Issues in Language Teaching

Issues in Language Teaching

Issues in Language Teaching (ILT), Vol. 8, No. 2, ِDecember 2019



Reflection, Resilience and Role Stress among Iranian EFL Teachers: A Mixed Methods Study

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The present study is an attempt to discover the relationships among reflection, role stressors and resilience. To this end, a mixed-method approach was adopted. In the quantitative phase, 122 EFL teachers completed three questionnaires namely English Language Teaching Reflection Inventory, Teacher Role Stressors Scale and Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale. The results of correlation indicated that there is a significant positive relation between reflection and resilience. However, the correlation between reflection and role stressors was found to be negative. Multiple regression revealed that of the five components of reflection, metacognitive and critical reflection are significant predictors of role ambiguity while only critical reflection can predict role conflict. Metacognitive and practical reflection were also found to be significant predictors of teachers’ resilience. In the qualitative phase, fifteen face-to-face interviews were conducted with the participants who had also taken part in the first phase of the study. Data were transcribed, coded and thematically structured based on a grounded theoretical perspective. The two main themes which emerged out of the interviews confirmed that reflection leads to resilience through strengthening teachers’ professional identity while it also leads to resilience or stress through making teachers prepared and knowledgeable. The possible justifications of the obtained results as well as the implications of this study for teaching English and teacher education in EFL context are discussed.

Teacher Self-Efficacy and Reflection as Predictors of Teacher Burnout: An Investigation of Iranian English Language Teachers

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In modern education, teachers are regarded as a central and focal part of educational systems and are responsible in the development of education. It should be mentioned that teachers have an influential role in planning and offering an effective and significant educational program. The significant role of teacher-related variables in affecting teachers’ performance and learning outcomes of students has been widely acknowledged in various educational contexts. Therefore, the investigation of teacher variables has received research attention in English as a Foreign Language (EFL) context. To contribute to this line of research, the current study was set to investigate the role of teacher reflection and self-efficacy in predicting burnout among Iranian EFL teachers. To this end, three validated scales measuring these variables were administered to a number of 171 male and female teachers. As for the data analysis, Structural Equation Modeling was utilized to test the hypothesized model of the constructs. The results indicated that teacher reflection accounted for 12.1% of the variance, and teacher self-efficacy accounted for 25.2% of the variance in burnout. Although both variables had a unique effect on teaching burnout, teacher self-efficacy turned out to be a stronger predictor of burnout. Concerning the implications, teacher education programs may pay more serious attention to teacher self-efficacy and reflection as they proved to play a significant role in reducing teacher burnout.

Genre Variation in the Introduction of Scientific Papers in Iranian and International Computer Science Journals

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Introduction functions as a showcase in research articles (RAs). It motivates the reader to read the rest of the paper. However, writing a well-crafted introduction is a complex task, mainly when the writer generates the manuscript in another language. This study investigated the rhetorical differences/similarities employed in the introductions of RAs published in Iranian and international ISI journals in Computer Sciences (CS) using Swales (2004) CARS model. Two sets of CS RAs (30 each) were randomly selected. Frequency and non-parametric tests were used to examine the differences between the two groups of introductions. The results indicated that M 1 S 1 (Generalizing the topic), M2 1A (Indicating the gap), M3 S1 (Describing the research), M3 S4 (Methods Summary), and M 3 S 6 (Stating research advantages) were used with high frequencies. M 2 S 2 (Announcing positive justification) was absent, and the others were in low preferences. Also, the Analysis illustrated a statistically significant variation between the introductions concerning the use of M3S7 (Demarcating the Research Organization). Findings support genre-based pedagogy in scientific writing classes to make the graduate CS students aware of these rhetorical structures conventional to introductions in CS RAs.

Portfolio Assessment and EFL Learners' Writing Ability: Does Self-Regulation Have a Role to Play?

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Due to the scarcity of quantitative studies as to the impact of portfolio assessment on EFL students’ writing ability and the significant impact of the interaction between portfolio assessment and self-regulation strategy, the present study aimed to explore whether portfolio assessment has any significant effect on improving Bachelor of Arts (BA) English as a foreign language (EFL) students’ paragraph writing ability, and whether this effect differs within high/low self-regulated learners or not. To do so, 60 intermediate female students were chosen out of 145 learners through the administration of a standard version of Oxford Placement Test (OPT). The participants were randomly assigned into one control (30 participants) and one experimental group (30 participants). The experimental group was assigned into two groups of high and low self-regulated learners, (15 participants for each group), based on Magno’s (2009) Academic Self-regulated Learning Scale (A-SRL-S) questionnaire. Participants of the control group were taught and assessed based on traditional teaching and assessment, whereas those in the experimental group were taught and assessed via portfolio-based instruction and assessment techniques. The analysis of the results of the study revealed that portfolio assessment has a significant effect on improving writing ability (p=0.001). The results also showed that high self-regulated learners have taken more advantage of portfolio assessment than the low self-regulated ones (p = 0.000). The results obtained from the present study can have beneficial contributions to teaching, curriculum development, and testing.

The Correlation between Iranian EFL Learners’ Intercultural Sensitivity, Vocabulary Knowledge, and English Language Proficiency

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Abstract<br />This study aimed to explore any type and level of association between Iranian EFL learners’ proficiency level and their intercultural sensitivity on the one hand, and the possible relation between vocabulary knowledge and sensitivity to cultural differences on the other. To this end, Oxford Quick Placement Test (OQPT) was administered to 220 EFL leaners. Based on the results of this test, a homogenized sample of 150 EFL learners (70 male and 80 female) at intermediate and upper-intermediate levels was selected. Afterwards, the participants took Vocabulary Levels Test (VLT) developed by Nation, and validated by Webb, Sasao, and Balance. Finally, Intercultural Sensitivity Scale (ISS) by Chen & Starosta was administered. The results of Pearson correlation analyses revealed a statistically significant correlation between the participants' proficiency level and their intercultural sensitivity. The results of regression analyses also indicated that language proficiency contributes as much as 55.4 percent to the prediction of level of intercultural sensitivity. Moreover, a significant positive correlation was detected between EFL learners’ L2 vocabulary knowledge and their intercultural sensitivity level. Further, the results revealed that Iranian EFL learners’ L2 vocabulary knowledge can offer contributions up to 17.3 percent to the prediction of intercultural sensitivity level. These findings can offer prominent implications for all practitioners, material developers, and EFL instructors who are primarily preoccupied with linguistic competence. The results can motivate them to consider intercultural sensitivity as a complementary element to EFL learners’ linguistic knowledge, as well as their communicative commands.

Deconstructing the discourse: Mitigation in the Supervisory Discourse of Language Teacher Supervisors in Iran

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This study investigated mitigation in the supervisory discourse of Iranian language teacher supervisors to see what mitigation devices these language teacher supervisors in Iran used to achieve a balance message clarity and politeness when delivering negative feedback. Using convenient sampling, 10 post-observation feedback conferences from Iran Language Institute, Shiraz University Language Center, and Safir English Language Academy in Shiraz, Tehran, and Mashhad were recorded and transcribed. The data were examined using Wajnryb's (1994) typology of mitigation devices. The findings of the study indicated that Iranian language teacher supervisors tended to use what Wajnryb (1994) called “above-the-utterance-level” mitigation, something between “hyper-mitigation” (highly mitigated language) and “hypo-mitigation” (hardly mitigated language) though they could have made a more appropriate use of the host of possible mitigation devices to further soften their rather directive language thereby promoting reflection on the part of the teachers. The most frequently used mitigation devices included qualm indicators, modal verbs, interrogatives, clause structures and hedging modifiers respectively with the rest of the mitigation devices considerably underused indicating that training in supervisory discourse is essential for Iranian language teacher supervisors. The findings hold implications for teacher education programs, language teaching institutes and language teacher supervisors to consider and work on mitigation devices to be able to deliver negative feedback both clearly and politely.

Proposing a Cognitive EFL Writing Model Based on Personality types and Narrative Writing Intelligence: A SEM Approach

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The aim of this paper was to investigate the role of two cognitive factors, namely, personality traits and narrative writing intelligence (NWI) in L2 writing. The total of 416 English learners participated in this study in two different phases.<br /> For the purpose of this study, a narrative writing intelligence scale (NWIS) was designed and used to score the writings of the first group of participants which included 200 Iranian learners of English in an EFL institute. The first writing task, which was a film recounting, contributed to designing this scale. Randall’s (1999) definition of narrative intelligence was the guideline to design the primary draft of NWIS. All 200 written film recounting were scored by this scale. The scores were transferred to SPSS 18.0. and Exploratory Factor Analysis was run. NWIS’ construct validity and reliability were confirmed. Moreover, the underlying dimensions causing correlation among the observed variables were reduced in three factors which account for 57.47% of the variance of the scale. The factors were named as Unity of the plot, Identification (of characters, objects, and ideas), and Voice and Rhetoric. <br /> The second group, who were female university students of EFL, were given two tasks, namely, writing a memory and filling Big-Five Personality test. Their writings were evaluated twice; once by employing the NWIS and once by a tailor-made writing scoring guide taken from Weigle’s (2002) guideline. Transferring all scores to Amos. 20, a SEM model was proposed by the researchers. The result shows the proposed model has good fit indices.

The Role of Visual Scaffolding in Enhancing Iranian EFL Students’ Writing Ability

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To better illuminate the link between scaffolding and visual aids, this quasi-experimental study attempted to scaffold an intact group of 14 intermediate-level Iranian English as a foreign language (EFL) learners through providing graphs with the aim of enhancing their writing ability. Ensuring lack of familiarity with eight unknown words, they were scaffolded through visual images. The scaffolding process included three respective phases of contingency, fading, and transferring. As post-tests for checking the learners’ understanding of and opinion about the graph scaffolding process, a researcher-made questionnaire and a semi-structured interview followed the treatment phase. The results of the questionnaire showed that visual scaffolding aided the learners to better grasp the meaning of the target vocabularies and even some grammatical points in the materials. Moreover, the visual scaffolding helped them to produce the material in different modalities. The results also indicated all the three characteristics of scaffolding were met by the visual scaffolding. Finally, the interview results revealed the learners had favorable attitude toward visual scaffolding and considered the third phase of the scaffolding as the most challenging one. It can be concluded that the findings gave credence to the effectiveness of visual scaffolding in improving EFL students’ writing ability.

Analysis of Cohesion and Coherence in Writing Performance of Iranian Intermediate EFL Learners

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The main concern of this study was to identify Iranian intermediate EFL learners’ problems in cohesion and coherence of writing performance as well as the extent to which they utilized cohesion and coherence in their writing. It is important for EFL and ESL learners the ability to compose a piece of descriptive text. Despite its significance, there is a gap in the literature about how Iranian EFL learners write essays in this genre that this study intends to fill. The research design involved the utilization of mixed research method in addressing the research questions. The study addressed a corpus of 40 intermediate language learners’ descriptive essays, 10 experienced teachers that they were themselves at intermediate level as the questionnaire respondents and four interviewees’ answers from those volunteer experienced teachers. The results of the study revealed lack of cohesion and coherence in the participants’ essays and their writing performance in terms of these two variables was not acceptable. Therefore, the obtained findings, by implication, indicated that they had neither some aspects of cohesive and coherent writing, nor had enough support, practice and feedback on their written text in terms of cohesion and coherence. Some pedagogical implications of this study would be applicable to the language learners’ writing in terms of these two aforementioned variables as well as the results were expected to aid in setting the writing sections of classes for improvement of language learners’ written texts particularly in terms of cohesion and coherence.

Development and Validation of an Authorial Identity Model and Questionnaire: A Factor Analytic Approach

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From when the black box of authorial identity has been unpacked, the paucity of authorial identity model on the basis of a comprehensive theoretical framework addressed the need to establish a robust one (Cheung, Stupple, & Elander, 2015). The current study was comprised of three main phases including hypothesizing a model of authorial identity, developing and validating a questionnaire based on the model and finally testing the model based on the questionnaire data. The participants, including M.A. and PhD students, were 30 for initial piloting, 60 for reliability estimation, 140 for exploratory factor analysis, and 175 for confirmatory factor analysis. At first, drawing on Ivanič’s (1998) model of writer identity and Prior’s (2001) ways of classifying voice, reviewing the related literature, and consulting with a cadre of experts, a model of authorial identity was proposed. Secondly, a questionnaire was developed and validated based on the hypothesized model. The reliability of the questionnaire, estimated through Cronbach’s alpha, was 0.73. Following that, exploratory factor analysis identified four components, namely authorial voice and identity, authorial persona, authorial background, and authorial style. Ultimately, SEM was run using AMOS in the confirmatory factor analysis phase to test the model. The results of this multi-phase research are presented and discussed for underlining the key role of authorial identity in academic writing for both novice and professional academicians.

Imagination, Senses and Motivation: How are Sensory Styles, Imagery Capacity and Gender Related to Motivational Attributes of Iranian EFL Learners?

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Recent research on second language (L2) motivation emphasizes the significant role of personal vision and future-oriented self images on L2 learners’ motivation. This role is even more important in EFL contexts where learners have scarce access to authentic communicative situations. Therefore, EFL learners’ capacity to form vivid images can have an essential role in enhancing their motivation to learn. This article reports on a research study that investigated the potential links among Iranian EFL learners’ imagery capacity, sensory styles, gender and future L2 self-guides (ideal L2 self and ought-to L2 self). A total of 311 adult Iranian EFL learners responded to a self-report questionnaire. Several correlation, multiple regression and t-tests were performed to analyze the data. The results revealed a significant association between EFL learners’ imagery capacity and their future L2 self-guides. The findings show that higher ability at generating mental images is strongly related to improved future L2 self-guides and increased motivation. Also, the results demonstrate that both visual and auditory sensory styles are involved in forming imagery and vision, and are both positively associated with EFL learners’ capability for imagining their future L2 self-guides. However, the analyses failed to find any significant connection between kinesthetic style and imagery capacity or L2 self-guides. Additionally, it was shown that self-guides, sensory styles and imagery capacity are not affected by gender. The results indicate the multisensory nature of vision and imply the potential benefits of visualization and imagery training in the language classroom.

The Effect of Models of Reading Instruction on Reading Comprehension, Reading Self-efficacy, and Reading Anxiety

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This study compared the effect of four reading models on reading comprehension, foreign language reading anxiety (FLRA), and reading self-efficacy. In order to do so, 184 female Iranian senior high school EFL students at intermediate English reading level were selected through convenience sampling in three high schools and one language institute in Zanjan. The participants were in four intact groups. Each group was randomly assigned to one of the treatment conditions— ‘Direct Activities Related to Texts’ (DARTs), Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS), ‘Read, Ask, and Put into your own words’ (RAP), and ‘Title, Headings, Introduction, Each first sentence, Visuals, End of each part, Summary’ (THIEVES) models. These models were taught for eight sessions. Data were collected using the reading comprehension part of the Michigan Test of English Language Proficiency (MTELP), Foreign Language Reading Anxiety Scale (FLRAS), and Reading Self Efficacy Questionnaire (RSEQ). The collected data were analyzed using three one-way ANCOVA procedures. The results showed that the four models did not significantly differ in terms of their effect on foreign language reading anxiety and reading self-efficacy. However, there was a significant difference between the effect of THIEVES and RAP on reading comprehension in favor of RAP. Besides, only RAP and PALS improved reading self-efficacy. Moreover, DARTs, THIEVES, and RAP improved reading comprehension and decreased reading anxiety, whereas PALS increased reading anxiety and negatively affected reading comprehension. The theoretical and pedagogical implications of the findings are also discussed.