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Open access

Silene Cardoso

Abstract

This article presents and briefly discusses the results from a survey conducted with English teachers of the third cycle and secondary education in Portugal as part of a study on multiple literacies and Web 2.0 in English as a foreign language (EFL) classroom (Cardoso). Based on the answers provided, it can be assumed that among this group of teachers, new technologies tend to be part of their professional practice. However, it is unclear if digital tools have been used to actually promote more innovative ways of teaching or just as a different way to approach more traditional methods. Moreover, it seems that suitable guidance, training and further development of appropriate materials are required to facilitate and better integrate new technologies in the EFL classroom.

Open access

Ana Ponce de Leão

Abstract

UNESCO and many other organisations worldwide have been working on approaches in education to develop tolerance, respect for cultural diversity, and intercultural dialogue. Particularly, the Council of Europe has laid out guiding principles in several documents to promote intercultural competence, following Byram’s and Zarate’s efforts in integrating this important component in language education. The commitment to developing the notion of intercultural competence has been so influential that many countries, e.g., Portugal, have established the intercultural domain as a goal in the foreign language curricula. However, this commitment has been questioned by researchers worldwide who consider that action is needed to effectively promote intercultural competence. The research coordinated by Sercu, for example, suggests that, although foreign language teachers are willing to comply with an intercultural dimension, their profile is more compatible with that of a traditional foreign language teacher, rather than with a foreign language teacher, who promotes intercultural communicative competence. In this study, I propose to examine teachers’ perceptions and beliefs about intercultural communicative competence in a cluster of schools in Portugal and compare these findings with Sercu’s study. Despite a twelve-year gap, the present study draws similar conclusions.

Open access

Maria Ellison and Álvaro Almeida Santos

Abstract

Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL), an educational approach in which an additional language is used to teach school subjects, has become increasingly widespread within state schools across Europe since the acronym was coined in the mid-nineties. This now includes Portugal where CLIL activity across educational levels has been growing in recent years. Like other national contexts in Europe, this has also been through the grassroots initiatives of individual schools keen to influence positive change in educational practices and reap the benefits which CLIL is purported to bring about. One such case is the GoCLIL project at Escola Secundária Dr. Joaquim Gomes Ferreira Alves in Valadares, Vila Nova de Gaia, which has been operating a CLIL programme through English since the academic year 2013-2014. This article outlines fundamentals of implementing CLIL in schools and provides an overview of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) of the case. It uses data collected from questionnaires administered to teachers, pupils and parents, lesson observations, pupil focus groups, and teacher reflections obtained during the ongoing monitoring process led by the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Porto. The data contribute to the rich description of the project from which it has been possible to identify and compare findings across years, as well as factors which have contributed to its sustainability. Insights gained from this case study will be interesting and potentially useful for schools which are considering setting up a project of this kind.

Open access

Carlos Ceia and Nicolas Hurst

Abstract

Over the last 15 to 20 years, changes in foreign language teaching policies in Portuguese higher education institutions (HEIs) have been subject to little discussion and less inter-institutional dialogue. Each institution has absorbed different European directives, and more specifically adapted its context in response to the Bologna Process, according to its own interpretation leading to widespread ‘distortion’ across foreign language teaching curricula. While demand for foreign language courses remains high in Portuguese HEIs there has been little formal research and scarce funding available for projects related to introducing innovative practices and materials. This paper provides a critical reading of the current state of play in this crucial sphere of higher education in Portugal.

Open access

António Lopes

Abstract

The Corpus of Contemporary American English (Davies) on the Brigham Young University website has been used in the English as Foreign Language (EFL) classroom to help learners better understand how language works at different levels of analysis and also to develop their writing skills. However, it also allows learners to explore culture-related content, by giving them access to invaluable information about social, ideological, political and historical contexts. Moreover, it provides the means to examine the ways in which such aspects intersect with language and condition its use. The understanding of this cultural and discursive dimension of language is pivotal in the training of undergraduate students in the areas of humanities and social sciences. To determine how far the COCA can contribute to increase this awareness, a series of task-based activities involving writing was drawn up and carried out in an EFL class of undergraduate students. They were first introduced to this corpus analysis tool and encouraged to explore it further. Later on, in order to complete a writing task, they were prompted to resort to a series of strategies to collect information about relevant events, personalities and social or cultural phenomena, to analyse and interpret data, and to draw conclusions about the modes in which culture and language can interact. This paper provides (a) the rationale and a brief literature review on this topic, (b) a description of the task-based activities, the implementation process, the students’ strategies and the evaluation procedures, and (c) a critical reflection on this study that may open the path for further developments in this area.

Open access

Tatyana Zenkova and Gulmira Khamitova

Abstract

This article presents the results of a survey conducted in the Innovative University of Eurasia (InEU) about the necessity of implementing English as a medium of instruction (EMI) at the baccalaureate and master’s degree levels. It describes the findings obtained through semi open-ended questionnaires and interviews with two focus groups: InEU administration members and faculty representatives. The data collected suggest a rather positive general attitude of the respondents of both groups to English-medium instruction at the university, a special emphasis being made on the global status of English and internationalization of education. However, the majority of respondents raised concern about the impact of English-medium teaching on the quality of subject learning since it depends on an English proficiency level of both students and teachers and their motivation to study/teach in English. The survey data also indicate other important issues connected with teaching-in-English implementation at the university, such as finance, the pace of implementation, preparedness of students and teachers, support structures and incentives.

Open access

Sebastian Hoffmann, Merja Kytö, Terttu Nevalainen and Irma Taavitsainen

Open access

Matti Rissanen

Abstract

In compiling and testing the diachronic part of the Helsinki Corpus of English Texts, our project group has come across three problems which arise from the use of computer corpora in studies of syntax and vocabulary. While these problems are mainly associated with work on diachronic corpora, they may be universal enough to deserve somewhat more general consideration. They could be called “The philologist’s dilemma”, “God’s truth fallacy”, and “The mystery of vanishing reliability”. The first could be described as pedagogical, the second methodological and the third pragmatic.

Open access

Paula Rautionaho, Sandra C. Deshors and Lea Meriläinen

Abstract

This study focuses on the progressive vs. non-progressive alternation to revisit the debate on the ENL-ESL-EFL continuum (i.e. whether native (ENL) and nonnative (ESL/EFL) Englishes are dichotomous types of English or form a gradient continuum). While progressive marking is traditionally studied independently of its unmarked counterpart, we examine (i) how the grammatical contexts of both constructions systematically affect speakers’ constructional choices in ENL (American, British), ESL (Indian, Nigerian and Singaporean) and EFL (Finnish, French and Polish learner Englishes) and (ii) what light speakers’ varying constructional choices bring to the continuum debate. Methodologically, we use a clustering technique to group together individual varieties of English (i.e. to identify similarities and differences between those varieties) based on linguistic contextual features such as AKTIONSART, ANIMACY, SEMANTIC DOMAIN (of aspect-bearing lexical verb), TENSE, MODALITY and VOICE to assess the validity of the ENL-ESL-EFL classification for our data. Then, we conduct a logistic regression analysis (based on lemmas observed in both progressive and non-progressive constructions) to explore how grammatical contexts influence speakers’ constructional choices differently across English types. While, overall, our cluster analysis supports the ENL-ESL-EFL classification as a useful theoretical framework to explore cross-variety variation, the regression shows that, when we start digging into the specific linguistic contexts of (non-)progressive constructions, this classification does not systematically transpire in the data in a uniform manner. Ultimately, by including more than one statistical technique into their exploration of the continuum, scholars could avoid potential methodological biases.