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Evangelia (Evelyn) Vovou

Abstract

Although today's educational environments are to a great extend multilingual, large-scale foreign language examinations test heterogeneous groups with homogeneous examination practices, without taking all ecolinguistic parameters into consideration. Trying to minimize this limitation by calibrating examinations to the sociolinguistic and intercultural competence definitions of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), secures to an extend construct validity. However, the question still arises, if “one test fits all”. This paper focuses on oral foreign language assessment discourses, where discursive coconstruction and social nature of performance prevail. Adopting the ecolinguistic approach (Fill, 1996) the paper investigates the notion of symbolic competence (Kramsch & Whiteside, 2008) in the context of oral language examinations. By analyzing oral data the paper seeks to address, how ecolinguistic parameters concur in examination discourses and to what extend this effects the validity of measurement.

Open access

Dorota Lipińska

Abstract

Learning correct pronunciation of a second/foreign language always represents a considerable challenge for language learners (e.g. Rojczyk, 2010a), especially for adults (e.g. Flege, 2007). There is an abundance of studies (e.g. Nowacka, 2010; Flege, 1991) showing that second language learners whose first language (L1) phonetic system has only one sound where L2 is characterized by noticeable richness of separate sound categories, encounter serious problems when they try to distinguish those new sounds and, moreover, they tend to apply their native vowels or consonants in L2 speech. It may be easily audible in the case of vowels and actually a lot of studies on L2 learners’ production and perception of L1 and L2 vowels have been carried (e.g. Flege, 1992; Nowacka, 2010; Rojczyk, 2010a; Rojczyk, 2010b).

The aim of this study was to examine elementary learners’ perception of 4 German vowels, namely: /ɪ/, /iː/, /ʏ/ and /yː/. They were organized as two sets of minimal pairs, namely /ɪ/ vs. /ʏ/ and /iː/ vs. /yː/. The aforementioned sounds were chosen for the study since /ʏ/ and /yː/ are considered to be very difficult vowels for Polish learners (e.g. Bęza, 2001). Twelve elementary, adult (29-52 years old) Polish learners of German agreed to participate in the study. The subjects had just began their A2-level language course, however they had been taught the basics of German pronunciation for a year, during their A1-level course. They were presented a printed list of word pairs and listened to the recorded words. Then they were asked to circle the right option in each pair. The results revealed that although all study participants were adults when they started learning German and they were still just elementary users of the language, they were already able to distinguish correctly a considerable number of words. It may suggest that proper pronunciation training during a FL/L2 course can provide language learners with measurable benefits.

Open access

Reem Alsager and James Milton

Abstract

The number of Arabic learners studying abroad has increased significantly over the last decade, and continues to increase. To test such students’ proficiency with English in an academic setting, most universities use standardised exams, such as the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Test System (IELTS). Although these tools are considered valid entry tests (Taylor and Falvey, 2007) they don’t appear to be useful predictors of academic success (e.g. Cotton and Conrow, 1998). We have therefore tried to find alternative measures to help refine our ability to predict academic performance. These include vocabulary knowledge using the XK_Lex test (Milton & Al- Masrai, 2009); intelligence test (Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence, WASI) and a foreign language aptitude test (Modern Language Aptitude Test, MLAT; Carroll & Sapon, 1959).

36 Arabic undergraduate students in Swansea University participated in this study. The results of the measures were correlated with participants’ Grade Point Average (GPA) as a measure of academic achievement. The findings suggest that a vocabulary knowledge threshold of 5000 and above is necessary for L2 learners to undertake international education; below this volume of vocabulary, they risk failure or academic hardship during their studies. No correlation was found between intelligence or aptitude test scores and learners’ academic achievement, but a significant relationship was noted between intelligence and vocabulary knowledge, confirming the trend that learners with high intelligence scores are more likely to possess an extensive vocabulary than learners with low intelligence scores.

Open access

Oksana Banias, Iwona Leonowicz-Bukała and Anna Martens

Abstract

This article attempts to assess the role of Twitter in international communication on the basis of intentionally selected part of reality. The aim of this paper is to evaluate the potential impact of messages, posted in the microblogging service by the internationally recognized journalist, on creating the image of Poland in the world. Case study was carried out on the example of Anne Applebaum’s Twitter account.

Open access

Zafiropoulou Maria and Papachristopoulos Konstantinos

Abstract

The use of new communications technologies and social media, in Greece, during the time of crisis, has led to the development of numerous online informal Civil Society Networks (CSNs) (i.e. networking-building platforms, self - organized groups in Facebook, forums, exchange platforms) proposing a rethinking of the status quo of formal civil organizations. This research, utilizing the methodology of discourse analysis, aims at summarizing the rise of these networks in Greece that incorporates both solidarity initiatives and autonomous political/economic spaces and identify the indicative predictive factors of their survival and growth. Some basic conclusions that have been drawn through this research is that alternative online networks can be proven as indicative sign of the social dynamism of a given period but in order to be resilient and sustainable they should develop focal points of physical reference, pursue national representation, focus mainly on monothematic goods/services and cultivate, in several cases, links with relevant social movements and local or national NGOs. A general induction through this research is that a CSN, during this current crisis, stands between two classical models of reference in a society seeking modernity and flexibility and can be considered as a proposed type of effective experimentation and mobilization that can pursue common social goals and serve needs of deprived people. Some issues that still remain underexplored and need further elaboration are social and political identity of participants, the potential links with local, national and international communities, the functional balance between structure and flexibility as well as the efficient distribution of energy between solidarity and protest.

Open access

Floriana Falcinelli, Marco Gatti, Francesco Claudio Ugolini and Serena Sabatinid

Abstract

In this article, we present the collaboration between the Quality, Hygiene, Security and Training department of the service provider of the Coop-branded cooperatives and the Human Sciences and Education Department of the University of Perugia, the objective of which was compulsory training in the fields of Job Security and Food Hygiene, provided by the company in e-learning, and addressing the employees of several cooperatives operating in the largescale organised distribution sector.

The collaboration contemplates two steps. The first one consisted of the certification of compliance according to certain quality criteria. Course evaluation and certification were therefore assigned to an external institution that researches these subjects and thus was able to provide the training governance team with matter for reflection on the implemented training path, also indicating some potential aspects that needed to be further developed. The second step consisted of a wide-ranging, articulated empirical research that, on the one hand, enabled the university to cast light on a phenomenon that has been studied little or not at all from an educational viewpoint and, on the other, has enabled the Consorzio Interprovinciale di Servizi-Quality, Hygiene, Security and Training department (CIS-QuISF) to enhance its professional perspective and the e-learning mode to gain increasing recognition.

Open access

Sarah Wilson, Alex Thorne, Molly Stephens, Jessica Ryan, Sarah Moore, James Milton and Georgia Brayley

Abstract

Modern estimates of English native speaker vocabulary size have concentrated on acquisition in childhood (e.g. Biemiller & Slonim, 2001) and among undergraduates (e.g. Milton & Treffers-Daller, 2013). There seems to be an assumption that vocabulary size is pretty stable in adults and that the estimates for undergraduates are likely to be applicable to the broader population, at least until age related decline begins sometime after the age of about 60 (Burke & MacKay, 1997). The study reported in this paper examines a cross-section of adults aged from 20 to over 60, and from graduate and non-graduate populations. The results suggest that the graduate population has a marginally larger vocabulary size than the non-graduate population and it is speculated that the difference is probably too small, and the vocabulary sizes too large, to drive educational differences. The graduate population also differs from the non-graduate In the graduate population vocabulary size appears to continue to grow with age, but while vocabulary size scores vary in the non-graduate population, the differences noted are not statistically significant after the age of 30.

Open access

Lucia Martiniello and Nicola Paparella

Abstract

The great potential of mobile learning devices hooks up these new contexts that are, above all, cultural and social, but also organisational and relational, forcing us to reconsider fundamental themes of pedagogical discourse. Among these themes, the first must be the construction of the student’s identity and, connected to this, the issue of personalised education. Let us consider, for instance, the by-now familiar distinction between formal, informal and non-formal. Compared with formal learning, we have always considered the two conditions of informal and non-formal education as independent or at least parallel, but essentially distinct and fundamentally different. In the moment in which teaching is done through mobility, and therefore with the effects of interference in contexts completely different from those that are somewhat predictable by the designer of distance learning, can we still think of a "distinction" between formal and informal or, at least, should we not assume a sort of context cross-breeding?

The question does not arise from considerations of quantitative, but instead arises from qualitative, evaluations. In our opinion, here exists a paradigm: the learning context not only escapes the teaching team’s realm of predictability, but somehow eludes even the predictability of the learner, and indeed, it is the very nature of the context that takes completely different characteristics and connotations.

We are on the verge of justifying a major revision of some paradigms that relate to the nature of the context, the role of the teacher and the position (in the sociological sense) of the student, which also affect the nature of the message and, more generally, the “entire educational setting”. It means working in this direction.

Open access

Muhammad Rizwan, Zeeshan Azad, Ashiq Ali and Saba Mahmood

Abstract

The aim of this research paper is to compare the quality of education delivered at the undergraduate level in the public and private institutions of the Twin Cities (Islamabad and Rawalpindi) in Pakistan. Data is collected with the help of questionnaires from 246 students. The data was collected from three public and three private educational institutions of the Twin Cities, and the age of students ranged from 18 to 27 years. The research instrument used in this paper is the independent sample t-test to find the difference between the three private and three public educational institutions selected in Rawalpindi and Islamabad in terms of different variables that are very important in measuring the quality of education. For analysis, Levene’s test was adopted, which reflects the variations in educational quality with respect to academic staff availability in the twin cities. The differences in close supervision of students by academic staff between public and private sector educational institutions were also analysed, and the results reflected a difference between private and public educational institutions with respect to close supervision of students. The results also highlighted the factors that are involved in higher performance of students in private institutes as compared to that of students in public institutes. These factors can be implemented in the public sector to increase student performance.