Issues in Language Teaching

Issues in Language Teaching

Issues in Language Teaching (ILT), Vol. 7, No. 1, June 2018



Pre-emption with or without Pre-task Planning: A Probe into L2 Lexical Diversity

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The current study, setting a two-fold goal, attempted to see whether the preemptive focus on form (FonF) under either planned or unplanned conditions could contribute to increasing lexical diversity in written narratives and, second, to find whether there was a trade-off between the lexical diversity and accuracy. To this end, 32 beginner learners were selected following a Quick Oxford Placement Test and assigned into two groups to receive preemptive FonF under no-planning and pre-task planning conditions. The analysis of the results through a set ofrepeated measure ANOVAs and independent-samples t-tests revealed that the first group with unplanned condition outperformed the one with pre-task planning in lexical diversity. The results also revealed the trade-off between the lexical diversity and accuracy. That is, both lexical diversity and accuracy were significantly taken care of under unplanned preemptive condition whereas pre-task planning hindered attendingto lexical diversity and, thus, both aspects simultaneously. It was concluded that providing learners with appropriate conditions through form-focused instruction can set the ground for activating their linguistic knowledge and letting them attend to different linguistic aspects during writing.

Quantifying Investment in Language Learning: Model and Questionnaire Development and Validation in the Iranian Context

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The present exploratory study aimed to provide a more tangible and comprehensive picture of the construct of investment in language learning through investigating the issue from a quantitative perspective. To this end, the present researchers followed three main phases. First, a hypothesized model of investment in language learning with six components was developed for the Iranian English as a foreign language (EFL) learners based on the extensive readings of the literature on investment, consultations with a panel of experts, three university professors in the relevant fields, and interviews with 20 language learners. Second, a questionnaire was developed and validated based on the proposed model to represent its components. Finally, the data collected through this questionnaire were fed into the model to see to what extent the model fitted the data. The participants were male and female English language learners belonging to different age groups and English language proficiency levels.The initial results showed poor values; however, the model was trimmed by removing one item from the questionnaire, and final statistical indices showed that the model fitted the data.

"But let me talk": An Investigation into Teachers' Interaction Patterns in EFL Classrooms

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Drawing on Walsh's (2012) idea that boosting learners' contribution and interaction can play a key role in their foreign language learning, this mixed-methods study tried to cast some light on the ways by which teachers, via their choice and use of language, create or block learners' contribution in direct interactions in the classroom. A total of 800-minute recordings of 10 teachers' talks and their learners' in English as a Foreign Language (EFL) classes were studied utilizing a Conversation Analysis methodology. The interaction patterns identified in the recordings suggest that teachers could manipulate their talk either to facilitate or obstruct learners' involvement by the inserted turns they take. The findings of the study indicate that the teachers need to minimize their interventions while the learners taking their turns, and instead pave the way for a more interactive discourse. In addition, a 'listening culture' in the classrooms should be encouraged in order to create opportunities for more classroom interactive talk. A number of implications for teachers and teacher trainers are also given.

Motivating the Unmotivated: Making Teacher Corrective Feedback Work

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It is often wrongly assumed that the provision of teacher corrective feedback naturally entails learners' attendance to and application of it, but learners have repeatedly been reported not to pay attention to teacher feedback due to lack of motivation and the distracting effect of the grades they receive. The present study was an attempt to tackle this problem. To do so, the technique named Draft-Specific Scoring (Nemati & Azizi, 2013) was implemented. In DSS, learners receive both teacher feedback and grades on their first drafts; however, they are given up to two opportunities to apply teacher feedback and revise their drafts accordingly. The scores they receive may improve as a result of the quality of revisions they make. Students’ final scores will be the mean score of the grades they receive on the final drafts of each assignment. 57 Iranian intermediate students attending the ‘Advanced Writing’ course at University of Teheran, with an age range of 21 to 27 took part in this study. The gain score analysis and the SPANOVA used showed the superiority of DSS over more traditional methods in improving learners’ overall writing proficiency as well as fluency and accuracy of their written texts. Moreover, no adverse effect was observed for the treatment group regarding the grammatical complexity of their texts. This indicates that in order to make teacher feedback work, there are a number of intervening variables one needs to consider, the most important of which being learners’ motivation to attend to teacher feedback.

Iranian EFL Teachers’ Cultural Identity in the Course of their Profession

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Grounded on Hofstede's (1986) dichotomous model of collectivism/individualism, this study explored Iranian English as a foreign language (EFL) teachers' cultural identity. A sequential mixed methods procedure was adopted to examine their cultural orientation and the impact of length of experience on their degree of propensity to absorb the target language culture. A total of 120 female and male teachers of private English institutes with varying years of teaching record contributed to this research. Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions model was developed into a Likert-scale questionnaire, along with a number of complementary demographic questions. To gain a deeper understanding of the teachers' standpoints, six of the teachers were randomly selected to participate, and elaborate on their responses, in a semi-structured interview. The analysis of the findings revealed that Iranian EFL teachers were primarily identified as being individualist, irrespective of the span of their professional experience. The finding tends to contradict Hofstede's survey where Iranians had been identified as collectivists as a whole. Even though career length did not statistically disclose their degree of cultural affiliation, teachers' responses at the interview revealed some underlying trends accounting for their identity shifts. It seems to be the case that exposure to and contact with the English language covertly transformed non-native teachers' cultural identity over time. By extension, it may well be that foreign language teachers apart from their indigenous cultural persuasions, seem to grow into the target culture they are exposed to, without even being physically present in the target community environment.

Exploring the English Language Needs of EAP Students of Humanities and Social Sciences in Iran: A Triangulated Approach

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Given the fact that few studies have investigated the English language needs of EAP students in Iran, the present study was an attempt to analyze the needs of Iranian EAP learners of Humanities and Social Sciences. To this end, 114 EAP learners at different educational levels (BA, MA, and PhD) and with different English proficiency levels (elementary, intermediate, and advanced) were asked to provide their responses to a questionnaire. Moreover, ten EAP learners and eight EAP instructors were asked to write narratives about their experiences in EAP courses. Their narratives were then analyzed based on Strauss and Corbin's (1998) systematic approach. The results revealed that the EAP courses did not pay the deserved attention to writing, speaking, and listening skills, while the coverage of the sub-skills (grammar and vocabulary) was successful. Moreover, it was revealed that the EAP textbooks were insufficient in terms of the inclusion of language skills, community-specific cultural issues and conventions, and the topical knowledge. The analysis of the EAP learners’ needs also showed that not all interaction types happened in the EAP courses. Furthermore, the analysis of the narratives of EAP learners and EAP instructors indicated that the EAP curriculum, EAP textbooks and also EAP assessment should include the four language skills, provide a communicative venue for EAP learners to practice their disciplinary issues, and design communicative materials. It can be concluded that the current EAP curriculum needs revision to fulfill the EAP learners’ present and target situation needs.