New developments in information technology have engendered the addition of new features to e-learning courses that aim to satisfy the need for relatedness, one of the three innate psychological needs postulated in the self-determination theory proposed by Deci and Ryan. This study examined the effect of the need for relatedness in e-learning settings on learner's performance and affective attitudes toward vocabulary learning. A commercial e-learning course was adopted in which learners can pair up and earn "learning points" with their partner. A total of 97 Japanese first-year college students participated in this research, divided into two groups. One group was told to make a pair using the function offered in the online course. The other group was to study individually. At the end of the period, they were given a set of questions about their feeling toward e-learning. After the five-month experiment, the results indicated that satisfying the need for relatedness motivates learners, makes them work harder on the material, and increases their word retention rate in later testing. It was also found that working in pairs increases learners' preference for online vocabulary learning.
The principal purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of stem/option preview on multiple-choice listening test performance. Forty participants listened to four test formats: full preview, stem preview, option preview, and non-preview. The results showed that the formats yielded no great differences between formats in test performance, although significant differences were found between full preview and non-preview. Also, participants completed questionnaires designed to elicit their reactions to each format. The responses indicated that listeners preferred to preview stems only, even in the full preview format. Another purpose of this study was to identify which text characteristics affected performance on multiple-choice listening tests. Multiple regression analysis identified three significant variables: (a) lexical diversity, (b) negatives, and (c) word familiarity. Implications of these findings are drawn for future research.
Some studies have tried to assess the learners' voice data of reading aloud with computer software. However, few referred the validity of the scores which computer software produced. The study examined the validity and features of the scores of computer software. Four American raters (four males) assessed the voice data of 32 Japanese university students in measures of word recognition, stress, pause, and intonation. The authors compared the score of the software with the measures of raters in addition to the rate of delivery of the voice data and learners' proficiency. The results of t-test showed that the score was correlated relatively high with all the measures of the assessments except word recognition (study 1). In study 2, the assessments and scores in study 1 were reexamined. The results of structural equation modeling indicated that the models did not show good fit indexes when the score was incorporated. The authors discussed that software needed to have the different role from teachers because of the differences of the features between raters' assessment and the scores of software.
The purpose of this study is to investigate the effect of a teaching practice based the "cyclic model of learning" in the Japanese EFL context. To this end, we designed and implemented a practice by means of a learning management system (LMS) to teach English in a Japanese public lower secondary school. The practice was tested on 93 students over nine months. The data collection methodology included tests, weblogs, classroom observation, and interviews. The results indicated that the practice had a positive influence on students' learning ability and the manner in which the teacher in charge conducted lessons. Furthermore, a moderate correlation was found between the improvement of students' English language ability and their use of materials on the LMS. Lastly, an ecological perspective on the use of technology in foreign language education is discussed.
This study investigated (1) differences between receptive and productive vocabulary knowledge for first-year non-English majors; (2) effects of CALL-based vocabulary learning alone (CALL-Alone), and CALL-Alone plus additional review tests (CALL-Plus), on vocabulary gains at the 3,000-word level; and (3) learners' attitudinal differences between the CALL-Alone and CALL-Plus learner groups. CALL-Plus was conducted by giving two groups learners a different review test, either original sentence writing or L1/L2 matching, based on the vocabulary they had studied with CALL. CALL-Alone did not contain any review tests but allowed for additional time using CALL. The results for the pre-tests indicated that non-English majors know fairly well the vocabulary at the 1,000-word to 3,000-word levels, but their productive knowledge showed a sharp downward contrast, particularly at the 3,000-word level, productive scores being nearly 10 times lower than receptive scores. The results for the post-tests showed that CALL-Alone yielded a significant increase in receptive vocabulary, as good as CALL-Plus, but productive vocabulary scored significantly lower than CALL-Plus, suggesting that sentence writing facilitated productive knowledge. There was, however, no significant difference between sentence writing and matching exercises. Regarding learners' attitudes, those in CALL-Plus were encouraged to study for a longer time and wanted to challenge higher levels of vocabulary. In contrast, some learners in CALL-Alone seemed to lose interest in self-study CALL as time went by.
From the cognitive viewpoint, it is essential for EFL learners, whose exposure to the target language is limited, to have enough training in bottom-up processing skills, such as word recognition process. Its automatization could help EFL learners improve their comprehension levels in English reading. Four years of our consecutive researches into the impact of sound utilizing teaching methods, including shadowing, text-presented shadowing, and reading aloud, showed the significant impacts on learners' scores of reading and listening perception tests. The results suggested that conscious rehearsal training such as shadowing improved some of bottom-up processing skills of EFL learners. The present study focused on the impacts of shadowing task utilizing WBT on EFL learners' levels of reading and listening perception. The merits of using WBT in a shadowing method in class are as follows: the WBT system allowed greater flexibility to recite the model sound during the same allotted time because it provided the models in different speeds; the WBT system gave the model sound directly to the ears of individual participants; the WBT system lowered learners' affective filter. Thus the WBT environment positively affected learners' reading and listening perception performances. However, the effects differed between the beginners' group and the intermediate group: the former showed significant differences both in reading and listening perception scores, however, the latter showed significant difference just in listening perception scores.
This study is an attempt to investigate how language learners voluntarily and autonomously use a self-access center (hereafter SAC) to learn English in a Japanese EFL context. For this purpose, semi-structured interviews were conducted with five language learners who used a SAC in a Japanese university for a year, in order to explore their perception toward their language learning experience there. In addition, the particular SAC in this study was described in detail to enrich the analysis of the phenomena. The interview data were analyzed qualitatively using M-GTA, invented by Kinoshita (2003, 2007). As the theoretical framework for the present study, Structural Constructivism, developed by Saijo (2005a, 2005b, 2007, 2008), was applied. The results suggested that language learners at a SAC in a Japanese EFL context become autonomous and continue to learn outside classrooms, based on self determination, receiving support from counselors, student teaching assistants, the SAC itself, learning materials, and especially the other language learners who use the SAC. Furthermore, the necessity of an "acclimation period" is suggested, until language learners are able to use a SAC feeling comfortable, accepted, and competent. Finally some possible educational implications are provided that may be useful to support EFL learners at SACs in other Japanese universities.
The present study focused on uncovering strategies which learners used during pre-task planning, and investigating how these strategies are associated with actual task performance. A total of 91 university EFL learners participated in the study, and they engaged in L2 narrative tasks in 1-minute and 10-minute planning conditions. A questionnaire was developed based on Ortega (2005) to identify what kind of strategies the learners used during pre-task planning. Oral performance was assessed from the viewpoint of fluency, accuracy and complexity. The result demonstrated that learners tended to use strategies more frequently in the 10-minute pre-task planning condition and to rely on Translation Strategy and Compensation Strategy. In terms of the relationships with task performance, it was found that each strategy was associated with fluency, accuracy and complexity indices in different ways under different conditions.
This paper reports a remedial approach to the study of improving lower-level processing in L2 listening. First, the perceptional problems in listening comprehension are reviewed, and the importance of the automatized bottom-up skills is discussed. Next, two studies are reported. In study 1, the possibility of teaching phonetic information to improve perceptional processing was examined, and the result showed a significant correlation between dictation scores focusing on phonetic features in spoken English and TOEIC listening scores as an indicator of listening comprehension. Based on the result of study 1, the efficacy of teaching phonetic information through repeated practice of dictation and reading aloud was examined in study 2. To examine what types of subjects benefit from dictation and reading aloud, TOEIC was taken by 74 subjects before and after the procedure. The Japanese version of Reading Span Test as an indicator of the efficiency of working memory capacity was also conducted after the treatment. The result of study 2 suggested a hypothesis that reading aloud exercises can benefit lower-level and low-span listeners.
The purpose of the present study is to provide implications on how teachers can make students be more motivated in EFL learning outside the classroom. For this purpose, the present study focuses on; 1) the construct of motivational influences on English learning outside the classroom perceived by 1,141 Japanese secondary school students of EFL; 2) the relationship between these influences and students' English proficiency levels; and 3) teachers' perception of these motivational influences. A questionnaire was administered to obtain the factors for motivational influences which affected the students' motivation for English learning outside the classroom. Through the factor analysis, six factors were found. The results of correlation and MANOVA analyses showed that each factor was found to be more or less related to students' English proficiency levels. These findings were then compared with EFL teachers' perception obtained through interviews. The comparisons suggested that there existed some discrepancies between the empirical realities and the teachers' perception. Implications of these findings are then discussed.
This study analyzes the 5th grade and 6th grade pupils' motivational and attitudinal dimensions at an elementary school in Japan. The writer investigated Japanese pupils' motivational variables and some other variables concerned with learning a foreign language as a pilot study at the end of the school year in 2008. The main focus in this study is to find the relationship between pupils' motivation and some influential factors especially based on a Japanese social-cultural context. The author' previous research, Adachi (2009b) surveyed the relationship between motivation and attitudinal variables of Japanese pupils learning English. The finding showed that their motivation is related to their feeling about the encouragement from the people around the learner, three orientations (integrative, instrumental and intercultural orientations), and some other attitudes. In this study, after excluding the several variables which did not have a highly significant relationship with motivation, the author analyzed the casual-effect relationship between motivation and attitudinal dimensions using Structural Equation Modeling (SEM). The result reveals that pupils' motivation is influenced strongly by factors such as their attitudes toward learning, the encouragement from people around the learner, their awareness of the vitality of English and their communicative attitudes toward people from different cultures. Though the orientation factor did not influence motivation directly, as it intercorrelated highly with other factors, pupils' orientations seem to have an indirect effect on their motivation.
Vocabulary plays a crucial role in language use, but a human mental system to process vocabulary has not been wholly clarified. In the current study, therefore, we resorted to a brain imaging technique as well as a conventional reaction time measurement to scientifically investigate how Japanese native speakers process phonology and semantics of L1 vocabulary. The subjects had three experimental tasks in a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner: a rhyme judgment task, an antonym judgment task, and a control task. By subtracting the reaction in the control task from that in each of the two lexical tasks, we identified the reaction directly concerning a phonological or semantic judgment in L1. A series of analyses of reaction time, brain activation level, and activated regions in the brain showed that semantic processing takes longer reaction time, though the brain activation levels and activated regions hardly change according to the task type; and that subjects' L1 vocabulary size and score in the reading span test influence their reaction patterns. Also, by comparing the results in the current L1 experiment and the author's previous L2 experiment, we exemplified that L1 processing takes shorter time than L2 processing, but it causes the same or the higher level of brain activation, which suggests that two different mechanisms, namely, automatization and deepening in the processing levels, concern L1 lexical processing.