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This article examines the relationships between second language acquisition (SLA), instructed second language acquisition (ISLA), and language teaching by examining them from the lens of the research on the acquisition and teaching of second language (L2) tense-aspect in the last 20 years (2000–2021). Review 1 examines 56 instructional effect studies on the acquisition of L2 tense-aspect, and Review 2 examines 38 pedagogical proposals for the teaching of L2 tense-aspect. The reviews investigate to what extent instructional effect studies and pedagogical proposals with tense-aspect as the target of investigation and instruction (a) provide a linguistic description of the instructional target, (b) engage with previous research, (c) implement results from previous research to design assessment or instruction, and (d) include elaborate descriptions of teaching interventions and teaching materials. The results show that there are clear attempts to establish connections between research and practice. However, neither instructional effect studies nor pedagogical proposals always engage with the SLA literature on the acquisition of tense-aspect; nor do they engage fully with language teaching.
This article offers a critical review of research on the use of glossing and its contribution to second language (L2) vocabulary acquisition. Discussion topics include the complexity of estimating the effectiveness of glossing relative to reading non-glossed texts, the quest for optimal implementations of glossing, issues of ecological validity, and ambiguity around the nature of vocabulary learning from glosses. The general conclusion is that, despite the substantial number of research studies on this subject, many questions remain to which only tentative and provisional answers are currently available. This is partly owing to the wide diversity in research designs across studies and the lack of transparency of many research reports. Suggestions are made for further research on glossing with a view to enabling future systematic reviews to produce more nuanced answers and more informed recommendations for the design of L2 reading materials.
‘ … very well-written, well-presented, and well-argued, fulfiling the aim of addressing critically an aspect of applied linguistics/SLA about which the author is clearly passionate and challenging the ubiquity, appropriateness and current relevance of the term “second language acquisition”’.
‘An essay which is at once elegant, eloquent, erudite, critical, creative, and constructive. It is topical while also grounded in a sense of the past, witty and amusing while also serious.’
This article presents research on teaching English in Israel, a vibrant multilingual country, in the period between 2014 and 2020. After a brief introduction to the current approach to English language teaching around the world, it outlines the studies investigating: (a) learners of English, (b) English teachers, and (c) methods that are used in the country for teaching English. We explore how various student populations, Arabs, Bedouins, Circassians, Druze, Charedi (ultra-orthodox Jews), Jews, and foreign students, are taught English as well as their attitudes to this language. Then, we discuss research investigating different categories of English teachers in Israel, including teachers in Arab and Jewish sectors, the teachers labeled as ‘native speakers’, and also teacher trainers and teacher-training principles. We look at secondary and high school students, including those in special education, as well as those who take English courses in tertiary educational institutions. Finally, we are interested in whether innovative teaching methods compete with the conventional ones and which groups of learners have access to the former. Throughout the article, we aim to show to what extent practitioners and researchers are aware of the present-day realities of the interconnectedness of ‘teacher, student, and method’ elements and the impact of multilingualism on English teaching in Israel. This Country in Focus report also considers the current holistic perspective on English language teaching. This language should not be taught in isolation but work in concert with other contact languages.
Despite the wide recognition of language teacher educators’ contributions in the field of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), research on language teacher educators has only picked up the pace in the last decade, shedding light on their cognition, practices, and identities in relation to various personal, interpersonal, and contextual factors. This article provides a systematic and critical review of 69 empirical studies on university-based TESOL teacher educators from 2010 and 2020. A methodological review was also conducted to analyze the different research approaches employed by previous researchers. A synthesis of the identified research led to four major themes, namely: (1) a general professional state (including responsibilities, challenges and quality), (2) professional engagement (including teaching, practicum supervision, and research and publishing), (3) cognition (including beliefs, knowledge, and expertise), as well as (4) continuous learning and identity development. Through a critical discussion of the themes, the review argues against the implicit yet powerful discourse that characterizes language teacher educators as ‘supermen/superwomen’ and emphasizes the need to humanize them as whole people by recognizing their unique strengths and struggles as well as diverse learning needs. The review also proposes a new research agenda to stimulate and deepen future investigations on language teacher educators in TESOL.
Language learning can be very emotional, as anyone who has ever tried to learn or use another language (L2) will attest. The range of emotions varies widely in both type and intensity, from the thrill of successfully articulating yourself, for example, to the anxiety of navigating a high-stakes encounter in an L2. It is not surprising, therefore, that there is a longstanding tradition of research on emotion in the context of L2 learning (e.g., Horwitz et al., 1986). In fact, more than 40 years ago, Scovel (1978) reviewed the accumulated evidence on the role of just one emotion: Anxiety.
This article discusses research into the role of audio-visual input for second language (L2) or foreign language learning. It also addresses questions related to the effectiveness of audio-visual input with different types of on-screen text such as subtitles (i.e., in learners’ first language) and captions (i.e., subtitles in the same language as the L2 audio) for L2 learning. The review discusses the following themes: (a) the characteristics of audio-visual input such as the multimodal nature of the input and vocabulary demands of video; (b) L2 learners’ comprehension of audio-visual input and the role of different types of on-screen text; (c) the effectiveness of audio-visual input and on-screen text for aspects of L2 learning including vocabulary, grammar, and listening; and (d) research into L2 learners’ use and perceptions of audio-visual input and on-screen text. The review ends with a consideration of implications for teaching practice and a conclusion that discusses the generalizability of current research in relation to suggestions for future research.
There are long and diverse strands of thinking about how schools and schooling, teaching, curriculum, and learning could be conceptualized and developed so as to foster what is often loosely called social justice. Many of these strands go back (in Europe) at least to the French Revolution. The original term that encompasses this area is ‘radical pedagogy’ (that is to say, a pedagogy suitable for radicals or radical purposes; cf. Crookes, 2009). Emerging out of this area in the post-World War Two era, one version of this thought and practice that has become somewhat influential in language teaching is ‘critical pedagogy’, and ‘critical language pedagogy’ (CLP) is a key term used to refer to applications of the concepts of critical pedagogy to second language (L2) contexts.
Research has increasingly demonstrated that pronunciation difficulties in English can seriously affect learners’ intelligibility and ability to comprehend spoken English. It is thus crucial that we find ways of helping learners of English become more intelligible. In this talk, I present compelling research evidence in support of a strategy-based pronunciation instruction model, and uncover individual learner, teacher, and instructional variables affecting long-term improvement. Findings from my published and ongoing studies involving different groups of learners and teachers highlight the critical role of teachers in self-regulated learning, and suggest the need for methodological refinements to the model. The results show that students’ self-regulated efforts at learning can be further enhanced and supported if combined with goal-setting and awareness-raising activities, online speech models and resources, video-recordings to assess progress, guided reflections on oral assignments, ongoing feedback, and re-assessments of goals after improvement. I conclude the talk with a discussion of these methodological refinements and possible avenues for future research.
Published in Language Learning in 1995, Munro and Derwing's* investigation of foreign accent, comprehensibility, and intelligibility in second language (L2) speech instigated significant change in L2 pronunciation research (Levis, 2020). A key finding was that despite the presence of a foreign accent, listeners could indeed comprehend L2 speech. Within their framework, comprehension of L2 speech was assessed along two dimensions. The first, intelligibility, was an assessment of actual listener comprehension, measured through listener transcriptions of a given utterance. The second, comprehensibility, was a scalar measure of how easy to understand listeners perceived an utterance to be. While these two measures of listener comprehension (i.e., understanding) have been shown to correlate, they have also been shown to measure different forms of understanding (Derwing & Munro, 2015). This means that while increased intelligibility can be associated with increased comprehensibility, it is still common for listeners to accurately transcribe nonnative speech while simultaneously indicating the speech to be hard to understand (i.e., evidence indicates that intelligibility outpaces comprehensibility in the development of L2 pronunciation). Research published in the 25 years since has repeatedly demonstrated that accentedness, comprehensibility, and intelligibility are partially independent dimensions of L2 speech (Munro & Derwing, 2020). Whereas Munro and Derwing's (2011) research timeline attended to the concepts of accent and broad intelligibility (i.e., inclusive of both actual and ease of understanding), the past decade has seen an increased scholarly emphasis specifically on the global speech dimension of comprehensibility. Given this increased scholarly interest, our timeline is presented with the goal of tracing the post-Munro and Derwing (1995) development of L2 speech comprehensibility research.
For me, ‘language learner autonomy’ denotes a teaching/learning dynamic in which learners plan, implement, monitor and evaluate their own learning. From the beginning they do this as far as possible in the target language, which thus becomes a channel of their individual and collaborative agency. By exercising agency in the target language they gradually develop a proficiency that is reflective as well as communicative, and the target language becomes a fully integrated part of their plurilingual repertoire and identity.
English language teaching (ELT) publishing as we know it today has a long and lucrative history, dating, according to Rix (2008), from the Longman publication of Michael West's New Method Readers in 1926, to the present day, where annual turnover runs to around US$194 billion (Jordan & Gray, 2019). Some of the sector's best-sellers, such as Oxford University Press's Headway series (Soars & Soars), have sold over 70 million copies (Ożóg, 2018) with OUP's English File (Latham-Koenig, Oxenden, & Lambert) selling over a million copies in China alone. Generally speaking, it is taken for granted that commercial publications in the educational sector are based on sound, accepted pedagogical principles. Early language teaching publications (from the 1950s onwards) naturally reflected practices that were thought to promote language learning at that time – such as repetition, drills and sentence-level grammar exercises. As our understanding of language learning developed, this Structural approach gave way to a Communicative one, reflecting the 1970s preoccupation with the importance of communicative competence, influenced by theorists such as Hymes (e.g. 1972) and Halliday (e.g. 1975). This approach remains the predominant one (in the West at least) 50 years later. It represents, remarkably perhaps, the last time that applied linguistics substantially influenced a language teaching approach, or at least, one that had such global reach and enduring influence. Since then, findings from the fields of applied linguistics and second language (L2) acquisition, which should have fed into language learning approaches and hence language coursebooks, have been slow to do so in any systematic or significant way. Where they have, the way in which language learning theory ‘translates’ into pedagogy in the coursebook and thence classroom, can be questionable. In parallel with this is the problem of the socio-cultural standpoint of teaching materials of an international language such as English, issuing from a particular geographic heartland, viz. England. As with applied linguistics and L2 acquisition research, developments in sociolinguistic, socio-cultural and socio-political theory have been realised in language teaching coursebooks only as a rather superficial multi-cultural gloss. The advent of ‘global’ coursebooks conceived in the 1990s, with multiple iterations, attempting to capture international appeal, still has not resolved the conundrum that language – and hence language teaching materials, that is, the combination of content and pedagogy – constitute cultural artefacts, imbued with cultural values and ideologies. All in all, as Timmis, Mukundan, and Alkhaldi laconically observe: ‘for such commonplace objects, [coursebooks] have aroused a surprising degree of controversy’ (2009, p. 11). These then, are the chief areas of contention that I will develop in this article. Opposing these issues, it will be acknowledged that coursebooks remain the default language learning resource, and that teachers and learners world-wide need, want and value them as ready-made language teaching materials.
This work provides a chronological and thematic account of empirical studies and position papers on second language (L2) writing scholarship from a complex dynamic systems theory (CDST) perspective. As a theoretical framework, CDST was formally introduced into applied linguistics research by Diane Larsen-Freeman in 1994 (Larsen-Freeman, 1994). However, more than a decade passed before CDST-L2 writing studies emerged in the literature, with Larsen-Freeman (2006) frequently cited as the first related publication. Initially, scholarship focused primarily on the quality of linguistic output (e.g., measures of complexity, accuracy, and fluency, or CAF) in North American and European contexts. Since these early foci, studies have expanded to cover a range of constructs and contexts that employ increasingly sophisticated and diverse research methods (for a recent collection of studies, see Fogal & Verspoor, 2020). In this time, a CDST approach to L2 writing research has matured alongside a general CDST view of language change that has contributed, through empirical studies, to understanding the nonlinear, adaptive, context dependent, and complex and dynamic nature of L2 development (see Hiver et al., 2021, for an overview).
This paper discusses three relationships between content and language integrated learning (CLIL) research and practice in the context of South America. The first relationship focuses on research with successful results in the areas of language learning motivation and intercultural communicative competence and citizenship. The second relationship discusses research which has yielded mixed results to support language learning and cognitive development. The last relationship suggests what areas deserve special attention to offer further support to teachers involved in CLIL provision. The following areas are addressed: teacher-made CLIL materials, language and content gains, L1-L2 (first language, second language) curriculum design, and inclusion. In conclusion, I assert that CLIL in South America can be invigorated if researchers and educators carry out research, preferably in collaboration, that recognises, maximises and improves CLIL in practice. I also suggest that the CLIL community in South America may engage in creating CLIL models and conceptual frameworks that respond to the particularities of their settings with the aim of making CLIL context-responsive and sustainable.
In this article, the authors reflect on the ways research on Virtual Exchange (VE) has had an impact on language education practices and, conversely, areas in which research has been underexplored, misapplied or perhaps even over applied by VE practitioners in formal education settings. Starting from a brief historical overview of VE, the text first outlines the features widely accepted as key aspects of this pedagogical approach before considering to what extent research results can be identified in VE implementation. Principal topics covered are the main aims regarding language development when VE is applied, assessment of language development through VE and VE and intercultural competence. While the article is not intended as a comprehensive review, it provides insight into the main foci of VE research and how these findings are reaching the language classroom (primary, secondary and university).
Task-based language teaching (TBLT) and instructed second language acquisition (ISLA) have much in common in terms of theory, research, and educational relevance. The distinguishing characteristic between the two is that TBLT adopts communicative tasks as the central unit for instruction and assessment, whereas ISLA comprises a broader range of instructional activities and assessment practices. In this presentation, I focus on two of the conference themes: Instruction and Outcomes. With respect to Instruction, I draw attention to the pedagogical timing of form-focused instruction (FFI) and corrective feedback. I discuss relevant studies within ISLA and TBLT and argue that TBLT is particularly well-suited to investigating questions about the timing of FFI. In discussing Outcomes, I consider differences in how outcomes are measured in TBLT (i.e. performance) and ISLA (i.e. development) and the different aspects of language examined within each, for example, accuracy, implicit/explicit knowledge in ISLA and complexity, accuracy and fluency in TBLT. I discuss underlying similarities between fluency and implicit knowledge, how they are measured, and propose research to investigate the pedagogical timing of FFI in relation to fluency development. I conclude with a brief discussion of the need for a balance between theoretically and pedagogically motivated research within ISLA and TBLT.
The following conversation between Zhu Hua (ZH) and Claire Kramsch (CK) was conducted on 27 October 2020 at a webinar organized by Rebecca Taylor and Rachel Tonkin from Cambridge University Press on the occasion of the impending publication of Claire's book Language as Symbolic Power and in the shadow of the imminent presidential American election. What follows are extracts from the conversation in which we have incorporated some of the questions sent in by the attendees.ZH:
What motivated you to choose this topic for your book?
This article reviews selected research on foreign language teaching and learning published in local, high-impact journals in China over the past ten years (2012–2021). A bibliometric analysis was conducted to elicit the most frequently researched topics in the field, which were grouped into four categories, that is, language learning and use, language pedagogy, language learners and teachers, and Teaching English as a Foreign Language approaches/theories, and a number of sub-categories. This was then followed by an in-depth and critical review of 71 studies corresponding to those categories and sub-categories. The review concluded with a discussion of inadequacies and recommendations for future research. It is hoped that a review on the experience of Chinese practitioners and researchers’ efforts to promote foreign language education may contribute to language teaching research and development in the international field.