ARELE: Annual Review of English Language Education in Japan
Online ISSN : 2432-0412
Print ISSN : 1344-8560
ISSN-L : 1344-8560
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Showing 1-21 articles out of 21 articles from the selected issue
Research Articles
  • Tomohiko SHIRAHATA, Takako KONDO, Koji SUDA, Ayano OTAKI, Mutsumi OGAW ...
    Type: Research Articles
    2019 Volume 30 Pages 1-16
    Published: March 31, 2019
    Released: April 01, 2020
    JOURNALS OPEN ACCESS

      It has been reported that Japanese learners of English (JLEs) regard that The door opened is ungrammaticaland should be revised to the passive voice:The door was opened (Otaki &Shirahata, 2017). It seems that these learners think that we should use the passive voice instead of the active voice when the subject of the sentence is an inanimate noun such as the door. In this paper, we explore why this phenomenon happens. We first discuss this issue by observing previous acquisition studies of English ergative verb usages by adult JLEs, and confirm the claim that their use of the passive voice in intransitive ergative verb sentences is indeed due to an inanimate subject. Then, the study insists that this animacy issue of the subject is not due to the learners’ L1, Japanese, but to a ‘fundamental language learning strategy’: The first noun of the sentence should be Agent, which is called the Agent First principle (Jackendoff, 2002). Moreover, we conducted a longitudinal experiment and claim that explicit grammar instruction can be effective to promote JLEs’ comprehension of English ergative verb usages at least for a certain period of time.

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  • Yoshihito SUGITA
    Type: Research Articles
    2019 Volume 30 Pages 17-32
    Published: March 31, 2019
    Released: April 01, 2020
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      This paper focuses on the reliability and validity of an automated essay-scoring system for a task-based writing test. The two rating indices (number of connectives and frequency of formulaic expressions) were replaced or modified. The indices and scores of the Accuracy and Communicability tasks were investigated by using multiple regression and the system was revised. A sample of 150 second-year high school students participated in the trial of the system and the Accuracy and Communicability values were calculated by using the resulting formulas. To estimate the degree to which the indices were collectively related to the prediction of the scores, correlation analyses were conducted. The results showed a moderately high correlation between the scores of the tasks and their indices. To validate the predictions of the system, the values were compared with the Criterion scores of the high school students. Correlations between the Accuracy and Communicability scores were significant. The composite scores of the two tasks were also significantly correlated. The results of the questionnaire, which was administered to assess the adequacy of the task scores, demonstrated that the scores were acceptable and appropriate for the students.

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  • Kenta SUGAWARA
    Type: Research Articles
    2019 Volume 30 Pages 33-48
    Published: March 31, 2019
    Released: April 01, 2020
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      Understanding the intensive motivational drive that supports the learning of a second language (L2) has been featured in recent L2 motivation research. Such motivational phenomena were confirmed mainly by studies of extremely motivated learners using the framework of Directed Motivational Currents (DMCs) (see Dörnyei, Henry, & Muir, 2016), but would be reflected to some extent in ordinary L2 learners’ experiences if certain conditions for generating and maintaining the vision of the desired future L2 self are met in their minds. In order to test these hypotheses, this study examined 143 Japanese university students using open-ended questions and confirmatory factor analysis from an ecological perspective to identify various types of activities, including out-of-class settings the students have engaged in, and Muir’s (2016) DMC Disposition scale to measure the strength of students’ engagement and to investigate its association with motivational conditions for the desired future self and intended effort in English. The results mostly supported the hypotheses, and further avenues for in-depth explorations of the ecological environment and motivational conditions for triggering DMCs-like experiences in response to Japanese students’ characteristics are presented.

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  • Tomoko TODE, Kyoko OTSUKI
    Type: Research Articles
    2019 Volume 30 Pages 49-64
    Published: March 31, 2019
    Released: April 01, 2020
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      Recent second language acquisition research calls for establishing more multidimensional definitions of syntactic complexity, which has traditionally been measured almost exclusively in terms of subordination. From the perspective of the cognition mode of cognitive linguistics, the current study aims to investigate whether defining clausal complexity through verb arguments works to gauge syntactic development of beginner-level learners of English. Fifty-six students in a remedial high-school English course engaged in picture-elicited narrative writing at the beginning and at the end of the course. In addition, the narrative data was collected as a baseline from undergraduate English majors (EMs) (n = 18) and native speakers (NSs) of English (n = 16). We then calculated the mean number of arguments per verb as syntactic complexity and compared the three groups. We also examined whether the high-school group improved by means of the paired-samples t-test. The high-school group exhibited a significantly lower mean and greater variability (M = 0.98, SD = 0.46 at the beginning of the course) than the EMs (M = 1.87, SD = 0.11) and the NSs (M = 1.98, SD = 0.07). The scores of the high-school group had increased significantly (p = .000, r = .66) by the end of the course. These results suggest that the verb-argument index may be a sensitive measure of early syntactic development.

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  • Mayu HAMADA, Hirokazu YOKOKAWA
    Type: Research Articles
    2019 Volume 30 Pages 65-80
    Published: March 31, 2019
    Released: April 01, 2020
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      Automatization of lexical and syntactic processing is one of the significant factors promoting fluency in speech commutation. EFL learners, including Japanese EFL learners, are said to lack automaticity in syntactic processing. However, how they learn to automatize syntactic processing has not been clarified. This study examined how Japanese EFL learners’ skills at producing syntactic structures are learned by investigating the mechanism of the syntactic priming effect and the effects of repeated exposure to the syntactic structures. A picture description task with spoken primes and targets was conducted to examine whether Japanese EFL learners’ syntactic priming effect persists with filler sentences (lags) intervening between primes and targets. The results show that a persistent syntactic priming effect was observed with the Prepositional–Object (PO) primes in the long-lag condition, indicating that the learners were changing their knowledge of PO sentence structure from declarative to procedural by repeated exposure to the structure in an implicit learning mechanism. Moreover, the proportion of cumulative PO Priming in the long-lag condition was significantly larger than the proportion of cumulative PO Priming in the no-lag condition, indicating repeated exposure of the syntactic structures with spaced intervals is effective for learners to sustain and retrieve the knowledge.

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  • Tomohiko YANAI
    Type: Research Articles
    2019 Volume 30 Pages 81-95
    Published: March 31, 2019
    Released: April 01, 2020
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      In a picture description task, speakers need to engage in complex processing to produce a sentence: apprehension of pictured events, and linguistic processing to retrieve and assemble words. The current study conducted an experiment to examine the effects of early retrieval of two primary elements of a sentence, namely, subjects and verbs, which were assumed to be related to the linear and hierarchical manners of sentence planning, on fluency and accuracy in the production of L2 English sentences. The experiment also investigated how the ease of apprehending pictured events (“event codability”), the significance of which has been recognized in recent psycholinguistic research, would affect the fluency and accuracy. Participants in the experiment were prompted to retrieve the names of the agent (subject) or action (verb) while previewing pictured events with varied ease of apprehension. The results revealed that early determination of verbs necessitated long reaction times particularly for a description of hard events. Early determination of subjects generally facilitated quick responses. A theoretical consideration for language production and implications for language teaching are offered.

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  • Haruka SHIMIZU, HOSHINO Yuko
    Type: Research Articles
    2019 Volume 30 Pages 97-112
    Published: March 31, 2019
    Released: April 01, 2020
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      The purpose of this study was to investigate whether Japanese EFL learners’ mental lexicons of polysemous basic words changed following a three-month extensive reading. Fifty-four Japanese university students classified polysemous words into sense groups, and these groups were then compared with the categorizations provided by an English-Japanese dictionary. Between the pre- and post-sense categorization tasks, the participants engaged in extensive reading for three months. The data of the pre- and post-tasks were compared from the viewpoint of the participants’ vocabulary sizes and the amount of reading they had done (the number of words read). The results demonstrated that vocabulary size was influential on the polysemy mental lexicon for only some of the target words, and that the amount of reading did not affect the mental lexicon at all. These results suggest that (a) a three-month extensive reading could not change the sense categorizations of polysemous words by Japanese EFL learners; and (b) vocabulary size could not always affect the structures of the mental lexicon concerning polysemous senses. Finally, two pedagogical implications were discussed from the viewpoint of implicit and explicit vocabulary learning.

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  • Masaya HOSODA
    Type: Research Articles
    2019 Volume 30 Pages 113-128
    Published: March 31, 2019
    Released: April 01, 2020
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      This study explored the relation between second-language (L2) readers' on-line (i.e., duringreading) processes and off-line (i.e., after-reading) comprehension in terms of causal explanation of expository text. Thirty-two Japanese undergraduates with high or low L2 reading proficiency participated in the experiment. To elicit on-line causal explanation,the think-aloud method was used,through which participants read the expository text and verbally reported their thoughtson pre-determined target statements. To elicit off-line causal explanation,a causal question pertaining to causal relations in the text was used; participants answered the causal question after reading the text. The results revealed that readers with high L2 reading proficiency implemented on-line causal explanation more frequently than readers with low L2 proficiency. On the other hand,lowproficiency readers presented quantitative and qualitative difficulties with the availability of cognitive resources and the accuracy of linking processes, respectively. Finally, on-line and off-line causal explanations were correlated only by means of the high-proficiency readers' explanation that covered distant parts of the text. The findings together indicate limited characteristics of causal explanation in L2 readers.

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  • Mitsuhiro MORITA, Satoru UCHIDA, Yuka TAKAHASHI
    Type: Research Articles
    2019 Volume 30 Pages 129-143
    Published: March 31, 2019
    Released: April 01, 2020
    JOURNALS OPEN ACCESS

      Morphological knowledge is essential for expanding vocabulary. Considering that textbooks are the main source of English-language exposure for leamers in Japan, it is important to know to what degree these leamers are exposed to affixes and affixed words therein. This study aims to show the number of types of affixes and affixed words contained in Japanese junior high school textbooks. By adding more affixes and allophones than previous studies, the results of this study indicated that both the types and tokens of prefixes and suffixes in the textbooks are limited, thus suggesting that textbooks alone may not be sufficient, and that other materials and/or explicit instructions are needed to improve learners' morphological knowledge. Junior high school English teachers may utilize the information provided by this study to decide which affixes should be used for explicit instruction. Some implications for teaching affixes are discussed.

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  • Hazuki KAWASHIMA
    Type: Research Articles
    2019 Volume 30 Pages 145-160
    Published: March 31, 2019
    Released: April 01, 2020
    JOURNALS OPEN ACCESS

      The present study examined the effects of pre-task planning on Japanese EFL learners' speaking anxiety. Retelling was used in the present study as a speaking activity; 30 Japanese undergraduate students read texts and retold their contents in four different retelling conditions (L1, no planning; L2, no planning; L1, planning; L2, planning). In the no-planning conditions, participants retold soon after reading. In the planning conditions, participants had two minutes for pre-task planning before retelling. During the pre-task planning time, participants prepared their retelling by writing notes of keywords or figures on their worksheets, and then retold while looking at their worksheets. Participants completed a speaking anxiety questionnaire after each retelling. Results showed that pre-task planning reduced participants' speaking anxiety in both L1 and L2, and that participants felt high anxiety when required to speak in L2. The results of the questionnaire showed that pre-task planning contributed to anticipating participants' own retelling, before speaking. Reading proficiency of participants had no effect on speaking anxiety in the present study. The findings suggest that pre-task planning may have a positive effect in reducing speaking anxiety of Japanese EFL learners, based on which the present study offers suggestions for introducing speaking activities with pre-task planning.

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  • Yuji USHIRO, Tomoko OGISO, Masaya HOSODA, Shingo NAHATAME, Kozo KAMIMU ...
    Type: Research Articles
    2019 Volume 30 Pages 161-176
    Published: March 31, 2019
    Released: April 01, 2020
    JOURNALS OPEN ACCESS

      This stydy explored how Japanese students learning English as a foreign language (EFL) understand the protagonist, causal, and intentional links between sentences during narrative reading employing an eye-tracking technique. Forty Japanese undergraduates read narrative texts, each of which contained a target sentence (e.g., Patricia ordered a cup of coffee) that was either consistent or inconsistent with a preceding context sentence (e.g., Patricia was a coffee lover or Patricia did not like bitter drinks), in terms of either of the protagonist, causality, or intentionality dimensions. The participants' eye movements during reading were recorded. Analyses of eye movement data showed that regardless of the dimensions, the participants immediately noticed inconsistencies between sentences, when encountered, during reading. In addition, the participants reprocessed the target sentences to resolve protagonist and intentional inconsistencies, whereas such a process was not observed for causal inconsistencies. Finally, inconsistencies did not affect the number of participants who looked back to the context sentences. These resuIts indicate that although the three types of links are important and understandable to EFL readers, they are different in terms of processes through which they were understood.

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  • Kunihiro KUSANAGI, Shusaku KIDA
    Type: Research Articles
    2019 Volume 30 Pages 177-192
    Published: March 31, 2019
    Released: April 01, 2020
    JOURNALS OPEN ACCESS

      The aim of the present study is to examine the source of individual differences in the rule-based grammaticality judgment behavior of foreign language learners. It has been recognized that learners with certain specific traits benefit relatively more from rule-based knowledge representations in their grammaticality judgment performance, while another type of learner tends to rely on their unconscious and non-symbolic type of knowledge, which is often called intuition. Generally, the former type of learner exhibits a relatively higher discriminability (d') in a grammaticality judgment task than the latter type. However, there remain individual differences unexplained in such rule-based grammaticality judgment behavior. The present study focused on grammatical carefulness (GC) as a key factor behind the variance inspected, as GC is considered as one of the latent variables associated with the speed-accuracy tradeoff and meta-linguistic behavior. Using the type II signal detection paradigm and Bayesian modeling, the present study, which targeted Japanese university students (N = 40) who engaged in a grammaticality judgment task (K = 48), found that learners with higher GC scores are more prone to benefit from rule-based knowledge representations than those with lower GC scores, who benefit from their intuition. It indicates that individuals' psychological, behavioral, and meta-cognitive traits moderate grammaticality judgment behavior in a foreign language. The practical implications concerning testing and assessing grammatical performance in a foreign language were also discussed.

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  • Kazue KAWAI
    Type: Research Articles
    2019 Volume 30 Pages 193-208
    Published: March 31, 2019
    Released: April 01, 2020
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      The purposes of this study are to investigate how a method of jazz chants can be used as pronunciation practice in Japanese adult EFL classes and to consider what element affects the intelligibility of Japanese EFL learners’ pronunciation by making a comparison between an acoustic analysis and a human ear evaluation. Acoustic data were extracted from a part of Kawai’s (2014) study. In the previous research, 52 participants, classified by their English proficiency level into three groups (high, middle, low), chanted from a text for approximately 15 minutes in their English classes for a period of five weeks. The ability to control the duration of the inter-stress interval (ISI) was used as a criterion for acquiring an English stress-timed rhythm. The present study used 20 participants’ (low English-proficiency group) acoustic data from the above, and two native English speakers evaluated these data using 9-point scale. According to two-way repeated measure ANOVA, the main effect for sentence type and time (pre-and post-test) were statistically significant. Moreover, the correlation between ISI’s duration and the raters’ scores were observed according to each correlation ratio and scatterplot.

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  • Akiyo HIRAI, Yuichiro YOKOUCHI
    Type: Research Articles
    2019 Volume 30 Pages 209-224
    Published: March 31, 2019
    Released: April 01, 2020
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      This study aims to examine the quality of peer assessment of a classroom-based speaking test. Peer-assessed test scores were compared with teacher-assessed test scores using a diagnostic rubric developed for the test. Both peer- and teacher-assessed scores were also compared with those of an external speaking test, the Telephone Standard Speaking Test (TSST), to ensure the reliability of the teacher assessment. The results of the comparison not only showed that the teacher assessment of student performance was nearly as accurate as that of the TSST but also that students could not distinguish between the two assessments. In addition, it was found that students assessed their peers (particularly less-proficient ones) more leniently than did teachers. Regarding the students' diagnostic assessment capabilities, they were as accurate as the teachers on non-linguistic aspects, such as the opinion exchange criterion, but far less so when assessing linguistic accuracy. The results suggest that it may be efficient for teachers to use peer-assessed test scores for non-linguistic aspects and concentrate on assessing their grammatical accuracy for formative assessment.

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  • Rie YAMAJI
    Type: Research Articles
    2019 Volume 30 Pages 225-240
    Published: March 31, 2019
    Released: April 01, 2020
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      The present study explores factors affecting expert teachers' textbook consumption in terms of language teacher cognition. While textbooks have a valuable role in supporting teachers and learners with language elements and activities, they could be constraints on teachers who are required to use them. Previous studies have revealed how schooling, professional coursework, and contextual factors surrounding classroom practices are co-related. However, little is known especially about secondary schools in a Japanese context. This study thus follows four leading teachers at junior high schools in the same prefecture. Classroom observation and two semistructured interviews were conducted in each case. The interview data was recorded, transcribed and analysed using the qualitative research method, Trajectory Equifinality Model (TEM). The analyses indicated that affective, cognitive and contextual factors have an influence on their textbook use. These findings would be valuable information for teachers, teacher educators and textbook publishers.

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  • Tomoko OGISO
    Type: Research Articles
    2019 Volume 30 Pages 241-255
    Published: March 31, 2019
    Released: April 01, 2020
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      The present study examines effects of text revision on readers of English as a foreign language (EFL). Reading includes interactions between a text and its readers. Previous studies have focused on text features (i.e., cohesion), and investigated the effects of text revision on readers' comprehension. Some studies have revealed that elaborately revised texts contribute to facilitating readers' comprehension, whereas some have claimed that this can have the opposite effect. Hence, the effects of different types of text revision on readers' comprehension need to be further explored. This study investigates whether and how both simplified and elaborated texts affect EFL readers' comprehension. A total of 25 Japanese university students participated in the experiment. Participants read two texts in different conditions of revisions (i.e., simplified and elaborated), and completed a free written recall task and why-question task as comprehension questions. The results showed that the simplified text facilitated readers' understanding at both the textbase and situation-model levels, suggesting that text revision affects EFL readers' comprehension at different levels. The pedagogical implications of these results are discussed in light of teaching materials and instructions for EFL leamers.

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Pedagogical Articles
  • Sayano KAMIOKA, Keita SUZUKI
    Type: Pedagogical Articles
    2019 Volume 30 Pages 257-269
    Published: March 31, 2019
    Released: April 01, 2020
    JOURNALS OPEN ACCESS

      The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of the phonics instruction for students with specific difficulties in learning English. In this instruction, we considered the individual cognitive functions and the difference between Japanese and English linguistic systems. The participants were two students: student-A (14 years old) and student-B (16 years old). They had specific difficulties in learning English from basic level, including alphabetic grapheme-phoneme translation. Their intellectual levels ranged from below average to average. In addition, they showed cognitive weaknesses in planning ability and visual analysis. We focused on the alphabetic graphemephoneme correlation, and made an instruction method based on the phonics instruction. In this, we set five stages aimed to promote effective learning. We taught mainly grapheme and phoneme of the alphabet, the correct pronunciation of consonants and vowels, diphthongs (a sound formed by a combination of two vowels in a single syllable), and irregular pronunciation rules (e.g., silent “e”). The effects of the instruction were evaluated through English vocabulary tests that consisted of 70 unlearned words. The tests were performed twice during pre- and post-instruction. The numbers of correct answers on the post-test showed greater increase compared to those on the pre-test, suggesting the educational effectiveness of instruction.

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  • Atsushi NAKAGAWA, Mitsuko KASHIBA, Yosuke YANASE
    Type: Pedagogical Articles
    2019 Volume 30 Pages 271-286
    Published: March 31, 2019
    Released: April 01, 2020
    JOURNALS OPEN ACCESS

      One implication of the goal to develop communicative language ability in English language education is that English teachers should be more effective communication experts than teachers of other school subjects. However, it is highly questionable whether English teachers in general are recognized as such. There is a need to better define the concept of communicative language ability so that English teachers can be great communicators not just in classroom English,but also in school settings where teachers are having a hard time to communicate with students, parents and colleagues. In this paper, we report on the implemention of Tojisha-kenkyu, which is a community-based method of study by and for challenged persons, with prospective English teachers before graduation from university. We show that Tojisha-kenkyu expanded their concept of communicative language ability, particularly the ability to share their vulnerability, irrespective of their human relationships established prior to this study. We also demonstrate that they were able to partially deconstruct their image of 'ought-to self' and showed some signs of help-seeking preferences. We anticipate that this study will help English teachers realize their potential to be more valuable teachers of communication in the school community.

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  • Shusaku KIDA, Shuichi AMANO, Kazumichi ENOKIDA, Kunihiro KUSANAGI, Mit ...
    Type: Pedagogical Articles
    2019 Volume 30 Pages 287-302
    Published: March 31, 2019
    Released: April 01, 2020
    JOURNALS OPEN ACCESS

    This paper reports on a pilot implementation of the “Hiroshima University English Can-Do List”in a liberal arts course for 1st-year university students at Hiroshima University. The school’s Institute for Foreign Language Research and Education developed an original plugin to implement the can-do list in an open source e-portfolio system called Mahara. In this system, students input their latest TOEIC scores and select can-do statement items that they want to achieve in the future in the following six categories: reading, writing, speaking, listening, interaction, and function. The system then shows the TOEIC scores to achieve the selected can-do statements, and suggests learning materials to achieve the scores. Our previous practice revealed that students perceived this system useful, but they were reluctant to study English through the suggested learning materials. In the present practice, students had opportunities to use the suggested learning materials in the classroom and experienced their effectiveness. As a result, they perceived the system useful, and showed positive attitudes toward studying English using these suggested learning materials.

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  • Hideki SAKAI, Taiki SATO, Airi KINOSHITA, Kengo KIKUHARA
    Type: Pedagogical Articles
    2019 Volume 30 Pages 303-318
    Published: March 31, 2019
    Released: April 01, 2020
    JOURNALS OPEN ACCESS

      This paper focuses on the teaching of reading and spoken interaction as integrated skills for junior high school students. A 11-lesson unit was designed. The points for the instruction were as follows: (a) to improve their knowledge and skills, in every lesson they had brief opportunities to share their ideas in groups after reading a short passage, and they created their own lists of useful expressions as “My Useful Phrases,” (b) to improve the students' ability to think, make decisions, and express their thoughts, eight strategies were presented to the students as “Thinking Points,” and (c) to improve their attitudes towards learning, they were put into groups of three and assigned integrated tasks in which they could share their ideas and have opportunities to learn dialectically;in addition, ICT (tablets) was utilized to record their conversations for reviewing their interaction. The results suggest that the unit led students to evaluate their integrated skills more positively, though their performance did not improve significantly, and that, based on student written reflections, the use of “Thinking Points,” “My Useful Phrases,” and small groups provided effective support for learners. The implications of these findings are discussed.

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  • Koki SEKITANI
    Type: Pedagogical Articles
    2019 Volume 30 Pages 319-334
    Published: March 31, 2019
    Released: April 01, 2020
    JOURNALS OPEN ACCESS

    This paper presents the author's attempt to improve learners' conceptual understanding and motivation in Second Language Acquisition Research classes, a university-level subject. Although the introduction of team-based learning (TBL) was found to be effective, the presence of an “uncooperative other” in group-work remained an issue. To resolve this issue, each member in the group-work was assigned roles, such as a moderator, first-presenter, and second-presenter. A quantitative analysis (Analysis 1) revealed that learners become more motivated and understand concepts better when a certain role is assigned in group-work. A qualitative analysis (Analysis 2) suggested that if a learner accepts his/her given role, he/she acts with a higher awareness of a contributor to group-work, resulting in inhibiting the emergence of an “uncooperative other.” A new version of the paradigm model was proposed to explain the process of how learners' conceptual understanding and motivation are fostered.

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