditionally, e-mail in the German composition classroom has been used for one-on-one, as well
as classroom-to-classroom, intercultural exchanges with pen pals (keypals). This article argues
for e-mails as written exchanges between student and teacher, on the basis of German Internet
radio broadcasts, of the type transmitted by Deutsche Welle and Tagesschau. Beginning with a
sketch of the background of e-mail use in the foreign language (FL) class, this article then
describes the method, illustrating it with actual student summaries based on Internet radio. Once
a week students e-mail the teacher a short summary of cultural and news stories from German
online news radio. They select a story, take notes, compose a summary of the story in German,
finally e-mailing it to the teacher for error correction and feedback. The teacher e-mails the
summary back to the student via the return function. Benefits accrue to both teacher and student.
The teacher, able to engage students using their favored mode of communication, has opened a
venue for written interaction. S/he can provide immediate corrective feedback, intervening very
quickly to highlight difficulties and to isolate persistent errors, at the same time inviting student
rejoinder. Since e-mails can be easily archived, they offer a quick, panoramic view of student
progress over the semester. Through learner interaction the student improves listening and
writing skills, encountering new vocabulary and idioms, while choosing a favorite text from
among a body of oral material in German. Students respond very positively to the element of
choice. The e-mail summary then becomes very much their own story, one to which they react
emotionally. No small benefits are an improved knowledge of geography and current events,
including German holiday celebrations (for instance, Fasching). The article closes with a
variation on my method, e-mail summaries of German Internet videos.
Key Words: e-mail; computer-assisted learning via streaming media; second language
acquisition; German; ESL instruction; authentic writing task (précis, summary), error correction,
teacher-student feedback
Background
“There is no single right approach to teaching writing…” Thus states the National Writing
Project on its webpage “About NWP” (www.nwp.org). Teachers of upper-level, undergraduate
German composition courses at university know only too well the truth of this statement. Until
two decades ago, the role of writing itself in second language acquisition was marginalized, a
victim of the emphasis on the spoken language (Harklau). Only now is writing research coming
into its own (See the special issue of the Journal of Second-Language Writing: Writing in
Foreign Language Contexts; Research Insights, vol. 17.1, 2008). If we no longer debate the
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importance of writing German, we still struggle to find the way to get beyond the sort of writing
exercise: “What I did during my summer vacation.” To improve student writing, teachers use
textbooks, exercise manuals, teacher-designed hand-outs, student-proposed topics after
brainstorming sessions, free-writing, pre-and post-writing assignments, both teacher-correction
and peer-correction of written work, and more. But there is another tool that is so far underused
in the writing classroom. It is basic e-mail, the “mother of all Internet applications” (Warschauer,
Shetzer, & Meloni, 2000, 3), which has been employed in English teaching since the early 1990s,
can successfully support the writing process.1 Already in 1991 D’Souza, in the first of several
studies, argued for “the use of Electronic Mail as an Instructional Aid” (title). She described an
experiment requiring students in a School of Business class to send weekly messages to the
instructor. These e-mail messages were brief and related to concerns about “classroom
discussions, lecture topics, assignments, etc.” (108). Her positive findings, using control groups,
showed higher achievement among the student users of e-mail. D’Sourza (1991) concluded: “The
findings suggest that e-mail is a viable communications and dissemination support tool in
educational settings” (109).
This paper describes one of those “educational settings,” a weekly e-mail exchange between
student and teacher in a 3rd-year college course, but it could just as well be used in high school
Advanced Placement classes. It is by no means limited to German, having application in foreign
language and English as a Second Language (ESL) setting. This writing exercise helps learners
integrate language and content and helps instructors assess progress in writing more accurately.
Language learning via e-mail has been broadly investigated. There are studies on electronic mail
and language learning for German (St. John and Cash, 1995; Leahy, 1999; Van Handle, 2002),
French (Lawrence, 2002; Slater and Carpenter, 1999; Bisaillon, 1999) Spanish (GonzalesBueno,1998; O’Dowd, 2003), in the English classroom (Warschauer, 1995; Hawisher and
Moran, 1993; Muehleisen, 1997; MacNeill;2000), and in the ESL writing class (Belisle,1996;
Nabors and Swartley,1999). From the perspective of linguistics, Dieter Wolff (1998) has
explored the use of e-mail in foreign language teaching. Electronic mail is asynchronous
communication, which is characterized by delayed time, and this form of information sharing
includes electronic bulletin boards, SMS (mobile e-mail), postings to e-mail lists, and the World
Wide Web. Because e-mail does not require an immediate application in real time, but offers
freedom of time and place for user response, it promotes reflection and mental concentration
(Levy, 2007). Perhaps this is why asynchronous media “such as e-mail lend themselves better to
development of syntactic skills” and are better suited to grammatical development (Stockwell
and Levy, 2006, 192; Sotillo, 2000). In addition, learners exchanging e-mails with instructors had
gains in proficiency (Fotos, 2004).2
One way of employing e-mail is for a classroom discussion, where students write responses to an
article or reading, sending these via electronic mail into a class discussion area (Hoffman and
Scheidenhelm, 2000, 184; Bean, 2001, 112-113). Although there are many possible applications
of e-mail in FL teaching (group e-mail exchanges, interaction within a class, pre-class activities,
1
See, especially, the work of Warschauer, who enthusiastically observed in 1995; “Time, Newsweek, and the New
York Times have all hailed it: The electronic mail (e-mail) revolution is here” (1)
2
The accepted pedagogical benefits of electronic mail are: 1) it extends language learning time and place; 2) it
provides a context for real-world communication and authentic interaction; 3) it expands topics beyond classroombased ones; 4) it promotes student-centered language learning; 5) it encourages equal opportunity participation; and
6) it connects speakers quickly and cheaply (Gonglewski, Meloni and Brant).
See, also, Warschauer, Shetzer and Meloni, p.3; and Lever-Duffy and McDonald, pp.253-9.
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 post-class activities, e-mail reading circles, news journals, dialogue journals), my survey of the
literature points to a narrowing of focus to a single application, e-mail for cross-cultural
exchanges.3 This takes the form of one-on-one exchanges between individual FL learners, once
known as pen pals, now called keypals and epals (www.epals.com), and classroom-to-classroom
exchanges via electronic mail. (See, for instance, “Das Transatlantische Klassenzimmer,”
www.tak.schule.de) E-mail exchanges between keypals develop, through e-mail projects, into
group exchanges under the direction of teachers.4 Partner classes, partner schools and
Lerngruppen—all these use e-mail to communicate with one another on topics as varied as
wildlife migration and the fears and hopes of adolescents (Andreas Müller-Hartmann, 2000). A
variation on the e-mail exchange between America and Germany was a project between two
intermediate level German classes at Mount Holyoke College and the Ohio State University.
American learners of German participated in an e-mail discussion using a computer-mediated
mailing list, both classes having read the same literary texts in order to promote intercultural
communication (Van Handle and Carol, 2002). 5
The most recent research on the pedagogical implications of e-mail in the German classroom
concerns sustaining an intercultural exchange, which is typical: 1) in focusing on e-mail as a
communicative device, hardly distinguishable from conversation; and 2) in stressing the function
of e-mail in furthering an “intercultural communicative experience” (Schueller, 2007, 183; see,
also, Stockwell and Levy, 2001). Language practice is, of course, a factor in e-mail exchanges.
But the trend is to assess electronic mail as a vehicle to promote bilingual or monolingual tandem
dialogue between American and German keypals, both in one-on-one e-mail exchanges and in
classroom-to-classroom electronic communication. 6
3
For a typical assessment of e-mail as a tool to promote intercultural communication, see Littlemore and Oakey: “Email is one of the easiest and most practical ways of enabling language students to get in contact with native speakers
of the target language” (p.106). Cf. Robb and O’Dowd (“The Use of Videoconfering and E-Mail”), the latter of
whom speaks of a networked exchange between German and American learners.
4
See, especially, Reinhard Donath who on his website defines e-mail projects in this way: “Bei einem E-MailProjekt im Englischunterricht kommuniziert eine Lerngruppe schriftlich mit Gleichaltrigen z. B. in den USA,
Kanada, Australien oder Großbritannien auf Englisch. Die Kommunikationssprache kann natürlich zusätzlich auch
Deutsch sein, wenn z. B. die Partnerklasse Deutsch als Fremdsprache lernt. Die Kommunikation ist themengebunden
und findet in einem vorher festgelegten Zeitrahmen mit einem inhaltlichen Schwerpunkt statt. Die Texte werden per
Internet an die elektronische Partnerschule geschickt” (http://www.schule.de/englisch/email.htm). See, also,
Donath’s book E-Mail Projektive im Englischunterricht, p. 13. There he gives an example of an e-mail project: “The
Perfect School” (pp.40ff.). O’Dowd (“Interncultural,” p. 164) and Littlemore and Oakey (p.107) cite further
examples On learning culture through e-mail exchanges, see Smasal.
5
See Söntgens (1999), who comments on tandem e-mail exchanges between German and British university students.
Illustrating this trend, the BBC German website Bitesize offers a fictional international e-mail exchange as part of a
mock German exam in order to test writing facility. The examiner thinks of electronic mail as a tool for the student
to
correspond
with
a
“German
fiend:”
http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/german/mocks/writingmockh.pdf). The mock exam is composed of
instructions to the examinee, a German e-mail from Hans, and the task of composing a letter to Hans in German
about school-life: “You have received this e-mail from your German friend, Hans. He wants to know about
your school and your life at school. Reply to his e-mail telling him about your school, school uniform and
what you think about it, which subjects you do and your opinion of them, what you will do after the exams
and what you did last summer. Also ask Hans a question about his school.” (The letter from Hans:) ‘Hallo.
6
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Adapting a Very Basic Technology for FL Classroom Use: Philosophy and Concerns
I am certainly not denying the importance of intercultural e-mail exchanges.7 We all want to
encourage intercultural communicative competence, especially when e-mail can enhance cultural
awareness (Stockwell and Stockwell, 2003) and change cultural stereotypes (Itakura, 2004).
Person-to-person and classroom-to-classroom exchanges are valuable, promoting a global world
view, initiating friendships and teaching collaboration, at the same time they allow students to
practice writing German (Fischer, 1996). However, I do want to argue that our view of electronic
mail as a classroom tool threatens to be constricted, and restricted, to exchanges with native
speakers. There are exceptions, of course, as when a Spanish intermediate class composed
electronic dialogue journals (González-Bueno, 1998), or when an (unnamed) classroom wrote a
cooperative e-mail story (Bitter and Legacy, 2008, 88). But the trend is clear. E-mail is mainly a
medium for cross-cultural communication. Here I am arguing for another use of e-mail in the
German writing curriculum: student-to-teacher e-mail exchanges in the target language, in which
the student summarizes a text from German Internet radio, submitting the e-mail to the teacher
for assessment, both of grammar and of content. The teacher then returns the corrected e-mail to
the student via the electronic return function. The application of electronic mail described here is
not well-researched: If my method is confirmed by subsequent studies, then a certain re-thinking
is in order whether personal relationships are fundamental to language improvement via
electronic mail.
The hesitation to encourage one-on-one e-mails between teacher and student has three main
explanations. First, teachers, already overworked, are not eager to receive random e-mails from
writing students that must be answered and archived. Second, teachers want to encourage learner
autonomy and fear that too close scrutiny of language learners will inhibit progress (Nowlan,
2008). Third, error correction itself is a topic of debate (Truscott and Hsu, 2008; Bloch, 2002;
and Ferris, 2003). Teachers simply are unsure to which degree the highlighting of errors
promotes writing competence and uncertain how much corrective feedback to give without
inhibiting expression in the target language. Certainly the debate over teacher roles, especially
when integrating technology into the classroom, has played a part in teacher insecurity.
Technology has changed the very place of the teacher, as expressed by Doris M. Carey (1993):
“The change is often from a teacher-centered, teacher-controlled classroom to a classroom in
which the teacher is more a facilitator than a director of learning” (105; see, also, O’Dwyer,
2006). One response by teachers is not to correct errors at all. Accordingly, evaluative feedback
is not meant to draw attention to, or to correct, language mistakes, but is restricted to content
(McBride and Fägersten, 2008).Three investigations of e-mail, one in the ESL classroom,
another during a Japanese-American university exchange, and the third in the German
classroom, arrive at the same conclusion: “The students were allowed to write about any topic
they wanted, and they were told that their messages would not be graded for content or grammar”
(Nabors and Swartley, 1999, 236). “…It was stated at the beginning of the exchange that errors
Über meine Schule habe ich dir schon alles gesagt, und ich habe schon seit einem Monat Ferien. Mich
interessiert deine Schule. Musst du zum Beispiel eine Uniform tragen? Und wie findest dud as? Welche
Fächer gefallen dir? Welche nicht? Warum? Was wirst dun ach den Prüfungen machen? Was hast du in
den letzten Schulferien gemacht?’ (Instructions to examinee:) Schreib einen Brief an Hans auf Deutsch.
Beschreib: - Deine Schule - Deine Schuluniform und deine Meinung darüber.Schreib: - Welche Fächer Dir gefallen
oder nicht.- Warum - Was du nach den Prüfungen machen wirst - Was du in den letzten Schulferien gemacht hast.
Frag: - Hans über seine Schule “
7
Uses of e-mail to promote understanding of other cultures are explored by Itakura and O’Dowd (“Intercultural”).
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 were not important” (Fotos, 2004, 121); and “Students were informed that their contributions to
the E-mail project would not be graded or corrected for linguistic accuracy because their primary
focus was to be on communication with their peers” (Van Handle, 2002, 132).
In my German Internet radio e-mail summaries, described below, I go against the grain, offering
error correction on grammar and content. I ask students to keep a record of repetitive
grammatical errors (even as I have an e-mail record of their mistakes), to review periodically the
areas of weakness in grammar and sentence formation, and to strive to correct whole categories
of errors (word order, grammatical case) by semester’s end. By pointing out errors and prompting
students to improve specific areas of written performance, I see measurable progress in their email writing samples during the term.
There is no doubt that students perceive a difference in student-to-student interactions via e-mail,
as opposed to student-to-teacher exchanges. Chi-Fen Emily Chen expresses it this way: “While
people can write e-mail to peers in any manner they like, writing e-mails to authority figures
requires higher pragmatic competence and critical language awareness of how discourse shapes
and reflects power asymmetry in an institutional context” (abstract). Besides the inhibitions
students have in writing non-peer-related e-mails, there is the undeniable factor that the reader of
their writing is the judge and grade giver. No matter what we say, students know we are the
assessor with power to lower grades for mistakes. To lessen learner anxiety, the teacher needs to
stress that e-mail feedback is intended to call attention to repetitive errors with the aim of
eliminating these in future assignments. To reinforce the constructive side of written criticism,
teachers emphasize the positive in student writing, complementing writers on their progress.
The Methodology
Participants
The path to e-mail as a writing strategy was long for me, and, as so often happens with
methodology, was inspired by a student. At the last minute, I was asked to critique a paragraph
that a student had composed in German and sent to me via electronic mail. I discovered that I
could easily make corrections— brackets [ ] seemed the best way to indicate changes—and
return the e-mail document within the hour to the student sender. The paragraph (plus
corrections) could be easily archived and printed out. What if, I asked myself, students in my
writing class sent me German written work related to class assignments via electronic mail?
Would the results be similarly satisfying to the learner and to me? My college composition class,
usually numbering 15 students, is made up of undergraduates at the upper intermediate level. It is
a third-year class, with students of varying backgrounds and experience. Some have never been
to Germany. Participants are usually majors and minors, and all have had a formal grammar
review. The aim of the class, which is taught as much as possible in German, is to guide students
to authentic written communication, using the structures and idioms that promote facility in
expression.
With the guidance of students, I learned to appreciate the ability of the word processor to
manipulate blocks of text, allowing students to cut-and-paste assignments from German Internet
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materials. I explored the e-mail function, too. I learned to add, delete, move text, and substitute at
will—and to practice error correction. In contrast to the student writing exercises, I regularly
handed back, e-mail corrections were much neater. The former often had my revised comments
on them, written after a second read-through. In short, using the e-mail function, I was a much
more effective editor. But it was still unclear to me how to integrate it into the writing
curriculum. E-mail essays were one answer, but I reasoned that it mattered little whether one
wrote “Denglisch” on the computer screen or on paper. If students were unable, for example, to
master German “topicalization” (subject-verb inversion in the Vorfeld) on paper, writing e-mails
would not magically transform errors into correct syntax
Next, I reviewed the goals that I had set for the writing class in general, to see what role e-mail
could play. I wanted students to:
--have as much opportunity as possible to write German, using technologies familiar to their
daily lives;
--stay within the German-to-German frame, to promote thinking in German without the step
of English translation;
--exercise choice in content and subject matter, so that the assignment reflected
personal interest and active learning;
--gain revising and adapting skills (synonyms, re-phrasing and summarizing
content), with the aim of becoming autonomous learners;
--expose themselves to contemporary global events, especially German- American
relations;
--feel free to communicate with me outside of class about assignments, or to share insights,
hoping that these student-teacher exchanges would be conducted in written German.
E-mail seemed like a slim reed, indeed, on which to attach so many expectations. But I had
underestimated it, and my students, who eagerly transferred their daily means of communication
into the German writing setting. Astoundingly, e-mail—in conjunction with other Internet
applications—contributed to meeting all of the goals here listed. There were even unexpected
bonuses. To borrow the words of Reinhard Donath (1996),, I found the same “positive Haltung
zum Unterricht”(positive attitude toward instruction) that he describes with student-to-student email exchanges. He continues: “Schülerinnen und Schüler…erleben durch die Arbeit mit E-Mail
eine neue Unterrichtsform und haben Spaß daran, wodurch ihre Movationen gesteigert wird und
sie mehr Bereitschaft zeigen, sich der Fremdsprache zu widmen” (Pupils…gain a new
instructional-tool through their work with e-mail. They have fun with it, thus increasing their
motivation, and they demonstrate a greater willingness to devote themselves to a foreign tongue,
14). However, let me hasten to emphasize that electronic mail itself is not a magic formula for
writing German. In the final analysis, it is a tool which, like every such device, requires sensible,
skilled operation.
The breakthrough came when I decided to make e-mail writing not the main composition
assignment of the week, 8 but an auxiliary, and complement, to the writing process. Each week
8
The main writing assignment also uses computer-mediated communication. The student adapts, and reacts in
German writing to a current, short Internet text (IST) that is also in German,(see McDonald). IST are Web-articles of
around 250 words concerning current events, business, culture, lifestyle, sport, geography, environmental issues,
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 students e-mailed me a summary of cultural and news stories from German online news radio,
which I corrected and returned via e-mail. It is well known, as Marcoul and Pennington (1999)
have stated in the context of developing composition skills for learners of French, that “writing
with a computer using a word processor facilitates production and revision of text to a greater
extent than in pen-and-paper mode” (305). I sought to determine whether e-mail, like the word
processor, could contribute to better FL writing. To personalize the assignment, I chose a one-onone e-mail interaction between me and the student, realizing that such exchanges with the
teacher, and tutor, have had demonstrable success in FL environments (González-Bueno, 1998;
Fotos, 2004).. To avoid an awkward, perhaps stilted e-mail exchange between student and
teacher, I resolved to engage the learner in a purposeful task, using an electronic medium as
another way to improve writing. Researchers have cautioned that concrete goals are necessary in
student e-mail exchanges in order to keep learners motivated (Müller-Hartmann, 2000; and Levy,
2007).
Data Collection Procedures
The assignment, listening and summarizing German Internet radio stories, requires active
learning, in this case, the sifting out of the main ideas and expressing these in German—where
possible with synonyms. For best results, students remain in an “Internet framework,” that is,
they write German without books. For synonyms, they use www.woxikon.de, or
www.woerterbuch.info; for lexical items, they consult www.dict.cc, or http://dict.tu-chemnitz.de;
and for idioms they select www.redensarten-index.de . (I encourage students to discover other
learning aids; from such a search came, for example, http://dictionary.reverso.net/englishgerman) Students minimize these sites on the computer, and thus work at the e-mail summary
on the full screen. Note that within a set parameter—a “safe” Internet site, like Deutsche Welle,
that promotes an understanding of German culture and world affairs using German that is suitable
for imitation—students choose their own stories to summarize. “Freedom of topic” (see
Pennington, 2004, 80) has proved successful in e-mail exchanges in second-language classrooms.
In my experience, that same freedom of choice within a range of Internet radio stories that
number in the dozens, grants the e-mail summary a personal flavor, at the same time it guarantees
that students acquire a global perspective, a point of view expressed in authentic German. My
results convince me that e-mail exchanges with students via summaries of German Internet radio
are useful both to learner and teacher. For their part, students show significant improvement over
a semester. With each week, given concrete e-mail feedback from me, they make less mistakes,
improving command of case (the dative in particular), word order (Vorfeld and conjunctions), the
uses of werden, tense, the auxiliaries haben/sein, double infinitives, the subjunctive—in fact, the
entire palette of grammar.. In short, their work sounds more “German,” as they productively
imitate authentic language as transmitted by Internet radio. For my part, I can easily chart
progress in vocabulary and grammatical structures, track comprehension, detect repetitive errors,
and gauge whether the e-mail précis reinforces the larger, weekly writing exercise.
health and wellness, study abroad, weather conditions, etc. I have argued that IST are underused, both as prototypes
for written discourse in German and as a bridge to free-writing.
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I chose the summary (sometimes called the précis) because it is a fundamental technique of
composition, underused in FL classrooms but with a history of success in the instruction of
rhetoric and English (Bromley, 1985; Keck, 2006; MacNeill, 2000). . Summarizing is a learned
skill requiring the ability to identify the main point(s) of an argument and then to present the
substance of the point(s) presented in a condensed form. A summary improves comprehension
and recall, encourages critical thinking, teaches students to abstract main ideas, and gives practice
in concise expression. Two kinds of summary can be used in our e-mail exercise: 1) a student
paraphrase of a radio broadcast without strict allegiance to the German word order of the
broadcast; and 2) a paraphrase closely following the original, for example, the placement of
elements in sentence-initial position. Imitation is, of course, one of the oldest ways to learn
writing, and paraphrase writing dates at least to English Renaissance schools (Stotsky, 1982,
334). 9 Each type of paraphrase has its advantages. The first gives students freedom to
experiment writing German. Here the teacher’s special task is to guide students away from syntax
heavily influenced by English, and toward the sort of German syntax one hears in online
broadcasts, that is, roughly half of the sentences don’t start with the subject. The second allows
students to model their writing closely on authentic Internet audio texts—to be sure, modifying
their summaries with synonyms. Here the teacher takes care that students are not merely copying,
but developing their own skills by virtue of productive imitation.
The task I assigned involved multi-competence: in a German e-mail to summarize the contents of
a contemporary, online Radiobericht. 10 As noted, each week my students listened to an Internet
radio broadcast on Deutsche Welle (www.dw.de) or on Tagesschau (www.tagesschau.de),
selected one news or cultural story to report on, took notes in German, then composed a 4- to-6
line summary (on the average 60 words), and e-mailed the summary to me on a set day for my
feedback. 11 I reminded students to keep track of my corrections and to categorize their errors, for
example, dative plural. Since student and teacher have a record of errors (the teacher can store
these in various files), it is easily possible to chart progress during the semester.
I encouraged students to imitate the language and syntax of the original broadcast, citing idioms,
if these were necessary to compose the e-mail summary. Following a stylistic model is useful
here, as learners adopt a standard for their own writing. Students are clear, however, that they are
not merely to copy the model story, but to seek out creative ways to summarize it with suitable
German synonyms. The summary should therefore resemble the original audio document, not
repeat it verbatim.
Some students model their e-mail summaries on “Slow News” on Deutsche Welle (accessed as
“langsam gesprochene Nachrichten.”). Those students with accelerated oral comprehension are
encouraged to listen to the regular, online news/cultural broadcasts on Deutsche Welle (DW-
9
On Casey Keck’s scale of the paraphrase in summary writing, I usually ask for a version in between the categories:
“Near Copy” and “Minimal Revision.” The teacher can, of course, adjust and adapt the assignment. In 1975,
Michael Donley made a plea for the “rehabilitation” of précis writing in schools.
10
For the use of German radio newscasts in another context, see Wipf.
11
The typical language classroom strives to develop both receptive skills (reading and listening) and productive
language use (speaking and writing). Here we combine, in an admittedly exacting assignment, online listening and
paraphrasing. On the challenges of attempting to integrate aural and communicative skills in the FL classroom, see
Davies and Gabrielatos.
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 Radio live) and Tagesschau (Radio online hören: (www.ard.de/radio) , 12 as the basis for their
summaries. Since the radio news and cultural reports on Deutsche Welle and Tagesschau are so
expertly written, students can profitably imitate the original, repeating syntax and idioms, while
making the necessary variations. As listening comprehension improves during the semester, I
encourage students to explore other than Slow News. But Slow News has a clear benefit. It offers
the option of verifying student comprehension by means of printed texts of the spoken news
broadcasts on the website. Students can therefore first listen to the news story, then read it, then
listen again—without the text as a prop. The typical online newscast on Slow News has ten
stories (averaging ten lines of text). For example, on 30 November 2012 students could hear
about: the observer status of the Palestinians in the United Nations, work on a new constitution in
Egypt, the atomic conflict in Iran, Germany’s aid to Greece, and the relationship of the
Netherlands to the Euro-zone. Let it be clear that “Slow News” is not so slow after all, but is
close to native speed and employs authentic language. There follows a sample passage from Slow
News:
Mit überwältigender Mehrheit haben die Vereinten Nationen für eine Anerkennung Palästinas als
Beobachterstaat gestimmt. 138 der 193 Staaten in der UN-Vollversammlung votierten für diesen
Status Palästinas und damit für eine diplomatische Aufwertung der Palästinenser. Die USA und
Israel werteten die Abstimmung als Rückschlag für die Friedensbemühungen im Nahen Osten.
Insgesamt stimmten neun Staaten gegen die entsprechende UN-Resolution, 41 - unter ihnen
Deutschland - enthielten sich. Palästinenserpräsident Mahmud Abbas hatte zuvor die
Vollversammlung dazu aufgerufen, eine "Geburtsurkunde für Palästina" auszustellen.
(http://www.dw.de/30112012-langsam-gesprochene-nachrichten/a-16417991)
SAMPLES OF STUDENT E-MAIL SUMMARIES OF GERMAN INTERNET RADIO TEXTS
I cite here seven uncorrected samples of student e-mail radio summaries. All are based on
Deutsche Welle online radio. (For further examples, see Appendix 1). In these are to be found
literal translations from English (Es nahm die Feuerwehr eine Stunde, die erste Zeit),
grammatical horrors (waren schlafend), the expected adjective ending errors, as well as false
agreement of noun and verb. But most mistakes involved the dative case. From this exercise I
therefore learned—with shock—that high intermediate and advanced students were during that
week experiening difficulty with the dative case. Beginning with errors like in 2006, in der
USA, im Deutschland, and helfen/folgen with the accusative case, I present in a general
classroom session the mistakes I have found in the summaries (without identifying the e-mail
sender). Therefore, e-mail summaries not only provide me with a “state-of-the class” that I might
not otherwise have received, they offer a springboard for a discussion of grammar that benefits
the whole class.
12
Further options for listening comprehension with subsequent e-mail summary are the Tagesschau livestream video
broadcasts: www.tagesschau.de/multimedia/livestreams/index.html; and “letzte Sendung”
www.tagesschau.de/multimedia; http://mediathek.daserste.de; or www.dradio.de. Deutsche Welle also offers the
option of learning with videos
(http://mediacenter.dw.de/german/video).
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A. Guten Morgen! Am Anfang des Besuchs von Chinas Präsident Hu Jintao in Moskau wurde
einen Vertrag über Öl von China und Russland unterschrieben. Weil China das weltweit
zweitgrösste Öl importiert und Russland das zweitgrösstete Öl exportiert, wollen die beide
Länder zusammen arbeiten. Dieses Abkommen und andere, die es wahrscheinlich folgen
werden, schliessen Unternehmen in China und Russland im Wert von mehr als eine Milliarde
Dollar.
B. In Berlin, hat die Europäische Union die Kanzlerin von Deutschland, Angela Merkel gestützt.
Merkel hat in den Bundestag gesagt dass, die EU Weltereignis musst besser angepasst werden.
Das Ziel von der EU ist die Entwicklung wieder vergrößern.
Um das Ziel zu erreichen, die EU muss zeigen dass die Ökonomie und Ökologie kein Oxymoron
ist.
C.Vieles ist geschehen, besonders in Asien. Schanghai hatte einen erfolgreichen Tag in dem
Aktienmarkt, der einen Boersencrash in 11. September 2001 hatte. Die Lage in Schanghai ist jetzt
mehr stabilisiert. Nord- und Suedkorea haben sich mit dem Atomprogramm unterhalten. Es war
die erste Zeit, dass die zwei Familien zusammen seit 1953 sind. Ein japanischer Schiff, die
"Nisshin Maru", wurde in Feuer zerstoert und jetzt hat Japan die Walfangsaison beendet.
D.Bald werden dreizehntausend Arbeitnehmer bei DaimlerChrysler arbeitslos sein. Weil
Chrylser letztes Jahr unrentabler in der USA war, muss die Firma viele Jobs absetzen und eine
Fabrik zumachen. Chrylser verlor 1,1 Milliarde Euros, aber Mercedes gab DaimlerChrysler
einen gesamten Profit von 5,5 Milliarden Euro in 2006.
E. Es handelt sich um die Filmen von Lubitch und der Journalist fahr ein Interview mit einigen
Experten. Der Journalist wollte wissen, warum die Jugendliche die Filmen von Lubitch sehen
sollte. Die Experten sagten, dass die Filmen Vorbilder der Fantasie und Spannung sind. Sie
behaupteten, dass alle junge Leute von Fantasie träumen und sie wollen Spannung in seinem
Leben haben. Die Jugendliche können verstehen und vielleicht verlangen nach einem Leben, das
in Filmen von Lubitch dargestellt ist.
F. Ich habe ein paar Themen verstanden. Im Deutschland beraten die Leitung, ob sie mehrere
Truppen nach Afghanistan senden sollen. Mit einer Truppenverstärkung werden sie die Lage
verbessern. Nord und Suedkorea diskutieren Humanität, und was sie machen sollen , um ihre
Leute zu helfen. Es gibt leider noch Gewalt zwischen der radikalen Palästinenser-Gruppe und
Israel. Ich hoffe, dass eines Tages die beiden eine Loesung finden werden.
G. In Schweden hat ein Busfahrer einer verschleierten Frau die Mitnahme verweigert. Dass das
Tragen der Burka ihre persönliche Wahl ist und dass es sie nicht bedrohlicher als jeden anderen
macht, hat die Frau argumentiert. Dem Bericht zufolge stieg die Frau trotzdem in Malmö in den
Bus ein, musste sich dafür aber von dem Fahrer verspotten lassen. Sie hat die Polizei
eingeschaltet. Der Fahrer wurde vom Dienst suspendiert, bis der Vorfall untersucht ist, wie ein
Sprecher der Busgesellschaft sagte. Allerdings schildere er den Vorfall anders. Sollten jedoch die
Vorwürfe der Frau zutreffen, wäre das Verhalten des Fahrers inakzeptabel.
H. Die Mehrheit der Deutschen besitzen eine Betriebsrente, aber 40 Prozent der Bürger können
sich auf keine Altersversorgung verlassen. Eine Anwartschaft auf die Rente haben vor allem die
Deutschen die im öffentlichen Dienst beschäftigt sind, da sie eine Zusatzsicherung bekommen.
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 Die Deutschen die im Privatsektor arbeiten, zum Beispiel bei Banken oder Versicherungen,
haben auch einen Betriebsrentenanspruch und sind durch ihre Arbeit Mitglieder eines
Versorgungwerks. Auf der anderen Seite, nur 25 Prozent der Beschäftigten im Gastgewerbe
verfügen über eine Betriebsrente.
I. Romano Prodi, der italienische Ministerpräsident, ist mit dem Vorschlag der
Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel für eine gemeinsame europäische Verfassung einverstanden.
Italien und Deutschland sind dazu einig, mit eine neue und gestärkte Institution in die nächsten
Wahlen zum Europa-Parlament 2009 zu gehen. Ihre Besprechung wird für die Vorbereitung des
kommenden EU-Gipfels in Berlin hilfreich sein.
J. Einer der bedeutesten Tenore Luciano Pavarotti ist tod. Der Italiener war 71 Jahre alt und hatte
letztes Jahr eine Operation wegen Krebstumor gehabt. Seitdem trat er nicht mehr auf. Pavarotti,
Carrera und Domingo waren in den 90ern Jahren zusammen 3 Tenoere genannt. Viele Leute
haben die Operas wegen ihm gemocht. Erst am Dienstag war er wegen seinen Arbeiten
bezeichnet worden.
Reading these summaries, one must be struck by the range in countries (Russia, the North and
South Korea, Palestine, China, Sweden, Japan,, Germany, the USA), in topics (world economics,
energy, whale hunting, wearing the burka, German pension plans, the European Parlament), and
in prominent persons (Merkel, Lubitsch, Pavarotti). The scope of current events is impressive, as
is the extent to which students are willing to explore themes that are worth learning about.
Certainly they have gained a global perspective in summarizing news and culture, not least in the
manner in which American events are communicated to a world audience.
I append the longest summary received during a given week, which came from an ambitious, top
student:
Der Klimaschutz ist ein wichtiges Thema in Deutschland. Die EU wird eine Schluesselrolle in
den Verhandlungen in Nairobi spielen. Die aermesten der Armen zahlen die Rechnung des
Klimawandels. In Afrika leiden viele Bauern. Die Bauern in Nairobi finden nicht genug Grass
und Wasser fuer ihre Kuehe. "Die Folgen des Klimawandels treffen die aermsten Laender der
Welt, vor allem in Afrika" sagt Kofi Annan. Anpassung an diese Veraenderung ist eine
Ueberlebungsfrage. Deshalb muessen die reichen Laender mit Taten und Geld helfen. Geld
spielt eine sehr grosse Rolle. Afrika muss Milliarden ausgeben um eine Veraenderung zu
schaffen. Wie [sic] muessen Afrika Geld geben. Es ist eine moralische und praktische
Herausforderung. Man muss nicht immer Grossprojekte anstellen. Ein Beispiel ist das
Projekt"Rainwater Harvesting"-es gehlt um das sammeln von Regenwasser waehrend der
Regenszeit. Jemand muss es aber finanzieren.
I was surprised to see that most of these sentences are choppy and start with the subject—in
imitation of English, not German word order. In the more formal, longer written exercises on
paper that s/he had been handing in regularly, I had not detected these difficulties. Puzzled by the
results, I recalled that the use of e-mail can blend features of speech and writing (Pennington,
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2004, 83). Perhaps my student was using the “natural voice” of e-mail, the approximation of
speech that has led some to speak of a “creole” form of communication (Baron, 1998).13 Since
researchers agree that composition in an electronic medium can alter written expression, thus
causing a discrepancy between student writing in compositions on paper and via e-mail, the
teacher needs to be aware that a synthetic language can arise. Note that the Internet radio texts of
Deutsche Welle and Tagesschau are uniformly suitable to summarize as writing exercises.
It is instructive to look at two further student radio summaries. They illustrate the disparity of
result in the first weekly e-mail assignment, even as they hint at the challenge facing the
instructor. Both report on the same audio story on Deutsche Welle (Slow News), which I cite
first:
Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel setzt darauf, dass die Zusammenarbeit mit den USA unter dem
neuen Präsidenten Barack Obama von mehr Gemeinsamkeit geprägt wird. Ein Land alleine
könne die Probleme der Welt nicht lösen, sagte Merkel im ARD-Fernsehen. Als besondere
gemeinsame Herausforderungen nannte sie die Bewältigung der Finanz- und Wirtschaftskrise.
Amerika müsse sich hierbei auf internationale Regeln für die Finanzmärkte einlassen. Die
Kanzlerin rechnet damit, dass Obama Anfang April nach Deutschland kommen wird. Zu seiner
Amtseinführung an diesem Dienstag als 44. Präsident der Vereinigten Staaten, werden in
Washington bis zu zwei Millionen Menschen erwartet. Mehr als 40.000 Sicherheitskräfte sind im
Einsatz.
1) In der Nachrichten des 20. Januar steht, dass die Deutsche Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel
sich in bejahendem Sinne über die Beziehung zwischen Deutschland und den Vereinigten Staaten
von Amerika äußert. Sie sagte, dass die Zusammenarbeit mit den USA unter dem neuen
Präsidenten Barack Obama besser sein wird. Sie unterstreichte , dass niemand allein alle die
Probleme lösen kann. Als die größten Probleme sieht sie die Wirtschaftkrise. Ausserdem rechnet
sie damit, dass Obama in April nach Deutschland kommen wird.
2) Die Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel sagte, die USA soll nicht allein auf die Finazmarkte
Probleme arbeiten. Allein wird ein Land die Probleme nicht loesen. Die USA muss mit andere
Lander arbeiten damit wir internationale Regeln machen koennen, die die USA einlassen muss.
Im Fruehling wird Barack Obama nach Duetschland kommen. Barack Obama wird am Dienstag
den 44. Presidenten der USA werden.
Little needs to be said about the first example. In the second, there are many grammatical errors;
but all are “reparable.“ Revealing to the teacher, the student forgot that the preposition mit is
followed by the dative case. An elementary mistake thus appears in the context of a complex
assignment. The teacher retains an e-mail record of the mistake, checking in future assignments
to see whether the error is anomolous, or symptomatic of deeper confusion about grammatical
case. Looking beyond grammar, one asks whether the student has profited from the German
Internet radio assignment. S/he has, by knowing the name of the Federal Chancellor, and by
expressing an awareness of a German perspective on current world challenges.
STUDENT FEEDBACK IN THE E-MAIL EXCHANGE WITH THE TEACHER
13
See, also, Littlemore and Oakey, who speak, in the context of e-mail exchange projects, of the “relaxed style of
writing…generally deemed appropriate for e-mails. This means that students may be more likely to focus on
communicating their ideas, rather than worrying too much about the more rigid structure of traditional letters”
(p.106).
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 When I started assigning e-mail summaries of German Internet radio, I had high hopes for
increased student-teacher interaction via the new medium. Surprisingly, I received very few
grammatical questions. One student wrote at the conclusion of the summary: “Can you help me
think of some other ways to start off the sentence without starting with subject-verb?” Another
framed a question based directly on his/her summary, which is first given here:
Angeblich sei Deutschland in diesem Jahr in großer Terrorgefahr. Die Sicherheitsbehoerden und
Bundesinnenministerium meinen, dass die islamistischen Terroristen durch Angriffe versuchen
wuerden, den Ausgang der Bundestagswahl zu beeinfluessen und damit den Abzug der
Bundeswehr aus Afghanistan zu bewirken. Vor fuenf Jahren wurde auch eine aehnliche Drohung
gegen Spanien ausgesprochen, in deren Folge mehrfache Anschlaege auf vier Pendlerzuege
gemacht wurden. Dabei wurden „191 Menschen getoetet und mehr als 1800 verletzt". Das
juengste, im Internet aufgetauchte Terrorvideo, in dem ein Deutsch sprechender Terrorist den
Abzug der Bundeswehr aus Afghanistan fordert, erweist sich als authentisch.
(The student writes:) I have a question about the phrase "in deren Folge": is it correct to put
"deren" Folge, since it refers to "Drohung"? So if there was a masculine noun instead of
"Drohung", it would be "in dessen Folge" right? Thank you!
And, as might be expected, one student wrote me concerning the length of the summary:
“ Ich hoffe, dass das genug ist. Ich habe es im Microsoft Word geschrieben, und es war 5 Linien. Danke!”
While grammatical questions were rarer than I had anticipated, emotional reactions to the news
stories being summarized were more common that expected. I assume this is a carry-over from
normal e-mail communications among friends, in which the writer feels free to express his/her
thoughts. Students openly communicated their ideas, and emotions upon hearing online radio,
ranging from the comment: “Das ist schade” after reporting that the CDU and the SPD could not
find a way to cooperate, to the confession: “Meiner Meinung nach würde ich niemals ein
Selbstmordattentäter sein,” which followed a summary on a suicide-bomber. After writing about
a quota on certain species of ocean fish, a student added the wish: “Hoffentlich wird dieser Plan
erfolgreich sein.” One student called unemployment in Germany “ein interessantes Thema,”
explaining, “ich interessiere mich für dieses Thema, weil ich jetzt Economics an der Uni lerne,
und wir sprechen oft darüber.” Another student expressed anxiety about the world economic
situation, comparing America and Japan: “Ich bin nervös über die amerikanische Autoindustrie
und ich hoffe, dass wir nicht so viele Stellen wie Japan beseitigen müssen.” Finally, a student’s
discussion of the rebuilding of Dresden concluded with this personal remark: “Die Dresdener
Altstadt ist vielleicht meine Lieblingsstadt in Deutschland.” In these, and in the examples cited
below, I noted the desire not only to report on radio news and culture, but to share with me their
strong feelings on the material. Upon reflection, students’ engagement with the subject matter
was to be expected, since they had exercised choice in the Internet assignment, and obviously had
decided to summarize a German story inspiring an emotional reaction. Nevertheless, I was struck
by the level of passion here seen that is missing from many classroom lessons.
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There follow four student Internet radio summaries —again from Deutsche Welle- with critical
commentaries on the events they are writing about (additional examples in Appendix 3):
A. In Birma gibt es viele politsche Streite. Seit viele Jahren protestieren Mönche gegen das
Militärregime. Obwohl ein Birma-Spezalist sagte, dass es die „Anfang von Ende“ ist, bin ich
nicht so sicher. 400.000 Mönche wohnen in Birma, und 15,000 von denen protestieren. Die
Proteste gegen der militärische Situation Birmas wird immer grösser. Die letzten Nachrichten ist,
dass 3.000 menschen gestorben sind.
Diese Proteste sind oft sehr brutal.
Es ist interessant, politische Streite zu studieren. Dazu sieht man, wie Religion, Politik, und
Menschheit verwandt sind. Diese Situation finde ich sehr traurig; es scheint als ob es immer
schlechter wird. Weil wir auch in Amerika politische und militärische Probleme mit Bezug auf
Irak haben, können wir mit Birma mitfühlen. In den USA und auch in Birma sollen die Politiker
die Bürger beachten.
B. Nach dem neuesten Bericht der Organisation fuer wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit (OECD)
sinkt das deutsche Bildungssystem weiter. Trotz einiger Verbesserungen faellt Deutschland im
Vergleich weltweit vom 10. auf den 22. Rang zurueck. In ihrem jaehrlichen Bericht kritisiert die
OECD die niedrige Zahl von Abiturienten und Akademikern.
Wo liegt die U.S.A. auf dieser Weltrangliste? Ich weiss das nicht, aber hoffentlich stehen wir im
Rang hoeher als Deutschland. Aber leider haben wir auch wenigere Absolvente, die
Wissenschaften als Hauptfach studieren.
C. Der Taiphun „Wipha,“ der in China war, zieht jetzt auf seinen Weg nach Norden. 300.000
Leute waren von China evakuiert. Nur ein Person ist in China gestorben, aber Japan und Taiwan
waren auch vom Sturm getrieben. Früher war „Wipha“ Katagorie fünf, der hochsten Katagorie,
genannt. Jetzt ist es zurück auf eins. 2.000.000 Menschen waren in Sicherheit gebracht, aber
40.000
Schiffe
sind
auf
den
See
geblieben.
Meines Erachtens ist, dass dieser Sturm überwacht sein soll. Es ist leicht zu vergessen wie
gefährlich Stürme sind, aber wir haben vor drei Jahren in Amerika Katrina gehabt. Viele Leute
und auch andere Länder haben der Stadt New Orleans geholfen. Wir sollen auch China, Japan,
und Taiwan helfen. Wenn wir in Amerika 2.000.000 Heimatlosen haben, werden wir etwas tun,
um zu helfen. Es macht nichts, dass wir nicht in der Nähe Chinas sind. Das soll eine weltweite
Leistung sein.
D. In Pakistan hat die Polizei einen der wichtigsten Taliban Führer festgenommen. Es ist mir
aufmunternd, dass er und ein paar weitere Mitglieder der Taliban nicht mehr frei sind. Sie sollen
für die restlichen Jahre ihrer Leben im Gefängnis bleiben. Nach eine neue Abstimmung hat
Barack Obama den ersten Platz der demokratischer Auseinandersetzung übergenommen.
Ich bin nicht sicher, ob ich für Obama stimmen werde. Ich bin der Meinung, dass er einen guten
Redner ist, aber ich stimme nicht zu, dass wir Irak lassen sollen.
REGARDING CORRECTIONS
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 In order to assess the general success of the radio summary, I read it through the first time for
content, without making any corrections. Then, I follow each mistake with a bracket, providing
the answer inside the bracket:
Die aermesten [aermsten];14
Next, I look for error patterns (word order, adjective endings, subjunctive, etc.) and list these at
the bottom of the e-mail in English so that there can be no confusion about my meaning. Since
students have had the basic grammar, I point out areas requiring review. Consequently, feedback
is presented in telegraphic style, short and to the point. From my feedback students can assess
their progress. If there are numerous errors, I both return the e-mail with corrections via the
return function on the computer and print it out for discussion with the student in the next class
period. Finally, the teacher appends a comment in German: Besprechen wir diesen
grammatischen Punkt morgen in der Deutschstunde; viel besser; Wiederhole den Dativ; immer
besser; Ich verstehe den Text nicht ganz. Kannst Du mir diesen Aspekt weiter erklären? Fange
jeden Satz bitte nicht mit dem Subjekt an; Zeitbestimmungen sind immer noch ein Problem:
treffen wir uns doch, um darüber zu reden; Diesmal überhaupt keine Fehler; Wenn Du noch
Fragen hast, schreib mir noch einmal, etc.
Rarely do students make content mistakes, so most corrections relate to grammar. When
grammatical errors pile up, there is a danger that students grow discouraged. In class I stress that
correction is not punitive, but that I am trying to make writers aware of their errors—especially
persistent ones.
There follow four sample radio e-mail summaries, with error-correction response to students:
A.
Die Nachricht lautet wie folgt: Der ehemalige Deutsche Post-Chef Klaus
Zumwinkel, der einmal "ein Star am Himmel der deutschen
Wirtschaftselite" gewesen sei, habe ein Verbrechen begangen, das nicht
zu unterschaetzen sein muesse. Seit mehrere[n] Jahren habe er fast ein [eine]
Millionen {Million] Euro Steuern mit Hilfe einer Stiftung aus Liechtenstein, ein [einem]
Steuerparadies, hinterzogen. Nicht nur sei der Steuerhinterzieher "zu
zwei Jahren Haft auf Bewaehrung" verurteilt worden, sondern auch
zusaetzlich muesse er eine Million Euro Strafe zahlen. Aber nach
die[den] Meinungen der Kritiker [see below] sei die Strafe zu niedrig fuer
so eine beschaemende Tat.
*eine Million Euro
SEIT: always dative [seit mehreren Jahren]
14
There are, of course, other modes of e-mail correction, and I invite the reader to suggest others. One could, for
example, mark each mistake with a bracket, leaving the student to furnish the answer in a subsequent, return e-mail:
Es gehlt [
] um. In addition, all teacher comments on the return e-mail might be in German. These variations hint
at the flexibility of the medium.
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NACH: always dative
NACH MEINUNG DER KRITIKER : this phrase is usually singular.
* Please review the dative. Otherwise: Gut gemacht!
B. Gegenwärtig gibt es viele Berichte in Europa in Bezug auf den Ex-Häftlingen [auf die ExHaeftlinge] aus Guantanamo. Letzte Woche haben [sich] die EU[-] Außenminister in Brüssel
getroffen, um [über] das Problem zu diskutieren. Die Diplomaten der Europäischen Union
erwarten von den USA eine Aufnahme von Häftlingen, obwohl es vermutlich eine Weile dauern
wird. Mit dem Thema Guantanamo kommt ein Streit für den [die] Diplomaten, ob sie den USA
Hilfe bieten sollen [sollten]. Es gibt noch keinen Entschluss, nur eine Debatte.
*sich treffen
IN BEZUG AUF: always accusative
FüR: always accusative.
* Please review the accusative.
Good variety of sentence openers! Viel besser.
C. Genff [Genf]: Eine wichtige Anhörung zum Menschenrecht [zu Menschenrechten: normally
use plural] in Deutschland begann am 2. Februar. Organizationen wie Amnesty International
bereiteten sich für [auf] die Kritik vor. Die Organisation AI sagte, dass [verb to end of clause]
Gleichstellung, Immigration, Armut, und Flüchlinge hätten [x] die gro[e]βte Bedeutung, und
besonders Flüchtlinge, weil Ausweisungen sta[e]ndig bedroht[?] seien. Deutschland ist für
dieses Jahr der erste Staat so kritisiert zu werden. Am Mitten Februar [Mitte Februar] wird
Amnesty International ein[e] ausführliche Kritik über die Menschrechtsituation [den UN
Mitgliedstaaten: WORD ORDER] machen.
*die Kritik [usually with verb üben + an + dative: übt Kritik an der Menschenrechtssituation in
einem Land]
*sich vorbereiten auf
*die grösste Bedeutung
* Mitte Februar
*review word order after: dass
Put phrase: den UN Mitgliedstaaten before eine ausführliche Kritik. If dative and accusative
are nouns, the dative goes first.
Start more sentences with adverbs and prepositions. Otherwise: gute Zusammenfassung!
D. Im Radio ging es heute ueber [um] die Nobelfirma Drettman und die Luxusschiffe, die sie
produzieren. Der Reporter durfte eines der neuesten und luxorioesten Schiffe, die 2B[,] betreten.
Jedoch musste er [sich] seine Schuhe zuvor ausziehen. Das Schiff war kolossal und mit vielen
luxorioesen Sachen eingerichtet. Der Vertreter der Firma, Herr Schmidt, meinte, dass alles zu
[nach] den Wuenschen der Kunden eingerichtet wird [subjunctive] und fast nichts unmoeglich
waere. Das einzige{,] was in der 2B vielleicht anstrengend waere[,] ist das Treppen [die Treppe;
pl. Treppen] auf[-] und absteigen, aber da koennte man auch einen Fahrstuhl einbauen. Als der
Reporter fragte[,] ob es [noch] einen Wunsch gab, den Drettman nicht erfuellen haette [X]
koennen, antwortete Schmidt, dass ein Herr statt eines Salons einen Operationsraum fuer die
Schoenheitsoperationen seiner Frau verlangt haette. Der einzige Grund warum Drettman den
Wunsch nicht haette erfuellen koennen [OKAY!], war weil der Chirurg einen still stehenden
Raum braeuchte[,] um "sein Messer richtig ansetzen zu keonnen". [koennen]
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 *es geht um or es handelt sich um: both with accusative
*sich ausziehen for articles of clothing (Er zog sich das Hemd aus)
*nach Wunsch der Kunden eingerichtet: according to the wish/wishes of the clients
*den D. nicht hätte erfüllen können : in dependent clauses, hätte precedes the double infinitive.
(In your summary you use this construction twice, once correctly.)
Immer besser!
INTERNET VIDEO-SUMMARIES: A VARIATION ON THE METHOD
A variation on the method combines sound with pictures (See also Appendix 3). Students watch
online video news and cultural reports, for instance, at www.br.de/mediathek/index.html,
www.zoomin.tv, http://web.de/magazine/video/index.html, or www.rp-online.de , and report
on these to the teacher via a weekly e-mail. Class members have avoided “celebrity news,”
concentrating on serious stories, such as the development of Google Ocean (3D ocean imagery),
ferocious winter storms in the US, piracy in the Gulf of Aden, and Pope Benedict XVI and the
Holocaust. Note that, if students have difficulty in comprehension, online videos can be paused,
and replayed at the discretion of the listener.
There follow four sample student e-mail summaries of online videos :
A. Es muss nicht immer Döner sein (www.dw.de)
Ali Güngörmüs arbeitet in Hamburg, wo er als der einzige türkische
Sterne-Koch bekannt ist. Seine Zutaten kauft er im türkischen
Lebensmittelladen ein, weil er gesagt hat, dass die verschiedene Gewürze ihm
gut schmeckten. Güngörmus will die weitverbreitete Annahme aufgeben, dass
es nur ein türkisches Gericht gibt: Döner. Güngörmüs hat weiter erklärt,
sein Essen lässt sich von seiner eigenen Mutter inspirieren. Eines Tages
möchte er selbst einen Döner-Laden eröffnen, der sehr anders ist. Ich
meine, das ist eine kluge Idee. Jeder liebt Essen!
B. Vogelschlag gefilmt: Wenn Zugvögel in Flugzeuge greaten (www.spiegel.de/schulspiegel)
Vögel geraten öfters in Flugzeugen während der Flug. Ein Passagier hat ein Film von einer Vogelschlag
gemacht. Wegen einer Vogelschlag musste ein Flugzeug im Hudson River aus Not landen.
C. Das Sandmännchen ist da! (www.hr-online.de)
In das Frankfurter Museum für Kommunikation ist eine neue Ausstellung geöffnet, um das
Sandmännchen zu beehren. Seit Dezember 1959 hat Deutschland eine kurze Fernsehserie, um die
Kinder ins Bett zu bringen. Zuerst hat es ein Sandmännchen für den Westen und ein für den
Osten gegeben, aber nach der Wiedervereinigung gibt es das selbes Sandmännchen für alle
deutschen Kinder. Deutschland benutzt das Sandmännchen der Ost. In die Ausstellung gibt ein
Sandmännchen Denkwürdigkeiten.
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D. Die Königin der Lüfte. (www.focus.de)
Die Boeing 747 (auch bekannt als der Jumbojet) wurde am 9. Februar 40 Jahre alt! Die erste ist
im Jahr 1969 von einem Militärflughafen in Washington D.C. geflogen. Der US Präsident fliegt
in einer, die Airforce 1 heisst. Das neuste Model heisst Boeing 747-8 Airbus A380. In der
Frühlingspause werde ich eigentlich nach Europa in einer Boeing 747 hinfliegen.
We live in a decidedly visual age, one heavily influenced by video games and motion pictures
that use animation techniques borrowed from such games. I notice a strongly positive response
from students to Internet videos, many of which average under three minutes in running time.
The short length, combined with immediately contemporary images, make videos an attractive
medium for e-mail summaries in the writing class.
LIMITATIONS OF THE E-MAIL SUMMARY
1) Not all students are content to summarize a single Internet radio story, but expand their reach
to cover other news and cultural events. In an important sense, this is positive. Students listen to
several stories, thereby broadening their knowledge. However, the writing task seems best served
by focus, concentration on a single topic. Students need to be reminded to direct their attention to
a single audio report.
2) The e-mail summary fails to alter basic student (human?) behavior. Some write the bare
minimum (counting words and sentences) and must be reminded to do justice to the radio master
text upon which the e-mail summary is based.
3) In theory I am assessing both for content and for grammar. In practice, however, since I do not
have before me the radio master text, I evaluate sentence and vocabulary patterns and identify
persistent errors. To refine the assignment, and thereby to assess writing and listening abilities
with a control document, students might, for example, cut-and-paste in the e-mail that I receive a
master text from Slow News.
4) One of the surprising findings was that those students who ordinarily hand in the best
compositions made elementary mistakes in German when writing via electronic mail. The
preliminary explanation is that e-mail, which, in addition to texting, is the most common form of
student-to-student communication, is so familiar that the writer tends to ease up, becoming less
restrained than in formal writing exercises that are turned in to the instructor on paper. While
teachers want students to relax so that their writing is more fluid, the danger is that relaxation can
lead to laxness. Repeatedly I exclaim while correcting student e-mail: “I thought s/he already
knew that!”
.
CLASSROOM IMPLICATIONS AND CONCLUSIONS
E-mail summaries of texts on German Internet radio are a useful supplement to German writing
classes and should be more widely assigned. They give students an additional opportunity to
write (with teacher feedback), using a mode of communication that is familiar to their daily lives.
In their e-mail summaries, students enjoy the freedom of topic mentioned above, a freedom that,
within the given online radio parameters, sharpens their ability to choose from a number of
alternatives—all of which are topical, newsworthy, and in the German language. By basing their
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 summaries on German Internet radio, learners are exposed to German culture, while deepening
their appreciation for global concerns and their understanding of how others view the United
States. It is obvious from the summaries that students, besides improving their written skills, are
exploring a wide palette of offerings that expand their cultural awareness and knowledge of
geography. This semester, for example, after barely 3 weeks they have learned, through the
medium of German Internet radio, the name Steinmeier, and have become acquainted with the
German health system and railroad strikes. Even German weather is a topic some choose to write
about. To say it again, I conceive of e-mail as a resource, and not as the chief medium, for
developing facility in written German. Functioning in a supporting capacity with a clear
pedagogical mission—here summarizing Internet radio content— it is a tool that can improve
writing fluency, enhance proficiency, and build vocabulary. Learners, wrestling with authentic
language embedded in culturally authentic texts, develop writing (and editing) skills at the same
time they encounter language in content. This is active learning at its best.
My results, gathered during some seven years, are favorable. Over the course of a semester I
observe a growing degree of skill in choosing German synonyms, as well as an increase in
syntactically complex sentences. Crucial areas, for example, the extent of teacher interventions
in the correction of e-mails need study. It is time for a systematic investigation, with control
groups, taking the same subject matter and comparing student writing progress with e-mail versus
non-electronic media. During the control, teacher corrections can be assessed for effectiveness. I
can state already that, based on my own writing classroom, e-mail exchanges between student
and teacher on the basis of German Internet radio texts enhance composing skills. Thus, for me
the place of the e-mail summary in the curriculum is secure.
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Villeurbanne: INSA Lyon, pp. 1-12.
Appendix 1: Student e-mail summaries:
A. In Katar haben sich UN-Abgeordnete bei einer Klimakonferenz getroffen. Sie arbeiten an
einem Plan für den 2020 in mehr als 190 Ländern zum Tragen kommenden Vertrag. Ab dieses
Jahr endet der Klimaschutz, dem 1997 im Kyoto-Abkommen zugestimmt wurde. Die EU und
zehn andere Staaten haben vor, die Bestimmungen von dem alten Abkommen für acht mehr Jahre
fortzusetzen. Bislang haben die USA und China an diesen Klima-Diskussionen nicht
teilgenommen, obwohl sie viel Verschmutzung herstellen.
B. Obwohl es ein internationales Moratorium zum Walfang gibt, jagen die Japaner seit 1986
illegal die Wale. Aber weil das Schiff ‚Nisshin Maru’ vor zwei Wochen brannte, schliesst Japan
einen Monat früher als normal die Walfangsaison ab. Die Mannschaft besserte das Schiff aus
aber die Fischereibehörde befahl, kein mehr Wahlfang in der Antarktis zu unternehmen.
C. Am Mittwoch gab es einen grossen Börsencrash in China. In Singapur sank die Börse
vornehmlich, und es verursachte die Aktienmärkte in Europa und die USA auch zu fallen.
Natürlich hatte Leute um die Welt durchgedreht und ziemlich viele verkauften ihre Aktien.
Dieses ist der größte Kursverlust seit dem 11. September 2001.
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 D. . Es gab ein Feuer in einem Altenheim im Süden Russlands. Die Einwohner waren schlafend,
als das Feuer kam, und mindestens 63 starben. Aber fast Hälfte von ihnen könnte überlebt
haben! Jedoch gab es am Haus zahlreiche gebrochene Feuersicherheitsvorschriften. Leider
lebten die Leute auch in einem entfernten Dorf, und es nahm die Feuerwehr eine Stunde, um dort
einzutreffen. Die Ursache des Feuers ist noch nicht bekannt.
E. Nordkorea und Südkorea haben sich entschieden, die humanitären Projekte
wieder einzusetzen. Die Wiedervereining von dem Krieg getrennten Familien gehört auch dazu.
Südkorea erwähnte nochmals, dass Nordkorea den Atomprogramm beenden sollte. Nordkorea
wird ein Gespräch auch mit Japan in der folgenden Woche führen.
F. Als Antwort auf steigenden Konflikt zwischen Israel und Palästina warnt UN Generalsekretär
Ban vor Israels geplannter Invasion des Gaza-Streifens. Diese Warnung kommt nach Tagen von
Streit im Gaza-Streifen. Wegen des Gefechts sind viele Palästinenser ums Leben gekommen.
Trotzdem ist die Weltgemeinschaft unentschlossen. Viele Länder verurteilen Israel als ein
Terrorist-Staat. Andere Länder wie Deutschland geben Israel dennoch ihre Unterstützung. Um
den Konflikt schneller zu lösen, bittet Ban um Ägyptens Eingriff, weil Ägypten so einen groβen
Einfluss in der Gegend hat.
G. In Berlin hat der Außenminister Frank-Walter Steinmeier mit anderen Außenministern von
fünf anderen Staaten getroffen. Steinmeier ist nach Kasachstan gegangen, um einen Entwurf für
engere Beziehungen der EU zu reden, und über die Energie in die verschieden Staaten zu
reichen. Die fünf Staaten, Kasachstan, Turkmenistan, Usbekistan, Tadschikistan und Kirgisien
repräsentiert fünf Prozent von den Energiereserven in der Welt.
H. Am Mittwoch fand eine veröffentlichte Studie der Medizinischen Fakultät der Yale
Universität, dass das Nikotin in Zigaretten bei Kindern die Entwicklung der Seh- und
Hörfähigkeit schädigt. Demnach zeigen minderjährige Raucher, deren Mütter während der
Schwangerschaft geraucht haben, eine dramatische Verringerung der Wahrnehmung. Besonders
schlecht schnitten dabei Mädchen bei Seh- und Hörtests ab. Bei Buben wurden dagegen vor
allem Defizite im Hörbereich festgestellt. Die Forscher vermuten dahinter eine unterschiedliche
Entwicklung und Hormonsteuerung im Zusammenspiel mit Nikotin.
I. Europäische Länder wollen mehr mit asiatischen Ländern arbeiten. Außenminister Guido
Westerwelle war bei einem Treffen in Laos, worauf er sprach über ähnliche Wirtschaftsziele für
Länder in beiden Kontinenten. Er sagte auch, dass außer Indien und China werden die kleine
asiatische Länder immer wichtiger. Ihm ist Freihandel zwischen Europa und Asien etwas sehr
wichtig. Eigentlich findet Westerwelle diese Freihandelabkommen nötig. Heute ist der letzer
Tag des ASEM-Treffens, wo es 51 Abgeordneten aus Europa und Asien gab.
J. Vor zwei Jahren hat die Niederlande gegen die EU-Verfassung gestimmt. Nun am Mittwoch
wurde eine Empfehlung von dem Staatsrat abgegeben. In der Schweiz am 21. Oktober wird ein
neues Parlament gewählt werden. Die SVP oder Schweizer Volkspartei änderte ihr Programm,
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damit sie gewinnen dürfen. Normalerweise sehen die Deutsche die schweizerischen Wahlen als
langweilig an, aber dieses Mal machen sie etwas Neues. Allerdings sind diese neue Themen
kontrovers. Manche von diesen Streitfragen sind rassistisch oder haben etwas mit dem Religion
zu tun.
Appendix 2: Individual student improvement over the course of a semester.
Student 1. First summary: Am 7. Oktober, 2006 war einen russische Journalistin, die oft ihre
Regierung kritisiert hat, erschossen worden. Anna Politkowskaja war 48 Jahre alt. Heute haben
die Polizei endlich zehn Verdächtige festgenommen. Bald werden diese Leute unter Anklage
stehen. Für die ganze Welt war Politkowskajas Tod traurig, aber andere Kritiker der Regierung
sagen, dass der Justiz nicht wirklich nach den Mörder gesucht hat.
Final summary: Guo Feixiong, ein chinesischer Dissident, wird fünf Jahre im Gefängnis
abgehalten werden und muss eine hohe Geldstrafe zahlen. Ein Gericht in Guangzhou, eine Stadt
im Süden, hat Guo verurteilt, weil er ein Buch, das Korruption in der Regierung von den
nordöstlichen Stadt Shenyang kritisiert, ohne Erlaubnis der Behörden herausgegeben hat. Dieses
Buch wurde im Jahr 2001 veröffentlicht. Guo will Landenteignungen von Bauern bekämpfen.
Student 2. First summary: In zwei Woche gibt es eine Stichwahl in Serbien fuer einen
Praesident. Am Sonntag hat Tomislav Nikolic, der Chef der ultra-nationalistischen Serbischen
Radikalen Partei, 39 Prozent der Stimmen gewonnen waehrend des ersten Durchgangs der Wahl.
Im zweiten Platz kam Boris Tadic, der obliegende Staatspräsident, mit ungefaehr 35 Prozent. Die
Wahlbeteiligung war mehr als 60 Prozent. Die Kandidaten hatten andere Visionen fuer Serbien.
Der radikale Kandidat Nikolic moechte ein engerer Verhältnis mit Russland haben. Im Gegensatz
zu Nikolic Tadic tritt fuer Mitgliederschaft in der Europäischen Union.
Final summary:: Zwei Wochen nach der Kaperung einer französischen Luxusjacht vor der Küste
Somalias haben Piraten dort einen spanischen Dampfer mit 26 Menschen an Bord in ihre Gewalt
gebracht. Die Piraten nahmen mit dem gekaperten Schiff Kurs auf das afrikanische Festland. Die
spanische Regierung schickte eine Kriegsfregatte in das Seegebiet. Somalia befindet sich im
Bürgerkrieg. Bei neuen Kämpfen zwischen islamistischen Rebellen und Regierungssoldaten
starben in Somalias Hauptstadt Mogadischu mindestens 40 Menschen.
Student 3. First summary: Deutschländer. In diesem Bericht gab es ein Interview mit einer
Afghanin, die in Deutschland wohnt. Obwohl sie ihre Ausbildung in einer Gymnasium gemacht
hat, kann sie nicht an einer deutsche Uni studieren. Fast 200.000 Menschen sind in Deutschland
geboren oder aufgewachsen, die nicht weiterbilden können. Aber diese junge Frau sagt, dass sie
sich "deutsch" füllt und sie glaubt, dass sie die gleiche Chance als andere Deutschen haben soll.
Tatsächlich sind diese Migranten in der Schwebe, weil sie nicht zurück nach der Heimat gehen
wollen.
Final summary: Die ganze Welt interessiert sich für amerikanische Politik, besonders wenn wir
einen neuen Präsidenten wählen. Aber diese Wahl ist ziemlich anders. Erstaunlich ist es das erste
Mal, dass die USA eine Frau als Präsidentschaftskandidatin haben. Vielleicht ist dieses Land
unzeitgemäß; zurzeit hat Deutschland eine Kanzlerin und vor zwanzig Jahren hat Großbritannien
Margaret Thatcher als Premierministerin. Im Wahlkampf müssen Frauen Männern ähnlich sein.
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 Sie sollen Anzüge statt Kleider und Röcke tragen sonst gehen sie eine Gefahr ein, dass andere sie
als schwach ansehen werden.
Appendix 3: Student e-mail summaries with personal reactions to the story
A.Vor 6 Jahren war der Skandel des World Trade Centers. Gestern in New York sind mehr als
3000 Personen durch die einsturzigen tomb gekommen, um diesen Tag zu errinern. Obwohl es
jetzt sechs Jahre später ist, sind viele leute betrüben, physicalisch und psychisch beide. Viele
Leute sind noch krank, weil am 9/11 haben viele Rettungskräfte 16 Stunde lang ohne Maske in
der unreine Luft gearbeitet. Hilary Clinton hat über 9/11 gesprochen. Als ihr hochste Prioritat
sagte sie „Ich will die Retter retten,“ ob sie Senator oder Präsident ist.
Ich glaube, man kann mit Sicherheit sagen, dass wir nie 9/11 vergessen wird. Sowie ich das sehe,
ist es tröstlich, dass andere Länder im Allegemeinem und Deutschland insbesondere auch uns
nicht vergessen haben.
the story.
B. Im Radiobericht handelt die interessanteste Thema von einer neuen Bombe in Russland.
Obwohl diese neue Vakuum-Bombe so explosiv als eine Atombombe ist, ist die Vakuum-Bombe
sauberer für die Umwelt. Leider gibt es einen negativen Aspekt mit dieser Bombe. Wenn sie
explodiert, kann sie viel Schaden durch eine Druckwelle machen.
So wie ich das sehe, soll die Vereinigte Staaten von Amerika und andere Länder um diese
Vakuum-Bombe Sorgen machen. Gibt es einen guten Grund, Russland diese neue Bombe zu
haben?
C. Es gab gestern ein Erdberben der Stärke 6,4 in Indonesien, und darauf haben die Leitung eine
erneute Tsunami-Warnung ausgegeben. Mindestens neun Leute sind ums Leben gekommen. Im
Britische fernsehen sagte Mahmoud Ahmadinijad, dass seinen Land keine Lust nach Atomwaffen
hat. Er erklärte, dass Iran nur friedliche Vorhaben hat.
Ich bin anderer meinung, weil er auf [auch]gesagt hat, dass Israel soll kaputtmachen werden.
D. .Obwohl viele Nachrichten immer so schlecht und traurig sind, gibt es heute einen besseren
Nachricht in Shanghai. Früher hat der Wetteransager gedacht, dass der Taifun “Wipha” sehr
gefährlich wäre. Glückerweise zieht der Sturm weg von der Wirtschaftsmetropole um. Soviel ich
weiss, ist nur ein Person gestorben, und er ist durch einen Stromschlag gestorben.
Ich glaube, man kann mit Sicherheit sagen, dass diese Situation viel schlechter sein könnte.
E. Im Radiobericht geht es um verrückte Mönche. Augenscheinlich sind die Mönche besonders
böse mit der Militärjunta in Birma, weil die Mönche gegen die Junta demonstrierte. Leider gibt
es einen Mönch, der schon getötet worden ist.
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Soweit ich das beurteilen kann, sind die Junta sehr gemein. Sind die Mönche wirklich so
gewalttätig, damit die Junta einen Mönch töten müssen? Aber vielleicht bin ich nicht genug
informiert.
Appendix 4: Other forms of the e-mail online summary
Note: Assignments are almost infinitely variable. The teacher, with student input, can easily
expand the number of websites and modify the length of the summary, raising or lowering the
number of German sentences. Anonymous, student e-mail summaries of radio broadcasts can be
circulated in class, and the class can discuss these in German, and then correct them. Because email tasks are so open-ended, they can be adapted to advanced high school classes
Examples of models for the e-mail summary are:
1) Students select a short Internet text from Deutsche Welle or Tagesschau, editing this down to a
length that the teacher prescribes. They retain the basic grammatical structure of the sentences,
i.e., keep the Vorfeld intact, at the same time they search out synonyms for adverbs, nouns, etc.
The finished summary is then e-mailed to the instructor for feedback.
2) Students select one of the daily news/sports/culture stories that are sent free via e-mail by
Deutsche Welle (newsletter@nl-de.dw.de). They again edit and e-mail it to the instructor for
feedback. There follows a sample text from 18 January 2009:UN warnen vor Katastrophe in
Simbabwe.HARARE: “Die Vereinten Nationen haben nochmals auf das Elend der Bevölkerung
in Simbabwe hingewiesen. Die Cholera-Epidemie, an der bereits mehr als 2.200 Menschen
starben und knapp 43.000 erkrankten, sei nur die Spitze des Eisbergs, sagte UNICEF-Direktorin
Ann Veneman in Harare. Nach einem Gespräch mit Staatschef Robert Mugabe wies sie darauf
hin, die Hälfte der Bevölkerung sei auf Lebensmittelhilfe angewiesen, Gesundheitszentren
würden geschlossen, und auch der Schulbetrieb drohe vollends zusammenzubrechen. Die UN
kündigten an, für die Löhne der Mitarbeiter im Gesundheitswesen fünf Millionen Dollar
bereitzustellen. Viele staatliche Krankenhäuser haben die Arbeit eingestellt, da die exorbitante
Inflationsrate den Beschäftigten nichts vom Lohn übrig ließ.”
3) Students express a personal opinion—agreement, disagreement, astonishment—about an
Internet story on Deutsche Welle or Tagesschau, and e-mail it to the instructor for feedback. A
portion of the exercise might look like this student e-mail: “ Nach einer Waffenruhe in Gaza, hat
das Kämpfen wieder angefangen. Wirklich erstaunt es mir nicht im mindestens, dass sie
kämpfen. Aber finde ich, dass Waffenruhe ein sehr schönes Wort ist—viel besser als „ceasefire.“
.Grammar errors aside, the student has benefited from the assignment. S/he seems to have learned
a new German word (Waffenruhe) and is being confronted with global concerns. Americans are
notorious for a poor sense of geography; this is a way to learn where Gaza is located.
Appendix 5: Students comment on the method.
A)…One of the most effective didactic tactics I had had the pleasure of learning…[Such] use of
the Internet is both interactive and educational….I have greatly improved my reading, writing
and comprehension skills. …Most importantly, the Internet is available 24/7 and students have
access to learning material around the clock.
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 B) One of the features of the approach is that it can cater to each person’s skill level… What
better way to learn…than to use the boundless resources provided by the Internet?
B) Vielen Dank fuer alles dieses Semester. Es hat wirklich Spass gemacht und ich habe viel
gelernt.
Acknowledgements
I am grateful to Professors James Pfrehm and Jozef Colpaert for advice and counsel.
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The Impact of Reflection and Metalinguistic Feedback in SLA: A
Qualitative Research in the Context of Post Graduates
Anwar Mourssi
Faculty of Arts, Creative Industries and Education, University of the West of England, Bristol,
UK
Correspondence: Dr Anwar Mohammed Abdou Mourssi, Higher College of Technology, Muscat,
the Sultanate of Oman, P.O. Box 546, P.C. 115. E-mails: anwarmohd1967@yahoo.com,
anwar.mourssi@hct.edu.om
Abstract
Some studies have examined the effectiveness of direct and indirect feedback in improving levels
of accuracy and their impact on the development of writing skills among second language (L2)
learners (Lalande, 1982; Ferris, 1995b; Lee, 1997; Ferris and Roberts, 2001; Chandler, 2003;
Bitchener, 2005; Miceli, 2006). It is concluded that the positive impact of direct/indirect feedback
on the ability of foreign language learners to edit their own texts and improve their accuracy in
writing. The present study hopes to build on these studies by investigating the role of
metalinguistic feedback in encouraging and preparing L2 learners to improve their level of
accuracy and fluency in SLA. At the end of the experiment, the results seem to indicate that
metalinguistic feedback in the form of error/contrastive analyses is the most effective way to help
ALEs improve their accuracy and fluency as well.
Key words: reflection, metalinguistic feedback, SLA, IWP, negotiation of form and meaning,
revising and redrafting
Introduction
Varying opinions on “reflection” are expressed in the academic literature. Little (2002) considers
reflection as an important language learning step for, without it, learners cannot accept
responsibility for their own learning. Pennington (1997) made a similar observation but focused
further on the ways that language learners could benefit from their conscious attempts to improve
their effectiveness. On the other hand, Murphy (2001) noted the difficulties students could face
when they engage in reflective activities in solitude. The teacher plays a key role in explaining
the purpose and benefits of reflecting on performance. According to Miceli (2006) there are two
types of feedback, direct and indirect. The former (direct feedback) is defined as an action which
occurs when the teacher provides the target-like form to the student, while the latter (indirect
feedback) is a form of correction when the teacher implies in some way that an error exists but
does not provide the correction (recast).
Literature Review
According to Miceli (2006), the following factors: reflection, correction (teacher’s correction or
self-correction), feedback (direct or indirect), redrafting (peers or groups) and thinking-aloud
(pairs or groups) are all integrated sub-processes that cannot be taught independently or
separately. Therefore, it is the role of the teacher to attract the attention of the learners and focus
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 on cultivating the skills and sub-skills needing development. This can be achieved by creating the
ideal atmosphere that would facilitate the acquisition of all the sub-processes involved in proper
and effective writing.
Miceli (2006) conducted a study on the perceptions of foreign language students concerning the
reflective approach to textual correction. In this study, a group of second year Italian students
were persuaded to reflect on their writing process and to treat the correction of errors as an active
source of learning. This experiment showed that a majority of those who concurred were
encouraged to draw from the teacher’s indirect feedback, enabling most of them to accept and
self-correct their own errors. It was noted also that they developed the ability to incorporate this
feedback mechanism into their own redrafting and reflective efforts. However, the effectiveness
of form-focused feedback on learners' written errors has been questioned by Truscott (1996,
1999) and, corrective feedback has been judged to be not only unhelpful but also detrimental
(Chandler, 2003, 2004). Russell and Spada (2006) asserted that error correction is better and
more useful than no correction at all. Others (Lalande, 1982; Ferris, 1999; Ferris & Roberts,
2001) have suggested that, if corrective feedback is given appropriately, it may have an important
impact on learners’ writing accuracy.
The goal of this study is to investigate the role of metalinguistic feedback in improving foreign
language learners’ writing as well as speaking. The researcher believes that reflection and
metalinguistic feedback are important stages in the writing processes that each learner will be
involved in and a key component of a learner’s development. Furthermore, a teacher’s
metalinguistic feedback on grammatical errors serves as a means of encouraging students to
critically study their own written performance. In addition, engaging students in problem solving
could further lead to greater cognitive and reflective engagement with linguistic forms that in turn
promote effective language acquisition. In the following, I will present another important variable
which has its own impact on preparing L2 learners in the Experiment to revise and redraft their
written work. This variable is “metalinguistic feedback”.
Metalinguistic feedback
Metalinguistic feedback in the current study is defined as explaining the nature of the L2
learners’ non-target-like forms without providing the target-like forms. In other words, in the
current study metalinguistic refers to a process which is the result of error/contrastive analysis on
the part of the teacher, who hints at the type of error the student may have made but does not
provide explicit correction.
The relationship between feedback and redrafting is that a stimulus would elicit a reaction.
According to Ferris (1995a), the relationship between feedback and redrafting is illustrated when
students are motivated to redraft their works upon receiving feedback, whether directly or
indirectly. It helps students, particularly those in the advanced English levels, correct their own
errors and become more efficient editors.
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In implementing writing processes based on a classroom-oriented approach, Ferris (1995a;
1995b) has reiterated that, in order to facilitate effective correction, teachers should pay
attention to three pedagogical factors inside the classroom: first, learners should be made aware
of the significance of correction in the writing process, second, correction should be selective –
focusing on the most frequent error patterns rather than single errors and third, feedback should
be provided on initial drafts rather than on final drafts. The author suggests that to improve
writing as well as speaking, teachers should focus on error patterns by creating specific time for
effective communicative teaching through pair or group interaction and students-teacher
interaction; and on changing methods of teaching inside the classroom in line with learners'
needs. This study addresses the gaps learners face while writing and the goal is to help Arab
Learners of English (ALEs) as foreign language learners at foundation/post foundation courses
(in the organizations of the Higher Education) improve not only their writing and speaking skills,
but the other language skills as well.
Errors Feedback in Post Graduate Context
In evaluating error feedback, Bitchener (2005), Ferris (1995b), and Lee (1997) have all made the
similar observation that the majority of available literature on error feedback in writing refers to
L2 learners, while the least available are those on post-intermediate language courses. As Miceli
(2006) has stressed, the need to improve the writing skills of post-intermediate students must
exceed beginning and intermediate levels because both the academic and non-academic
communities expect both teachers and students to produce a higher standard of writing. However,
Foreign Language Learners (FLLs) are exposed to different learning environments and
evaluations are made on case by case bases. Therefore, some FLLs may not experience the same
situational imperative as others, since there is no need for them to use their target language in the
wider community.
However, this may not be the case in Oman. Unable to communicate properly in written and
spoken English, Omani young men have difficulties in acquiring a good job in their own country,
since most employers require a good level of spoken and written English from their employees.
Thus, English is essential to survival for young Omani men.
The teacher plays a crucial role in the methods and approaches of teaching in general and in
developing writing skills in particular. The importance of the role of the teacher inside and
outside the classroom was highlighted in my MA dissertation (Mourssi, 2006).
Research questions
The main objective of the current study is to answer the following questions:
1- Can we develop a methodology Communicative Grammar Language Teaching Approach
(CGLTA) which integrates focus-on-form in a communicative approach, presenting
metalinguistic feedback?
2- What is the impact of implementing the Metalinguistic feedback in SLA in post graduate
context?
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 Methodology
The researcher adopted qualitative analysis in which he investigates the impact of reflection and
metalinguistic feedback through implementing the Communicative Grammar Language Teaching
Approach CGLTA and the Innovated Writing Process (IWP) (Mourssi, 2012a). The participants
stayed under the case study for a full semester entitled (Technical Writing 2). They receive four
hours a week as contact hours.
For question two, to identify to what extent metalinguistic feedback respond to current theories of
SLA and applied linguistics, samples of students’ mistakes in their written work were
qualitatively analyzed in detail. In the following, the reasons behind adopting qualitative analysis
will be presented.
Qualitative Research
Dörnyei (2007, p. 37) mentioned that qualitative analysis works with a wide range of data one of
which is various types of written texts, adding that in qualitative research, it is indispensable that
the data should capture rich and complex details. In contrast with quantitative research,
qualitative research is very labour-intensive and use much smaller samples of participants than
quantitative ones.
Miles and Huberman (1994) and Haverkamp (2005) agreed that the researcher is essentially the
main “measurement device” in the qualitative study, and his/her own values, personality, and
position become integral part of the inquiry. Punch (2005) asserted that it is fundamental
qualitative principle that human behaviour is based upon meanings which people attribute to
bring to situations, and added that it is only the actual participants themselves who are able to
reveal the meanings and the interpretations of their experiences and actions. In addition, Dornyei
(2007, p. 38) mentioned that qualitative researchers strive to view social phenomena from the
perspectives of the “insiders” and the term “insider perspective’ has a special place in the
qualitative credo.
Another reason behind adopting the qualitative analysis in the current study is the flexible and
emergent nature of a qualitative study which allows the researcher conducts further research
straight forward away. In contrast, quantitative researches include at the end of the research
report the well-known statement “further researcher is needed to understand….”. Dornyei (2007,
p. 41) assured that qualitative research accounts that use of the words and categories of the
participants make it much easier to produce a convincing and vivid case for a wide range of
audiences, adding that the rich data obtained from the participants can participate in broadening
our understanding. In the following, the research subjects will be presented.
The Research Subjects
One group was selected from a total of 4 groups are taught by the researcher. The target location
is one of the Omani government Higher Education Organization. This group consists of 30 Arab
Learners of English (ALEs), with ages ranging between 18 and 20. This group is selected due to
their level which varies between pre-intermediate, intermediate to upper-intermediate level of
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proficiency in English. The subjects are all Arabic speakers and had been learning English as a
foreign language for 12 years, enrolled in Higher College of Technology. They study Technical
Writing 2 as compulsory subject - each student must pass Technical Writing 2 to get the credits
which qualify him/her to the next tem - for all the departments which include Information
Technology, Applied Sciences, Business, and Mechanical Engineering. In the following, I will
present the teaching methods followed in the study.
Teaching Methods
Rationale for the design of the IWP
As the author analyzed interlanguage writing and interlanguage grammar in L2 as well and
contrasted the errors which appear to originate in L1 and L2 linguistic items, he discovered that
this contrastive analysis sheds considerable light on errors related to forming target-like sentences
in English. He thought that there should be a method which could be implemented to narrow the
gap between the L1 and the L2 learners' internalized grammar system and which takes into
consideration the big differences between Arabic and English language. The researcher thought
that this might be achieved by increasing the role of the teacher’s interactions and instructions
while concentrating on analyzing L2 learners’ interlanguage grammar. The explanation and
analysis of the learners’ non-target-like forms should be performed using Ex-implicit grammar
learning following Meaning negotiation and Form negotiation – including explicit and implicit
grammar teaching (Mourssi 2012a) - when it is needed and using corrective feedback.
Implementing these stages might motivate L2 learners and give them the opportunity to revise
and redraft their writing - most of them feel that writing activity is a boring task and they do not
have desire to revise and redraft as well - to develop their internalized grammar which will be
reflected in their writing. After implementing the IWP (Mourssi, 2012a), see the model in
Appendix A, the researcher concluded that explicit grammar learning with teacher’s instructions
and interactions alongside metalinguistic feedback and L2 learners’ communication with each
other and with the teacher might be more effective and more useful for forming academic targetlike sentences in English, which would result in improving the second language learners’
internalized grammatical system (Mourssi, 2012b).
The design of the IWP method is primarily based on the definition of method as it is essentially
the level at which theory is put into practice and at which choices are made about particular
skills, content and the order in which the content is presented. Therefore the IWP method is
defined as a suggested method of teaching writing which involves both speaking and writing
processes based on the learners’ level. It aims at improving learners’ accuracy as well as fluency.
One of the assumptions was that the implementation of the IWP method with ALEs would help
learners improve their writing and speaking skills. What distinguishes the IWP method from
others are the procedures and tasks involved while teaching writing. These procedures include:
the processes of contrastive analysis and error analysis (metalinguistic feedback) based on the
learners' mistakes; explicit grammar teaching; negotiation of meaning and form based on the
learners’ level of interlanguage grammar; interaction between teacher-students and studentsstudents in a form of communicative grammar language teaching approach; and finally, feedback
which is either direct or indirect, see Appendix A.
The relationship between CGLTA and IWP
The CGLTA (Mourssi, 2012a) is based on three applied linguistic frameworks: Form-Focused
Instruction, the Feedback and Noticing Hypothesis, which, in turn, leads to a stage of
Negotiation. The negotiation is based on negotiation of form as well as of meaning. When Arab
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 learners of English are able to achieve this stage of interlanguage development (negotiation), they
will not feel shy interacting or feel embarrassed when they produce non-target-like forms, they
will be encouraged to revise and redraft their writing and be ready to implement the stages of the
IWP.
The stages adopted in the IWP respond to current Applied Linguistic theories. Interaction can
create opportunities for learning inside the classroom as the teacher focuses on input and output
following negotiation for forms where language learners work together towards the target-like
form in a context where meaning is understood. When the teacher is involved in the interaction,
he/she seeks to guide students to find the target-like form instead of providing the forms.
Data analysis
Following up the mistakes committed by the participants in writing a 300 word essay about
classifying the books, the following, table 1 illustrates the non-target-like forms produced by the
subjects in their first draft, and the target-like forms that participants could produce after
receiving metalinguistic feedback, besides the type of mistake. The subjects’ mistakes are
classified into three main types mentioned in Mourssi (2012a) which are: interlingual mistakes
which originated to L1, intralingual mistakes which originated to L2, and in between mistakes
which originated to L1 and L2 at the same time. It is worth mentioning that higher level learners
could produce the target-like forms after explaining the nature of their mistakes implicitly, the
lower level learners need to be exposed to contrastive/error analysis explicitly, which in turn,
leads learners to the target-like forms, while the learners who face more difficulties in forming
target-like sentences received explicit grammar teaching and face to face interaction. These
activities followed with the participants are integrated together in the model of IWP presented in
Appendix A. the following table 1 shows the target-like form, the non-target-like form, and the
type of the mistake whether it is interlingual, intralingual, or in between.
Table 1: non-target-like forms and target-like forms produced by the participants
Example Non-­‐target-­‐like forms 1 *can any person read in there free time *Story mean something’s happened *I can fined story book’s *You can teach what was happen *He win the war and who was with him help him *What are the books you loving to read? *We read this books for fany *The second classify type of book is *every one on the world need Everyone in the world needs 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Target-­‐like forms produced by participants can everyone read in their free time Story means events/incidents happened I can find story books you can learn/know about what happened He won the battles with the help of his people What are the books you like to read? We read these books for fun The second type of books is Type of mistake Interlingual Intralingual Interlingual In between Interlingual Intralingual Intralingual Interlingual In between 95
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10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 free time to relax or interest *Book very important nowadays *The book is a best way to know many information *I read since book on my freetime *I advice all people read *Every one have time and try to useful this time *From this book I know how happy my friend *These are includes useful informations *We can divided into some specific types. *This are some few example *I read many books from child until now *Educational books’ are one kind of books. It aim are to educate the reader. enough time to relax Book s are very important Interlingual nowadays. The book is the best way to know In between much information I read science book in my free time Intralingual I advise all people to read Everyone has try to use their time Interlingual Intralingual From reading these books, I knew interlingual how to make my friends happy. This includes useful information In between We can divide/can be divided into some specific types. these are some few examples I read many books from childhood until now Educational books us one type of books which aims at educating students. Interlingual Interlingual Intralingual Intralingual The table above categorizes the types of mistakes committed by the participants. Reflection and
metalinguistic feedback were followed as it is defined as explaining the nature of the mistakes
following both implicit and explicit grammar teaching which termed as Ex-implicit grammar
teaching in CGLTA presented by Mourssi (2012a). It is worth mentioning that most of the
participants produce the same types of mistakes which vary among interlingual, intralingual and
in between mistakes. The researcher followed CGLTA in explaining the nature of these mistakes
for all the participants, giving enough opportunities to interact and ask without being shy of
committing mistakes in speaking at the front of their classmates. What is noticed in the
experiment is that some participants - higher level learners- could realize their mistakes
implicitly, while others -low level learners- were in a need of explaining explicitly. It was noticed
that giving the chance for the learners to think about their mistakes and how to reproduce their
sentences in a target-like form was better than giving them the answer directly (direct feedback).
This, in turn, helps learners to get the time to interact, negotiate, and reach at the end to the
target-like forms themselves. In the following part, negotiation of meaning and form in the
Communicative Grammar Language Teaching Approach (CGLTA) as a form of metalinguistic
feedback in the IWP will be presented.
Discussion
Negotiation of meaning and form in the Communicative Grammar Language Teaching
Approach (CGLTA) as a form of Metalinguistic Feedback in the IWP
Gass and Selinker (2008, p. 317) claim that the interaction approach has three main stages:
through input (exposure to language), production of language (output), and feedback that comes
as a result of interaction. They add that negotiation, recasts and feedback are activities that
involve interaction. Gass and Selinker (2008, p. 326) also mention in their study that the best way
to test learners' knowledge is to have them use their knowledge in a productive way. They add
that there are two traditional roles of output: the first is that output is a way of using or practising
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 knowledge that has already been learnt, the second role is that the output is a way to elicit
additional input. They comment that comprehensible input pushes learners to use the language,
and that in language production learners might use new forms that they have never used before or
that they might modify or correct a previous utterance. In addition, Gass and Selinker (2008, p.
331) declare that negotiation serves as a catalyst for change because of its focus on non-targetlike forms. By providing learners with information about the nature of their non-target-like
forms, negotiation enables learners to search for additional confirmatory evidence. In the current
study, the researcher applied metalinguistic feedback which includes comments on the students'
error with no explicit provision of the correct form. Similarly, Lightbown and Spada (2006, p.
126-127) state that "metalinguistic comments generally indicate that there is an error
somewhere".
Pica (1994, 1996) and Gass (1997) presented arguments for the benefits of negotiation. They
pointed out that through processes of repetition, segmentation, and rewording, interaction can
serve to draw learners' attention to form - meaning relationships and provide them with additional
time to focus on encoding meaning. They also proposed that negotiation can help learners to
notice mismatches between the input and their own interlanguage. In addition, Mackey (2007, p.
14) mentioned that negotiation for meaning might be helpful in helping learners to focus on input
and output. This indicates the positive role of integrating negotiation and presenting
metalinguistic feedback in the IWP.
Applying the CGLTA with the subjects provided learners with the space to be consciously aware
of linguistic inputs. This degree of awareness helped learners notice their mistakes, acquire the
target-like forms and store them in their internalized grammatical system which they could use at
a later time when needed. In differentiating between higher and lower levels of awareness,
Schmidt (2001) claims that awareness at lower levels of proficiency, which he calls noticing, is
necessary for language learning. He added that awareness at the higher level on the other hand,
which he associated with understanding, may be facilitative but is not necessary for SLA. In the
current study, it could be observed that higher level students - different from lower levels of
awareness - get as much benefit from being aware of linguistic input as the lower level students.
Adams (2007 in Mackey 2007, p. 29) mentions that for classroom language learners, the majority
of their second language interactions may occur with other learners especially those in a foreign
language context. She adds that little research has examined the benefits of interactions between
learners for promoting language development. Similarly, a number of studies carried out by Gass
and Varonis (1994); Swain (1995); Pica, Lincoln-Porter, Paninos and Linnell (1996); and Oliver
(1998) have indicated that in learner-learner interaction, learners receive comprehensible input,
acquire opportunities to negotiate for meaning and receive others' feedback and opportunities to
produce modified output. In the current study, students got the space for interaction during
speaking stage. Then, before writing their first draft, they got another space for interacting in
groups after receiving metalinguistic feedback.
Another goal behind implementing the CGLTA was to increase learner-learner interaction and
learner-teacher interaction. Adams (2007, in Mackey 2007, p. 30) also mentions that research on
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learners' interaction has indicated that the learner-learner interaction provides a context for
learners to receive feedback on the correctness of their output. Similarly, Williams (1999)
examined learner-learner interaction and their attention to form. She found that learners who
engaged in task-based, dyadic interactions tend to discuss form, but the occurrence of languagerelated episodes was influenced by both the learners' proficiency level and the activity they were
engaged in. She concluded that higher proficiency learners produced twice as many languagerelated episodes as lower proficiency learners. She also found that learners were more likely to
attend to form when engaged in activities such as correcting grammar homework than when
conversing freely with one another. In the following, the impact of metalinguistic feedback on
improving Arab Learners of English ALEs’ writing following the IWP
The Impact of Metalinguistic Feedback on Improving ALEs’ Writing in the IWP
The reader should be reminded that in the current study, metalinguistic feedback refers to the
process of error/contrastive analysis presented in the IWP. It is worth mentioning that this
feedback is presented to the L2 learners by explaining the nature of their mistakes/errors without
giving the target-like forms.
Current theoretical and empirical works have suggested that feedback which comes in the form of
reactive information that learners receive regarding the linguistic and communicative success or
failure of their utterances is very beneficial. Mackey (2007, p. 14) adds that research has recently
shifted to a focus on understanding the specific contributions of not only the types, but also the
components of feedback, that may also consist of more explicit corrections and metalinguistic
explanation.
There is a particular characteristic of the ALEs taught in Oman that is worth mentioning. It was
observed from the experiments that some students are careless about learning. They generally
lacked the required degree of awareness, and some of them are unmotivated. Some of them are
obliged to attend classes for the purposes of obtaining a certificate, while some are aware of the
importance of learning and the benefits of being a well-educated person. Therefore, one of the
responsibilities of the teacher in the Arab context is to persuade students to learn and participate
in the learning process and increase their awareness. All of these factors were kept in
consideration when the model of the IWP was designed, Mourssi (2012a). It is worth mentioning
that providing L2 learners with metalinguistic feedback had a positive impact on encouraging and
preparing learners to revise and redraft their written work to produce academic target-like
sentences in their writing.
Adams (2007, in Mackey 2007, p. 30) asserts that in learner-learner interactions, as in native
speaker-learner interactions, feedback can take many forms, from implicit feedback such as
recasts or negotiation for meaning signals to relatively explicit feedback moves such as overt
focus on form. She adds that the use of feedback has been documented in learner-learner
interactions between adults as well as children. Similarly, Oliver (1995) and Mackey et al. (2003)
provide empirical evidence that learners are able to provide and respond to feedback moves from
other learners. Gass and Varonis (1994) describe multiple incidents of learners calling other
learners' attention to their errors. They also found that learners have very rarely replaced their
interlocutors' target-like forms with non-target-like forms. Based on these observations, which
occur, too, with ALEs, there was a need to create an approach which persuaded them to interact,
ask, get feedback and cooperate actively with the teacher inside the classroom. This approach
referred to in the CGLTA occurs when the teacher attracts the learners' attention and motivates
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 them to be aware of their mistakes/errors. In turn, this approach leads to an increased degree of
awareness as a result of noticing the forms they use. Consequently, students interact when they
receive the intake from the teacher -metalinguistic feedback - related to the target-like forms they
use in their oral or written answer to the target question. Furthermore, this tends to promote their
accuracy and to help add more fixed rules to students' internalized grammatical system and be
transferred to long-term memory. Schmidt (2001) mentions that learners must be consciously
aware of linguistic input. In order for it to be internalized, learning should not be dissociated from
awareness.
Metalinguistic feedback in the form of implicit and explicit feedback
Explicit and implicit are the two types of corrective feedback. Ellis et al. (2008, p. 339) states that
implicit feedback provides no obvious indicator that an error has been committed, but explicit
feedback does indicate that an error has been committed. Explicit feedback takes several forms
based on the source of the problem indicated. Ellis et al. (2008, p. 339) talks of a number of
studies that have investigated the effects of implicit and explicit feedback on SLA. He adds that
both types of corrective feedback are effective in promoting acquisition of the grammatical
structures. For example, Carroll and Swain (1993); Nagata (1993); Carroll (2001), Rosa and
Leow (2004), demonstrate that explicit feedback was more effective than implicit feedback.
Similarly, Ellis, Loewen, and Erlam's (2006) study of the effects of recasts and metalinguistic
feedback on the acquisition of English past tense –ed also found that explicit feedback is more
effective than implicit feedback. On the contrary, Leeman (2003) found out that implicit feedback
is more effective than explicit feedback. From the point of view of pre-intermediate and
intermediate ALEs, I think that it is better to employ both types in the classroom context, where
explicit feedback can be more effective with low level language learners, while implicit feedback
can be more effective with higher level language learners. However, the findings of the current
study reveal that metalinguistic feedback explaining the nature of the learners’ mistakes/errors
without giving them the target-like forms seems to be the effective type of corrective feedback
with both low and high level second language learners.
There are two very important factors which have to be taken into consideration in implementing a
certain type of corrective feedback whether it is implicit or explicit or integrates both. These are:
the nature of the target structure - simple or complex - and the level of the language learners,
taking individual differences into consideration. Based on the findings of the current study, using
both explicit and implicit feedback is more effective with simple rules with lower level of
learners, and using implicit feedback can be more effective with complex rules with higher level
of learners.
While Ellis (2009) concluded that the most effective feedback in promoting the acquisition of the
–ed simple past form is explicit feedback, Doughty and Varela (1998) and Han (2002, p. 357) did
not find a positive effect for recasts on the acquisition of grammar. In the case of both Doughty
and Varela and Han, the recast treatment was provided over several weeks and the recasts were
repeated for the same error. Thus, the recasts became salient to the learners, and it was extremely
brief - consisting of a single word. It seems that recasts will have only a limited effect on the
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acquisition of grammatical structure. It may be that the combination of focus on form, recasts,
elicitation of the correct form and a combination of both speaking and writing helps reinforce the
target-like forms.
Limitations of the Study
When a new method is added to the field and implemented in real-life pedagogical settings,
drawbacks and limitations appear. Anecdotal feedback from the L2 learners in the Experiment in
the current study after practising the IWP during the whole semester indicated that most of them
were satisfied with their level. Most of them felt that they achieved progress in how to form and
use academic sentences without being shy or afraid of committing mistakes. Other students
commented that not all the teachers would do all these explanations of their mistakes. Others
mentioned that teachers do not have time to comment on their written work as was the case
during the experiment.
From the researcher’s point of view, a possible drawback is that implementing metalinguistic
feedback following the IWP requires more time. Implementing the IWP takes up a great deal
more time than that usually spent on preparing for writing. The time spent in the IWP represents
one of the drawbacks of the suggested teaching method.
Conclusion
In conclusion, after the second language learners have been exposed to the different stages of the
CGLTA, following metalinguistic feedback, they are ready to revise and redraft their written
work to produce academic target-like sentences in their essays. The researcher finally suggests
that learners retain the forms discussed communicatively with their teacher more than when
target-like forms are given to the learners without any type of feedback, a practice normally
adopted in writing classes where correction is provided but without providing discussion in the
form of metalinguistic feedback. This assumption matches the study by Williams (2001), where
she found that learners retained many of forms they had discussed with each other and with their
teachers. She also found that forms discussed with the teacher were more often remembered than
those discussed among learners.
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Truscott, J. (1996). The case against grammar correction in L2 writing classes. Language
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Truscott, J. (1999). The case for "The case for grammar correction in L2 writing classes": A
response for Ferris. Journal of Second Language Writing, 8: 111-122.
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Truscott, J. (2007). The effect of error correction on learners' ability to write accurately. Journal
of Second Language Writing, 16: 255-272. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jslw.2007.06.003
Williams, J. (1999). Learner-generated attention to form. Language Learning, 49/4: 105-61.
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Williams, J. (2001). The effectiveness of spontaneous attention to form. System, 29/3: 325-40.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0346-251X(01)00022-7
Appendix A
Innovated Writing Process Model
Interlanguage n+
Motivated to perform the writing task
Interlanguage ILn+1 - - - -ILn+2 - - - - ILn+3 - - - ILn+4 - - - Number of IL stages based on learners' level of proficiency and language development
ERRORS
Interlingual Error
(L1)
Contrastive Analysis
Intralingual Error
(L2)
Error Analysis
In between Error
(L1+L2)
Explicit Grammar Teaching
Consciousness
Noticing
Raising
Transfer
Universal L A
Writing 1st draft
Interaction
Communicative Grammar Language Teaching Approach
S+S
Ss+T
T+Ss
S+T
Focus- on-Form
2nd draft writing
Feedback
Negotiation of Meaning &
Form
Revise and Redraft Writing
Final Draft Writing
Improved proficiency level in the target language
ILn + 1, 2, 3 …n
104
Input - - - - Output - - - - Intake - - - - Output - - - - Intake - - - - Output
Comprehensive Intakes based on learners' level of proficiency & language development
Innovated Writing Process
Speaking (first draft)
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 Appendix B
Non-target-like forms produced by the participants in their first draft
1- There are many types of Books can any person read in there free time.
2- Story mean something’s hapend in the past.
3- I can fined many things in the story book’s.
4- You can teach what was happen.
5- He win the war and who was with him help him.
6- What are the books you loving to read?
7- We read this books for fany.
8- The second classify of type of book is non science book.
9- every one on the world need free time to relax or interest.
10- Book very important nowadays.
11- The book is a best way to know many information.
12- I read since book on my freetime.
13- All in all I advice all people read books.
14- Every one have free time and try to useful this time.
15- From this book I know how happy my friend.
16- These are includes useful informations.
17- Art books another type of books we can divided into some specifice types.
18- This are some few example.
19- I read many books from child until now.
20- Educational books’ are one kind of books. It aim are to educate the reader.
21- People hwo read this books’ learn more usefull things’.
22- We can found it in the library, in the home and internet.
23- There are many binifits in different way’s from books’.
24- I read thos books in arabic or English.
25- It give you a knowleg in many things.
26- Some people read a books in there free time.
27- Books are use for different porpuses.
28- In addition this kinds of is explane things for us. It is most useful for children.
29- The time is never come back.
30- I get information about how I can take care about my self.
31- We read the books that we love it.
32- In my essay will discuse about type of books like to reading in my free time.
33- We can reading for example history books.
30- It’s talk about many and many important subject.
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31- You can’t found it any where. There is three types of books. The ferst type is Al Quran.
32- Every muslims like and love and read this book.
34- We can laern alot of things from it.
35- History books talked about every things has done in the past.
36- I read also about machen and how be divelope it.
37- I like to rade it. We be came haelthy. As you have seen the above minshend.
38- The books it’s vey important. Books it’s help you for any thing.
39- It’s help your barin befour old.
40- This book very interesting and sekseful. It is have many new word.
41- Scund thing book about tecnologia. This book very very good. Should any one read this
book
42- The book wich I read contain many useful infromaton about our bodies.
43- Most of people like reads the books. There are three beast most important books for me.
44- The socndmost importan beast book for me is animal book, espetialy hourses and camels.
45- Medical books that talks about helth or some diseses and how to cure them.
46- In my free time I like read hestory books and stores books. It is injoy our time.
47- Book are classified into three types. Which is ……………. This type of book talk about..
48- This books provides us with information.
49- Books has been writtien since ages. Social book teach the person how to live now.
50- Reading is one of the most important in our life.
51- We know how they are live. It learn people own values. They prefer to spend there free time
read
52- There is no books better than Al qurann Al kareem.
53- Any one can read this books in free time.
54- We can find any thing need in the books.
55- Books divide into three types. Thos types are very good in our live.
56- We in need to reading to know who people think.
57- Reading book make you relax and interesting to complet it to the final.
58- We can classified these book to many type. The most best type is romantic book.
59- Scientific books and non scientific books both are good.
60- I read book from child until now.
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 The Comparative Effect of Different Task Processing Conditions
and L2 Decision Making Oral Production
Sepeedeh Hanifehzadeh
Department of Foreign Languages and Literature, Science and Research Branch,
Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran
Sara Ebrahimi
Department of Foreign Languages and Literature, Central Branch,
Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran
Bio Data
Sepeedeh Hanifehzadehis a PhD candidate of TEFL at Islamic Azad University, Science and
Research Branch and she is a lecturer at Avicenna Research Institute in Iran. Email:
s.hanifehzadeh@avicenna.ac.ir / sepeed1999@yahoo.com
Sara Ebrahimi is an MA graduate from Islamic Azad University at Tehran Central Branch and
presently an instructor in Shokuh Language School in Mashhad City in Iran. Email:
ebrahimi_sara62@yahoo.com
Abstract
This paper examined the effects of post task activity on L2 learners' task-based
performance. The article investigated the effect of choosing one type of task, as well as,
different implementation conditions, on fluency, accuracy and complexity of the language
which is produced when the task is carried out. Subjects were three groups of EFL learners
(ninety in total) performing a decision making task. The two experimental groups and the
control group had four minutes of planning time available since according to previous
researchers, planning had clear effects on almost all measures of speaking (Foster &Skehan,
1997; Mehnert, 1998). Two post-task conditions (plus or minus knowledge of a post-task)
were implemented as well. Performance was assessed through the number of pauses (as a
measure of fluency), the percentage of error-free clauses (as a measure of accuracy) and the
level of subordination (as a measure of complexity). The second experimental group who
had the foreknowledge of a post-task activity performed better in the measure of accuracy in
their speaking posttest. But the study revealed no significant differences for the effect of
post task activity on fluency and complexity of the task.
Key words: speaking ability, decision making task, fluency, accuracy, complexity.
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Introduction
Recent years have seen an enormous growth of interest in task-based language learning and
teaching (Skehan, 1998; Willis, 1996; Bygate, Skehan, & Swain, 2000). This interest has been
motivated to a considerable extent by the fact that ‘task’ is seen as a construct of equal
importance to second language acquisition (SLA) researchers and to language teachers (Pica,
1997).
A task is described as a goal-oriented activity involving a meaningful, real-world process of
language use, and engages four language skills as well as cognitive processes (Ellis, 2003). The
main objective in research about language tasks has been to identify a set of task characteristics
based on the assumption that learner’s performance varies according to task characteristics.
Defining “task”
As Bygate, Skehan and Swain (2000) pointed out, definitions of tasks are generally ‘context-free’
and for that reason alone run into problems. As Ellis (2003) clarified, a task is a work plan which
takes the form of teaching materials or of ad hoc plans for activities that arise in the course of
teaching. It also involves a primary focus on meaning, since it seeks to develop second language
(L2) proficiency through communicating. This work plan does not specify what language the task
participants should use but rather allows them to choose the language needed to achieve the
outcome of the task. As Kumaravadivelu (1991) puts it, tasks indicate the content, but the actual
language to be negotiated in the classroom is left to the teacher and the learner. The task also
involves the real processes of language use that reflect those which are occurred in real world
communication. A task can involve any of the four language skills. The work plan may require
learners to listen, or read and display their understanding or produce an oral or written text or
even employ a combination of receptive and productive skills. According to Ellis (2003), a task
engages cognitive processes such as selecting, classifying, ordering, reasoning, and evaluating
information in order to be carried out. Finally, it obtains a clearly-defined communicative
outcome which serves as the goal of the activity for the learners.
Analyzing task properties
A number of researchers have made proposals concerning task properties and the ways some
tasks are more useful for interaction than others. Long (1989) proposes that closed tasks are more
effective than open tasks, and that two-way information gap tasks are more effective than oneway tasks, with the superiority established by means of negotiation for meaning measures. One
perspective is to try to develop a framework for task analysis which is linked to information
processing perspectives. Skehan (1992, 1996), to accomplish the work developed by Candlin
(1987) and Nunan (1989), proposes that one can distinguish between tasks on the basis of the
language demands they make; their cognitive demands; and the communicative pressure that they
entail. By using this framework, Foster and Skehan (1996) in their study focused on three
different kinds of tasks: a personal task, a narrative and a decision-making task. The conclusion
of their research revealed that the personal task generated less complexity (as measured by a
subordination measure) than the narrative and decision-making tasks. The narrative generated the
lowest level of accuracy (with on average 61% of clauses error-free), with the other two task
types generating language at very similar levels (on average 69% of clauses were error-free). The
personal task produced the greatest amount of fluency, with the other two tasks being broadly
similar in this respect. In another study conducted by Foster and Skehan (1997), three tasks went
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 through investigations which were a personal information exchange, a narrative task and a
decision task. A 2-by-2 research design was used, with two planning conditions and two post-task
conditions. As performance was assessed, it was shown that for more cognitively demanding
tasks (narrative and decision making) higher values were obtained. Accuracy was relatively high
in decision making task when planned but complexity in narrative task, while the personal task
did not reach any significant impact on fluency, accuracy, and complexity. In the second part of
the same study, it was made clear that post task requirements had no effect on measures of
fluency and complexity in three tasks but had caused greater accuracy in the most demanding
cognitive task, decision making task. So the hypothesis that foreknowledge of a post-task activity
would selectively influence accuracy received confirmation, but for fluency and complexity in all
three tasks only partial confirmation was obtained.
Research on task implementation: factors that influence the outcome
It is also instructive to investigate factors associated with the conditions under which a task is
done, such as task familiarity, task repetition (Bygate, 1996) and interlocutor experience (Yule,
Powers, & Macdonald, 1992). Perhaps the most researched influence in this regard is that of pretask planning.
Mehnert (1998) investigating the effects of different length of time for planning, made clear that
fluency and lexical density of speech increase as a function of planning time. Accuracy of speech
improved with only one minute planning but did not increase with more planning time.
Complexity of speech was significantly higher for the ten minute planning condition only. But no
significant differences were found for the effect of planning on the different tasks. Foster and
Skehan (1997) showed that there are indications that task characteristics interact with planning
time and lead to selective improvements in particular areas. Tasks which contain clearer inherent
structure, when planned, seem to favor accuracy, whereas tasks which require more on-line
processing or which have complex outcomes, when planned, produce greater complexity. Yuan
and Ellis (2003) focused on the effects of pre-task planning and online planning. The results
showed that pre task planning enhances grammatical complexity while online planning positively
influences accuracy and grammatical complexity. The pre task planners also produced more
fluent and lexically varied language than the online planners.
Task-based research and fluency, accuracy and complexity measures
Task-based research has to date been largely distinct from interaction research; research
questions focused less on issues of second language development, and more on the immediate
impact of various features of tasks, such as planning time, complexity, or repetition of tasks. The
impact of tasks is generally measured by examining changes in fluency, accuracy and complexity
(Ellis, 1987, 2005; Foster, 1996; Foster & Skehan, 1996; Hulstijn & Hulstijn, 1984; Ortega,
1999; Skehan, 1996; Foster & Skehan, 1997; Yuan & Ellis, 2003), whereas interactionist
research typically measures outcomes in terms of modified output and acquisition. Learners’
task-based interactions can vary according to many criteria. These include task type which can be
interpreted as some form of cognitive load, time on task, which is often associated with
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communicative pressure, as well as type, amount and guidance in planning that have been argued
to lead to different allocation of attentional resources (Robinson, 2001).
Post task activities
According to Skehan (1996), the assumption made is that learners' knowledge of what is to come
later can influence how they approach attention-management during an actual task. The central
problem is that while a task is being done, the teacher needs to withdraw, be noninterventionist,
and allow natural language acquisitional processes to operate (Brumfit, 1984). But then, the
danger is that communication goals will be so predominant that the capacity to change and
restructure, to take syntactic risks, and to try to be more accurate, will not come into focus as
serious goals, and worthy of attention during the intensity of task completion (Skehan, 1992).
Post-task activities can change the way in which learners direct their attention during the task
(Willis & Willis, 1988; Tarone, 1983). The tasks achieve this goal by reminding learners that
fluency is not the only goal during task completion, and that restructuring and accuracy also have
importance. According to Skehan (1996), three general post-task activities can be mentioned:
public performance, analysis, and tests. In public performance tasks, learners will be asked, after
they have completed a task, in the privacy of their own group, to repeat their performance
publicly, in front of some sort of audience. The audience could be the rest of a learning group
(who themselves may also have been doing the same or a similar task, and who could equally
well be asked to engage in the public performance), the teacher, or even a video camera, so that
the performance could be played back later, with even the participants themselves required to
watch. In this way, the knowledge that a task may have to be re-done publicly will cause learners
to allocate attention to the goals of restructuring and accuracy where otherwise they would not. In
this way, a concern with syntax and analysis can be infiltrated into the task work without the
heavy-handedness of teacher intervention and error correction. There are also other post-task
aspects of task-based learning which are important.
One must examine task sequences, task progression, and generally how sets of tasks relate to one
another, and to the underlying and more important goals, which are driving forward instruction.
For example, there may be reasons to repeat tasks, with the idea that learners will be more
effective with the analysis and synthesis goals. Similarly, there may be parallel tasks. Such tasks
are likely to be similar to one another in some important respect, but at the same time contain
new elements which are sufficient to engage the interest of the learner (Plough & Gass, 1993).
Perhaps a general view about the task would be to think about it in terms of 'task families', where
a group of tasks resemble one another and may well have similar language or cognitive demands
(Candlin, 1987). In this way, learners will be clearer about the goals of such task groups, and
there will be fewer tendencies for discrepancies to arise between teachers' and learners' views
about task requirements.
In order to investigate the research question empirically the following null hypothesis is
formulated:
Hypothesis 1: Post task requirements do not have significant effect on fluency in language, as
measured by the number of error-free clauses.
Hypothesis 2: Post task requirements do not have significant effect on accuracy in language, as
measured by the number of the pauses.
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 Hypothesis 3: Post task requirements do not have any significant effect on complexity in
language, as measured by the number of subordinate clauses.
Methodology
The study investigated the effects of the different task implementation conditions on the fluency,
accuracy and complexity measures of oral production. This section describes the tasks, subjects
and settings, procedure and analysis of the results.
Tasks
The following instruments were used in this study:
1. TOEFL proficiency test
2. IELTS speaking test
3. Decision making task
A. In order to come up with a homogeneous group of subjects with respect to their
general English proficiency, a sample of TOEFL proficiency test was
administered. The proficiency test was composed of three sections: a passage
followed by 10 reading comprehension questions, 20 listening questions of two
short dialogues and two long conversations, 20 vocabularies, and 25 grammar
questions in the multiple-choice form. The allocated time to answer the test was
80 minutes. The reliability of the test was calculated through KR-21 formula and it
turned out to be 0.78.
B. In order to evaluate the participants speaking ability and be confident that there is
no significant difference between the experimental groups and control group's
speaking ability, a sample of speaking part of IELTS was administered. Part 1
which lasted for four minutes consists of a series of short questions, and short
responses were required. In Part 2, the candidates were given a card outlining what
to talk about. The candidates were given a pencil and paper and some time to think
and make notes, it should take not more than three to four minutes. Part 3 of the
IELTS speaking test returns to the question/answer format of Part 1, but the
questions are longer and the answers should be longer. Time available for this part
was four to five minutes. Those candidates whom were successful in these three
parts were chosen as the subjects of this study.
C. Decision-making tasks are tasks in which participants work together towards
choosing, among many alternatives, the goal that suits them best (Pica & Doughty,
1985; Doughty & Pica, 1986; Duff, 1986). In this study, subjects were given three
letters which were published in a magazine describing various personal problems
with their friends, spouses, and their children. Each dyad which consisted of two
learners in one group had to agree on the best advice to give to the letter writers.
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This task was considered to be the most cognitively taxing one as it involved
dealing with a lot of unfamiliar information, deciding how to advise people in
trouble, and defending ideas against a partner who might have quite opposite
advice.
Subjects and Settings
In this study, the participants were 120 part-time English as a Foreign Language (EFL) student of
an Iranian language institute. They were aged between 21 and 35 and all of them were female.
None had ever been to an English-speaking country, and they had little opportunity to use
English for communicative purposes outside the classroom. They were all in advance level of
language proficiency as measured by the institutes’ standard placement test. All 120 students in
researchers' classes took part in a sample of TOEFL test in order to have homogenized members
out of them. Before the administration, the test was piloted with 50 subjects similar to the target
sample. Accepted participants’ scores fell one standard deviation above or below the mean score
of all participants in the group. Based on their performance on the TOEFL test, they took part in
IELTS speaking test in order to make sure that they had similar speaking abilities. Then they
were randomly assigned to two experimental groups and one control group. Within each group,
dyads were randomly assigned.
Research Design
The three groups in this study went through the decision making task. The control group did
receive any post task activities. They received the task sheets and after five minutes of planning
which was proven to be beneficial to the outcome (Foster & Skehan, 1997; Mehnert, 1998; Yuan
& Ellis, 2003; Ellis, 2003), were supposed to go through the task in dyads. Their speaking was
recorded during the study for further analysis.
Post-taskers which were students in the experimental groups went through the same task with
same amount of time planning. But the first experimental group did not have any foreknowledge
of the task and the second experimental group was told beforehand that they were going to
perform the post task in front of the audience as soon as they finished the post task. They actually
had to stand before the rest of the class and perform the task again. In this way, they knew while
doing the task with the rest of the class that they would have subsequently to do it again in public
with everyone else listening.
Because of the unknown effects on language performance that may be caused by an unfamiliar
setting and unusual procedures, it was considered important to maintain a normal classroom
setting as far as possible throughout the study. All recordings were made during the scheduled
class by the researcher, who was the teacher of the same classes. The tasks were introduced as
communicative activities to be done by students working in pairs. This was a widely used
classroom procedure, and was very familiar to the students. All data was collected on small
dictation machines with no external microphone and a very narrow recording range.
Dependent Variables
The dependent variables, presented in the hypotheses earlier, were of three types:
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 1. Fluency: This was operationalized as the number of pauses, where a pause was defined as
a break of one second or longer. No distinction was made between unfilled pauses and
pauses that included fillers such as hm, um, and uh. It was calculated by the number of
pauses of one second or more that occurred in the first four minutes of speech (more
subjects did not speak for much longer).
2. Accuracy: It was measured by the percentage of error-free clauses. An error-free clause
was the clause in which there was no error in syntax, morphology (lexical choice) or word
order and errors of intonation and pronunciation were not taken into account. Errors in
lexis were counted only if the word used was nonexistent in English, or indisputably
inappropriate. An incorrect inflectional ending, no matter whether the mistake was due to,
for example, wrong gender, wrong case, or both, was counted as one error. Errors that
were repeated were counted only once.
3. Complexity: It was measured as the total number of clauses divided by the total number
of c-units (communication unit). Following Loban (1963), a c-unit is grammatical
independent predictions or answers to questions which lack only the repetition of the
question elements to satisfy the criterion of independent prediction. Also Brock (1986)
defined it as, an utterance providing referential or pragmatic meaning, consisting of either
a simple clause, or an independent sub-clause or unit, together with subordinate clause(s)
associated with either. The complexity scores had a minimum value of 1.00, i.e. where
each c-unit contained only one clause.
Analysis of the Results
Before and after the treatment, certain pertinent statistical analysis was conducted to both
guarantee maximal accuracy of the procedure and also check the value of the hypothesis.
Piloting the proficiency test
The first step was to pilot the test which was to be used to make sure that all groups were equal
and belonged to the same population in terms of their general English proficiency. Therefore, the
proficiency test was administered to 50 subjects with the same qualities as those of the main
study and then item analysis including item facility and item discrimination was conducted for
each item. After crossing out the malfunctioning items, the reliability of the test was estimated
using the KR-21 formula and it turned out to be satisfactory with an index of 0.87 (Table 1).
Table 1: The Reliability of the Proficiency Test
KR-21 formula
0.87
N of items
75
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Administering the proficiency test
Following the piloting phase, the proficiency test was administered to the three groups of the
study, the descriptive statistics of which are presented in Table 2.It is worth mentioning that the
total score of the test adds up to a maximum of 75.
Table 2: Descriptive Statistics of the Proficiency Test
Cont
Exp1
Exp2
Total
Std.
Deviatio Std.
n
Error
95% Confidence
Interval for Mean
Lower
Upper
Bound Bound
Skewness
Statistic Std.
s
Error
1.023
59.715
64.897
0.65
0.54
5.354
0.932
59.980
63.777
0.40
0.52
60.86
6
5.151
.940
58.943
62.790
0.68
0.49
61.53
1
5.369
.553
60.432
62.631
-0.09
0.50
N
Mean
31
61.80
6
5.700
33
61.87
8
30
94
The results were subjected to an ANOVA to ascertain the equality of the three groups in terms of
their general proficiency. Table 3 presents the results.
Table 3: One-way ANOVA on the Results of the Proficiency Test for the Three Groups
Sum of
Squares
19.584
Df
Between
2
Groups
Within Groups 2661.182
91
1
Total
Mean
Square
9.792
F
.335
Sig.
.716
29.251
2681.140
93
4
The insignificant value of 0.716 being greater than 0.05 in the table above shows that the three
groups were at the same level of language proficiency at the beginning of the study and belonged
to the same population in this respect.
Oral proficiency test
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 The first step in the oral proficiency test was to calculate the inter-rater reliability of the test. The
reliability was computed for 30 out of 50 subjects who took part in the piloting procedure. Table
4 bears the results.
Table 4: Inter-rater Reliability for the Oral Proficiency Test
Rater A
Rater B
Rater A
Rater B
Pearson
Correlation
1
.885(**)
Sig. (2tailed)
.
.000
N
30
30
Pearson
Correlation
.885(**)
1
Sig. (2tailed)
.000
.
N
30
30
** Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).
Evidently, the correlation between the two raters was 0.885 meaning that the average score of
their marking could be safely used as the speaking score of every individual for the oral
proficiency test.
The next step was to analyze the oral proficiency test in order to make sure that the participants
of the three groups were at the same level in terms of their speaking skill as well. In the pretest of
speaking, the subjects who scored one standard deviation above and below the mean were
considered as the target population for the research. From 94 subjects, four members were
omitted due to their undesirable score. Table 4 demonstrates the descriptive statistics of the
speaking test of IELTS.
Table 4: Descriptive Statistics of the Oral Proficiency Test
cont
N
30
Mean
83.533
SD
4.384
Std.
Error
.800
Exp1
30
82.566
5.525
1.008
95% Confidence
Interval for Mean
Lower
Upper
Bound
Bound
81.896
85.170
Minim Maxim
um
um
74.00 90.00
80.503
84.629
73.00
90.00
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Exp2
30
83.866
4.392
.801
82.226
85.506
74.00
90.00
Total
90
83.322
4.775
.503
82.322
84.322
73.00
90.00
As it can be seen in Table 5, the ρ value of 0.554 being greater than 0.05 indicates that the three
groups did not exhibit any significant differences in their speaking and hence were eligible to
participate in the study as samples of the same population.
Table 5: One-way ANOVA of the Results of the Oral Proficiency Test for the three Groups
Between
Groups
Sum of
Squares
Df
Mean
Square
F
Sig.
27.356
2
13.678
.594
.554
Within Groups 2002.300 87
Total
23.015
2029.656 89
Speaking post test
After the accomplishment of the tasks, recordings of the subjects' speeches were gathered for
further analysis. Since the scoring of the posttest was based on the measures of accuracy, fluency
and complexity, inter-rater reliability of the posttest was measured by the same two raters. The
score of 30 subjects out of 50 ones, with similar characteristics of the targeted groups were the
criterion for measuring the inter-rater reliability. Table 7 bears the results.
Table 7: Inter-rater Reliability of the Posttest
Rater A
Rater B
1
.957(**)
Sig. (2-tailed)
.
.000
N
30
30
.957(**)
1
Sig. (2-tailed)
.000
.
N
30
30
Rater A Pearson Correlation
Rater B Pearson Correlation
** Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).
Table 7 demonstrates that the posttest enjoyed a high inter-rater reliability (r = 0.957). Therefore,
the speaking posttest could be safely used for comparing the subjects' proficiency in speaking.
Following the calculation of inter-rater reliability, Table 8 illustrates the descriptive statistics of
the speaking posttest in fluency measure for the three groups.
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The International Journal of Language Learning and Applied Linguistics World
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 Table 8: Descriptive Statistics for the Speaking Posttest for Fluency Measure in three Groups
N
Mean
Std.
Deviatio
n
Std.
Error
95% Confidence
Interval for Mean
Lower
Bound
Upper
Bound
Minim Maxi
um
mum
Cont
30
9.633
2.858
.521
8.565
10.700
6.00
15.00
Exp1
30
9.333
2.720
.496
8.317
10.34
5.00
13.00
Exp2
30
9.800
3.220
.588
8.597
11.002
4.00
15.00
Total
90
9.588
2.914
.307
8.978
10.199
4.00
15.00
In order to address the first hypothesis which stated that post task requirements do not have any
great influence on speaking fluency of the students, the researchers needed to run a
one-way ANOVA to test the impact of independent variable, i.e. post task requirements, on the
dependent variable, i.e. the speaking fluency of EFL learners. To legitimize running a one-way
ANOVA, the Leven's test of homogeneity of variance was carried out. Table 9 demonstrates the
results.
Table 9: Levene's Test of Homogeneity of Variance on Fluency Measure
Levene
Statistic
.452
df1
df2
Sig.
2
87
.638
The results of testing the homogeneity of variances (ρ=0.638) revealed that the distribution of
scores enjoyed homogeneity of variance and the ρ value was higher than 0.05. Therefore running
the one-way ANOVA was legitimate. The ANOVA was carried out on the Fluency measure of
speaking in order to address the first hypothesis. Table 10 presents the results.
Table 10: One-way ANOVA of the Speaking Posttest for Fluency Measure in Three Groups
Sum of
Squares
Df
Mean
Square
F
Sig.
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Copyright IJLLALW, December 2012
Between
Groups
3.356
2
1.678
Within Groups 752.433
87
8.649
Total
89
755.789
.194
.824
To interpret the above findings, the mean differences between the two experimental and control
groups in Table 8 can be compared with each other. The mean differences between the three
groups above (mean of 9.63 for the control group and the means of 9.33 and 9.80 for the first and
the second experimental groups respectively) came out to be insignificant according to Table 10
(F = 0.194, ρ = 0.824), showing that the performance of all three groups were similar to each
other with respect to Fluency measure of speaking. Therefore, the use of the post task and the
foreknowledge of the post task do not have any significant influence on the performance of three
groups.
In order to check the second hypothesis of the study whish stated that post task requirements do
not have any great influence on speaking accuracy of the students, the descriptive statistics of the
posttest of Accuracy measure of speaking is provided in Table 11 for further analysis.
Table 11: Descriptive Statistics of the Speaking Posttest for Accuracy Measure in Three Groups
N
Cont
Mean
Std.
Deviat Std.
ion
Error
95% Confidence
Interval for
Minimu Maxim
Mean
m
um
Lower
Bound
Upper
Bound
3
0
57.566 6.404
1.169
55.175
59.95
8
50.00
70.00
Exp1 3
0
58.800 5.961
1.088
56.573
61.02
6
51.00
71.00
Exp2 3
0
64.900 4.707
.859
63.142
66.65
7
58.00
73.00
Total 9
0
60.422 6.523
.687
59.055
61.78
8
50.00
73.00
In order to interpret the differences of the means in three groups, the researchers had to conduct
One-way ANOVA to check whether the mean differences are meaningful or not. Before
conducting ANOVA, to make sure that the variances in three groups were homogeneous, the
researchers conducted the Levene's test. The results of the Levene's test are provided in Table 12
below.
Table 12: Levene's Test of Homogeneity of Variance for Accuracy Measure
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The International Journal of Language Learning and Applied Linguistics World
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Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 Levene
df1
df2
Sig.
Statistic
2.198
2
87
.117
The results of testing the homogeneity of variances (ρ=0.117) revealed that the distribution of
scores enjoyed homogeneity of variance since the ρ value was higher than 0.05. Therefore
running the one-way ANOVA was legitimate. The ANOVA was carried out on the Accuracy
measure of speaking in order to address the second hypothesis. Table 13 demonstrates the results.
Table 13: One-way ANOVA of the Speaking Posttest for Accuracy Measure in Three Groups
Between
Groups
Sum of
Squares
df
Mean
Square
F
Sig.
925.089
2
462.544
14.056
.000
Within Groups 2862.867 87
Total
32.907
3787.956 89
To interpret the above findings, the mean differences between the two experimental and control
groups in Table 11 can be compared with each other. The mean differences between the three
groups above (mean of 57.56 for the control group and the means of 58.80 and 64.90 for the first
and the second experimental groups respectively) came out to be significant according to Table
13 (F = 14.05, ρ = 0.00), showing that the performance of all three groups were different from
each other with respect to Accuracy measure of speaking. Therefore, the use of the post task and
the foreknowledge of the post task have significant influence on the performance of three groups.
In order to locate the differences between the performances of the three groups, a Scheff΄s Test
was necessary to run. The results of the Post hoc Scheffe΄s Test are provided in Table 14.
Table 14: Post hoc Scheffe's Test for Accuracy Measure
(I)
VAR000
05
(J)
VAR0
0005
Mean
Difference
(I-J)
Std.
Error
Sig.
95% Confidence Interval
Lower Bound Upper Bound
Cont
Exp1
Exp1
-1.2333
1.48114 .708
-4.9221
2.4554
Exp2
-7.3333(*)
1.48114 .000
-11.0221
-3.6446
Cont
1.2333
1.48114 .708
-2.4554
4.9221
119
Copyright IJLLALW, December 2012
Exp2
Exp2
-6.1000(*)
1.48114 .000
-9.7888
-2.4112
Cont
7.3333(*)
1.48114 .000
3.6446
11.0221
Exp1
6.1000(*)
1.48114 .000
2.4112
9.7888
* The mean difference is significant at the .05 level.
Referring to Table 11 that was presented before, the highest mean was obtained by the second
experimental group and the lowest by the control group. The results of Table 14 demonstrates a
significant difference between the performance of control group and the second experimental
group (ρ = 0.00 < 0.05). Also, there is a significant difference between the performance of the
first and the second experimental group (ρ = 0.00 < 0.05).
But there is no significant difference between the control group and the first experimental group’s
performance. In other words, the second experimental group who had to do the post task with
foreknowledge had the best performance on the Accuracy measure of the speaking posttest. But
there was no significant difference between the performance of the first experimental group who
performed the post task without any awareness of it and the control group who did not have any
post task.
In order to check the second hypothesis of the study which stated that post task requirements do
not have any great influence on speaking complexity of the students, the researchers calculated
the descriptive statistics of the complexity measure of speaking post test. The results are provided
in Table 15.
Table 15: Descriptive Statistics of the Speaking Posttest for Complexity Measure in Three Groups
N
Mean
Std.
Std.
Deviation Error
95% Confidence
Interval for Mean
Lower
Bound
Upper
Boun
d
Minim Maxim
um
um
Cont
30
1.439
.2652
.0484
1.340
1.538
1.00
1.98
Exp1
30
1.352
.1989
.0363
1.277
1.426
1.12
1.80
Exp2
30
1.399
.2820
.0514
1.293
1.504
1.12
1.98
120
The International Journal of Language Learning and Applied Linguistics World
(IJLLALW)
Volume 1 (1), December 2012 ISSN: 2289-­‐2737 Total 90
1.396 .2510
.0264 1.344
1.449 1.00
1.98
In order to interpret the above findings, the researchers had to conduct a One-way ANOVA.
However, in order to legitimize the ANOVA, the homogeneity of variances of the scores should
be checked. For this reason, Leven΄s test was run.
Table 16: Leven΄s Test of Homogeneity of Variance on Complexity Measure
Levene
Statistic
2.837
df1
df2
Sig.
2
87
.064
The non-significant Levene΄s statistics of 2.837 (ρ = 0.064 > 0.05) demonstrated that the
distributions enjoyed homogeneous variances.Since the requirement of ANOVA was met, the test
was run to compare the performances of the three groups. The results of the One-way ANOVA
are displayed in Table 17.
Table 17: One-way ANOVA of the Speaking Posttest for Complexity Measure in Three Groups
Sum of
Squares
df
Mean
Square
F
Sig.
.115
2
.058
.914
.405
Within Groups 5.494
87
.063
Total
89
Between
Groups
5.610
As it can be seen the F value is 0.914. Therefore the difference between the groups came out to
be insignificant (F = 0.914, ρ = 0.40 > 0.05). It can be concluded that the third hypothesis is
confirmed. There is no significant difference between the performances of the three groups in
measure of Complexity in speaking post test.
Conclusion
The motivation for the present study was the several hypotheses which were formulated
regarding the effects of post task activities on task performance. In the main, these hypotheses
have received support, although in some cases these supports were limited in some cases. The
effects of post task have confirmed those reported in Foster and Skehan (1997). Post task is
effective in measures of oral proficiency. The post task condition was theorized to increase the
attention that subjects would pay to the accuracy of their language. In the second experimental
121
Copyright IJLLALW, December 2012
group who had the foreknowledge of the post task, the subjects were more cognizant about their
accuracy in utterance as they knew that they would have to submit to a subsequent public
scrutiny.
According to Foster and Skehan (1996), the researchers in the field of task based teaching should
consider how attentional resources are prioritized in students' minds, and what influences on such
prioritization can be identified. Learners required to complete the tasks seem unable to prioritize
equally the three performance aspects of fluency, accuracy, and complexity. Achieving more
highly in one seems mostly to be at the expense of doing well on the others, with competition
between accuracy and the two other measures. Students are unable to divide their attention to all
three aspects simultaneously. Post task activities and more precisely, the foreknowledge of the
post task is only channeled to only one of these aspects.
Another interesting finding of this study was the relationship between dependent variables of
accuracy, fluency, and complexity. In the last phase of the study, when the recordings of the
students' speeches were analyzed for the post test results, the researchers noticed that nearly all
the utterances of the students were communicatively meaningful. Such an observation has
implications for the way in which performance is tested, since it suggests that one cannot validly
simply take one such measure in isolation and use it for the rating of overall performance. At the
very least, it suggests that assessment procedures may need to employ a range of data elicitation
measures and profile-based reporting of performance.
The findings of the present study imply that task-based teaching can be accompanied with post
task activities. But more important than the post task is the direction of the students mind toward
post task activities. When they have the foreknowledge of the post task, they can easily prepare
themselves for the post task. In this condition, the maximum benefit of post task activities can be
achieved in the classroom.
References
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The next issue to be published on
January 2013
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