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A corpus-based analysis of textbooks used in the orientation course for immigrants in Germany: Ideological and pedagogic implications

Abstract

Contextualized within immigrants’ acquisition of specialized knowledge about the host country at the institutional level, this article examines a 64295-word corpus of textbooks written for participants of the orientation course in German politics, history and culture. Corpus-based techniques (“keyness,” collocation and qualitative examination of concordance lines) are deployed to explore the corpus. The findings reveal that the collocational patterns of the identified keywords construct particular world views vis-à-vis Germany. For instance, the keyword DDR [German Democratic Republic (GDR), aka East Germany] frequently co-occurs with negatively connoted lexis while collocates of the keywords denoting present-day Germany (e.g., Bundesrepublik Deutschland [Federal Republic of Germany] and Staat [nation, country, state]) facilitate the portrayal of Germany as a nurturing welfare state that is popular among foreigners. It is argued that such discursively-construed opposition between the “bad” GDR and the “good” Federal Republic of Germany helps to legitimize the German reunification. Furthermore, it is found that certain keywords (e.g., Sie [you], Kurs [course, class] and z.B. [e.g.]) are “metadiscourse resources” (Hyland, 2005). Their pedagogic effects are discussed in relation to the ideological implications of the research findings.

Open access
A critical look at the portfolio as a tool for teacher cognition at pre-gradual level: perceptions of students

Abstract

Trainees in teacher training programmes experience a variety of courses focusing on helping them to master the basic skills as future language teachers. The most important issue in the entire training is the appropriate balance between the input they receive from the trainer and the hands-on experience in which they learn through experience. One of the best hands-on activities during teacher training is indisputably teaching practice, i.e. real experience of trainees in the school context. Teaching practice offers to trainees first experience with teaching English lessons with holding responsibility for planning, carrying out the lessons as well as learning from this experience, maintaining a good rapport with students and many other aspects. Since trainees work in the external setting without the presence of their Methodology course trainers, it is often a custom to ask trainees to keep a portfolio with lesson plans or material they used during teaching as well as some reflections on the first teaching experience, so that the trainers could create a picture of how their trainees succeeded “out there”. Such a portfolio serves as a useful tool not only for the trainee since the portfolio offers a record of how they managed to carry out specific duty at a specific time; portfolio of this type can provide the trainer with a plastic picture of how trainee managed to apply what they had learned in their Methodology courses. There are many elements which can be included in the teaching practice portfolio such as lesson plans, reflections, various case studies, textbook evaluations, sample teaching aids prepared by the trainee, etc. However, the biggest benefit that portfolio provides the trainee with is the reflection itself – thinking about how successfully something has been mastered and thinking about how things could be done better. EPOSTL (European Portfolio for Student Teachers of Languages) where trainees focus on self-evaluation of their own teaching skills is one of the tools that can help to focus the trainee on specific skill the teacher needs to master. This article tries to answer the question whether trainees are aware of the beneficial effects of such reflection, whether they perceive a tool like the EPOSTL as something that can help them to develop or they consider it rather a duty to be carried out as a part of training. Based on the experience with a group of trainees who used EPOSTL during their teaching practice this case study analyses possible strengths and weaknesses of including such a complex material as EPOSTL in pre-service teacher training.

Open access
EFL teacher professional change in India

Abstract

This article examines teacher professional change and compares two 10th standard English as a Foreign Language teachers employed in a Marathi-medium secondary school in Pune (India) at different stages in their careers. Wenger’s (1998) three interconnected Community of Practice dimensions (i.e. mutual engagement, joint enterprise and shared repertoire) highlight pertinent facets of the teachers’ professional lives as viewed from the sociocultural perspective (Vygotsky, 1978). Case study methodology was utilized within a qualitative, ethnographic research paradigm. The aim is to uncover how the two EFL teachers engage in their professional community of practice and their career trajectories. Firstly, the data analysis indicates that periphery member status is established through active engagement in the professional community which creates trajectories along which novices may travel. Secondly, the accessing and sharing of information, ideas and experiences is beneficial for all members as it strengthens professional relationships and reconfirms already existing members’ central position. Lastly, active engagement in a professional community of practice offers a means of potential growth for novice teachers and central members. Access to communal resources such as new knowledge, stories and artifacts is acquired and aids in establishing novices’ competency.

Open access
The intercultural component in an EFL course-book package

Abstract

Along with mastery of the grammar and vocabulary of a given language, contemporary students are also expected to acquire intercultural communicative competence (ICC), i.e., the ability to use the language efficiently with regard to the sociocultural background of the communicative situation. This requirement should also be reflected in FL course-books, which are considered to be fundamental didactic tools in FL education, even in an era of information communication technologies. Therefore, the aim of the present paper is to report the results of the research focused on the investigation of intercultural component in the New Opportunities Pre-Intermediate and Intermediate course-book packages.

To validate the findings of the content analysis, as the main research method, the method of triangulation was used, i.e., the results of the course-book package analyses were compared with those of observation and interview analyses. The findings of the research revealed that in the investigated course-book packages only some aspects of the intercultural component could be considered relevant because they were suitably treated.

Open access
Marketing masculinity, branding the book: Current gender trends in the presentation of selected boys’ adventure novels

Abstract

Chris Bradford’s Young Samurai series, and his more recent Bodyguard Series draw on a strong sense of hegemonic masculinity to secure popularity for the protagonist. The success of these books is particularly interesting when one considers the gender agendas that are embraced by modern western society and the extent to which general opinion has altered in terms of the performance of masculinity.

According to John Stephens in Ways of Being Male: Representing Masculinities in Children’s Literature and Film (2002, p. x), a problem for boys, both in narrative fictions and in the world, is that hegemonic masculinity ‘appears simultaneously to propose a schema for behaviour and to insist on their subordination as children, to conflate agency with hegemonic masculinity, and to disclose that, for them, such agency is illusory. These paradoxes are currently being increasingly dealt with as a theme in children’s literature and film’. My paper will discuss these apparent paradoxes in Chris Bradford’s novels in the context of a 21st century child readership.

Open access
Mexican university teacher-researchers’ biliteracy beliefs and practices

Abstract

There has been a growing interest in describing higher education academic literacy. In our study, literacy is conceived as multi-layered phenomena, multiple in its character, denominated “multiliteracies” (Cope & Kalantzis, 2013). Furthermore, within the multiliteracies frame, multilingual literacies (Martin-Jones & Jones, 2000) are distinguished and discussed in the present paper, in particular the development of biliteracy in local academic settings. This paper explores connections between the teachers’ perceptions on literacy, teachers’ own biliteracy development as publishing authors and researchers. The research draws on the data obtained through a questionnaire applied in the first phase of the project to 100 participants from three public universities from northern, central and southern part of Mexico, which was completed by analysis of narratives gathered through interviews from a reduced sample of participants (31). The results seem to indicate that language teachers-researchers perceive their L2 literacy in wider terms, beyond mere reading-writing skills development and decodification of the text, which seems to be apparent in academics with higher academic credentials.

Open access
Multicultural society from view of university students

Abstract

The article focuses on exploring the way in which Slovakia is viewed as a multicultural society by sampling university students with a survey. For that reason, the aim was to examine the extent that participation in the educational process at university affects opinions held by the university students on the existence of a multicultural society in Slovakia. The theoretical part of the article defines basic key terms associated with the given issue. The aim of the article’s empirical examination is to analyse the formation of opinions of the surveyed students connected with the topic of a multicultural society in the educational process at universities. 200 university students participated in our empirical research. Data were collected in the course of April 2016 through a questionnaire prepared in advance. Processing and subsequent univariant, bivariant and multivariant analyses of the collected data were carried out using the statistical software SPSS 2.

Open access
Reflections from teachers and students on speaking anxiety in an EFL classroom

Abstract

This paper reports on part of the research project in which instructor perspectives on the role of anxiety in an EFL speaking classroom and anxiety-coping strategies students employ when speaking English have been investigated. The existence of students’ speaking anxiety was revealed via a teacher interview. A total of 88 students from the intact classes also responded to an interview form for an analysis of anxiety-coping strategies they utilised when speaking English in class. The qualitative data from both instruments was analysed using the content analysis. The findings of the teacher interview data put forward that students of this study have experienced speaking-in-class anxiety. This anxiety may influence their grades, to some extent. Three factors that may hinder students’ development of oral skills emerge, including their lack of self-confidence, having poor English background and having neither intrinsic nor extrinsic motivation to use English. Using the target language as the medium of communication in class is viewed by the teachers as a must in theory, but flexibility is allowed in practice. Moreover, the results of the student interview data show a wide range of strategies employed to deal with anxiety (ie social, affective, meta-cognitive, compensatory, cognitive and memory-related strategies). Social strategies are the most frequently-used techniques. Suggestions for improvement in the overall oral English (ie vocabulary focus, audiovisual focus, self-practice, social focus, auditory focus, meta-cognitive focus, compensatory focus and affective focus) have also been given by the student participants. An increased repertoire of vocabulary is viewed as the most effective tool for such improvement.

Open access
The relationship between language learning motivation and foreign language achievement as mediated by perfectionism: the case of high school EFL learners

Abstract

This study examined the mediating effect of perfectionism on the relationship between language learning and foreign language achievement of high school EFL learners. To this end, 400 eleventh grade high school students were recruited through cluster random sampling. They were selected from eight high schools in four cities of Iran (i.e., Tehran, Ahvaz, Semnan, and Kerman). Afterwards, two questionnaires were administered to the participants. The first questionnaire was the shortened form of Gardner’s Attitude/Motivation Test Battery (AMTB) for EFL learners, and the second one was Almost Perfect Scale-Revised (APS-R) measuring the level of perfectionism among respondents. Moreover, the participants’ scores on the English final exam held by Iran’s Ministry of Education was considered as the indicator of foreign language achievement. The obtained data were analyzed through Pearson correlations and bootstrap resampling statistical method. The results indicated a positive correlation between all variables. Furthermore, it was revealed that language achievement and language learning motivation were partially mediated by perfectionism.

Open access
Romantic imagination in a comparative perspective: English and Slovak Romantic literature

Abstract

The paper discusses Romantic imagination in two, relatively distant, national literatures. The first part is concerned with the problems comparative literature has faced in recent decades. In the second part, the work of two Slovak Romantic writers, Ján Kollár and Janko Kráľ, is compared to the poetry of Lord Gordon Byron and William Wordsworth. By identifying certain affinities between the discussed literary works, the authors point to the importance of the concept of national literature which has not lost its role even in contemporary literary studies.

Open access