The effects of grammatical feedback from teachers on students' writing ability in second language (L2) learning have been examined by a number of researchers. Some studies have elicited heated discussion, including Truscott's (1996) assertion that feedback from teachers has negative consequences. Although no concrete conclusion on the efficacy of feedback from teachers has been drawn, many studies have suggested that feedback seems to have at least some positive effects on L2 learning (Chandler, 2003; Ellis, Sheen, Murakami, & Takashima, 2008; Ferris, 2006; Sachs & Polio, 2007; Sheppard, 1992). The current study examines how teacher's grammatical feedback improves L2 writing ability (in terms of correct verb tense use) and how students themselves feel about the feedback they receive from teachers. Participants were divided into two groups: an experimental group, in which participants received teacher's feedback; and a control group, in which participants received no feedback. The result of ANOVA shows that the time-group interaction is significant. This suggests that participants in the experimental group show better improvements in learning the correct use of verb tense. A questionnaire administered at the end of the study period revealed that the participants in general appreciated feedback on their writing and felt that the teacher's comments were "helpful." These results suggest that teachers' feedback facilitates L2 learning and does not negatively affect students' motivation to write. Therefore, teachers should be encouraged to provide students with proper grammatical feedback on their writing in L2 classes.
The present study explores second language writers' use of graphic symbols as semiotic mediation in the processes of their self-revisions and peer revisions of their written compositions within the framework of sociocultural theory and social cognitive theory. Writers use graphic symbols as one of means for self-regulation or writing strategies (Villamil & Guerrero, 1996; Zimmerman & Kitsantas, 1999). The present study considers graphic symbols as semiotic resources for problem solving. The meaning of semiotic mediation (signs) is the key to self-regulation in cognitive processes such as language learning or writing. Participants were 24 Japanese university students of English as a foreign language (FL). I analyzed the data: (a) the think-aloud protocols of participants' self-revisions; (b) transcription of their discussions during peer revisions; and (c) stimulated recall interviews with them. Among all the participants (N=24), 6 students (25%) used graphic symbols in their revisions. The qualitative data of the study demonstrated students used some graphic symbols as semiotic mediation of revision in self-revisions and mediation of communication in peer revisions. The different use of graphic symbols can be explained by cognitive writing theory. Graphic symbols show that students noticed gaps between their interlanguage and the norms of the target language.
This article reports an exploratory study conducted for suggesting the optimal number of listening opportunities in a listening comprehension test for a public senior high school entrance examination in Japan. The study analyzes the results of three different forms of English listening comprehension test: Form I -a version with no repetition (test-takers can listen to the dialogues + item stems (questions) and a monologue once only), Form II -a version with one repetition (test-takers can listen to the dialogues + item stems and a monologue twice), and Form III -a version with two repetitions (test-takers can listen to the dialogues + item stems and a monologue three times). The original form was adopted from a certain prefectural senior high school entrance examination and specially modified for the exploratory versions. The main finding was that repetitions of texts and item-stems in a listening comprehension test did not positively affect means, the standard error of measurement, and the item discrimination power index. Furthermore, it was found that test difficulties of each version were almost identical. These results suggest that repetition is not an essential and proper way of discriminating test-takers' listening comprehension ability.
The purpose of this study is to investigate the percentage of English words receptively known to Japanese learners of English at the university level that they can spell out. Two kinds of tests were prepared: one to measure the receptive knowledge of vocabulary and the other to measure the productive knowledge of vocabulary. The receptive test was designed to investigate whether or not an examinee knows the meaning of each word. The productive test was designed to investigate whether or not only an examinee can produce each word and also spell it out correctly. The target words in the receptive test and in the productive test were the same. Further, the target words in the tests were decided considering the parts of speech (nouns, verbs, and adjectives), word length (number of alphabets), and word frequency. First, 56 university students at the department of English took the receptive test, and then, after about two weeks, they took the productive test. The results showed that (1) Japanese learners of English can produce and correctly spell 61.6% of the English words they know receptively, and (2) the ratio may vary according to the differences in the word frequency, parts of speech (nouns, verbs, and adjectives), and word length (number of alphabets).
This paper explored predictive inferences in narrative reading with Japanese EFL learners. Two types of narratives (Goal Success and Goal Failure) were used in the experiment. Analysis showed that (a) predictive inferences are more effective for comprehension of Goal Success narratives than Goal Failure narratives; (b) effects of predictive inferences on text comprehension differ by readers' second language (L2) proficiency; and (c) some factors such as the coherence of the narrative affect how predictive inferences influence comprehension. These findings suggest that there are some limited conditions under which readers can benefit from making predictions, and they provide further insight into effects of predictive inferences on L2 reading comprehension.
The present study aims at pursuing Japanese junior high school students' knowledge about English noun phrase structures and the process of its development based on the data collected longitudinally. About 160 students had joined in this study for 3 years (from 2006 to 2009). The participants took eight grammar tests consisted of questions about: 1) noun phrases with premodification by adjectives, 2) noun phrases with premodification by interrogatives, 3) noun phrases with postmodification by prepositional phrases, and 4) noun phrases with postmodification by to infinitive phrases. The questions were divided into mainly two categories: 1) that is to test whether students know the correct word orders in the target noun phrases, and 2) that is to test whether they could identify the target set of noun phrases in sentences. We also investigated if the knowledge of noun phrase structures could discriminate those who succeeded in their English language study from those who did not. The obtained results showed that a fairly long period of time was needed for learners to acquire the structures and the difficulties of acquisition varied from noun phrases and also from question types. It is also revealed that the discriminative power of the noun phrase knowledge is strong enough.
The purpose of the current research is to explore how a junior high school English teacher deals with oral introduction which covers subject matter content in textbooks and to find out how the students' "private speech" helps in constructing collaborative dialogue throughout the class. The research begins with the teacher's reflection on "private speech" and moves on to her teaching belief as well as actual discourse data on three cases. In order to identify the features of "private speech" the protocols and the teacher's comments are analyzed. The findings show that more than a half of the discourse consists of students' "private speech" of which 79 percent is dependent on Japanese, whereas 71 percent of the teacher's language usage is in English. The characteristics of five students' "private speech" in English are discussed in particular with the idea of "multivoiceness." The research concludes that not only "private speech" but also the textbook writings mediate understanding of content in focus and suggests that "multivoiced" dialogue functions as a means to facilitate collaborative learning in oral introduction.
For years, a variety of educational reform projects have been initiated and maintained by the efforts of motivated and energetic teachers dedicated to improving their students' learning outcomes. Most teachers, however, have limited chances to participate in educational reform, and struggle daily with challenges such as student behavior and low learner motivation (Sekita & Takakura, 2009). While it has been found that teachers benefit from teamwork (Suzuki & Collins, 2006; Collins & Suzuki, 2007), many admit that they seldom meet with their colleagues to set goals and explore perspectives on learning and teaching (Collins & Nakamura, 2007). In response to the lack of collegiality found in one school, the English department began conducting project-based classes in order for students to establish learner autonomy through activity-based learning. This paper will present the teachers' situation before the project began, provide an overview of the design and organization of the project, and chart the evolution of teacher collegiality over the course of the three-year project. Data from Class Journals, meeting minutes and reflection meeting minutes demonstrate that collaborative collegiality and teacher autonomy have been cultivated at the school and how this progress has benefited their material creation and teaching.
Intercultural communication topics (ICT) have been regularly adopted in English textbooks for junior and senior-high school students. The topics are expected to raise students' awareness toward the difference of communication styles which emerge between the speakers of Japanese and those of other languages. Despite the important role of ICT in English textbooks, either qualitative or quantitative analyses concerning it have not been carried out in a comprehensive manner since they first appeared. A comparative analysis of old English textbooks which were authorized in 1986-1987 and new ones authorized 2006-2007 was conducted in this study. The result shows (1) the numbers and diversity of ICT categories have been decreasing, and (2) the ratio of description explaining background of communication styles difference has been declining. One possible reason for the results is inferred as follows: English teachers and editors who design English textbooks tended to recognize ICT as interesting reading topics rather than as a trigger to foster intercultural communication competence. The phenomenon of ICT may be regarded as having passed in spite of increasing opportunities for intercultural communication in Japanese society.