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Maria N. Melissourgou and Katerina T. Frantzi

Abstract

The IELTS exams attract numerous candidates globally and are considered high-stakes exams due to the impact the results can have on the candidates. The need therefore for goal-oriented guidance is crucial. Unfortunately, this preparation is based on teachers’ intuition on what is common and appropriate. This paper describes the typical lexicogrammatical features of Reports based on objective quantitative evidence. The WriMA (Writing Model Answers) corpus consists of model writings from preparation material. The DataReports sub-corpus used in this study consists of 100 texts, 16.828 tokens and is POS (Parts of Speech) tagged. The extraction of keywords and recurring patterns is combined with an interpretation of their functional role in the specific context. This analysis arms teachers with knowledge of specific words, word classes and combinations used by experienced writers in order to achieve genrespecific trends usually described in vague terms such as impersonal stance or factual language.

Open access

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

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

Erhan Aslan and Amy S. Thompson

Abstract

Although extensive research exists on learner perceptions of native and non-native English speaker teachers (NEST/NNEST), whether prior language learning experiences impact learner beliefs about these teachers has not been investigated. This study explores the beliefs of Turkish EFL students (n = 160) via the Beliefs about Language Teachers (BALT) questionnaire, focusing on beliefs about NESTs/NNESTs regarding ease of communication, teaching style, and classroom practices. An exploratory factor analysis (EFA) performed on the BALT resulted in a four-factor solution. The beliefs of multilinguals and bilinguals, categorized in two ways (experience with more than one foreign language vs. perceived positive language interaction [PPLI]) were compared using one-way ANOVAs, which revealed significant differences for some of the factors. There was not much of a difference in bilinguals’ and multilinguals’ beliefs of NESTs and NNESTs. The perceived effectiveness of the NESTs by the PPLI learners can be explained by those learners’ high tolerance of ambiguity in the classroom, whereas the perceived effectiveness of the NNESTs by the NPPLI learners can be explained by the desired to interact in the L1 for ambiguous situations. Implications of these findings are discussed in relation to foreign language education policies and teacher education programs.

Open access

Muna Balfaqeeh

Abstract

During the last decade, the Arabian Gulf region has headed towards an increasing use of a ‘Pan Gulf vernacular’, “…a homogenized form of ‘Gulf’ speech not identifiable with any particular Gulf community” (Holes, 2011: 130), where new words are introduced or borrowed from neighboring Gulf countries while many others disappear from the local lexicon. This paper is an extension of a previous study (Balfaqeeh, 2015) in which the Emirati vernacular was investigated in order to identify which words had become obsolete from Emiratis’ mental lexicon and been replaced by what were considered to be more accessible words borrowed from neighboring Gulf countries. The method used is twofold: a vocabulary test generated from two popular Emirati TV serials: ‘Sh-ḥafan’ (1970), and ‘Firi:dʒ’ (2006). In addition, a Likert scale survey measured students’ perception of their use of the Emirati vernacular and the possible reasons that may have led to the disappearance of some of these words. The aim of this study is to measure the attrition of Emirati vocabulary among young people and measure their attitudes (mostly opinions) towards language use and language change. The research also concentrates on multiculturalism, the media and social media, and the economy and each of these areas’ possible roles in driving language change in the UAE. Finally, the researcher considered whether masculinity and exposure to culture and heritage play roles in the subjects’ competence in Emirati. The analysis of the data confirmed that despite the male subjects’ exposure to culture and heritage, it did not have any impact on their competence or use of the Emirati vernacular. It also confirmed that the subjects are aware of the impact of the above-mentioned factors and their implications for identity.

Open access

Yuichiro Kobayashi

Abstract

The present study investigated differences in rhetorical preferences in L2 writings among different L1 groups. This study compared the use of metadiscourse markers in L2 essays and identified discourse devices used to distinguish different L1 groups. The essays originated from the International Corpus Network of Asian Learners of English (ICNALE) compared six L1 groups (viz., Chinese, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese, and Thai) based on the frequency of metadiscourse markers. I utilized heat map with hierarchical clustering to investigate differences in metadiscourse among the six learner groups. The results suggested a substantial difference in the use of metadiscourse markers between East Asian groups (viz., Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Taiwanese) and Southeast Asian groups (viz., Indonesian and Thai). Furthermore, each learner group displayed the specific characteristics of metadiscourse, which offer suggestions for improving L2 learners’ writings.

Open access

Artur Świątek and Adam Pluszczyk

Abstract

When we communicate, we make use of both verbal and non-verbal means. In a classroom situation, there are a number of obstacles which students encounter and which can impede their communication. In L2 learning contexts, one of the commonest barriers is the language. Thus, the application of communication strategies (CS) is necessary with a view to compensating for various difficulties and avoiding communication failure or achieving communicative success.

The objective of our paper is to analyze the occurrence and the incidence of communication strategies in the speech of Polish L2 learners. The subjects we tested are representatives of four different proficiency groups:

  • - intermediate (junior high school 3rd class learners),

  • - upper-intermediate (technical secondary school students who are taking their final maturity exams),

  • - pre-advanced (1st year philology students) and advanced (3rd year philology students).

A survey was conducted with a view to eliciting the linguistic data which enabled us to determine the occurrence and incidence of communication strategies (CS). More specifically, we observed if and, if yes, to what extent the learners use the strategies in order to compensate for the challenging moments which they encounter when they communicate.