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Abstract

Belonging to the interactionist perspective, the collaborative dialogue is a technique which engages learners in joint problem-solving and knowledge building. With the aim of investigating the link between this technique and vocabulary acquisition and retention, this study was conducted with 18 threshold English as a Foreign Language (EFL) learners who were randomly chosen and put in 6 groups. They were given 6 lexical-focused tasks to be completed collaboratively and their interaction was audio-recorded. The instances of lexical-based language-related episodes (LREs) were identified in the transcribed dialogues and their outcomes were coded as “correctly resolved”, “incorrectly resolved”, and “unresolved”. The frequency of the LREs was computed; it was found that the learners were able to solve the lexical problems they encountered to a very large extent. Furthermore, the analysis of LREs and the comparison of posttest and delayed posttest scores provided convincing evidence of a link between the outcomes of LREs and the learners’ vocabulary acquisition and retention, suggesting that “correctly resolved” LREs resulted in learning and retaining the target words, while “unresolved” LREs led to non-significant learning and “incorrectly resolved” LREs led to learning the wrong meaning of the vocabulary items. The findings along with the opportunities and challenges of collaborative dialogue are discussed and possible implications for language teaching are explained.

Abstract

This article critically reviews the concept of learning styles, particularly the notion of perceptual, that is, visual, auditory and kinaesthetic (VAK), styles. We look at problems with the definition and terminology used to describe VAK learning styles, arguing that they have yet to be shown to be consistent and measurable attributes. We review the history of VAK, present literature on the topic in language teaching and other educational fields and scrutinize the scientific, psychological and educational concerns with the use of VAK learning styles in the classroom, asserting that much of the popularity assigned to the notion of VAK learning styles is based on the false assumption that teaching to a learner’s sensory learning preference will enhance achievement. We conclude with some brief suggestions for alternative pedagogical interventions in language teaching which do have strong empirical backing as well as a call to the language teaching profession to look to other fields, such as neuroscience and cognitive science to guard against classroom practices that have no scientific basis.

Abstract

Language learning strategies (LLS) are suggested to facilitate learning and support learner autonomy. The integration of content and language in foreign language education increases the cognitive work load. Furthermore, self-efficacy has been identified as a key predictor for strategy use and language achievement. The present study aimed to (1) investigate LLS use in content-based versus traditional foreign language environments and (2) assess the impact LLS use and self-efficacy have on language proficiency. Participants were Year 9 Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) and regular English as a foreign language (EFL) students (N=378) in Germany. Structural equation modelling, controlling for a range of confounding variables, showed that (1) there was no difference in LLS use between CLIL and EFL students. (2) LLS use had a negative impact while self-efficacy predicted higher language proficiency. These results suggest that students may best be supported by enhancing their self-efficacy while they should carefully choose their strategies.

Abstract

In recent decades, numerous empirical studies have been conducted on negotiation of meaning and negotiation of form, but few have focused on examining the distinction between the two negotiation types. This qualitative study aims at distinguishing the two negotiation types by analyzing teacher-student dyadic interaction. Three English teachers and their students from a university in China participated in the study. The classroom interaction between the teachers and their students was recorded over 11 weeks, and the data analyzed for the present study totaled 13 hours and 50 minutes. Results indicate that (1) in terms of teacher intentions, the two negotiation types differ considerably: whereas negotiation of meaning is conversational and didactic in function, negotiation of form is solely didactic; (2) regarding retrieval processes and types of learner uptake, the two negotiation types differ slightly except for when negotiation of meaning is didactic in function. The findings thus reveal some issues to address regarding the function of negotiation of meaning.

Abstract

This study provides an empirical analysis of conflict talk among second language learners, focusing on the opening aspects of conflict talk sequences, specifically the short sequences between an arguable and initial opposition. Data is based on 178 hours of small group discussions video-recorded in Japanese university English classes. Analysis revealed: (a) repetitions and why-type questions directly following an initial speaker’s claim were likely to adumbrate upcoming oppositions, (b) when a questioning repeat failed to elicit an account for the original speaker’s claim, the potential opposer explicitly pursued an account for the claim with a why-type question, (c) a major action these repeats and why-type questions performed was to call for speakers of potential arguables to provide sufficient accounts for their claims. The findings contribute to research on argumentative talk in classrooms by extending analysis beyond adjacent turns, by highlighting the resources of repetitions and why-type questions that speakers deploy to adumbrate oppositions, and by explicating the details of second language learner talk in peer discussions.

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Abstract

The ability to understand coherence relations like cause/result between parts of texts is crucial for the comprehension of texts. The present study investigates how well students of grade 4 and grade 6 manage the construction of coherence in expository texts. Performance differences in comprehending additive, causal, contrastive, and temporal anteriority relations suggest a specific line of development: After an early phase which does not show significant differences in dealing with the four relations, there is first progress in constructing causal relations and, after a short delay, in constructing adversative relations. The performance concerning additive and temporal anteriority relations remains on a comparatively low level. What seems to be crucial for the developmental progress is the relevance of relations for the meaning of the text and - especially for temporal anteriority relations - the sequence of propositions. Not all text recipients profit from the presence of connectives to the same degree, least of all weak readers.

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Abstract

This study investigates the usage of German connectives in spoken narratives of the so called ‘frog stories’ by children aged 3, 5 and 9 as well as by young adults. Two aspects are looked at separately: a) the distribution of connectives in terms of their syntactic classes, and b) the distribution of coherence relations marked by these connectives. It is shown that both syntactic and semantic aspects play a crucial role for the acquisition of connectives. Moreover, the coordinating conjunction und is analysed in detail because it is the most polysemous German connective. In particular, it is tested whether the usage of und can be compared to that of its English equivalent and. At first sight, the results indicate that this is not unreservedly the case: As speakers get older, the distribution of coherence relations expressed by und does not remain constant in the narratives of the four age groups. Thus, the results reported for and by Peterson and McCabe (1987) cannot be replicated for und. Furthermore, und is not increasingly restricted to additive relations instead. To get a clearer picture of the underlying circumstances, a subsequent analysis of English frog stories is added, which suggests similarities between German und and its English equivalent. Since Peterson and McCabe’s (1987) data are based on free narratives of personal experiences, the results of the present study illustrate that at least the usage of English and is presumably strongly dependent on the respective method of speech elicitation.

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