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Practices and issues: The English and Literacy classroom

             Professor of Semiotics
             Institute of Education,
             University of London
Date of publication: 31/1/2011
Abstract:   The article discusses “the content and shape” of the resources for making meaning and the shape of the social environment in which – differently in different places and yet similar in essential respects –the English and literacy classroom is located. At any one time, any aspect of the complex dynamic communicational ensemble might be significant for the learner, so that he has to be constantly attentive to cues as potential prompts. Two questions touch on the notion of “a grammar” in an English and literacy classroom in a fundamental way. One is: what is it that someone-whether teacher or student learner- who is in an English and literacy classroom, needs to know. The other is: what are the social characteristics of those who are in the classroom, and above all, who are the students/ learners? The first question is concerned with what the ‘content’ of that grammar might be. The second, more profound in its implications, asks whether traditional notions of grammar can continue to be used when the social environment is such that conventions around representation no longer ”hold”; when student learners assume to themselves notions of agency which undercut the power-relations and forms of authority on which notions of grammar have traditionally been based.

Tags: a grammar for meaning, semiotic resources, user-generated content, making of signs, representation, transformation and transduction.

Download link:Practice and issues (PDF)

Focusing on form: A teacher’s research update on form-focused instruction

AuthorDr Michael Lessard-Clouston
             Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics and TESOL
             Cook School of Intercultural Studies, California
             13800 Biola Avenue, La Mirada, CA 90639 U.S.A.
Date of publication:31/1/2011
Abstract:   Many second/foreign language (L2/FL) teachers do not see the relevance of research to their teaching. This article aims to help bridge this gap by addressing form-focused instruction (FFI), a current pedagogical and research issue of particular interest to both teachers and students. The article begins with background from second language acquisition research and outlines two main types of FFI. Next it addresses three main topics. First, it considers the role of FFI in communicative language teaching. Second, it reviews various influences that impact whether teachers should choose to use integrated or isolated FFI in their classes. Third, it discusses the connection between error correction and focus on form in FFI. In establishing these points, the article introduces literature that argues for clear connections between FFI and L2/FL learning. In essence, this article answers the question: how does focusing on form appear to help L2/FL learning, and how can teachers encourage ESL/EFL students? The article argues that form-focused instruction makes a positive difference. Research implications are summarized on grammar and vocabulary learning, and reference is made to key resources dealing with focusing on form. Teachers should thus think about how an understanding of FFI can improve their teaching and students’ learning.

Tags: ESL/EFL, focus on form, form-focused instruction, grammar, vocabulary, SLA

Download link: Focusing on form (PDF)

An Investigation into the Metacognitive Writing Strategies of Turkish Cypriot University Students

Author: Özge Razı
             School of Education,
             Trinity College,
              University of Dublin
              Dublin - Ireland

Date of publication: 31/1/2011

Abstract:   This paper presents findings from a study done in an English preparatory school of a University in North Cyprus. The study focused on the use and awareness of metacognitive learning strategies in relation to writing skills. Data collection was done through the means of quantitative, student-questionnaire, and qualitative, teacher-interview, measures. The findings show that less than half of the participants used and were aware of metacognitive learning strategies. Although teachers mentioned such strategies during the lessons, according to the questionnaire results, less than half of the 250 participants used strategies or had awareness of them. Conclusion would, therefore, be that mentioning strategies to encourage students to use strategies is not enough.   A statistically significant correlation between the success rate and metacognitive strategy use and awareness was proved in support of the findings in the literature. The implication of this finding for teachers is that, implementing strategy instruction in our classrooms could increase the success of students and, as the success rate of the students is increased, they will use more strategies with an increased awareness.

Tags: Metacognitive learning strategies, success, writing skills, university students, teachers

Download link: An Investigation into the Metacognitive (PDF)

An Acoustic Analysis of Chinese and English Vowels
Author: -Dr. Hsueh Chu CHEN
              Assistant professor
              Department of English
              The Hong Kong Institute of Education
              10 Lo Ping Road, Tai Po, N.T. Hong Kong
            -Dr. Mei Jung Wang
              Associate Professor
              Department of Applied English
              National Kaohsiung University
              1 Sung Ho Road, Hsiaokang District Kaohsiung
              Taiwan, 812
Date of publication: 31/1/2011
Abstract:  This study compares the articulation of two pairs of similar vowels in Mandarin Chinese in Taiwan and American English. Four Taiwanese learners and four native speakers of American English were recruited to produce five vowels for each language. Acoustic vowel qualities of formant one (F1) and formant two (F2 ) values were measured and analyzed.  Results show that Chinese English and American English are different in vowel height and frontness. Pedagogical implications are provided for EFL teachers to help Chinese learners improve their pronunciation.
Tags: acoustic phonetics, pronunciation teaching, interlanguage analysis

Download link: An Acoustic Analysis of Chinese and English Vowels(PDF)