Personalising Input to Address Khmer Speakers’ Pronunciation Issues

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

Abstract 
The paper focuses on the personalization of pronunciation input based on the differences between Khmer and English. This personalised approach is in contrast to generic coursebook-based pronunciation syllabi, which do not address the specific needs of speakers of different mother tongues. In the Cambodian context, the differences highlighted involve problematic consonant sounds, the elision of final position consonant sounds and word stress. Materials targeting these specific pronunciation difficulties are provided in this article.


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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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Motivation through Autonomy: A Case Study at a Japanese University

by Richard Miles
Nanzan University, Japan 

Abstract

Since the 1990s, learner autonomy has become more widely utilized by educators around the world (Little, 2007), but does it necessarily have a positive effect on motivation in second language classrooms? In an attempt to provide at least a partial answer to this question, a preliminary study was conducted in which students in an oral communication class at a Japanese university were given a degree of autonomy in part of the curriculum and then compared with a similar class in which no such autonomy was granted. Students in the dependent group made autonomous decisions as to how the teacher would assess their speaking effort, how feedback would be provided and how this portion of their grade would be calculated and assigned. While an argument for direct causality is difficult to make, students in the dependent group exhibited a stronger level of motivation than those in the control group at the end of the semester, suggesting learner autonomy had had a positive effect in this case. Potential reasons for this finding are that the greater involvement of the students in the curriculum in the dependent group meant a higher level of self-awareness and reflection with regard to their spoken English. While the findings from this study add support to the argument that there is a potentially strong relationship between learner autonomy and motivation, further research is needed before any conclusive claims can be made.


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Developing a Classroom-Based Self-Access Learning Course: A Course Evaluation

by Tanya McCarthy
Kanda University of International Studies, Japan

Abstract
This paper is based on the premise that a considerable amount of language can be acquired outside the classroom lesson, and that as educators it is our responsibility to raise awareness of the value of self-directed learning. Self-access language learning (SALL) promotes the idea that as there are different types of learners with different language needs, students learn better if they are actively in control of their own learning. The paper focuses on how a SALL course was integrated into the curriculum at a private university in Japan. A mixed method approach incorporated whole class and small group discussion, reflective diary writing, out-of-class learning and one-to-one meetings with the teacher. Feedback on the course from a questionnaire was used to evaluate learners’ perception of the effectiveness of the program. Results were favorable, showing that learners found this mode of learning helpful in organizing study habits; sustaining motivation; improving specific language skills; and increasing knowledge of self-access resources.


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Using Blogs to Practice Grammar Editing Skills

by Christopher Harwood
Centre for English Language Communication
National University of Singapore

Abstract
This paper reports on the pedagogic reasons for using blogs as a learning aid and how blogging was integrated into a curriculum at the National University of Singapore to support the learning of grammar editing skills of music students. To begin, the idea that blogging encourages learner autonomy by facilitating the practice and negotiation of meaning of ‘comprehensible output’ (Swain, 1995) is discussed. Next, the integration of blogging into the curriculum is considered and rationale given for the various pedagogic and administrative decisions that were made. Finally, the positive findings from a student attitudinal survey about blogging are discussed and a brief document analysis of the students’ blog posts in the course is given.


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Giving Learners a Voice in Correction and Feedback

by Peter Watkins
University of Portsmouth, United Kingdom

Abstract
This paper reports on one attempt to give learners a greater degree of control of the correction and feedback they receive on their own language production. It begins by establishing the usefulness of correction but argues that a broader conceptualisation of feedback on learner production is required. This conceptualisation moves the teacher’s role away from being judgmental and towards being supportive and collaborative and from this more equal relationship between learner and teacher comes a greater voice for learners in shaping the feedback they receive. A simple, small-scale experiment is described and the results suggest that it may be possible to train learners to be able to ask questions about their own and other’s output and in so doing, shape the feedback they receive.


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Encouraging Proofreading and Revision

by Hayo Reinders
Middlesex University, United Kingdom

Abstract
Recent years have seen a lot of interest in learner autonomy. Although many teachers can see the value of encouraging in learners more awareness of the learning process and the ability to make decisions about their learning without the help of a teacher, it is not always immediately clear how to do this. In this practical article, one activity is presented that could be used as part of a classroom language course or implemented in a self-access centre as a way to encourage students to take charge over the academic writing process. By being given the tools to monitor and assess their own work, students are being helped to become independent writers, and in this way, being given greater opportunities for more success in their academic careers.


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Re-conceptualizing Homework as Independent Learning

by John Spiri
Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Japan

Abstract
Homework has become an institutionalized aspect of schooling for students from primary school through university. The reasons given to defend assigning, encouraging or forcing students to complete homework almost exclusively refer to academic achievement as opposed to encouraging student autonomy or increasing motivation. Moreover, few studies that seek to ascertain whether homework is effective or desirable ask students to comment or evaluate its place in education. The present study describes an independent learning system (ILS) assigned to students at a science & technology university in Japan. A key feature of the system was an independent learning journal, which each student kept to record her week to week efforts in studying English from various language learning websites provided by the instructor. The ILS is designed to offer students greater autonomy, introduce CALL (computer assisted language learning), and encourage lifelong learning. A survey given to students showed that both first- and second-year students expressed a preference or strong preference for ILS over traditional homework.


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