It is now widely accepted that the concept of L2 motivation is multifaceted, complex, and dynamic (Boekaerts, 1995; Dörnyei & Ushioda, 2011). Yet, the existing L2 motivation literature available to date does not necessarily fully take account of its complex nature. Given this situation, the present paper argues for the potential of complexity theories in its application to foreign language motivation research. This paper begins by briefly reviewing the existing literature of foreign language motivation research. It then argues the rationale for applying complexity theories to educational research. Further, it examines the salient characteristics of complexity theories in
light of complexity thinking, based on which it attempts to explore the possible application of complexity theories to motivation research. Finally, the article ends by outlining some possible avenues for motivation research within the framework of complexity theories but also reflecting on some of the challenges facing future research.
This study aimed to investigate the extent to which Japanese university students have understanding of the Five Sentence Types, and provides pedagogical implications for teaching EFL at Japanese high schools and universities. A total of 248 university students participated in this study and responded to a multiple-choice test, wherein they matched 26 to 34 short sentences with one of the five types. Item analyses and the Rasch analysis utilizing common item design revealed that significant differences were found in item difficulty estimates across and within the sentence types. The results also suggested that the students may lack fundamental knowledge about the principles underlying the Sentence Types, which is likely attributable to the students’ general preference for learning English by rote. Discussions are made about how EFL teaching can be improved utilizing the framework of the Five Sentence Types.
This study intends to clarify the features of lexical richness in free writing by advanced Japanese learners of English at B2 level and C1 level according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Japan (CEFR-J). Free writings by 65 learners of English at CEFR-J B2 level and C1 level were analyzed from the perspectives of lexical variation and lexical sophistication in lexical richness. Findings indicate that lexical sophistication showed a moderately positive correlation in a holistic evaluation of the free writings, but no correlation was found for lexical variation by this evaluation. Between lexical variation and lexical sophistication, there was evidence of a moderately positive correlation. In the relation between lexical richness and the learners’ English proficiency, no significant difference was detected in lexical variation between learners at CEFR-J B2 level and C1 level , on the other hand, a significant difference was detected in lexical sophistication. An analysis of the free writings based on CEFR-J Wordlist Version 1.0 indicated that high-frequency words constituted approximately 70 percent and middleto-low-frequency words constituted approximately 30 percent of the texts. Another analysis based on the wordlist indicated a significant difference in the usage of middle- to-low-frequency words between learners at CEFR-J B2 level and C1 level.
The present study aims to examine the impact of homework assignments on self-regulated learning, which consists of an effort-regulation and monitoring strategy and a planning strategy, as well as self-efficacy in learning English (English self-efficacy) among academically struggling Japanese college students. Three types of homework assignments were used for a lower level English class, and the students were assigned two of the three types of homework in every class. To analyze the effects of homework, the data for 33 students was used for this study. They were divided into two groups based on the number of homework assignments they completed. The results of the analysis revealed that (a) doing homework improved the students’ effort regulation and monitoring strategy as well as their English self-efficacy, (b) planning strategy did not develop if the students sometimes failed to do their homework, and (c) the students’ effort regulation and monitoring strategy was moderately related to their self-efficacy. This paper also addresses some of the pedagogical implications of these findings.
This study aims to develop a preliminary version of a theory-based questionnaire measuring metacognitive abilities of Japanese learners of English. 435 Japanese undergraduate students responded to 52 question items which were originally from Schraw and Dennison’s (1994) Metacognitive Awareness Inventory. The analytic procedures included the followings to ensure better construct validity: (a) an exploratory factor analysis extracted 10 factors with 35 items, (b) some of the items and factors were sorted out based on a conceptual theory and pedagogical perspectives of metacognition, and (c) each internal consistency of the last remaining categories was investigated calculating Cronbach’s alpha. A six-category new scale, as a result, has been developed with 28 question items. In addition to the analytic procedures above, due to the six categories related to significant aspects of English learning, this scale is believed to be valid as a measure for metacognitive abilities of Japanese learners of English. The last part of the paper describes some pedagogical implications for effective use of the scale.
The study investigated anxiety of Japanese EFL students towards making a presentation in English in an oral presentation contest. Japanese students’ language anxiety was measured using a questionnaire and a Japanese version of Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale (FLCAS) (Yashima, Noels, Takeuchi, Yamane, & Yoshizawa, 2009) prior to and after the speech contest that was held at the end of semester. Two research questions were posed for the study: 1) how the speech contest affected students’ anxiety and 2) whether there was a difference between the students’ anxiety that participated in the contest as presenters and that participated as audience. A total of 85 university students participated in the study, and the results showed that although there was no significant difference between presenters’ and audience’s anxiety, devising the oral presentation contest had a statistically significant effect on reducing students’ speech anxiety towards making a presentation in English overall, suggesting that implementing an oral presentation contest in Japanese EFL context may have a positive effect on students’ foreign language anxiety.
This study examined the test items of the Grade 2 EIKEN test. It investigated whether the test items of the Grade 2 EIKEN test matched the guidelines describing the achievements of learners issued by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) as well as the guidelines of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) levels. The washback of the test items was also examined. The results indicated that overall, the test items of each skill matched approximately to the B1 level of t he C EFR. R egarding t he washback effects, various types of questions for each skill indicated positive washback effects. Reading and listening skills were tested with various types of passages and questions. Word ordering questions were used to examine writing skills. Speaking skills were examined with the use of a face-to-face test, and it was suggested that the aim was to develop communicative skills.
The analyses also showed that the Grade 2 EIKEN test matched the guidelines describing the achievements of learners who graduated from high school. The test items matched the reading and listening skills on the basis of background knowledge or inference. The speaking tests, which aimed to examine proper pronunciation and the ability to state own opinions, also matched the guidelines. It was suggested that including a task that required learners’ output might improve the test items. However, there is a need for improvement, especially considering the practicality of the test as the EIKEN test is a large-scale test with a large number of test takers.
The purpose of this study is to examine the structure of positive and negative attitudes toward compulsory English lessons in elementary schools (CELES). Although general public acceptance on an early start of English education is often deemed as a driving force which encouraged the government to implement CELES, there is little evidence for what this public acceptance was like. This study, therefore, examines what factors promoted or inhibited positive attitudes toward CELES by analyzing a large-scale attitude survey of parents, which was conducted in autumn 2006, just before the official announcement of the implementation of CELES. A structural equation modeling analysis revealed that positive attitudes toward CELES were promoted by expectations of positive effects of an early start of English teaching, anxiety about a less favorable condition for the introduction of English teaching, and experience of a struggle for learning English, whereas they were inhibited by anxiety about side effects of early English teaching. Based on these findings, this paper discusses the structure and mechanism of public opinion on early English teaching and its implication for English education policies.
Phonological decoding skill has proved to be an important factor in word recognition. However, its accuracy in the field of second language acquisition has not been adequately investigated. This study examined the details of phonological decoding skill in English. Sixty Japanese undergraduate and graduate students judged the lexicalities of sixty target words (Consonant vs. Vowel vs. Nonword condition) in an assigned lexical decision task. The results showed that response times were significantly longer for Consonant and Vowel conditions compared to Nonword condition, confirming that the participants possessed phonological decoding skill of consonants and vowels and employed such skill when making their lexical decisions. The results also suggested that there was no significant difference in terms of accuracy between the participants’ phonological decoding skill of consonants and that of vowels. In addition, error analysis revealed a number of factors related to high and low error rates: (a) the influence of the romaji writing system, (b) English sounds that are not differentiated in Japanese (e.g., /r/ and /l/), (c) sounds with the same pronunciation but different spelling (e.g., /ce/ and /se/), (d) variation in the spellings of the schwa sound, (e) high level of word familiarity, and (f) ease of visual recognition.
This survey examined the effects the explicit instruction regarding English sound might have on the learner’s cognition, learning strategies, competence and motivation, compared with the implicit instruction. The survey was implemented in questionnaire format to 312 junior high school students. Results showed that learners who have been given more instructions about English sound, regardless of the type of the instructions, perceive learning sound as an important factor in learning English. It was also revealed that the learners who were given more explicit instructions so far use learning strategies that put importance on sound. The scores of self efficacy and motivation were also higher among learners who perceive that they were given much explicit instructions. Thus, the importance of explicitly instructing English sound was suggested.
The present study examined the effects of different types of word retrieval practice on L2 vocabulary learning. Eighteen undergraduates at a Japanese university were asked to learn twenty-four English pseudo words, paired with illustrations, in three conditions: receptive retrieval, productive retrieval, and control. In the receptive retrieval condition, they received opportunities to recall meanings; in the productive retrieval condition, to recall forms; and in the control condition, to repeat words while looking at their paired illustration. Data from posttests indicated that (1) on the receptive vocabulary knowledge test, the receptive retrieval condition scored significantly higher than the control condition and equal to the productive retrieval condition, and (2) on the productive retrieval knowledge test, the productive retrieval condition was significantly more effective than the other two conditions.
The aim of this paper is to examine how English reading classes are taught, by using English reading process model for quantitative analysis, and to describe how English reading classes are organized according to these data. Three English classes, which the level of student’s English and textbooks used were the same but were taught by different teachers, were analyzed. The analyses revealed that every class had two things in common. First, about 30% of all utterances consisted of vocabulary instruction in a one-hour class. Second, two-thirds of all utterances consisted of instruction for lower-level skills. Lower-level skills include word recognition, grammatical knowledge, and semantic-proposition encoding. These data suggested that teachers thought that implicit instruction of vocabulary and lower level skills was important and effective for high school students. In addition, these data showed that reading classes were not always developed by bottom-up process and translation was not the main activity in a reading class.
The improvement of teaching and assessing the skills of writing cohesive texts has been one of the pressing matters for English teachers in Japan. Surveys conducted in 2015 show that most of the Japanese junior high school students do not have enough confidence in their ability to write cohesive English texts and that their teachers find difficulty in teaching the writing skills of such texts (AEON, 2015; MEXT, 2015a). In order to find solutions to the issue, a small-scale research project was carried out in a municipal junior high school for about six months in 2014. A Japanese female English teacher taught 34 second-year students how to write cohesive texts using genre-based writing instruction (GBWI) and genre-based writing assessment (GBWA). The teacher explained the features of the genre and text type of a model text, and her students wrote parallel cohesive texts, first being guided, and then on their own. She used learning, practice and assessment tasks in her teaching-learning and practice-assessment cycles. Other scaffoldings she provided include assessment criteria, self- and teacher-assessment opportunities and conferencing. The results of a questionnaire completed by the students show that they appreciate GBWI and GBWA and that they have more confidence in writing cohesive texts than before.
This paper reports on classroom research done in a college freshmen intermediate-level English course for engineering majors, the research question being "How can students learn not to copy and paste information from others&”39; writing?" The author formed a hypothesis and designed class activities to explore it, using news video from CNN Student News. However, the class activities in the first half of the semester did not support the hypothesis. In the middle of the semester, a second hypothesis was formed that learning about fundamental differences between Japanese and Western cultures might help Japanese students understand the importance of clarifying the source of information in English. After a lecture and class activities, the number of students who copied and pasted decreased to half. For those who still needed to be encouraged to distinguish others writing from their own, activities were presented focusing on phrases to introduce information from others. With the help of these phrases, all of the students could write without copying and pasting at the end of the semester.
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