Using Children’s Literature to Explore the Issue of Exclusion: Language Learning Through Personal Connections, Multiple Perspectives and Critical Reflections

by Hsiang-Ni Lee
National Taitung University, Taiwan

Abstract
Socio-cultural constructivism views reading as a holistic experience in which readers actively seek identity and make meaning of the world. Socio-cultural constructivist reading instruction recognizes the impact of one’s socio-economic background on comprehension and interpretation of a text. It also acknowledges one’s ability to identify, deconstruct and reconstruct self-positioning by critically examining the text’s messages. Although receiving more well-deserved attention in Western language education, such a constructivist notion has not yet seemed to be equally appreciated or practiced in Taiwanese EFL (English as a Foreign Language) classrooms. Accordingly, this paper describes a five-phase inquiry project which applies essential elements of a socio-cultural constructivist instructional approach. Through various literacy activities, participating young adult students engage in extensive reading of illustrated books about the issue of exclusion and hopefully will learn to proactively mitigate bullying – a common problem at Taiwanese schools and worldwide (Wei & Huang, 2009). The ultimate objective of this focused study is to promote literature-based literacy instruction which values language learners’ personal connections, multiple perspectives and critical reflections.


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A Suggested Writing Process for In-House Materials Development

by Chris Bedwell
National University of Singapore

Abstract­
This paper will set out a suggested process for the in-house development of English language course materials. The process is concerned with the how of in-house materials development rather than the what and aims to provide teacher-writers with a working recipe for the efficient production of learning content. The main advantage of the in house-approach is that it is completely responsive to local needs. A brief rationale for the preferential use of such materials over off-the-shelf content will be presented before the process itself is described. Seven discrete steps, ranging from the initial recruitment and planning stage through to trialing in the classroom, will be examined with each step justified. Finally, suggestions for feedback and course maintenance will be outlined.


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“Unheard Melodies’’ from Behind the Veil: Male and Female Omani Student Responses to Translated Short Stories by Arab Women Writers

by Rahma Al-Mahrooqi and Tausiff Sultana
Sultan Qaboos University, Oman

“Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter….”

                                 John Keats, “Ode on a Grecian Urn”

Abstract
This paper focuses on two short stories translated from Arabic: “I Never Lied” by Qumashah al’Ulayyan, and “The Duties of a Working Mother” by Wafa Munawwar. Using a framework of reader-response and schema theory, they will be considered from the perspective of Omani EFL college students (male and female) for whom they were set texts. Under investigation is the extent to which student responses to them are conditioned by cultural and linguistic orientation. The paper then recommends the integration of such an approach into English language and literature teaching, seeing this as a benefit for students, especially ESL learners.


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The Effects of Bilingual Instruction on the Literacy Skills of Young Learners

by Lalaine F. Yanilla Aquino
University of the Philippines

Abstract
This research focused on the effects of bilingual instruction on the acquisition of literacy skills of preschoolers. An experimental design was used, with language of instruction as the independent variable and the different literacy skills as dependent variables. The sample consisted of preschool children belonging to an urban poor community in the Philippines. They were given pretests and were divided into three groups: Monolingual Filipino, Monolingual English, and Bilingual. They were taught different literacy skills for eight weeks and were then administered the posttests. Data was analyzed and evaluated in the light of the central processing and script-dependent hypotheses. Based on the data, it can be inferred that monolingual instruction in either Filipino or English had a stronger effect on the children’s literacy skills compared to bilingual instruction. Moreover, mother tongue-based instruction, as compared to second-language instruction, had stronger effect on the preschoolers’ literacy skills. Such results have implications not only for mother tongue-based (MTB) but also for English as a second language (ESL) instruction in the country.


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Does ‘Self-Access’ Still Have Life in It? : A Response to Reinders (2012)

by Jo Mynard
Kanda University of International Studies, Japan

Does ‘self-access’ still have life in it? Absolutely it does! However, I still maintain that it has to be done right. This will, to some degree, vary from institution to institution, but there are some fundamental things to get right when running an institutional self-access learning centre (SALC). It is sad to read about SALCs that are more like homework rooms, but there are plenty of SALCs that focus very carefully on the pedagogic side. Where I work, for example, the SALC is a thriving hub of activity, and that is no accident. This was largely down to the planning of the team led by Lucy Cooker over eleven years ago when it was established. The success is also due to the continued investment on the part of the institution. The university continues to support and invest in the SALC, and it remains a crucial part of the students’ university life. The presence of the SALC is one of reasons why prospective students choose to come to our institution, and the reason why so many lecturers choose to apply for teaching and advising positions here.


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The End of Self-Access?: From Walled Garden to Public Park

by Hayo Reinders
Middlesex University, United Kingdom

Introduction

I’ll admit the title is deliberately trying to provoke a reaction but it reflects a genuine concern I have had for some time. To my mind, self-access is in danger of slipping far away from the forefront of educational innovation it once occupied. In this short discussion piece, I’ll argue that there are ‘push factors’ for this — reasons why self-access may no longer be a satisfactory approach for its intended purposes, and ‘pull factors’ — more promising alternative solutions to the development of language learning skills.


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A Review of “Digitised Vocabulary Acquisition: Lexxica Word Engine”

by Stephen J Hall
Centre for English Language Studies
Sunway University, Malaysia

Many learners of English as an additional language reach a plateau and then either remain in the communicative comfort zone or have the realisation that vocabulary acquisition is crucial to further development. The call of `I need to learn more words’ is all too common. While syntax and communicative interaction are vital in English language learning, it is clear that an accurate grasp of vocabulary enhances ones productive and receptive skills. Research recognises that reading with pleasure requires knowledge of 95% of the words of a text while related research suggests that English for academic purposes requires a core vocabulary of at least 5000 carefully chosen words (Coxhead, 2000; Nation, 1990). Learning a new word also includes spelling, pronunciation, meaning and how a word works in different registers.


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Listening Strategy Instruction (or Extensive Listening?): A Response to Renandya (2012)

by Jeremy Cross
Formerly of The British Council in Japan

I was interested to read Renandya’s (2012) piece ‘Five reasons why listening strategy instruction might not work with lower proficiency learners’ disputing the value of listening strategy instruction. As an L2 listening researcher (as opposed to a commentator), I agree it is important to adopt a critical standpoint regarding the value or otherwise of various approaches to teaching listening. What I take issue with are various aspects of Renandya’s coverage of why he believes listening strategy instruction is not particularly worthwhile, and his subtle attempt to portray extensive listening as a preferable alternative. Siegel (2011) has already responded in brief to comments on listening strategy instruction (and extensive listening) in the ELT Journal article Renandya refers to (Renandya & Farrell, 2011), and I would also recommend readers consider what Siegel states in terms of the content of Renandya’s ELTWO article. As for my own response to Renandya’s article here in ELTWO, I would like to draw readers’ attention to a number of issues I see with the five reasons he presents to support his position for “why it is not a good idea to spend valuable instructional time on teaching listening strategies”.


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Reliability of Second Language Listening Self-Assessments: Implications for Pedagogy

by Vahid Aryadoust
Centre for English Language Communication
National University of Singapore

Abstract
Language self-appraisal (or self-assessment) is a process by which students evaluate their own language competence. This article describes the relationship between students’ self-appraisals and their performance on a measure of academic listening (AL). Following Aryadoust and Goh (2011), AL was defined as a multi-componential construct including cognitive processing skills, linguistic components and prosody, note-taking, rating input to other materials, knowledge of lecture structure, and memory and concentration. Participants (n = 63) were given a self-assessment questionnaire which is founded upon the components of AL presented by Aryadoust and Goh, and a test of academic listening developed by English Testing Service (ETS); subsequently, their performance on both measures were found to be correlated. Significant correlations were apparent, indicating that learners assessed their listening skills fairly accurately and precisely. Pedagogical implications and applications of self-assessment are discussed in this paper.


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Putting a Humanistic Approach to Grammatical Input into Practice: A Sample Lesson

by Gareth Morgan
Centre for English Language Communication
National University of Singapore

Abstract
The paper’s focus is on a humanistic, multi-dimensional approach to grammar teaching. In this approach the learners practice a variety of skills in order to become affectively engaged through the elicitation of their thoughts, views, motivations, experiences, knowledge, interests and emotions, while being intellectually stimulated. Though grammar is covered in detail in such a lesson, it does not drive the lesson because the focus is on a non-interrogative, communicative approach that promotes collaboration. The aim of the lesson is to provide a positive learning experience which meets the learners’ needs while appealing to the various learning styles and encouraging each learner to take charge of their learning.


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