Teaching English as a Second Language Quarterly

Teaching English as a Second Language Quarterly

Teaching Language Skills (JTLS), No. 3 , Fall 2016



A Social Semiotic Analysis of Social Actors in English-Learning Software Applications

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This study drew upon Kress and Van Leeuwen’s (2006, [1996]) visual grammar and Van Leeuwen’s (2008) social semiotic model to interrogate ways through which social actors of different races are visually and textually represented in four award-winning English-learning software packages.  The analysis was based on narrative actional/reactional processes at the ideational level; mood, perspective, social distance, and modality at the interpersonal level; and salience, framing, and vector at the compositional level. The findings revealed that although contemporary multimodal texts have tried to be unbiased and neutral in the verbal mode, there are still traces of discrimination, bias, and stereotyping in the visual mode. The results of this research can be of potential help and use for researchers, pedagogues, material developers, software designers,  teachers , and students to become visually literate and get aware of the hidden messages that can be communicated by images in textbooks and multimedia.

The Emergence of Various Contradictions in Iranian High School English Education under the New CLT-Based Curriculum

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Recent research has indicated that the adoption of CLT in an EFL contexts will create certain challenges. Using Engeström’s (1999) human activity system model, the present study investigated the implementation of CLT-based curriculum which was initiated in 2013 in Iranian public schools. Four groups of participants including 23 language teachers, 17 teacher directors, 23 students, and 20 parents took part in the study. Semi-structured interviews, observation of participating teachers’ classes, and analysis of relevant documents were used as data collection tools. Grounded theory analysis of the data revealed three main categories explaining the difficulty of CLT implementation in an EFL context like Iran. From an activity theory perspective, these categories indicated that the four layers of contradictions emerged in Iranian English Education as the activity system. The results suggest that not only language teachers as the subjects of the current activity system, but also other components of the activity system, and even other activity systems like teachers’ colleges and in-service programs need to work in tandem in order to overcome the challenges of implementation.

Do We Need Discipline-Specific Academic Word Lists? Linguistics Academic Word List (LAWL)

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This corpus-based study aimed at exploring the most frequently-used academic words in linguistics and compare the wordlist with the distribution of high frequency words in Coxhead’s Academic Word List (AWL) and West’s General Service List (GSL) to examine their coverage within the linguistics corpus. To this end, a corpus of 700 linguistics research articles (LRAC), consisting of approximately 4 million words from four main linguistics sub-disciplines (phonology, morphology, semantics and syntax) was compiled and analyzed based on two criteria; frequency and range. Based on the analysis, a list consisting of 1263 academic word families was produced to provide a useful linguistics academic word list for native and non- native English speakers. Results showed that AWL words account for 10.18 % of the entire LRAC, and GSL words account for 72.48% of the entire LRAC. The findings suggested that of 570 word families in Coxhead’s AWL, 381 (66.84%) word families correspond with the word selections criteria which provide 29.88% of the word families in Linguistics Academic Word List (LAWL). Furthermore, 224 word families that were frequently used in linguistic research article corpus (LRAC) were not listed in GSL and AWL. They accounted for 18.51% of the word families in LAWL with coverage of 5.07% over LRAC, and compared with the 2000 GSL, 658 word families were identified. The results have pedagogical implications for linguistics practitioners and EAP practitioners, researchers, and material designers.

Motivational Beliefs, Self-Regulation and EFL Listening Achievement: A Path Analysis

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Informed by the expectancy-value and social cognitive theories of learning, the present study proposed a path model to investigate the impact of motivational beliefs as defined by listening self-efficacy, three types of goal orientations, and task value on self-regulation of Iranian EFL learners, in addition to the unique contribution of each to the variability in the listening comprehension score. Results of path analysis revealed significant positive effect of listening self-efficacy and self-regulation on students’ listening comprehension and task value on self-regulation. Unlike performance approach goals, mastery and performance avoidance goals demonstrated a significant impact on participants’ self-regulation but no significant direct effect of any goals on listening achievement was detected.

Built-In Learner Participation Potential of Locally- and Globally-Designed ELT Materials

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This study aims at empirically measuring a universal criterion for materials evaluation, i.e., learning opportunities, in a locally- and a globally-designed materials. Adopting the conceptual framework of sociocultural theory and its conceptualization of learning as participation (Donato, 2000), the researchers utilized the methodological power of conversation analysis to examine how opportunities for learner participation and, by extension, learning are created whilst the materials are being used. Thirty teachers’ naturally-occurring classroom interactions, evolving from the two types of materials, was videotaped and transcribed line-by-line to identify the interactional contexts in which learner participation opportunities are embedded. Four interactional contexts affording different levels of learner interactional space were prompted by both types of materials. Examining the distribution of contexts revealed that management-oriented and form-oriented contexts were sustained significantly longer in classes with the locally-designed material. The globally-designed material, however, tended to unfold significantly longer skill-oriented and meaning-oriented contexts suggesting higher levels of built-in learner participation potential. The findings of this study raise materials developers’ awareness, especially in periphery communities, about how materials can either marginalize or empower learners in classroom interaction.

Critical Thinking in Personal Narrative and Reflective Journal Writings by In-service EFL Teachers in Iran: Assessment of Reflective Writing

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Recently, there is a need for fostering the critical reflective side of L2 teacher education. This study investigated the implications of personal narrative (PN) and reflective journal (RJ) writing for Iranian EFL teachers’ reflective writing. Sixty (36 women and 24 men) in-service secondary school EFL teachers were selected based on the convenience sampling from Iran. L2 teachers equally divided into PN and RJ writing groups were provided with particular short stories. L2 teachers in the PN writing group engendered PN writings in response to themes of stories; however, L2 teachers in the RJ writing group had to write their reflections on stories in RJ writings. Hatton and Smith’s (1995) framework was used for the content analysis of data. The quantitative analysis indicated that PN writings were lengthier than RJ writings. Also, there was a statistically significant difference between mean ranks of descriptive and critical reflection writing types signified in PN and RJ writings. However, no statistically significant difference was observed between mean ranks of descriptive reflection and dialogic reflection writing types. Moreover, PN and RJ writings were more descriptive, less descriptive reflective, less and less dialogic reflective, and still less critical reflective. The qualitative analysis revealed that EFL teachers’ PN and RJ writings enjoyed dialogicity. Despite their unwillingness to express voice, findings indicated that Iranian English teachers adopted a more critical perspective through generating PN writings than via engendering RJ writings. In general, the English language teacher education domain in Iran needs a thinking renewal to foster critical L2 teaching.


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