Critical cultural awareness as a component of intercultural competence (Byram, 1997, 2012) has received the extensive attention of scholars in the fields of language teaching, cultural studies, ethnic studies, gender studies, communication studies, etc. in the recent decades. However, no instrument has ever been developed to assess this construct among Iranian EFL teachers. To fill this gap, in the first phase of the present study a theoretical framework for critical cultural awareness and its components was developed through reviewing the literature and conducting interviews with ELT experts. In the second phase, a questionnaire was developed and piloted with 370 participants who were available and willing to participate in the study. More specifically, the 37 items of the newly-developed ‘CCA' scale were subjected to principal component analysis which revealed the presence of three components. These phases led to the development of a questionnaire with three components and 37 items: (1) ‘CCA in ELT Programs' including 20 items, (2) ‘CCA in ELT Textbooks and Materials' including 13 items, and (3) ‘CCA in General Terms' including four items. The findings of this study may shed some light on this fuzzy subject and help researchers assess Iranian EFL teachers' critical cultural awareness.
Impact of Direct Corrective Feedback (DCF) Through Electronic Portfolio (EP) Platform on the components of Iranian EFL Learners’ Writing across Levels of Language Proficiency
While some researchers have questioned the efficacy of corrective feedback (CF), other researchers believe that CF can be effective if implemented through new technology types, including e-portfolio (EP). However, whether EP can be used as a medium of providing CF for language learners at different levels of language proficiency is still unknown. The purpose of the present study, therefore, was twofold: (a) to examine the writing performance of EFL learners across three levels of language proficiency receiving direct corrective feedback (DCF) via EP, and (b) to investigate which language proficiency group benefits more from DCF provided via EP. For the purposes of the present study, sixty (60) Iranian EFL learners who were divided into three levels of language proficiency at Sharif language center in Tehran, Iran participated in this study. The results of data analysis showed statistically significant differences for two components of writing—content, and mechanics—between beginning and intermediate, and beginning and advanced language learners. The results also showed that the higher the language proficiency level of language learners, the more they benefit from the provision of DCF through EP. These findings suggest that EP may be a viable option to supply Iranian EFL learners across levels of language proficiency with DCF. The article concludes with a call for testing the threshold-level hypothesis that may exist for language learners to use EP.
Interactional complexity development, interactional demonstrators and interaction density in collaborative and e-collaborative writing modalities
This study aimed at investigating the potential of collaborative and e-collaborative writing modalities in developing interactional complexity, utilization of interactional demonstrators and density of interaction. To this end, 66 Iranian intermediate female English as foreign language learners (EFL) were selected to participate in this study according to their scores on Oxford Placement Test (OPT). Participant assignment into experimental group was done on the basis of computer literacy criterion. The conversation analysis of transcribed conversations in collaborative writing and log analysis of e-collaborative writing on e-writing forum indicated that collaborative writing led to more complex interaction than e-collaborative writing on the basis of interaction complexity measure. Significant differences were found in the frequency of interactional resources and demonstrators in two writing modalities using chi-square analysis. Informational demonstrators occurred more in e-collaborative writing, and interactional, attitude and empathic resources occurred more in collaborative writing. Interaction density measure was also in favor of collaborative writing. The results implied that implementation of collaborative tasks is potential technique for the development and assessment of interactional competence .
Investigating the Impact of Response Format on the Performance of Grammar Tests: Selected and Constructed
When constructing a test, an initial decision is choosing an appropriate item response format which can be classified as selected or constructed. In large-scale tests where time and finance are of concern, the use of response chosen known as multiple-choice items is quite widespread. This study aimed at investigating the impact of response format on the performance of structure tests. Concurrent common item equating design was used to compare multiple-choice items with their constructed response stem-equivalent in a test of grammar. The Rasch model was employed to compare item difficulties, fit statistics, ability estimates and reliabilities of the two tests. Two independent sample t-tests were also conducted to investigate whether the differences among the item difficulty estimates and ability estimates of the two tests were statistically significant. A statistically significant difference was observed in item difficulties. However, no significant difference was detected between the ability estimates, fit statistics, and reliabilities of the two tests.
The Development of Reading and Operation Span Tasks in Persian as Measures of Working Memory Capacity for Iranian EFL Learners
This paper presented two complex span tasks in Persian as measures of working memory capacity (WMC). Firstly, the construct of working memory (WM) and possible WM measures that could assess this construct efficiently were critically reviewed. Accordingly, as measures of domain-general components of WM, a reading span task and an operation span task which were documented to assess this construct efficiently were chosen and developed. Following this, the developed tasks were conducted on 151 teenage learners in a foreign language institute in West Azerbaijan Province. Then, the administration and scoring of the measures were described step by step. The tasks were validated against each other as well as against a digit span task which assessed the domain-specific aspect of WMC as well. The result showed a strong correlation between the reading span task and the operation span task, and a moderate correlation of either of the functions with the digit span task. Consequently, both of the developed span tasks can be valid indicators of WM capacity for Iranian individuals and can be used in a wide array of research domains in second language acquisition studies.
On Situating the Stance of Estrogen in the Acquisition and Recall of L2 Lexical Items: A Biological Look
The present study examined whether the advantage of females on L2 vocabulary recall and acquisition is partly as a result of estrogen secretion or not. In this regard, through volunteer and convenience sampling 15 intermediate EFL female participants aged between 23-31 were selected from the subject pool of 55 participants. The participants were studying at Iranian Language Center located in Bandar-e Anzali, Iran. To ensure the homogeneity among the participants, Babel English Placement test was used. In the course of study, the participants were taught two series of 42 lexical items in each phase of menstrual cycles (i.e., follicular and luteal). The treatment period was held six sessions at each phase. Each session took 30 minutes. To compare the performance of the participants, immediately after the sixth session, a piloted teacher-made vocabulary recall test was administered at each phase. Finally, the mean scores of participants' performance in the two phases were contrasted through a paired samples t test. The results indicated that there was a statistically significant difference between the participants' recall scores in the follicular and luteal phases. Moreover, to investigate the impact of estrogen secretion on participants' L2 vocabulary acquisition, two months after the treatment, the participants took a piloted teacher-made vocabulary acquisition test at each phase of menstrual cycle. The results of paired samples t test indicated a significant difference between the participants' vocabulary acquisition scores in the two phases.