The objective of this study is to consider how to reduce Japanese EFL students’ difficulty in learning syntactically complex sentences, particularly those containing relative pronouns (hereinafter relative clause sentences). The problem was analyzed using cognitive psychological theory to determine where and why such difficulties most often occur. The findings suggested that educators teach concrete steps for sentence comprehension and production, based on the analysis of procedural knowledge for sentence processing of relative clause sentences. The potential of this teaching method was examined through an experiment based on a sample of EFL learners who had initially failed to overcome certain levels of difficulty in learning these types of sentences. It was confirmed that production practice improved performance in sentence comprehension and production more effectively than did sentence comprehension practice.
This study sought to unveil why university students with interest in ELT did not try to develop their English proficiency more aggressively, by comparing L2 learning motivation, international posture (IP) and willingness to communicate (WTC) between would-be English teachers (WETs; n = 43) and would-be non-English teachers (WNETs; n = 45) at a university. Main findings through ANOVAs, correlation and regression analyses were: (a) WETs are generally higher in L2 learning motivation, IP and WTC than WNETs, particularly in positive-natured factors; (b) WETs have factors involved in the relationship between L2 learning motivation and effort, one of which may be ideal ELT self; and (c) L2 WTC and frequency of communication make a differentiating contribution to L2 learning motivation, revealing that WETs and WNETs may be respectively at executive and fantasy stages of L2 learning motivation.
Although speaking tests have become more important in Japan over the past decades with the recent emphasis on communicative language teaching, they remain infrequent at most schools. This is because assessing speaking skills is quite difficult in terms of its practicality. However, since MEXT (2014b) announced that students’ English proficiency and learning status in terms of the four language skills will be assessed and analyzed even in entrance examination in the near future, speaking test development can be on urgent business. There are two main types of test formats to
assess speaking skills so far: a semi-direct, or person-to-machine, test, and a direct, or face-to-face, test. This study investigated whether the speaking ability measures would make a difference depending on two testing formats. The results showed there was no statistically significant difference between two test formats. However, according to questionnaire results, test takers preferred direct testing to semi-direct testing.
The aim of the present study is to examine the effects of fortified top-down processing on the identification of words by the listeners of elementary and intermediate levels of proficiency. Listening is a combination of top-down and bottom-up strategies. In order to fortify the top-down strategies, grammatical and phrasal knowledge was provided in the form of 93 short sentences as treatment only to the two experimental groups, who listened in the pre-test and the post-test at two different listening speeds. The other two groups were control groups, without any treatment, who also listened in the two tests at the two different speeds. In order to thoroughly examine the perception of stress-timed English speech, in which stressed syllables are pronounced clearly and unstressed ones weak, identification of content words, which usually contain stressed syllables, and that of function words, which mainly consist of unstressed ones, were separately examined. The results show that the effects of treatment were found only for the experimental group at the slower listening speed. Furthermore, effects on the identification of function words were significantly limited. Following discussion, future implications will be referred to.
This study demonstrates, through vocabulary and task analyses of MEXT-approved senior high school English textbooks, that the textbook passages cannot be read by students in English without scaffolding. It also proposes a way in which materials can be designed that scaffolds reading comprehension. The study opens with an investigation into a textbook series’ organization and contents. The series is then analyzed to determine the ratios of new words to words recurring from previous lessons. The analysis indicates that students face one unfamiliar word for every seven or fewer words in the textbook passages. A second analysis evaluates degrees of cognitive demands affected by the passages’ themes, contents, comprehension questions, and passage-related tasks using Anderson et al’s “Taxonomy”. This analysis reveals that the textbooks lack scaffolding, making it likely that students experience difficulty “reading” the English passages. The study aims to help resolve these difficulties by proposing an approach to materials design and evaluating its effect. Finally, it considers how students’ exposure to vocabulary and reading comprehension depth can be enhanced through the implementation of extra materials that are designed to support recognition of prior knowledge, a sense of genre, and the ability to clarify student goals and roles in reading a target text.