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Book-Talk: An Activity to Motivate Learners to Read Autonomously in a Foreign Language

Abstract

In the last decade, extensive reading (ER) had been incorporated into English as a foreign language (EFL) education in various Japanese institutions. It restored the once broken balance of accuracy and fluency in traditional English education, and assisted reluctant EFL learners to start reading. However, ER required rather longer term for elementary learners to enjoy its benefits and the learners needed an extra encouragement to continue ER for the longer term. Book-talk was such an activity to encourage learners to read voluntary and to improve their language skills additionally. In a book-talk, several learners sat around a table, introduced the books they had read during the week, and accepted questions and comments from the others in turn. It also fitted well in lessons because 3-minute talks and 2-minute Q&A of six members took only 30 minutes. We will report how the activity motivated elder students, who had three or more years’ experience of ER, to continue their reading outside the class, and how it encouraged autonomous ER of adult EFL learners, who were reading English books borrowing from the college library. A combination of few talks and many readings worked well in EFL settings.

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Comparative Literature as Educational Means of Understanding and Communication

Abstract

The paper explores possibilities of a more intensive use of comparative literature within literary education in which the adoration of national literature prevails together with the abstraction of the concept of world literature. This means putting more emphasis on area and comparative approaches. Emphasising comparative literature may bring in a search and respect for otherness, since it is not connected to any national language and literature, to any concrete tradition and culture, but refers to their variability, with the aim of explaining the contact with the other, which can be close as well as different. More effort should be put especially on the attempt to point to the interconnectedness and mutual influencing. The so-called educational, didactically applied comparatistics is a field of comparative literary studies aimed at overcoming binary, ethnolinguistic opposition of “the national” and “the worldly” in education, and, as far as literary education is concerned, it could become a new methodological stimulus. As a methodological basis of this educational comparative studies is being used the hermeneutic understanding of otherness, though not the interculturally remote one, but a close otherness which exists, for example, in the intertextuality of a particular work emerging within the framework of the “neighbourhood” of common Central European area. What is meant here is, first of all, the so-called innovated imagology, concentrated on the interpretation of images by means of which verbal text renders foreign countries and nations. The overall meaning of imagological impulses can also be seen on the weakening of the opposition of the traditional categories of “national” and “world”, as well as in the overcoming of the ideas of some cultures being more developed at the expense of other ones. Applying the area and comparative approach, educational comparative studies may facilitate the dialogue of literature as art also with other spheres, and have integrating as well as didactic function, or develop the feeling of mutuality and the ability to “compare”, not only in linguistic and ethnic circumstances, but in the value-contextual ones as well.

Open access
The Contentious Debate over the Language Literature Division

Abstract

In the early 20th century literature was woven into language curriculum to endorse learners to acquire language structures and perform drills successfully. The actual use of the target language upstaged grammar instruction as the primary focus of language learning in the fields of language pedagogy. In the late 1960s and 1970s literature fell into disuse on the grounds that it was not in conformity with standard grammar rules and the widespread perception was that literature was complex and inaccessible for learners. In the late 1970s and 1980s a decisive swing against literature was experienced and literature came into prominence to enable learners to make huge leaps in language learning. Learners can reap many benefits from the inclusion of literature in foreign language teaching. In attempting to support their arguments of incorporating literature into language teaching a considerable number of researchers offer a number of reasons why literature is an ideal medium for extending language use. By means of inclusion of literature in language teaching, learners are at an advantage to acquire profound knowledge of language. The present paper investigates the language-literature division and focuses on the three phases with regard to the inclusion of literature in language teaching. The supportive role of literature in the development of language awareness is another issue the paper deals with.

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Continuous Improvement of the Teaching Process in Primary Education

Abstract

Continuous improvement of the teaching process requires teachers to constantly think, analyse and evaluate their own work and try to improve its quality. The paper deals with the introduction of quality management in the teaching process, since one way of improving the quality of education is to build a quality management system at primary schools, focusing exclusively on schools with Hungarian language of instruction. The paper includes the climate survey of the school class aiming at verifying the current state of the social climate of the class in the subject of Slovak language and Slovak literature. When teaching this subject at the primary level of education, attention has to be paid to the fact that pupils in the first year of primary school with Hungarian language of instruction come with different linguistic and speech competences.

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The Dates of the Four Branches of the Mabinogi

Abstract

In a previous issue of this journal, Natasha Sumner of Harvard claimed of the Four Branches of the Mabinogi that the “exact date of composition for the text is not known”; she yet quoted Professor Catherine McKenna, also of Harvard, for the tales as certainly predating the Fall of Gwynedd in 1282. A response to Professor Sumner’s comment thus has three functions. It cites publications on the question from 1897 to 2018; reveals the scholarly disagreement therein; but concludes with evidence to put the tales in the 1120s or early 1130s.

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Development of Foreign Language Speaking Skills through the Application of the Dynamic Model of Speech Production and Activating Methods

Abstract

The present time places considerable demands on the process of foreign language education both in the field of communication and information transfer. Teachers, occupying a pivotal role in this process, are not able to proceed with simple, lay approaches and methods. It has become more and more important to apply sophisticated approaches and methods in teaching which are based on primary and secondary researches. This paper discusses the Dynamic Model of Speech Production as a specific approach to EFL teaching. Furthermore, the application of activating methods in the process of teaching English as a foreign language is examined from the standpoint of gender, country, length of teaching practice, and type of university. The data was collected using a questionnaire about the use and the frequency of occurrence of activating methods, which was completed by 82 university teachers from the Slovak Republic and the Czech Republic.

Open access
Investigating Metacognitive Strategies for overcoming Barriers to Reading Comprehension: Insights from a Pakistani Context

Abstract

The main aim of this research was to investigate metacognitive strategies through reading comprehension practice by first year students of engineering departments. The students of four engineering departments were selected as the participants in this research work. The qualitative instrument based on focus group interview was used for collecting data from first year students of four engineering departments to know the perceptions and their needs to develop reading comprehension through metacognitive strategies. The researchers developed interview questions for this study. These questions were validated by two experts of faculty of cognitive science and human development at university Malaysia Sarawak. The researchers obtained permission from the chairmen of four departments at a university in Pakistan. Almost 8 groups consisting of 5 informants in each participated in this research. The data was documented by using audio-tape; NVivo software, version 8 was used to organize data for obtaining main themes of the study. This research generated the most important themes for the interpretation of the results. The study contributed the most promising results which revealed that more than half of these groups used metacognitive strategies in classroom reading practice while less than half of groups did not use strategies and remained poor in reading comprehension. This research suggested administrators, teachers, and curriculum designers to design and implement reading comprehension courses and syllabus for first year engineering students.

Open access
Multicultural Education and Educational Process at Slovak Universities

Abstract

Migration issues and the development of social relations to people of different cultures make multicultural education a frequently discussed topic in Slovakia these days. When it comes to culture, diversity, variety and plurality dominate because of the existence, as well as interactions, of different ethnicities, races or nations. School education focuses on drawing attention to the existence of such differences or specificities, therefore multicultural education is becoming more and more important. At higher education institutions, multicultural education is especially important in case of the students who are to become teachers themselves. Development of positive qualities and approaches, including the acceptance of cultural differences, should necessarily be a part of the pre-gradual preparation of teachers. The article presents a content analysis of student essays on the perception and understanding of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as was one of the elements of multicultural education at HEIs.

Open access
On the Codification of Usage by Labels

Abstract

The present paper focuses on the question of how usage is marked within dictionary macrostructure of five most representatives of EFL lexicographic works, namely Collins Cobuild Advanced Dictionary, Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, Oxford Advanced Learner`s Dictionary, Cambridge Advanced Learner`s Dictionary and Macmillan English Dictionary. What is more, it sets a number of reasons why this particular area of lexicographic enquiry poses problems not only for dictionary users but also for dictionary compilers.

Open access
Organization of School Reading: the Role and Significance of Students’ Open Interpretations

Abstract

The following article is about cultural and literary education at school. Its point of reference are considerations regarding conditions of Polish education system in relation to Polish language classes. The article emerges from the need to seek solutions helpful in overcoming the reading crisis, which being conditioned by various cultural and social factors, is present at school and is expressed by the negation of mandatory reading material, as well as rejection of teaching model established in education. The author of this text attempts to reflect on the awareness of reading material which is used, or might be used in modern school. The criteria proposed in this article are related to the issue of choosing material suitable for reading. They can be used as a selection mechanism implemented at the stage of designing the process of teaching. Further parts of the text describe the ways of obtaining open interpretations from students in the process of education while designing introductory reading material classes. They can be treated as solutions which could have different functions, useful in terms of the quality of literary-cultural education. The article is complemented with the concept of planning the lesson based on the use of students’ open interpretations, which if organised in a planned and conscious way, could stimulate students’ participation and facilitate reading while dealing with literature discussed at school.

Open access