A Review of Imporant ESL Articles

A Review of Imporant ESL Articles

Part 1 Research Article Analysis

1. Bell, N.D. (2005). Exploring L2 Language Play as an Aid to SLL: A Case Study of Humour in NS–NNS Interaction. Applied Linguistics, 26 (2), 192-218.

Research Questions

Two areas of enquiry were mentioned in the article. The first was to what extent and how did playful interaction (see Cook 2000; Sullivan 2000 for definitions of language play referred to by the writer) outside of the class between adult second language (L2) speakers and native speakers further the second language learning of the L2 speakers? The second was to what extent did potentially facilitative patterns of interaction occur?

The Motivation for the Study

This study was in response to Tarone (2000) calling for further research on how adult L2 speakers play with language when interacting outside the classroom, in order to further understanding of the contribution language play makes to second language learning.

Methodology

This was a qualitative study, with the researcher acting as a non-participant observer.
Three highly advanced female English as a second language students, who were between the ages of 18 and 22, participated in the study. For a period of 1-2 years, these US university students taped conversations with native speakers; then, the researcher conducted interviews to check the validity of her perceptions and to learn about how the participants’ viewed the interactions in the recordings.

2. Borg, S. (1999). The Use of Grammatical Terminology in the Second Language Classroom: A Qualitative Study of Teachers’ Practices and Cognitions. Applied Linguistics, 20 (1), 95-126.

Research Questions

Borg wrote that the aim of his study was find, through an emic perspective, to what extent are grammar teaching practices in English as a foreign language classes affected by teachers’ cognitions (the beliefs and attitudes that teachers have about aspects of their work)?

The Motivation for the Study

Although some recent studies (at that time) had investigated the impact of the cognitions of second language (L2) teachers on the instructional decisions that they make (eg. Burns 1996; Johnson 1994; Smith 1996; Woods 1996), Borg saw a lacuna in the research on how cognitions specifically affect grammar teaching and its terminology in the L2 classroom. He aimed to create a better understanding of the role of this relationship.

Methodology

This was a qualitative study, with the researcher acting as a non-participant observer.
One male and three female native speaker English as a foreign language teachers, with between 3 and 15 years teaching experience, and who were between the ages of 24 and 40, participated in the study. For approximately one year, audio recordings were made of the teachers giving lessons to classes of 6-8 adult learners (18-35 years of age) at 2 EFL schools in Malta. The researcher then conducted interviews with the teachers and constructed a list of “categories” (See Table 5 p. 120) that was aimed to give insight into why and how grammatical terminology was used by them.

3. Lazaraton, A. (2004) Gesture and Speech in the Vocabulary Explanations of One ESL Teacher: A Microanalytic Inquiry. Language Learning, 54 (1), 79-117.

Research Questions

The goal of this study was to find to what extent, through microanalysis, is non-verbal behaviour (iconic, metaphoric, deictic and beat gestures – see McNeill (1992) for definitions of these terms) a salient factor in the unplanned vocabulary explanations of an English as a second language teacher?

The Motivation for the Study

According to the researcher, her study was at the “intersection” of two areas of second language research: unplanned vocabulary explanations and nonverbal behaviour. She cited several studies on these areas, two of the most important being Markee’s (1995) study on the former and Allen’s (2000) study on the latter. In looking at the two areas simultaneously in the same study, Lazaraton claimed to be breaking new ground.

Methodology

This was a qualitative study, with the researcher acting as a non-participant observer.
The participant, a female Japanese graduate teaching assistant in her late 20s had 6 years of English language teaching experience and was teaching at a US university language centre. During the spring semester of 2001, 3 50 minute classes were videotaped and excerpts of were transcribed to represent non-verbal behaviour that coincided with occurrences of unplanned vocabulary explanations.

4. Boers, F. (2000). Metaphor awareness and vocabulary retention. Applied Linguistics, 21 (4), 553-571.

Research Questions

Boers three experiments were set up to ascertain to what extent is it beneficial to organize
figurative expressions under metaphoric themes? He stated that his hypothesis was that:
a lexical organization along metaphoric themes or source domains can facilitate
retention of unfamiliar figurative expressions (p. 554).

The Motivation for the Study

In focusing on figurative language, Boers believed that he was responding to recent calls to stop looking at grammar and vocabulary as a dichotomy (Lennon 1998), to give more attention to chunk-based language (Lewis 1993) and to support the concept of formulaic language learning (Skehan 1998).

Methodology

The researcher conducted 3 quasi-experimental quantitative studies. The participants in the studies were Dutch or French native speakers whose level of English was intermediate, and they attended high school or university. Each study had a control group and an experimental group of between 35 and 60 students, with a mixture of males and females. In approximately one class period, each pair of parallel groups was given background information (the experimental groups receiving more detailed assistance) and then asked to take a cloze test or write a short essay. Then, the differences in metaphor awareness between the parallel groups were measured.

5. Joe, A. (1998). What Effects Do Text-based Tasks Promoting Generation Have on Incidental Vocabulary Acquisition? Applied Linguistics, 19 (3), 357-377.

Research Questions

Joe’s research questions for this study were as follows:
1. Does observable generative processing affect the learning of vocabulary?
2. Will participation in tasks requiring deep level cognitive processing lead to more generative use?
3. Does the degree of generation affect the degree of learning vocabulary? (p. 360)

It was hypothesized that:

learners who overtly generate target items will learn those items better than learners who do not (p. 360).

The Motivation for the Study

While studies like Stahl and Clark (1987) found that vocabulary learning does not require overt responses, the work of Ellis (1991) and Baddeley (1990) gave credence to the idea that better learning will take place if responses are overt, and Joe aimed to prove this.

Methodology

This was a “true” experimental quantitative study. It took place in New Zealand over a
period of about 6 days. There were 48 adult English as a second language students with varying degrees of proficiency who participated, ranging in age from 19-46 years of age. Three quarters of the students were Asian and the other quarter were mostly Samoan. 15 males and 36 females were randomly assigned to three groups (experimental, comparison and control) of 16 subjects. Each group received a different treatment concerning the reading and retelling of a text. All subjects sat a pre-test and 3 post-tests to measure vocabulary knowledge gains.

Part 2 Comparing Qualitative and Quantitative Research Questions

Perhaps the main difference between the qualitative and quantitative studies is a philosophical one. Qualitative researchers clearly operate under different epistemological and ontological assumptions about the world than quantitative ones. One way in which differences regarding the former can be demonstrated is by noting the way in which the researchers collected and analysed data. When Bell looked at interactions outside the classroom, Borg researched classroom grammatical practices and Lazaraton studied the speech and nonverbal behaviour of a second language teacher, they looked at these phenomenons subjectively. Each of these researchers taped their participants and they could therefore observe their behaviour in a holistic way, look for patterns to emerge and then interpret them, according to their individual perspectives. On the other hand, the data from Boers’ metaphorical studies and Joe’s research on vocabulary learning came from essays and tests. These mediums allowed the researchers to objectively measure results from different groups. Their personal opinions about the data were irrelevant because participants either did or did not reproduce correct or appropriate responses.

The ontological assumptions of the two types of researchers are also different. This can be seen in the number of participants that the researchers used. By only using between one and four subjects, Bell, Borg and Lazaraton demonstrated the qualitative view of reality. Qualitative researchers argue that reality is different for each individual because each person has different experiences that form their own point of view (Trochim 2000). Furthermore, research needs to allow a person’s individual reality to be demonstrated, and this can only be done if a small number of participants are used in a study. However, quantitative researchers like Boers and Joe have a different view. They believe that there is only one reality and that data needs to be separated from values (Guba and Lincoln 1989). In their minds, aggregating across a wide range of individuals as they did is desirable because in order to prove that a hypothesis or results are valid, statistical evidence is needed.

References

Allen, L. Q. (2000). Nonverbal accommodations in foreign language teacher talk. Applied Language Learning 11, 155-176.

Baddeley, A.D. (1990) Human Memory Theory and Practice. Hove: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Bell, N.D. (2005). Exploring L2 Language Play as an Aid to SLL: A Case Study of Humour in NS–NNS Interaction. Applied Linguistics, 26 (2), 192-218.

Boers, F. (2000). Metaphor awareness and vocabulary retention. Applied Linguistics, 21 (4), 553-571.

Borg, S. (1999). The Use of Grammatical Terminology in the Second Language Classroom: A Qualitative Study of Teachers’ Practices and Cognitions. Applied Linguistics, 20 (1), 95-126.

Burns, A. ( 1996). Starting all over again: From teaching adults to teaching beginners. In D. Freeman and J. C. Richards (Eds.), Teacher Learning in Language Teaching (pp. 154-177). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Cook, G. (2000). Language Play, Language Learning. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Ellis, R. (1991) .The interaction hypothesis – A critical evaluation. In E. Sadtono (Ed.), Language Acquisition and the Second/Foreign Language Classroom (pp. 179-211). SEAMEO Regional Language Centre 28.

Guba, E. G. & Lincoln, Y. (1989). Fourth generation evaluation. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Joe, A. (1998). What Effects Do Text-based Tasks Promoting Generation Have on Incidental Vocabulary Acquisition? Applied Linguistics, 19 (3), 357-377.

Johnson, K. E. (1994). The emerging beliefs and instructional practices of preservice English as a second language teachers. Teaching and Teacher Education 10 (4), 439-452.

Lazaraton, A. (2004) Gesture and Speech in the Vocabulary Explanations of One ESL Teacher: A Microanalytic Inquiry. Language Learning, 54 (1), 79-117.

Lennon, P. (1988). Approaches to the teaching of idiomatic language. Iral 36 (1), 12-30.

Lewis, M. (1993). The Lexical Approach; the state of ELT and a way forward. Hove: Language Teaching Publications.

McNeill, D. (1992). Hand and mind: What the hands reveal about thought. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Markee, N. P. (1995). Teachers’ answers to student questions: Problematizing the issue of meaning making. Issues in Applied Linguistics 6 (2), 63-92.

Skehan, P. (1998). A Cognitive Approach to Language Learning. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Smith, D. B. (1996). Teacher decision making in the adult ESL classroom. In D. Freeman and J. C. Richards (Eds.), Teacher Learning in Language Teaching (pp. 197-216). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Stahl, S. A. & Clark, C.H. (1987). The effects of participatory expectations in classroom discussion on the learning of science vocabulary. American Educational Research Journal 24 (1), 541-555.

Sullivan, P. (2000). Playfulness as mediation in communicative language teaching in a Vietnamese classroom. In J. P. Lantolf (Ed.), Sociocultural Theory and Second Language Learning (pp. 115-131). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Tarone, E. (2000). Getting serious about language play: Language play, interlanguage variation and second language acquisition. In B. Swierzbin, F. Morris, M. E. Anderson, C. Klee, and E. Tarone (Eds.), Social and Cognitive Factors in Second Language Acquisition: Selected Proceedings of the 1999 Second Language Research Forum (pp. 31-54). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.

Trochim, W. (2000). The Research Methods Knowledge Base (2nd ed.). Cincinnati, OH: Atomic Dog Publishing.

Woods, D. (1996). Teacher Cognition in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.