Issues in Language Teaching

Issues in Language Teaching

Issues in Language Teaching (ILT), Vol. 6, No. 1, June 2016



Exploring Iranian EAP Teachers’ Pedagogic Content Knowledge and Teaching Practices, and Students’ Beliefs about EAP Teachers’ Methodology

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The systematic study of EAP teachers’ pedagogic content knowledge and their actual teaching practices in class is a fresh avenue in applied linguistics, especially in contexts like Iran, where, EAP courses are taught by two groups of teachers with different specializations; i.e., language teachers and content teachers. This study explored the similarities and differences between language teachers’ and content teachers’ PCK, and teaching practices, and students’ beliefs about their EAP teachers’ methodology at Medical Sciences Universities across Iran. In order to answer the research questions, a wide range of instruments including questionnaires, observations, semi-structured interviews, and field notes were utilized. Sources included language teachers, content teachers, students taught by language teachers, and students taught by content teachers. Representative samples of 318 EAP teachers and 1573 students participated in the study. The results indicated substantial inconsistencies across the two groups of teachers with respect to their PCK and teaching practices. The findings also showed that students favored language teachers’ methodologies and teaching practices. The findings promise implications for EAP instruction in Iran and highlight the pressing need for more systematic teacher training programs. 

Explicit Instruction of Pragmatic Features: Its Impact on EFL Learners’ Knowledge of Hedging Devices in Academic Writing

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Hedging academic claims has been recognized as one of integral pragmatic features of academic writing in which most EFL academic writers seem to face substantial problems. Explicit instruction has been proposed by some scholars as an effective approach to make EFL writers aware of the importance, different forms, and pragmatic functions of hedging devices some of which are polysemous and polypragmatics (e.g., Hyland 1996a). The present study with the aim of shedding more light on the effectiveness of explicit instruction in improving the pragmatic knowledge of Iranian EFL learners in terms of hedging devices, investigates the acquisition and use of English modal auxiliaries as hedging strategies via applying a direct teaching strategy in the classroom. To this end a sample of 37 undergraduate students majoring in different fields of study were recruited and assigned into a control and experimental group. Explicit instruction of the modal auxiliaries as hedging resources was applied for the treatment group while the control group received only the regular academic writing instruction. A pretest and a posttest were administered to the two groups. The descriptive analysis of the scores as well as the results of the t-tests revealed a significant progress in the participants’ linguistic and pragmatic knowledge of modal auxiliaries as hedges in the treatment group. The results also indicated that the experimental group outperformed the control group in acquiring and using modal verbs to hedge their claims. The findings of the study provide insightful implications for the administrators of educational programs.

Postmethod Pedagogy and Iranian EFL Teachers’ Understandings: Is a Promising Trend on the Way?

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The profession of second language teaching has experienced fundamental fluctuations in both theory and practice. With its own proponents and opponents, the postmethod was considered as the practical and reasonable solution to the limitations of the confining concept of the method. The purpose of this qualitative study was to elicit nonnative EFL teachers’ viewpoints and perceptions regarding postmethod pedagogy. In fact, the researchers were interested to know about nonnative EFL teachers’ perceptions of postmethod condition regarding their own context and needs. Selected based on purposive sampling procedure, the participants of this study were 10 nonnative EFL teachers categorized into three groups based on their teaching experience. The participants took part in semi-structured interviews and they were asked a series of questions to elicit their perceptions and interpretations of postmethod. The results of the study revealed some rays of hope in some cases, though not promising in a full manner. In other words, although nonnative EFL teachers could not mention the postmethod principles explicitly, they showed a logical understanding of postmethod pedagogy tenets and its applications in their teaching practices and procedures. The results of this study can help teacher educators design more effective teacher education courses and in-service programs to enhance nonnative EFL teachers’ viewpoints and perceptions regarding postmethod pedagogy and its implications in language teaching and learning processes.

Effects of Different Culturally-Based Materials on EFL Learners’ Reading Anxiety, Reading Self-Efficacy, and Reading Proficiency in Project-Based Classes

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This article sets out to examine the effect of utilizing different culturally-based materials on EFL university students' foreign language reading anxiety, reading comprehension self-efficacy, and reading proficiency within project-based classes. The research was carried out with two classes of intermediate freshmen majoring in English Language Teaching. The comparison group had to present their projects based on the reading passages of the book "Active" (L2 culturally-oriented texts) and the experimental group had to deliver their projects based on their L1 and L2 culturally-based reading texts designed by the researcher. Reading comprehension self-efficacy scale, foreign language reading anxiety scale, and the reading section of the Michigan Test (1998) were administered to students as pre-tests and post-tests at the beginning and at the end of one academic year consisting of two project-based reading courses. ANCOVA was utilized for analyzing the data. The results indicated that although in both groups significant improvements were observed regarding the three aforementioned variables, it was the experimental group that showed significantly less degrees of anxiety, compared to the comparison group. However, no differences regarding reading self-efficacy and reading proficiency were observed between the two groups. The findings of this study suggest that EFL teachers, material developers and syllabus designers can take advantage of cultural familiar texts when generating their own learning materials.

Peer-Assessment and Student-Driven Negotiation of Meaning: Two Ingredients for Creating Social Presence in Online EFL Social Contexts

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With the current availability of state-of-the-art technology, particularly the Internet, people have expanded their channels of communication. This has similarly led to many people utilizing technology to learn second/foreign languages. Nevertheless, many current computer-assisted language learning (CALL) programs still appear to be lacking in interactivity and what is termed social presence, which is in turn an obstacle to the learners assuming active roles in their online experience of L2 learning. Consequently, the existing CALL programs do not seem to have updated themselves from the obsolete behavioristic and communicative genres to reach for the integrative one to yield optimum interactivity. The present study has attempted to cast light on the prospect of creating an online learning community that could optimize the patterns of interaction among the students and the teacher with the intention of creating online social presence. Using a qualitative research based on grounded theory, the researchers attempted to collect and analyze the data vis-à-vis the participants’ feedback on the research questions that were cyclically obtained from 42 English students of the first researcher’s weblog through 41 semi-structured interviews at the end of each virtual class on Skype and Discord over one year. The results suggested that content-based instruction (CBI) in which the students can opt for and create the content of the course through engaging in asynchronous activities and performing peer-assessment in the comment forms and discussion boards before practicing negotiation of meaning in each synchronous class could maximize the level of student-student interactivity and social presence among the L2 learners.

Concept-based Instruction and Teaching English Tense and Aspect to Iranian School Learners

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The present study examines the role of Gal’perin’s Concept-based Instruction (CBI) as a pedagogical approach in teaching cognitive grammar-based (CG-based) concepts of tense and aspect to EFL students. Following the sociocultural theory of L2 Acquisition (SCT), arming L2 learners with scientific concepts can lead to L2 development by deepening their understanding and raising awareness of L2 structures. To this end, over the course of eight weeks 28 third grade middle school students (14 years old) received the concepts in the CBI framework and 30 third grade middle school students received a traditional type of instruction. There were three sets of data including definition of the concepts of tense and aspect before and after CBI, concept verbalization data during CBI, written discourse performance plus responses to a set of grammatical questions before and after CBI. It was found that although both groups improved significantly after receiving the instruction, the students who received CBI performed significantly better than those in the traditional group. The students who received CBI also produced a significant definition of the concepts and their written discourse performance and responses to the grammatical questions improved after CBI. The result provides insight into the application of scientific concepts in L2 instruction.