Foreign Language Teaching and Research

Foreign Language Teaching and Research

international Journal of Foreign Language Teaching & Research, Volume 7, Issue 28, Winter 2019



On the Development of a Software towards Ameliorating Iranian EFL Learners' Reading Proficiency

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This article presents the outcomes of how Dynamic Assessment (DA) may be organized to function within a class’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). The testing field also has recently undergone noticeable changes leading to a shift to use technology that is emerged in our era. The study investigated college students’ barriers and motivations for testing reading comprehension ability using the newly designed software. To this end, 30 participants were interviewed and the related data were analyzed thematically to identify emerging themes relating to the current status of the new testing environment. Four themes emerged relating to potential barriers and motivations and the results showed that working with the software provided positive experiences of working in a supportive environment. The study found that using the newly designed software in the classroom generally enhances learning and other outcomes. This novel software does not only aim to reduce barriers in conventional testing environment but also highlights the positive aspects which enhance motivation.

The Role of Self-efficacy, Self-esteem and Attitude in Predicting Writing Performance of Students in Ethiopian Context

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The study aimed to investigate students’ self-efficacy, self-esteem, and attitude as determinants of their writing performance. The participants for the study were 373 South Gonder Zone Preparatory School students who were chosen using multistage sampling technique. Questionnaire and writing test were employed to gather data. Pearson’s Correlation technique was used to analyze the associations among the variables of this study. A standard multiple regression technique was used to check the combined effect of the students’ self-efficacy, self-esteem and attitude on the writing performance of students; a Stepwise regression technique was used to check the effect that each predictor variable could have on the students’ writing performance. Also, ANCOVA was employed to compute the independent effects of the students’ self-efficacy, self-esteem and attitude on the students’ writing performance after age and gender were adjusted. The study revealed that (1) the variables were significantly and positively correlated to each other; (2) the combined effect of the independent variables on students’ writing performance was R2 = .222 which means that 22.2% of the variation in the students’ writing performance was explained by the composite impact of self-esteem, attitude and self-efficacy of writing; (3) the independent effects of the three predictor variables on writing performance were found to be significant although attitude was identified as the only predictor of writing performance when age and gender were controlled. The study concludes that self-efficacy, self-esteem and attitude have significant roles in predicting performance of writing though attitude takes the lion’s share in determining the latter.

The Effect of Teaching Critical Thinking Strategies on Students’ Academic Writing, Critical Thinking Ability, and Critical Thinking Dispositions

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This study intended to investigate the interplay of critical thinking explicit instruction, academic writing performance, critical thinking ability, and critical thinking dispositions of Iranian students. To this end, 140 students of Jahrom University of Medical Sciences (73 males and 67 females) were selected. They were divided into the experimental and control groups. Both groups received instruction in academic writing course for 15 weeks 3 hours per week. However, the experimental group received instruction integrated with critical thinking strategies. The students in both groups were administered pre- and post-instruction tests to examine the effectiveness of instruction. Three instruments were utilized in this study including, the researcher-developed essay test, Ennis-Weir Critical Thinking Essay Test, and California Critical Thinking Dispositions Inventory (CCTDI). Descriptive statistics and independent-samples t-test were used to analyze the data. The results indicated that there were statistically significant differences between the mean scores of the experimental and the control groups. The results also showed that some CCTDI subscales were not significantly different at the posttest such as, truth-seeking, cognitive maturity, and open- mindedness, whereas the mean posttest scores of other CCTDI subscales had significant difference such as, analyticity, CT inquisitiveness, CT self-confidence, and systematicity. The experimental group had a higher score in the academic writing test compared with the control group. Changes in students’ critical thinking ability, academic writing performance, and their critical thinking dispositions suggest that the CT techniques have been fruitful, and more efforts should be made to integrate the explicit instruction in critical thinking into academic courses.

Relationship between Iranian EFL High School Students’ Knowledge of Universal Grammar and their Performance on Standardized General English Proficiency Tests

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This study investigated the relationship between Iranian high school students’ Universal Grammar knowledge and their performance on such standardized general English proficiency tests as PET and FCE internationally administered by Cambridge University. To this end, 108 students were randomly chosen from some high schools located in Malayer from Hamedan. Since this study was correlational in nature, and descriptive and hypothesis-testing by definition, the research participants were given no treatment. Three tests were administered to them instead. To measure UG knowledge, a researcher-made UG test was given to all participants. This test which was made both reliable and valid included pied-piping and preposition stranding principle, binding principle, pro-drop parameter, that-trace effect, projection principle, resumptive pronoun and subjacency principle. To assess the participants’ general English proficiency, PET and FCE tests were run. All participants took the three tests consecutively at two-week intervals after they were given clear and detailed instructions. The findings were manifold. Firstly, there was a significant relationship between UG knowledge and performance on the proficiency tests. Secondly, there existed no significant difference between the proficiency tests as far as the UG test was concerned. Finally, the UG test scores were, through the Cubic regression model, proved to predict the scores gained on both proficiency tests. Most importantly, this study led to some suggestions regarding the learner variables and the under-explored issue of integration of generative SLA and language testing, more specifically standardized general English proficiency tests.

Impact of Using YouTube Videos on Iranian Intermediate Male and Female EFL Learners' Listening Skill Development

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This study aimed at investigating the effect of instructional YouTube videos on Iranian male and female EFL learners' listening comprehension. It was conducted with 60 male and female intermediate male and female EFL learners. The Oxford Quick Placement Test (OQPT) was used to measure the participants’ language proficiency to make sure about homogeneity of the participants. The participants were assigned into two experimental groups and two control groups based on their gender. Then, the experimental groups received instructional YouTube clips, but the control group received the same material without YouTube clips. A pre-test post-test quasi-experimental design was adopted for the purpose of doing this research study. The findings represented that the experimental groups had a significantly higher performance than the control groups and there was no significant difference between male and female learners. The findings of the study offer some practical implications for EFL teachers, learners, curriculum planners, and teaching methodology.

The Effects of Systemic-Theoretical Instruction on Developing Iranian EFL Learners’ Explicit and Implicit Knowledge of Tense-Aspect System

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This study aimed to investigate the effects of Systemic Theoretical Instruction (STI), grounded in Socio-cultural Theory and proposed by Gal’perin, on developing Iranian EFL learners’ knowledge of English tense-aspect system. To this end, two low-intermediate classes, including 24 and 21 language learners aged between 12-19, were taught the distinction between simple past and present perfect tense through STI and traditional method of grammar instruction. The learners sat for a pretest one week before the treatment and an immediate and delayed posttest, one and three weeks after the instruction, respectively. The tests included binary-choice and gap-filling items to evaluate the learners’ explicit knowledge of the target tense-aspect pairings and elicited imitation test items to check their implicit knowledge. The results obtained from a series of independent and paired-sample t-tests revealed a significant improvement for both groups in the immediate posttest both in terms of the entire test and its subcomponents suggesting that both types of instruction were effective in improving the learners’ implicit and explicit knowledge of the target forms in the short term. However, the significant outperformance of the STI group compared to the traditional group implied the superiority of this method. Moreover, the STI group generally outperformed the traditional group in the delayed posttest indicating the possibility of having a more lasting effect on developing learners’ knowledge when compared to the traditional method. These findings can have significant implications for teachers and materials developers in practicing the assumptions of more innovative approaches such as STI.

The Relationship between Iranian Upper-Intermediate EFL Learners’ Contrastive Lexical Competence and Their Use of Vocabulary Learning Strategies

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Regarding the vital role of lexical competence as an important requisite for the attainment of full mastery of the four language skills, this study tried to investigate the relationship between Iranian EFL learners’ contrastive lexical competence and their use of vocabulary learning strategies. To fulfil this objective, 60 Iranian upper-intermediate male and female language learners were selected based on the results of an Oxford Quick Placement Test (OQPT). Afterwards, the researcher administered the Contrastive Lexical Competence Test (Ziafar, 2017). After carrying out the CLC test, the participants answered the Questionnaire of Vocabulary Learning Strategies. The questionnaire adapted from the taxonomy of vocabulary learning strategies (VLS) developed by Schmitt (1997). After analyzing the data, it was revealed that determination strategies were the most frequently-used strategies of the five vocabulary learning strategies, followed by cognitive strategies. Moreover, the result indicated that the relationship between CLC and vocabulary learning strategies was a strong positive one and this relationship was of statistical significance. The implications of this study can make teachers aware of the importance of choosing an appropriate strategy of vocabulary learning for language learners to pave the way of improving lexical knowledge for them.

Validity and Reliability Reports in Applied Linguistics Research Articles: The case of tests and questionnaire

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This study intended to determine the way validity and reliability i.e., psychometric properties were reported in the Applied Linguistics research articles. The study also focused on the measurement methods applied to determine the validity and reliability of the scores derived from the tests and questionnaires in the empirical studies. The corpus of the study included 331 empirical studies derived from 733 research articles (RAs) published between 2005 and 2018 in three prominent Applied Linguistics journals – Applied Linguistics, Modern Language Journal, and TESOL Quarterly, The selected papers used test and/or questionnaire for data collection. Our analysis indicated that 77(20.98%) of the studies did not report validity and reliability measures, 82(22.35%) reported only reliability measures, 26(7.08%) reported only validity measures, and 182(49.59%) reported both the validity and reliability measures for the instruments. It was also found that content validity assessed through the pilot study had the highest frequency among validity evidences while internal consistency, mostly identified by Cronbach's alpha, was the most frequent reliability evidence.

An Investigation of Teachers’ Perceptions of KARDS in an EFL Context

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Kumaravadivelue’s (2012) language teacher education for a global society known as KARDS has gathered little momentum in the context of Iran due to scarcity of studies on it. To fill this gap, the present research investigated Iranian EFL teachers’ perceptions of KARDS with regard to variables including teaching context, gender, and teaching experience. To this end, a KARDS questionnaire was designed, constructed, and validated by the researchers, and the results of exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses confirmed the validity of the questionnaire. Later, it was administered to 400 English teachers in Tehran. Then, 20 participants volunteered for follow-up interviews, and their verbatim interview transcripts were content analyzed. The results of descriptive statistics and MANOVA indicated that teachers’ perceptions were positive for the majority of items except theorization, observation of colleagues’ classes, and needs analysis done by outsiders, and there were significant differences in teachers’ perceptions of KARDS with regard to their teaching context, gender, and teaching experience. Also, the qualitative investigation of teachers’ perceptions confirmed the findings of the quantitative part.

Pedagogical Utility of Cooperative Writing Technique through Performance-oriented Classroom Structure

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There is controversy on the conditions under which cooperative learning methods can improve academic achievement. Group-specific motivational aspects might contribute to the effectiveness of cooperative learning among which classroom goal structures were focused on. More specifically, the study aimed at investigating the efficiency of cooperative writing technique through performance versus mastery-oriented classroom goal structures in improving academic writing of Iranian intermediate EFL learners. To this end, 83 intermediate EFL learners took part in this quasi-experimental pretest, post-test study. The participants were required to write a 5-paragraph essay for pretest and post-test. The collected data was analyzed based on an analytic writing rubric (Hedgcock & Leftkowitz, 1992). The results of one-way ANOVA tests indicated that the experimental group which practiced cooperative writing through performance goal orientation outperformed the individual and mastery-oriented classes. It was concluded that performance goal orientation, between-groups competition, and extrinsic motivation, can help EFL teachers in setting a more effective classroom structure for cooperative writing practices to improve the writing proficiency of L2 learners.